The Pop Culture Cosmos Top 100(ish) Movie Countdown: #50-59

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…

59. Shawshank Redemption (1994, Columbia Pictures, 142, directed by Frank Darabont) – One of the great movie disappointments of all-time was how this film did not see much success upon its original theatric release. Yet, due to audiences finally seeing this film for what it was, became the shining example of a movie that found new life on cable television and home video in the years following its initial cinematic failure. Telling the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), framed for the murder of his wife he did not commit, gets sent to Shawshank prison to serve the court-ordered time he was unjustly given. It’s the time he spends in prison, with his best friend Red (Morgan Freeman) there as his consult, that wears on him, breaks him own seemingly. But in the end, Dufresne devises a plan to not only help him escape but provide revenge on those who have tormented him in prison. With Darabont’s direction, Shawshank proves to be an emotional, heart-warming, and inspirational tale that is now looked back upon as one of the greatest films of the 1990s.

Buster Keaton in The General (United Artists)

58. The General (1926, United Artists, 75 minutes, directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman)- The premiere showcase for one cinema’s first mega-superstars, Buster Keaton’s ode to “The Great Locomotive Chase” during the Civil War has proven to be one of his most remembered works. With all of his physical comedy skills on display, The General proved to be a hit with audiences. While now a film that is draped in controversy over its content and portrayal of the Confederate army, the movie has had its share of fans including director Orson Welles, who stated The General as “the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made.”

Owen Wilson (left) and Vince Vaughn (right) in Wedding Crashers (New Line)

57. Wedding Crashers (2005, New Line Cinema, 119 minutes, directed by David Dobkin)- The ultimate guide to how to “not” be a guest at a wedding, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn ham it up in this ode to adult comedies. Wilson and Vaughn play characters who are regulars being uninvited guests to weddings to give them ample opportunities for hookups with female invitees. Their latest quest at the wedding of a dughter of a military offical goes awry as the two become entangled with commitment, family scandal, and genuine conflict. The comedic hijinks ensues as the two get all caught up into everyone’s affairs, but the guys must make hard life choices to continue what they’ve been doing or change their ways on when the women of their affection could end up being a longer commitment than what they originally had planned.

Matthew McConaughey (left) and Samuel L. Jackson (right) in A Time To Kill (Warner Bros.)

56. A Time To Kill (1996, Warner Bros., 149 minutes, directed by Joel Shumacher)- A Time To Kill is based off the Jon Grisham novel that focuses on the strained ethnic relationships and social injustice in the South that even unfortunately today is still ver prevalent. The movie centers around a brutal rape and beating of an African-American girl by two white men, who subsequently get shot to death by the girl’s father (Samuel L. Jackson). As the film continues to the inevitable court case that follows, Shumacher’s film narrows in on the bigotry and negative racial realtions as the powers that be try to sway as much of an advantage as possible in their favor. A Time To Kill features an all-star cast of Sandra Bullock nearing the height of her popularity, and Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, and Kevin Spacey in the midst of becoming huge stars of their own. But it’s the message of how we treat others that comes across and how we need to do much better that allows this movie to stay so fondly remembered.

55. Blade (1998, Marvel/New Line, 120 minutes, directed by Stephen Norrington)- One of the best Marvel and Superhero movies outside of the MCU, Blade is a thrilling action story that sets the beat (literally, with a great techno soundtrack) for this “daywalker”. Wesley Snipes plays the titular role as a half-human, half-vampire Hell-bent on going after a deadly organization with the intent of overthrowing the world of humans. The sword-play, martial arts, and unique fighting skills shown off in the film along with a plot and script that’s simple, concise, and effective makes for awesome viewing, even if the sequels weren’t too much to talk about. Mahershala Ali has a lot to live up to when he takes up the mantle of Blade due to the positive response the original movie continues to get.

