Recently, we reached out to our fan base to send in their top ten movies of all time. Our listeners and readers, fans and followers responded by sending in their lists with thoughts on the best the movie industry has to offer. With that in mind, and a large group of lists in hand, we tabulated everyone’s vote into a supreme list of 100 films we can say are your favorites (plus four more that had the same score as #100). So without any further delay, let’s take a look at this great set of films…
104. Duel (1971, Universal Pictures, 89 minutes, directed by Steven Spielberg)- This intense story about a salesman’s (played by Dennis Weaver) drive to the brink of insanity from a mysterious tanker truck served as an early preview of Steven Spielberg’s directing chops. When watching the film, which served as one of Spielberg’s earliest offerings, one can really see the moments of drama, suspense, and horror that the famed director has parlayed into countless other hit films.
Full Metal Jacket (Warner Bros.)
103. Full Metal Jacket (1987, Warner Bros., 116 minutes, directed by Stanley Kubrick)- The late 1980’s served as a hot point for movies based in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Some of the best offerings came during that period with Platoon, The Killing Fields, Born on the Fourth of July, and Casualties of War. But Full Metal Jacket, even with its striking imagery and disturbing realism of human cruelty, is sometimes left out when talk starts of Kubrick’s best films. But by just sneaking onto this list, the movie proves it can stand alongside many of the director’s top works in the eyes of the fans, and also be favorably compared to those war epics as well.
Karate Kid (Sony/Columbia Pictures)
102. Karate Kid (1984, Columbia Pictures, 127 minutes, directed by John G. Avildsen)- One of the ’80s most iconic films, Karate Kid still has been held dear to many people over the years, with a sequel and a remake trying to do its best to cash in on the success of the original movie. But with all those failed efforts, it wasn’t until the recent hit series Cobra Kai that audiences both young and old have begun to truly appreciate the original tale of a boy (Ralph Macchio) standing up to a bully (William Zabka) and learning life lessons and karate from a wise teacher (Pat Morita) along the way. Macchio’s use of the “Crane Kick” to defeat the bully in the All-Valley Karate Championships provided one of the most recognizable cinematic moments of that decade.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Warner Bros.)
101. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005, Warner Bros., 103 minutes, directed by Shane Black)- In a scenario that will be taking place on more the occasion in our top 100(ish), this movie was a financial failure at the box office, but has gained a following in the years since on home video. This movie centers around a failed crook (Robert Downey Jr. before his Iron Man days) who manages to maneuver his way into Hollywood as a make-believe private investigator but then has to act like one for real. The movie is well thought of today for its banter between Downey’s Harry and Val Kilmer’s actual detective in the movie, Perry van Shrike. It also showcased Black’s over-the-top action sequences which would serve him again when he worked with Downey on Iron Man 3.
100. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001, New Line Cinema, 178 minutes standard, 208 minutes extended, directed by Peter Jackson)- J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1954 tale of good and evil, and the power of a ring that could rule them all was finally put to the test in a cinematic live-action formula and it proved to be a tremendous hit with audiences. Fellowship outlines the first part of this overarching story as we get introduced to a hobbit (Elijah Wood) who is tasked with destroying the cursed ring of doom before it gets back into the evil hands of the Dark Lord Sauron. He is joined in his quest by fellow halflings, orcs, dwarves, and humans, and as they set about on this perilous journey they soon realize that many battles will confront them along the way. Jackson’s use of the beautiful New Zeland landscape, intense battles, and inspired acting had Fellowship serve as a beginning to one of the greatest movie trilogies of all-time.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Pyramide Films)
99. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Pyramide Films, 120 minutes, directed by Céline Sciamma)- A movie that details a once-forbidden love near the end of the eighteenth century between a painter (Noémie Merlant), and the subject of one of her commissioned paintings (Adèle Haenel). Sciamma’s vision of this ultimately doomed romance with picturesque scenery and compelling acting has given the film excellent word-of-mouth as it navigates its way through the various avenues of home video.
Purple Rain (Warner Bros.)
98. Purple Rain (1984, Warner Bros., 100 minutes, directed by Albert Mangoli)- The movie, which served as a vehicle to support one of the most successful albums of all time, was a semi-autobiographical tale of a musician (Prince) with a troubled past and his rocky road to superstardom. Is it remembered for the story? No. The characters? No. The acting? No. The direction? No. The reason why this film is so fondly remembered (and why is on this list) is how it incorporates the songs of Prince and the Revolution and is at its best when Prince was given the spotlight to show off his extreme musical talent and charisma with his exhilarating concert performances.
Raging Bull (United Artists)
97. Raging Bull (1980, United Artists, 129 minutes, directed by Martin Scorcese)- Considered by many to be one of the best movies of all time, Scorcese blends the dark black and white images seen in the 1940s with some outstanding acting performances. The movie chronicles the career of boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro) in his rise to the heavyweight championship, his subsequent fall, and how he coped with life in his later years clinging on to his former celebrity. DeNiro shines in this film along with his frequent co-star Joe Pesci as the movie delves into the harsh and cruel realities of the boxing world during that decade.
