Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Top 10 Films of All Time

It’s the question I’m asked most: what are your favorite movies of all time? I’ve answered it timidly, but today seemed like an appropriate time to finally hash it out.

The rule is that there are no rules. The year, director, genre – nothing is of consequence, these are simply my favorite films of all time with brief explanations why. Thank you, as always and forever, for reading!

10. Traffic (2000)
Dir. by Steven Soderbergh
You can cite Soderbergh’s Traffic as one of the main reasons I am so taken with films. Period. I first saw this masterpiece when I was 15 and it marked the first time I literally thought, Oh, okay, maybe I can do this.

Will I ever make a film as accomplished as this one? Ha, I should be so lucky. What I mean is that Traffic, with its digital photography, layered storytelling, purposeful coloring and naturalistic acting, is the film I was born to love. If I can ever have anything to do with a movie that moves me a fraction as much as the final two scenes of Traffic does, then I will have made it.

9. Deliverance (1972)
Dir. by John Boorman
Boorman’s Deliverance is the scariest film I’ve ever seen. Bar none. It destroyed any form of peace and enjoyment one can acquire from the woods (let alone camping), but with this, I wholeheartedly admit that I love everything about it.

You have Burt Reynolds as the personification of ‘70s swagger, John Voight as the perfectly petty yuppie, Ronny Cox as the voice of reason and Ned Beatty as the poorest son of a bitch who has ever lived. And the woods. Those remorseless, thick woods, that spawn American derangement at its most horrific.

Calming, terrifying, oddly endearing – this is a film that has it all. And then some.

(Note: the picture I have used for this film is the direct result of my favorite zoom shot in the history of cinema. I cheer everytime I see it.)

8. Cries and Whispers (1972)
Dir. by Ingmar Bergman
Not unlike most of Bergman’s best films, Cries and Whispers is a movie about fractured relationships. The time is the 1800s, and poor Agnes (Harriet Andersson) is slowly losing a battle to an unforgiving bout of cancer. She screams, wails, and moans in pain as her sisters, the shallow Marie (Liv Ullmann) and the cold Karin (Ingrid Thulin), try their best to pretend that they know what to do. The compassionate maid, Anna (Kari Sylwan), proves to be Anges’ only remote form of solace.

That’s a crude plot summary, and if you’ve ever seen a Bergman film, you know that plot ain’t the half of it. The movie is in the faces. The delicate emotions that define us, even if no one is watching. The way blood is spread across a mouth, or eyes are rolled with modest hesitation – from gorgeous frame one, Cries and Whispers is as unforgiving a film as I can recall. And a flawless one at that.

7. Psycho (1960)
Dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
Psycho, along with the number two film on this list, is the film that wins my personal Watch on Repeat award. I can view it ceaselessly, anytime, anywhere, in any mood, and never grow tired of it. I’m completely fascinated by its subtle trickery, its technical prowess, its shocking deceit, and, of course, it faultless acting.

I was rather young the first time I saw this movie, and when Vera Miles spun that chair around to reveal Mrs. Bates, chills ran down my spine and I let out an audible gasp. I’ve seen Psycho upwards of 100 times, and that is the same exact reaction I have to that scene to this day. THAT is saying something.

6. Blood of the Beasts (1949)
Dir. by Georges Franju
By far the most obscure movie on this list is Georges Franju’s relentless documentary Blood of the Beasts. The concept is simple: the film cross cuts peaceful shots of a post-war Paris with extended scenes in various Parisian slaughterhouses. And inside the walls of the slaughterhouses, you see everything. Everything.

The film, which is (thankfully) shot in black and white and (thankfully) clocks in at just 20 minutes, represents the single most visceral movie going experience I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget sitting dumbfounded and horrified in my History of the Documentary course in college, as carefree butchers went about their work, smoking cigarettes and cutting the heads off of calves.

Funny story: the Christmas after I first saw this film, I gave it to most of my friends and family members as a gift. They thought it was a joke, but I was dead serious. Blood of the Beasts singlehandedly redefined what the documentary art form could achieve. For me, anyway.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Dir. by Stanley Kubrick
Science fiction is by long and far my least favorite film genre, so in listing Kubrick’s masterpiece here, I truly think that speaks highly for the brilliance that this movie contains.

There’s no limit to my affection for this film. From its wordless, ape-laced prologue, to its wordless trip to Jupiter (and every in between and after), 2001 is a milestone of cinematic wonderment. I could quite literally pick any single scene and expand solely on that moment as a means of explaining its power. But, alas, this is a film that is far better appreciated as a whole. I never fail to enjoy the trip.

4. The Deer Hunter (1978)
Dir. by Michael Cimino
Steven Spielberg tells an interesting story on the Lawrence of Arabia DVD in which he recounts the first time he watched David Lean’s epic. When the film was finished, he knew he appreciated its scope, but was otherwise indifferent toward the picture as a whole. It took him literal months before he fully acknowledged the impact that the film had over him. And that is precisely what The Deer Hunter did to me.

When I first saw the film, I respected it, but I found it long, boring, and rather misguided. Months later, a friend asked me about it and I found myself tearful while describing one of its final scenes. That emotion came from nowhere. So I went home, rewatched it, and knew I was in the midst of a classic.

To this day, there is no film that I find more disturbing than The Deer Hunter. That’s not exactly a compliment, but it certainly isn’t a slight, either. Better put: this film moves and rattles me to no end. For better or worse, I am forever married to its pain.

3. Persona (1966)
Dir. by Ingmar Bergman
Bergman is my favorite director, so it may not surprise that two of his films occupy spots on my Top 10 of All Time list. I’ve seen all of his films, and none of them speak to me more profoundly than his confounding work of art, Persona.

The film is essentially about two women: an actress who has fallen mute, and the nurse who cares for her. During its packed 85 minutes, the audience is often confused by what is real, what is a dream, and what is simply imagined. I would never confidently assert what the film is all about, because, quite frankly, no one except Bergman can dissect Persona with such confidence. The film is a moving poem that dare not be tirelessly scrutinized, but rather, respected like a sneaky fever dream that won’t escape your mind.

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Dir. by Quentin Tarantino
Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie of all time. That statement itself warrants explanation as to the difference between “favorite” and “best,” the former being the one movie that I can watch on Monday, laugh about on Tuesday, watch on Wednesday, laugh about on Thursday, and repeat for, well, as long as time will provide.

