My Favourite Films

This is a list of my personal most favourite films of all time. This list I believe comprises all the very greatest of my movie-watching experiences.

I've written comments for all of the films to try to explain what I like about them, to give the reader an idea about the films and why I'd recommend them, and to more effectively convey my tastes in general. And so of course comments and suggestions for films you think I'd like that I may not have seen are most welcome (but keep in mind obviously, this is my list, and there is no such thing as a film that "must" be included to "legitimize" the list, or any of that nonsense).

This list is in order of preference, but, you know, a lot of them are pretty interchangeable, and I change the order of all of them all the time, and I'd still be hard-pressed to explain why any one film has the edge over the film below it. What matters is: all of these films are amazing!
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Hazard (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Faced by a society of criminals, these three youths avenge their rights. (103 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ Now this is spirited cinema! This is a movie that grabbed me and shook me, that somehow (and however briefly), snapped me out of my submission to the "sleepy but restless", mundane flow of my life, and made me believe, dream, determine to one day find my own "paradise", my own place in this world where I may feel the same sense of camaraderie, the same ecstasy of existence, as the characters in the film. This is a film I haven't really stopped thinking about since I saw it – there are so many good parts, and Jai West's performance is off the charts – but it's Jō Odagiri's character, "the boy who only wanted to fly", that I really feel a deep connection with. Sion Sono has said he would like to see his movies "have the power to change people's lives for the better". I really think that power is in Hazard, for me. ” - Grethiwha
Heart of Glass (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The foreman of a small village glassworks dies without revealing the secret to the famous "Ruby Glass". (94 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
“ Werner Herzog is my favourite filmmaker, and though that was the case long before I saw Heart of Glass, I'm now convinced that Heart of Glass is his best work. This is a film for which Herzog actually had his actors perform under hypnosis, and the result is probably his strangest film. It's hilarious, but the laughs come out half-way between laughing and crying. The most random things in the film startle and scare me. By the end of it, I feel that I too have been hypnotized. There's nothing else quite like it. And as I find myself re-watching it, every few months, like a ritual, allowing the movie ever more to work its spell on me... there is no film so beautiful, or so oddly funny; its atmosphere is incomparable... I love every line, every frame... and I think... this is my favourite film of all time. Although I'm not sure I could watch it with anyone else in the room. ” - Grethiwha
The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
His ideals challenged by life as a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist faces ever greater tests in his fight for survival. (190 mins.)
“ + The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959)
+ The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959)

It is nearly ten hours long, yes, but it is the most powerful film I have ever seen. As Kaji, Tatsuya Nakadai – my favourite actor – delivers his finest performance. The amount of character development, and the degree to which you grow attached to his character over the film's duration is staggering, and makes Part III what it is: for 190 minutes, the most gripping piece of film I've ever watched. An unforgettable masterpiece, and a true anti-war film; for the message this movie delivers, and for the potency of its delivery, I would argue, this is the most important movie ever made. ” - Grethiwha
Ran (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him. (162 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ Ran is, from start to finish, flawless and amazing. Every time I watch it I appreciate it more. Nakadai is amazing as the elderly Lord Ichimonji. The second time I watched it I really appreciated how big of a part Lady Kaede played. The third time, I realized how important the scenes with Lady Sue and Tsurumaru are to the overall themes of the movie. And how much the fool Kyoami brought to the picture. I must admit I didn't get much out of just reading the Shakespeare play on which the story is based, but through this film I can certainly appreciate how it is one of the greatest stories ever told, and I can't imagine it being executed more perfectly than it is here. Ran is Kurosawa's masterpiece among an oeuvre of masterpieces. ” - Grethiwha
Ikiru (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer. (143 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ Ikiru is a movie that I just want to give a big hug. Takashi Shimura has to be the most loveable of Japanese actors (Chishū Ryū being a close second). Here he plays an old man so sweet it's almost unbearable. He's dying of cancer, but given that, this is not a tragic or otherwise miserable movie. If I have a tear in my eye throughout the majority of the film, it's not because the film is depressing, exactly, but sentimental in all of the most effective ways. This is surely one of the greatest films of all time. ” - Grethiwha
Love Exposure (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A bizarre love triangle forms between a young Catholic upskirt photographer, a misandric girl and a manipulative cultist. (237 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ This is a movie about the absurdity of sex and religion, and... whatever the hell else this movie is about. So much. I can't explain; it’d be a disservice to the film – not to mention, a fool’s errand – to try to translate into words what all it means to me (and anyway it’ll no doubt mean different things to everyone who watches it). But it doesn't matter. This is one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever watched... It’s audacious and wickedly funny, and then, alternately, in an unexpected way, it's really quite sweet. It switches between so many different moods, touches on so many different ideas, and hits so many different notes over its epic four-hour duration, but at the heart of it all is a rather awesome bildungsroman and love story – at once emotionally draining and uplifting. This is a movie to fall in love with. ” - Grethiwha
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. (130 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
“ A must-watch every Christmas. It's possibly the biggest tear-jerker on this whole list – the despair it portrays within the comfort of the Old Hollywood Motion Picture Production Code is astonishing. As George Bailey, James Stewart paints perhaps the greatest human portrait in all of American cinema. If the ending is almost too cheerful by comparison to the first two thirds of the film, hey, it's Christmas. ” - Grethiwha
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery. (161 mins.)
Director: Sergio Leone
Unforgiven (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man. (131 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
“ I see "Unforgiven" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" as being sort of two sides of the same coin. Both are pretty much perfect. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is like, the ultimate fun, stylish, energetic movie – perfectly scored and directed and filmed. And when you start watching "Unforgiven", you expect something similar. Clint Eastwood is now older, but he's playing basically the same character. William Munny, a retired gunslinger, refers to the exploits of his youth, and they're things we can easily imagine seeing Eastwood do in his old spaghetti westerns. But then we get to the first gunfight in "Unforgiven" and it's staggeringly opposite in tone to what we've come to expect. Completely unlike "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", "Unforgiven" ends up being one of the most dark and beautiful films I've ever seen. Between the two of them is just about everything I love about movies. ” - Grethiwha
The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A family moves to the country to run a rustic mountain inn when, to their horror, the customers begin befalling sudden and unlikely fates. (113 mins.)
