My Best Friend’s Top 25 Movies

Recently, my best friend took some time, thought for a while, and eventually performed the liberating task of making a list of his top 25 favorite movies. I made one a while ago, Top 25 Movies. It’s quite the experience to establish to yourself exactly what movies you love and just how much you love them. My friend made his list and I thought it would be fun to post his list of favorite movies just to show a differing opinion. Part of the fun of movies is discussing them and what they mean and it’s all subjective so why not look into someone else’s cinematic opinion?

25. The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is a modern classic. It’s a dark and thrilling movie about murder and the mind. The Silence of the Lambs tells the tale of an ambitious FBI in training as she tracks the whereabouts of a psychotic killer. However, the killer you become more fascinated by is the intelligent, charming, and sinister, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In order to catch her killer, Clarice Sterling gets into the mind of a one through Anthony Hopkins’ chilling Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

24. The Shining

The Shining is a masterpiece of a horror movie and an epic as only Stanley Kubrick could make. It’s a fascinating haunted house story that makes you feel as isolated and uneasy as its main characters. As the evil that is The Overlook Hotel subtly consumes a family, you can’t help but be enthralled by the madness and the drama. The Shining offers an unreal and completely memorable experience that makes for arguably the greatest horror movie ever made.

23. Schindler’s List

It’s a hard task to deny that Steven Spielberg is an incredible director. There may be movies he’s made that you don’t enjoy, but the man has made many movies. Schindler’s List is “the beard’s” greatest feat. It’s a dark and poignant masterpiece that tells a story as inspiring as they come while enveloping a definitive story of the darkest point in history. It’s some how able to be realistic and operatic. It’s a flawless and prominent film that was crafted by a man who knows how to make good movies.

22. Amadeus

Amadeus is just one of those classic art house films. It has all the makings a masterpiece in it’s beautifully epic tale of rivalry, obsession and artistry. Structured to perfection, an old, bitter rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart recounts the “murder” of Mozart himself. It’s a vast excursion into music through mystery. It’s also about a devotion to one’s craft. Behind this dark drama of murder, there’s quite the witty side to Amadeus, but more importantly a thrilling side. You really become consumed by the magic of it all.

21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the most inspirational pieces of cinema ever crafted. The futile, yet necessary battle between the free spirited R.P. McMurphy and the tyrannical Nurse Ratched is a thrilling one. It is very much a story about freedom and a fighting the want to simply conform. Randle McMurphy is quite the fish out of water when it comes to the tight shift the Mildred Ratched runs. He sure as hell isn’t going to stand idly by and let the man get him down and change him or his new friends from the fun-loving people they are.

20. Skyfall

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Skyfall is tells the greatest story that will ever be told about one of the most iconic characters in all of fiction, James Bond. This is, in part, due to the fact that Skyfall touches on so much more than just a story about 007. Skyfall tells a beautiful constructed tale of duty and betrayal, past mistakes and future consequences, the old and the new, but in its simplest form Skyfall is a movie about a hero and a villain. Daniel Craig’s raw and perfect turn as a grizzled Bond proving his worth even after so many missions really meets his match against the slithery and savage, Silva (Javier Bardem in another flawless portrayal as a villain).

19. Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is one the most memorable epics ever filmed. It’s a blood-soaked masterpiece about love and revenge. Any chance he gets as he tells his most epic tale of all, Tarantino pays homage to the samurai, kung-fu and even spaghetti western movies that he loves and respects to no end. Kill Bill is exciting and poetic. It’s a simple enough tale of vengeance and it’s told to perfection. We are brought on a very hectic journey and we know where it will lead but it’s hard not to enjoy the ride until you get there and when you do get there, there aren’t that many movies that are as satisfying.

18. Gladiator

Ridley Scott is often associated with the science fiction genre. He has defined and redefined the genre with some of the masterpieces he’s made. Scott’s sword and sandal epic, Gladiator, is arguably his greatest feat. The general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator and the gladiator who defied an empire is quite the striking story. Maximus is the kind of hero you want to watch prevail while his nemesis, Commudus is the kind of villain you want dead. Gladiator is a through and through a story of not just revenge, but justice.