Take away the cultural impact the film had on the American independent film landscape (you know, how it singlehandedly proved that movies made for nothing could completely change the cinematic game, while making a shit load of money), and simply take it at face value, and you still have a film of enormous weight.

There is no line of dialogue or facial expression that doesn’t fail to entertain. It’s the type of movie that you hear more of with every viewing. Everything in it is rooted so deep in pop culture (and in a basic appreciation for human intelligence) that nothing is said or done as filler.

Pulp Fiction is as fine and purposeful a contemporary American film as there is.

1. Taxi Driver (1976)
Dir. by Martin Scorsese
I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Taxi Driver has been my favorite film since seeing it nearly two decades ago. But I’ve purposefully avoided writing about it for any extended length because, quite simply, I have no idea how to express how much I value this movie.

From the moment I hit play and the screen is black before the studio logos appear, Taxi Driver has me. For nearly two hours (and however long it takes me to come out of my stupor after) I am completely entranced with the world Scorsese, writer Paul Schrader and star Robert De Niro (and cinematographer Michael Chapman and musician Bernard Hermann and costume designer Ruth Morley) create. The film is some kind of pseudo noir riff on the American dream, while not being about that at all. It aims to tell little, but manages to speak volumes.

Travis Bickle, who represents my favorite movie character of all time, is the incarnation of confusion representing itself as vengeance. This man is angry. But why? What motivates him to do what he does, and say what he says? Why does he take his new girlfriend to a porno theater? Why does he want to kill a Presidential candidate? Why does he feel the need to protect a young prostitute or put peach schnapps in his cereal? Maybe he knows something we don’t. Maybe he’s just bored. No matter, I’ve fallen under the spell of Taxi Driver any number of times and found myself equally (if not more) impressed with all that it accomplishes.

Maybe I’ll see you again sometime, huh?

You can count on it.

160 comments:

  1. Solid list man. I need to see those 2 Bergman films and Deliverance. I've never even heard of Blood of the Beasts! So many movies, so little time.

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    1. Ha, isn't there!? No matter how many I seen, there are always more.

      But thanks man, I obviously cannot recommend those four films highly enough. All very very good for very very different reasons.

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  2. Really cool list. I have seen half of these and Psycho, Taxi Driver and Pulp Fiction are in my top 25 films of all time. Excellent movies!

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    1. Nice! Those are some great flicks there, no doubt.

      Glad you dig the list!

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  3. Hmm...seen seven, but only one ranks as a personal favorite of mine.

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    1. Hmm... Taxi Driver....? Is that one that ranks among your faves?

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    2. The seven films in question are Traffic, Psycho, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Deer Hunter, Persona, Pulp Fiction and Taxi Driver. It's Sir Alfred Hitchcock's film that ranks among my favorites.

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    3. Ahh duuuuh, I should've gotten that one.

      Love it.

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  4. Great list Alex. Random to publish such a list, but I'm glad you did man.

    Taxi Driver ... definitely in my top ten.

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    1. Thanks duuude. Not really random though... today is my 5 year blogiversary so I thought it would be appropriate to FINALLY rank my Top 10 of All Time.

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    2. Sam, I'd be curious to see your "top films" list. ")

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    3. I feel like I've seen his before.

      In fact I KNOW I have. Shawshank was number one.

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    4. That was an old list composed about two and a half years ago. I've made a top 20 w/ friends. Perhaps in the near future ...

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    5. Is this old list anywhere online?

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    6. I hope not. It'd be a wildly inaccurate representation of my favorite films of all time now.

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  5. Great list, Alex! I had no idea we shared three of the same top ten films (Taxi Driver, Persona, and 2001). As for the rest of the list I love Cries and Whispers (In my top 25) and Pulp Fiction (In my top 50). The other five films are ones I'm going to have to check out very soon.

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    1. That's awesome! Great minds like great films, I suppose. Can't wait to hear what you think of the other five!

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  6. I guess I need to watch Blood of the Beasts then, I'd never even heard of it! All top choices as expected and Taxi Driver, 2001 and possibly the Deer Hunter would all be in the running to be in my own top 10. Making a top 10 is so hard I've found, is there anything more difficult than comparing two films that you completely and utterly adore.

    Taxi Driver was the film which has definitely had the largest impact on me in terms of being a film watcher, when I watched that for the first time at around 14, I felt like I ~got~ films and turned from a casual film fan to someone who had to see a film every night and watch all the classics, and thankfully my Dad was all too willing to return to classics like The Godfather (although he refused to watch part III with me), The Deer Hunter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and anything with Scorsese's name attached to it.

    Also, what are your thoughts on Deliverance being an allegorical tale for the Vietnam war? I'm planning on doing my final university dissertation next year on the presentation of the enemy in Vietnam films and I absolutely love the reading of Deliverance being about America's intrusion and unexpected defeat in Vietnam.

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    1. Your experience with Taxi Driver damn near mirrors mine. I saw it at such an impressionable age, and it took my love of films to the next level. I will forever love that film.

      As for your final comment, well, honestly, I try to do my best to not invest much time in the What does it all mean thought process behind films. Honestly, I think if you asked James Dickey that question, he'd stare you down, let out a little chuckle and say something to the effect of, "Are you fuckin' kiddin' me, bub?"

      But, then again, I could be so completely wrong. Who knows. I personally have never inferred that Deliverance was an allegory for Vietnam... but hell, who I am to say what is or is not?

      Hemingway once said (and I'm paraphrasing badly): "I just put words on paper, if you read anything more into what is on the page then that is a reflection of you." I've always found that interesting.

      Also, Blood of the Beasts is easily available on YouTube, if you dare....

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    2. Matt -- I have read that the novel upon which Deliverance was based is allegorical, though I've never delved into it. It definitely sounds worth exploring as a facet of your dissertation.

      Love the Hemingway quote. While allegory and symbolism definitely intrigue me, I got more than my fill while I was a university English major. Often people just make shit up, trying to sound clever. My daughter was telling me about some of the wacky interpretations of films she sees on movie forums. It gave me flashbacks. :-P

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    3. Yeah I agree with you, Stephanie. "Looking into" things can definitely be fun (and necessary, via the works of Kubrick, Malick, etc), but sometimes people are looking to sound intellectual and/or hip. I once heard a woman describe how Spider-Man 3 was an allegory for the war in Iraq. I mean... cut me a break.

