Movies: All-Time Favorites – Expanded…and Completed – Finally!

Finally, I’m putting together my list of 25 All Time Favorite Films. It’s not been easy, but it has been fun.

Not easy – because I have so many films I really, really like so much that I’ll watch them multiple times and never get tired of them. They are favorites and it makes it hard to narrow a list down to a Top 25.

Fun – because I’ve always loved movies, the stories, characters, and all that go with the audio and visual medium of film. Looking over many lists of films it’s at times like visiting with an old friend, re-experiencing the joys, the thrills, as well as the sad but poignant moments in the movies.

So here comes the point where I look at the many favorites from which to choose. I’ll look at The Contenders – Those worthy challengers for a spot on my Top 25 All Time Favorite Films.

In my last post I mentioned there weren’t many films released in the last 10 years that could be contenders for my top 25 list. Well, here are those I would consider for the list:
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Iron Man (2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
True Grit (2010)
Lincoln (2012)
Cinderella Man (2005)

Going back to my previously posted Top 10, my all-time number one favorite movie is It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). And that one also happens to top most Christmas list favorites. I love Christmas movies and a few of my favorites are the classics The Bishops Wife (1947) with Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young and Miracle on 34th Street (1947) with Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara and John Payne.

Other Christmas movies that I specially like that are a ‘little’ more recent would be the first Home Alone (1990) with Macaulay Culkin and Elf (2003) with Will Ferrell. In Elf Ferrel is just terrific, (Side note – my favorite Ferrell movie is Stranger Than Fiction from 2006). And Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is a modern classic.

Then there’s a really wonderful movie, that you most likely haven’t seen, One Magic Christmas (1985) with Mary Steenburgen and Harry Dean Stanton. (Put that one on your list to watch next Christmas).

By the way, many people seem to love The Christmas Story (1983) but not me. Sure there are a few laughs but Darren McGavin just seems silly to me in the movie and I can’t get over it. McGavin will forever be Carl Kolchak in the 1970’s TV movies and TV series The Night Stalker.

Now to turn 180 degrees . . .

I’ve never been much of a Horror fan, but one I thought was pretty good in the last few years is The Crazies (2010). And The Shining (1980) with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall is outstanding. Then going back to the classics, I just love The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) with Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara.

But the one in the Horror category that I have the most affection for, the one that gave me countless nightmares as a kid, is Frankenstein (1931) with Boris Karloff.

Then of course Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) is a film that helped to redefine horror.

Speaking of Hitchcock, he made so many terrific films (Besides Rear Window, already on my Top 10 list), how does one pick favorites? There are at least a half dozen Alfred Hitchcock movies (outside of Psycho) fighting to get a place on the list:
North by Northwest (1959)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Vertigo (1958)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
The Birds (1963)
and a surprisingly funny The Trouble With Harry (1953)

Switching gears again, there’s my first movie crush, Hayley Mills in the original The Parent Trap (1961), which I first saw when Disney issued a re-release.


And before I was old enough to have a crush on any movie star, I had a love of cartoons. Never really loosing that passion, at least when it comes to feature length animated films, I have many favorites but at the top are:
The Jungle Book (1967)
The Iron Giant (1999)
The Incredibles (2004)
and both live action and animation – Who Framed Rodger Rabbit (1988)

Other special memories from childhood include the classic The Wizard of OZ (1939) and the wonderful Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation effects in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Mysterious Island (1961).