Director: Takashi Miike
“ Holy crap this is the most wildly entertaining ...thing I've seen in my life! I hesitate to call it a movie, because there are limits to what one can imagine when one hears the word "movie". This thing exists well above and beyond those boundaries. Furthermore, saying it is only the most entertaining movie doesn't do it justice – it is the most entertaining of all things! I think I'm understating how entertaining this movie is. This movie very literally had me screaming in delight, uncontrollably, while I laughed throughout the majority of the film. ” - Grethiwha
Vampire's Kiss (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
After an encounter with a neck-biter, a publishing executive thinks that he's turning into a vampire. (103 mins.)
Director: Robert Bierman
“ HOLY CRAP, this is the funniest movie I've ever seen! Nicolas Cage is unbelievably amazing. I thought he was crazy in some of his other films, like Bad Lieutenant and Matchstick Men, but that was nothing. By comparison to Vampire's Kiss, his acting in those films was understated. THIS is Cage unhinged. It is INCREDIBLE. He plays a mentally ill publishing executive who, at work, is ludicrously abusive towards his secretary, and at home, erroneously believe he's turning into a vampire. I would say that about 95% of the time he was on-screen (or so), I was laughing. This movie had me literally rolling on the floor. Throughout. This film holds a 5.5 rating on IMDb, are you kidding me? I was expecting with this film to like Cage in the context of a bad movie. Instead, I immediately (from about the time when the bat flies in the window), recognized it as a brilliant parody of bad movies – like Nicolas Cage was playing like he was a bad actor in a bad movie, but exaggerated in such a self-conscious and pitch-perfect way that it doesn't itself become one of the bad movies it's parodying. But as the film goes on, it becomes so much more even than that! It's such a violently maniacal parody of the whole vampire craze that it's not only masterful as a spoof – it becomes easily the best thing to do with vampires at all that I've ever seen! THIS is a genuine masterpiece of comedy. ” - Grethiwha
Fallen Angels (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A disillusioned killer embarks on his last hit but first he has to overcome his affections for his cool... (96 mins.)
Director: Kar Wai Wong
“ Wong Kar-Wai's most playful film, and damnit, his coolest; my personal favourite of his. Kar-Wai is the director of some of the most painfully romantic movies ever made, and though this one isn't so much a love story in any ordinary way... It's a movie I'm in love with. Romantically. I can cuddle up with it any day and, no matter how many times I've seen it before, still get lost in its dreamy beauty. ” - Grethiwha
Paris, Texas (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Travis Henderson, an aimless drifter who has been missing for four years, wanders out of the desert and must reconnect with society, himself, his life, and his family. (147 mins.)
Director: Wim Wenders
“ This is one of the first 'arthouse' films I ever watched; I actually only saw it because a game developer I admired cited it as his favourite movie. It had to have been the most utterly beautiful and sad film I'd ever seen then, and I still consider it one of the greatest films I've ever watched now. Travis' final speech, surely the most heartrending speech of any movie ever, still gets me, every time. ” - Grethiwha
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The Bride continues her quest of vengeance against her former boss and lover Bill, the reclusive bouncer Budd and the treacherous, one-eyed Elle. (137 mins.)
“ + Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Kill Bill is one of the most fun movies ever made. It's such a wonderful potpourri of styles. I would even go so far as to say that there is not a single forgettable scene in all four hours of it. This is a film that I would watch, like, once a week for a while; that's how much I enjoyed it. I loved every line, every camera movement, every sound. It's bloody brilliant. ” - Grethiwha
Stroszek (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In Berlin, an alcoholic man, recently released from prison, joins his elderly friend and a prostitute in a determined dream to leave Germany and seek a better life in Wisconsin. (115 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
“ The ending of this movie is one of the greatest ever filmed. I don't want to spoil it, but my jaw was dropped, and I was thinking "Oh my god. He's actually ending this with a d______ c______." If you've seen it then you know what I'm talking about. It's amazing. I would say that this film, better than any of his other films, captures Herzog's bleak worldview, as well as his absurdist sense of humour, and the juxtaposition of these two things, which I would contend is the primary trademark of almost all of his films. ” - Grethiwha
Harakiri (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn. (133 mins.)
“ I'm glad this film wasn't my introduction to the samurai genre. Some of the film's most impactful scenes require a loose understanding of the samurai Bushido code of honour. But gosh they're impactful! The film is over two hours long, and most of it takes place in a single room – an extended conversation – and yet the film somehow sustains an intensity all throughout, greater than just about any other film I can think of. ” - Grethiwha
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks. (216 mins.)
Director: David Lean
“ The definitive "epic" film. It's chock-full of remarkable, awe-inspiring, large-scale sequences. The desert cinematography is unbelievable, breathtaking. Peter O'Toole's performance is flawless. There also aren't enough movies with camels in them. The camels are amazing! ” - Grethiwha
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves. (207 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ This is a movie I just want to constantly be watching. I want to live in its world. By giving you time to get to know the characters and the places, the film makes its whole world come alive in a magical way like no other film – it truly transports you to another time and place that is believable and endearing (and full of memorable and loveable characters). And once you're there, it effortlessly captures both the fun, adventurous, even whimsical side of life in that era, as well as the scary and sad side. ” - Grethiwha
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado. (93 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
“ The stories behind the making of Aguirre are ridiculous, from the dangerous shoots from actual rafts on actual rapids in the middle of the jungle, to the exchanges of death threats between Herzog and lead actor Klaus Kinski (who would go on to make four more films together after this), to all the crazy stuff they had to go through to realize this film on their shoestring budget, in the jungle, hundreds of miles from the nearest city. The stories behind the making of sister film Fitzcarraldo are even more ridiculous, but Aguirre is the superior film. The film concerns a doomed expedition to find a treasure that does not exist and what's great about it is how the overall atmosphere of the film grows stranger and stranger as the unacknowledged futility of their mission drives the characters all slowly into madness. It gets to the point where Don Lope de Aguirre, talking to a monkey, is still harbouring delusions of grandeur while his dying crew barely even notice when they are once again being shot at by the jungle's natives. It's amazing and bleakly hilarious. That whole last ten minutes or so is flawless. ” - Grethiwha
Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
In Medieval Japan a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression. (124 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
“ There is a small handful of movies from the black & white, pre-widescreen era, that are astonishingly beautiful in a way that I don't think can ever be replicated. Amongst them are It's a Wonderful Life, Ikiru, and The Grapes of Wrath. A mysterious beauty seems to permeate the very essences of these films, not only in the sadness these films convey, but in the eras they depict and even in the texture of the film itself. Though it isn't as well-known (and I didn't fully appreciate it on my first viewing), I see Sansho the Bailiff now as an unequivocal masterpiece, that belongs right alongside the aforementioned films – as one of the truly greatest films of all-time, and the most beautiful. The saddest of all jidaigeki films, it's a film that truly brings to life the harsh world of mediaeval Japan, "when Japan had not yet emerged from the dark ages, and mankind had yet to awaken as human beings". ” - Grethiwha
Woman in the Dunes (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them. (123 mins.)
