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Vertigo (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (128 mins.)
“ Why does Vertigo tower so high? What sets it apart from other Hitchcock thrillers, or Jimmy Stewart vehicles, or even film noirs in general? Why do I love it so much? The reason Vertigo earns its praise is its commitment, bold and fearless as other films, even Oscar winners, of the era were soft and careful. Commitment to what? To the dark, yet entirely relatable, theme at its core: obsession. Hitchcock's masterful adoption of spirals and zoom-dolly optical tricks to brilliantly, beautifully evoke the tunnel vision and fear of his protagonist is unrivaled as far as cinematic expression is concerned. Add to this a hypnotic color pallette through Edith Head's clothes and the San Francisco locales, Bernard Herrmann's courageous musical innovations, and two performances, from Stewart and Novak, that are equal parts calculated and soulful, and you begin to realize the vision, the elegance, the mystery, the allure of this film is impossible to ignore or resist. This is everything a movie can be. ” - jonathanstarrett
Pinocchio (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. (88 mins.)
“ Iconic, sweeping, unforgettable. These are adjectives routinely thrown at the so called Disney classics, and could be accurately used to describe Pinocchio. But there are other words we could use: dark, brooding, even terrifying. Not even Snow White's trip through the scary woods could prepare kids for what Pinocchio would present to them: kidnapping and enslavement of a child character, a succumbing to outrageous temptation followed by a freakish mutation, cheating, thievery, an atmosphere of cunning and dishonesty... All with poor little wooden Pinocchio at the center. This is exactly what I love about the movie: it told a harrowing morality tale for children before anyone realized how much a parent would pay for a stuffed Jiminy Cricket or a Blue Fairy lunchbox. Walt set out to tell a great story, no strings attached-- and no pun intended-- and that is what he did. Simple. I long for the simpler times when these animated films could be made for people's entertainment and not for merch tie-ins. Anyway, it's a vivid story full of invention courtesy of both it's original author and the writing staff at Disney. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world. (115 mins.)
The Third Man (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime. (104 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
Citizen Kane (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. (119 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
City Lights (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. (87 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
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
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke. (124 mins.)
Director: Irvin Kershner
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn't quite understand the concept. (76 mins.)
Director: Henry Selick
Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Spirited Away (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts. (125 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. (115 mins.)
Schindler's List (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans. (195 mins.)
“ The Holocaust was indescribably evil. It represented the loss of more than 6 million lives. In revisiting this tragedy, there are more than 6 million stories worth telling. Where to begin? Spielberg's answer was to focus, not on a Jewish victim or survivor, but on a privileged German. This is an off-center method used for massive impact in Schindler's List. I believe it's essential to the film's uncanny capacity for compassion. We are all people, possessing souls and morals and ideals, so how does the murder of 6 million innocent people just happen? Spielberg isn't sure, nor are any of us, but he believes one thing: we have as much capacity for compassion as we do for hatred, and that will always begin as a personal choice, not a collective one. Why was this seed of hatred allowed to grow? Why didn't someone choose sooner to stand against it? Would I have? These are the questions Spielberg's ugly, beautiful, devastating, life-affirming masterpiece provokes in my mind as it patiently, thoughtfully, skillfully chooses its temperatures, tempos, perspectives, and motifs. I so admire Spielberg's brave decision to take his considerable cinematic tools, used previously to make sharks, aliens, and Biblical artifacts so vivid, and apply these tools to an entirely real, entirely human document of stubborn decency in the midst of atrocity. The film is criticized for making the Holocaust about survival when it was really about senseless death. It is clear to me that Spielberg was simply not content to observe atrocity, although Schindler's List contains sequences that do just that. He is taking the opportunity to reflect on humanity. Schindler was not perfect, but he did a great thing because it was presented to him, and his heart refused to say no. Even when evil overwhelms, good can, and should, be sought out, and held to tightly. ” - jonathanstarrett
Apocalypse Now (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. (153 mins.)
Director: Francis Coppola
Back to the Future (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown. (116 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Once (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story. (85 mins.)
Director: John Carney
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
The Godfather (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. (175 mins.)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. (149 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world. (118 mins.)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. (107 mins.)
Rear Window (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. (112 mins.)
Jurassic Park (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok. (127 mins.)