More outstanding classic Hollywood Black and White films include:
The Thin Man (1934)
Casablanca (1942)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1941)
The African Queen (1951)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)

I’ve softened up over the years and have great “affection” for several Romantic Comedies:
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Awful Truth (1937)
Moonstruck (1987)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Notting Hill (1999)
Shawn of the Dead (2004) – I consider this more of a Romantic Comedy than a Zombie/Horror movie

And even though I haven’t seen a lot of Foreign Films I really like:
Seven Samurai (1954)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Run Lola Run (1998)
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

And finally there are just so many movies, Action, Drama, Thrillers, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Superhero that I am specially fond of, many listed here:
Gunga Din (1939)
The Great Escape (1963)
Gladiator (2000)
The Bourne Identity (2002)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)
Spider-Man (2002)
Unbreakable (2000)
Independence Day (1996)
The Terminator (1984)
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Rocky (1976)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Godfather (1972)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Third Man (1949)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Lilies of the Field (1963)
The African Queen (1951)
Braveheart (1995)
The Black Stallion (1979)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Ghost (1990)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
The Matrix (1999)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Secondhand Lions (2003)

Jaws 01

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So hard to choose, so hard to pick just 25 that are above the rest…but, FINALLY….Here is my list of Top 25 All Time Favorite Movies:

– –

1 – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – The movie is summed up by George Bailey’s guarding angel, Clarence, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” The movie is a reminder of the power of one life, the impact one person can have.

2 – The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – It’s a story of friendship, loyalty, courage, honor, and sacrifice. The friendship of Frodo and Sam shines in the movie. As Sam says, “I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

3 – When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Easily my favorite Romantic Comedy. The insights into male/female relationships continue to ring true and are delivered with such comic delight.

4 – Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) – I just call it “Star Wars.” George Lucas, at the top of his game, delivered the perfect story. He really didn’t need to go back and mess with little bits here and there, along with the title change. But, no matter – I still love the film.

5 – Fiddler on the Roof (1971) – I amaze myself. A musical in my Top Ten. But I was hooked from the opening song “Tradition.” I so admire Tevye, his resilience, devotion to family, faith in God, and remarkable sense of humor, as he struggles to adapt to change. He’s always been like a father figure to me.

6 – Toy Story 1 & 2 (1995 & 1999) – Forgetting that they’re animated, these are two amazing films. I’m unable to rate one above the other. Giving life and personality to toys – pure fantasy that makes me believe it’s actuality true.

7 – Rear Window (1954) – A wonderful thriller, it’s hard to hit upon a better combination than what you find here. One of the cinema’s greatest directors, Alfred Hitchcock, an all-time favorite leading man, Jimmy Stewart, and not only a stunning actress, but one of the most beautiful women to ever walk the face of the earth, Grace Kelly. (Essential Note: Ms. Kelly is second only to my dazzling wife).

8 – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Bringing together Steven Spielberg (director), John Williams (music) and a story by George Lucas (at the height of his creativity) and Philip Kaufman who went on to direct the film, The Right Stuff – this project was bound to be fantastic!

9 – The Princess Bride (1987) – Bridging the gap between generations, a grandfather shares a story with his reluctant grandson. It’s a fable packed with adventure, courage, friendship, romance and a whole lot of laughter.

10 – Saving Private Ryan (1998) – The intensely riveting first 25 minutes of the film depicts the assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It still evokes a physical and emotional response that goes far beyond most any other movie moments.

SS 01

11 – Groundhog Day (1993) – I’ve always loved movies where there’s movement toward redemption. Here, the transformation isn’t forced, and makes total sense because Phil just get’s tired of being a jerk. Combine that with a movie that’s laugh out loud funny, clever, and at times a little bizarre – It’s pure comedy at it’s best.

12 – Field of Dreams (1989) – I can’t decide which I like better, the movie or the book that it’s based on, Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. The movie has a much stronger focus on the main character Ray Kinsella and his relationship, or lack there of, with his father. In the book Ray dealt more with questions of whether or not he was doing the right thing; if he was making a mistake. It touched more on his apprehensions and fears. See the movie! Read the book!

13 – Jaws (1975) – The movie that defined the word “Blockbuster.” The screen isn’t cluttered with hundreds of space ships dodging and blasting each other or thousands of CGI warriors in battle – not that there’s anything wrong with those things. If you get to see this film in a theater, with its images of a single boat (called the Orca), or a close-up of one of the characters, police chief Brody, shark hunter Quint, or oceanographer Matt Hooper filling up the screen – along with the groans, cheers and laughter of the audience – it’s simply movie heaven.