“ Kōbō Abe's "The Woman in the Dunes" feels like it should already be part of the popular consciousness – like it was required reading in high school or something – part of everyone's shared cultural iconographic understanding. But what a delight it is to discover it unexpectedly, a little later in life when I can fully appreciate it! Humans' ability to adapt – like an insect – in harsh environments, one's gradual acceptance of one's circumstances and comfort in a routine which stifles ambition... These ideas get under the skin, the setting seeps into the unconscious mind like sand – sand which I can never look at the same again! Teshigahara's film adaptation – in which Abe was directly involved – is faultless; it has to be the most successful realization of a seemingly unfilmable book ever made. That they managed to bring this location to life, and make it absolutely believable and real, is an astounding feat. With perfect cinematography, a perfect score by the legendary Tôru Takemitsu, and fantastic performances, this is one of the greatest films of all time. There is absolutely nothing like "The Woman in the Dunes". The novel or the film. And if you haven't yet – don't even read the premise. Just watch it. Or read it. Or both. ” - Grethiwha
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ I tend to find the over-the-top southern U.S. family mannerisms and vernacular in typical John Ford films awfully lame – like for example the scenes with the whole family in The Searchers. But here, in a film all about a whole southern U.S. family, it all takes on a sort of poetry. Though I am not American or religious, there is a part of me that thinks that "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?" by the 1920s gospel singer Washington Phillips is the most beautiful song ever made, that Huck Finn is the greatest book ever written. And for that part of me, this is my perfect movie. It stands beside It's a Wonderful Life as one of the most terribly affecting films of Hollywood's classical era. The image of the car, carrying the whole family and everything they have in the world, is one of the most unforgettable in cinema. And Jane Darwell's performance in particular is incredible. ” - Grethiwha
Fanny and Alexander (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Two young Swedish children experience the many comedies and tragedies of their family, the Ekdahls. (188 mins.)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
“ This film – in particular the last half hour or so before the epilogue – has a dream-like, mesmerizing quality to it that no other film I've seen compares to. Strangely enough though, I would compare it to the last half hour before the epilogue of my favourite videogame – Killer7 – but I won't go too in depth into that for fear of sounding like a crazy person. I'll just say that it has something to do with the use of sound and colour in both of these sequences that somehow, indescribably, makes them profoundly effective. If the first half of this 5-hour (and I only recommend the 5-hour version) film feels a little slow the first time you watch it, stick with it; the pay-off is a thousand times worth it. ” - Grethiwha
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. (89 mins.)
Director: Isao Takahata
“ The best and most powerful of animated films. This is a true anti-war film, almost on the same level as (and with a much more digestible runtime than) my favourite, The Human Condition, in the way it depicts the war with real tragedy and humility that you just don't really get in films showing the point of view of the winning side. It's certainly a movie far removed from the tropes and clichés of anime, and even fans of Studio Ghibli's more imaginative approach to the medium will need to steel themselves for something much more realistic and depressing than they're used to, but what a beautiful movie this is! ” - Grethiwha
It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Bill struggles to put together his shattered psyche, in this new feature film version of Don Hertzfeldt's animated short film trilogy. (62 mins.)
“ Even people who are familiar with and enjoyed Don Hertzfeldt's hilarious surreal shorts (namely "Rejected"), it can be hard to convince them to watch a feature film by the same guy. Perhaps it's some preconceived notion of the limitations of the "stickman" animation style. Set these notions aside though, I beg you, as this is a ridiculously good-looking movie, combining his crude but expressive pencil drawings with some of the most inventive and astonishing in-camera visual effects I've ever seen, and phenomenal sound design. Moreover it is an emotive and ambitious movie about nothing less than human life in its entirety, and dementia, and Hertzfeldt's sense of humour is here, amazingly, sharper than ever. This is easily one of the most funny, beautiful, and truly refreshing movies to come out in years! ” - Grethiwha
Branded to Kill (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A hit-man, with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, putting him into conflict with his treacherous wife, with a mysterious woman eager for death and with the phantom-like hit-man known only as Number One. (91 mins.)
Director: Seijun Suzuki
“ This is one crazy movie. How can I possibly describe it? It's like James Bond meets the videogame 'No More Heroes'? That doesn't begin to do justice to anything past the first twenty minutes. At one point there are two hitmen trying to kill each other and the film it most closely resembles is The Odd Couple. I've seen it described as a deconstruction of the Bond-style action movie – it's the genre stripped down to its essence to the point where there is no exposition and no established sense of time and space. The movie is incoherent, yes, but that is one of its strengths. This is such a ludicrous and wildly entertaining film! ” - Grethiwha
Memories of Murder (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In 1986, in the province of Gyunggi, in South Korea, a second young and beautiful woman is found dead... (131 mins.)
Director: Joon Ho Bong
“ Some of the best films of this 21st century are coming out of South Korea. Memories of Murder is my favourite. Simultaneously a brilliant dark comedy, a wicked satire on the Korean police, and a stunning, even disturbing thriller, it's a movie that can make me laugh one moment, and then send a chill straight down my spine the next. Memories of Murder is masterful filmmaking. ” - Grethiwha
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (121 mins.)
Director: George Lucas
“ + Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
+ Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars has been my favourite set of films since I was a kid. Its imaginative power is both immediately palpable and iconic. Its story is a simple tale of good vs. evil but it creates an entire universe to house this story. Therein lies its brilliance. ” - Grethiwha
Pulp Fiction (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. (154 mins.)
