When it comes to the best movie ever, how on Earth can we decide on just one movie? There are so many good movies out there, especially now that we are in an age where special effects, known as CGI, can really boost (or bust) a film’s quality. After all, who doesn’t love seeing explosions, or flying with Superman? As much as I like that, I think the combination of great acting, script, and director is what really makes a movie great. Go look at the top movies IMDB has on their website. Pretty much all of them have all the things I previously mentioned. The following is a list of my favorites in order from bottom to top, so that way the best is saved for last, plus I’ll add a few that I’m really excited for in the future. But first, I feel as though I should list some honorable mentions. There were so many others I wanted to add, but if I chose that route I would end up with a book, so I’ll have it remain a short list. Keep in mind that these are films that I have seen before – I know there might be some others out there that might top one or two on my list, but I’m working on seeing them! Without further ado, here are my honorable mentions!
Captain Phillips (2013)
Captain Phillips really took me by surprise when I watched it for the first time. It was so intense! This movie really keeps you in suspense the entire time, Tom Hanks does a wonderful job as always in the lead role, and I promise you this movie is not a waste of your time! It is also based on a true story. Kevin Spacey is a notable producer for this film that was directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) which delves into the horrible ship hijacking that these poor African kids are forced into doing, and tells the story of how perseverance, wisdom, and heart kept Rich Phillips alive.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
12 Years a Slave was another movie that made me feel sad and depressed throughout its entirety, and I loved it for that reason! The story unfolds with Solomon Northup, a free black man in New York, was kidnapped and forced into slavery down South. With twists and turns throughout the film, fantastic acting by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o, as well as producer Brad Pitt and directed by Steve McQueen (Shame) won Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. Trust me, this movie didn’t win that award for no reason. Grab a kleenex or two and enjoy a masterpiece, also based on a true story.
Argo was really close to cracking my top five list. I almost want to go change it quick, but I figure if I do critics will slam me for showing too much favoritism for one of my favorite actor/directors, Ben Affleck, so I’ll just keep it among my honorable mentions. This is a really wonderful film, and won the 2013 Oscar’s Best Picture Award very deservingly so. The synopsis starts with a US Embassy in Iran being overtaken and how six members snuck away without being captured. They were safe at a Canadian-owned house there, but not for long. Then, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) puts together a fake film crew to go scout for locations to shoot a fake movie, while safely bringing the civilians back home (also based on the inspirationally-true story). This film has a star-studded cast in Ben Affleck (director/lead role), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), John Goodman (Monsters Inc), and screenplay by Chris Terrio, who re-wrote the script for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight trilogy), but we’ll get to that later. Overall it is a great movie, and I highly recommend it.
Star Wars trilogy (Episodes IV, V, VI)
I couldn’t decide between all three of the original George Lucas films, so I’m putting them all together collectively as a whole. Each movie gets better and continuously throws you for a loop, keeping you in the action despite being in a galaxy far, far away. The voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, the progression of a hero in Mark Hamill portraying Luke Skywalker, and the kick-ass nature of Harrison Ford as Han Solo really drive the story forward. How about those special effects for being in the ’70s and ’80s? These are some of the most successful and critically-acclaimed films ever, check them out!
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that takes you into the life of the young man Chris Gardner (Will Smth) struggling in life so far, and trying his very best to to improve not only his life, but providing the best care for his son. They are posed with some tough challenges, like Gardner’s job at a prestigious company doesn’t pay since it’s an intern job, where only one person will be hired for the position. A great storyline and some fantastic acting by Will Smith really delves deep into a theme of making the most out of life, and creating the best life for your family.
Man of Steel (2013)
Of all the films that are going to be mentioned, this one is my personal favorite. While it isn’t perfect, it’s one of the best superhero movies ever to hit the big screen. An origin story that’s directed by Zack Snyder (300), produced by Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) and written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) really puts Superman into a realistic world where he is an outcast because he is different. When he finally discovers where he is from, General Zod (Michael Shannon) and company show up to take Kal-El back, or else Earth will suffer the consequences. What happens next is for you to watch and discuss. An excellent cast, starring Henry Cavill (Immortals), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Russel Crowe (Gladiator, Noah), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Hollywoodland), and Kevin Costner (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Field of Dreams), along with intense storytelling really enhance its credibility. Did I forget to mention how visually stunning it is? It’s worth a watch, no matter what you think of the ending, I guarantee it!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The second installment of the Captain America franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe really hits a home-run here. In my humble opinion, it’s the best Marvel movie ever produced, surpassing The Avengers, and especially its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. As IMDB states, “As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with another super soldier: the black widow, to battle a new threat from an old history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.” This film is directed by the Russo brothers and stars Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), and Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers). A big improvement story-wise over the first movie, and includes a few small tid-bits from other Avengers that add a nice touch of comedy to it. Like I said, it’s the best Marvel movie yet!
