Friday, October 8, 2010

My Favorites of Favorites

A colleague recently asked me to post my top favorite movies of all time on the blog. I've created my top 1o list several times, and I've repeatedly ended up excluding some dear-to-heart masterpieces. So I thought maybe I'll do it the other way around: I'll list the my favorite movie of each of my favorite directors. This will cover my top 10 ... and many more I feel inseparable from.

So here they are. Some will have you scratching your head (Paul Thomas Anderson?), and others will make you pull out your hair (watch out for my favorite Marty flick) - but there it is. It's a completely subjective list, of each director's movie that has emotionally affected me the most, or changed my life in some way or the other. My inclusion criteria was to list favorite directors of whom I've seen at least four of their movies.

Disgreements? Start screaming, write your own favorites, and remind me of any director I've missed (I've come up with 50 directors so far). Don't go looking for the likes of Orson Welles or Jean-Luc Godard; they're not my favorites.


Woody Allen: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Robert Altman: Short Cuts

Paul Thomas Anderson: Boogie Nights

Darren Aronofsky: Requiem for a Dream

Michael Bay: The Rock

Bernardo Bertolucci: The Last Emperor

Luc Besson: The Professional (Leon)

Mel Brooks: Spaceballs

Tim Burton: Edward Scissorhands

James Cameron: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Coen Brothers: Blood Simple

Francis Ford Coppola: The Godfather

Wes Craven: Red Eye

David Cronenberg: A History of Violence

Frank Darabont: The Green Mile

Jonathan Demme: The Silence of the Lambs

Brian DePalma: Scarface

Richard Donner: The Omen

Clint Eastwood: Million Dollar Baby

David Fincher: Seven

Milos Forman: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Mel Gibson: Braveheart

Alfred Hitchcock: Psycho

Ron Howard: A Beautiful Mind

Peter Jackson: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Taylor Hackford: The Devil's Advocate

Werner Herzog: Grizzly Man

Abbas Kiarostami: Where is Friend's Home?

Stanley Kubrick: The Shining

Akira Kurosawa: Rashomon

David Lean: Lawrence of Arabia

Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing

Sergio Leone: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

George Lucas: Take a wild guess ...

Sidney Lumet: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

David Lynch: Mulholland Drive

Majid Majidi: The Color of Paradise

Michael Mann: The Last of the Mohicans

John McTiernan: Die Hard

Mike Nichols: Closer

Christopher Nolan: Inception

Wolfgang Petersen: Das Boot

Roman Polanski: Bitter Moon

Sam Raimi: Spider-man 2

Rob Reiner: A Few Good Men

Robert Rodriguez: Sin City

Martin Scorsese: Cape Fear

Ridley Scott: Blade Runner

Tony Scott: Crimson Tide

M. Night Shyamalan: The Sixth Sense

Steven Soderbergh: Traffic

Steven Spielberg: Jaws

Oliver Stone: JFK

Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction

Lars Von Trier: Breaking the Waves

Peter Weir: The Truman Show

Robert Zemeckis: Back to the Future



  1. For George Lucas: A New Hope? or The Empire Strikes Back?

  2. Sorry, forgot TESB wasn't Lucas!

  3. Tough choice. My heart still pounds at the end of ESB when Darth Vader voices the truth about Luke's heritage, but I would still go with the one that started it all, "A New Hope".

  4. OMG! You got me there! I forgot that myself again!

    Funny that I tricked some Star Wars lovers over the same concept a few months ago, and laughed my head off at them.

  5. What? No Casablanca, Dr. Zhivago, Citizen Kane? I also love a few war
    movies- The Great Escape, Bridge over River Kwai which are not in your list.
    I guess your choice for George Lucas- American Graffiti? Right? j/k

  6. Sorry! Among David Lean masterpieces ("Lawrence of Arabia", "The Bridge on the River Kwai", "Doctor Zhivago", "A Passage to India", ...), I could only pick one, and it had to go to "Lawrence".

    Sorry! I know I'll make quite a few enemies, but Michael Curtiz was not a favorite, so "Casablanca" didn't have chance. (Actually, you probably already know neither romance nor comedy has much of a place in my movie tastes. Even my Woody Allen choice is quite a drama!)

    And sorry! About George Lucas, I meant "THX-1138"!


