This is daunting. I have been writing top ten lists for half a decade now, yet I rarely ever touch “top ten best” lists because I feel like opinions are not fact, so someone saying with all confidence, THESE ARE THE 10 BEST MOVIES EVER are generally speaking for themselves. What I do find funny after years of writing this stuff is, people ALWAYS comment about their favorite movie you “left off” the list. It is moments like that where I think the world has become really stupid and so narcissistic it no longer understands what opinion is. No, I probably didn’t leave your favorite movie off my list. I either didn’t find it is life altering as you or maybe, just maybe, I haven’t seen it. But what, they gasp? You review things online and write. You have to have seen and heard and played EVERYTHING EVER. No, that is not how lists like this work. These are ten outstanding films that are the best movies ever, but please understand. Like ALL LISTS YOU SEE ONLINE, I am just one person who knows a great deal about film giving you a list of the ten movies I feel are the best out there, but that by no means states this is the be-all, end-all list of best movies ever made. Just the ten best I have seen, and I have written and published over a thousand articles about film, so pretty safe to say some of you may agree with these choices. The beauty is, some will not agree, and that is what makes this so much fun. No right or wrong, people. Just opinion.
For those who don’t, I am not wrong and you are not wrong, but no. I didn’t “Leave out” your movie choice. Just please understand that going in. Also, this list is going to be very different than most you’ve read. Do you actually need another list that jerks off The Godfather or Casablanca?? No, we don’t. So I approached this list with a clean set of eyes. Also, let it be known, white guy in my thirties. That, in itself, may set some of my fave’s apart from yours, just based on audience demographics.
With that massive disclaimer out of the way, here are the ten best movies ever made, at least per this site and myself. And before you throw stones if there are a few on here you have never even heard of. Please watch them before you tell me how much I or they suck so I at least HEAR your counterpoint as to why..
10) Enter the Void
You can say what you want about French extreme director, Gaspar Noe (with accents over the E) but films like Enter the Void and Irreversible are movies that take the medium of film to brave new heights most modern directors would not dare even try to reach. While putting Irreversible on the list was something I flirted with (yes, it makes you sick and kind of changes your look at the purity of life), in the end, Enter the Void was one of the most engrossing and transcending movie experiences I have ever had, so here it is.
Following closely with the ideals of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Enter the Void follows a drug dealer who gets killed and then we see his life, past, present, and future without him, from his perspective. Yes, this movie is all shot from the literal perspective of a dead person hovering between death and life. To tell you anymore woulkd be to strip some of the genre-defying magic that makes this movie work so well, but trust me, see it. Noe’s work is unlike anyone else in this field, and that alone makes it merit a viewing.
The influence of certain chemicals into the system before watching Enter the Void helps this movie, too, I wont lie. A move the director himself would encourage so to ensure his audience would better understand the film. Truthfully, I don’t even like the idea of putting it at spot 10, but so many people just don’t connect with it, I felt I had no choice.
Enter the void is not a film as much as it is an experience you feel exhausted after, but should take anyway.
9) Inside Out
Yes, I know. Everything by Pixar is magic and so on. I also know most people would delegate Pixar movies to list of “animated” films, but that just undermines the power of the message in this movie (and how stunning the art itself is). Could Up have placed here? Maybe. Could Toy Story 3 have taken this movie’s place on this list? Perhaps.. But I will tell you why they didn’t. No movie has ever told children (or adults for that matter) that sadness is CRUCIAL to existence. The message that was being sprinkled throughout the filmwithout even being crammed down our throats was a message so few say. Being sad is part of life, and if anyone you know is TOO sad, ask them if they are okay. It dealt with depression in such a valid way that it is hard for me to even see Inside Out as a kid’s film. Maybe a film kids can love because of the shiny happy sing songy vibe, but the message hit me hard as an adult, and it took a company like Pixar to make the magic possible.
Wall-E was quite close, though. A damn near silent film love story about robots that mocks humanity? Yes please, but Inside Out one because it is the first Disney movie that had bong in one of their character’s names. Shout out to Bing Bong, who I am still weeping over, BTW.
8) 28 Days Later
Yup, horror made my list and it isn’t Jaws or Poltergeist or The Exorcist (though my God those are fucking awesome movies). I went more contemporary. So should we get the “zombie” issue out of the way right now? Technically, no. 28 Days Later is NOT a zombie movie, but that is some “fine print” assholery and we all know it. It IS a zombie movie, but it just redefined the zombie, straight up, even if it refuses to use the Z word. Running “zombies” now exist in gaming and movies and pop culture because of 28 Days, so call it a zombie or call it a rage virus if you prefer, but we all know what kind of monster movie this is.
