Skip to content’s Top 20 Movies of All-Time: Honorable Mentions to the Honorable Mentions

12 November 2008

Last month, I asked readers to weigh in with their own Top 10/20/Whatever favorite movies lists. You didn’t disappoint. Included in your choices were many of the no-brainers, but also an impressive array of comedies, foreign films and slightly more obscure flicks that AFI and other selection committees might have overlooked.

Today, we begin the official Top 20 Movies list with the Readers’ Top Picks, which collectively comprise the Honorable Mentions to my Honorable Mentions. These are the movies that didn’t quite make my 20 favorite flicks, or my 20 Honorable Mentions. I could make a case for all of these making my Next 20, though, what I’d call 41-60.

The reader picks I liked best that aren’t in my top 20 or 40:

Animal House
Blazing Saddles
The Big Lebowski
The Blues Brothers
Young Frankenstein
Citizen Kane
Annie Hall
Raging Bull
Apocalypse Now
Major League
Bottle Rocket
Groundhog Day
True Romance
A Clockwork Orange

Some comments on a few of the above:

–There are no Coen Brothers movies in my Top 20, and only one makes my own Honorable Mention list (to be revealed soon). This makes me sad, just because the Coen Brothers’ movies, taken as a whole, may be my favorite of any filmmakers’, including Scorsese or anyone else. Love Fargo, love Raising Arizona, Blood Simple is highly underrated, and O Brother Where Art Thou remains the only movie I’ve ever seen by myself in a theater (loved that one too). Unbelievable body of work.

Plus, O Brother reminds me of the circumstances which led to my seeing it by myself. I was at the Century City mall in L.A. with my wife and two of her female friends. The girls wanted to see Chocolat, Carrie and Laura due to Johnny Depp being the object of their collective desire, and Angèle because, as her tremendous blog shows, she’s a sucker for chocolate. I decided I’d go see O Brother by myself instead, on a tiny theater in the multiplex since it had been out for weeks. As we were finishing our pre-movie Indian food in the food court, we noticed that, seated at the table next to us, was…Winona Ryder! Too awesome. She looked pale, anorexic…possibly very ill. Still, this was an iconic actress five feet away from us. I had to do something. As the girls got up to go to the theater, I sauntered up to Ms. Ryder. As I was about to spout off some unbelievably witty comment, she gave me the ice queen stare from hell, letting me know that she would murder me on the spot if I bothered her. Okie dokie, Winona! Off I went to see O Brother, solo.

O Brother kicked ass. The girls hated Chocolat.

–Woody Allen movies, how do I love thee? Several readers chose Annie Hall or Crimes and Misdemeanors among their fave flicks, both fine choices. Only one Woody Allen movie made my Top 40 (Top 20 + 20 Honorable Mentions), and it wasn’t one of those two. Still, another case where you can go down the list and find a bunch of ’em. I have a soft spot for Manhattan, Purple Rose of Cairo…really liked Match Point too, even if that was a completely different kind of Woody flick.

–A Clockwork Orange, beauty. Probably No. 2 on my Kubrick list, behind Dr. Strangelove (Netflix it now!). 2001: A Space Odyssey was interesting, but I suspect I’d have enjoyed it more if we were still in the 70s, and especially if I was tripping.

–Yes, I didn’t tap any Star Wars pics. They’re fun, but I’m not a huge fan. Most of my buddies think I’m nuts.

–Groundhog Day! I could watch that movie 80 times in a row. Which would be like reliving the same plot 800,000 times in a row.

–Se7en is an excellent choice. I’m a big Fincher fan, and left Se7en just off my list, with two other Fincher flicks in my Top 40.

–Wes Anderson peaked with his first two films as far as I’m concerned, and they were both dandies. Rent or download Bottle Rocket and Rushmore ASAP. That goes double for those of you who only know Annoying Owen Wilson, and not Awesome Owen Wilson.

–Mel Brooks, another winner. Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles are both tremendous. Blazing Saddles might be my dad’s second-favorite comedy ever, behind Harold and Maude.

–MANY of you chose The Blues Brothers. I dunno, just not my cup of tea I guess. I grant that it was an entertaining movie, but not anywhere close to my Pantheon. Might be because it came out when I was just a little too young to appreciate it, and then I never settled into a steady pattern of rewatching it, the way I did with, say, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Back to the Future.