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  7. I love reading this kind of top 10 all time favorite film lists,they made me feel the strongest passion one has for cinema,and your list did exactly so to me.

    You actually watched Psycho 100 times? That's so shocking to me.Blood of the Beasts's presence here is a small surprise but your explanation says it all.

    Glad to see my all-time favorite 2001 is here!

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    1. 2001 rocks! I had no idea that was your favorite film of all time. Love it.

      My love for Psycho is absolutely crazy, isn't it? I'd say I've seen that at least 100 times. I love everything about it.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, David!

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  8. Amazing list (as I knew it would be). Blood of the Beasts is one I haven't heard of, but the way you describe it reminds me a little of the shots of the bull at the end of Strike - only much more intense, if that's possible!

    You're going to hate me - still haven't seen Taxi Driver, or Pulp Fiction, but I did buy the latter on DVD last week! Hopefully I can watch it this weekend!

    Congratulations on five years blogging - here's to many more!!

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    1. Thanks Ruth! Haha I could never hate you, but obviously I love those films to death, so I can't wait to hear what you think of them.

      Blood of the Beasts can be found via a quick YouTube search, but you've been warned...

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    2. Hmm....maybe not tonight, but I am intrigued!

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    3. Just... don't watch it on a full stomach.

      ...or an empty one.

      Yikes.

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  9. With the exception of Blood of the Beasts, I've seen all of these films and definitely like them a lot. Some of these are among my list of 100 great films ever.

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    1. Nice man, glad we dig the same stuff! Rookie question: is your top 100 films listed anywhere?

      PS, I LOVED your PTA shorts and music videos post. Gonna give it another read tonight.

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    2. I think my 100 films list is in my head.

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  10. I had an -identical- experience with The Deer Hunter as you did. The film IS a little long, but when I watched it, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. Nada. Knew nothing about the plot. But after mentally letting it settle, it's an inarguable masterpiece. Great list. Now I want to watch The Deer Hunter...

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    1. YES! This comment rocks ass. Couldn't agree more with everything you said.

      Shit... now I want to watch it too.

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  11. Excellent list. I'm planning a revamp of my top 100 within the next couple of weeks. First, I MUST watch Blood of the Beasts and rewatch most of these great films. Bring on more lists!

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    1. Nice man, can't wait to see your list. You can find Blood of the Beasts online if you dare.

      More lists comin' soon!

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  12. Haven't seen Deliverance yet and off course I haven't heard of Blood of the Beasts but otherwise definitely a solid list.
    What else do you have up your sleeve this week ? I am sure it will be epic.

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    1. Ha, we...shall...see....

      Definitely check out Deliverance when you get a chance. Great great movie.

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  13. Seen 'em all except for Blood of the Beasts, which I am going to watch now. Sir, I love you. You have Deliverance, Cries and Whispers and Persona on your list. That makes you the fucking bomb, if you weren't already. Oh heck, you always have been.

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    1. Ha, thanks man! Really glad you like the list so much. I love your top 10 (and 100) as well. Great shit all around.

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  14. Great list. The only Bergman film i've seen is Wild Strawberries and I really need to rectify that. Deliverance is also high on my list of things to see. As for having Psycho, Pulp Fiction and Taxi Driver on there, well I certainly can't argue with those.

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    1. Awesome! Ah Bergman... that man changed my life, cannot recommend the majority of his films highly enough.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I'm really digging what I've seen of your site so far. Saw you posted a review of Blood of the Beasts... gonna scope that out shortly!

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    2. You inspired me to give Blood of the Beasts a go and i'm glad I did, even if it was a pretty harrowing 20 or so minutes. Now, to track down some more Bergman...

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    3. If you'd like any Bergman beginners tips, I'd be happy to oblige!

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  15. I've seen 4 of these for the first time this year, I'm going to make it a MUST that I see all by the end of the year!!

    Traffic is one I've been meaning to get to especially. As for the 4 I've seen, I loved 2001 and appreciated Psycho. Pulp Fiction + Taxi Driver, movies that hopefully I will like more on more rewatches.

    Grats again on the 5 years!

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    1. Thanks Alex! I can't wait to hear what you think about the ones you haven't seen yet.

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  16. Never thought I'd see this post go up. Well done sir. So many good choices, I would say these are all in my Top 25, even Blood of the Beasts. Obviously I love to see Psycho up there.

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    1. All in your top 25!? Dude, that fuckin' rocks. I thought you'd appreciate seeing that Hitchcock gem on here!

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  17. Nice list as always, mate. Admittedly I've only seen Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction and 2001, because I'm a colossal dick. I'm worried Bergman will be too 'arty' for me - I know I should try him out, though, especially as he's Woody's favourite director. However, I've always thought that Woody's drama is just too...dramatic. He should remember there are jokes in life, too. Good jumpoff point for his work?

    I've got the Deer Hunter lined up, along with Heat and a load of others. Need to find three hours, but I'm fairly busy at the moment so I've just been watching TV shows at that Martin McDonagh short film Six Shooter, which is awesome, if you haven't already seen it. And, Killing Them Softly, which is ok - some bravado shots of violence, good acting, brilliant monologue to close it out - but left me pretty cold. Lawless was much better, in terms of current gangster movies!

    Keep up the good work, although we all know this list business is just a distraction from the real deal, which is your review of The Master.

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    1. Hey man, fair enough about Bergman. I was where you are about four years ago - thought I'd find his work to... much, you know? Thankfully, I was wildly proved wrong. But I suppose he isn't for everyone.

      Sounds like you've been watching some solid shit. Ha, you really want that Master review, huh? These lists are just killin' my time, but in the best possible way. I'll try to crush it out soon!

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    2. what's some good Bergman to start with, you figure?

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    3. The question of questions.

      I personally think 1957 is the best place to start. There, you begin with two epics that focus on different themes: Wild Strawberries, and The Seventh Seal. From there, work your way down chronologically as best you can:

      The Virgin Spring
      Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence (watch these three close together)
      Persona (my personal fave)
      Hour of the Wolf
      The Passion of Anna
      Cries and Whispers
      Scenes from a Marriage (the longer version is better)
      Face to Face
      Autumn Sonata
      Fanny and Alexander (longer=better)
      Saraband

      Tackle those, and you've got it made!