Ryan Gosling in Drive (Film District/Bold Films)

54. Drive (2011, Film District/Bold Films, 100 minutes, directed by Nicolas Refn)- In the 2000’s, a pack of car movies have zoomed around the turn and into theaters with abandon, giving audiences some certifiable hits but also quite a bit of collateral damage in the dust left behind. For every Fast & Furious movie, we have Need For Speed, Baby Driver, Gone in 60 Seconds that have achieved varying levels of success. With Drive, you have a talented driver (Ryan Gosling) whose continual services as a getaway man puts him and others in peril as he delves further into the crime world. The film features the usual array of automobile action, and intense drama but the main reason for it being on the list is it being one of the first action leading man roles for Gosling, and one of the keys to him getting some high-profile roles for the rest of the decade.

Angelina Jolie (left) and Winona Ryder (right) in Girl, Interrupted (Columbia Pictures)

53. Girl, Interrupted (1999, Columbia Pictures, 127 minutes, directed by James Mangold)- A disturbing and revealing look at a group of women all confined to a psychiatric hospital and the horrors that can take pace within it. After suffering from a nervous breakdown, a young woman (Winona Ryder) is transported there and is thrust into living with a group of women, each with their own troubling pyschological disorders. The movie itself tackles tough issues of suicide, incest, physical and mental abuse but in doing so sheds a light on how these issues need to be better recognized and treated more promptly once they are. It is through the breakout perfomance of Angelina Jolie (who won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her efforts) and all of the women involved that makes this an unforgettable, and emotional watch.

Robert DeNiro (left) and Cuba Godding Jr. (right) in Men of Honor (20th Century Fox)

52. Men Of Honor (2000, 20th Century Fox, 129 minutes, directed by George Tillman Jr.)- A story influenced and based of the life of the first African-American master diver in the U.S. Navy Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.), this inspiring film still has so much to offer audiences even all these years later. The movie also details the entwining careers of Brashear and Master Chief Billy Sunday (Robert DeNiro) whose continual mentor-student relationship ends up defining the two and the movie as a whole. Brashear’s training gets put to the test in several key moments in the film, while Sunday’s constant clashing with authority serves to be his downfall within the Navy. But Brashear’s heroic acts are documented well and even the propsect of losing a leg does not stop him from serving his Naval duty and providing hope and determination for those looking to overcome adversity.

51. Moulin Rouge! (2001, 20th Century Fox, 128 minutes, directed by Baz Luhrmann)- The stage musical hit transformed onto the cinema was a big win for those desiring to see more Broadway productions onto the big screen. This retelling of the musical centers around a Paris cabaret in 1900 has Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor getting the opportunity to showcase more here than just their acting skills and proving that a movie like this could connect with a larger movie audience. The success of this movie led to more successful turns (most notably Chicago) for stage musicals until the monumental disastrous flop of 2019, Cats. Here’s hoping that Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story can live up to the original, and also meet the success of the film that reignited the interest in Hollywood-manufactured musicals in Moulin Rouge.

Sally Field (left) and Burt Reynolds (right) in Smokey and the Bandit (Universal)

50. Smokey And The Bandit (1977, Universal Pictures, 96 minutes, directed by Hal Needham)- A staple of 1970’s movies, Bandit proved to be one of the hit iconic roles for long-time leading man Burt Reynolds and one of the defining moments in his career. Tasked with helping to transport hundreds of cases of beer illegally over state lines, “The Bandit” along with his friend (Jerry Reed) and a runaway bride (Sally Field), set out for an adventure and light-hearted campy classic. The group is hotly pursued by continually bumbling Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) throughout who always gets close to catching the crew, but never quite gets there due to his own comedic ineptitude. Will Smokey and the Bandit ever be considered a beacon of avant-garde art? Of course not, but it will always be remembered as fun, popcorn flick that can make you smile, laugh, and root for the “moonshiners”.

You can listen to the audio form of this list on the Pop Culture Cosmos #196 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!

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