I recently rewatched On the Waterfront. It’s a great movie, if a bit dated, that I wanted to share with my sons. They like it enough, but were surprised that it comes in at number 17 in my list of all-time favorite movies. That’s right, I keep a list. I’m not embarrassed to admit it.
Actually, it’s a fairly recent list. Last year, after stating in a blog entry that I have a hard time picking a favorite anything, I decided to try my hand at listing my favorite movies. So I sat down and listed about fifty movies I like a lot. And then I added about fifty more. Then I took off a bunch that I had to admit I no longer really loved. (Those movies either didn’t hold up to time or maybe I just outgrew them, I don’t know.) Then I started numbering the movies, comparing the movies in my head, asking if I liked this movie better than the one above it, etc.
After two weeks (OK, maybe I’m a little embarrassed), I wound up with a list of my top 20. I’m going to spare you the second half and give you the top 10. Anyone who isn’t interested can go to the concession stand for some popcorn.
10. Cool Hand Luke. Great actors, including Paul Newman, George Kennedy, and Harry Dean Stanton. (Mr. Stanton’s last movie, Lucky, is not on my list, but it’s worth seeing just to hear him sing “Volver Volver.”)
9. To Kill a Mockingbird. Every bit as good as the book it came from. I haven’t seen the Broadway play (I’m a little afraid of being disappointed), but I hear that it’s great, too.
8. The In-Laws. Who would have thought that teaming up a CIA agent with a dentist could be so funny? This is one of those movies that gets better every time you see it. But make sure you see the Peter Falk/Alan Arkin version, not the remake. Who would have thought the remake of a great movie could be so not great?
7. The Full Monty. I mean, who among us hasn’t thought about getting a bunch of unemployed mates together and stripping for extra cash? Probably only a few, but somehow the hope and struggles of the characters are very relatable.
6. American Graffiti. I wondered if this wasn’t just a nostalgic favorite from when I was a teenager. But every time it’s on TV I watch a bit, and I always enjoy it.
5. Princess Bride. Here’s another one I can watch over and over. I remember reading the book at my wife’s house when we were dating (it’s OK, she read through quite a few of our dates, too) and loving every page, even those in the lengthy introduction. Read it if you get a chance. Then watch the movie, even if you’ve already seen it.
4. Dog Day Afternoon. Al Pacino is great. John Cazale is great. Chris Sarandon is great. The whole movie is great. Sidney Lumet’s best, and he directed quite a few good ones.
3. Donnie Brasco. By the time I got down to these last three, I was having a hard time deciding. I had to compare them again and again to make sure I got it right. Once again, great acting. Not sure who was better, Al Pacino or Johnny Depp, but the relationship between their two characters makes the movie.
2. The Godfather. For most of my life, I would have considered this to be my favorite movie. I love the entire hospital scene, but hearing Michael say, “Just lie here, Pop. I’ll take care of you now. I’m with you now. I’m with you,” breaks my heart every time. It’s just at that moment that Michael’s fate is sealed.
1. In Bruges. I’m a big fan of Martin McDonough. The first time I saw this, I thought it was brilliant. The second time, I thought it was more brilliant. I don’t know how many times I had to see it before it overtook The Godfather, but it truly has become my favorite. If you’ve never seen it, watch it a couple of times. You won’t regret it.
Well, that’s my list. If you’ve read this far, do me a favor and let me know your own favorite movie. I’m always searching for something good to watch.