10. The Usual Suspects (1995)
If you took every single thing out of this movie, leaving only Kevin Spacey’s performance as Verbal Kint behind, this movie would still be in my top 100. Spacey’s role in this movie is now deservedly one of cinematic lore and he brings a sense of kinetic energy to this movie that is damn near palpable. So, like I said, even if “The Usual Suspects” had solely consisted of Kevin Spacey sitting in an interrogation room, telling a story, it’d still be fantastic. Thankfully, Bryan Singer worked his magic all over this film and pulled out career defining performances from Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, and even Stephen Baldwin! “The Usual Suspects” is hands down, the most perfect thriller ever made.
9. The Shining (1980)
“The Shining” is the most epic horror film ever made. From the opening aerial shot punctuated with the absolutely haunting score, you know from moment one that watching “The Shining” is like nothing else you will ever experience. Stanley Kubrick was notorious for taking everything his cast and crew had to give him and then pushing them even further. But he did so in order to put all of that talent up on the screen for the world to see, and “The Shining” is a perfect example of why he was one of the greatest (if not the greatest) filmmakers of all time. Even with out Jack Nicholson, this movie still would have been awesome, though thankfully for us we don’t need to exist in a world where that happened. Nicholson brings a sense of realism and horror to the character of Jack that was missing from even the Stephen King source material (and this is coming from a person who absolutely adores most of King’s work) and by doing so, enabled “The Shining” to scratch and claw its way into movie history.
8. Annie Hall (1977)
I really don’t think there’s a single person out there who loves Woody Allen more than me. There might be lots of people who love him just as much as me, but no one who loves him more. I could have populated this list with 40% of these films being works by Woody Allen (yes, for those of you keeping some sort of track, that means that Allen has made over 40 films in his career, which is a feat that is absolutely mind-boggling and worth celebrating) because I adore pretty much all of his works. But like I did with Hitchcock, I’ve chosen one of Allen’s films to more or less represent the whole of his career here on my list, and as easy of a choice as “Annie Hall” might be, it truly is his masterpiece. “Annie Hall” is a metaphysical and self-reflexive comedy and if you don’t have a clue what that means, it’s more than likely that Woody Allen is not for you… which is a shame because Allen really is one of the few “artists” that exists in the world of film today. I can heap no greater praise on him than to say that no other filmmaker has influenced me as an artist more than Woody Allen, and I can only hope to one day create something with a fraction of the potential that “Annie Hall” has in spades. And for those of you wondering, yes, I’m done blowing Woody Allen now.
7. Fight Club (1999)
The single greatest movie ever made about our present day society is David Fincher’s “Fight Club”. This film is over ten years old now and it still rings as true today as it did nearly half of my life ago. “Fight Club” put David Fincher on the map as one of the most important living filmmakers and while he’s never quite yet reached this same level again (though I have no doubt he soon will) even if he never did, it wouldn’t really matter. “Fight Club” is one of the most talked about, written about, and dissected films ever made and the reason for that is simple, watching it is like getting punched in the face repeatedly. The film relentlessly pounds on us with its social commentary and its characters that so frighteningly remind us of versions of ourselves that could so easily be that by the end of it all, you feel like someone has beaten the shit out of you, and once done so, held up a mirror so that you can look at your bloodied and broken face. What’s so terrifying about the experience is not how terrible your bruised and battered face looks, but the huge smile you see plastered across your face in the reflection. And the realization that comes with it. You liked this.
6. Solaris (2002)
“Solaris” is a strange, strange movie, even by my tastes. To be completely honest with you, I can’t even tell you why I love this movie as much as I do, only that every time I see it, I enjoy it more than the last, with each time, my emotional reaction to the film becomes more and more visceral. Perhaps it’s because at its heart, “Solaris” contains one of the most touching and tragic love stories I have ever seen, and coupling that with the breathtaking Sci-fi backdrop that Soderbergh creates for the film, you have something that has absolutely zero boundaries. While you’re watching “Solaris” you imagine that the narrative could take you anywhere, and by the end of the film you realize that it ended up taking you the one place you least expected. Inside of yourself.