I am somewhat of a compulsive list maker. I spent the better part of the 2011 summer thinking about every movie I’d seen scouring movie lists by actor and year to try and obtain a complete count. To date, I estimate that I have seen 756 movies and decided it was time to make a definitive Top 10 Favorite Movies list.
I value rewatchability and evidently prefer movies I saw as a teenager! Each movie below is on my Top 10 list for a different reason, but I first watched them in my early teenage years (with the exception of The Sound of Music). Research has shown that our lifelong music preferences are shaped by what music we listened to as a teenager. I wonder if there is a similar phenomenon for movies? It seems to be true at least for me – the most recent movie on my list was released in 2003!
Regarding rewatchability, I have seen each movie below at least five times. However, I feel I am in good company using this criteria. As Roger Ebert once said, “Every great film should seem new every time you see it.”
“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” – Roger Ebert
Without Further Ado…My Top 10 Favorite Movies (in no particular order)
While I love the movie, I love the soundtrack even more! When my family and I were living in Switzerland in 1999 (4th grade for me), this was one of the only CDs we brought along. It became the soundtrack to my first time living abroad and reminds me of one of my favorite family adventures.
Although objectively not a great movie, I would be lying to myself if I didn’t include it as one of my favorites! I am fascinated by mountain climbing expeditions and tales or survival or rescue. I usually prefer true stories (Everest, Meru) but something about Vertical Limit has stuck with me over the years.
UPDATE: Just found a hilarious article about how unreal the movie actually is. It almost makes me love it more!
I can quote every line in my favorite rom-com of all time. It is a light comedy with an unbelievable yet charming concept (as is the case in most rom-coms). I also thought the lead actors had good chemistry: this movie made me a Matthew McConaughey fan for life and I’m occasionally disappointed we don’t get to see Kate Hudson in more movies.
I had a gross misunderstanding of the concept of Shawshank Redemption and avoided the movie for far too long. Upon watching, it immediately became one of my favorites. In contrast to many prison dramas, which focus on riots and violence (e.g., Prison Break), Shawshank directs the viewer to Andy and Red’s friendship and their ability to hold onto hope and self worth through the daily repetition of prison life. Based on a Stephen King novel, this movie has just the right amount of suspense, humor, and twists.
Tom Cruise is my all-time favorite actor and this is one of his best performances ever. Cruise plays a naive lawyer assisted by Demi Moore — one of the more interesting aspects of the movie is that no romance develops between the two. I know I am not alone when I say the courtroom showdown between Cruise and Nicholson gets me every time.
“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?” This movie was some of the best stuff Nickelodeon ever produced. Remember the bright orange VHS tape??
Where to begin with this one? Let’s start at the very beginning… An opening sequence set in the alpine meadows with Julie Andrews belting out “The Hills are Alive” hooked me from the start. However, there isn’t really anything not to love in a movie where the antagonists are Nazis, the songs are written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Captain Von Trapp falls in love with the governess to his 7 children. In addition to seeing the play tens of times, I have attended multiple live theater performances of it, and have bucket list plans to visit Salzburg and take the Sound of Music tour. Although not my favorite song from the movie, the Captain singing “Edelweiss” at the end moves me to tears every time.
This is the first scary movie I ever saw and one of M. Night Shyamalan’s best productions. I remember being absolutely terrified at a few of the jump scenes! I later realized that this is a relatively tame “scary movie,” but the twist at the end is so iconic and the Easter eggs (hint: red) make it endlessly rewatchable.
I grew up to Austin Powers quotes without knowing it, which I think made me appreciate it more when I finally watched it in high school. My dad repeatedly used (and still uses) phrases such as “Twins, Basil!,” “That’s not my bag,” and “That’s Dr. E. I didn’t spend six years in evil medical (graduate) school to be called ‘mister,’ thank you very much.”
Jurassic Park & Titanic
I love cultural experiences that transcend the cinema, and these two movies fall into that category. Each of these movies were rereleased to theaters in 3D (Titanic in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail and Jurassic Park in 2013 for the 20th anniversary of the film) and I went to both of them. I didn’t see either movie in theater during their opening run, but I attended these second showings as if I were caught up in the hype of 1993/1998!
Honorable Mention: Get Out
I have only seen this movie once, so I can’t speak to its rewatchability yet. However, this movie messed with my mind more than any movie I’ve ever seen and I freaking loved it. When it ended, I spent 3 hours reading about the making of the film, the social commentary, and the foreshadowing events I had missed. It had a few jump scares and ended with a little bit of gore (not really my style) but was overall an amazing cinematic experience.