“ There are a lot of milestones in the history of film, and what Jurassic Park is most acclaimed for is its masterful introduction of computer generated characters. Once Spielberg had proven that CGI could make dinosaurs, not just convincing, but bursting with mesmerizing realism, the film industry collectively gasped at the possibilities, and the 90's became a smorgasbord of effects-stuffed event movies. We need something more than that to call Jurassic Park great. Influential doesn't itself equal great. So consider the film itself: a monster film whose scope, imagination, awe factor, scare quotient, and ability to produce sustained terror, remains unmatched. Sequences of breathtaking beauty, excitement, horror, even restraint, flow in a way that reestablishes Spielberg as a storyteller without equal. Jurassic Park is one of the great stories, told by one of the great storytellers. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Barring its monumental effectiveness and impact on the business side of the movies, Star Wars stands as a masterpiece of popular art. George Lucas's vivid creative epiphany is an uncanny first impression of a movie universe. He made it look easy. Its world is realized with a perfect balance of artistry and fun. Its characters are varied and loveable. The masterstroke of the Force mythology reverberates like beautiful music through the halls of its narrative. That sounds pretentious, but Star Wars is the furthest thing from. Anyone can understand it. It's all-inclusive. It's fun. There are much more in-depth essays and articles deconstructing the world of Star Wars. All I can really add to it is this: I agree. Star Wars is amazing. ” - jonathanstarrett
Fargo (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. (98 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ The Coen brothers leave a considerable impression with this crime story. Each element is carefully selected: from the Minnesota setting to the character designs to the editing decisions. Upon first viewing, you're quickly and profoundly drawn in because you've never seen anything like it. The perspective is wholly unique. The dialogue is Norman Rockwell-like in its hyper-real folksy stylism. There are so many surprises and novel ideas. The gruesome violence is in beautiful contrast with the bright, snowy setting. There is also a fantastic parallel between the harsh reality of the violence and the harsh reality of the weather. Both are no match for the warmth of the central character played by Frances McDormand, another wonderful invention and unusual choice for the genre. You return to the film because it's unforgettable, and you love the way the characters behave and talk. I adore this movie. ” - jonathanstarrett
12 Angry Men (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence. (96 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
“ 12 Angry Men is one of the very first tastes I got of the true power and magnetism of film. I remember being maybe 12 or 13 and seeing the audacity of this black-and-white film starring 12 sweaty old guys in a room together for an hour and half. On paper, how could this possibly hold any entertainment value? Yet I couldn't tear myself away. It was just so brilliant. The wordplay, the character interactions, and the choreography of these men was so elegant and meticulous. It took my breath away. Not a line of dialogue is wasted, and by the time the guilties start to become not guilties and the true motivations of the jurors are uprooted, you feel that every character in that room is a real man, as opposed to a plot mechanism. There is so much to celebrate here. 50+ years later, Sydney Lumet's intelligence and mastery of craft in this film are refreshing and inspiring. The longer the men are in that room, the more they tower over the camera. This method is unbelievable affecting. There is nothing routine about this film. It's an unlikely thriller and a masterpiece. ” - jonathanstarrett
Amadeus (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum. (160 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
“ To take a historical figure as grand and prestigious as Mozart and do his story justice on screen strikes me as an hopelessly intimidating task. This film would have to somehow carry the same boldness, richness, and beauty that characterizes the legendary composer's music. From the opening shots, accompanied by Mozart's Symphony no. 25 in G minor, we feel this continuity. The image of a suicidal Salieri strikes us with as much immediacy and matter-of-factness as the first notes of the symphony. It's this understanding of the man Mozart and his music that Milos Forman flawlessly communicates for 2 1/2 hours. We're mesmerized by this man, and drawn in even further by the jealousy of Salieri. This is an incredible story, first of all, and done with such passion and meticulous artistry that you are never less than completely convicted about what is on screen. I love this movie. It's relentlessly dramatic, and often very funny. The performances are brilliant, the production elements are stunning, and the way the music is employed to tell this story is, in my opinion, masterful. Still one of the towering achievements of the movies, quotable, iconic, unforgettable. Also, just the right amount of notes. ” - jonathanstarrett
Rushmore (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The extracurricular king of Rushmore preparatory school is put on academic probation. (93 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
“ There are so many movies that wish they were Rushmore, as evidenced by a steady stream of copycats ever since its release. Wes made a name for himself with Bottle Rocket, but this movie is far more sophisticated in every sense of the word. Schwartzmann has never equaled his work in this. Possibly the greatest pleasure of the movie is the utter perfection of the musical choices. Wes's comedic timing as a director is scary. Every scene unfolds with a uniquely graceful humor that you will not see in any other movie. This is bold and original work, full of confidence, wit, and charisma. Wes might as well accept it as his masterpiece. ” - jonathanstarrett
Toy Story (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy's room. (81 mins.)
Director: John Lasseter
“ I still remember the joy of seeing Toy Story for the first time. I was 9, and therefore a little easier to please, but there's no denying the originality, ingenuity, and genius of this creation. It kickstarted a streak of masterpieces from the Pixar studio and essentially paved the way for an entirely new art form. Crafted with intelligence and respect for an intelligent audience, Toy Story remains one of the very best children's films and a shining example of creative generosity in the midst of groundbreaking technology. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Frank Capra's beautiful character study still works on an emotional level like a well-oiled machine. Jimmy is unforgettable. Complex, passionate, heartbreaking. Donna Reed is his perfect match. The screenplay is a revelation, and it's staged and shot without flaw. Capra had an uncanny ability to bring red-blooded humanity to the screen. It melts your heart no matter how many times you've seen it. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home. (102 mins.)
