Alan’s Top 50 Favorite Films Of All-Time

50. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason trade barbs and fall in love. Great writing and great chemistry between the 2 stars make this a romantic comedy for the ages.
Favorite Scene: When Elliot (Dreyfuss) and Paula (Mason) fight over the apartment.

49. The Sure Thing (1985)
One of many John Cusack films on this list, this little gem from the 80’s showcases Cusack’s comedic timing and his ability to play it straight. And having Anthony Edwards as his wingman makes it all the more satisfying!
Favorite Line: “Don’t you want to give me a ride? Hahahahahahahaha!”

48. Lost In Translation (2003)
Such a slow buildup with a satisfying ending. Bill Murray is subdued and Scarlett Johanssen is too young, which makes for a marvelous pairing between 2 sleep deprived Americans in Japan.
Favorite Line: “You’re probably just having a mid-life crisis. Did you buy a Porsche yet?”

47. No Country For Old Men (2007)
Getting old ain’t as easy as it used to be. Tommy Lee Jones is the main character, but it’s Javier Bardem that stole the show. Next to Hannibal Lecter and The Joker, quite possibly the meanest bad guy ever to grace the screen!
Favorite Line: “This country is hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it aint all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”

46. Cloverfield  ( 2008 )
Easily the most fun I’ve ever had watching a horror flick. It’s like riding a roller coaster! A lot of people complain about the shaky camera. I complain that it wasn’t long enough!
Favorite Line: “Well, I need to talk about something because if I don’t I’m going to actually shit my pants in this stairwell!”

45. Sex, Lies & Videtape (1989)
I remember going to see this in college and thinking I was going to see a grade-B sex flick. Actually it’s a very good study of the destructive relationships we make for ourselves and how we protect ourselves from the pain they bring.

44. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Cheer up Charlie…you got the Golden Ticket! And the golden ticket for this film is definately Gene Wilder. No matter how you cut it, from the second he falls, flips and pops back up to greet the kids at the front of the factory, Wilder owns Willy Wonka (and I don’t care what you say…Tim Burton’s version is crap).
Favorite Line: “So much time, so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it!”

43. The Breakfast Club (1985)
If you’ve ever been to high school you’ve dealt with the sterotypes. Although it doesn’t hold true to real life in the end, it’s still a hopeful look at what it could be. John Hughes at his best (but not his best!) and the soundtrack is kickin’!
Favorite Line: “Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”

42. High Fidelity (2000)
Lookie here…another John Cusack film? This one is the perfect blend of realtionship drama, mixed with Jack Black’s comedic touch, mixed with an awesome soundtrack. A perfect start to the new millenium!
Favorite Line: “I’m telling you this for your own good. That’s the worst fucking sweater I’ve ever seen! That’s a Cosby sweater! A Cosssssssby sweater!”

41. Once (2007)
Shot in Ireland, this is filmmaking at its best. Simple in it’s production, you learn to love both characters and their individual plights. The music and the locale only enhance this little independant film. Should be seen by anyone who loves music and great filmmaking.
Favorite Scene: When the 2 main characters play the Oscar award-winning song “Falling Slowly” for the first time.

40. Night of the Living Dead (1968 )
A strong combination of social commentary and horror film, all wrapped into a neat little black & white package. The low budget gives it a more drastic sense of urgency.

39. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)
The special effects, the performance of Richard Dreyfuss and seeing that alien walk out of the spaceship make this one of the greatest sci-fi films of MY time.
Favorite Scene: When the railroad crossing sign starts to shimmy and the lights shine down on Dreyfuss in his truck. Crazy scary!

38. Finding Nemo (2003)
The first of the Pixar films is the standard by which all of their films are measured. Everything about this film is genuine and the animation is flawless!
Favorite Line: “Good feeling’s gone!”

37. Dodgeball (2004)
This one is as stupid as they come…and chock full of some of the greatest one-liners since “Blazing Saddles”. Just dumb fun…and that’s good enough!
Favorite Line: “There’s no reason we need to be shackled by the strictures of the employee-employer relationship. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. In which case, I got some shackles in the back. I’m just kidding. But seriously, I’ve got ’em.”

36. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
The greatest mockumentary about a rock band EVER. Rob Reiner follows the greatest (or worst) group of rock stars around the world to film them in all their glory. It’s the love of the music that keeps these guys cranked to 11!
Favorite Line: “As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll.”
Favorite Scene: When they lower a 2 foot tall Stonehenge monument onto the stage and midgets dance around it.

35. Heathers (1989)
Big Fun! This is one of the most comedically dark films ever made. Christian Slater’s greatest role…and Winona Ryder seemed to have a career in the making.
Favorite Line: “I love my dead, gay son!”

34. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
A love story told in reverse. Sometimes you have to see the ending before you can understand the beginning. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are an odd pair, but this movie makes it work. Very thoughtful and artfully done!

33. Joe vs The Volcano (1990)
So many Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies to choose from…and I choose the least successful? Well…maybe it’s because I like orange soda. Or maybe it’s because it’s really a great story about looking for one’s soul mate.
Favorite Line: “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?”

32. Rear Window (1954)
Jimmy Stewart is a photgrapher looking for something to do while laid up in his apartment complex. How a man could be bored with Grace Kelly watching after him is beyond me, but Jimmy gets himself wrapped up in a murder mystery and Alfred Hitchcock is pulling the strings. An amazing film simply because you never leave the apartment and every second is filled with suspense!
Favorite Line: “Intelligence. Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence.”

31. Star Wars (1977)
The premier science fiction film. I must have seen it 7 or 8 times in the theater. Everyone always picks “The Empire Strikes Back” as being the best of the bunch, but this is the one that made my mind spin!

30. The Dark Knight ( 2008 )
Heath Ledger IS the Joker. And everything else in this dark and fast paced drama is just as good! Raised the bar on how comic book movies CAN be made!
Favorite Line: “I’m a dog chasing cars. I don’t have plans. I just do things. I’m not a schemer.” -The Joker

29. Blade Runner (1982)
It’s looking like a bleak future…and Harrison Ford is one bleak cop. But for all of the dark subject matter and constant rain, Rutger Hauer brings a ray of light to the party as Roy Batty, a cyborg on the run. The ending is one of the best in science fiction history.
Favorite Scene: The entire ending when Roy has Deckard hanging over the ledge. The writing and the cinematography is excellent! 

28. Broadcast News (1987)
James Brooks’ look into a newsroom is poignant and accurate in many ways! I know…I used to work in several of them. But it’s script that makes this movie pop, and the triangle affair between himself, Holly Hunter and William Hurt make this one all the more interesting.
Favorite Line: “A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!”
Favorite Scene: When Altman (Brooks) has to fill in as an anchor and is overcome with sweat on the air. Quite possibly one of the funniest scenes ever!

27. Blue Velvet (1986)
Take a small, everyday town and throw David Lynch into the middle of it. Shake it up a bit and throw in an over-the-top performance by Dennis Hopper (as Frank Booth. One of the baddest guys in cinematic history) and you have this classic. Violent and edgy and before it’s time!
Favorite Line: “Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”

26. Weird Science (1985)
Yes…it is weird. But it definately ain’t science! This 80’s comedy might have escaped your radar, but it has always been dear to me. Anthony Michael-Hall plays it for goofs, but it’s Bill Paxton that makes this movie more than it should be. His character, older brother Chet, is a mixture of charm and idiocy.
Favorite Line: “For Christ’s sake, will you cover yourself?”

25. The Matrix (1999)
Revolutionary as a science fiction film. Should probably be a little higher on my list, but it loses points due to the 2 mediocre sequels it spawned. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith is another bad guy who takes this movie to a whole new level! And the Wachowski Brothers mix special effects with incredible stunts to make this one for the ages!

24. Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975)
Some of the greatest comedy scenes in film history are in this movie. From the “Knights who say Neh!” to the dance number at “The Round Table”, there are just too many to name.
Favorite Scene: When the tiny rabbit maims an entire army. Or maybe it’s when King Arthur uses a giant rabbit as a decoy to get into the French castle. Or maybe…

23. Peter Pan (1953)
A Disney classic! And my daughter’s favorite film. I loved this movie as a kid, and I love it still today. Still underappreciated, I will go on record saying that I think this movie is 10 times better than most of today’s animated features! Well…except for the Pixar films…

22. Big (1988 )
Tom Hanks before he got “big”, and he was perfect for this film! As genuine and entertaining as anything else he has done, this little comedy that could follows 8-year old Josh as he learns how to be a man…in a matter of days. Elizabeth Perkins is lovely and perfectly cast as his love interest.
Favorite Scene: When Josh spits out the caviar at the Christmas party.

