1. The People Vs. Larry Flynt
For whatever reason, this film has been all but forgotten. That’s a damn shame because it’s a really well-made film with a lot of great performances top to bottom. It’s also a film that I think is extremely important in its message. More people should know it and more people should watch it.
Hellraiser is a disturbing and ugly film, but it’s also one of the great horror films of its decade. This is a film that takes a lot of hard left turns and has some very disturbing implications. Yes, the series eventually turned to shit, but the first one is fantastic. Since horror is underrepresented in general, this would be a solid addition.
3. The Blues Brothers
I’m mildly embarrassed that it’s taken me this many years to list The Blues Brothers on one of these yearly lists. Honestly, it should have been there from the start. The legacy of this film is that we got a lot of shitty Saturday Night Live alum movies after it, but there are few movie musicals this much fun all the way through. And the music is great.
4. Henry V (1989)
The Lawrence Olivier version of Henry V is on the list, but the Kenneth Branagh version, which is superior in every aspect, is not. I think that’s a problem. This is my favorite Shakespeare on film, or at least my favorite faithful adaptation.
5. Rollerball (1975)
Just so you don’t think I’m insane, I’m referring here to the original version with James Caan. In addition to the punishing action of this film, there is a very interesting anti-corporate, pro-individuality message here. I like a lot of James Caan films, but this one ranks as one of my favorite of his performances. Also…if Rollerball became a real sport, it would dwarf every other sport on the planet.
6. Elevator to the Gallows
I completely dig film noir, so when a French director pays homage to the style, I’m very interested. Add a kick-ass Miles Davis soundtrack and I’m doubly interested. I love the story here and how everything works to get us to the ending. There’s nothing in this film not to love.
7. Good Night and Good Luck
For whatever reason, 2005 is horribly underrepresented on The List, which I find bizarre; it was a much better year that the paltry number of List films would indicate. Good Night and Good Luck is one of the best of the year. Almost every decision made in producing this film was the right choice, from the casting to the filming in lustrous black-and-white. More people should know this movie.
8. The Innocents
Technically, I think The Innocents is a horror movie, but it plays out much more like a psychological thriller. There’s a lot of weird going on here. It reminds me a lot of The Haunting, which is probably why it didn’t end up on the list. But it deserves some consideration for being exactly what it is—a hell of a taut thriller with disturbing implications.
9. The Raid: Redemption
If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t seen an action movie. This makes everything else look like a walk in the park. There’s not much here in terms of plot and you won’t care for a second because all of the time is taken up with unbelievable ass kicking. It’s holy shit, jaw-dropping good.
I’m actually the most surprised at the absence of this film of all 10 listed here. While certainly a film that kids can understand and enjoy, this is Pixar’s most adult film, or at least has the most adult themes. If for no other reason, Up should be on the list for the first few minutes, which is some of the purest and most beautiful visual storytelling in cinematic history.