“ This is the movie that revitalized my interest in the whole medium, when I realized there could be other movies this awesome just waiting for me to discover them, which turned me into the, well, rabid enough of a cinephile at least to create a list such as this. Pulp Fiction is awesome. There's so much great and memorable dialogue; there are so many great and memorable scenes and situations and turns of events, and it's hilarious and it's all wrapped up in such a fantastically stylish package. ” - Grethiwha
American Beauty (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend. (122 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes
“ This movie has "modern masterpiece" written all over it. So good. American Beauty is one of those perfectly-written films – it feels so well-observed and true-to-life, yet at the same time so insane and exaggerated from real life to create the humour and drama of the movie – it strikes that perfect balance. I find the family scarily-relatable, yet the most fantastic plot is drawn out of one simple exaggeration from real life: the characters unashamedly express and act upon their true inner feelings. (This is also why I love Sion Sono's films...) ” - Grethiwha
Barton Fink (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood. (116 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ From the looks of this film's wikipedia article and IMDb boards, I'd say it's been analysed to death. And yet, I don't feel the slightest inclination to read any of that stuff. This is surrealism at its best; I don't really understand the meaning behind anything in this film, but that doesn't take away from my enjoyment of it. Rather, it adds to it. Werner Herzog says that "film culture is not analysis, it is agitation of the mind". And this film agitated my mind in such good ways. ” - Grethiwha
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A vengeful young man marries the daughter of a corrupt industrialist in order to seek justice for his father's suicide. (151 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ What a perfect title. The bad sleep well. This is what is frustrating Kōichi (Toshirō Mifune in one of his finest roles). Corrupt businessmen are remorselessly going as far as forcing their subordinates to commit suicide – all to suppress evidence of their illegal dealings, and Kōichi has an elaborate plan to stop them. You become incredibly involved in Kōichi's plight, and not knowing whether he will be successful, this turns into one of the tensest thrillers I've ever seen. It's an insanely well-crafted and engaging film. ” - Grethiwha
Double Indemnity (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. (107 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ The best film noir! It's just so cool. All the conventional trappings of the genre are here, but it's executed so well, it's like it's the culmination of everything that was ever great about the genre. It's awesome. ” - Grethiwha
Wings of Desire (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal. (128 mins.)
Director: Wim Wenders
“ One of the most visually poetic and stunning films ever made. This movie was a major part of my initiation into 'arthouse' cinema and is still amongst the best I've seen. It is fantastic and unforgettable. ” - Grethiwha
Castaway on the Moon (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A failed suicide attempt leads a heartbroken man to live a life in the wilderness. (116 mins.)
Director: Hae-jun Lee
“ This movie begins as the most brilliant 'Castaway' parody ever, but ends up so much more. An extremely beautiful, extremely heartfelt, and very very funny film about two lonely people, castaways in a sense, deserted in the middle of a city of millions. ” - Grethiwha
Annie Hall (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall. (93 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
“ I absolutely love Woody Allen, I've seen nearly all of his movies – over 40 now – and I've still never seen one I didn't like (there might be 2 or 3 that were 'just OK'). Yet I still have to agree with the popular consensus that Annie Hall is his strongest film. This is Woody Allen at his very best. Hilarious, clever, truly charming, and of course, completely neurotic. ” - Grethiwha
Profound Desires of the Gods (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An engineer from Tokyo arrives on a drought-ridden tropical island to drill a well to power a nearby sugar mill. He meets the inbred Futori family, hated by the locals for breaking religious customs. (173 mins.)
Director: Shôhei Imamura
“ I have watched this film, but I am still not entirely convinced it exists. I am reminded of this quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: "Too weird to live, too rare to die." Except it's more like, too rare not to've survived and made its way to home media in the west, too weird for anyone to have actually watched it. Seriously, I have seen some bizarre movies in my time, but never so bizarre on this scale. This is like the Fitzcarraldo of bizarre movies (and Fitzcarraldo is already fairly bizarre). Filmed on location on a jungle island, and clocking in at nearly three hours, this is a ridiculously ambitious film, and like Fitzcarraldo or Apocalypse Now, I must believe its making was a miracle, helmed by a director completely seized by and convinced of his vision. But how the hell did Imamura describe this vision to people, and who, for God's sake, believed in it? Anyway, having seen it, I may still struggle to believe it, but I'm pretty sure I love it. And I am positive there is nothing else like it. ” - Grethiwha
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Herzog's film is based upon the true and mysterious story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to speak or walk, and bearing a strange note. (110 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
“ In Herzog's hands, this, the story of a man who, mysteriously, lived the first seventeen years of his life chained in a tiny dungeon, devoid of human contact, is truly incredible. The performance by Bruno S. is astounding. Also, the scribe character deserves a medal for best minor character of ever. ” - Grethiwha
Grizzly Man (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska. (103 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
“ My favourite documentary! Werner Herzog documentaries are in a league of their own. The bizzarre and eccentric people and things that fascinate him are pretty much guaranteed to fascinate me. Here he focuses on Timothy Treadwell, a man who lived alone amongst grizzly bears, filming himself as if he were the star of his own movie, the protector of the bears, before being eaten. Everything about this story is ridiculous and unbelievable and I love it. Herzog's commentary, his choice of footage from amongst the Treadwell tapes, and his interviews are all brilliant and perfect. ” - Grethiwha
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle Earth from the Dark Lord Sauron. (178 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
“ + The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
+ The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Lord of the Rings films give the feeling of going on a truly epic adventure with these characters, through this beautifully realized fantastical world. Few films give off that true adventure feeling even half as effectively. And gosh the Hobbits are endearing. ” - Grethiwha
Blade Runner (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
“ I love Philip K. Dick. This, loose as it is, is my favourite adaptation of a P.K.D. work (though I've still yet to see Minority Report). Whereas what was good about Total Recall came from the source material, and then was undermined by stupid crap like three-breasted women and bad puns, Blade Runner not only takes some of its ideas from, but also sort of captures the spirit of a P.K.D. story. In any case, this is the most beautifully realized science fiction world ever put to the screen. ” - Grethiwha
A Serious Man (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern physics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking. (106 mins.)
