What Movies Are in Your Top Ten List That Aren’t in Anyone Else’s? What Albums?

Looking Closer reader Tyler Petty just came up with a good idea for a discussion starter.

I mentioned in my first installment of 140 Characters that the movie Midnight Run is on my list of personal, all-time top ten favorite films. I include that film for many reasons. Some of those reasons have to do with the film itself, and some have to do with the friendships in which the film played a memorable part.

So Tyler suggested a conversation about what titles we’d include in our lists that are particular to us, titles you’d probably rarely find in anyone else’s short-list of favorites.

So, I’m curious. If you compiled a short list of your all time favorites, what would stand out as an unusual choice? And why?

Let’s talk about both movies and music. What would surprise us on your lists?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Gavin Breeden

    Well, I’m sorry I missed the brief Errol Morris discussion that sprang up here. I’m fascinated that both Peter and Jeffrey spoke very highly of “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control.” I’ve only seen that once and for me it alternated between being intriguing and boring. Perhaps I should revisit it.

    My second favorite of Morris’ films is probably “Gates of Heaven” with “Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.” and “Fog of War” tying for a close third. “Mr. Death” is one of the most bizarre docs I’ve seen. I’m surprised no one else mentioned that one.

    I would also highly recommend his brief TV show, “First Person.” Very similar to his documentary style, only shorter.

  • Jim

    Great thread – adding quite a few of these to my Netflix queue immediately for another viewing.

    My two contributions:

    Thief (1981) – Michael Mann’s theatrical debut. Affected me on many levels. Incredible soundtrack by Tangerine Dream.
    James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky (his debut as well), & Willie Nelson (!) all give career performances.

    Moonstruck (1987) – Best romantic comedy period. Ebert sums it up well in his review:

  • Will: Woot for listing Vigilantes of Love!

    Mark T. Ingham (and Peter and Jeff): Thanks! Looks like I have some great viewing ahead of me!

    Gene Branaman: I agree. The Searchers is a wonderful film. Hollywood beginning (not entirely successfully) to grapple with it’s own racism. And how about the way the rugged Western landscape almost seems to take direction from John Ford? Ford was a master.

  • Luther Hartog

    A few movies:

    – Walk the Line, because of the emotional and rocky road that explains the voice and songs of JC (nice innitials).
    – K-Pax, because of the acting of Kevin Spacey and because it reflects a mirror of how silly the human race can be.
    – High Fidelity, because it makes me think about choices that I make in my life and why I make them.

  • Gene Branaman

    Here’s a few movies that are on my all-time list.

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence – Two sides of the same coin, if you will, represented in a way no other film has done before or since.

    The Princess Bride – ‘Cos it’s . . . really, really cool.

    Groundhog Day – Far wiser than most give it credit for being.

    The Searchers – Maybe my favorite western of all time. Those who think John Wayne couldn’t act need to study his performance in this film. Also, it doesn’t shy away from difficult issues like racism & forgiveness but is never preacy or smarmy.

    Europa, Euorpa – A really great film. Tragic, funny, frightening, & intensely personal.

    My Life as a Dog – I just love, love, love how this film gets into the head of a boy who’s really just trying to find stability & control when his world’s turned upside down.

    Grave of the Fireflies – Anime at it’s very best. Pulls no punches. I hear they’re making a live action version. (SIGH)

    The Ice Storm – Ang Lee’s best film, IMO. After seeing this, I always feel more convicted in my faith, realizing my sin & how it affects others. Adults so caught up in themselves they can’t see how lost thier children are or hear their cries for help.

  • Speaking of Errol Morris, he just posted a video of his five favorites (sort of), and two or three of them seem fairly obscure to me: http://current.com/items/90177660_five-favorite-films-with-errol-morris.htm

  • Jeffrey, what a great idea! I love all these insights from others.

    I guess you’re meaning Top 10 faves of all time – otherwise, list nerds like myself (& I think as you’ve confessed yourself to be) probably have unique or rare choices for almost every year.

    From the list of all time, I have a couple that I’ve seen on some critics’ lists, but few to none of my friends are even familiar with: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, that possibly greatest of all silent films, from the genius that is F W Murnau
    Heaven (2001), written by Kieslowski and directed by Tykwer, with amazing, profound performances from Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi
    And, not sure it’s on my top 10 of all time, but I love The Red Circle, Jean-Pierre Melville’s heist movie. Wow. But I hardly ever see that on others’ lists. On my top 20 favorites, you’re also likely to find such unusual picks as 12 Monkeys, 21 Grams, Cries and Whispers, Ikiru, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Thin Man and When Harry Met Sally.

