(*in no particular order)
National Lampoon’s Animal House – American cinema simply begins and ends right here.
Cool Hand Luke – The young Paul Newman’s best.
Meatballs – Has Bill Murray ever been wilder, crazier and funnier? No, not really.
Chinatown – “It’s just Chinatown , Jake.”
The Big Lebowski – On the third viewing, it makes sense and it’s still hilarious.
The Third Man – Maybe the best ending ever.
The Wizard of Oz – “Who put the Hot in Hottentot; whadda they got that we ain’t got?”
Amarcord – My favorite Fellini. My favorite Rota score.
North by Northwest – Perhaps Hitchcock’s most polished thriller.
Run, Lola, Run – Just when you think you understand how movies work, one comes along that destroys all of your assumptions.
Breaker Morant – A courtroom drama that exposes the moral complexities of modern war and what it does to the men who fight it.
Kieslowski’s Three Colors (Red, White, Blue) – My favorite European “art” movies. Time to watch them again.
The Blues Brothers – The last great anarchic comedy.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – One of the great pop epics.
The Wild Bunch – The movie that defines cinematic action.
Goldfinger – Best Bond. Best Connery.
Raiders of the Lost Ark – Perhaps the single most enjoyable movie ever.
Blade Runner – Ridley Scott’s vision of a weird future hasn’t faded.
The Road Warrior – No computer effects, just some of the best kick-butt driving scenes ever.
The Best Years of Our Lives – No movie has ever described the joys and difficulties of coming home from war any better.
Godfather I & II – About as good as it gets.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail – From the opening credits, maybe the funniest movie.
Monty Python and the Meaning of Life – Not as popular as Grail but just as funny and maybe more ambitious.
Shrek – Near perfect combination of technology, humor, characters and music.
Glory – The best Civil War film. Ever. I always cry at the end.
King of the Hill – The “lost” Steven Soderbergh film about growing up in St. Louis in the Great Depression.
Dirty Harry – Created the modern cop movie.
The Verdict – The middle-aged Paul Newman’s best.
One Froggy Evening – Chuck Jones’ great cartoon about the singing frog. At age 5, I realized its essential truth about the human condition.
Medium Cool – All the madness of the 1960s captured as fiction during the 1968 Democratic convention.
Dr. Strangelove – For those of us who grew up with the bomb, this comedy says it all.
Casablanca – “I came to Casablanca for the waters.” “There are no waters in Casablanca.” “I was misinformed.”
Die Hard – Big budget Hollywood escapism at its very best.
Bullitt – Great cars and Steve McQueen at his very coolest.
Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back – You know, they could’ve just stopped there.
The Great Escape – The next time I watch it, Steve McQueen will make it over the fence on that bike.
Charade – Great plot, great humor, great supporting cast. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the prime.
Night of the Hunter – More a black and white dream than a conventional movie.
Breaking Away – Family, friends and that strange summer after you graduate from high school.