“ A Serious Man is such a wonderfully offbeat film. It's hilarious. Everyone in it is crazy. Except for Larry, the main character. Or maybe he's the only person who's crazy. There is a scene where he asks a rabbi for help and the rabbi tells him a really long story about a dentist. At the end, the rabbi is baffled that Larry expected there to be a point to this story. Now, what relevance do the first and final scenes in A Serious Man have to the rest of the film? you may ask. "Huh? Who cares!" ” - Grethiwha
The Shining (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. (146 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ I'm starting to think Kubrick's notoriously excessive multiple takes aren't just self-indulgence. The crazy faces Jack Nicholson makes in the latter parts of the picture were a result of doing it so many times that he was starting to become a little bit crazy for real. And it's incredible; his whole performance is an irreplicable miracle. This is perhaps the best and grandest of all horror films. ” - Grethiwha
Eraserhead (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child. (89 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ A background detail: The houseplants in the man in Eraserhead's apartment are not in pots, but sticking out of piles of dirt just kind of dropped on the man's side tables. These are the types of ideas that David Lynch's absurd dystopian vision comprises. It's surrealistically funny, but at the same time extraordinarily creepy, and it's masterful in its sound and visual design. One of the best, and strangest, movies ever. ” - Grethiwha
Kagemusha (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord's double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place. (180 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ After my first viewing of this movie, I thought it was great, although severely inferior to Ran. I've seen it several times now – I keep getting the urge to rewatch it – and I like it more every time I watch it. It is a truly incredible film in its own right. And it is even more visually spectacular than it's sister film. ” - Grethiwha
House (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A schoolgirl and six of her classmates travel to her aunt's country home, which tries to devour the girls in bizarre ways. (88 mins.)
“ Though I watched Happiness of the Katakuris shortly after this film, and that stole the title, this was the most insane film I'd ever watched. This is one of the most endlessly enjoyable and hilarious films I've ever seen – one of the best examples of Japanese eccentricity ever – and it features what are surely the most ridiculous special effects EVER. It's all so wonderful! You are not prepared! ” - Grethiwha
Videodrome (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquires a new kind of programming for his station. (87 mins.)
“ When I first watched Videodrome, it was late at night and I could barely stay awake. I think that enhanced the experience. I had no idea what was going on, but it was amazing. There is a scene where a man whips a pulsating television set, and the lady on the screen is screaming. But the best part of that was how acutely aware I was that I was watching a man whipping a TV set. It's not like I was so absorbed in the film that I didn't realize how bizarre it all was. I think that's a strength of the film. The film is full of these surreal, hilarious, and totally baffling images and ideas, and yet it still feels like it's in perfect balance with itself. It's one of the best movies of its kind around. Watch when tired. ” - Grethiwha
Being John Malkovich (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich. (112 mins.)
Director: Spike Jonze
“ Being John Malkovich is so funny and so thoroughly inventive that it must surely be impossible not to love. The concept of a portal that lets you see the world through the eyes of the actor John Malkovich is so silly, and yet it's astoundingly well realized and developed. On top of that, the cast of characters is one of the quirkiest ever assembled. It's brilliant. ” - Grethiwha
Goodfellas (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy. (146 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ I'm usually not a fan of mafia films. I really don't like the Godfather very much, for example. But Goodfellas is amazing! Ray Liotta's voiceover is brilliant. I love the juxtaposition of the music and the violence. The way the whole lifestyle spirals out of control in the last third of the film is incredibly compelling. The long takes are amazing. It's all around a great and supremely well-crafted film. ” - Grethiwha
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality. (147 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ Mulholland Drive is one of those movies that seems like such a successful realization of the filmmaker's vision that it doesn't matter how baffling it is. You can somehow tell that the director has put the utmost care into it and knows what's happening on every level of the story, and it's both fun to try to solve it, and engaging regardless of whether you ever make any sense out of it. It's like an incredible dream, and the imagery sticks with you long after you watch it. ” - Grethiwha
Ugetsu (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A tale of ambition, family, love, and war set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century. (96 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
“ The ultimate and essential Japanese folklore/ghost tale movie. It is wonderfully eerie and atmospheric, and also flawless in its cinematography, and, well, in general. ” - Grethiwha
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients. (133 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
“ Fun, hopeful, and ultimately devastating. But always thoroughly moving. ” - Grethiwha
Magnolia (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley. (188 mins.)
“ Is there a single moment in this 3-hour film when it would not be inappropriate to pause? All the myriad of individual stories this films juggles – every scene flows flawlessly into the next and the film never lets up – it is ceaselessly compelling. It's an astonishing feat of directing, but moreover of characters and writing and acting and... everything else as well. ” - Grethiwha
Man on the Moon (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The life and career of a legendary comedian, Andy Kaufman. (118 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
“ There is a line in Man on the Moon when Jim Carrey, as the "comedian" Andy Kaufman says "See, I don't want easy laughs. I want gut reactions! I want the audience to go through an experience. They love me! They hate me! They walk out -- it's all GREAT!" That sums up both his schtick and exactly what the experience of watching Man on the Moon is like. ” - Grethiwha
Kwaidan (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes. (183 mins.)
“ This is literally the most visually striking film I have ever seen. The painted backdrops are bloody gorgeous, the special effects are brilliant, and, just, everything about the visual design of this movie is amazing. The film itself is an unconnected collection of ghost stories, and they are wonderfully realized, distinct, and atmospheric. ” - Grethiwha
The Apartment (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue. (125 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ Jack Lemmon has to be the most endearing actor ever, and this is his best, most endearing film role. It's a wonderful movie! ” - Grethiwha
Exte: Hair Extensions (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
About hair extensions that attack the women that wear them. (108 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ I've been loving Sion Sono's films, yet I still expected a 'lesser' film of his with this campy horror flick. It is not a 'lesser' film. It's one of the most wildly imaginative and entertaining horror movies, nay, movies in general, that I've ever seen. It's bloody hilarious – I was grinning ear-to-ear from the first line to the end credits! So good! ” - Grethiwha
Revolutionary Road (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. (119 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes
“ The unfettered emotion on display in this movie is almost too great. But the way it deals so unflinchingly with the drama and the tragedy of the everyday is commendable, and highly affecting. The performances are perfect. ” - Grethiwha
Mad Detective (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A rookie cop teams up with a former detective with a supernatural gift to hunt down a serial killer. (89 mins.)