21. Poltergeist (1982)
Scary without being gory, this is one of Spielberg’s best! The everyday family in the suburbs gets visited by ghosts and Carol Ann gets sucked into the television. It goes from being entertaining to being horrific in a matter of moments!
Favorite Scene: When Carol Ann sits up close to the telelvision and you can hear whispering in the t.v. Still gives me the willies everytime I watch it!

20. Raising Arizona (1987)
Ridiculous situations. Ridiculous characters. Ridiculous dialogue. All the ingredients you need for a madcap adventure with Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter!
Favorite Line: “Son…you got a panty on your head.”

19. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo Del Toro’s classic fairy tale of heartbreak and wonderment. One of the best movies of the last decade.
Favorite Scene: When Ofelia is being chased by the creature with eyes in his hands. Very intense stuff!

18. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
I watch it every Christmas and it always brings back memories. Jimmy Stewart is as classy as they come!

17. The Princess Bride (1987)
This little fantasy has such a good script that no one knew what it was supposed to be. Is it a fantasy? Is it comedy? Is it for kids? Whatever…it was good for everybody!
Favorite Line: “And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… “

16. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
It’s a classic. From the moment Dorothy steps out of her house into Munchkin land, I was blown away.
Favorite Scene: I just said it…

15. Bull Durham (1988 )
Kevin Costner IS Crash Davis. This love story wrapped in a baseball coating is one for everyone. Susan Sarandon is excellent as the love interest and Tim Robbins steals the movie as the dumb as rocks but lovable Meat…er…Nuke LaLoosh!
Favorite Line: “Yeah? From what I hear, you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a fucking boat.”

14. American Beauty (1999)
Oscar-winning film about the decay of the American family. The ending is my favorite ending of all-time. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is my hero!
Favorite Line: “Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”

13. Swingers (1996)
It’s just so money! And it DOES know it. Nothing like kicking back and flipping on this little independent film that could. I think it was in our art house theater here for about 2 years!
Favorite Line: “And you got these fucking claws and these fangs, man! And you’re looking at your claws and you’re looking at your fangs. And you’re thinking to yourself, you don’t know what to do, man. “I don’t know how to kill the bunny.” With *this* you don’t know how to kill the bunny, do you know what I mean?”
Favorite Scene: When Mikey calls the girl he met at the bar and the answering machine keeps hanging up.

12. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Can friends sleep together and still be friends? Who knows? All I know is this was the defining romantic comedy of my life. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan brought comedic touches to their roles and Burno Kirby was excellent as Harry’s best friend.
Favorite Line: “Do me a favor, for your own good, put your name in your books right now before they get mixed up and you won’t know whose is whose. ‘Cause someday, believe it or not, you’ll go 15 rounds over who’s gonna get this coffee table. This stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale COFFEE TABLE.”

11. Aliens (1986)
The aliens are bigger and badder and Ripley is ripped. Sigourney Weaver is awesome and Bill Paxton shines as the marine with a nervous attitiude.
Favorite Line: “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

10. Pulp Fiction (1994)
This film set the industry on it’s edge, cutting through to audiences with it’s jump-cutting plotline and it’s crazy cast of characters. Showed Hollywood that it could be smart and violent and we’d all get it.
Favorite Scene: When Vincent (Travolta) and Jules (Sam Jackson) shoot the guy in the backseat in the face.

9. Risky Business (1983)
Tom Cruise wasn’t big yet, and Rebecca De Morney is hot! This little movie made all kinds of money and put Cruise on the fast track to superstardom. The soundtrack is awesome (Tangerine Dream, Prince, Journey) and the plot (as implausible as it is) makes for some entertaining movie watching!
Favorite Line: “Every now and then say, “What the fuck.” “What the fuck” gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.”