Director: Victor Fleming
“ I'm not sure there's anything to say about The Wizard of Oz that hasn't already been said. Energy and life just emanate from every frame, note, line. Its effect on cinema can't be overstated. Half-hearted sequels and remakes coast on the power of its magic. This movie is so good it transcends its makers. They had no idea they were making something this special, and they could never do it again. It's a fluke, a miracle, a gift. I love this movie. A lot. Perfection. ” - jonathanstarrett
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.)
“ Tarantino has proven himself to be untouchable in two areas: magnetic and suspenseful scenes of conversation followed by bursts of violence, and scenes without dialogue set to impeccably chosen music. Inglourious Basterds contains the very best of these two kinds of scenes. Whether it's his best movie, who can say? But it's definitely my FAVORITE. Each strand of story is fascinating. The opening is one of the best openings I've seen in a movie. The revisionism of the film is fearless and brilliant. Tarantino sets himself apart so easily it makes me sick. He's just so good at making movies. He stuffs them with passion and life, and they explode from the screen. They reach out and grab you. When Tarantino makes a WWII movie, he makes sure you see Hitler's face get shot off. ” - jonathanstarrett
Life of Pi (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger. (127 mins.)
Director: Ang Lee
“ This is a deceptively simple and clear-eyed study of spirituality that is even-handed, mature, and beautiful. The story is told by Ang Lee with extraordinary balance. He brings sensitivity and wisdom to bold, visionary storytelling, which makes his film incredibly humble and accessible. Although there are sequences unlike anything you've ever seen before, you never get the sense of a technician showing off. There's a timelessness to it. At the time of this writing, Life of Pi is still in theaters, but I'm in love with this movie and have a feeling it will be remembered-- and admired-- for a long time. ” - jonathanstarrett
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. (103 mins.)
“ Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's musical is more fun for me to watch than most of the other movies on this list. If I were to rank all movies just by entertainment value, Singin' in the Rain would be all the way at the top. The songs are spectacular... Make 'em Laugh. Broadway Melody. Good Mornin'. This movie is so watchable and re-watchable! I love the way it pokes fun at Hollywood and particularly the simplicity and economy of the silent film era. The title song is in a class all by itself. You can relate to that moment when life was so good you could've sung and danced in the rain, but in any other movie it might've been corny. Gene Kelly immortalizes that song while making it look effortless. ” - jonathanstarrett
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Snow White, pursued by a jealous queen, hides with the Dwarfs; the queen soon learns of this and prepares to feed her a poison apple. (83 mins.)
“ Snow White represents a giant leap in cinema, and 75 years later, you can still sense the pioneering spirit behind it. Walt Disney didn't just want to create the first full-length animated film. He wanted it to be a great film. It was that drive for excellence that carried through all the great Disney films and faded in the 60's. I love the painstaking detail and beauty crammed into this movie. It's the sum of all those extra details that didn't necessarily need to be in the movie that really make it stand out. I always remember Snow White's reflection in the well water, and the dimensional look of the forest, and the small, life-like gestures of the characters. It pretty much blows the test of time away, a lot easier than some of the later Disney movies. ” - jonathanstarrett
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother. (146 mins.)
“ This is an incredible privilege of a movie in that it represents two of cinema's greatest artists, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. I've heard a lot of people say their sensibilities are a bad mixture in A.I., and I've also known a lot of people who don't like the movie at all. I strongly disagree with both opinions. If there was one project that could perfectly marry Kubrick and Spielberg's artistry, it's exactly this, a story driven by what you might call emotion, but is really just a complex computer program designed to represent emotion. Kubrick's visionary and storytelling genius is just spilling out of every scene of this movie, but Spielberg is more than a dutiful translator. He revels in the details and the spectacle, and creates some of the most beautiful and memorable imagery I've ever seen in a movie. My favorite science fiction movie of all time behind Kubrick's own 2001. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Big Lebowski (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
"The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it. (117 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ This is what I would consider a miracle movie. How it could've ever come into existence exactly the way it did, I have no idea, but it just goes to show how skilled, and versatile, the Coen brothers are both as technical masters and writers. As with all their best movies, they had an original vision and made it happen just the way they wanted it to. They get some of the funniest performances I've ever seen out of their cast. Jeff Bridges is so good in this, I can't watch any of his other movies without thinking "That's the Dude right there." And that brings me to the screenplay: one of the most quotable of all time! Sam Elliott's narration and appearance at the end of this movie is a gift, people! Enjoy it. Oh, and Walter Sobchak. That is all. ” - jonathanstarrett
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life. (136 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
“ Roman Polanski transcends his Hitchcock influences here to make a movie almost as powerful as anything the "Master of Suspense" ever did. The way he slowly introduces menace into the life of an innocent young woman is one of the most chilling experiences of the movies. Mia Farrow was incredibly dedicated to this performance, and makes it twice the movie it would have been. Throw in some truly brilliant supporting work from John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon and you have one of the best horror movies I can think of. ” - jonathanstarrett
Taxi Driver (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process. (113 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ Scorsese re-creates a cold, grimy, lonely 1970's New York so well in Taxi Driver, we almost go nuts right along with Robert DeNiro. One thing I will always remember from my first viewing is how confused I was about the cutesy stuff between Albert Brooks and Cybil Shepherd. I remember thinking those scenes were pointless and totally out of place, and it brought my opinion of the whole movie down. Only later did I pick up on Scorsese's strategy of using "normal" scenes to enhance the impact of the conclusion. Start the movie dark and twisted, there's no contrast. Start it at the other end of the spectrum, and the journey to insanity becomes authentic. Pretty simple I guess, but I didn't get it at first. Bernard Herrmann's final score is crucial in creating that atmosphere of loneliness. And in my opinion, this is still DeNiro's best performance. It defies my imagination how completely he turns into the character. Scorsese's best, and a must-see for people who call themselves film fans. ” - jonathanstarrett
Jaws (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (124 mins.)