  7. I think some great directors of classic cinema are missed in your list! Like Federico Fellini,Ingmar Bergman,Elia kazan, MIlos Forman,John Ford, Fred Zinnemann, Robert Wise …however I have to confess ,i have no idea about Peter weir(I just saw master & commander ),haven’t seen Mel Brooks movies and don’t know R.Altman very well!and the number of some works might reach less than 4!
    Moreover ,my favorites are a little different , I bring my choices and about the rest I agree with you absolutely.
    (So funny that you trapped in your trick by the other guy! relieved me from grief of Casablanca loss! )

    Woody Allen : Annie Hall
    Coen Brothers : No country for old men
    Darren Aronofsky : The Wrestler
    Wes Craven : Scream
    Frank Darabont :The Shawshank Redemption
    Clint Eastwood : Mystic River
    Peter Jackson: Lord of the Rings : trilogy
    Abbas Kiarostami : Close –up
    Stanley Kubrick : Eyes wide shut
    Akira Kurosawa : Seven Samurai
    David Lean : Dr. Zivago
    Spike Lee : Inside man
    George Lucas : Revenge of the sith
    Ridley Scott : Gladiator
    Sidney Lumet : Dog Day Afternoon
    Mike Nichols : Graduate
    Christopher Nolan : Batman Begins (sorry!)
    Sam Raimi : Spider-man
    Rob Reiner : Misery
    Tony Scott : Top Gun (sorry again!)
    Steven Soderbergh: Ocean’s eleven
    Steven Spielberg : Indiana Jones trilogy(;-)
    Oliver Stone : Platoon
    Quentin Tarantino : kill Bill vol (1&2)

  8. Now this was I was looking forward to from friends: A whole LIST of disagreements!

    Dear Maryam,

    I think for all the directors you mentioned, the only favorite I feel I missed was Milos Forman (how could I?!). Among his great achievements, it's difficult to decide between "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Amadeus", "Man on the Moon", and "The People Vs. Larry Flynt". I guess I always come back to "Cuckoo's Nest". I'll add it to my list. Thanks.

    You don't know Peter Weir? If you haven't seen "Fearless", "The Truman Show", "Dead Poets Society", or "Witness", you're missing a HUGE amount.


    And don't anybody limit themselves to have seen at least 4 movies of each director (that was just my own inclusion criteria). Because there must be more people out there who by Tarantino have only seen "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill", and believe the latter is better than the former; or think Scorsese or Oliver Stone have done better than "Cape Fear" or "JFK".

  9. woody Allen: Vickey Christina Barcellona ????!!!!!

  10. Scorsesee: Cape Fear??? come on man> you are disappointing me!!!!

  11. Dear Alireza,

    For some reason I feel "Vicky Cristina" is the epitome of whatever I like best about Allen. Fast-talking neurotic characters, ambivalence between drama and comedy, great preformances, and even deep intellectual/emotional issues that keep you thinking after the movie. I know everybody's Allen favorite may be "Annie Hall", but I feel the deep stuff it talks about (which are plenty) doesn't belong to my time (actually, I was trying to decide between "Vicky Cristina" and "Match Point" as my favorite!).

    And more importantly, "Annie Hall" stole the Best Picture Oscar from "Star Wars"!

    Believe it or not, "Cape Fear" was my first exposure to Scorsese, and my second exposure to DeNiro - and that was the film that exploded Scorsese into my life like a grenade. Since Scorsese's mind-blowing style is present in all his works, I'm assuming if either of "Taxi Driver" or "Goodfellas" or "Raging Bull" or "Gangs of New York" or "Departed" or ... was my first Scrosese experience, I would have chosen that first one as my favorite Scrosese movie. In my life, the lucky draw was "Cape Fear".

    So how about you? What "should" have I chosen as the favorite Allen/Scorsese/... movies? ;-)

  12. I just wonder how could I miss such marvelous works : Witness , Dead poets society and The Truman Show in my cinephilic life so far ??! impatiently waiting for “Fearless” and others from this filmmaker. And, Then among these 5 (plus to Green card & master & commander I’ve seen already) : The Truman show was the best. I can’t agree more. Terribly philosophical and thought- provoking plot. I was in a daze the whole second half of movie after the truth revealed.

  13. "Dead Poets Society" was the winner of the main Oscars in its year (I think 1989). It's incredible how prominent comedians (Robin Williams in this, Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon", Will Farrell in "Stranger than Fiction") are much more effective when they play serious drama.

    You will love "Fearless". That and "Picnic at Hanging Rock" are the most philosophical of Weir's movies.