Below are my top 15 favorite films of all time. This list is in a constant state of flux and will be updated periodically and honorable mentions will be added.
One of Hitchcock's masterpieces. The story ensnares you from the start and exhibits interesting ideas on identity, beauty, and betrayal. San Francisco provides a beautiful backdrop as the setting.
Based on an award-winning stage play, this film explores the tension and rivalry between composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Tom Hulce has the performance of his life as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham perfectly portrays Salieri's simultaneous love and hate towards Mozart. It also won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1985.
My favorite James Bond film. This film tells the story of 007 at the beginning of his career. The acting and action set pieces are superb and the film provides deep insight into Bond's character.
Based on Christopher Priest's novel, Christopher Nolan's film is an exceptional study of the rivalry between two magicians. It is also a film about the very nature of film. The medium itself is a magic trick and the twist at the end proves that there are some things science can overcome, but at a terrible cost.
One of the more riveting films I have seen. Exceptional performances all around, a great story about perseverance, and a very accurate portrayal of one of the most shocking events in American history.
It's A Wonderful Life
Although it is always shown around Christmas time, this film's message applies year-round and to all ages. Jimmy Stewart has one of the best performances of his career and the film has stood the test of time.
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are utterly mesmerizing in this film about a jazz drummer's ambition to be remembered among the legendary musicians of the last century. The ebbs and flows of the narrative are constructed like the parts of a great drum solo, filled with fast-paced staccato movements and emotional, heartfelt crescendos.
Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon's performance is exceptional as the reluctant math genius Will Hunting, but Robin Williams is the emotional core of the film. There is true mental and physical struggle within Will and the movie sends important messages about using the gifts given to you and following your passion.
Based on Robert Graysmith's hunt for the identity of the Zodiac serial killer, Zodiac is my favorite film by David Fincher. You may be shocked at the runtime (2 hours, 37 minutes), but this thriller grips you from the beginning and it never seems to drag. Even better, it opens conversation about one of the most famous cold cases in history.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
A great film about the relationship between a father and son and in my opinion, the best Indiana Jones film to date. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford have excellent chemistry and allusions to the first Indy movie in addition to the film's fast pace makes this one of my favorites.
Midnight in Paris
As a person who loves history, Woody Allen's time-travel movie strikes a chord with me, namely that every generation has wished they were part of a previous generation. We see the present as boring and the past more exciting. This film implores us to live in the now and forge our own golden age.
The film that practically invented the notion of a summer blockbuster and made people afraid of going in the water. Spielberg keeps the shark off screen for a majority of the film and it pays off near the end. John Williams' score, while restrained, is an integral part of this classic.
The Dark Knight
The best comic book movie ever made. Heath Ledger has a legendary performance and the Harvey Dent/Two-Face storyline plays out like a Greek tragedy. Throw Batman and philosophical scenarios in addition and you have a great film.
Christopher Nolan's best film toys with the idea of dreams as a device to create realties. It has one of the most debated endings ever put to film and tells a human story in addition to employing ground-breaking practical effects and sci-fi concepts.
Star Wars (1977)
The film that started it all for me. The film combines mythologies and themes that have been in every culture around the globe. The special effects still hold up to this day and the film has inspired countless filmmakers and storytellers since it premiered in 1977.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?
- Titanic (1997)
- Star Trek (2009)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- V for Vendetta
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
- Field of Dreams
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
- October Sky
- Dead Poet's Society
- Wedding Crashers
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- Man of Steel
- Almost Famous
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
- Big Fish
- Life of Pi
- Donnie Darko