    I was going to second some others’ choices, those they felt no one else loved (like Punch-Drunk Love), but that would take WAY too long. Needless to say, friends, that’s why sites like this exist — because there are people out there who do love the same films as you.

    As far as albums go, music tends to be even more personal than film. So, tho my favorites might not surprise my close friends, and may not be incredibly obscure, my list might be: Songs for Christmas (Sufjan Stevens), Alina (Arvo Pärt), Blister Soul (Vigilantes of Love), At the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings (Keith Jarrett), Jon Foreman’s Seasons cycle, All That You Can’t Leave Behind (U2), Flock (Bell X1), Dreaming Wide Awake (Lizz Wright), Seal [1994] and Hymns of the 49th Parallel (k d lang).

  • I’d say Fiddler on the Roof is the one that I never run into on any major lists. My friends and I watched this as a ritual once every semester all through college.

  • Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is my favorite documentary. The Thin Blue Line… wow, I haven’t seen that in about 15 years, but I remember loving it. I also remember loving one called Brother’s Keeper, but it’s been a long time on that one too. Stevie, by Steve James, is a close runner-up to Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. I’ve been meaning to watch his latest….

  • Dave Von B has three in his list that are on mine….I’ll leave it to you (or Peter) to puzzle out which ones they are….

  • The Thin Blue Line is on my official all-time top-ten list too. But I compiled that list in the ’90s and deliberately left off any films that were made in that decade, so if I were to do it again, I just might replace that Errol Morris documentary with another, namely Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. Those two films are his best, I think. And for what it’s worth, I believe Roger Ebert counts Morris’s very first film, Gates of Heaven, among his all-time top ten.

  • Andrew Price:

    Another Morris doc I think is really great is The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.

    The slight downside of Fog of War is it feels like part mea culpa, part revisionist history, on the part of McNamara. But, mostly, it’s a fascinating look at the tough decision-making process in war. Regardless of what one thinks of McNamara; or where he’s coming from; he has some very interesting things to say.

  • Gene Branaman

    I’m kinda late to this party. Very cool responses from everyone!

    Here’s a few albums in my all-time top list that I don’t see often (if ever):
    Since and Bloomed by Richard Buckner – Wow. All his stuff is great but I keep coming back to these two albums. Simple, effective, poetic, luminous, & honest as a snowstorm. I grew up with Rick, he’s a great guy. “Ariel Ramirez” always makes me cry. Emotional & point blank. Buy his stuff.

    Evidence by Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith – A brilliant album from an unlikely duo from 2 sides of the Pond. Came out in 1989 & it holds up in ways I’m not even sure I understand. Lovely harmonies, smart arrangements, & phenomenal lyrics. Out of print but worth it if you can find it!

    My Secret is My Silence by Roddie Woomble – Rod is the front man for my favorite Scottish band Idlewild. MSiMS is his first solo album that’s finally available in the States. I consider it a concept album about communication. Not at all like his band, these are mostly acoustic (lots of fiddle, pennywhistle, & pipes kinda stuff with electric geetawr thrown in), harmony-laden, engaging, & rewarding songs. Sometimes you have to meet them half way & sometimes you are met in a place you didn’t know you were. Hasn’t been out of my car for 3 years now. Please just treat youself get it now. (Jeffrey, I really think you’d like this! )

    Scottish Fiction by Idlewild – Rod’s band that’s 1 part 70s punk, 1 part 80s Brit pop, 1 part shoegazing poetry, & all lovely & rewarding. “Live in a Hiding Place” is one of my favorite songs of the past 20 years. There’s high-powered rock, lovely balads, & tons of introspection but it’s never selfserving or selfindulgent. I’d also recommend Warnings/Promises.

    Lost in Space by Aimee Mann – All her albums are brilliant but LoS is her best, IMO, so far. Dense, smart, emotional, slightly self-aware & always surprising. I’ve heard this album a million times but I always hear something new. Lyrically, she always nails it on this one. So effective. The Forgotten Arm is just as good!

  • Coolhand

    Hsinya, I totally agree with you on “Ten Things I Hate About You” and “Gattaca.” Another personal favorite is “Scotland, PA,” probably my all-time favorite Shakespearean adaptation.

