Where Matt might not have been a List Guy until I forced him to put his favorite films together, I've always obsessed over what films are better than the other. What are the best horror films? What are the best crocodile movies? What's the best use of a cigarette in cinema? (Answer, Dan Aykroyd's butt in Ghostbusters). When I was a kid my favorite movie was The Empire Strikes Back. And then for a little while it was Predator. The Top Ten I have now has not changed much in the last ten years or so. But recently, after seeing a couple of these flicks on the big screen at AFI Silver and E Street Cinema, I've had to do quite a bit of rearranging.
10. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979): Late last year I finally rewatched the Alien saga on blu ray (thanks to the Wife and her Egg purchase) and I came away thinking that 1) Ridley Scott's Alien is the scariest damn slasher movie ever made and 2) the reason this film kicks so much unholy ass is the crew of The Nostromo. These Space Truckers are real. They know each other. They love each other. They hate each other. And they are gonna get home once they get their credit. Too bad about that whole HR Giger beastie stalking about the gothic corridors.
9. Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957): Never has a film been filled with so much rank and hate and it's both hilarious and terrifying. Burt Lancaster is a monster as JJ and Tony Curtis is the best little weasel...poor sucker. There really isn't a nice character in the movie and that's what is so damn wonderful about the whole experience. If you haven't picked up the Criterion Blu from last year than do yourself a favor and bask in its horror.
8. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (W.D. Richter, 1984): Peter Weller as Buckaroo Banzai is the coolest, most badass Rock 'n' Roll Scientist on the planet. Thank God we have him on our side to battle John Whorfin's red aliens freed from The 8the Dimension. And like the crew of the Nostromo, his Regulators are a bunch of cool cats you need to party with.
7. Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967): Lee Marvin's Walker wants one thing, his money. Do not get in his way. If you're his wife, forget it. If you're his lover, forget it. If you're revenge, forget it. Just give him his money. And John Boorman directs the Hell outta Richard Stark's The Hunter splashing his insanity all over the script in bright psychedelic colors.
6. Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas Meyer, 1982): I don't even know what to say. I love Star Trek. I love Shatner. And I love them so much I can't even talk about them with the slightest bit of rationality. Wrath of Khan is the ultimate statement on these characters, it's a great reverse revenge film and, the ending...no matter how much the later film's negate its greatness, still packs a heavy emotional wallop. "I feel young." I can cry just thinking about Kirk looking at the Genesis planet.
5. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975): The First A Budget B Movie Summer Blockbuster and it rocked (destroyed?) cinema. But it's a damn fine time out at the movies. However, for all its creepy John Williams score and Hitchcockian shark attacks, Jaws is all about the relationship between Scheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw--singing "Show Me The Way To Go Home/I'm Tired And I Want To Go To Bed." Plus, it doesn't get much better than Shaw's monologue on the USS Indianapolis.
4. Miller's Crossing (The Coen Brothers, 1990): I love the Coen Brothers. And I love their pornographic lusting for gangster lingo. What's it all mean? Something about a hat. Sure, okay. Gabrielle Byrne is a cold mutha, and really just loves Albert Finney more than his moll. He'd go to war with anybody and everybody to keep Leo on top.
3. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982): Put simply, the greatest monster movie ever made. Everything works. The cast. The direction. The effects. The Score. The climax. I could watch this movie every month for the rest of my life and never get bored...okay, that might be hyperbole but I watch it at least four times a year.
2. An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981): Beware The Moors. John Landis' love letter to the hirsute Universal Monster is darn funny...but it's mostly scary and sad. Honestly, it doesn't get more tragic than the relationship between David & Nurse Price (va va va voom, Jenny Agutter...excuse the Tex Avery wolf tongue) and even though I chuckle throughout at the naked American man stealing balloons and Griffin Dunne's zombie I finish the film feeling pretty damn melancholic.
1. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992): Is there a better Western? Sure. Is there a better Clint Eastwood Western? Maybe. But this was the first Western I ever saw in the theater and it was one of the first "Grown Up" movies to rock my tiny 13 year old mind. Eastwood is just a good guy who was once bad...uh, no. He's a horrible human being hiding from his nature and Unforgiven takes two hours to reawaken the beast within. An amazing bit of scripting from Blade Runner's David Webb Peoples and Clint Eastwood has never been better as director, even though he keeps trying. Oh, and Gene Hackman at his monstery best.