My Favorite Films

Earlier in the lifespan of this blog I attempted to create a list of the greatest films of all time.  In hindsight, I realize the foolishness of trying to make such a list as there is no way it could ever be comprehensive.  It would be constantly changing as older classics are uncovered, new classics are made, personal tastes change and evolve and past favorites are reexamined.  Later, inspired by on the ongoing polling at Wonders in the Dark where readers are encouraged to vote for their top 25 films from each decade, I decided to compile my own personal lists here.  My favorite films prior to the 1970’s are listed in chronological order (with what I consider to be the best film from each decade in bold), while anything from 1970 onward is ranked by decade in groups of 25 with honorable mentions listed where applicable. 

Later, I elaborated on the lists in my “A Decade in Film Retrospectives” found below:

*Note to Readers:  This list is meant to exist as ever-changing and expanding.  I use the term “favorite” to indicate not only films that I love based on personal taste or sentiment, but also important films throughout history that I think are must-sees for any film buff.

- D. H. Schleicher

Pre-1970

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919, Robert Wiene)
  • Destiny (1921, Fritz Lang)
  • Nosferatu (1922, F.W. Murnau)
  • Faces of Children (1923, Jacques Feyder)
  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926, Lotte Reiniger)
  • The Lodger (1927, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang)
  • Napoleon (1927, Abel Gance)
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  • The Wind (1928, Victor Sjostrom)
  • Frankenstein (1931, James Whale)
  • M (1931, Fritz Lang)
  • Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  • Freaks (1932, Tod Browning)
  • King Kong (1933, Meriam C. Cooper)
  • The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933, Fritz Lang)
  • The Goddess (1934, Yonggang Wu)
  • Fury (1936, Fritz Lang)
  • Sabotage (1936, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • The Grand Illusion (1937, Jean Renoir)
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Gone With the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming et al.)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940, John Ford)
  • Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
  • How Green Was My Valley (1941, John Ford)
  • Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)
  • Saboteur (1942, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Day of Wrath (1943, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  • Le Corbeau (1943, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
  • Double Indemnity (1944, Billy Wilder)
  • Ministry of Fear (1944, Fritz Lang)
  • The Woman in the Window (1944, Fritz Lang)
  • Rome Open City (1945, Roberto Rossellini)
  • Scarlet Street (1945, Fritz Lang)
  • Spellbound (1945, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Quai des Orfevres (1947, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
  • Bicycle Thieves (1948, Vittorio Di Sica)
  • The Naked City (1948, Jules Dassin)
  • Oliver Twist (1948, David Lean)
  • Thieves’ Highway (1949, Jules Dassin)
  • The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)
  • Night and the City (1950, Jules Dassin)
  • Sunset Blvd (1950, Billy Wilder)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, Elia Kazan)
  • The River (1951, Jean Renoir)
  • Forbidden Games (1952, Rene Clement)
  • Wages of Fear (1953, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
  • The Big Heat (1953, Fritz Lang)
  • Rear Window (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Sansho the Bailiff (1954, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  • Les Diaboliques (1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
  • Night and Fog (1955, Alain Resnais)
  • Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)
  • Ordet (1955, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
  • Rififi (1955, Jules Dassin)
  • Paths of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick)
  • Twelve Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet)
  • The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
  • Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Touch of Evil (1958, Orson Welles)
  • The 400 Blows (1958, Francois Truffaut)
  • North by Northwest (1959, Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Anatomy of a Murder (1959, Otto Preminger)
  • The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton)
  • Through a Glass Darkly (1961, Ingmar Bergman)
  • Ivan’s Childhood (1962, Andrei Tarkovsky)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, Robert Mulligan)
  • Dr. Strangelove (1964, Stanley Kubrick)
  • The Naked Kiss (1964, Samuel Fuller)
  • The Pawnbroker (1964, Sidney Lumet)
  • Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
  • The Hour of the Wolf (1968, Ingmar Bergman)
  • Oliver! (1968, Carol Reed)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)

1970’s

  1. Network (1976, Sidney Lumet)
  2. Barry Lyndon (1975, Stanley Kubrick)
  3. Manhattan (1979, Woody Allen)
  4. Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)
  5. Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
  6. Five Easy Pieces (1970, Bob Rafelson)
  7. Days of Heaven (1978, Terrence Malick)
  8. The Mirror (1975, Andrei Tarkovsky)
  9. Nosferatu (1979, Werner Herzog)
  10. Three Women (1977, Robert Altman)
  11. The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978, Ermanno Olmni)
  12. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975, Milos Foreman)
  13. Dog Day Afternoon (1975, Sidney Lumet)
  14. Badlands (1973, Terrence Malick)
  15. Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen)
  16. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, Steven Spielberg)
  17. Paper Moon (1973, Peter Bogdanovich)
  18. Eraserhead (1976, David Lynch)
  19. Macbeth (1971, Roman Polanski)
  20. A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)
  21. Edvard Munch (1974, Peter Watkins)
  22. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
  23. The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci)
  24. Cries and Whispers (1972, Ingmar Bergman)
  25. The Godfather & The Godfather Part Two (1972 & 1974, Francis Ford Coppola)

