The American Film Institute recently updated its 100 greatest movies list and in that spirit, as something of a movie buff myself, I thought I'd share with you my list of favorites. While I do have a definitive #1, the list is in no particular order following the top spot. And what would any list of "bests" be without a corresponding list of "worsts." My list of "worst" movies follows my list of "best."
#1 "Jaws" Great movies have great impact. I've never gone into a body of open water since seeing this movie without thinking about it, hearing that music and seeing that picture in my mind of the shark's-eye view of swimmers from the bottom. Great story, great suspense, great acting, great score, great cinematography, great dialogue, this movie is perfect.
"Saving Private Ryan" Battlefield scenes so dramatic and realistic I don't even like to watch this movie and that makes it good. Great acting, wonderful character development and a gripping moral dilemma.
"Unforgiven" The Western every other Western was leading up to. The conflict within Clint Eastwood's character is so well developed it's impossible not to buy in.
"Silence of the Lambs" The last time I held my hands in front of my face shielding my eyes from what was happening on screen. Anthony Hopkins was so good as Hanibal Lecter he was on the screen for less than 20 minutes yet still created as memorable a movie character as any in film history.
"Die Hard" The most exciting movie-going experience I've ever had. Period.
"Braveheart" Great action, great drama, great love story, revenge, freedom, betrayal, this movie takes you through the full range of emotions.
"Dances with Wolves" A story so bitter it's hard to watch. Incredible realism in recreating the costume, culture and conflict of the American West.
"L.A. Confidential" Richly layered story with half a dozen incredible acting performances.
"The Usual Suspects" A stunning plot twist in the final minute of the movie that reveals a breathtaking story and acting performance by Kevin Spacey.
"Sideways" Great characters, funny, smart, clever, sincere, irreverent, wonderful dialogue, is it a comedy, is it a romance, is it a drama it's all of those things and all of those things in excess.
"Tombstone" The coolest guy movie ever. Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday is unforgettable.
"Fargo" William H. Macy is disturbingly good as the pathetic, yet sympathetic, hero, yet villain of this deliciously dark drama.
"As Good As It Gets" Yes it is. If you watch closely, the subtlety of Jack Nicholson's performance is genius.
"Smokey and the Bandit" Don't laugh. Burt Reynolds and Sally Field's chemistry jumps off the screen and, surprisingly, this movie provides as accurate a picture of common Southern life as you'll find from Hollywood.
"Double Indemnity" The best "old" movie I've seen. The themes are so mature and complex this film could be colorized, released tomorrow and still be cutting edge.
"Reservoir Dogs" Sinfully violent and vulgar, yet somehow impossible to resist the charm.
"Star Wars" As good a story and as great a batch of characters as Hollywood has ever produced.
"Shrek" Sweet, charming, funny, sensitive, it's a cartoon with richer characters than most "real people" movies.
So, that's the best, how about the worst.
"The Dukes of Hazzard" There are no words for how void of merit this "movie" was. Watching it, I couldn't believe how bad it was, literally. After 10 minutes, I HAD to stop watching to prevent permanent brain damage. This movie was so rotten it made Jessica Simpson undesirable. To this day, I'm unable to accurately describe how awful this picture is.
"Domino" I LOVE Keira Knightly, but the dialogue, story and well everything about this movie was such a wreck I couldn't get halfway through it. Bad is one thing, but this movie is to cinema what Jeff Bowden was to offensive coordinating in college football. I could try and be more specific about what I dislike about this movie, but it took a lot of time and therapy to erase those memories and I don't want to relive the nightmares.
"Natural Born Killers" If I'd have watched another minute of this movie I would have become a natural born killer and the writer, director and producer of this sewage would have been at the top of my list.
"Anchorman" I was told this movie was funny, I watched it, or at least the first 45 minutes before I turned it off, and couldn't believe so many people found something so patently stupid amusing. Everyone who likes this movie I think less of; it's not funny, it's dumb and not "dumb funny," just dumb.
"2001: A Space Odyssey" What was that?
"Easy Rider" & "A Time to Kill" Ridiculous, stereotypical, ignorant, hateful portrayals of the South and Southern people. Movies like this are the reason negative prejudices of the South still exist. Most awful movies are just awful, these abominations poison minds.