    As can be guessed from my user name, I love Paul Newman’s films, especially “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Hustler,” “Butch and Sundance” and “The Sting.” No one was ever cooler or classier than Newman.

    In music, there was a band in the 90’s called Clear that released a couple of cd’s of the most beautiful songs of faith struggling with doubt and hope overcoming fear that I have ever heard. I’ve never met anyone else who’s heard of them, but they were a welcome oasis in the musical desert that Contemporary Christian music can sometimes be.

  • What other Errol Morris docs would you recommend? (I haven’t watched Thin Blue Line, but I read an interview with it’s editor. So I know a little of what’s going on in it, and would love to see it.)

  • Gavin Breeden

    Errol Morris’ documentary “The Thin Blue Line” is definitely one of my top ten films and I’ve barely met anyone else who’s seen it. Morris has made lots of good documentaries, but this one outshines them all.

  • A few favorites of mine that fit this list might include:

    Wim Wenders’ “Paris Texas”
    “Notorious” (no, not the more recent film of the same title)
    “Strangers on a Train”
    “Before Sunset”
    “George Washington” (? too commonly included on such lists ?)

    And, although it probably appears much too commonly on such lists to warrant a mention in this post, Malick’s “Badlands” is a favorite that is, I think, taken much too lightly by even the more experienced cinephiles. One of the greatest American films ever, perhaps.

    Great topic Jeffrey, thanks!

  • Tim Greiving

    A.I. Artificial Intelligence – My favorite film of all time. Panned by critics, forgotten by most people at this point, and generally despised by the people who do happen to stumble across it. I think it is such a beautifully personal film from the mind and heart of Spielberg (and a wonderful companion film to his other masterpiece, Empire of the Sun). It poses such fascinating questions about mankind, the Creator, love…basically the fundamentals of existence. Knock-out performances and a hauntingly gorgeous score by John Williams. Absolutely magnificent.

  • Hsinya

    I would have to say the one that most likely isn’t on anyone elses list is 10 Things I Hate About You, starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger (his first Hollywood film). I feel like this is one of the smartest chic flicks ever written, and since it’s an adaptation of Taming of the Shrew, there are some really witty and laugh-out-loud dialogue here. Heath Ledger’s charm is undeniable in this movie, and this is the movie that made me fall in love with him.

    Another favorite is The Matrix, which is considered unusual for a girl, as I have yet to meet another woman who loves this movie as much as I do, and I think this is the movie that set my taste in sci-fi/fantasy (and comic book adaptation) movies.

    Other favorites include Gattaca (simple yet rich story about the human soul), Little Women (1994, a warm movie that makes me wish I was born 200 years earlier), and Sense and Sensibility, which sparked my interest in British culture.

    My favorite animated film, besides the Iron Giant that Mark from above mentioned, is the French gem Kirikou and the Sorceress, an African tale about inner healing and knowing how to ask the right questions.

  • Beauty and the Beast (1991). I’m a beast, touched by the grace of God (Belle).

  • Daniel

    Groundhog Day will forever be #1 on my “favorites” list. I’m sorta-kinda-REALLY biased for it, since I was born on that day (and so was my twin – repetition on Groundhog Day? Who woulda thunk it?). Bill Murray is the awesomest. I watch it every year.

    There’s no way I stand alone in this, but…
    Return of the King is the best movie I’ve ever seen. Out of the thirteen movies ranked above it in the IMDB top 250 (Citizen Kane is only 33?), I have seen Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Casablanca, Pulp Fiction, The Dark Knight, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have not seen Godfather 1 or 2, Shawshank, 12 Angry Men, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (except for the awesome climactic standoff), 7 Samurai (A Bug’s Life doesn’t count), or Schindler’s List. I won’t begrudge them their spots, but I claim RotK as the best I have seen because it changed the way I see movies forever. After that, I never simply watched a story unfold onscreen – I was attentive to each little detail, from recurring lines to foley artists, that revealed the whole thing to be an act. Not like it ruined movies; I just know what’s going on, now.
    Also, every film since has felt short.

  • Mark

    “The Iron Giant” is one of my favorites. I think my son and I have watched it 10-15 times, and we never get tired of it. If there is a better animated movie, I don’t know what it is. I also love “A Perfect World.” The movie was directed by and stars Clint Eastwood. Kevin Costner plays the lead role. It was filmed in and near my hometown, but I think that only slightly biases me toward the movie. Great road movie. “The Rookie” starring Dennis Quaid is another great little gem of a movie. Maybe not top 10, but certainly under-appreciated.