Top 5 Films of All-Time
Now that we’ve gone through my honorable mentions, which are pretty good films in terms of how they make you feel, and entail quality directing, acting, producing, and scripts. The list that follows is my top five films of all-time, here we go!
#5 – Forrest Gump (1994)
If you haven’t seen Forrest Gump, I highly encourage you to do so as soon as you possibly can. It is considered one of the best critically-acclaimed films ever, and has won six Oscars to prove it. Tom Hanks stars as the title character, who is not the most intelligent man on the planet, yet finds himself at many historic events. This theme of being able to accomplish whatever you want, no matter what circumstances you might face is an uplifting message that really hits home. But don’t leave out Jenny! She is the one woman who seems to get him, and the one woman who he really understands too, but she keeps eluding him. It’s a wonderful story written by Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and reunites Hanks with director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Cast Away).
#4 – The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
This epic movie closes the chapter on the Peter Jackson trilogy, and earned an 8.9 rating on IMDB. It’s also considered one of the best all-round films ever to hit the cinema. The synopsis is as follows: While Frodo and Sam continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, unaware of the path Gollum is leading them on, the former Fellowship aid Rohan and Gondor in a great battle in the Pelennor Fields, Minas Turith, and the Black Gates as Sauron wages his last war against Middle-Earth. Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, and Viggo Mortensen, this fantasy action-packed adventure will leave you stunned. It won 11 Oscars- a great film!
#3 – The Dark Knight (2008)
These next three films can easily be interchanged, but in my #3 spot I have The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Heath Ledger (seen above, Brokeback Mountain), Aaron Eckhart (Battle Los Angeles, Olympus Has Fallen), Michael Caine (Inception, Interstellar), Maggie Gyllenhaal (White House Down), Morgan Freeman (Shawshank Redemption, Se7en), and Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), the second installment of DC Comics’s biggest moneymaker brings us Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman facing off against the Joker, who is wreaking havoc on Gotham. With many twists and turns at unexpected moments, this film really keeps you on your toes until the credits. Many consider this the film that made comic book movies go mainstream in the world of cinema. Take a ride with Legendary Pictures’s psychological thriller that will leave you wanting more!
#2 – Good Will Hunting (1997)
This independent film from 1997 will capture your soul, and possibly your tears. This film sees the best of Robin Williams, and the beginning of fame for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Matt Damon, playing Will Hunting, is a janitor at M.I.T. and has a really special gift for math. Unfortunately, he has lived a rough life and needs help from a psychologist named Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). Of all the films on this list, this one might have the very best dialogue and characterization. It has a wonderfully-weaved, beautifully-timed dramedy aspect, and throws in some great themes and ideas to think about and let resonate. Good Will Hunting won two Oscars, and was nominated for Best Picture in 1998. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this movie hits it out of the park. Please watch it!
#1 – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
My number one movie of all-time is The Shawshank Redemption. Have you ever watched a movie for 142 minutes and walk away feeling numb and not knowing what to do for the rest of the day? That was me after watching this 1994 film. It literally tears one’s soul out, put it back in, and tear it out again. The synopsis for this movie is how two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.Words have a tough time describing how Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins (Mystic River) aced their roles in this movie. Fun fact – it’s also Morgan Freeman’s favorite film that he has been a part of. With a big, surprise ending, this one is considered an American masterpiece. It’s a must-watch, hands down.
Films I Still Need to Watch / Most Anticipated
Now I’m going to move onto my next section of movies that I know are regarded as classics in American cinema that I still need to watch. I’m also going to include films that I’m very anxious for to come out in theaters.
The Godfather (1972)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
San Andreas (2015)
Gone Girl (2014)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)