17. Boogie Nights

Through a timeless tale of rise and fall, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the porn industry (70s through 80s) and its own rise and fall. It was with Boogie Nights that Paul Thomas Anderson began his reign of masterpieces. Boogie Nights was the first of five flawless, and very different, films. Boogie Nights is filled to the brim with vivid characters and memorable moments. It’s a colorful, yet dark film that’s hard not to be consumed by. Paul Thomas Anderson is just a man who knows how to make extraordinary movies and Boogie Nights is a perfect example of his expertise.

16. Inception

Inception is a masterpiece through and through. With a fantastic cast on his side, the brilliant Christopher Nolan tells a beautiful story of grief and redemption all while crafting an exhilarating science fiction setting where true reality is always in question. The setting for Inception is that of dreams and this world that Nolan has confidently explored is one that’s hard not to visit and revisit over and over again. Inception is a beautiful drama filled with vibrant characters and perfectly executed action sequences. It’s a compelling film that both entertains and makes you think from beginning to end.

15. The Social Network

2010 was an incredible year in film and arguably the greatest movie to come out of that year was The Social Network. Using the story of Facebook, David Fincher delves into broad themes of morality and betrayal what is easily one of the greatest films ever made. The Social Network tells a compelling human story that’s unmissable. Fincher defines a generation of technology and punks. It’s a film that manages to establish itself as a classic before it even passes the test of time. There’s no question I’ll be watching this movie in years to come. The Social Network is masterpiece in every way.

14. The Godfather (Part I +II)

The character arcs of the father and son that make up for the masterpiece that is The Godfather (Part I + II) are two of the greatest in film. The Godfather just tells this perfect story about family, while The Godfather Part II is more about character and the tragedy of Michael Corleone is fully realized. It utilizes the gangster genre, yet it’s so much more. Francis Ford Coppola was just ahead of his time in terms of how good he could make a movie, he proves that with this dark and operatic drama. The story is a powerful one and worthy of every bit of praise.

13. The Departed

Martin Scorsese is simply one of the greatest filmmakers to have graced this planet. He’s made countless masterpieces and The Departed is his greatest feat. The Departed tells a flawless intertwining tale of cops and criminals. It’s completely gritty, it’s relentlessly enjoyable and poetic. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an extraordinary performance while Jack Nicholson chews through every scene he’s in. Martin Scorsese has told many stories of crime, but never did he tell one so masterfully. The Departed is an unforgettable masterpiece through and through.

12. Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic is the greatest film he’s ever made. Captain Benjamin Willard is a sent to kill Walter E. Kurtz, a rogue Colonel who has fancied himself a god among the aborigines in Cambodia. We’re brought down the river with Willard and we learn more and more about Kurtz along the way, the anticipation to his first appearance is palpable as we go deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece about life’s journey and madness.

11. There Will Be Blood

The dark, emotive and gorgeous There Will Be Blood just barely misses his top ten movies of all time. There Will Be Blood was created by a movie mastermind. Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t made that many movies, but every time he does he manages to make completely captivating masterpieces. He also manages to get the best performances out of his actors which is quite the accomplishment when your main character in this case is played by the great Daniel Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is a beautiful and archaic excursion into greed and the american nightmare as it studies the ruthless and despicable oilman, Daniel Plainview.

10. American Beauty

Kevin Spacey expertly portrays Lester Burnham, the father and center-piece of American Beauty. As he goes through a midlife crisis he slowly begins to realize how beautiful life is and how it deserves to be appreciated. Lester is just one in an assortment of characters that make up for a fantastic story of the lives of others. The film opens and you learn that Lester will die by the end, but it’s the journey that matters. The film got a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar back in 1999 and it lives on still as one of the greatest films in history. American Beauty asks you to look closer and what you find is something quite beautiful indeed.

9. Pulp Fiction

Told through vignettes, Pulp Fiction offers a mosaic of the lifestyle of criminals. Genius in its execution, Quentin Tarantino offers up the greatest gangster movie ever made. Whether you’re watch diner thieves, hitmen, a prized boxer or a crime boss’ coveted wife, it’s hard not to find endless enjoyment in the oddity of it all. Tarantino has crafted a puzzle piece of a movie filled with imagination and innovation. Many have attempted what he did, but nothing ever came close to Quentin’s vastly original and gorgeous masterpiece.