“ On my first viewing, I thought: this is the most confusing movie ever and I love it. I had to rewind a lot, but it was so rewarding to realize just what was happening that I couldn't hold that against the film. That said, this is a movie that can only get better on multiple viewings: I remembered the gist of the movie on my second viewing and didn't need to rewind, but it was still an immensely satisfying challenge to keep up with the labyrinthine narrative of this maddeningly good (and quite funny) film. And then I must mention the exceptional and positively stunning final sequence: where confusion peaks even for the protagonist, and, when the credits roll, there's a feeling like a release as I realize I can stop keeping track of the guns; I have only to leave it to him to figure out how to arrange them. Anyway, it's a brilliant movie – the kind I expect will continue to reward and entertain on my fifth, sixth viewing, and beyond. ” - Grethiwha
Strange Circus (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The erotic novelist Taeko is writing a morbid story of a family destroyed by incest, murder and abuse. Her assistant, Yuji, sets on a mission to uncover the reality of this story, but the reality might be too much to bear. (108 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ Strange Circus is a very funny film, but in such a strange way, I'm not sure I ever actually laughed, or broke a smile. Its dark story and mesmerizing direction are too all-engrossing. This is as brilliant and enigmatic a film as I've ever seen. ” - Grethiwha
Ghost World (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives. (111 mins.)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
“ Ghost World is hilarious, smart, one of the few "teen" movies I can connect with, and, dare I say it, Steve Buscemi's greatest role. ” - Grethiwha
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong. (116 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ This modern take on the film noir is really amazing – one of my three favourite Coen brothers films. Billy Bob Thornton is perfectly cast. It captures the ~1950 setting beautifully. And there is some truly stunning imagery, especially towards the end of film, and as it incorporates some... unexpected ideas from that era. But in general, it is the tone of the film, the mood, which is hard to describe and altogether unique, that makes this film so great for me. ” - Grethiwha
Knowing (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
M.I.T. professor John Koestler links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule to past and future disasters and sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe. (121 mins.)
Director: Alex Proyas
“ This movie reconciles thriller, horror, science fiction and fantasy beautifully. Even if you overlook its more stunning and thought-provoking sequences, it's still a superbly-directed and incredibly entertaining movie. I can hardly fathom why it is so reviled. It's from the director of Dark City, and I suggest you watch that film. Here's my guess: If you like Dark City, you'll love Knowing, and if you love Dark City, you'll like Knowing, and if you're not particularly fond of Dark City, you'll hate Knowing. Both are fantastic films that are virtuous in their quest for the creation of new images that get the imagination running. Both are about rethinking the way our world works. Both are stunningly beautiful. Knowing, however, doesn't end with a silly Dragon Ball Z-style energy battle. I believe it is the masterpiece of the two. ” - Grethiwha
M (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. (117 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ The use of sound is incredible in this film, which is especially impressive for one of the first sound films ever. The murderer's whistle is one of the most memorable auditory motifs in the cinema, and the dead silence accompanying a shot of a balloon caught in a telephone wire, and a ball rolling into a ditch to indicate that another child has been murdered is kind of stunning. The whole film is incredibly compelling and almost ridiculously well-crafted. ” - Grethiwha
Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert. (147 mins.)
“ There are scenes in this film of startling compassion, which emerge as Stroud, isolated from other humans in solitary confinement, is allowed to care for his birds. This is a thoroughly engrossing picture which I think even edges out the Darabont films as my favourite prison film. To top it off, John Frankenheimer's beautiful 60s paranoid black-and-white visual style is well intact. ” - Grethiwha
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ The Shawshank Redemption is #1 on the IMDb top 250 for good reason: it's a beautiful, extremely well-made film that just about anybody can connect with on an emotional level. I personally have an especial fondness for the Brooks subplot. ” - Grethiwha
The Green Mile (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift. (189 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ The Shawshank Redemption's sister film favours a formalistic approach over Shawshank's relative realism, and I can see that turning some people off. Even I, as much as I tend to prefer when movies transcend reality, was taken aback when the Coffey character grabbed Paul's balls and a lightbulb exploded and then he spewed flies that turned to dust, thus curing Paul of his urinary tract infection (in a film that had seemed normal up to that point). But as the three hour film went on (it didn't feel anywhere near that long), the approach proved to serve the film beautifully and make it what it is: A terribly affecting masterpiece, and in just about every way The Shawshank Redemption's equal. ” - Grethiwha
Network (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit. (121 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
“ This is one of the best and most cleverly written satires I've ever seen in any medium. ” - Grethiwha
The Fly (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. (96 mins.)
“ The special effects are grossly, hilariously brilliant. This film may have found some mainstream success, but it's still as wonderfully bizarre and deranged as any of Cronenberg's cult movies. ” - Grethiwha
Zatoichi's Flashing Sword (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After being wounded in a fight, Zatoichi is nursed to health by a young woman and her father. Now indebted to the family, he works to protect their ferry business from local thugs. (82 mins.)
