2. Galaxy Quest (1999)
3. Hot Fuzz (2007)
What I said about Galaxy Quest above applies in all ways and at the same level to Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Wright absolutely loves buddy cop action movies, something that is clearly apparent in every aspect of this film’s dialogue, characterization, and plot. That it overtly pulls moments from films like Point Break and Bad Boys II simply enhances that fact. Wright is one of the best and most interesting filmmakers working today. Much of that comes from the tremendous wit he has in creating visual jokes. Wright doesn’t just make funny films—he makes films funny.
4. Sexy Beast (2000)
Some actors make strange choices in their career. Ben Kingsley, for instance, does movies like BloodRayne, offering the impression that he is desperate for money, but he’s also capable of a performance like the role of Don Logan in Sexy Beast. Kingsley casts a long shadow over the entire thing. There’s not a moment that isn’t dictated in some respect by his purely evil and foul-mouthed performance. Kingsley is terrifying in this role, which, paired with Gandhi, is the clearest argument that can be made for the man’s range. While the whole film is good, Kingsley specifically is responsible for this movie needing to be on The List.
5. Tokyo Drifter (1966)
6. Dracula (1931)
“Wait,” I hear you say, “Dracula is on The List already.” Yes, the version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi is deservedly on the list, but the Spanish-language version, filmed at the same time and on the same sets is at least as good as the English version and is arguably better. It’s longer, for one thing, which helps it. More importantly, the crew on the Spanish version was able to learn from the crew filming during the day, giving them better ideas for things like camera angles and placements. It’s a similar vision, but a different one, and it’s absolutely engaging. And, for a wonder, Carlos Villarias is every bit the match of Lugosi.
7. The Hours (2002)
I did not expect to like The Hours as much as I did, and I found that the middle of the three stories faltered a bit for me. It’s not a movie I’ve gone back to watching again, but it’s one that I still think about, six years (almost seven) after I saw it. This is another film that trades heavily on its performances and it gets some great ones—that’s expected from a film with essentially lead roles from Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep. The Hours is evidence, or at least should be evidence, that “women’s movies” are not really a thing. Good movies and great performances should play for any audience, and this one is evidence.
8. Superman (1978)
9. The Court Jester (1955)
When I was a kid, Channel 9 WGN in Chicago had a Sunday television series called Family Classics that showed family-friendly movies. There were plenty of movies I saw over and over--Sink the Bismarck!, Mysterious Island, Scrooge…but I never saw The Court Jester and I can’t understand why. This is a perfect movie for that kind of program. It’s fun and entertaining, has great songs, and is genuinely appropriate for any family. I’ve checked, by the way—this never showed up on the Family Classics playlist. It should have. I can’t believe it took me into my 50s to see this almost pure bit of family entertainment perfection.
10. Paris is Burning (1990)
While The List has actually done a fairly good job of addressing non-dominant American culture, it hasn’t done so perfectly. Paris is Burning is a documentary that focuses on the gay and transgendered culture of New York of the late 1980s, with a great deal of emphasis on the drag balls that happened at the time. This is not merely an interesting film that addresses ideas of gender, sexuality, and fashion. It is as much an anthropological record of a subculture documented with respect and without judgment. For a world still learning to deal with transgenderism, to have this cultural snapshot from 30 years ago is a gift.