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  18. Love Taxi Driver, and 2001: ASO, both in my top 10 as well(you've seen my reviews).
    Blood of the Beasts (1949), on the hand, I couldn't watch more than a couple of minutes of, because it was so horrific. I'm sure it's an important piece of filmmaking, and I'm certain these things do happen in the world. Realistic, maybe, but just not for me.

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    1. I honestly don't think I would've made it through 2 minutes of Blood of the Beasts if I knew I wasn't being tested on it later in college. Certainly not for everyone. No way.

      I'm a vegetarian for a number of reasons, but I can truthfully say that I have not eaten a single piece of red meat or pork since the moment I first finished that film. Changed my life.

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    2. @Alex Withrow: Indeed, cruelty to animals is awful, because they can't fight back, have no choice. You'd probably nod your head in agreement with Jonathan Safran Foer's non-fiction book Eating Animals (2009). I didn't know you are a vegetarian, that explains why Blood of the Beasts is important to you. Presumably Jonathan Safran Foer's opinions have a similar effect on some readers.

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    3. I definitely need to check out Foer's book - haven't even heard of that one.

      Talking about my being a veg is tricky, because (in my personal experience) many people get defensive right away, because they falsely assume that I think I'm better than them, which is nonsense.

      I do what I do because I like to do it. Ya dig?

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    4. @Alex Withrow: I dig, better than them is nonsense indeed. Brave of you to reveal details here then, considering your prior experience.

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    5. Thanks man! People are just silly to think that way. But oh well!

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  19. Great to see Psycho on your list! It's such a masterpiece, but I only saw it twice. It's way too creepy and scary to rewatch it. Horror is my faovrite genre but I never have the guts to rewatch some of my favorites. I'm screencaping Alien now and I'm doing so while having the film in minimum size on the player and completely mute and I'm still scared.

    Also it's great to see PF so high up on your list! For me it's probably number 5, so it's in top 10 too :)

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    1. Aww that is so endearing about your screencaping Alien. Fucking perfect.

      Pulp ruuuuules!

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  20. I haven't seen Blood of the Beasts, but I've seen the other nine. It's funny, but none of those would probably make a Top 10 list for me, if I ever did sit down to try to build one. I commend you for even trying to do a top 10 list from among all the films you've seen. Any list that I came up with would probably change by half if I put it together the very next day.

    I am going to attempt a top 10 list from among the films I have reviewed when I do my 500th post in a couple weeks. I'll see if I am comfortable with my own choices after I post them.

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    1. Yeah man, tough work for sure. I'm sure if I was asked to list my Top 10 from memory next month, they'd be slightly different. I'll be really curious to read yours.

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  21. For me 2001 and Persona aren't fav of mines, but i'm generally not a big fan of art house cinema and the like so its just a personal preference. There are a few here i need to watch or rewatch, but overall i think its a solid list.

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    1. Thanks! Do you have a Top 10? I'd love to hear 'em.

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    2. There are a bunch of films i need to watch before id feel comfortable making a top 10 list. I suppose i could make one based only on the films i've seen if you really want me too

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    3. What's cool about making a Top 10 (especially if there is more you know for a fact you need to see) is looking back at it after a year and deciding what stays and goes. Funny how tastes evolve.

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    4. I'll see what i can do. There will probably be a bunch of glaring omissions, but i suppose that can always change

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  22. Saw Taxi Driver as a teenager and it not only changed the way I looked at films, but my life in a strange sort of way. So powerful,I understand how it's your #1 pick.

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    1. Your comment perfectly reflects the impact that film had(s) over me. I'm unable to fully articulate its power. It's all encompassing. So awesome that you like it that much!

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  23. Of the movies on this list that I've seen, Pulp Fiction is, by far, my favorite. Persona sounds cool with the dream-like content. Can't wait to watch it. Congrats again on your five year blog birthday, Alex!

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    1. Thanks :)

      You'd dig Persona, very trippy and ethereal. That's so cool that you like Pulp!

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  24. I've seen more of those than you will probably give me credit for. Yeah...I remember Deliverance. It's bat shit nuts. And my Mother absolutely loved Alfred Hitchcock so Psycho was a staple.

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    1. Haha shit, fair enough. I remember when you texted me as you were watching Taxi Driver for the first time.

      "Oh wow... shit just got nuts."

      Indeed.

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  25. Great, great list, although I've only seen three films here. But they're some of my favourite films too.
    The one I like least might be Psycho, but I still love it, so whatever. It's my favourite Hitchcock until now...

    2001: A Space Odyssey is just one hell of a film. I need to re-watch it soon. I would like to say it's underrated, but a lot of people love it so... and I understand those who don't. And at the same time I don't.

    Pulp Fiction is also incredible, I just watched it for the first time this month. Certainly, this is a new favourite too.

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    1. Thanks! Your comment about 2001 is just perfect. I find it underrated, but adored. I love it, but can understand why people don't (but... not really). Such a confounding work of art there.

      I'll be interested to hear your thoughts about some of the other flicks I listed, when and if you see them!

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  26. Excellent choices! I thoroughly enjoyed the post -- your description of Cries and Whispers, in particular, is gorgeous. I haven't seen Traffic, Persona, Space Odyssey (or maybe I did, but it was so long ago I've forgotten it) or Blood of the Beasts. I'm adding Traffic, Persona and Space Odyssey to my list now. I'll pass on the slaughterhouse documentary. :-)

    Interesting to see you became a vegetarian after seeing Blood of the Beasts. I went the vegetarian route, then went back to being a carnivore. However, I do buy all my meat locally (in bulk) from a farmer who treats the animals compassionately. Well, they're treated compassionately until they're slaughtered. :-/ But I do like supporting farms in which animals are free-range and not caused to suffer as long as they're alive -- plus this method of farming is ecologically sustainable. These are definitely tough ethical questions for everyone (or should be).

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    1. Not that I'm into judging other people's choice re: buying meat. I do what makes sense to me.

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    2. Right, exactly. We do what makes sense to us. I would never dare pontificate about my eating habits to anyone ever. People should do whatever they want to do.

      But, more importantly... yeah, that is the power that film had over me. Just remarkable.