Director: Kazuo Ikehiro
“ + Zatoichi's Cane Sword (1967)
+ Zatoichi Challenged (1967)
+ Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman (1971)
+ Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival (1970)
+ The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

To be clear: none of these films, taken individually, deserve a spot on this list. But the Zatoichi series, taken as a whole, is one of the most remarkable achievements in cinema history, and absolutely deserves a spot on my favourites list. The above are just highlights from a 26-film series that, despite variations in writers and directors, is unbelievably consistent in quality, and never fails to be entertaining. I give full credit to Katsu for that. He played Zatoichi in each and every one of these films (plus 100 TV episodes!), it's his character through and through, and it's one of the most loveable characters of all time. And I never tire of seeing him on another adventure. ” - Grethiwha
I Live in Fear (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An aging, industrialist Japanese man becomes so fearful of nuclear war that it begins to take a toll on his life and family. (103 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ After watching this film, it has occurred to me: that madness... is my choice subject matter. It's present to varying degrees in an awful lot of the films on this list, I just now realize, and it's certainly a favourite theme of Herzog, my favourite director, and to a lesser extent of many of my other favourite directors. In this film – one of his most unfortunately overlooked and underrated works – Kurosawa explores a man's descent into madness, contextualized within the realities of post-war Japan. And it makes a beautiful portrait of post-war Japan – capturing, like nothing else I've seen, the general fears and anxieties of the times. Do not confuse Nakajima (Mifune in one of his most distinct and memorable roles) for someone akin to the ridiculous "doomsday preppers" of today. In Japan, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of another bombing was real and palpable, and the way Kurosawa has Nakajima and all the other characters reconcile this reality in their own ways – each displaying or suppressing their anxieties differently – is really beautifully handled. And when Nakajima can't reconcile it any more... I can't help it: when, at the end of the film, Nakajima, believing he is on another planet, looks out the window at the sun and says "the Earth is burning!"... there is something decidedly awesome there, in his madness. ” - Grethiwha
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines. However, they do not realize that their companions are actually a princess and her general. (139 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ Probably Kurosawa's most accessible and entertaining film – it truly gives off that feeling of the film taking you on an adventure. The bickering peasant characters are hilarious – apparently the inspiration for C3PO and R2D2 in Star Wars. ” - Grethiwha
Dodes'ka-den (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Various tales in the lives of Tokyo slum dwellers, including a mentally deficient young man obsessed with driving his own commuter trolley. (140 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ Probably Kurosawa's oddest and most underappreciated film. Simultaneously strange, hilarious, touching, and sad, this movie pretty much has it all. The vignettes style of storytelling is very effective here. I love it! DODES'KA-DEN! DODES'KA-DEN! DODES'KA-DEN! ” - Grethiwha
Dreams (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A collection of tales based upon the actual dreams of director Akira Kurosawa. (119 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ I don't think I've ever felt like I was getting to know a filmmaker from watching one of their films better than Akira Kurosawa from watching Dreams. Dreams is a series of vignettes based on Kurosawa's actual dreams, from when he was a child to when he's old (at which point he begins dreaming from the perspective of his younger self – this is my interpretation anyhow). If you pay attention, you can see the real Kurosawa, growing up to be cynical and despairing before finally settling into something of a contented state – this movie has a happy ending after all. But really, this is a film about two things: its visuals and its sounds. Get lost in them. Try, if you can, to experience the film as a dream. ” - Grethiwha
Drunken Angel (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A drunken doctor with a hot temper and a violence-prone gangster with tuberculosis form a quicksilver bond. (98 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ Probably Kurosawa's first great masterpiece. Mifune and Shimura are phenomenal together here – such a beautiful film! ” - Grethiwha
Samurai Rebellion (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back. (128 mins.)
“ Here Kobayashi gives us a few more of the typical pleasures that make 60s samurai flicks so fun to watch, as compared to Harakiri, but still I say: nobody makes them like he does. Incredibly dark and hard-hitting, Rebellion surely ranks amongst the greatest samurai films ever made. ” - Grethiwha
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Terence McDonagh is a drug- and gambling-addled detective in post-Katrina New Orleans investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants. (122 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
“ This is my favourite ...American ...fiction film by Werner Herzog. It's awesome, man! It reminds me of Stroszek in, well, quite a few ways actually, that I won't really go into here. But anyway, this movie is also a perfect example of why Nicolas Cage is amazing – he is ridiculous and over-the-top, but that's what the role called for and no-one could do it better. ” - Grethiwha
Papillon (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape. (151 mins.)
“ A bizarre and ridiculously ambitious on-location epic. The first film that came to my mind in watching this was "Profound Desires of the Gods", and I'm almost dumbstruck by its popularity; films like these it seems to me are just too weird and great to exist, let alone find a substantial audience. ” - Grethiwha
Adaptation. (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen. (114 mins.)
Director: Spike Jonze
“ This is a movie about the writing of this movie. It's brilliant. How much of it will you believe was actually happening during the writing of the movie? Probably more than you should. This is one of the most clever films ever written. ” - Grethiwha
Tokyo Story (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city; but the children have little time for them. (136 mins.)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
“ Ozu's style is very simple, low-key, and gentle. And I can always appreciate his films, even when I don't necessarily always love them. This one however, I love dearly – it sees his style at the peak of its beauty and potency, and it's a masterpiece, in a similar vein to Kurosawa's Ikiru. ” - Grethiwha
Snowpiercer (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges. (126 mins.)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
“ All aboard the crazy train. When the world's population is reduced to a handful of ridiculous lunatics... what a joy this film is, what a phenomenally enigmatic and brilliant vision of an insane future-world! Joon-ho Bong quickly perfected his brand of rural dark comedy with Memories of Murder, and now he's perfected another type of film, his uniquely eccentric take on the blockbuster (first seen in The Host). It's something special. ” - Grethiwha
The Wind Rises (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. (126 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
“ Hayao Miyazaki's final film, in contrast to the incredible fantasy epics he usually makes, is something far more simple and intimate, (more in line with my favourite Studio Ghibli film, Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies). As much as I love Nausicaä, and Ponyo, and Spirited Away... I think this one is his masterpiece. The story, of an aeronautical engineer in the turbulent between-war period in Japan, is told with such effortless elegance I am reminded of Ozu's Tokyo Story. This is not a fantasy film, but Miyazaki's fantastic inclination, his hallmark personification of nature and objects of destruction, it does come up (often in a dream context), to tremendous effect. And the animation is extraordinary, as good as he's ever done. And then there's the ending: so, so simple (like so much of the movie), yet so profoundly moving. A beautiful, beautiful film. ” - Grethiwha
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In New Jersey in 1935, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world. (82 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
“ Even set against the Depression, and some pretty melancholic scenes (the ending is so very touching and profoundly sad) – the naïvety and upbeat energy of this movie, still, is infectious! I won't give away the premise, but it's so clever, funny, and perfectly executed. After Annie Hall, I think, this is easily Allen's best film. ” - Grethiwha
Possession (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister. (124 mins.)
“ In my comment above for Revolutionary Road, I said that the intensity of emotion on display in that movie was almost too great. Possession begins at that emotional height and takes it way further. The acting goes beyond realism and into expressionism and abstraction. The two lead performances, by Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill, are incredible. This is a horror movie; it flirts with supernatural ideas, of monsters and demonic possession, but at its core is something purely psychological. It's one of the best horror movies ever because its ambitions reach so much farther than the horror genre. I'll readily admit that not everything in this movie makes sense to me, but it's nonetheless one hell of a worthwhile experience – you do not see films like this every day! ” - Grethiwha
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same. (153 mins.)
