My 20 favorite movies of all time

    The films I hold most dear to my heart


    I’ve seen a lot of movies, approximately 800 films. That’s almost a movie a week since I was born. I’ve seen the silent classics such as 1920s “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” to Best Picture winners such as 1972s “The Godfather” to some of the most popular films of all time such as 1969s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Of those 800 films, I would only give 208 of them at least an A-, so to just be on the list of my top 200 favorite movies is tough. Of those 208, here are the 20 that I love more than any other movie ever made.

    20. “Jaws” (1975)

    19. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

    18. “American Beauty” (1999)

    17. “The Social Network” (2010)

    16. “Django Unchained” (2012)

    15. “Inception” (2010)

    14. “Spider-Man 2” (2004)

    13. “Unforgiven” (1992)

    12. “Batman Begins” (2005)

    11. “Halloween” (1978)

    10. “Star Wars” (1977)

    9. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)

    8. “Toy Story 2” (1999)         

    7. “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)        

    6. “The Dark Knight” (2008)


    1. “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)


    As you probably know by know, I’m a huge Star Wars nut. I grew up with these films and will always cherish them. The one I hold closest to my heart is “The Empire Strikes Back.” The music is perfect, the acting is awesome, and the effects are so breathtaking, even if they don’t all hold up today. So many iconic movie scenes are here, most notably Vader’s “I am your father” line to Luke. This is the sequel that perfectly masters the art of upstaging the previous film, even when said film was a Best Picture nominee and should have won (God I hate “Annie Hall”). I remember watching this for the first time back in the day and I was completely blown away. It was like discovering a million bucks, or, in Star Wars terms, a million credits. Who can forget the Battle of Hoth with the AT-ATs? Or when Yoda first appeared? Or how about when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite? Never has a film taken the bar set by the previous film and taken it so high (except for my number one film). If somehow you have never seen it before, then you must before you die of lack of enjoyment. Anyone who hasn’t seen “Empire” is half empty inside, something not even a Snickers can solve. You simply aren’t you when you haven’t seen “The Empire Strikes Back.”


    1. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)


    Fear will hold you prisoner. Hope will set you free. When the tagline for the film is one of the greatest things you have ever written, then it’s obvious that the film the tagline is for must be something out of this world. In the case of “Shawshank,” that is totally true. Based on the novella written by Stephen King, the story follows former banker Andy Dufresne who is incarcerated in Shawshank Prison for killing his wife. The problem: he did not do it. This is by far Morgan Freeman’s best performance of his career, playing Red, an inmate who killed his wife. Freeman plays the man who is equal wise man and equal convict, something that few could possibly do. Freeman, believe it or not, actually is not even the best part of the film. That would go to Tim Robbins as Dufresne. Robbins is so good as Andy that I have never wanted someone in a film to succeed as much as him. You grow to love this character and laugh with him, cry with him, and scream for joy with him. The music by Thomas Newman is haunting and director Frank Darabont crafted this short story into the best film of 1994 and one of the absolute greatest films of all time. I would recommend seeing the film to literally everyone. Never before have I been so inclined to call a movie a film before.


    1. “Jurassic Park” (1993)


    Steven Spielberg is my second favorite director of all time, and of all of his films (“E.T.”, “Jaws”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Schindler’s List”, etc.), “Jurassic Park” is my favorite. I saw the film for the first time when I was three years old, and ever since then, my love for the film has grown and grown. John Williams’ score in this film is my favorite he’s done, even more than “Star Wars.” The acting is pretty good, especially by Jeff Goldblum and Samuel L. Jackson, but the real scene stealers of the film are the dinosaurs themselves. From the dilophosaurus spitting on Wayne Knight to the raptor kitchen scene to the T-Rex escaping from his pen, the mix of CGI and animatronics have rendered these dinos as the greatest special effects film has ever given us.”Jurassic Park” is one of the films that sparked my love for the art form and I will always remember the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, or at least Isla Nublar.


    1. “Toy Story” (1995)


    Another film I saw at a very young age, “Toy Story” is the greatest and most important animated film of all time. This has wonderful voice acting, especially from Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, as well as beautiful music from Randy Newman. I still can’t believe “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” didn’t win Best Original Song at the 1996 Oscars, and I wasn’t even born yet when it lost. I also think this is the funniest movie that I have ever seen, from the adult jokes to the movie references. To think the film is almost 25 years old just goes to show how well it has aged. Much like a fine wine, it gets better and better as time goes by. Pixar’s first film is still their best and as far as I’m concerned, it shall never be beat. Many animated films today would not exist without “Toy Story,” such as “Shrek” and “Big Hero 6.” As you can see, “Toy Story” impacted far more than just Pixar movies; it impacted Disney Animation, Blue Sky Animation (“Ice Age”), Dreamworks Animation (“How to Train Your Dragon”), and Warner Bros. Animation (“The LEGO Movie”). This is the most beloved film of my childhood and one of the only films that I would call perfect.


    1. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)



    Believe it or not, this is my favorite film of all time. It has my favorite director (Christopher Nolan), my favorite actor (Christian Bale), and my favorite hero (Batman). We have seen many superhero movies where the good guy barely wins and almost loses, whether it was Spider-Man losing his powers in “Spider-Man 2” or Superman having a kryptonite chain placed around him in “Superman: The Movie.” In this film, however, Batman literally has his back broken half way through the movie by the villain who also finds out his identity and captures all of Gotham City, planting an atom bomb set to detonate, wiping out the whole city. This all happens in the first half of the film. It isn’t really an action movie, but a character study of Bruce Wayne and how far his love for Gotham City and his oath to justice can take him. We see a man who defeats the impossible and rises to the top in the end. Christian Bale is so good as Batman and, in my opinion, is the best to don the cowl so far. In addition to Bale is Tom Hardy’s Bane, a villain who eerily reminds me of Darth Vader, cinema’s greatest villain. He’s poetic, intimidating, smart, cunning, and powerful. After the high bar set by “The Dark Knight,” I didn’t think “Rises” could ever beat it, but, to my surprise, it did. “Rises” has beautiful imagery and is the perfect wrap to a trilogy, let alone my favorite trilogy of all time. The film will make you believe anything is possible and leave you feeling wonder, excitement, and fulfillment. It certainly is not one of the greatest films of all time, but it is certainly my favorite movie of all time.

    So that was my very long love letter to the movies I celebrate and have since I first saw them. I love many others (like I said, I have a list of the 208 films I love in order), but these 20 are the ones I cannot live without. My love for film is strong, and these films are the reason why.