Snatch (Sony Pictures)
96. Snatch (2000, Sony Pictures, 102 minutes, directed by Guy Ritchie)- A favorite among British crime films, Snatch is at the top of the list of movies in Guy Ritchie’s roller-coaster career. Following the events of a successful diamond heist and its extremely messy aftermath, the movie incorporates a stellar cast which includes Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, and Lennie James among others. This film excels on its quick wit, sharp comedy, and desire to not take itself too seriously which is most likely why it has found its way onto our vaunted list.
95. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977, 20th Century Fox, 121 minutes, directed by George Lucas)- Credited with kickstarting everything from pop culture to blockbuster science fiction to epic fandom, Star Wars has not only become one of the most beloved films of all-time, but it also kickstarted a franchise that will forever live in cinematic history. George Lucas’ eleven million dollar gamble about a young farmer Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who is destined to save the galaxy took millions of fans on a journey to a galaxy far, far, away from that they would never forget. Along with the beautiful Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), a cocky smuggler named Han Solo (Harrison Ford), a mentor and teacher of the Jedi religion (Sir Alec Guinness), two robots named R2-D2 and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and a tall, hairy alien Wookiee Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Skywalker’s quiet life on the fields changes into a fight against the Empire and its Lord Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) for the very universe itself. A compelling tale of Good vs. Evil, the stark contrast between the two, the action scenes, and the philosophies talked about within the movie itself have earned the film its place forever in Hollywood lore.
The Deer Hunter (Universal Pictures)
94. The Deer Hunter (1978, Universal Pictures, 184 minutes, directed by Michael Cimino)- While many of the most iconic Vietnam War films were made in the 1980s (as mentioned above), there were still outstanding in-depth looks at the effects of the conflict in this film and Apocalypse Now. Centering around three friends, who leave their work at a steel mill to join the military, only to find themselves suffering through the horrors and atrocities of that era. Buoyed by another great performance by Robert DeNiro and the Academy Award-winning turn by Christopher Walken, the film is the high point of the directorial career of Cimino and a great characterization of the horrors of war and its long-lasting after-effects.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
93. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 100 minutes, directed by Wes Anderson)- Trying to fully understand the unique, quirky, humorous, and bittersweet style of Anderson has left many not quite getting it, but also has established a following for which all his films get subsequently praised. Here’s a tip to watching his films: Don’t read too much into his films, just take them for what they are: well-constructed movies with heart and soul. And that’s exactly what you get in this poignant tale of an infamous concierge (Ralph Fiennes) of a famous hotel and his lobby boy (Tony Revolori) and the commitment and loyalty they have to each other.
The Usual Suspects (Grammercy Pictures)
92. The Usual Suspects (1995, Grammercy Pictures, 106 minutes, directed by Bryan Singer)- Combining some of the best elements of a crime drama and a veritable who-done-it, Suspects unique story is what truly stands out in this sentimental favorite among moviegoers. No one can be trusted within the crime world, and that is certainly represented as a crew of misfit thieves (Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Spacey, and Stephen Baldwin) in an interweaving thriller of murder, intrigue, mystery, and betrayal over what they believe is a fortune in cocaine. Just who is the mysterious Keyser Söze that seems to be pulling the strings behind all this mayhem? You’ll have to watch up until the final twist at the end to figure it out.
91. Thor: Ragnarok (2017, Marvel Studios, 130 minutes, directed by Taika Waititi)- By the time the credits rolled on Thor 2: The Dark World, superhero fans said pretty much in unison that they had enough of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on his solo adventures. Sure, they didn’t mind seeing him pop up in an Avengers movie or two, but Dark World was a disappointment in the otherwise burgeoning powerhouse known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But then Taiki Waititi took the director’s chair for Ragnarok and changed the personality of this comic book icon and planted the hero into the middle of an intergalactic buddy-superhero comedy centering around the destruction of Thor’s home planet Asgard. The craziness, action, and adventure seen in the film reinvigorated the character to audiences and even to Hemsworth himself. Ragnarok changed the way we look at Thor by injecting life into how we see the Asgardian and allowed Hemsworth to finally start taking advantage of his brilliant comedic timing. Thanks to Thor: Ragnarok we now are excited about the Thor character again and are awaiting his next journey in 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)
90. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011, StudioCanal, 127 minutes, directed by Tomas Alfredson)- Espionage, betrayal, backstabbing, and political intrigue. This film set during the Cold War serves as a reminder of what an all-star cast of British acting (Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong) can do if given a powerful novel adaptation to work with. Emotions run high as the layers of deceit in exposing a Soviet “mole” within the ranks of the British military. The acting is top-notch as this is a film that is driven by its outstanding performances and a deep dive into the world of spies during that time period.
You can find the audio form of this list on Pop Culture Cosmos #194 right HERE. Check out our next list of films here at popculturecosmos.com or on episodes now available on-demand on the Pop Culture Cosmos channel wherever you get your podcasts!