But every single aspect of 28 Days Later is as dark and unsettling and as fantastic is “horror” films get. The idea of anything in packs trying to kill you is horrifying (even enough hamsters surrounded you I guarantee they would not be cute to you anymore), but when you add human speed and rage and a working brain, it takes the idea of a zombie outbreak and flips it on its head. I hate when people say horror is not a respectable a genre as drama or even sci fi.
28 Days Later proves to people horror films can be gory and relentless and still be fucking art, regardless of subject matter. Also, Danny Boyle is the shit, as is Cillian Murphy, and we know both of those things as a result of this movie.
7) The Usual Suspects
Sometimes, movies end up transcending their stories. Sometimes, somehow, movies just hit the sweet spot, from casting down the score, and everything falls together like a psychic playing a game of Tetris with their eyes closed. The Usual Suspects is one such movie. Not only is its story great, but every single cast member and what they bring to the table makes it like a perfectly balanced meal.
But let’s talk about why we are really here.
Keyser Söze (namely Kevin Spacey as said man via Verbal Kint)
There was just something so amazing about how they laid out the mystery in this story and then slowly unfolded it for us right before our eyes, dropping all our jaws on the floor. Some say The Sixth Sense is the greatest movie twist in recent history, but I would argue The Usual Suspects does it even better.
I also feel obligated to tell you all the clip featured above is them genuinely laughing. They had worked an 18 day, it was about 3 a.m. and they were all sick of reshooting the lineup scene, so the last time they went in to film it, they all fucked off and it worked so well they kept that take in the actual movie. Now scroll above and watch that scene and again and realize the magic you are witnessing. And remember kids, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist…..
6) Oldboy (Original)
While Spike Lee’s American remake did not totally suck ass, it did not do the weight of the original justice at all. Directed by the Godly Chan-wook Park (Stoker, Vengeance Trilogy), Oldboy tells a story that is so original, at times you will have no idea where it is going, but you will be left slack-jawed and speechless by the time you make it there.
The story (without giving away anything that makes it so fucking perfect) is about a man who gets locked away in a room for fifteen years, given no reason, then is let out (also with no explanation) and given a list names of the people responsible, who he then goes and visits, one by one (and sometimes, ten by one) to punish and explain to him why.
But regardless of that awesome premise, that still leaves you clueless about just how wicked this journey is. Featuring the single greatest one shot from all of film (outside of this Children of Men scene) featured above, (don’t worry, scene is story-spoiler free) Oldboy is the kind of movie that will wake you up to South Korean cinema, and you will be awed by what you find there. Just trust me. No one in the WORLD can make revenge flicks like they do from South Korea, and Chan-wook is a master craftsman of the trade.
5) This is Spinal Tap
I had to rep some comedy on the list because as you can see it is underrepresented among the top ten. Picking a comedy for all the world and saying it is THE BEST is brazen, but I feel that This is Spinal Tap by once great director Rob Reiner deserves the comedy crown (just barely beating out Blazing Saddles). Though some may watch it now and think it is dated because it was a send-up of hair metal from the late seventies and eighties, the funny thing is, all the jokes still work even if that scene has all but gone extinct.
A perfect example being the scene from above. Making the amps go to 11 may be one of the most quoted lines in movie history (and IS the most metal thing ever, even if the joke here is that it actually means nothing).
Another movie that came close to snatching this comedy title for the list is What We Do in the Shadows, but you all need to see it before I can place it. So see it, please.
4) There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day Lewis is a beast of an actor without any real rivals, as far as I am concerned. He is an artist in the truest sense of the word, and like most great artists, he is a little insane. Nowhere is this insanity more on display than in the staggering Paul Thomas Anderson movie There Will Be Blood.
From the opening scene with no dialog of him shattering his legs and then dragging himself to trade in the gold he found, despite any concern for his injury, to the last scene shown above, it is a wholly mesmerizing portrayal of a man’s lust for greed and how deeply that corrupts him and his life, even though he gets everything he asked for and longed for.
Truth is, you could pop almost any key Daniel Day Lewis movie on here and it would fit. From Gangs of New York to My Left Foot, the man is a method actor and his work shows us why method actors are the best in the business, and Lewis is the best of the best.