“ Steven Spielberg's breakout movie is called lots of things. "Legendary". "Notorious". "Classic". "The first true blockbuster". But let's get down to what matters. Does it still "work" as entertainment? Yes, better than 99% of thrillers with more realistic-looking sharks made afterward. And that can be attributed to a few things: first, Spielberg's directing is outstanding. He creates fantastic suspense by putting great characters-- ones we care for-- on the boat, and then dangling them closer and closer to the shark. Next, the performances: all three leads are engaging, in different ways, and some of the most bracing moments are just watching them interact. And last, of course, is John Williams' score. We all know how brilliant it is. One of the very best thrillers in cinema. ” - jonathanstarrett
The General (1926)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines. (67 mins.)
“ Buster had to get used to living in Charlie Chaplin's shadow. He didn't manipulate emotions like Chaplin did, which might make him a more intelligent and sophisticated filmmaker, but it was never going to make him the popular favorite. At any rate, The General is his best movie and is much more technically brilliant than anything Chaplin did. He of course had a mastery of comic timing, but was also a director who knew how to handle action scenes! There's a mesmerizing quality to this movie. I'm positive that even those who are turned off by silent films in black-and-white would find themselves drawn in after 60 seconds of giving The General a chance. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns are some of the most exciting and memorable of the Western genre. The ingenuity of the directing in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly carries the plot across a 3-hour running time with constant energy. With the Leone movies, Clint made himself equal to John Wayne as a Western icon. You try doing that! I'm saving the best for last: in my opinion, Ennio Morrocone's score for this movie is one of the five best in cinema history. Beautiful, epic, bold, daring, and incredibly memorable. ” - jonathanstarrett
No Country for Old Men (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande. (122 mins.)
“ The Coen Brothers are masters of storytelling, with the ability to focus in with razor-sharp clarity. There is absolutely no non-essential scenes in this movie. Everything has a purpose, and sometimes important developments in the plot aren't even deemed worthy of a scene. The editing and camera movement are superb. Javier Bardem is mesmerizing, and Tommy Lee Jones anchors the violence with humanity. ” - jonathanstarrett
Strangers on a Train (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder - a theory that he plans to implement. (101 mins.)
“ Hitchcock shows an especially impressive command of form in Strangers on a Train. Helped by two great character actors in the lead roles, he tells a clever story with bold and brilliant imagery. The movie should be shown in every course on film directing, because it really is the perfect example of a director masterfully using his elements to enhance the story he's telling. ” - jonathanstarrett
Inception (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A thief, who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. (148 mins.)
“ The story is that Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan worked out this story for 10 years before it went into production. It's immediately clear why. Intricate plotting is a Nolan staple, but this is on a whole new level (no pun intended). The techniques he uses to bring us into the story are absolutely ingenious. Cutting back to a slow-motion van tumbling off a bridge, putting his actors into revolving sets... there are tons of things you've never seen before. Watch it and enjoy it. Then watch it again and try to figure out what it actually means. Quick mention: the Hans Zimmer score is simple but brilliant, a'la John Williams' theme for Jaws. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Coming off the heals of Alien, Ridley Scott was clearly on a roll, and I actually think this is his masterpiece. Everybody knows the design, the world, the replicants. The influence of this movie on science fiction is so vast. The tone Ridley sets with actors, costumes, cinematography, score, and production design is so bold, unique and assured that you really HAVE to appreciate it, even if you don't love it. The final cut is definitely the best, and shows how severely nervous producers can screw up a masterpiece. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Truman Show (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show. (103 mins.)