Honorable Mentions from the 1970’s:

  • Harold and Maude (1971, Hal Ashby)
  • Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog)
  • Solaris (1972, Andrei Tarkovsky)
  • The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin)
  • American Graffiti (1973, George Lucas)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, Tobe Hooper)
  • Young Frankenstein (1974, Mel Brooks)
  • Nashville (1975, Robert Altman)
  • Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
  • Interiors (1978, Woody Allen)
  • Kramer vs. Kramer (1979, Robert Benton)
  • Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979, Terry Jones)
  • Being There (1979, Hal Ashby)
  • Tess (1979, Roman Polanski)

1980’s 

  1. Paris, Texas (1984, Wim Wenders)
  2. The Elephant Man (1980, David Lynch)
  3. Blood Simple (1984, The Coen Brothers)
  4. Raging Bull (1980, Martin Scorsese)
  5. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
  6. Hope and Glory (1987, John Boorman)
  7. Atlantic City (1981, Louise Malle)
  8. Fanny & Alexander (1982, Ingmar Bergman)
  9. Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch)
  10. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986, Woody Allen)
  11. Salaam Bombay! (1988, Mira Nair)
  12. Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987, Louise Malle)
  13. Gandhi (1982, Richard Attenborough)
  14. Full Metal Jacket (1987, Stanley Kubrick)
  15. The Verdict (1982, Sidney Lumet)
  16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Steven Spielberg)
  17. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989, Terry Gilliam)
  18. Glory (1989, Edward Zwick)
  19. Field of Dreams (1989, Phil Alden Robinson)
  20. Ordinary People (1980, Robert Redford)
  21. Raising Arizona (1987, The Coen Brothers)
  22. My Left Foot (1989, Jim Sheridan)
  23. Heathers (1989, Michael Lehmann)
  24. The Killing Fields (1984, Roland Joffe)
  25. River’s Edge (1986, Tim Hunter)

Honorable Mentions from the 1980’s:

  • Airplane! (1980, Jim Abrams and David Zucker)
  • Fitzcarraldo (1982, Werner Herzog)
  • Poltergeist (1982, Tobe Hooper)
  • Testament (1983, Lynne Littman)
  • Without a Trace (1983, Stanley R. Jaffe)
  • Zelig (1983, Woody Allen)
  • The Natural (1984, Barry Levinson)
  • Places in the Heart (1984, Robert Benton)
  • Come and See (1985, Elem Klimov)
  • Fright Night (1985, Tom Holland)
  • My Life as a Dog (1985, Lasse Hallstrom)
  • Out of Africa (1985, Sydney Pollack)
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985, Woody Allen)
  • The Accidental Tourist (1988, Lawrence Kasdan)
  • Lady in White (1988, Frank LaLoggia)
  • Lair of the White Worm (1988, Ken Russell)
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989, Woody Allen)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee)

1990’s 

  1. The Sweet Hereafter (1997, Atom Egoyan)
  2. Europa/Zentropa (1990, Lars Von Trier)
  3. Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)
  4. Fargo (1996, The Coen Brothers)
  5. Secrets and Lies (1996, Mike Leigh)
  6. Breaking the Waves (1996, Lars Von Trier)
  7. The English Patient (1996, Anthony Minghella)
  8. Short Cuts (1993, Robert Altman)
  9. Kundun (1997, Martin Scorsese)
  10. Schindler’s List (1993, Steven Spielberg)
  11. Braveheart (1995, Mel Gibson)
  12. Boogie Nights (1997, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  13. The Thief (1997, Pavel Chukhraj)
  14. King of the Hill (1993, Steven Soderbergh)
  15. Toto the Hero (1991, Jaco Van Dormael)
  16. American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes)
  17. Miller’s Crossing (1990, The Coen Brothers)
  18. The Truman Show (1998, Peter Weir)
  19. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)
  20. Being John Malkovich (1999, Spike Jonze)
  21. Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)
  22. Three Colors:  Blue (1993, Krzysztof Kieslowksi)
  23. Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  24. The End of the Affair (1999, Neil Jordan)
  25. Exotica (1994, Atom Egoyan)

