Evan’s Top 10 Favorite Films of All-Time
Believe it or not, but, for the longest time, I didn’t have a favorite film. It seemed like such a subjective thing: “Choose, out of all the cinematic masterpieces ever made, which is your favorite.” A worse follow-up question, I always felt, was, “Why?” Choosing one film over every other, especially when those being compared aren’t even in the same genre, was too difficult for me; when asked, I’d respond with, “I don’t have one,” and to which I’d give the above explanation.
When I started working at Regal, though, and one’s “favorite film” is part of the wardrobe—a talking point beneath one’s name on a badge—I started thinking about this question a lot more. Even now, as I’m writing this, I’m changing up my quote-unquote finalized list. However, as my review blog continues to grow and my tastes become more refined, I’m long-past-due for getting this out in the open and official. So, let’s get into it: My personal, Top 10 Favorite Films of All Time…
Kicking it off, is a film from my birth-year. Westerns have never been my favorite genre of film, but Tombstone is a story about family. Shot on-location in Arizona, the film has all the feel of an old-timey Western, but with the camera tricks and suave of turn-of-the-century filmmaking. With an all-star cast and a fresh, “tired old dogs” twist on the Wyatt Earp legend, this masterpiece continues to be a favorite popcorn watch of mine. A few other Westerns could’ve taken this spot—as I’m trying to keep this list to one slot per genre and director—but none have the outlasting charisma and put-togetherness of Tombstone.
Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake may dive deeper into Michael Myers’s backstory, but no one delivers the chills inborne in the Shatner mask-wearing slasher than John Carpenter. Again, several of his films could have taken this slot—They Live, The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness—but Halloween has always had a special place in my heart. Like The Patriot or Major League, it’s a holiday tradition, and one I can’t wait to show my kids, someday. From that classic, unnerving theme, to the raw terror of being persistently hunted down for no foreseeable reason, this movie is royalty amongst true All Hallows’ Eve devotees. AMC’s annual FearFest is a great way to catch this—and a lot of other, canon films like it—and it deserves to be watched (along with the rest of the films on this list) at least once…even if it’s through the slits of your fingers.
James Cameron is the man responsible for making killer robots, blue cat-aliens, and Space Marines cool! The latter also inspired me to write more military-concentrated science-fiction. For this reason, alone, Aliens has become a favorite of mine. Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley—during this outing moreso than the original Ridley Scott film, from 1979—kicks serious Xeno carapace, but also feels more human; we learn what Ripley has lost in her time away, and watch her fight to keep ahold of her new, surrogate family in Hicks (Michael Biehn) and little Newt (Carrie Henn). The amount of practical effects involved—and learning what each effect took to make, behind the scenes—should garner even more affection for this film from hard-core enthusiasts, and is part of why it’s so critically-acclaimed, even for sci-fi. Look no further for the last good Alien franchise film—perhaps ever—than Cameron’s Aliens.
A monster movie that’s not about the titular monster, but the effects said entity has on an already-broken household. Anger, fear, and darkness feed into the creature’s strength—while, simultaneously, the characters showcase how the worst monsters are the ones we suppress within ourselves, and that love can beat that darkness back. That’s, basically, The Babadook in a very wordy nutshell. This film is anything but basic, though; independently-made, instead of relying on cheap jump-scares (like Hollywood leans on, nowadays), The Babadook makes one paranoid, while watching the film. There’s a “creeping terror” aspect, as the creature—or the symptoms of its possession—may make an appearance at any moment, to spine-tingling effect. The use of shadow in each shot, excellent sound composition, and a heartfelt story make this an instant classic. I highly recommend the YouTube short-film, Monster, that this is based on, as well.
Like many other books assigned me in school I didn’t read Louis Sachar’s Holes. The movie, though, I absolutely adore—a popcorn movie, through-and-through. Post-Even Stevens Shia LaBeouf, as well as Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and Tim Blake Nelson, all work well together on-screen. A kooky story with an interesting take on family roots and making one’s own destiny, Holes is always a joy to watch. Kid-friendly and—as far as I can research—true to the source material, Andrew Davis has crafted a colorful masterpiece of a film, with a memorable cast of characters that could charm even the stoniest of movie-goers into grinning.