      Can't wait to hear what you think of Traffic. I really think you'll like that one. So very moving.

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    3. Yes, I re-read my comment, I realized I sounded a bit like a pretentious ass, which is why I added the note about not judging. :-) And yes, the real point there was the power of films to change lives. Looking forward to Traffic.

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    4. Make sure you let me know when/if you see Traffic. I'll definitely want to talk to you about that one!

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  27. I love seeing lists like this. This is a damn near impossible task but you pulled it off. Awesome job, man.

    2001 and Pulp Fiction would likely be in my top 10 as well, with Taxi Driver, Psycho and Deliverance at least on the outside looking in.

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    1. Thanks dude! I would really dig checking out your Top 10. Do it do it!

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  28. Very very interesting list. I haven't seen either of the two Bergman films and I had not heard of Blood of the Beasts at all until now. However, you make a very compelling argument to drop everything I'm doing right now and get myself a copy of all of these films.

    The rest of your choices are all excellent, though I have my reservations about Deliverance. I watched The Deer Hunter recently for the first time and I have similar feelings towards it as you do. I also seem to think along the same lines for most of the other films you touch upon.

    Out of your choices, I think Pulp Fiction would be the only one I would also include on my own, which is not to say films like Taxi Driver wouldn't be contenders.

    Thanks for sharing. Great post too!

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    1. Nice! Bergman, man. Dude changed my life. You can find Blood of the Beasts via a quick YouTube search. But you've been warned...

      Have you seen Deliverance? Curious about your reservations...

      Thanks man, glad you liked the choices. There are just so many flawless films to choose from out there.

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  29. Very interesting list, Alex! Fantastic choices. A few surprises, though I knew you loved TRAFFIC, DELIVERANCE, Bergman, PULP FICTION and that TAXI DRIVER was your #1. I am so glad to see DELIVERANCE here. Its a perfect film. I have not seen BLOOD OF THE BEASTS, but it sounds incredible. It is on my list.

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    1. Thanks Andy! You know, Deliverance was a late addition here. I had finalized the list, then did one last walk-through of my DVD collection. And when I saw it, I said, "Oh, well, obviously."

      Love the hell out of it.

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  30. Lovely list, as always. Never heard of Blood of the Beasts, and I still have to check out The Deer Hunter and more Bergman movies, but it's nice to see Taxi Driver on first position, no surprise here :)

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    1. No surprise at all! That movie defines my love for movies. Love Taxi Driver.

      I'm always interested to hear more takes on Bergman flicks. Hope you get to watch more soon!

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  31. Shit, 90 comments. I'm late to the party! Looks like everyone left a week ago, though. :-) Still, man, fabulous list. Not in agreement with you on several of these titles, but it is what it is. I love your passion for them, so that still makes you OK in my book. Ha!

    Happy blogoversary again, man. Keep on keeping on!

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    1. Thanks dude!

      When you say "not in agreement" do you mean in terms of the high praise I give them? Or their order...?

      I am SO passionate about these flicks, and my love for them! Thanks as always for reading!

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    2. Well, I just didn't care for Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter or Psycho (I know, I know, this kills you), and I liked 2001, Deliverance and Traffic enough to recommend but I just did not love them. Not that these are bad films or of low quality -- they just didn't stick with me. Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece of the highest order, and the rest.... well... they remain unseen by me.

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    3. Ah I gotcha. Obviously those are my favorite flicks of all time, but I'm old enough to know that people like what they like for reasons specific to them. I see all of these people (mostly younger) on Twitter and on blogs trying so hard to convince other people that they NEED to love the films they love. That almost seems futile, you know?

      There are a shiiiiit ton of popular and well regarded movies that I detest. At the end of the day, we like what we like. I respect your opinions, homie.

      Delete
  32. Yeah, exactly, man. You're not wrong, this list entirely accurate. And you know what? My comment is not wrong either.

    Funny world we live in, eh? :-)

    Respect, yo.

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  33. A man after my own heart! I've always said that The Deer Hunter and Taxi Driver were my favourite films of all time! That was until I rewatched Psycho and discovered Tarantino! My God, there are some great films out there!
    You've pretty much nailed it!

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    1. Thanks Ron! I'm not sure how you find my site, but thanks so much for all of your kind comments. Really glad you like the list!

      Delete
  34. And.. What about asian movies ?

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  35. Hey, Alex. I've stumbled upon your blog while browsing Taxi Driver related images and title of the post attracted me. I don't know if you'll ever notice my comment. Anyway, I really liked your list (although was hoping for another Bergman's existential movies) and I also realize how Travis Bickle might be a vague character for certain people, but with not overly explained motivations. Subtlety I guess. He's an alienated/isolated misanthrope with the sense of entitlement progressively slipping into psychotic state. Even though, there'll always be vague (as intented) aspects of the film and the protagonist.

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    1. Hey there, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I ALWAYS notice comments, my friend!

      To be honest, this list could've easily been occupied by 10 Bergman films, but I thought that'd be kind of... strange. Gotta spread it out a bit, you know?

      So glad to hear you're a fan of Travis Bickle, by far my favorite movie character of all time.

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  36. Great list, though I always thought Southern Comfort to be far superior to Deliverance.

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    1. Thanks man. You know, I haven't seen Southern Comfort, but it sounds damn interesting. I'm going to give it a watch ASAP. Thanks!

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    2. Great stuff. It's somewhat similar to Deliverance and thus often compared, but please let me know what you think! In my opinion it's the best thing Walter Hill ever did, closely followed by The Driver.

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    3. I do love The Driver, and a lot of Hill's work. I'll definitely report back once I watch Southern Comfort. Hoping to get to it in the next few days!

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    4. Funny story: I actually had seen Southern Comfort, but didn’t remember until about 10 minutes into the film during my viewing last night. The first time I saw it, I was around 11 years old. And the following summer, my brother and I stumbled across a huge quarry by complete chance. We were out hiking, and bam, there this massive body of water was. We walked around it a bit and after a while, my brother found two boats that weren’t tied up. He wanted to take one into the quarry, but I objected… because if Southern Comfort taught me one thing, it’s that you don’t take boats that don’t belong to you.