14 – The Bourne Identity (2002) – The Bourne films with Matt Damon are the best Action films of the last 15 years. It’s hard to pick, but for me the first in the series just beats the others as my favorite.

15 – Shawn of the Dead (2004) – The tagline says it all – “A Romantic Comedy with Zombies.” I do love a movie where the slacker redeems himself in the end.

16 – Jurassic Park (1993) – Along with the action, 1993’s Jurassic Park brings together story, characters, visuals, soundtrack, and an emotional core where you really care about the characters. This year’s Jurassic World is great fun but still falls short of the heart of the original.

17 – The Matrix (1999) – Keanu Reeves is great as Neo in this visually stunning Sci-Fi Action film. The film that had a big impact on many films to follow, especially it’s very cool “bullet time” visual effect.

18 – You’ve Got Mail (1998) – Two likeable actors playing two likeable characters, though Tom Hanks’ character Joe Fox starts off a bit arrogant. And I still love the setting stated by the title that captures the beginning of our dependence on the email age. Can’t believe that was only 1998.

19 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – I loved this film from the first time I saw it as a kid on Saturday afternoon TV. It’s still as good as ever. Some actors are completely identified with one character that they have played. Errol Flynn will always be fondly remembered as Robin Hood.

20 – Die Hard (1988) – As is most often the case, the first in a series is the movie I like the most. Bruce Willis, perfect as off-duty detective John McClane and as Hans Gruber, Alan Rickman is one of my favorite bad guys.

21 – Lincoln (2012) – Steven Spielberg, easily the living director who’s body of work I most admire, has a total of five films on my Top 25 list. With Daniel Day-Lewis giving an amazing performance as President Lincoln, it’s my favorite movie of the last 10 years.

22 – Seven Samurai (1954) – Directed by perhaps Japan’s greatest director, Akira Kurosawa, it’s been said that it’s one of the most influential films ever made. All I know is  it is an outstanding adventure with themes of honor, courage and sacrifice along with some wonderful humor.

23 – The Parent Trap  (1961) – My first movie crush, Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills… I fell in love with these “twins” and have never quite gotten over them.

24- Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – A classic Christmas film where Edmund Gwenn plays Santa Claus. I still get that “lump in the throat” feeling when I get to the very last scene of the film…..After all Edmund Gwenn really is Santa Claus, right?

25 – The Jungle Book (1967) – The last feature length animated film that Walt Disney himself influenced before his death on December 15, 1966. Great characters and music that I have remembered and loved all my life.

So, at last, there they are, my all time Top 25 Favorite films. With so many favorites from which I had to choose, in my next post I’ll give the secret that help me get to the point of coming up with the list.


About VocareMentor

Walk with the wise and become wise - Prov. 13:20 A lot of my blog comes out of the way I grew up. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I didn’t see much of my father. I had no understanding of how the lack of his presence in my life affected every choice I made as I grew up. Much of my adult life has been attempting to sort things out and catch up. Thus, what you’ll find on my blog are musings, thoughts, wisdom and ideas from history and pop culture. Themes: mentors, father/son, male/female, self-discovery, courage, stepping up, friendship and more.
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Movies: All-Time Favorites – Expanded…and Completed – Finally!

  1. Geraint Isitt says:

    The Princess Bride will always be one of my go-to movies when nothing good is on the television. Such a smart script, outstanding performances, and a tale that resonates with many people. I though Empire Strikes Back was the better film; although Star Wars might be the better story. Fellowship was the best of the three in terms of flimmaking; less to do with CGI as well. Great list. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with my own list. I like movies for different reasons. Much like music, I might like a crap film because it reminds me of a special time in my life.

    • VocareMentor says:

      Geraint, Thanks for your thoughts. I recently finished reading the book, The Princess Bride. Good book but this is one case where a great story and dialog was made into an even better film with wonderful casting and a few changes in the story that improved it. Making the Top 25 list was something I kinda tried several times over the years. It was a fun project.