3) Apocalypse Now
Okay, fine, some movies are just a given. I could not sacrifice this movie off this list even though I KNOW it has made so many lists and ALL the world has seen it by now. Put all those facts aside, you have (by all accounts), a cursed movie that almost killed its director and lead actor, among others. A movie that’s scope had not been attempted before. A movie that was filming in actual war zones at times. A film that shows the real slaughter of animals (not cool at all, by the way) and showed us a side of Marlon Brando none of us had seen before. Hell, even THAT was a disaster, as Brando showed up to set months late and 100 pounds heavier then when he was cast, openly knowing none of his lines. Hell, he made up half his dialog on the spot in that final scene and it is one of the greatest movie monologues of all time. Now that is movie magic, despite the odds (which seemed stacked against Francis Ford Coppola at all times).
They even fucking ran out of money multiple times and lost a great deal of footage (like millions of dollar worth) in a monsoon, yet the film still got finished and the end result is the one war movie out there that truly makes you feel like you are IN it, wiping the heavy Vietnam humidity sweat from your brow as you watch it.
Also, extra points for all the incredibly quote worthy lines this movie spawned. Napalm in the morning? No thank you and yes please, all at once.
And don’t even get me started on that soundtrack’s perfection, either. Speaking of a soundtrack that is as perfect as the movie itself….
2) Fight Club
Scoff, say what you want, call is a machismo fest that is loaded with underlying hints of closeted homosexuals literally fighting that side of themselves. None of that matters to me or has any weight. Fight Club spoke to me more clearly than any other film I had ever seen.
A movie about a man who basically feels lost in the gray seas of life until he meets the man he always longed to be which changes his life forever. And though Fight Club looked cool and was chocked full of great music and awesome performances, none of that is what placed it just under number one.
What placed it was the ballsy message of anti-establishment. What placed it was David Fincher’s amazing eye and pacing, as well as his gift for storytelling. It placed SO HIGH because outside of the ending (which the author of Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk, says he liked better than the ending he wrote for book), it is about as close to a book adaptation as you can get.
Llastly, it placed JUST under number one because it changes lives. I went into Fight Club an Ikea-consumer-zombie and walked away from it bruised, beaten, but knowing myself a whole lot better.
Tell me one movie that you not only enjoyed but that changed your life and made you appreciate yourself (flaws and all) much more, because that is what Fight Club did for my generation.
Numero Uno) Clockwork Orange/Dr. Strangelove/2001/Kubrick in General
kay, so this might be a little cliche’ of an answer, but to not make a nod to the greatest director of all time when making a list like this is to kick all movies in the crotch. Problem is, I hit a Kubrick stalemate. Part of me wants to put Clockwork Orange on here because I had never seen anything like it when it came out, but part of me knows you cannot place a movie where a woman gets raped and a man gets beaten to death by a giant penis at number one.
So then I thought, what about Dr. Strangelove? The movie is a riot, an insanely spot on satire of War hungry America, and has one of the greatest movie performances all time in it by Peter Sellers, so I was pretty sure Strangelove was it.
Then I remembered the majesty that was 2001. A movie that MODERN space movies still don’t look as realistic as. A movie that introduced me to the cruelty of A.I and how it will inevitably and eventually kill us all. A movie that made space palpable and made a monotone robot (that was just a red lightbulb) the scariest bad guy I had ever seen. And THAT is when it really hit me.
The number one spot is Kubrick, period. Any of it, all of it. You can even pick the Shining or Eyes Wide Shut if you want. The man made visually stunning films that were decades ahead of their time and so stepped in symbloism and subliminal messages and undertones that film buffs spend lifetimes trying to “figure” out his work, and for good reason. It really IS the best of the best. From the Kubrick stare to his framing, all of it was mesmerizing and all of it meant something. So there you go, number one is pretty much anything by Kubrick. To try to pick a favorite between his work all comes down to the mood you are in the day.
Today I am a Clockwork Orange guy, but tomorrow I will be a 2001 guy, so Kubrick wins it all, hands down. Also, huge shout out for his fake moon landing. That shit was unreal. Just kidding, people. OR AM I?
Funny Games (or anything by Michael Haneke):
No “horror” film will ever leave you feeling more guilty than this.
A masterwork that has essentially been talked-to-death by now.
Not even for the film itself, but for the tone it set and bar it raised for how seriously sci fi would be taken.
You know a Lars Von Trier film had to make the list because I am pretentious, and I find this film about as honest a study of depression as anything I have ever seen or lived. Plus, visually, it is like watching art. Art that makes you weep, which is no less still art.
Spielberg, Carpenter, Craven, Hitchcock, Wiseau….there are still so many I missed. If I could have even picked just one more….just ONE MORE…
Again, in case you forgot, all online lists are opinion pieces. Please, as the reader, do not get that twisted. So no, I didn’t leave out the movie you wanted to see on here. But, in the same breath, what movies would have made YOUR top ten? Take to our comments and let us know. Maybe the best answers will make it into a follow up (reader’s choice, people).
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