  • Daniel

    Julio – Mononoke is in Roger Ebert’s top ten, as well. Nice company! I still tout that as Miyazaki’s greatest.

  • Many of my favorites would not be unusual to see on a favorites list (Ordet, The New World, Wall-E, Babette’s Feast, Shawshank Redemption, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Star Wars [Episode V, to be specific]).* Maybe they look strange together, but I see that I’m in good company here.

    But when Joel C. mentioned sentimental favorites, I realized that I need to at least mention the two movies that will always have a soft spot in my heart, because they were staples of my family, growing up:

    What’s Up Doc? is the first, a 1970’s tribute to the screwball comedies of the likes of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn (with Ryan O’Niel as the “absent-minding genius” type and Barbra Streisand as the happy-go-lucky, free-wheeler who wreaks havoc wherever she goes).

    And the second is El Dorado, a Howard Hawks Western starring John Wayne and James Caan.

    I know these two movies backwards and forwards and will always appreciate the service they did to our family, time and again. Not necessarily by being great films (of course), but more by being a fun excuse to spend time together.


    *I think probably one exception to what I was thinking here, is Serenity, which doesn’t show up often on favorites list. And, I guess, the filmmaker inside me knows that we’re not dealing with the pinnacle of American cinema here. But the movie-lover inside me? Oh my, how he loves this film. It’ my favorite action movie. And one of my favorite comedies. And how I wish Joss would make more movies.

  • Cindy Davidson

    Whenever I need a good laugh I watch “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with Steve Martin and John Candy. This is a feel – good movie that is hilarious! I could watch it over and over and over (oh, I have already)!!!

  • Quigley Down Under (shouldn’t work for me, absolutely does)
    Saving Grace (the movie with Tom Conti as the Pope — still charms and surprises today)
    Heart and Souls (can’t get past the ghosts saying goodbye to the kid without giving in myself…)

    Cindy — Secret of Roan Inish was my first date with my now wife. Gotta be a keeper.

    Julio — let me second Fisher King.

  • Andrei Rublev -Tarkovsky’s second film is a masterwork that never appears on lists of favorites, likely because it had a limited release in the West, was made over forty years ago, has a painter of icons as its protagonist, presents the plot elliptically (it makes The New World look like a Michael Bay blockbuster), and has as its climax the baking of a bell. Not exactly racy stuff but I challenge anyone to find a film that more completely transports the viewer into a state of spiritual mystery and bliss (blisstery?). Criterion has released a wonderful edition of it that includes some priceless footage of the director sharing his feelings about nature and our relationship to it.

  • dax

    Some I’ve enjoyed –

    A Walk in the Clouds – nice romantic drama, not very well known
    Return of Martin Guerre – great French film with Gerard Depardieu
    Contact – Jodie Foster and Matt McConnaughey, from Carl Sagan’s novel
    1776 – only a few memorable songs but always inspiring
    Seabiscuit – and just about every other film on horses
    League of their own – and just about every other movie on baseball

    for music album – The Complete “Joy of Cooking” – underrated folk rock band

  • Obi-Cus Kenobus

    Ow, I second ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’. And ‘Stake Out’.

  • I was a big fan of Good Night and Good Luck; as much for aesthetic reasons as anything else. I love the casual dialogue, the black and white treatment (especially in scenes where the characters are smoking), the source-music score with Dianne Reeves. Everything is just exquisite.

    I love The Wind and the Lion, mostly for personal reasons. I grew up watching it (family favorite), and have a lot of great memories with it. Over time, I’ve been able to appreciate it more critically, from the engaging performances to the Goldsmith score. Really a nice film, was unfortunately overshadowed by a lot of other similar films.

    As for albums, I think I’ll always have that one tribute to the few good elements of CCM: Rich Mullins’ A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band. I love the music, love the lyrics, am still impressed by the ideological arc. I’m very biased, as the album has a lot of personal meaning for me, and a lot of memories attached to it, but I think it still stands by itself as a brilliant work.

    This just goes to show that ultimately I am a child of my generation, but we are going for unusual here: I’ve always loved Mae’s The Everglow. It’s great as a concept album, for sure, but each song is a gem of it’s own. If I’m indulgent in anything in music, it’s for alt rock/emo stuff, Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, etc. The Everglow is one of my favorites from that genre.

  • “To End All Wars” with Kiefer Sutherland/Robert Carlyle remains one of my favorite movies about WWII
    “Jean De Florette” and follow-up “Manon of the Spring” were the first subtitled films I saw in high school. I could rewatch again and again.

  • Corey Newkirk

    I consider Unbreakable one of my all time favorites. To most superhero fans the film is too restrained and is considered tedious. It’s not “action packed” like x-men or spider-man.

    However according to my list that wouldn’t be strange, Unbreakable would fit in with a number of other super hero flicks including Spider-man 2, and Iron Man being the top few superhero movies. It’s my natural taste in movies.

    Keeping Mum, A british movie, black comedy how a murdering deceiving matron called Grace changes a family that is nearly falling apart, the husband(a vicar) is caught up in his job clueless to his daughter’s behavior, his son’s and his wife’s affair with an American. This deadly Grandma somehow causes the family to come together.

    Stranger than Fiction An IRS agent starts hearing a voice and thinks he’s crazy, and he enlists the help of a literature professor once he realizes that he has his own personal narrator and he is in a story.


    Punch Drunk Love and The Fisher King are two movies I had seen through Jeff’s recommendation and decided to keep them. two wounded people brought together to bring about a kind of healing, holy fools! Robin Williams dancing around naked in the park hilarious and Adam Sandler in that Blueberry colored suit.


    Princess Mononoke is amazing and there are parts to it that the beauty of the the scenery itself steals the show

    Paprika, though more difficult a film to understand beyond the discussion of dreams and their interactions with the real world. It is a film, more focused on our intuitive sense of things. Our eyes have to deal with what we might “feel” against the difficulty of language to convey the specificity that a picture produces. There is a mystery here, a meaning that cannot be got at in one sitting. This movie touches on a myriad of things but through a dream means, it’s has the feel of Macdonalds book Phantastes.

    Anything by Pixar is good but I specifically find Incredibles as my personal favorite. Also the Ratatootie movie, enjoyable. Even in there appeal to kids they are both technically good but also touches a nerve, it’s not mere fluffy, wholly satisfying.

    Well I would agree with whoever said Ladyhawke, there are alot of movies that I wish I could revisit, some without names I remember that left a great impact but I was unable to return to them.

    Somewhere in Time.Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour A movie about a man who falls in love with a picture of a woman from the past and is transported there and the two of them begin a romantic relationship, he is abruptly swept back to the future before they could be married.

  • Just for the record, The Adventures of Robin Hood is tied with The Court Jester for #7 on my list of all-time favorites. One film stars Errol Flynn, and the other film stars Danny Kaye, but they both concern medieval outlaws who rob from the rich and give to the poor, and both films feature climactic swordfights with Basil Rathbone. Classics, both.

  • westie: i love punch-drunk love, too.

    jon: noah baumbach’s kicking and screaming is the quintessential post-college movie and should be required viewing for all liberal arts graduates.

    as far as american films go, i have to immediately list what might be new favorite american film, synechdoche, new york. but then, i think any of charlie kaufman’s movies could go here, including the oft-overlooked confessions of a dangerous mind.

    i suppose it’s not exactly under-appreciated but as time goes on, i think less and less people are aware of butch cassidy and the sundance kid, the fountainhead of buddy films from whence all other buddy films spring.

    and how about junebug, a little gem of an american family dramedy?

    moving on to movies that are obscure because they have the audacity to be made in languages other than english in countries in which english is not the native tongue, i would start with in the mood for love—a film most serious moviegoers are no doubt familiar with.

    but perhaps most obscure of all—and probably dearest to me personally—is ki-duk kim’s 3-iron.

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood. Errol Flynn was the man.

  • Jon


    The Life Aquatic is near the top of my list also. It is just so imaginative and beautifully made. The sorrow and hope, the desire for life to be so much more meaningful than it seems. It makes me ache whenever I watch it.

  • Julio

    oooh, nice topic and responses.

    A few of mine: The Fisher King (as opposed to some of Gilliam’s more “popular” works), Princess Mononoke, and Road to Perdition.

    I had to laugh about someone bringing up the ‘Burbs! Certainly not a favorite, but WAY underappreciated! I love that movie!

    Joel: Jurassic Park still gives me chills! Probably because I was a dinosaur fanatic when I was a little kid. I’m a sucker for even the bad sequels. Seriously, bring on number 4!