      The movie as whole… I like it well enough. It has a very Hill vibe to it, which is always good. But the acting, to me, often ventures into hyperbole, and the suspense is never grand enough for me to fully care what is happening to these guys. Now, with all that said, I fucking LOVE those final 15 minutes. I’m utterly fascinated by the psychology of violence, and seeing where these people came from (i.e., where they are considered normal) is a thrill for me. I do appreciate you reminding me about the film, because my viewing made for a great trip down memory lane.

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  37. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it. =)

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  38. I've seen Taxi Driver 3 times. I think its in my top 10, but I need to watch it again- its a tricky one for me but I cant deny that its masterful, and perhaps Scorsese's best in a portfolio of endlessly stellar movies. Anways:

    20-2001: A Space Odyssey
    19-The Shawshank Redemption
    18-Amadeus
    17-Raging Bull
    16-Se7en
    15-Leon: The Professional
    14-American History X
    13-American Psyco
    12-Goodfellas
    11-Pulp Fiction
    10-The Departed
    9-A Clockwork Orange
    8-The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
    7-Inglorious Basterds
    6-V for Vendetta
    5-The Thin Red Line
    4-Resevoir Dogs
    3-Sleepers
    2-There Will Be Blood
    1-Fight Club

    I wrote my own, you inspired me to. Its always interesting to compare favourites and opinions. And I definitely see how Fight Club can be very sour In its oft poor pacing and pretention. Just too funny and damn well put together for me to deny. Will be able to watch a lot of these after GSCEs are over, I respect your opinion and I dang hope they live up to what you say they are :D .Oh and if this posts twice, Ill delete the first, Its confusing and new to me :P

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    1. That's a great Top 20 right there. Sleepers is one of my favorite films of all time. Arguably the best film made about the psychological and emotional effects of violence. I absolutely adore it. Honestly, I like all the films you listed, but I was so pleased to see Sleepers ranked so high. Great work.

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    2. I know. I totally forgot about that and Leon. Then I rediscovered them and was wholly impressed once more. Goodfellas has shifted much higher (watched it yesterday) because its kind of lost what it once had on me. Its been replaced by the Departed because, quite frankly, that movie is damn perfect and much more varied than "EEEEEEEY MICKEY!" all the time. Finally, the top 3 are kind of interchangeable. I see what you mean about Fight Club.

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    3. Goodfellas is one of those films I can watch anytime, anywhere. It's so compulsively entertaining - I love everything about it.

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    4. Can I play too? :)

      My list is somewhat different. In no particular order:

      Battle Royale
      Oldboy
      Lawrence of Arabia
      Exotica
      Martyrs
      Cure
      13 Conversations about 1 Thing
      The Thing
      Ex-Drummer
      City of God
      Forbidden Zone
      So Fucking What
      Barfly
      Candyman
      Dark Days
      Intacto
      Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
      Man with a Movie Camera
      Naked
      Naked Lunch
      Tesis
      Virgin Suicides
      Uzumaki
      Yrrol
      Angel Heart
      Irreversible

      (sorry, I couldn't narrow it down to just 10)

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    5. Wow man, that is one hell of a varied list. Love it. You hit the whole gamut there - no genre untouched. Love that Irreversible makes an appearance. A horrific yet important and oddly beautiful film.

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    6. Christ. That was last year. It staggers me how much my taste in film has changed.

      25. Lawrence Of Arabia
      24. The Treasure Of Sierra Madre
      23. On The Waterfront
      22. Dog Day Afternoon
      21. Deliverance
      20. Stalker
      19. The Ascent
      18. Apocalypse Now
      17. The Third Man
      16. Amadeus
      15. Some Like It Hot
      14. 2001: A Space Odyssey
      13. The Apartment
      12. Taxi Driver
      11. The Thin Red Line
      10. Seven Samurai
      9. 12 Angry Men
      8. The Battle Of Algiers
      7. Once Upon A Time In America
      6. Rear Window
      5. Casablanca
      4. Andrei Rublev
      3. Once Upon A Time In The West
      2. Sleepers
      1. Chinatown

      ...Jesus. To think there are still so many more films to see...

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    7. It IS really funny how time can change/alter tastes. Crazy how Chinatown didn't even crack your list a year ago, now it's number 1! Just saw that movie on the big screen and man... what an experience. Also love that Sleepers comes in at number 2. A criminally ignored masterpiece.

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    8. I hadn't seen it until last September. Saw it on the big-screen and knew immediately that it was no.1. In fact many of these I didn't see until late last year- just found all the movies I loved a little late, I guess. Sleepers has been there the longest: for about 6 years now, and I doubt it will ever change. I wouldn't hesitate to call it one of the finest of its decade, but maybe that's just me :p

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    9. Nope, I'm right there with you. It never gets old, that movie. I watch it every few months. I just... works.

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  39. It has got that wow factor with all of the impressive acting and damn awesome screenplay- as well as the kick-ass soundtrack, but once I've seen a Scorsese gangster flick a couple of times, it wears off one me. No one can beat him in his field, but its often the same thing OVER AND OVER. Hence why I love The Departed, King of Comedy and Wolf of Wall Street. Not forgetting Raging Bull and Taxi Driver of course. That all being said- I despise Cape Fear. Such abysmally bad writing from such a genius was painful to endure- though De Niro was great :D

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    1. Ahh, interesting. See, I actually really like Cape Fear, until they get on that boat at the end. Then the film turns into an overblown mess. But everything before that works for me. De Niro is bonkers in that flick.

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    2. Check out De Niro's amazingly underrated performance in "Heat".......a true genius!!

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    3. I like the actors, and I get that De Niro on the school stage was meant to be chilling (without music), but, unlike most of his pictures, it didn't really work for me. He worms titles in in a clever way, but here it was a random sign, never mentioned again. De Niro was mad, but, like you said, perhaps a little too much so. Its that Stansfield (Leon:The Professional) kind of crazy where its teetering on the edge of just plain silly in places. And it jumps off the precipice in the final act. I was sad to see such a great man fall. Not New York, New York fall- but still a letdown. And Ron yea, he was great in heat.

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    4. Mark: I completely understand, definitely fair enough. By no means am I a Cape Fear defender, but I do appreciate aspects of it.

