15

Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick masterfully crafts two war movies into one.

14

Blue Valentine

It’s really tough to watch at times but always beautiful. Derek Cianfrance is extremely underrated. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams put on two of the rawest portrayals of a husband and wife resenting each other in the final throes of their marriage. What if Dean had booked Cupid’s Cave instead?

13

There Will Be Blood

P.T. Anderson is my favorite filmmaker. He has impeccable taste for source material and knows how to tell stories about how the pursuit of the American Dream ultimately leads to alienation. None is as destructive as the story of Daniel Plainview.

12

Lost in Translation

We’ve all felt out of place. If only we happened to stumble upon a Bill Murray or Scarlett Johansson in that moment of helpless loneliness. They are disgustingly adorable in this film. Needless to say, Sofia Coppola captured lightning in a bottle.

11

Fargo

You can watch this movie as a comedy, crime thriller, deconstructed noir, whatever. It never loses its punch. The Coen brothers’ best work by far.

10

Pulp Fiction

This movie hit me like a ton of bricks. I never knew you could play with intertextuality to such great effect. Quentin Tarantino has carried most devices through his later films (feet, mixed languages, gloriously red blood) but this was his “Hey, look at what I can do!” moment.

9

Taxi Driver

I love understated performances of characters that are about to violently erupt. Robert De Niro’s Travis is that poster boy.

8

Goodfellas

This is Martin Scorsese at his most potent and slickest. The long steadicam shot of Henry and Karen strolling through the Copacabana is unrivaled.

7

The Shining

There’s only one other film on this list that I’ve seen more often than this and I still can’t figure out whether Jack is clinically insane or driven to it by the unbearable weight (burden?) of fatherhood.

6

Drive

This is just too cool for words. Drive grips like a pair of racing gloves from the first beat in the opening credits. A very underrated cast as well. And that scorpion jacket.

5

Alien

As close to a perfect horror film as one can get. Watch it as a beautiful and terrifying Gothic horror film. But for a real scare, read it as a thesis on the dangers of female empowerment.

4

Magnolia

Trying to describe what it’s like to live this crazy life we do is like wrestling sheets of balsa wood in high winds. P.T. Anderson nails it. And believe it or not, I have experienced a frog storm in real life.

3

Donnie Darko

Reexamining this film has become a regular exercise for me. One of the keys to a great film is its re-watchability. I’ve watched this countless times and notice something new, and super cool, every time.

2

Ghostbusters

This was my childhood. Also, they don’t make comedies like this anymore. It’s all about the backstory.

1

Forrest Gump

This is storytelling at its finest. Forrest is everything good about being human. He’s loyal, endearing, good-hearted and ignorant. I wish I was Forrest.