    And whoever had a friend who said Ronin was a bad movie, you just may need new friends. I’m not saying based on that alone, per se. But if other symptoms of poor taste appear, just ease ’em out. :)

  • West Side Story. Revamping Romeo & Juliet to get race tensions right – brilliant!

  • I’m not sure where these would rank in my lists, but here are some that I love for various reasons that others may not put high up (and some I agree with above).

    First let me agree with Jurassic Park (I saw it in the drive in 3 times. Watching the T-Rex attack the vehicles in the dark rain, while I was in a vehicle, in the dark rain … awesome.)

    I also agree with Back To The Future, and for the same reason.

    The Truman Show (may be one of my favorite movies of all time. This is when I believed Jim Carrey could be today’s Jimmy Stewart. )

    Mystery Men (there are a few scenes that are so awful they make me embarrassed, but they are outweighed by a lot of brilliantly hip superhero satire. “Lance Hunt wears glasses. Captain Amazing doesn’t wear glasses. He wouldn’t be able to see!”.)

    The Apostle (Never have I seen a character I was kept so strongly from loving or hating [except in the next pick]. And this movie is so real, it’s scary.)

    Dead Man Walking (Moving. The grace of God is available to everyone. No, really. EVERYone.)

    The Big Kahuna (Perhaps more theatre than film, this contains some of the best dialogue ever filmed.)

    Koyannisqatsi (Made me see that stories on the screen can be told in more ways than one.)

    Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Movie, Muppest from Space (At least one muppet movie has to make it here … but perhaps that should be …

    Labrynth (Freaked me right out and sucked me right in as a kid – at the same time.)

    A Bug’s Life (The most underrated Pixar film, with so many wonderfully funny moments.)

    OK, I’d better stop now.

  • Westie,

    I just watched PDL last night for my first time since it was in theaters. I remember thinking it was overrated at the time. But watching it again last night I remember thinking “I think I absolutely love this movie.” It’s just so beautiful and poetic; it’s deceptively quirky and surreal, but that just hides so much depth. A great movie.

    Most of my top 10 choices are pretty standard (Shawshank, Eternal Sunshine, Jaws). But a few that people raise their eyebrows at that I just love to death:

    1. Before Sunrise/Sunset: It’s weird how I’ve fallen love with these movies. I really enjoyed them upon first viewing but never really considered them “great” or even thought I’d see them over and again. And yet I probably watch both of these films several times a year. Alone, I think they both tell fascinating stories. Before Sunrise is one of the most romantic films I’ve seen because, as Ebert said, it’s about the body’s most erotic organ–the mind. And Before Sunset just came at a point where I was wrestling with some of the same things as the characters. Both films touch me but, together, I think they compose one of the most brilliant modern takes on love, romance and relationships that Hollywood’s ever produced.

    2. The Muppet Movie: There are some movies that I just call “heart fillers”–I put them on and I know that when I’m done I will be very grateful for the experience. The Muppet Movie is still, 30 years later, an absolute delight. It’s funny and heartfelt but it’s also amazing to watch…I never think I’m watching puppets. Over my life I’ve come to accept Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and the rest as real characters. There’s a joy and sincerity to the movie and yet it’s also got a wonderful anarchic streak in it. It’s pure magic and I think one of the films that every child should see some time in their life.

    3. Hell House: This was a documentary a few years ago about a church that puts on a haunted house. It’s endlessly fascinating for me because it really causes me to probe my own intentions in trying to share the Gospel. It’s an interesting look at how Christians sometimes cannot relate to culture and there’s a really chilling subtext about these people wanting to get as close as possible to sin without committing it. Also I’d say a great companion piece with that is Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music, which probes the Christian music scene.

    4. The Naked Gun: Because there is simply no funnier movie than Naked Gun and no greater comedic moment than Frank Drebbin going to the bathroom with his microphone on.

  • Westie

    Punch Drunk Love:
    i probably know only 2 people ,other than Jeffrey Overstreet and myself, that seem to really enjoy this movie…it is easily in my top ten if not top five and has been there for at least 5 yrs.
    The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou:
    for some reason this Wes Anderson movie gets a lot of hate but it is probably my favorite one of his…part of it is probably nostalgia because it was the first of his movies that i saw, but another huge part is Bill Murray

  • Yes, Titus was amazing!

    And yes, The Secret of Roan Inish is one of my favorite films as well. Saw it three times in the theater.

    The Burbs? My favorite Tom Hanks movie. BRUCE DERN!! “You keep a horse in the basement?!” “I’ve never seen that. I’ve never seen somebody drag their garbage out to the street and then bang the hell out of it with a stick.”