8. Fight Club

Fight Club defines a bored generation and the insanity that can result from that boredom. Our narrator needs something more out of life. He can’t just go through the motions anymore, he’s lifeless and he can’t take it anymore. Thus begins Fight Club and a chance meeting with the charismatic Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is chaos incarnate. What begins as brawling to release angst eventually leads to rising anarchy. There’s a Tyler Durden in all of us and to attempt to hide that fact is futile and only serves to drive yourself crazy. Fight Club is cerebral, pertinent and entirely fascinating.

7. Django Unchained

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Quentin Tarantino can do no wrong. With his seventh directorial outing he makes what he was always meant to make, a spaghetti western. Django Unchained also happens to be a rollicking and epic excursion through the south when slavery was still at large. The film follows a freed slave on a journey to rescue the woman he loves, now tell me that’s not a story everyone can get behind. Props also goes out to Leonardo DiCaprio for his first and riveting performance as a villain, a sadistic and slimy plantation owner. With Django and his new friend, Dr. King Schultz, Tarantino has crafted a pair of heroes of mythical status. We’re just left to enjoy the ride as in their wake the bodies pile up, villains who represent clear symbols for exactly what was horribly wrong with that point in American history.

6. The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate in fantasy. It has dragons, wizards, goblins, magic, a giant flaming eye on a tower and an evil ring that can only be destroyed in the dark fires of Mt. Doom where it was forged. The epic journey that unfolds and the vivid characters you meet along the way leave you awe-struck and breathless. There’s just so much to the film to appreciate; the friendships, the battles, the countless inspirational moments, the creatures, the monologues, etc. The Lord of the Rings is simply one of the greatest stories ever told and it’s told masterfully and with grace.

5. Inglourious Basterds

With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino takes the darkest period in history and tells an epic fantasy filled with blood and bullets. Every moment is so important to the story as a whole, while each scene just commands your attention. We get to know three very different characters before their adventures culminate in a glorious final chapter that solidifies Inglourious Basterds as one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s a movie made by a man who knows what a movie can be and what a movie can be is whatever the director wants it to be. It’s a story that deserved to be told and it was told to perfection. Inglourious Basterds is just as much a piece of art as it is one of the greatest times you’ll ever have at the movies.

4. Barton Fink

Barton Fink is the unspoken Coen Brother masterpiece. Most think of Fargo, No Country for Old Men or The Big Lebowski, but Barton Fink deserves to be held right up there as one of their masterpieces. As Barton’s writers block consumes him in the Hotel Earle a friendship begins to take shape between Fink and his next door neighbor. Charlie Meadows offers a little distraction in the form of innocent conversation. This is that everyman that Barton tries to capture in his writing. Little does Barton know that there’s more going on than he initially thought. Barton Fink is a thought-provoking masterpiece.

3. No Country for Old Men

A man finds drug money, while another man pursues him. It’s a simple story of cat and mouse that used to touch on important ideas of violence and malevolence. Llewellyn Moss attempts to get away with the money, while the cunning and emotionless killer, Anton Chigurh, is hot on his trail. Wise, old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell feels helpless on the sidelines as he watches this onslaught of blood unfold. No Country for Old Men is the Coen Brothers’ magnum opus. It is directed flawlessly, every choice made with such purpose. Nothing is out of place; each shot, line, performance, scene, etc. All of them are simply perfect. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

2. Drive

Drive is proof that the way you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. It’s just this perfect clash style and substance. It’s honest, it can be brutal and it’s consistently satisfying. Our nameless and quiet protagonist progresses along in stylishly sleek and cool tale. Drive is a spectacular film about what it means to be a hero and about what drives a man to do the things he does. Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks steal the show, but everyone is on their A-games and the includes off screen. Nicolas Winding Refn hasn’t done much, but he could’ve only made Drive and it would be hard not to consider him an extraordinary director. Drive is a masterpiece and one of the highest caliber.

1. The Dark Knight Legend

The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is the greatest movie ever made. It’s filled to the brim with characters of the elemental variety to tell a vibrant, exciting and deep tale about heroism, villainy, legends, good, evil, despair, but above all else, hope. If I had to describe this single story in one word, that’s what it would be; hope. At the end of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight there is still much work to be done, but there is hope for a better tomorrow. In The Dark Knight Rises, hope in the form of the greatest hero in existence, triumphs in the face of despair.

