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…
69. Avengers (2012, Disney/Marvel, 143 minutes, Directed by Joss Whedon)- The culmination of Marvel’s Phase One and the ultimate litmus test to see if a superhero team could work together both on-screen in the movie and off-screen as a movie draw. The experiment, first mentioned by Marvel Studios head Keven Fiege at the San Diego Comic-Con, paid off in more ways than anyone could have expected as the comic book immortalized team defends New York at all costs against the evil Loki, who is leading an alien force known as the Chitauri, with eyes fixed on world domination. The set-up by director Whedon from a team who could not stand each other to a team that must work together for a common goal is simple, but oh so effective for such a large-scale production never attempted like this before.
Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles
68. Blazing Saddles (1974, Warner Bros., 93 minutes, directed by Mel Brooks)- Part zany comedy, part cultural statement, Blazing Saddles has endured because it dared to face head-on social issues which are still problematic for us to deal with today. But this movie did so with reckless abandon and with outrageous humor that is the epitome of a film that will make you laugh one moment, and make you think the next. While the story of an African-American sheriff (Cleavon Little) saving the town that initially shunned him solely based on skin color or the castoff alcoholic gunslinger (Gene Wilder) that helped him along the way should prove to be memorable in its own right.
But it’s how director Brooks approaches all the important issues in a bold way. In addition, the underlying themes and reminders serve to help this movie stand out and signal to the audience a better understanding of what we need to do to fix the problem of social inequality. Whether it’s the fourth wall asides, physical and slapstick comedy, not-so-subtle innuendos, or edgy dialogue provided by the entire cast, Blazing Saddles is a zany over-the-top comedy combining classic elements from Mel Brooks films with a statement on racism in our society and the movie industry which in many ways still resonates unfortunately so many years later.
Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson in Clerks (Miramax)
67. Clerks (1994, Miramax, 92 minutes, directed by Kevin Smith) – The entry point for Kevin Smith’s directorial career and a landmark achievement for independent filmmaking, the movie centers around the day in the life of liquor store retail workers, their friends, and the conversations they have while trying to get through the day. Shot in black and white, the film’s nominal budget (shot for less than $30,000) and the plot doesn’t interfere with the movie’s success. Rather, it enhances the film’s goal by allowing the audience to solely focus on the acting and dialogue, almost as if a stage play had been set up instead. This movie is lewd, crude, and sometimes downright rude. But Clerks serves as a starting point for cinematic adult humor and a realization for those in the movie industry that even the smallest films can make a big statement.
Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained (Columbia Pictures)
66. Django Unchained (2012, Columbia Pictures, 165 minutes, directed by Quentin Tarantino)- Another one of the Tarantino favorites with Unchained as Django, a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) finds a second life after his rescue as a bounty hunter. And along with his mentor (Christoph Waltz), he returns back to the plantation in order to get his revenge on its owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Buoyed by very good performances by all involved (including frequent Tarantino muse Samuel L. Jackson), Foxx takes charge of the movie and given every opportunity to showcase his skills while navigating through the familiar staples of Quentin’s series of films. The abusive language, racial epithets, and ultra-violence are right in your face and we do not believe Tarantino would have it any other way. Never say Quentin Tarantino can’t create a good western. He just has to do it on his own terms.
65. Donnie Darko (2001, Flower Films/Pandora Cinema, 113 minutes, directed by Richard Kelly)- Another one of the many films on this list that has become a “cult classic”, receiving a tremendous amount of acclaim from fans after its initial theatrical run. Richard Kelly’s mind-bending thriller has to be seen to be believed, but even then you might have to watch it two or three more times to fully understand it. On the surface, it appears to be a teenage Donnie Darko’s (Jake Gyllenhaal ) descent into madness. But delving into it further, Kelly creates an interweaving narrative that combines the theories of time travel, alternate universes, and psychological self-warfare. Add in a great supporting cast, an abundance of Tears For Fears music, a dash of science fiction and high school drama, and a foreshadowing six-foot-tall rabbit of doom, and you have one of the strangest movies ever conceived. Half the fun is watching it, the other half is trying to figure it out.
64. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, Roadshow/Warner Bros., 120 minutes, directed by George Miller)- George Miller’s return to these post-apocalyptic badlands is a welcomed one. He reconstructs a new Mad Max (Tom Hardy) for today’s audience, pairs him up with a heroic ally named Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and has them attempt to lead a group of former captives to safety. The cinematography is amazing and the action thrilling as we follow our group across the lands with their captors, led by the maniacal Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), in hot pursuit. The movie does an outstanding job of standing out in its own way, while still honoring the much-beloved Mad Max/Road Warrior films that came before it. It is widely considered one of the best of the previous decade and it is a captivating motion picture well worth your time.
63. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983, Warner Bros., 98 minutes, directed by Harold Ramis)- One of the main vehicles to Chevy Chase’s superstardom in the early 80s, Vacation provides the setup for many hilarious gags that are still well thought of even today. Following the travels of the Griswold family, as they make their way cross-country to the fictional Wally World, the film’s charm comes from the many misadventures the family has yet even with everything thrown at them, the stubborn determination of patriarch Clark Griswold (Chase) to get them there is at the core of what’s so hilarious about this movie. Is this an actor’s work of art? No. Will this ever be considered an advancement in modern cinema? Oh dear goodness no. But what it did was set the bar high for early 1980s comedies that were rarely duplicated for the rest of the decade.
Charles Bronson hunts for revenge in Once Upon A Time In The West (Paramount)
62. Once Upon A Time In The West (1968, Paramount, 166 minutes, directed by Sergio Leone)- Many feel that Once Upon A Time In The West is the pinnacle of Sergio Leone’s time directing some of the famed “Spaghetti Westerns”. The term describes the cowboy outlaw films of the 1960s that were filmed in Italy which had areas resembling America’s Old West of the late 1800s. Charles Bronson is the charismatic hero with few words who hunts down the gang that wronged him years ago and tries to gain revenge on their leader (Henry Fonda) who orchestrated it in the first place. Leone’s direction was at a high note with beautiful cinematography and the score provided by the great Ennio Morricone proved that the two frequent collaborators could create magic one more time. But it’s the performance by Fonda that continually steals the spotlight in a rare opportunity to play a villain that takes this classic “Spaghetti Western” and raises it to another level.
Predator (20th Crntury Fox)
61. Predator (1987, 20th Century Fox, 107 minutes, directed by John McTiernan)- A movie packed with action and one-liners, this is one of the most remembered films of the 1980s. Partly because of its monstrous villain, and partly because it contains so much of what was relied upon in movies of that decade. Arnold Schwarzenegger leads an elite group of soldiers to rescue a diplomat from a hostile base in a remote South American jungle. Once there, the group realizes that there is more to this story than just a search and rescue, as a hunter from an alien world has already wreaked havoc among the occupants there and soon the beast turns its attention to new prizes in the troopers. Director McTiernan
Al Pacino in Scarface (Universal)
60. Scarface (1983, Universal Pictures, 170 minutes, directed by Brian DePalma)- Another of the 1980s most iconic films, Scarface is a fascinating story of a Cuban refugee who rises the ranks of the organized crime world to become a drug kingpin, only to see its destruction first hand. Brian De Palma directs this film as a showcase of what power, drugs, and money can do when they are taken to the extreme. Not only does this movie become a symbol of 80s excess, but layered within all the neon, flashy clothes, and heaping amounts of cocaine is a commanding performance by Al Pacino. The movie is carried by his character’s determination to get the top of the heap as a Floridian drug lord, only to let his complacency get the best of him once he gets there.
You can listen to the audio form of this list on the Pop Culture Cosmos #197 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!