  • Adam

    Ok, it might not be a great film, but it’s one of my favorites. For some reason no movie makes me laugh as much as “The Burbs!”

  • Scott, Titus WAS amazing. Rumor has it, Taymor is doing The Tempest next.

    Jeff- a favorite of mine that I never even hear anyone else talk about is Uncorked (UK Title: At Satchem Farm) with Minnie Driver, Nigel Hawthorne, Rufus Sewell. Great soundtrack by Jeff Danna (who also did the soundtrack work for The Boondock Saints, to my recollection). Great film about being true to one’s purpose in life. Highly quirky sense of humor. My baby brother and I quote it at one another all the time.

  • Doug

    What wonderful stuff! Cindy, Roan Inish is a wonderful film – I heartily agree.

    Mark, I must say it – you rock. I sat down at a dinner table once with family and friends, and I was saying, “I just saw the best movie,” and a friend was saying, “I just saw the worst movie,” and we both said, “Ronin.” I was chewing my tongue! Thanks for mentioning this film – at least one other person “gets it”!

    I hear the mentions of The Village, and I generally agree, but my wife and I think Night did an even better job with an earlier film – Unbreakable. Tight, exactly what I want from a comic book story, and hits the head on the nail again and again. The two of us think it is his best, and just a super film. Not sure how many people might include it as high as we would.

    Harrod and Funck for music. I am guessing many don’t even know who they are, and they only released three albums, but they are the best acoustic/folk stuff in the world.

  • A charming, but slightly obsure little movie called “The Secret of Roan Inish.” Very mystical and Irish…and I can’t resist hardly anything Irish! It really is a lovely little film.

  • Scott


  • Dan

    I’d have to agree with Andy on The Village. One of the few movies where I jump even when I know it’s coming. And James Newton Howard’s score is an amazing piece of art in itself. For me, it’s just a beautiful film. Sullivan’s Travels is another one; it reminds me to not be such a film snob. I can’t look down on someone else for not liking some critically acclaimed film, when the reason they go to see a movie is to get away from their troubles and be entertained for a few hours, not be reminded how crappy the world is.

  • *meant “one less popular of my all time favorites…”

    Chris: I love The Saint! Now I want to see it again!

  • I’m sure it would be on some other people’s lists, but less popular all time favorites is Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s a brilliant and moving portrayal of the power of living where you are (rather than where you wish you were); it also played no small role in leading me to want to be a teacher.

  • Back to the Future. It made me love movies.

  • Sarah

    Amelie, hands down. Pan’s Labyrinth. Chocolat. The Illusionist. Those may appear on others’ lists…but they are still great. :)

  • Jeremy Landes

    Here’s my under-appreciated top 10–probably my number 3: Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner. Here’s a link that encapsulates my thoughts: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2SXIVIPK05ZW3. What an amazing soundtrack. Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of Frank breaks my heart. Patricia Arquette–awesome and weird. I can’t say enough about this awesome first film.

  • Andy

    My unique film in my top ten is The Village written and directed by M. Night. I love the film for so many reasons. One being the poetic and beautiful directing and the excellent cinematography. Second is that it covers so many different themes from the nature of evil to the pain that love sometimes brings. The twist at the end makes the film more thought-provoking and ties into the theme of the film as a whole. The acting from an all star cast is suberb, the music is one of the best scores I’ve ever heard, and there are moments of terrifying suspense. And everytime I watch it, it never fails to move me. It is a great movie.

  • Mine would be The Saint starring Val Kilmer. I enjoy the spy movie, and am a huge fan of Kilmer and Elizabeth Shue. This would be the only one I can see being unique to my top ten list.

  • Clint W

    My favorite movie ever likely shows up on exactly no one else’s top 10: 13 Conversations About One Thing. It’s the only movie I’ve ever been compelled to watch again immediately after seeing it the first time (literally watching the final credits and then pushing play again), and I’m still fascinated by its characters and relationships every one of the many times I’ve watched it since then.

    In music, I’m a huge fan of Kate Rusby, whose albums can be a bit hard to come by in the U.S., though she certainly has a significant following in Great Britain. She has the ability both to write and sing new songs that sound quite old, and to take a centuries-old song and make it sound new. All of her recordings are golden, but it’s hard to beat Underneath the Stars.

    (A nice little British indie film where Kate has a cameo as herself is Heartlands.