In Batman Begins, you get the perfect hero’s journey with a tale of how Batman became Batman. In The Dark Knight, you get the perfect story of good (Batman) and evil (The Joker (Heath Ledger gives the greatest performance in the history of film)). Then the trilogy is defined flawlessly in its last chapter as, like I said before, hope triumphs over despair. This icon is utilized to perfection to tell a real story with so much meaning and emotion. What Christopher Nolan and friends have crafted isn’t just the greatest movie in existence, but the greatest story ever told.

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Top Ten Coen Bros. Movies

The Coen Brohters are nothing short of the greatest filmmaker(s) of all time. Every single film they release is another brush stroke of originality that will, by the end, become the most memorable array of films that a filmmaker’s had to offer. I say filmmaker because whenever speaking of one, you always associate him with the other. That’s probably the reason they’re the best at what they do. They’ve got two brilliant minds working together.

Anyways, let’s get to this list. A list of Top Ten Coen Bros. Movies is one I’ve been working on for a while. The Coen Brothers are my favorite filmmaker(s) so this list had to be nothing short of perfect. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and here’s the result:

10. Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading is a story packed with black mail, murder, double crossings, back dealings, and above all else, stupidity. Burn After Reading is hilarious in the way that it throws a bunch of witless characters, none of which can be considered the main character, into a pointless story just to see what happens. Its an interesting concept and one that only the Coen Bros. could pull off.

9. Blood Simple

The Coen Brother’s first movie was made a little over 25 years ago and still leaves you speechless from beginning to end. It’s a simple tale of murder with real characters and an unforgettable mood of brutality and sleaze. Blood Simple is a fantastic movie that established exactly the kind of masterpieces that could be expected from these filmmakers in the future.

8. Miller’s Crossing

Miller’s Crossing is the Brother’s pitch-perfect take on the gangster genre. A prohibition era tale of a man who learns that empathy is a dangerous trait to have in a world run by sadism and crime. Miller’s Crossing is a poetic look at organized crime that few other filmmakers have been able to surpass. Miller’s Crossing should be held right up there with The Godfather and Goodfellas.

7. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the Brother’s take on pure adventure. Like “The Lord of the Rings”, “Kill Bill” and “Gladiator” we’re on a fantastic quest with our heroes who are after a simple task that lead them to many different experiences and meeting many different characters. In the Coen Brother’s case, this involves three escaped convicts after buried treasure and meeting a string of memorable characters, from “Baby Face” Nelson, a one-eyed bible salesmen, and even Robert Johnson. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is said to be a modernized version of Homer’s “Odyssey”. I haven’t read it, but based on this movie, I think I’d love it.

6. A Serious Man

The Coen Brother’s most recent film is a fantastic tale of the questions we all face in life and probably will never have answered. It’s a tale of a simple college professor who out of nowhere seems to be facing non-stop problems. First from a student attempting to bribe him for a better grade, then a wife who wants a divorce, a brother living on his couch, a daughter who steals from him to get a nose job, etc. He seeks the counsel of three different rabbi’s. What we see is hilarious and morally eye opening. This film, as all Coen Brother’s films do, but especially this film almost forces you to reflect on life’s big questions.

5. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is not just one of my favorite Coen Bros. films, it’s also by far the greatest comedy ever made. Most comedies, after a second viewing, you know what’s coming and you just don’t find it funny anymore. The Big Lebowski is almost magical in the way that it stays hilarious or is even funnier the more you watch it. I love every single moment we get to spend with, one of my favorite movie characters put on screen, The Dude and his hilarious friends and enemies. There are so many memorable lines and scenes that its making me sad that I’m not watching it right now.

4. True Grit

The Coen Brother’s have directed a versatile selection of films whether that be gangster films, mysteries, comedies or even tales of adventure. Their take on the western genre is a beautiful masterpiece on all accounts. True Grit unlike almost all westerns tells a story of the old west as realistically as possible. The direction and characters transcend into not only the western that feels the most real, but also a western that is one of the most resonant in the way that it truly brings you there and makes you feel for these characters. A truly brilliant film directed flawlessly by two brilliant minds.