      Ron: Hey man, Heat... fuggedaboutit

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    5. Don't worry. I get it. I love Gangs Of New York- if only for Bill the Butcher. Max Cady saves Cape Fear, but not enough to drag it out of the depths for me. Still better than Dead Calm :p Also, speaking of Heat, is it me, or is Al Pacino a little overrated In Scarface. I never got the appeal of that movie- save the last 10 minutes. Just wondered what you thought

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    6. I'm with you 100% on Gangs of New York. As much as I respect DiCaprio, he's never done it for me in that film. Daniel Day, though... a beast as always.

      I'm a huge Brian De Palma fan, but I do think Scarface is lauded far more than it deserves to be. It has some fantastic set pieces - the chainsaw bit is my favorite - but it is far from Pacino's best performance. I've always just thought the movie was very decent, as opposed to great.

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  40. Such a cool list, man. "Taxi Driver" is one of those movies that have literally changed my life and my viewpoint on art on the whole. I'd like to share with you my personal my Top 15 looks like this:

    1) Vertigo (1958) - Dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
    2) Fight Club (1999) - Dir. by David Fincher
    3) Pulp Fiction (1994) - Dir. by Quentin Tarantino
    4) City Lights (1931) - Dir. by Charles Chaplin
    5) Taxi Driver (1976) - Dir. by Martin Scorsese
    6) Citizen Kane (1941) - Dir. by Orson Welles
    7) The Godfather (1972) - Dir. by Francis Ford Coppola
    8) One flew over the cuckoo's nest (1975) - Dir. by Milos Forman
    9) Persona (1966) - Dir. by Ingmar Bergman
    10) Tôkyô monogatari (1953) - Dir. by Yasujirô Ozu

    Congatulations for another excellent list!

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    1. Thanks man! I just love that Persona cracks your Top 10 - that makes me so happy. Taxi Driver literally changed things for me as well. I saw that and Pulp Fiction for the first time within just a few weeks (I was 10 years old... jesus haha), and those films made me realize how much I absolutely loved movies.

      I love every other film on your list as well. Just rewatched Cuckoo's Nest a few months ago - that one never gets old. Its impact only grows. Phenomenal.

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  41. Where is The Godfather?

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    1. Close by. Barely didn't make the cut.

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  42. For me Best movies by genre:
    Hitchcock - Psycho(1960)
    Scorsese - Goodfellas(1990)
    Chaplin - The Great Dictator(1940)
    Sci-Fi - Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back(1980)
    Horror - The Silense of the Lambs(1991)
    Vietnam War/World War 2 - Apocalypse Now(1979)/Saving Private Ryan(1998)
    Superhero - Batman(1989)/The Dark Knight(2008)
    Mafia - The Godfather(1972)
    Black Comedy - Pulp Fiction(1994)
    Noir/Neo-Noir - The Maltese Falcon(1941)/Chinatown(1974)
    Animated - Finding Nemo(2003)
    Action - Die Hard(1988)

    And My Top 10 Favorite Movies
    1.The Godfather(1972) by Francis Ford Coppola
    2.Pulp Fiction(1994) by Quentin Tarantino
    3.Psycho(1960) by Alfred Hitchcock
    4.Goodfellas(1990) by Martin Scorsese
    5.Star Wars IV: A New Hope(1977) by George Lucas
    6.Die Hard(1988) by John McTiernan
    7.Saving Private Ryan(1998) by Steven Spielberg
    8.The Shawshank Redemption(1994) by Frank Darabont
    9.Ed Wood(1994) by Tim Burton
    10.The Dark Knight(2008) by Christopher Nolan

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    1. Great lists buddy. Love that Pulp and Psycho make your list - two of my all time favorites. Also great to see Die Hard on there. Arguably my favorite action film of all time. A great ride.

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  43. I've seen 7 of these, just missing Traffic (which I'll be watching very soon), Cries And Whispers and Blood Of The Beasts. Bergman is someone I always hear about but have never really seen (until recently when I watched Persona, which was alright but didn't really wow me), The Seventh Seal will be my next one of his, see how that goes. And Blood Of The Beasts, although I'm sure it's a powerful viewing experience doesn't sound like something I'd like.

    My Top 20 is:
    20. North By Northwest
    19. Coming To America
    18. Dirty Harry
    17. The Matrix
    16. The Castle
    15. Pulp Fiction
    14. Aliens
    13. Silence Of The Lambs
    12. Children Of Men
    11. High Fidelity
    10. Star Wars Trilogy
    9. Taxi Driver
    8. Magnolia
    7. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    6. Being John Malkovich
    5. American Beauty
    4. The Shawshank Redemption
    3. Seven
    2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
    1. Fight Club

    What a great year 1999 was for film!

    Also I was thinking of other ideas for top 10 lists you could do if you were interested and had the time; top 10 by decade, I know you've done the 2000's but I'd be keen to see what your picks for each decade of the 1900's would be. Quite a task I know but it'd be fun to see!

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    1. Hey man, thanks for the comment. I can’t say I like Blood of the Beasts, but it is the most visceral film I’ve ever seen, so that’s why I’ll always consider it one of the greats.

      Love your list, and I’m so happy that many of my favorites are on there as well. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts on The Seventh Seal. Bergman was a huge inspiration on Kubrick, and I think that shines through a lot, but especially in 2001.

      I did post my best of decades lists on another site a while back, but you’re right, it’d be fun to include them here!

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  44. I was going to reply to your comment on your Roy Scheider post, but I thought it would be more fitting If I commented here instead :) I am wary of saying my favourite films of all time as I still have a LONG way to go until I finish my film education, but I think I'll give it a try. Here are my top 20 films of all time (for now):

    1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    2. All That Jazz (1979)
    3. Cries and Whispers (1973)
    4. Gone with the Wind (1939)
    5. Vertigo (1958)
    6. The Apartment (1960)
    7. City Lights (1931)
    8. Raging Bull (1980)
    9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    10. Annie Hall (1977)
    11. Schindler's List (1993)
    12. Psycho (1960)
    13. Almost Famous (2000)
    14. Pulp Fiction (1994)
    15. The Godfather & The Godfather Part II (1972, 1974. I'd rather just enjoy watching them again and again rather than pick one over the other).
    16. Amadeus (1984)
    17. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    18. All About Eve (1950)
    19. 8 1/2 (1963)
    20. Persona (1966)

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    1. I had no idea you liked Bergman so much! He's my all-time favorite, so it's great to see him on here twice.