–Kudos to my Tokyo-dwelling buddy James for picking Ran, an Akira Kurosawa classic. Two Kurosawa films are in my Top 20, one of ’em in my Top 10. I still have a long way to go when it comes to soaking up foreign films (only recently saw Fellini’s Roma, have never seen an Ingmar Bergman flick, etc.). But Kurosawa’s become one of my favorites. If films were judged solely on visuals, I think my entire top 5 would be made by the Japanese master.

–Citizen Kane. I mean I expected it to blow away any other movie I’d ever seen, given it’s rated No. 1 by so many, and it’s about a journalist no less. It’s still way up there for me. But I have at least two Orson Welles movies higher. You’ll soon learn which ones.

–True Romance is a forgotten classic. It was Tarantino’s first bite at the apple (as a writer) and it was great. Christian Slater’s last inspired effort, if memory serves. Also introduced me to Dennis Hopper, which prompted me to go back and see Easy Rider and all his other awesome pics.

–Finally, on my recent podcast appearance with Dave Dameshek, Dave asked why I didn’t have sports movies in my Top 20. Fair question. I guess there are just too many other great movies out there for any sports flicks to make the cut. The readers named my two favorite sports flicks, though: Raging Bull and Major League. I’m just not a huge Rocky fan (though I respect how entertaining those films were, with Rocky IV remaining my favorite because of the comedic genius of Drago), and Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, Hoop Dreams and others, while enjoyable to watch, don’t quite stack up.

I’m calling it a tie between a violent, depressing old De Niro movie and a fun-as-hell, shallow pic featuring Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger.

Next time: My own Honorable Mentions, aka Nos. 40-21.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. sorekara323 permalink
    12 November 2008 8:58 pm

    Talking about films is so interesting, yet unfortunately too many people still equate “films” with “light, fluffy, entertainment to pass the time”. My sister is a lawyer, intelectual, reads high-literature, etc etc and her taste in films in SHOCKING..she not only watched “Legally Blond 2”, but she LIKED it..we argue all the time on this, as she acknowledges that “Film is Art” (as Rudolph Arnheim said) but she chooses to focus only on light entertainment…

    a long-winded way of saying: we should distinguish between our favorite films and those that contend for a “best” list.. i LOVE the Blues Brothers and have seen it at least 50 times, but it would not under anu circumstances qualify as a “great” piece of film art…(again, it’s so easy in literature. Ed McBain = awesome crime/police procedural craftsman, fun to read. Balzac, Dostoevsky, Saramago = great literature)

    so..yes, I am a film snob and all my picks would be art films, many foreign. Jonah, check out some Bergman, Luis Bunuel, Fassbinder, and Antonioni if you want to dive in. and hundreds of Japanese film titles to send you soon too, promise.

    oh, lastly…I was 3 when Star Wars came out so missed out on the whole thing…i can see why it was such a big deal then but’s pretty unwatchable…


  2. sorekara323 permalink
    12 November 2008 9:04 pm

    oh i forgot..(damn, i could talk movies for hours..)

    Big Lebowski is awesome, still holds up.
    interested to hear what Welles film you are thinking of..i would guess “Touch of Evil”?

    GREAT story abotu Winona Ryder..jeez, what happend to her??

    still love the zany Woddy Allen of “Bananas” and “Sleeper”..

    watching movies alone is great fun!! i actually prefer it as hate when people talk or make noise during a film…

  3. 12 November 2008 9:35 pm

    I think it’s hard for Woody Allen to rate highly in “best of” lists, because his body of work is so strong that it would dilute the votes. My favourite is the much-derided “Stardust Memories”.

    Looking forward to seeing your favourite Welles, mine is “Ambersons”, despite the butchering.

  4. Jonah permalink*
    12 November 2008 9:42 pm

    Definitely a good point about “films” vs. “movies,” James. I had a really hard time deciding where to rank “Swingers” for instance, vs. say, “The Conversation.” As you’ll see when my list comes out, my Honorable Mention section (nominally 40-21) has quite a few “movies,” serving as a hedge for all those great rewatchable flicks that I love. The actual Top 20 consists almost entirely of “films.”

    Thanks for the tip on “Ambersons”, Christopher. I’m adding it to the Netflix queue as we speak!


  1. My Criterion « Ryan Wilkins

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers

%d bloggers like this: