Favorite Movies of All Time: 130-121

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.

250-241 200-190 150-141
240-231 190-181 140-131
230-221 180-171
220-211 170-161
210-201 160-151


Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 
Director: Miloš Forman
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield
When did I first watch this movie?: 1990s
Why is this one of my all time favorites?:  A collection of tour de force acting performances in this tense, anti-authoritarian drama.


Title: Virunga
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Cast: Virunga National Park rangers
Year: 2014
When did I first watch this movie?: April 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This heartbreaking documentary follows in the path of brave park rangers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who risk their lives to defend mountain gorillas amidst poaching and warfare.


Title: Once Upon a Time in the West
Director: Sergio Leone
Cast: Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Gabriele Ferzetti, Woody Strode, Jack Elam, Lionel Stander, Paolo Stoppa, Frank Wolff, Keenan Wynn
Year: 1968
When did I first watch this movie?: April 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A mesmerizing pastiche Western tropes and the “rituals” of violence that emerge from machismo.


Title: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Director: David Hand
Cast: Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Harry Stockwell, Roy Atwell, Pinto Colvig, Otis Harlan, Scotty Mattraw, Billy Gilbert, Eddie Collins, Moroni Olsen, Stuart Buchanan
Year: 1937
When did I first watch this movie?: Maybe when I was a kid, definitely in April 2020
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A groundbreaking work of animation that features a still frightening scene of Snow White lost in the forest and great exploration of motion and characterization in the Dwarfs and the animals.


Title: Dark Days
Director: Marc Singer
Cast: Documentary
Year: 2000
When did I first watch this movie?: April 2007
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A documentary about the “Mole People” who created a shanty town in the railroad tunnels beneath Manhattan. It serves as anthropological study of a community that forms out of sight of most people in the city with a hopeful conclusion.


Title: The Green Knight 
Director: David Lowery
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson
Year: 2021
When did I first watch this movie?: December 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: An ancient legend is told anew in this visually innovative film.


Title: What We Do in the Shadows
Director: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Cast: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford
Year: 2014
When did I first watch this movie?: October 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This comedy asks the question, what if we had vampires but followed their daily activities reality TV style?


Title: Let the Right One In 
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg
Year: 2008
When did I first watch this movie?: October 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This drama asks the question, what if we have a vampire but it represents children who form a bond when they are bullied and outcasts?


Title: Laura 
Director: Otto Preminger
Cast: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson
Year: 1944
When did I first watch this movie?: mid-1990s
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Film noir at its delightfully wacky peak.


Title: Fruitvale Station
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly, Octavia Spencer
Year: 2013
When did I first watch this movie?: September 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: We “Say Their Names” when we protest the murders of black people at the hands of police and vigilantes.  This is the story behind one of those names, Oscar Grant, and the introduction of Ryan Coogler’s unique style.

Movie Review: Being There (1979)

Title: Being There
Release Date: December 19, 1979
Director: Hal Ashby
Production Company: Lorimar Productions

This is a movie that I know I watched sometime back in the 1980s but had next to know recollection about what happens in it.  In fact, I read the Jerzy Kosiński book it is based on in the 1990s and don’t remember that either!  So it was essentially like coming to this movie anew.

Peter Sellers stars (in his last film released before his death) as a simple-minded gardener named Chance.  I think if this movie was made at a later date they would probably identify him as being on the autism spectrum. His background is a bit of a mystery as he has lived his entire life on the grounds of a Washington, D.C. mansion and no one seems to know he exists beyond his benefactor and the maid, Louise (Ruth Attaway). With such little interaction with other people Chance spends his free time obsessively watching television.  As an aside, this movie makes great use of clips from 1970s television shows and advertisements that comment on the action of the film.

When “the old man” dies, Chance is forced out on his own.  Through a series of mishaps he becomes enmeshed in the lives of the wealthy and powerful Ben Rand (Melvyn Douglas) and his younger wife Eve (Shirley MacLaine).  Chance’s comments on gardening are mistaken as an optimistic philosophy on business and the economy.  Ben, who is terminally ill, finds comfort in Chance’s companionship, while Eve falls in love with Ben.  As a result of his connection with the Rands, Chance is able to meet the President (Jack Warden), appear on a TV talk show, and attend a state dinner with the Soviet ambassador (Richard Basehart).

The movie is a product of the cynical 70s with the power brokers of Washington all projecting their desires onto Chance.  It also pokes fun at how easy it is for a well-dressed white man to “fail up.” But there’s also a sweetness to the movie, especially in the quick but real bond that forms between Chance and Ben.  The movie succeeds on the impressive performance of Sellers who really immersed himself in the role, finding that he identified strongly with Chance. The movie is beautifully shot, with Sellers appearing in the foreground of the Capitol building and in the Rand’s mansion (filmed at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina) being particularly iconic.  This is a movie worth remembering.

Rating: ****