Director: Peter Weir
“ The Truman Show is a brilliant satire and I think Peter Weir takes it to its fullest potential. The story by Andrew Niccol is told masterfully. I love the visual strategy. Jim Carrey is uncanny at creating that sympathetic character who's unknowingly been under the world's microscope. I also really loved Ed Harris in this. In fact, all the performances are really great. What lifts this movie to another level in my opinion is the prophetic nature of it, and how eerie it is that reality TV barely existed in 1998. Just goes to show how life can imitate art. ” - jonathanstarrett
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. (95 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ It takes a great sense of humor to make the end of the world funny, and this movie is more proof that Kubrick wasn't just a cold-hearted bastard. He allows Peter Sellers and George C. Scott to ad-lib and essentially make faces at the camera, and the results are unpredictable and fantastic. Kubrick's usual cold and detached style actually adds to the humor. There's all sorts of irony crafted into the writing and imagery. Kubrick was the man at whatever he did, and that included broad comedy. It's easy to forget how groundbreaking this movie was. ” - jonathanstarrett
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A toon-hating detective is a cartoon rabbit's only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder. (104 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
“ The mind-blowing thing about Who Framed Roger Rabbit isn't what they did, but how well they did it. The world they create is exciting, clever, completely believable, and could probably generate enough great story material for five movies. The effects are just as great now as they were 20 years ago. Robert Zemeckis is a hugely gifted filmmaker who knows exactly WHAT to do with great special effects, and this is one of his very best. ” - jonathanstarrett
Paths of Glory (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them. (88 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ Kubrick's earliest masterpiece is economic storytelling told with bold, brilliant strokes. Kirk Douglas is magnetic in his first collaboration with the director, and together they bring intelligence, compassion, and skepticism to a film about war and power. ” - jonathanstarrett
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity. (110 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ If one writer/director knows how to do film noir, it's Billy Wilder. This movie is amazingly entertaining. Gloria Swanson's performance is iconic. William Holden hits all the right notes of cynicism and despair as a classic film noir chump. The dialogue is some of my favorite in any movie. There are so many priceless moments to enjoy. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Rules of the Game (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau. (110 mins.)
Director: Jean Renoir
“ Jean Renoir's sophisticated use of film language is inspiring in The Rules of the Game. His camera moves beautifully, and he throws terrific characters at the screen. The screenplay moves skillfully between the humorous and the sad, and creates people we care about. A very intelligent little movie that holds up ridiculously well after 75 years. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Kurosawa's epic is bold, mature, and full of emotion. Clearly a master of technique and storytelling, he leads his fantastic cast of characters on an adventure that is long but never wastes a second. His focus is incredible. The influence of this movie can't be accurately described, but in my opinion it should be seen and appreciated by anyone who loves cinema. ” - jonathanstarrett
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation. (105 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
“ Edward remains one of the best and most original characters in movie history. Tim Burton tells his unusual story with warm humor and bittersweet poetry. The elements developed here that are now considered "quintessential Burton" include: Gothic outcasts, idiots in suburbia, young love, dogs, and Vincent Price. Tim Burton will always be known as a visual stylist but he's equally gifted at creating sympathy for his characters, no matter how odd. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ This is the first film of Peter Jackson's epic Tolkien adaptation, and it's still the best. The scope and detail in this opening chapter make it my favorite. It really is stunning how much got accomplished here. Jackson has an amazing command over the story and the visuals, and unlike the majority of his colleagues, he knows how to let his characters breathe. There's no doubt these movies will be studied for years as a model for great fantasy cinema. ” - jonathanstarrett
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her young son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg, made out of liquid metal. (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
“ In my opinion, this is the best of the best of James Cameron, and easily one of the greatest action movies ever made. Terminator 2 benefits enormously from the strength of its hero and villain. T-1000 helped kick start the development of CGI as a primary tool in mainstream cinema, while being one of the most threatening and memorable bad guys of all time. This movie is just plain exciting. Arnold never has been and never will be better than this. ” - jonathanstarrett
Alien (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
“ I love Alien for many reasons. First, under Ridley Scott's direction, it's intelligent, atmospheric, and loaded with an overwhelming sense of dread. Next, Sigourney Weaver is a brilliant heroine. And then, of course, the design is instantly recognizable and totally unique. When everyone else was copying Star Wars, Alien created designs that are iconic and beautiful, while tapping into the depths of our (or at least my) deepest fears. ” - jonathanstarrett
Dark City (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun. (100 mins.)
Director: Alex Proyas
“ Dark City is a science fiction masterpiece that uncannily recreates the sensation of a surreal nightmare. The world Alex Proyas builds is frightening and exhilarating because of its dream logic. This movie instantly sucks you in and keeps you mesmerized with its dark, awesome vision. Side note: the casting is absolutely perfect. The film noir characters beautifully compliment the dreamy atmosphere. Movies like this rarely pop up, and when they do I'm quite thankful. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Oh, how I enjoy this movie. The dialogue and behavior of these characters is just fantastic. Anyone who truly loves film noir will list this among their favorites. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are mesmerizing and so in tune with the style of the film. Billy Wilder knows how to keep a movie snappy. I'm willing to bet this film will be just as enjoyable in 150 years. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Seventh Seal (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. (96 mins.)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
“ Ingmar Bergman's film about a knight playing chess with the Grim Reaper is bold, full of symbolism, and unforgettable. Its command of visual storytelling is a model for all filmmakers. Truly brilliant. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ The Coen brothers bring caricature, dark humor, and frightening abstraction to this story of a celebrated New York playwright who is reduced to shambles by Hollywood. Their ear for dialogue and precise command of technique is a pleasure to watch. The production design and cinematography are exemplary and study-worthy. John Goodman, I'll see you in my nightmares. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Fugitive (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt. (130 mins.)
