The Top 100 Movies of My Lifetime

No, I’m not dead, I’m just lazy.

After I finished my blog posts on the Top 100 Songs of My Lifetime, I took a much deserved break.  I had written 130,000 words on those songs, taking a year and a half to do it.  I was a little burnt out because I put lots of time and research into each of the entries, rather than just puking out my brain on the keyboard like many bloggers do.  But the break became longer when I moved on to some other writing projects and real life just got in the way.  My lovely wife, Jennifer, didn’t really have a problem with it, because although she read every post, she wasn’t too geeked to read 1,500 words on Duran Duran’s “The Reflex.”  She did, however, give me the high praise of:  “Even though I couldn’t care less about many of these songs, your essays were almost always interesting and fun to read.”  No excuses, though, I was just pretty lazy about it. 

No more.  I got the kick in the butt from my brother who finally asked, “Are you ever going to do your Top 100 movies?”  This is the same brother who read all 130,000 of my Top 100 songs posts and loved probably 87% of them.  So after a break that probably killed all the momentum of getting me on some Top 100 blog list (HA!), let’s move on to the flicks.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first.  I’m a notoriously easy critic on movies.  I’m the one who convinced four friends to go see Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight, because I said it was “pretty good.”  None of them ever trusted me again to be the sole recommendation for a movie we were going to plunk down cold, hard cash on.  But yeah, I hear you say, Daylight came out, like twenty years ago.  Surely you’ve become more cultured in your middle aged years.  Apparently not.  Just last week, I convinced another fried to watch Green Lantern because “it didn’t suck as much as everyone on the internet said it did.”  Talk about your ringing endorsements.  But she watched it!  And almost liked it!  My wife won’t watch a movie that I say is “good” with no other adjectives.  It has to be at least “really good” for her to consider it (and I think she secretly does some online research to make sure I’m not wasting her time).  But in my defense, I walked out of the movie theater twenty minutes into arguably the worst big-budget movie ever made, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, starring Eddie Murphy.  That’s gotta count for something, right?

Truthfully, though, for this list of the Top 100 Movies of My Lifetime, I really tried to be as objective as possible.  In order to do that, I came up with a few rules, or guidelines, for these movies:

  • In case the title of the series didn’t give it away, the movie had to be released during my lifetime.  I was born on November 12, 1969, so there’s your frame of reference.
  •  It had to be a movie that I’d seen.  I hear you.  “Um, duh.  Of course you’d had to have seen it.”  That’s not what I mean, though.  There are movies that are generally considered “great” that I just haven’t cared about enough to see before.  I wasn’t going to put One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s List on to my list just because it’s #8 on the IMDB Top 250.*  I haven’t seen it yet.
  • I had to have seen the movie more than once.  This is where it gets less objective, but hear me out.  For many people, seeing a movie once is just fine.  But for many movie fans, great movies, and in this case, GREAT movies, are so good that you can’t help yourself from watching them again.  They’re so compelling, one viewing just isn’t enough.  This is how you get the uber-geeks who’ve seen Star Wars 437 times, dissecting every nuance of Han Solo’s performance while never once mentioning the name Harrision Ford. So for me, that knocks out other greats like Apocalypse Now and The Shining.  Up until now, once was enough for me regarding those great films.
  • Any movies released in 2011 weren’t eligible.  Just like the five year waiting period for sports halls of fame, I didn’t want something that I’d just seen that I loved weighing too heavily because of its newness.

You may find these rules arbitrary at best or outright ridiculous (like my wife does), but I’m sticking by them.  I just wanted to explain where I was coming from+.

The format for each entry will be the same.  I’ll start off with my case for why that particular movie is a great one.  If you haven’t seen the particular movie that I’m writing about, tread carefully.  If there are key plot points, I will ruin them for you.  I have no idea how a movie critic can write about a movie like The Sixth Sense without talking all about its stunning ending.  It’s like a writing a story about the Super Bowl without telling you who won.  To help you with the ones you may not have seen, I’ll put the name of the next movie on the list at the end of the post of the current movie, so you have time to see it (if you’re so inclined).

Next, since I have a tremendous respect for all writers, I’ll have a little Writer’s Corner, where I put my favorite excerpt from the script.  Like many cinefiles, I can be an amateur nitpicker and want to acknowledge that no movie is perfect.  So in fairness to the awesomeness of the movie,   I’ll acknowledge a few of the weaknesses of the chosen movie in the Nitpicker’s Corner.  Lastly there will be a video clip of some of my favorite scenes.  And who knows, there may be a few fun facts thrown in that you may not know (although that’s become much more difficult since IMDB came out with their trivia section!).

So come back tomorrow, and #100 will be hot off the presses (see the “coming from” footnote below…).  I’m excited to be writing again, and I hope you’re at least mildly excited to be reading again.

Oh yeah.  The first movie on my list.  #100 - High Fidelity.

*  The Internet Movie Database ( is one of the largest and most influential movie sites in the world.  They let their users, not critics, rate every single movie on their site.  They have a link to their Top 250 movies of all time, which takes all of those user opinions into account, so it’s a fair example of what the movie-loving public thinks are great movies.  Of their Top 250 movies of all time, only 160 were released during my lifetime.  Some of my movies are on that list, some aren’t.  Many I’ve seen.  More than I thought – I haven’t.  So along with Cuckoo’s List, some of the other notables that you won’t see on my list are Taxi Driver, City of God, A Clockwork Orange or Chinatown.  And there are probably a dozen more.  I know, it’s a crime, but no one made me care enough to see any of them before now, so off my list they stay.
And just in case you think the IMDB folks are all geniuses, they’ve got that sentimental overacted piece of crap Life Is Beautiful, starring that buffoon Roberto Begnini, at #62.  It’s proof positive that if there are Jews being killed by Nazis, your film is criticism-proof to almost anyone.

+  Metaphorically, of course.  Does anyone really care that I was just coming from the kitchen to the living room to write this whole thing up?  I don’t think so.  Just like when your friend says they literally peed in their pants.  Look at their pants.  I would wager that there is no pee. 
Okay, go back up, read the last sentence of my intro and then come back…  Since these essays are published digitally, there are no actual presses that would be warmed from the friction of printing out these essays.  Man, am I an English snob.
1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    glad to see you back.