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: Outside Providence
Director: Michael Corrente
Cast: Shawn Hatosy, Amy Smart, Alec Baldwin, and Jon Abrahams
When did I first watch this movie?: Sometime in the early 2000s on video.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is another one I’m going to have to revisit to see if it holds up, but I really enjoyed it 20 years or so ago. The story is by the Farrelly Brothers who are not typically my thing, but this movie is more grounded in a family story based on personal experience. Set around a struggling working class family in Rhode Island (yes, the title is a pun!) and the oldest son attending an elite private school. It especially shines in the explanation of the notorious “Footprints” poem.
Title: Portrait of Jennie
Director: William Dieterle
Cast: Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten
When did I first watch this movie?: When I was a kid with my mom.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This movie has a bit of everything: romance, fantasy, mystery, inspiration, and humor. Set in Depression-era New York City, it tells the story of a struggling artist finding his muse in a young woman who seemingly lives outside of time.
Title: Like Water for Chocolate
Director: Alfonso Arau
Cast: Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos, Regina Torné, Ada Carrasco, Mario Iván Martínez, and Yareli Arizmendi
When did I first watch this movie?: February 1995 for a Valentine’s Day screening at my college.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The best description of this movie was from a friend who said “it made me hungry and horny at the same time.” Based on a classic novel by Laura Esquivel, this film is a magical realist, comedy, and romance about forbidden love and a multi-generational family in early 20th-century Mexico.
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Peter O’Toole, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, and Will Arnett
When did I first watch this movie?: 2018
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Another Pixar masterpiece featuring Remy, the rat who dreams of being a chef. Magnificent animation compliments a funny and inspirational story.
Title: City Lights
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, and Al Ernest Garcia
When did I first watch this movie?: In my high school film studies class, 1990.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Made after the “talkie” had become the industry standard, Charlie Chaplin perfected the silent film with these comedic and romantic masterpiece.
Title: Top Secret!
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker
Cast: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, and Jeremy Kemp
When did I first watch this movie?: I watched this with a friend in high school, circa 1989.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I haven’t watched this in a while, but I remember thinking this was an even funnier Zucker, Abrams, Zucker movie than Airplane! Val Kilmer makes his film debut (he really should’ve done more comedy) in a movie that spoofs Cold War spy thrillers and Elvis Presley musicals. Perhaps its that esoteric concept that lead it to being a lesser known ZAZ work?
Title: The Witch
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, and Lucas Dawson
When did I first watch this movie?: Halloween 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Eggers creates a New England folk horror masterpiece around a Puritan family exiled to a wilderness that is haunted by all-too-real horrors. This movie features an excellent performance from Anya Taylor-Joy in her film debut.
Title: Inside Out
Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan
When did I first watch this movie?: May 2018
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: More Pixar? Why not? This movie imaginatively explores the emotions of an 11-year-old girl struggling with the challenge of moving to a new city and dealing with the depression that ensues. Heavy stuff, but the film expertly deals with the issues with humor and heartbreak.
Title: Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, and Catherine Keener
When did I first watch this movie?: Halloween 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Jordan Peele’s directorial debut uses a Twilight Zone-like horror scenario to expose the hypocrisies of white liberalism and the appropriation of Black culture and fashion. A masterpiece that works on many levels.
Director: Miloš Forman
Cast: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Simon Callow, Roy Dotrice, Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones, Charles Kay
When did I first watch this movie?: Mid-80s on cable tv.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Another movie I haven’t watched in a long time, but I remember seeing it as a kid and being delighted that a biography of a classical composer could be so funny. Granted the movie has some historical accuracies, but it was a great introduction to Mozart and his work.