Director: Andrew Davis
“ There's few more entertaining experiences than watching Tommy Lee Jones and his team pursue and Harrison Ford narrowly escape. Then, as the US Marshalls slowly put together the clues Kimble is leaving them... what a great payoff. Tommy Lee Jones is truly brilliant, and totally deserved that Oscar. A classic. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Dark Knight (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.0/10 X  
When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the caped crusader must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice. (152 mins.)
“ Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is the prized possession of the superhero genre, and The Dark Knight is the cream of the crop. Heath Ledger is incomparable. The atmosphere of danger, violence, and anarchy is meticulously established. Christopher Nolan is a master of intelligent storytelling and authentic special effects, and he has the patience to develop his characters. ” - jonathanstarrett
Fantasia (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music. (125 mins.)
“ The fundamental power of cinema is music and images, and Fantasia gives you highlights of classical music with animation that is imaginative, skillful, and beautiful. It was Walt at his most high-brow, and there's never been another film like it. The amount of craftsmanship involved in the animation is awe-inspiring. Mickey Mouse was once a Sorcerer's apprentice. Now he's a computer-generated pre-school teacher. Kind of a shame, but you get whatever work you can. ” - jonathanstarrett
Zodiac (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer. (157 mins.)
Director: David Fincher
“ This police procedural by David Fincher starts by being ridiculously terrifying and ends as much, much more than that. Instead of finishing with some explosive, blood-pumping climax, we follow Jake Gyllenhaal's character all the way to the quiet end of his obsessive amateur investigation, long after anyone else cares. It ends up being much more satisfying. The characters are beautifully drawn and the atmosphere of dread is thick. ” - jonathanstarrett
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An ophthalmologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman. (104 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
“ Woody Allen's best film has a lot of insight into the nature of guilt and rationalization. Martin Landau is perfect as a murderer who thinks he can live a normal life. Meanwhile, it's a lot of fun to watch Woody hate Alan Alda's character and then lose the love interest to him. The culminating conversation between the two main characters is incredibly satisfying. ” - jonathanstarrett
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice. (129 mins.)
Director: Robert Mulligan
“ Harper Lee's story is nostalgic, which isn't a platform for a fully-developed look at racism. What it definitely is, is a touching portrait of a girl's love for her father as he teaches her by his own example to avoid prejudices. Robert Mulligan directs with beauty and clarity, and Gregory Peck perfectly embodies the nobility of the Atticus character. ” - jonathanstarrett
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.)
“ Paul Thomas Anderson's sympathetic, multi-tasking epic is like an opera with all high notes. He fills the movie with convicted, passionate people and bold devices, like a montage of everyone singing the same song, and a rainstorm of frogs (it really happened once, so... you know). There are a lot of great actors doing great work. My favorite are Tom Cruise and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This movie is fascinating whether you understand it or not. ” - jonathanstarrett
The 400 Blows (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Moving story of a young boy who, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime. (99 mins.)
“ Francois Truffaut's masterpiece is commendable as much for what it doesn't do as for what it does. The natural tendency would be to over direct this story. With Truffaut, we're not manipulated. He directs with simplicity, honesty, and subdued sympathy, and believes the story is powerful enough for us to feel it on our own, without him pushing and prodding us. He's right! I was deeply moved by one of the only films to treat childhood realistically. ” - jonathanstarrett
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, AKA Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett. Based on the hit Broadway musical. (116 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
“ Tim Burton is constantly in search of material suited to his gothic sensibilities, and he hit a gold mine with Sweeney Todd. Sondheim's exceedingly dark musical is a masterpiece, giving Burton an extraordinary engine for his ingenious visual design and caricaturing. Every beat is hit with conviction and precision. Right up until the final frame, this is darkly poetic cinema. ” - jonathanstarrett
Mary Poppins (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family. (139 mins.)
“ Walt Disney was the most proud of Mary Poppins, and I understand why. The best children's entertainment can alternately delight and terrify you, and this film shows tremendous skill at balancing warmth and delight with darkness and mystery. The songs by the Sherman brothers are untouchable. There are a lot of special effects, but this movie was made at a time when special effects were utilized only as needed, not as a way to show off. If the "Disney magic" exists, it can be found here. ” - jonathanstarrett
Minority Report (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder. (145 mins.)
“ Steven Spielberg turns a good sci-fi story into an exhilarating and mesmerizing action film. Tom Cruise is totally compelling as he navigates us through a near completely plausible future, full of creepy and colorful supporting characters. Brilliant set-pieces abound, and there's even some dark slapstick to keep things interesting. ” - jonathanstarrett
L.A. Confidential (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen - one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy - investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice. (138 mins.)