“ The tension that builds up over extended scenes of quiet talk, culminating in huge, fast bursts of violence makes many of the sequences in Inglourious Basterds staggering to behold. The film in its entirety is masterfully executed, although at times horrific and morally eyebrow-raising (not that that's a criticism). ” - Grethiwha
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed. (172 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
“ This movie, about a trio of war veterans trying to cope upon their return home, ranks with Grapes of Wrath and It's a Wonderful Life as one of the most beautiful, emotional masterpieces of Hollywood's golden era. ” - Grethiwha
Suicide Club (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A detective is trying to find the cause of a string of suicides. (99 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ That a movie of such legitimately disturbing subject matter and grotesque imagery... can have me grinning the whole time, can make me laugh so ecstatically... what a fantastically twisted and insane film this is, I love it! You may find the enigmatic, ambiguous ending somewhat unsatisfying, but still... I'm pretty sure this movie was made for me, there are so many amazing scenes! Sono's followup to Suicide Club, "Noriko's Dinner Table", a very different film, is also excellent... it's a singular and epic film of the sort only Sono could make... but it doesn't have the 'pleasure room'. Oh, the pleasure room. This movie is awesome and the cure for depression. ” - Grethiwha
Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud. (129 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ A crazily-ridiculous breathlessly-paced action-comedy about the love of cinema, the spirit of filmmaking, and also yakuza turf wars. This is a movie that's alive with the same spirit, the same punk rock energy that made Love Exposure one of my all time favourite films. This movie is pure genius entertainment. ” - Grethiwha
Guilty of Romance (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A grisly murder occurs in Maruyama-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo - a love hotel district - a woman was found dead in a derelict apartment... (144 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ Back in the 50s, Japanese directors like Kenji Mizoguchi would often make movies about prostitutes and 'fallen women'. Sion Sono's movie about a woman's fall from grace is... not exactly like those... it's absolutely and completely insane! It's ridiculously dark and depraved. And pretty wonderful. ” - Grethiwha
Cold Fish (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
When Syamoto's teenage daughter is caught stealing, a generous middle-aged man helps resolve the situation... (146 mins.)
Director: Sion Sono
“ Though Sono usually writes his movies alone, the first draft of this film was written by a sincerely charming red-haired satanist fellow by the name of Yoshiki Takahashi: a fascinating true story about a serial murderer. But it's clear to see what Sono added to it, and in my opinion he found the heart of the film, in his depiction of this dysfunctional family unit (so very much cut from the same cloth as Noriko's Dinner Table), and the transformation of the father from meek into a pure manifestation of the soul, with zero filter. This is one of Sono's best-made movies (featuring easily one of the best performances in any of his films, by the actor Denden), fascinating, and darkly funny, albeit probably also his most violent, bleakest, and most hopeless film. I come away from some of his movies, feeling they're downright life-affirming. This is not one. ” - Grethiwha
Three Colors: White (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Second of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society shows a Polish immigrant who wants to get even with his former wife. (91 mins.)
“ + Three Colours: Red (1994)

The Three Colours trilogy is absolutely exceptional – especially White and Red. White is my favourite – it has such a human character to it; it's so touching, and yet it's also a very funny film. Red, equally good, is simply one of the most sumptuously textured films I've ever seen... it's a film of truly unparalleled beauty. ” - Grethiwha
2046 (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The women who enter a science fiction author's life, over the course of a few years, after the author loses the woman he considers his one true love. (129 mins.)
Director: Kar Wai Wong
“ 2046 is the third part of a trilogy after Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love. I'd originally assumed this was a 'thematic' trilogy, but not so. The first two films are great, not my favourite Wong Kar Wai films, but by rewatching them all in a row, I realize now just how cleverly they are connected. Not only does 2046 directly continue the stories of certain characters set up in the first two films, it also seems to remake them, to re-express the themes and feelings of the first two films – Tony Leung becomes Leslie Cheung from DOBW, and his relationship with Maggie Cheung from ITMFL is paralleled in Faye Wong's relationship with her Japanese boyfriend – but elevated through Kar Wai's audio-visual mastery in this film, and the very inspired science fiction angle, to be even greater, more powerful than they were originally. This is simply one of the most beautiful films ever made, and the epitome of Wong Kar Wai's cinema. ” - Grethiwha
The World of Kanako (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
As former detective Akikazu searches for his missing daughter, Kanako, he soon learns she has a mysterious secret life. (118 mins.)
“ Nakashima's ultra-violent, ultra-stylized epic about the rift dividing child and parent is one of the most impressively shot and edited movies I've ever seen. I've found Nakashima's earlier films to be garish and lame personally, but he took an incredible turn with the much darker "Confessions", and now this film – perhaps his masterpiece, and what a director he's shown himself to be! ” - Grethiwha
Mother (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder. (128 mins.)
Director: Joon Ho Bong
“ Like Memories of Murder, Joon-ho Bong's Mother is a darkly funny, immaculately-made and absolutely stunning thriller. The ending is jaw-dropping. ” - Grethiwha
Mary and Max (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York. (92 mins.)
Director: Adam Elliot
“ This is such such such an incredibly hilarious, incredibly heart-breaking film, made at such a high level of animation, so totally beautiful and accomplished all-around. These oddly shaped clay people are amongst the most human characters I've seen represented on film. ” - Grethiwha
The Dance of Reality (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Alejandro Jodorowsky was born in 1929 in Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert where this film was shot... (133 mins.)
“ The first film in 23 years by this controversial surrealist director is also easily his best if you ask me. Jodorowsky's into his 80s now, but he seems even more passionate, enthusiastic, and imaginative than ever, with this film being as fresh with new cinematic ideas as the films he was making in the 1970s. But, based on the first part of his autobiography, it's a more heartfelt film this time around, and the wonderful absurdist humour is even stronger too. ” - Grethiwha
Control (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23. (122 mins.)
Director: Anton Corbijn
“ I'm a big fan of Joy Division, and I can't imagine a better film about them. Ian Curtis is a role that Sam Riley must have been born to play – he's got the look, the talent, and he can even sing the songs. It's fantastic. ” - Grethiwha
The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s. (135 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
“ This geriatric romance is a very different kind of film for Clint Eastwood, but it's one of his greatest achievements. ” - Grethiwha
The Great Silence (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A mute gunfighter defends a young widow and a group of outlaws against a gang of bounty killers in the winter of 1898, and a grim, tense struggle unfolds. (105 mins.)
Director: Sergio Corbucci
“ There's something downright mesmerizing about this solemn and atmospheric, snow-covered spaghetti western. ” - Grethiwha
Onibaba (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask. (103 mins.)
Director: Kaneto Shindô
“ This movie didn't make a huge impression on me the first time I saw it, but years later, even before rewatching it, I knew it was one of my favourites. This is a movie that sticks with you – it's eerie as all hell and that swampy setting is impossible to forget. ” - Grethiwha