A fairly-new addition to the top-five family, Circle is a writer’s paradise. As one whom loves well-rounded, multi-layered character development, this movie blew my mind; fifty, steadily-decreasing strangers must figure out why they’re trapped in this single room, and who among them deserves to live, with the rules of “selection” ever-changing. It’s a suspenseful, ninety-minute thrill-ride, as we are thrown in knowing—and ever only learn—just as much as the characters involved. It’s expert writing that’s brought to life in a claustrophobic, moody atmosphere, and asks questions we never quite get answers to. As I said in my recent review of this film, it’s almost Lovecraftian; the maddening part isn’t so much what’s going on, as it is not knowing the why of what’s happening. With a twist ending that one must re-watch in order to fully-appreciate the intricacies of the film, Circle is astounding, and earns its fifth-place spot.
Favorite Christmas film, hands-down. Others may claim A Christmas Carol as their own, to which I respond, “Which one?” Each of those movies has their own strengths and weaknesses, but Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life stands on its own. If it starred anyone other than Jimmy Stewart in the lead role of George Bailey, it would be a totally different film. A heart-warming tale of love, loss, and realizing one’s self-worth and impact on the lives of others, this—alongside A Miracle on 34th Street and others—is as “Christmas Classic” as they come. Like the previously-mentioned film, this is best watched in its original black-and-white. Get your tissue boxes ready; that iconic jog down Main Street Bedford Falls as George comes to terms with his life the way it is gets me every time…
To the best of my memory, this is the first film I ever saw in theatres—I would be remiss if I didn’t include it within my top-three, somewhere. With beautiful, hand-painted backdrops, lively characters voiced by stellar talent, and being a kid-friendly adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs story, Tarzan has remained a favorite, even as animated kids’ films have—largely—lost their appeal to me. Every time I go back to it, I catch a little bit more that I hadn’t before, whether it’s recognizing an actor that I didn’t know voiced one of the characters, or appreciating another of the expertly-colored jungle backgrounds, the dynamic shading, or a piece of 3D animation. Now that I have it on DVD, I’ll have to re-watch it in its full, high-definition glory. Can’t wait!
Rife with metaphor, sub-text, and real feels for our tortured protagonist, Rick (Humphrey Bogart), Casablanca is a wartime film that’s more concerned with the people fighting the invisible wars, such as upholding normalcy in the face of invasion. In the case of Rick—a politically-neutral bystander and owner of a similarly-themed club in sought-after French Morocco—he’s just biding his time until one side wins…that is, until an old, familiar face walks in one day and makes it personal. Forced to choose a side, Rick’s evolution as a character over the course of the film is what I love best about it. Bogart’s character speaks to me, personally; choosing to do something with one’s life, rather than wallowing in a past that would have never worked out… I think that’s a story we can all get onboard with.
And now, before we get to number-one, some honorable mentions—those that didn’t quite make the top-ten list, but that are definitely contenders for top-fifteen spots:
And now, my number-one favorite film of all time…
The groovy, ‘80s-inspired soundtrack. The talented cast. The relatable, rounded, human characters. The Infiltrator isn’t my favorite film of all time for nothing. By the end, I didn’t want the protagonists (Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger) to succeed with their plan—and, I could tell, neither do they—because of how attached they got to their quarries. These are the fighters of the invisible wars I mentioned, who keep us safe from all the threats at home…but, as this film makes quite clear, they are not without their injuries. They may come home at the end of the day, but the burdens they carry are as great as any front-line soldiers—guarding an entire nation from the evils that threaten its people. This film tells the other, darker, more dangerous side of the very public busts we see on the news, and how lasting the consequences of such a job are.
And there you have it. Twenty-four years in the making, my ten favorite films since the birth of the medium. While these films are, for the most part, contemporary, some earlier films—even silent ones—did make the original 25-film cut. It was tough, whittling this list down to ten finalists—and then keeping each entry restricted to a single genre and director, each, as well—but it’s a list I’m happy with.
Happy movie-going, folks.