Director: Curtis Hanson
“ LA Confidential is a sharp, intelligent film noir written with wit, directed with style, and acted to perfection. It's a pleasure to watch these characters interact and listen to them talk. The plot is intricate, the atmosphere is meticulous, and it's a lot of fun to watch and re-watch. ” - jonathanstarrett
Hamlet (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing. (242 mins.)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
“ This definitive adaptation of Shakespeare's epic play is spectacular. Kenneth Branagh floats his camera down the halls and around his actors, and uses bold cutting and pacing to make the complex language hypnotic, energetic, and cinematic. You never get the sense of watching a play on film. The performances are uniformally excellent. Grand, beautiful, and rewarding. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Gold Rush (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more. (95 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
“ 90 years later, The Gold Rush is more interesting and easier to watch than the majority of movies that came out this year. Charlie Chaplin was a genius in many ways, not the least of which was creating classic visual cues. There are scenes you won't forget, like eating a shoe for dinner, making bread rolls dance, a house teetering on the edge of a cliff, the Tramp turning into a giant chicken... If more people would branch out and give silent films a chance, I think they would be surprised at how entertaining they really are. ” - jonathanstarrett
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. (169 mins.)
“ Spielberg's documentary approach to this WWII story is genius. Pretty much every war movie since has tried to re-create it. Everyone talks about the first 20 minutes, so I'll just keep it general and say Steven Spielberg is the man, and he navigates the story with maturity and a total mastery of storytelling. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Woody is an influential guy who has made a whole lot of movies-- a lot of them pretty similar. This is his best romantic comedy. I'm pretty sure he's repeated everything he's done here, but never quite with as much success. Also, this was his first "mature" film, so it get points for that. Diane Keaton is great at playing that original character (which later became not so original when she played it in every other movie she's in) It's really funny and probably the first Woody movie anyone should watch to get familiar with his work. ” - jonathanstarrett
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers' retaliation. (87 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
“ The "Wes Anderson touch" was starting to lose some novelty, and then it seemed like this project and the stop-motion medium completely re-invigorated him. This was a perfect project for his talents. The design is so warm and cuddly and beautiful you can just fall into this movie. And there are tons of hilarious lines of dialogue-- Wes's movies are always quotable. George Clooney in particular is hilarious at delivering the deadpan lines. One of the very best uses of the stop-motion art form. ” - jonathanstarrett
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. (108 mins.)
Director: Michel Gondry
“ Charlie Kaufman is a genius, one of the best and most original screenwriters ever. This is his most accessible screenplay, and most likeable. Probably why he won the Oscar for it. It's perfectly suited for Gondry's surrealist style, and the result is really special. There are some ingenious little tricks here, but it's counterbalanced by close attention to character nuance. This is just a great romantic comedy, told so so well. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are spectacular in this, and there's a great supporting cast. Unpredictable, even the 2nd and 3rd time you see it. ” - jonathanstarrett
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 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
“ This belongs in the "watch it once every 5 years" category, but that doesn't make it any less great. Some movies are experiences to digest, and this is among those. Peter O'Toole is just the man in this. Great performance. David Lean is doing his best stuff. Also, Maurice Jarre is responsible for at least 35% of this movie's greatness. Beautifully written music! ” - jonathanstarrett
Groundhog Day (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. (101 mins.)
Director: Harold Ramis
“ Bill Murray is one of the funniest actors of all time and Groundhog Day is his best role. A what-if story taken to its fullest possible potential! The Sonny and Cher song is brilliantly utilized. Needle-nosed Ned! Ned the Head! Always makes me laugh. ” - jonathanstarrett
Amélie (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love. (122 mins.)
“ This is the only good kind of romantic comedy-- the kind with ridiculous amounts of imagination and original ideas. Audrey Tatou is very charming and Jeunet is a brilliant visual stylist. What I always take away from this movie is the incredible music. In my opinion it's one of the most beautiful soundtracks for a movie. I love Amélie. ” - jonathanstarrett
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman. (105 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
“ From a visual standpoint, Sleepy Hollow can't be beat. It's just beautiful. You can rarely take your eyes off of a Tim Burton movie. Aside from that, this movie is haunting and compulsively watchable. It has some very good dark satire. A great example of a story and setting that perfectly bring out Tim Burton's strengths. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Kid (1921)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy. (68 mins.)
Director: Charlie Chaplin
“ The image that stays with you in this one isn't so much anything Chaplin does but the little guy crying for his "dad". This is Chaplin doing what he does best. Maybe he gets a little side-tracked with a late-in-the-game heaven segment, but no biggy. Sweet and of course very funny. ” - jonathanstarrett
Brand Upon the Brain! (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Guy Maddin reluctantly returns to his childhood home, an abandoned Canadian island, where his parents ran an orphanage... (95 mins.)
Director: Guy Maddin
“ This movie is truly insane but I love it. It's just impossible to get out of your mind. It gets a lot of points just for its sheer audacity and boldness and stubbornness in being itself. I couldn't look away from this. Twisted? Yes. Weird? Yes. Brilliant? I think so. Coherent? Definitely not. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. (127 mins.)