Honorable Mentions from the 1990’s:

  • Wild at Heart (1990, David Lynch)
  • Barton Fink (1991, The Coen Brothers)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992, Michael Mann)
  • Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk With Me (1992, David Lynch)
  • Groundhog Day (1993, Harold Ramis)
  • The Piano (1993, Jane Campion)
  • Heavenly Creatures (1994, Peter Jackson)
  • Casino (1995, Martin Scorsese)
  • The City of Lost Children (1995, Caro & Jeunet)
  • Heat (1995, Michael Mann)
  • Eve’s Bayou (1997, Kasi Lemmons)
  • LA Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)
  • Lost Highway (1997, David Lynch)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998, Steven Spielberg)
  • The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick)
  • Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)
  • The Limey (1999, Steven Soderbergh)
  • Office Space (1999, Mike Judge)
  • The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)

2000’s 

  1. There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  2. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)
  3. The New World (2005, Terrence Malick)
  4. The Pianist (2002, Roman Polanski)
  5. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000, Ang Lee)
  6. Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan)
  7. 21 Grams (2003, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
  8. A Serious Man (2009, The Coen Brothers)
  9. Lost in Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola)
  10. The Edge of Heaven (2008, Fatih Akin)
  11. Silent Light (2009, Carlos Reygadas)
  12. Atonement (2007, Joe Wright)
  13. The Painted Veil (2006, John Curran)
  14. In Bruges (2008, Martin McDonagh)
  15. Road to Perdition (2002, Sam Mendes)
  16. Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer)
  17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
  18. The Hurt Locker (2009, Kathryn Bigelow)
  19. Inglourious Basterds (2009, Quentin Tarantino)
  20. The Proposition (2006, John Hillcoat)
  21. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008, David Fincher)
  22. The Constant Gardner (2005, Fernando Meirelles)
  23. Amores Perros (2000, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
  24. Downfall (2004, Oliver Hirschbiegel)
  25. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
  • Gladiator (2000, Ridley Scott)
  • The Devil’s Backbone (2000, Guillermo Del Toro)
  • Yi Yi (2000, Edward Yang)
  • Wet Hot American Summer (2001, David Wain)
  • Open Hearts (2002, Susanne Bier)
  • City of God (2002, Fernando Meirelles)
  • The 25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee)
  • Memories of Murder (2003, Joon-ho Bong)
  • Northfork (2003, The Polish Brothers)
  • Dogville (2004, Lars Von Trier)
  • Sideways (2004, Alexander Payne)
  • Good Night and Good Luck (2005, George Clooney)
  • Match Point (2005, Woody Allen)
  • After the Wedding (2006, Susanne Bier)
  • Black Book (2006, Paul Verhoeven)
  • The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)
  • The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck)
  • The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)
  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet)
  • Rescue Dawn (2007, Werner Herzog)
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, Woody Allen)
  • The White Ribbon (2009, Michael Haneke)

18 comments on “My Favorite Films

  1. DeeDee (Dcd) says:

    Wow!…What a nice list!…
    Several of your choices made my list of 70s films over there at Sam Juliano’s blog Wonders in the Dark too… Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;)

    DeeDee, yes I noticed the similarities in our lists over there at WID. Great minds think alike is what they usually say, no? –DHS

  2. DeeDee (Dcd) says:

    Hi! D.H.,
    Here goes a link that “methinks” you might find interesting. Hmmm…In addition, I think that it is your vicinity.

    http://www.filmforum.org/films/britnoir.html/

    Take care!

  3. DeeDee (Dcd) says:

    Oops!…Try this link…if it “fails” just click on
    Coming Soon and scroll down to BritNoir.

    http://www.filmforum.org/films/britnoir.html

    DeeDee – awesome link! Lots of films to add to my Netflix queue. -DHS

  4. Teresa says:

    Oh! I loved Nosferatu (1922, F.W. Murnau)
    and Freaks! I even saw Eraserhead, but I must be dense, because I found Eraserhead to be a visual assault. I didn’t really get the artistic bent, I’m afraid.

    Loved most of the rest of your picks, too, but you left off all the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns! I was raised on spaghetti westerns! ;-)

    Great list! I’ve been lurking for a while, but those lists inspired me to comment.

    Great site, Dave.
    Teresa

    Thanks, Teresa. If you liked the 1922 Nosferatu, I also recommend the 1979 remake…very different, but just as memorable. –DHS

  5. DeeDee says:

    Hi! D.H.Schleicher,
    Here goes a link that you maybe interested in checking out!
    Hmmm…I wonder if you will be willing to watch this film one more time?
    Greene’s The Third Man

    DeeDee ;)

  6. Jess says:

    I like your taste in movies, although I’m hesitant to praise your putting There Will Be Blood at the top of your 2000s list. I have not seen it, but someone I know described it as just a lot of brooding stares and shooting people. I dunno. I might end up liking it, haha. Like everything else on the list, though!