      • Geraint Isitt says:

        I have read the book as well and completely agree that the movie trumped it; which is very rare. Also rare when a cover version of a song is as good or better than the original … but that’s another blog.

  2. In making such a list I would have to ask myself which movies have I watched over and over again and would likely watch at least part of it if they were on TV again. Among my most multiple watched movies would be (in no order) – It’s a Wonderful Life, Rambo First Blood, Star Wars (the first three made), Time Bandits, Tron (the original), God Father 1& 2, Rocky 1, Saving Private Ryan, Raiders 1 & 3, Frankenstein (w Boris Karloff), Dracula (w Bella Lugosi), Jurassic Park 1 & 3, Jaws 1, Die Hard 1, North by North West, Vertigo, ET, Toy Story, Lion King, Peter Pan (cartoon), Wizard of Oz, Castaway, West Side Story, Sound of Music, Duel (TV movie), Music Man … I know there are others but my mind is now on break. Thanks 🙂

    • VocareMentor says:

      Yes Paul, in making the list one of the questions I did ask myself was “do I watch the film over and over?” Another was, “Do I like pretty much everything about the film, from beginning to end?” Before seeing the sequel Tron Legacy I did go back and watch the original Tron. There was more of a fondness for the memory of the movie and it’s accomplishments at the time it was released but it didn’t quite hold up for me as well as I had expected (but still better than the sequel). I can’t remember the last time I saw Time Bandits. I’ll have to try and watch that again soon.

  3. Paul S says:

    When Harry Met Sally is special to me because it was the movie where I first fell in love with Meg Ryan.
    I first watched it on a date, and couldn’t help moaning and gasping whenever Meg would do something… roll her eyes, deliver a line, laugh… my date continually elbowed me in the ribs and got very agitated. No second date for us, but my love for Meg Ryan movies endures to this day.

    • VocareMentor says:

      Great story – I guess maybe your date didn’t have a great sense of humor. Thanks for sharing. – When Harry Met Sally is my number 3 all time favorite movie and Meg Ryan is terrific. Another Meg Ryan movie, You’ve Got Mail is in my Top 20 favorites. She is wonderful in these Romantic Comedies!

      • Paul S says:

        Oh I agree, Meg Ryan is a revelation in You’ve Got Mail and each time I watch it I discover some new aspect of the character. Kathleen Kelly is erudite, down to earth and has a wicked sense of humour. A lethal combination.

  4. bythebriny says:

    Yay for the inclusion of The Princess Bride. Dead Poets Society would probably rank somewhere in my list of top movies. Also love It’s a Wonderful Life (big Jimmy Stewart fan here), and another Christmas movie I really enjoy is The Bells of St. Mary’s.

  5. Even though I’ve enjoyed many classics off your list, for example I grew up on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark and later loved Die Hard, When Harry Met Sally, Groundhog Day and The Matrix, I have to report that none of them made the list (

  6. mistermuse says:

    Glad to see GROUNDHOG DAY on your list (#11) –I think I’d rate it even higher, though it’s hard to say exactly where unless I actually tried to compile such a list. Here are several you didn’t mention which would make my list (top 40, if not top 25): DODSWORTH (1936), THE STRANGER’S RETURN (1933), BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1935), CITY LIGHTS (1931), IT’S A GIFT (1934), and one or both of the Marx Brothers top films, DUCK SOUP (1933) / A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935).
    As you can see, I’m partial to the best films of the 1930s & 40s, though admittedly I haven’t kept up with movies produced in recent years. Of the few I’ve seen, I’d include MIDNIGHT IN PARIS in my top 40, or even top 25.

  7. VocareMentor says:

    I’ve seen Dodsworth, Brief Encounter, and It’s A Gift, all very good. I have always enjoyed the Marx Bros., and I think City Lights is Chaplin’s best. – Midnight in Paris was wonderful. It just happens that I will mention it in my next post.

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