Director: Mel Gibson
“ Nothing has dealt with Jesus or the crucifixion with this amount of emotion or attention to detail. It offended some people, but I doubt Mel was trying to make anyone comfortable here. Beautiful direction and I would say a towering performance from Jim Caviezel. It's a shame Mel went nuts after this because he is a truly talented director. ” - jonathanstarrett
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. (102 mins.)
“ This is a unique and haunting fantasy, and in my opinion the best of the 80's fantasy sub-genre. It evokes a very special atmosphere that stays with you. I love when stories for kiddos aren't afraid to go dark. ” - jonathanstarrett
Gone with the Wind (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War. (238 mins.)
Director: Victor Fleming
“ It's an awesome, large-scale accomplishment. The color cinematography is amazing. The characters are huge and memorable. The score is one of the best ever written. But did it have to be four hours? Maybe! The length only adds to the impressive sweep of the story. Some say it's overly long and melodramatic. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. ” - jonathanstarrett
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (120 mins.)
“ I guarantee you that no one who's seen Slumdog Millionaire didn't like it. Danny Boyle brings tons of energy to this ridiculously likeable story. It's just so well-told and executed you can't help but walk away from it in a good mood. Hard to do with a movie about slum kids in India! ” - jonathanstarrett
The Matrix (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. (136 mins.)
“ This was a mold breaker that inspired something like a billion rip-offs. Striking imagery and special effects flowed naturally from an extraordinary concept and story. Great science fiction. ” - jonathanstarrett
King Kong (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition. (100 mins.)
“ It would be stupid not to include this one! The influence of King Kong has been huge and it's still awe-inspiring to watch. Even the terrible acting and dialogue feels right. It's a beautiful thing to watch the amount of care poured into the animation. This is a gem from a time where it took a lot more blood, sweat, and tears to create fantasy on screen. ” - jonathanstarrett
Casino Royale (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Armed with a licence to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007 and must defeat a weapons dealer in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, but things are not what they seem. (144 mins.)
Director: Martin Campbell
“ The best James Bond movie. It's atmospheric and stylish, and Daniel Craig goes a long way in bringing focus and momentum to it. I love that the villain cries blood. Martin Campbell puts together some very exciting action sequences, and anchors the whole thing with intelligence. ” - jonathanstarrett
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.)
“ Some of the most brilliant writing and storytelling I've seen. The overflow of conversation enhances tension and is just plain funny and entertaining in its own right. Also exquisite music selections. What a soundtrack. Everything about this movie is original and full of life. You can feel Tarantino's passion in every shot. ” - jonathanstarrett
Ed Wood (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An ambitious but troubled movie director tries his best to fulfill his dream, despite his lack of support. (127 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
“ Ed Wood is a sensitive story about blind optimism in the face of pathetic circumstances. Tim Burton is the perfect director for it. Martin Landau and Johnny Depp are extraordinary. This movie is crammed with hilarious scenes and lines of dialogue, and it balances them beautifully against the bittersweet elements of the story. Black and white was absolutely the right choice for this, and you have to hand it to Tim for sticking to his guns on that one. ” - jonathanstarrett
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate. (75 mins.)
Director: James Whale
“ Bride of Frankenstein outdoes the original Frankenstein in a lot of ways, but the most important is the sense you get that they are having a lot of fun making it. It's got a sense of humor about itself and buckets of atmosphere. More creative than the original, and the design of the Bride is iconic. ” - jonathanstarrett
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby. (86 mins.)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
“ This is a very sweet movie full of imagination and a sense of the excitement of childhood discovery. Miyazaki finds a beautiful tone with the sick mother and the daughters. Of course the animation is beautiful, as it always is in films by Miyazaki. ” - jonathanstarrett
The Tree of Life (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings. (139 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
“ A true one-of-a-kind experience. To my knowledge, there have never been this many beautiful and authentic human moments in another movie. By tucking fragmented, intimate details into a massive expanse of movie, the film becomes less about itself and more about life itself. The lack of narrative drive is really essential to the success of that effect. Outside-the-box and beautiful cinema. Terrence Malick's masterpiece, hands down. ” - jonathanstarrett
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
“ Goodfellas is the quintessential gangster movie. The camera movement and editing and pacing in this are exhilarating. Inspired music choices help create some very powerful moments. The performances are flawless -- full of spontaneity, humor, and anger. These are great, big characters that are fascinating to watch. One of Scorsese's very very best. ” - jonathanstarrett
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Charlie receives a golden ticket to a factory, his sweet tooth wants going into the lushing candy, it turns out there's an adventure in everything. (100 mins.)
Director: Mel Stuart
“ It was a childhood favorite and I am probably biased, but this is an iconic adaptation of the Roahld Dahl story and character. Gene Wilder is so, so good in this -- you should dedicate one viewing to just watching everything he does. "Pure Imagination" is an unforgettable song, one of the best songs ever written for a film in my opinion. The slight darkness of it, the way they're all running around stuffing their faces while he's singing -- the entire sequence is a great metaphor for the bitter relationship between creators and consumers. On a less thoughtful note, the Oompa Loompas are just plain great. Classic children's entertainment right here! ” - jonathanstarrett