      This is a very well balanced list. Most "early" film fans only have favorite films from the past few years (which is perfectly fine), but there's a wide range here. And also, ANYONE can have a favorite films of all time list. As far as I'm concerned, I'll never be finished with my film education ;)

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  45. Are a kind of movies like Psycho and Taxi Driver. They have a great villain, strong secondary characters, a great screenplay, a catchy score/song and great performance. This are complete movies in my opinion.

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    1. Hell yeah man, for sure. Love them both so much.

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  46. I think I saw Taxi Driver 5 times. The first time was "eh", same was the second and third, but the fourth and fifth time I was blown away. I like Taxi Driver very much but I am not very sure if it's better than Goodfellas.
    But Taxi Driver has a better quote: "You talkin' to me?" than Goodfellas has "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster" & "Funny how? Do I amuse you?";
    Taxi Driver has a better main actor/character: Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle than Goodfellas has: Ray Liotta as Henry Hill;
    A better score (when I first heard the Main Theme I downloaded immediately, never happend before and after to me);
    And (I'm not very sure) a better story.

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    1. Great story there. I love both films so much, but Taxi Driver will always have an edge for me. I absolutely love that movie.

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  47. I've seen 5. Love to explore Bergman's films, I've only seen "The Seventh Seal" which was great, one of my fist Criterion. Targeting "Persona", Wild Strawberries" and "Cries and Whispers" as well. Anyways, here's mine:

    #1 Schindler's List
    Gravity
    The Passion of Joan of Arc
    Jurassic Park
    The Exorcist
    The Godfather Part II
    Children of Men

    Still working on my Top 10. Wanna discover more, wanna learn more. I grew up mostly with Spielberg films, "Jurassic Park" inspired me to become a filmmaker someday whilst "Schindler's List" led me to the world of cinema. If Dinosaurs was my childhood fantasy, "The Exorcist" was my childhood nightmare. It never gets old. I loved Cuaron works, also. Hitchcock too, Scorsese, Tarantino and etc. :)

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    1. "If Dinosaurs was my childhood fantasy, "The Exorcist" was my childhood nightmare." What a truly great sentence. Love that. The Exorcist is such a powerful and haunting film. Never gets old.

      Love hearing that you have an active interest in Bergman's films. His movies changed me, and I'm indebted to them to this day. For me, Persona is the top. I mean, holy shit, what a head trip.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it!

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  48. I think you shold replace 2001 with Interstellar. I my opinion THIS IS THE BEST SCI-FI EVER, now.

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    1. It's a damn fine film. Damn fine. Arguably my favorite sci-fi space movie since 2001. But for now, 2001 stays. I absolutely adore that film with every fiber of my being.

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  49. Five great films made after Traffic(not from 2000s).

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    1. What do you mean? Traffic was made in 2000 but I can't choose films from the 2000s?

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    2. Bwst from 2010s. Just that simple.

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    3. I'm actually going to post that in January, so hold tight for another few weeks!

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  50. can you make a list of 30 films or more
    i think you have really good taste of film and 10 just not enough for a guy like you

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    1. Wow, thanks so much! You know, I actually was thinking about posting my Top 11-20 pretty soon. So that's a start!

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  51. Remember me? "If Dinosaurs was my childhood fantasy, "The Exorcist" was my childhood nightmare." What a truly great sentence. Love that." WELL, I'M BACK AND TELL YOU WHAT...

    I JUST WATCHED PERSONA THE OTHER DAY, SAW IT FOR THE 3RD TIME NOW AWHILE AGO, man...

    I WANNA PUT IT NOW IN MY TOP 10. IT WAS SUCH AN OTHERWORLDLY, BIZARRE EXPERIENCE. UTTERLY FLAWLESS. No one can really dissect the film other than its creator, like you said, but... there's something in it that won't let me go. I can't explain yet, what that is, but everything about the picture is just spellbinding; the characters, cinematography, them words - the conversation, those distortion, constructed images. I love it man. I love it.

    Yep, looking forward to your 11-20 soon! I've been working on my Top 10 for like 3 years, lol! I'll share mine here soon! :) And there's no Exorcist, The Godfather Part 2, Gravity, Children of Men anymore... but CLASSICS. :) I've been enjoying this site since I discovered it last year. Thanks for following me back on Letterboxd too! Name's "Dom Franc" in there. Hehehe.

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    1. Of course I remember you! That sentence is epic. So happy Persona resonates with you, that one still fucks with me in the best possible way. There's just something about it, man.

      I've been working on my 11-20 for quite some time. It's a strange thing, those lists. I completed it, but then realized The Godfather nor Part II was listed. Even though I love both of those movies, it's so strange that I wouldn't instinctually put at least one of them in my Top 20. So I don't know... I need to let it sit for a little while longer, see how I feel about it. But I'll get it out there soon, for sure. Thanks for stopping by again!

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  52. Would you ever consider making a top 100 list? I really love your taste, and I'd love to know what you would include.

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    1. Thanks so much, so happy you dig the blog and my taste. I've thought about doing a Top 100, but it's just too many for me. I think they'd change a lot, so posting that many just seems like a stretch. I am going to post my Top 11-20 in a few days though!

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  53. I really didn't know where else to put this, apologies :p

    http://musicmotionmadnessfilm.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/when-does-homage-become-plagiarism.html

    Just something I saw watching Taxi Driver and Harakiri recently- totally out of the blue! Interesting stuff.

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    1. Great post man! Just commented on it.

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  54. If you ever find the time for such a long read I thought you'd be interested in this http://musicmotionmadnessfilm.blogspot.co.uk/p/mtop-100.html

    Took a while, quite proud of it actually aha. Happy to wait another 3 years for your 30-21 ;)

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    1. Finally commented - sorry it took so long! GREAT work.

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  55. We share the same #1 :D

    Also, love some Bergman in there.

    Love your taste man! As of me, my Top 15 goes-
    Taxi Driver
    Interiors
    Amadeus
    Leaving Las Vegas
    Trois Couleurs Rogue
    A Clockwork Orange
    Magnolia
    Goodfellas
    Blue Velvet
    American Beauty
    Dog Day Afternoon
    The Social Network
    The Ass--- Robert Ford
    Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind
    Birdman

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    1. Thanks Dude! Great list. Three Colors, Leaving Las Vegas, Dog Day, Goodfellas - great stuff. I genuinely love every movie you listed.

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