Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to watch lots of movies considered to be among the best of all time. Now, for the first time, I’ve made my own list of favorite movies of all time. Every other Wednesday throughout 2022, I will be revealing ten movies in my list of 250 Favorite Movies of All Time.
Title: Hoop Dreams
Director: Steve James
Cast: William Gates and Arthur Agee
When did I first watch this movie?: Sometime in the mid-90s on video
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A solid documentary that serves as an expose of the professional athlete pipeline through the story of two poor Black high school students. They are considered prospects for the NBA and recruited by an elite majority-white private school known for its basketball program.
Title: Un Chien Andalou
Director: Luis Buñuel
Cast: Pierre Batcheff, Simone Mareuil, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí, Jaime Miravilles
When did I first watch this movie?: October 2001 at the Harvard Film Archive
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I took a film course in high school and read a book about film history that included a mention of this bizarre experimental film from the 1920s and it blew my mind that something like this could exist. I didn’t get to see until 12 years later though, when it was screened at the Harvard Film Archive. It’s even more bizarre than I imagined.
Title: Lost in La Mancha
Director: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe
Cast: Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort
When did I first watch this movie?: June 2003 at The Brattle Theatre
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of the best movies about the process of making a movie even though it’s about a movie production that turned into a fiasco and failed.
Title: Paris is Burning
Director: Jennie Livingston
Cast:Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Venus Xtravaganza, Octavia St. Laurent, Willi Ninja, Angie Xtravaganza, Sol Pendavis Williams, Freddie Pendavis, Junior Labeija
When did I first watch this movie?: April 2018 for Blogging A-to-Z
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This documentary is a tender portrait of the participants in Harlem’s drag ball culture in the 1980s and their found families and Houses.
Title: El Norte
Director: Gregory Nava
Cast: Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, David Villalpando
When did I first watch this movie?: High school film class 1989
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: One of the good points of attending Catholic school was a sympathetic consciousness of the crises affecting our brothers and sisters in Latin America. El Norte, a story of a sister and brother escaping political persecution in Central America by emigrating to the US and becoming undocumented workers was an eye opener and helped shape my compassionate worldview.
Title: Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday
Director: Jacques Tati
Cast: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Micheline Rolla
When did I first watch this movie?: December 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I was first exposed to the work of Jacques Tati during my first Classic Movies project and it quickly became my second favorite of his movies. With minimal dialogue and a lot of pantomime, Tati’s Monsieur Hulot and the rest of the cast enact a magical series of sight gags.
Title: Creature Comforts
Director: Nick Park
Cast: Various people in England pretending to be animals
When did I first watch this movie?: At an animation festival in college, probably 1992
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Nick Park’s claymation style is timeless and perfectly serves a mockumentary of animals at a zoo describing their lives. What makes it great is that all the voices are provided by ordinary people describing their lives.
Director: George Cukor
Cast: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, May Whitty, Angela Lansbury
When did I first watch this movie?: That high school film studies class, again, 1989
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The psychological thriller features brilliant performances by Ingrid Bergman in the lead role, as well as creepy turn by Charles Boyer as the villain, and a saucy, young Angela Lansbury.
Title: My Winnipeg
Director: Guy Maddin
Cast: Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage, Louis Negin, Amy Stewart, Brendan Cade, Wesley Cade
When did I first watch this movie?: February 2009 at the Brattle Theatre
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Supposedly a documentary on the history of Winnipeg, Manitoba, surrealist director Guy Maddin mixes fact with fantasy as well as fictional story of his own childhood. Hurrah for Citizen Girl!
Title: When They See Us
Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Jharrel Jerome, Asante Blackk, Jovan Adepo, Michael K. Williams, Logan Marshall-Green, Joshua Jackson, Blair Underwood, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Aunjanue Ellis, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Kylie Bunbury
When did I first watch this movie?: July 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Duvernay’s four-part miniseries works stylistically as four different movies dramatizing the lives of five young boys from Harlem arrested and imprisoned for the brutal rape of a white woman jogging through Central Park and their ultimate exoneration. It’s both beautifully made and a heartbreaking document of brutal injustice.