I’m not saying these are the greatest movies ever made, but they are MY favorites
1. The Godfather
A timeless classic. It’s not a movie about crime or violence, it’s a movie about family, loyalty, and how a sense of duty and responsibility can reveal never before seen characteristics, like innate wisdom, courage, and leadership (Michael Corleone).
2. The Usual Suspects
A brilliantly written and acted film with a very accomplished cast, including at least 2 Oscar Winners and an Oscar Nominee. Bryan Singer directed an intricate masterpiece that was enthralling from the first frame. Who is Keyser Soze? The person you least expected. One of the best “twist” endings in memory.
3. The Sixth Sense
Which leads me to another movie with one of the best endings EVER. This movie has been parodied endlessly but when it was released and I saw it as a college sophomore, my jaw dropped. It was a groundbreaking movie and remains M. Night Shymalan’s best. He’s never been able to recapture lightning in a bottle, but I give him credit for this gem. Held together by the strength of Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis’ performances, this movie is a classic.
4. School Daze
I was surprised to see this movie catch some flack recently. People, it was a commentary about negative things on Black college campuses (misogyny, the “color complex”) not an endorsement of them. Spike Lee aptly portrayed the myriad of personalities that occupy the microcosm that is a college campus. Entertaining, funny, and poignant. One of my favorites from Spike. And here is another, at number 5.
5. The 25th Hour
Don’t try to put my man Spike in a box. He doesn’t just do “Black” movies, although if he did there is certainly nothing wrong with that. My point is that he can tell more than one story. He didn’t write the screenplay, so I can’t give him credit for that – but the vision was his. Edward Norton is one of the better younger actors of our generation, and I wish his catalogue were more prolific. Nevertheless, he was superb as Monty Brogan, a man on borrowed time. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper are no slouches either. This film just resonated with me for some reason. The last scene in particular, is wonderful. A great movie about friendship and most of all: regret.
6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (original Swedish version)
This is the most recent addition to a list that was firmly set in place. An absolutely visceral, dark and mind-blowing tale of intrigue and suspense. This is one of the most riveting movies I’ve ever seen. Words don’t do it justice. Layer upon layer of mystery and suspense. Disturbing, violent, and powerful.
7. Pulp Fiction
Tarantino is a genius. It took me forever to see this movie and when I did, all the fuss was justified. A non-linear work of art. Nobody was making movies like this in ’94.
8. The Dark Knight
This was not a corny movie like one of the Spiderman sequels or the old school Superman movies. I’m not knocking those movies, because they have their own place. But The Dark Knight was MORE than just a comic book movie. Don’t call it that, it’s an insult. This was a cinematic masterpiece. Director Christopher Nolan is The Shiz, check his resume. Heath Ledger gave a tour de force performance. The nuances he brought to The Joker were nothing short of brilliant. Aaron Eckhart nearly stole the show as Two Face. What I loved most about the movie were the psychological dilemmas it raised. Do tragic circumstances force us into becoming something we never thought we could be, or do they reveal what always was inside us? One question of many.
9. No Country For Old Men
I wasn’t ready for this one. I didn’t know what to expect, but the Coen Bros rarely misfire. This movie was a lesson in the art of storytelling with a central figure so evil and compelling, I thought my heart would thump out of my chest in the theater. Like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it’s not for the faint of heart. If you have the guts to follow a stone cold killer and madman, this is a hell of a movie.
10. Jackie Brown
This is just a personal favorite. I like movies with ensemble casts, and I like “caper” movies. Tarantino is a master of dialogue and there are some gems in this one. Check the scene between Chris Tucker’s character and Sam Jack’s character. Priceless. When Robert Deniro has a throwaway role, you know a movie is awesome. Pam Grier and Sam Jack are the definition of cool. I love it.