    Even farther off the beaten path is Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas’s Fire and Grace, an album of 18th century Scottish dance tunes on fiddle and cello. Yes, that’s really what I said, and yes, I am a geek.

    Actually, this album fits in with Jeffrey’s comments yesterday about memorable supporting characters. What’s noticeable at first is the excellent and flashy fiddling, but what truly makes the album great and lasting are the intricate and rhythmic cello parts underneath.

  • Lots of good stuff in this thread — lots of ideas to queue up at Netflix.

    For me, the title in my top ten that probably flies under the most radars is John Frankenheimer’s “Ronin.” I’m not sure why it’s so woefully underrated; but maybe the combination of extremely subtle character study one minute, followed by ultra-kinetic car chases the next, thwarts normal “action” movie expectations.

    By the way, if you want to hear one of the best DVD commentary tracks ever, listen to Frankenheimer’s comments track on Ronin. It’s better than any film school.

  • In a favorites list that includes Terrance Malick, Sophia Coppola, Fritz Lang, and Akira Kurasawa, the film “Jurassic Park” is one of my all-time favorites. I absolutely loved dinosaurs as a child, so when I first saw the film in elementary school, I was both terrified and enamored with the idea that dinosaurs could really exist. Without exaggeration, I’ve seen the film nearly 50 times. Watching it elicits a nostalgia I feel only with Stars Wars or Indiana Jones.

  • I suppose I have to post on this.

    Two of my favorite movies would qualify: The United States of Leland features a young Ryan Gosling (one of my favorite actors) as a teen who kills a handicapped boy. All of that is revealed in the first five minutes, so it really isn’t a spoiler. The rest of the movie examines why Leland (Gosling’s character) killed the boy, and how it affects everyone around him. There are several other good performances from actors I don’t typically like a lot–Kevin Spacey, Chris Klein, Jena Malone–and more from actors I do like–Don Cheadle and Michelle Williams. The movie’s themes–isolation, unrequited love, the work of a writer–resonate with me powerfully, as well.

    The second is The City of Lost Children, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s (Amelie) fantasy story that I can best describe as “what might happen if Terry Gilliam and David Lynch got together to remake Oliver Twist.” It’s dark and twisted fairly disturbing in places, but it’s also my favorite feel-good movie. It features a fun performance by Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as a hulking sideshow freak who has a deeply tender side, and Jeunet’s favorite clown, Dominique Pinon, plays about 6 roles. Oh, and there’s a disembodied brain that invades childrens’ dreams.

  • *Big Night* and *Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory* (1971) are two that are in my top ten that I rarely see in others’. Big Night usually gets appreciative nods, but not Top Ten status; and WW just gets quizzical looks, especially when I explain that it had a formative impact on my imagination.

  • “Pale Rider” is on my list, as a minister, there’s something about a preacher portrayed by Clint Eastwood in a Hollywood film where they are mostly impotent girly men that is great to me, plus, it’s just a great movie.

    I also love “The 13th Warrior.” It’s pretty cheesy at times, but I love the last 15 minutes and it’s a way better adaption of Beowulf than the recent animated version.

    I don’t know if it is or isn’t on a lot of lists, but I loved “Ladyhawke.” Great childhood memories there, maybe the worst soundtrack ever, but great story and great actors.

  • Obi-Cus Keenobus

    Spy Game. Gorki Park. Witness. Dunno, just a special kind of exitement I guess, and done with skill.

  • The Family Way has been my official #3 movie of all time for a couple decades now, but it wasn’t even released on video in North America until a few months ago.

  • Jon

    Kicking and Screaming is probably close to being in my top ten. That would be the Noah Baumbach movie of that title and not the soccer movie. I haven’t made a list recently and I don’t know if that film would still resonate with me in the same way that it did 5 – 10 years ago but I still often quote it. Is that one others would place in their top ten?

  • Rick R.

    “Local Hero” is one of my top films of all-time, but underappreciated by the masses and probably not likely to be on too many top 10 lists. Quirky, compelling characters, a clever plot full of irony, awesome Scottish scenery, wonderfully subtle score by Mark Knopfler…it’s a film that I’ve treasured since I saw it in the theater many, many years ago (came out in 1983). It’s one of those movies that’s almost like a friend. I can pull it out and instantly re-connect with the people in it.

  • AzhiaShalott

    I took a look at my facebook list of favourite movies and realised that none of them are that unusual. Bright Young Things is probably the least likely to appear on others’ lists.