3. Barton Fink

Barton Fink is nothing short of a masterpiece. An amazing film that is usually overlooked or misunderstood. I love every second of Barton Fink. The story seems simple early on, with a playwright moving to Hollywood, checks into the Hotel Earle, only to have writer’s block when asked to write a wrestling picture. What happens next is he meets his friendly neighbor Charlie, played by John Goodman in what is by far his greatest performance. I’ve already said too much though. I went in blind and what resulted was an fascinating movie experience. If you haven’t seen Barton Fink, I’d recommend doing the same. What makes Barton Fink stand out is the way that it is the kind of film you’ve never seen and will never see again. It’s utterly original and unquestionably brilliant.

2. Fargo

Fargo is nothing short of a perfect film. Fargo is the film where the Coen Brother’s really hit they’re full potential. They took every single thing that makes a Coen Bros. movie amazing and put it into this classic. Fargo takes that simple tale of murder, betrayal and realism they originated in Blood Simple and multiplied it by a billion.

Its hard to put into words what makes Fargo such a masterpiece, but for me I think it’s because how real Fargo seems. Its a story filled with real characters and real circumstances. It says in the beginning that the film is based on real events (any film buff knows that that’s actually not true) and that actually seems completely plausible because Fargo is directed to absolute perfection.

1. No Country for Old Men

When ever I think of No Country for Old Men, even before thinking about one of the greatest villains ever put on screen or the clever game of cat and mouse the film centers on or the resonant symbolism and morals that the makes the film spectacular. Before thinking of any of that, I first think of one word; Flawless. That’s what No Country for Old Men is; flawless, perfect, pure, and above all, a masterpiece.

No Country for Old Men is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s not my favorite, (although it is damn close) but I do consider it, by far, the greatest directed movie ever. The small details that few would notice, the lack of a score that adds to the realism, the shots and editing that forms tension one would never think possible with out music, are just a few of the artistic strokes the Coen’s make to form their greatest achievement in film.

No Country for Old Men centers on a game of cat and mouse between, an ordinary man named Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who happens upon a drug deal gone wrong and a suitcase full of 2 million dollars and an emotionless bounty hunter by the name of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) whose task is simple; get the money and kill anyone who gets in the way. The grisly tale is seen threw the eyes of a washed up Texas sheriff played by none other than Tommy Lee Jones. What is learned from this tale of blood and violence is honest, important, and makes for one of the greatest films ever made. Period.

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A Serious Man Review

A Serious Man is a modern masterpiece. I loved every moment of it. I would expect nothing less from the greatest directors working today, and in my opinion of all time. A Serious Man was so monumentally enthralling and thought-provoking, while at the same time being whole-heartedly entertaining and down right hilarious. It’s a must see really. The Coen Brothers mananged to capture the perfect amount of character and meaning into one hour and forty-five minute movie.

It tells the tale of a rough patch in the simple life of Larry Gopnik and his attempt to find clarity. That’s it. That’s really the best summary I could possibly give you. It’s simplicity is the most genius thing about it. A Serious Man tells a very simple tale and yet is still able to establish very meaningful undertones.

Every single actor and actor fell perfectly into place, as did every well-thought out detail of the movie. Everyone brought their A-game, but the best part of it is, there’s no big name actors. If your a real Coen fan, you’ll be able to spot a few regulars, but for the most part, we only know these people by the characters their portraying in this film. And to tell you the truth, they couldn’t be performing more perfectly.

The Coen Brothers are at the top of their game here and when aren’t they. Last year they threw out the fantastic film Burn After Reading, which was highly overlooked. I loved it, but it was nothing compared to this piece of art. There is not a single person who can tell a story as well as the Coen Brothers. Hands down, they are the greatest and if they keep dishing out movies this good I won’t ever have to debate that fact.

A Serious Man is a beautiful and poetic look at life and the difficulties it entails. A Serious Man wasn’t just a fantastic movie. It was also a reminder. There was another reminder that came out this year, it was a masterpiece entitled Inglourious Basterds. This is another reminder appropriately wrapped by the two greatest minds working today. A Serious Man is the Coen Brother’s way of reminding me why I love the art of cinema.

Grade: A+