    Jess, oh, TWBB is so much more than that (though there is that – ha!). Don’t get me started :) –DHS

  7. Jacob says:

    Though I am critical of your “7 Worst Movies” list, I emphatically agree with the vast majority of your favorite films. You do have good taste in films.

    Thanks, Jacob! –DHS

  8. dianneglave says:

    Dave, what movie will you see next? I’m glad you posted at my blog. It’s good to share about movies! Di

    Di, I’m pretty excited about Winter’s Bone, Get Low and Inception. –DHS

  9. Hi Dave,
    I just checked out this list and I love to see so many great movies in one place. I have two major beefs though! No “Nashville” in the 1970s? This is one movie that just doesn’t get the love it deserves. I believe the Wonders in the Dark list for the 1970s missed this one too. Is there some anti-Altman thing going on I don’t know about?

    Also, “The Hour of the Wolf” (1968)? I’m curious to know what is attractive about that movie to you. I found it mind numbing. Bergman was in a strange place in the late 1960s — a place I don’t relate to at all. “The Passion of Anna” is even worse.

    Other than those two, nothing else major stands out. I am, however especially pleased to see “Salaam Bombay!” That is a wonderful movie I hope more people will check out instead of the silly “Slumdog Millionaire.”

    These lists can get addictive. I have been putting together my own list of favorite movies by year and it is turning into a larger project than I thought. (I can’t just write a list, I have to say something about each one — I just can’t shut up.) I’d love your feedback.
    Best,
    Jason

    Jason, I found “The Hour of the Wolf” to be a beautifully filmed nightmare, akin to a Lynch film or Dreyer’s “Vampyr.” Altman is hit or miss with me (loved “Short Cuts” and “3 Women”) but would you believe I have never even seen “Nashville?” I shall have to remedy that. Lists are fun – makes for engaged blogging too. I look forward to yours! And I totally agree re: “Salaam Bombay!” — it is light years ahead of “Slumdog Millionaire” which I have famously loathed. –DHS

    • Well I can’t argue that “The Hour of the Wolf” was a nightmare, but it’s one for which we have differing appreciations. And you’ve got to see “Nashville” and then promptly add it to your list.

      Jason – consider Nashville watched, enjoyed and added to Honorable Mentions for the 1970’s.

  10. Nick Chaney says:

    Found this blog on accident, and the list is very nice. When making these kind of lists, I look for two things:
    1. Is it way too different from my thoughts? (In this case, no. There are some good overlaps. If it was, it wouldn’t be a bad thing, but with no common ground to stand on, it makes it hard to connect with the other person).
    2.Is it way too similar to my thoughts? (If this was the case, I think we’d both have to re-evaluate the way we look at films, because everybody should be bring their own subjective opinions to the table. Thankfully this was not the case.)

    Quick question though from one film love to another (and from one Paul Thomas Anderson fan to another), I love both Boogie Nights and Magnolia to death, they are two of my favorite films, but I’m curious to know why Boogie Nights is higher on that list than Magnolia. I’m not “calling you out,” or saying you’re wrong, I’m just curious as to why you like it better.

    Nick – thanks for stopping by The Spin. I could easily flip-flop the rankings depending on my mood – but overall, while showing signs of brilliance, Magnolia always struck me as too manic and ambitious for its own good. Boogie Nights had a greater vibrancy to it, and I found it to be more entertaining. –DHS

  11. penintu says:

    Hey, I love your blog! You have great taste, needless to say, and I appreciate the way you write. Pleasure to read! Do you have any suggestions for smalltown (American) films? Something like Garden State maybe?

    Hmmm…smalltown American indie-ish films? How about Sunshine Cleaning or Bernie? –DHS

  12. Garrett says:

    Nice! I’ve never seen The Sweet Hereafter, so I guess I need to make time for it. Of the ones that I have seen though, I like your choices. I especially loved seeing The Hour of the Wolf on there, which is my personal favorite by Bergman.

    Also, where is No Country for Old Men? It’s probably my favorite movie so I have to ask: What are your thoughts on that film?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The lists are good, nevertheless restricted to American and European movies, the lists lack in Eastern movies that are considered not only classic in the cinema pantheon, but rather influential as well

  14. Wow that’s a pretty good list to choose a movie daily to watch, Rear Window is really a good classic movie to watch…..

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