1. Almost Famous – “This song explains why I'm leaving home to become a stewardess.”
William Miller is every man (at least every man worth talking about). If he’s not Everyman, then, at the very least, he’s me. There’s an authenticity in the characters in this film that I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else. It (and they) seem to be completely honest.
2. Apocalypse Now – “What the hell do you know about surfing?”
I love this movie for a couple of reasons. First, Heart of Darkness is one of the greatest stories ever written. The story rings fairly true here, too – albeit without as much of the Christ analogy. Second, Coppola created such a beautiful vision of such a horrible place, it’s hard not to get sucked (or suckered) into it.
3. Empire of the Sun – “I learned a new word today . . . atom bomb.” This is one of those movies that, although it was directed by the greatest director of our time, not too many people seem to know about. John Malcovich is so good – not to mention a young Ben Stiller.
4. The English Patient - “It is a very plum plum.” Most people tend to see this film as a romantic chick flick. It is romantic. But, it also involves people getting their thumbs chopped off, mines exploding everywhere, the hero being burned beyond recognition – there’s plenty of guy stuff in here too. Plus, it’s one of the great stories about unachievable love, and what happens when you manage to achieve it.
5. Cool Hand Luke - “Anything so innocent and built like that just gotta be named Lucille.” If you buy into the message that this movie seems to espouse, you’ll believe that God doesn’t give a crap about anybody, and that He delights in watching us squirm (see Changing Lanes for more of the same). But what Luke forgets is that he did cut the heads off of those parking meters. God cares about Luke, Luke just won’t let God do his thing.
6. The Princess Bride - “Stop rhyming, I mean it!/Anybody want a peanut?” There has never been another movie like this. It is completely original, completely clever. It has as much style and grace as Monty Python, but without the superiority complex. Plus, helloooooo, Andre the Giant? Has there ever been a better casting choice for a movie? Ever?
7. Stand By Me - “Do you use your left hand or right hand for that?” Another Meathead movie. It’s too bad the guy is such an ass in real life. He sure knows how to make movies. One of the really wonderful things about this movie for me is the integration of period music without making the soundtrack feel like a “Best of the 50s & 60s” Compilation. Also, we get to see lots of people vomit all over each other. What more can you ask for?
8. Tombstone - “I have not yet begun to defile myself.” As sensitive of a guy as I am, there’s a significant portion of me that just loves kick-ass shoot-‘em-up movies. And this may be the best one of those ever made. Wyatt striding through the pond blasting away, Doc’s showdown with Johnny Ringo, the gunfight at the OK Corral, “You tell ‘em I’m coming! And Hell’s coming with me!”, I could go on like this all day. Simply bad-ass.
9. Donnie Darko – "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!" Probably the least known movie on the list. It’s also the newest. This movie manages to ask some really interesting question about the extent of God’s involvement with our lives – but it manages to steer clear of getting preachy. There are some interesting things visually, but this movie is completely cerebral. Oh, and I had to watch it twice. That’s always a good thing.
10. Best in Show - “ We have you down for a queen.” Fred Willard and Parker Posey are worth the price of admission alone. Sure, it’s very similar to Guffman. But who cares? This is better than Guffman. It’s ridiculously funny.
Honorable Mention: To Kill a Mockingbird; Rushmore, The Shawshank Redemption, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Thin Red Line, Reservoir Dogs, Tommy Boy, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, UHF