Thursday, January 25, 2024

Favorite 103 Top Movies: The Top Ten List!

This is it, that last of my list of 103 favorite movies. Now we're into the movies I watch over and over again.

Previous entries in this countdown are:

109 - 90

89 - 80

79 - 70

69 - 60

59 - 50

49 - 40

39 - 30

29 - 20

19 - 11

Without further ado, let's get on with my top ten favorite movies:

10: Toy Story 2 (1999)

Yes, this movie is better than Toy Story. They get out of the house and have adventures outdoors and in a toy store and an apartment building. Fun from beginning to end (except the sad part in the middle), this is such an amazing film. And funny, too. I remember in the theater (I took my kids) laughing out loud at a part that parodies The Empire Strikes Back. And Mattel lets them use Barbie to great effect. Available on Disney+

9:  Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi (1983)

Now known as "Star Wars, Episode VII: Return of the Jedi," this is the worst of the three main Star Wars movies. But still a very good film. The Ewoks are a little too cute and the final battle where they defeat the stormtroopers is a bit unbelievable (why do stormtroopers wear that worthless armor, anyway?). The battle in space is almost too much but Luke finally confronting Vader is amazing (with a great soundtrack to accompany it). If you can watch the non-CGI version, do. It's better. Available on Disney+ (unfortunately, only the CGI-ruined version).

8: Fantasia (1940)

I am a huge fan of hand-drawn animation. And Fantasia is a tour-de-force of that art form. Plus, the music is fantastic. If you want to introduce your children to classical music, this is a sneaky way to do it. The ending is a bit overdone and long, but up until then, the dancing hippos and ostriches are worth the price of admission. Available on Disney+ 

7: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

English POWs, led by Alec Guinness, are held at a Japanese camp in occupied Burma. They are tasked with building a railroad bridge over the River Kwai. Guinness's character is at first reluctant, but then gets into the spirt of the thing and decides to build the best damn bridge they can. Only at the end of the film does he realize what he's done by aiding the enemy. Strong performances by Guinness and William Holden as an American POW bind this film together. Available on Max, Sling TV, and Amazon Prime Video. 

6: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

If you're a fan of the golden age of animation (the 40s and the 50s), you gotta love this movie. Somehow, the film makers convinced both Disney and Warner Brothers to use their characters. Want to see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny on the screen at the same time, this is your movie. Set in a world where animated characters live and interact with real life humans. The film has an uninteresting plot and the climax is a bit overdone. But if you love animation, you'll love this film as much as I do. Available on Disney+

5: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Long, slow, but amazing. Special effects are a highlight of this film, especially for 1968. This movie is this high on the list solely on the strength of its audacity. A collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, it is simply an amazing film with a bit of a downer message. (Clarke has never been a fan of humans.) You have to watch this movie at least once in your life. Available on Tubi (free), Max, and Amazon Prime Video.

4: Star Wars (1977)

Now unfortunately known as "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope," there was nothing ever seen like this movie when it came out. Science fiction in the 1970s tended to be pessimistic and dystopian (See Soylent Green and Silent Running). But this was fun, exciting, and what great special effects that were amazing for the time (zero CGI). The climax is so good they stole it for Top Gun: Maverick. Because of this film's success, the Star Trek movies were made and science fiction movies became fun again, mostly. Available on Disney+ (unfortunately, only the CGI-ruined version).

3: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Beautifully shot in New Zealand, this film was simply amazing. Based on Tolkien's book, and sticks to the novel more than The Two Towers does, it goes from the green, pastoral Shire to a final battle by humans and an elf against a band of orcs in a forest. Its action sequences are intense. Who would have thought swordplay could be so powerful without guns or cars? The extended version is even better with more background. And Ian McKellen plays Gandalf perfectly, exactly as I imagined him from the books: compassionate, wise, and with a twinkle in his eyes. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

2: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

"Never tell me the odds!" For more than two decades, this was my favorite movie. Now called Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, this is the best of all the Star Wars movies. From the battle on Hoth to Luke confronting Vader when he's not quite ready, this movie keeps the plot moving fast. And the asteroid field chase is not only amazing to watch, you have to wonder how they did it in 1980 before CGI. Han Solo becomes less of a rogue and more of a sympathetic character. A bit of a downer/cliffhanger ending, though. Available on Disney+ (unfortunately, only the CGI-ruined version).

And my number one favorite movies is...

1: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

Thousands of orcs (CGI, but you don't care, it's done so well) besiege a huge white city built into a mountain. That image is what I remember most from this movie. A powerful climax to the Lord of the Rings films. Yes, the denouement is way over-long but they are wrapping up almost nine hours of film. When the 6,000 mounted soldiers from Rohan (CGI) ride toward the orcs, you feel the pounding of the ground. The emotions of this movie are deep and hard. Peter Jackson knows how to tug at your heartstrings while exciting you with massive battle scenes. Also better on the extended version, but even the theatrical version thrills, too. Available on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

What do you think of my top ten favorite movies? Let me know in the comments below.

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