8. Better Off Dead (1985)
Lane Myer hates his life. His parents are strange, his friends are strange, and his girlfriend has dumped him for the captain of the ski team. What’s a high school loser to do? Fall for a foreign exchange student and bring home the trophy! This 80’s comedy has got some great scenes and some greater one-liners!
Favorite Line: “Sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.”
2nd Favorite Line: “Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.”

7. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman make the perfect prison buddy movie. I could watch this movie every day and not get tired of it.

6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The most popular guy in school can get away with anything, right? Well…in Ferris’s case…yes, he can! And there’s nothing Principal Rooney can do about it. It’s like watching the coyote chase the roadrunner…and the roadrunner always wins!
Favorite Line: “I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.”

5. Hoosiers (1986)
Nothing better than this little drama about life, love and the pursuit of a high school championship. My all-time favorite sports movie.
Favorite Scene: When Coach gets booted from the game and Shooter (Dennis Hopper) coaches them to a win.

4. 28 Days Later (2002)
My favorite horror film. The editing is perfect, the acting is perfect and the social commentary is perfect for our times. Love it.
Favorite Scene: The entire opening sequence with Jim (Cilliam Murphy) wandering around a deserted London.

3. Die Hard (1988 )
Greatest action film ever. And why? Because it seems like it could just happen! Bruce Willis’ greatest movie.
Favorite Line: “Oh my God, the quarterback is TOAST!”

2. The Night Of The Comet (1984)
Okay…what in the world is THIS movie doing in my Top 5? Well…glad you asked. As you can see by all the other movies on this list, just about any of them could be on a list like this. But here’s the deal with “Comet”…I love it because no one else does! It’s got everything I like in movies, from the apocalyptic theme to a bad soundtrack from the 80’s. it’s just dumb fun and I could watch it a million times and not get bored with it. If you haven’t seen it, you should! And be warned…it’s campy and silly and the acting isn’t Oscar worthy. But it’s a great B-flick…and I love it!

1. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
John Cusack is perfect and the dialogue is awesome. Everyone in it is perfectly cast and the scenes with Cusack & Arkin as his psychiatrist are hysterical. Jeremy Piven as his best friend is fantastic and Minnie Drive and Joan Cusack are excellent as well. Just a really well done dark comedy and one that I have watched many times over.
Favorite Line: “Look, I don’t want to get into a semantic argument, I just want the protein.”

Updated July 20, 2008

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2 thoughts on “Alan’s Top 50 Favorite Films Of All-Time

  1. Great list Alan! I think I’ve seen most of these movies a hundred times…maybe because you always had the remote control back in the 80’s. 😉 However, as much as I loved “Night of the Comet” I am SHOCKED that you put it ahead of “Better off Dead!” What kind of a John Cusack fan are you anyway???
    Off on a tangent: I was thinking about Poltergeist the other day because the kids were talking about a Nick Jr show that teaches Mandarin called Ni Hao Kai-lan (Kai-lan being the name of the little girl in the cartoon), and I couldn’t help myself and started saying “Carol Anne! Don’t go into the light Carol Anne!” Needless to say, the kids thought I was a wacko, so now I have to go rent the movie to watch with them.

    Well crap…I thought her name was Cary Anne! Better go change that. And as for the “Better Off Dead”/”Night of the Comet” flip…who knows? Maybe I will swap them someday…I’ve been known to change my mind.

  2. I just sent a response saying I liked Frank’s list better but I think it’s interesting your fave is a movie I don’t even like. I’ve given Grosse Pointe 2 or 3 tries and I just don’t get it. And I still can’t get through Dodgeball, if it was on a plane I’d probably have to jump out! I think I’ve seen Night of The Comet but don’t really remember it. But keep that fire burning/the dream alive etc. etc. Just for the record the Newman Top 10.
    10)Brazil
    9)Unforgiven
    8)Sunset Boulevard
    7)Big Night
    6)Breaking Away
    5)The Graduate
    4)Rushmore
    3)This Is Spinal Tap
    2)Harold & Maude
    1)Raising Arizona

    Yeah…I know. We’ve had that discussion more than once. And Rushmore and The Graduate BOTH put me to sleep. So I guess we’re even!

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