Strap yourself in, boys and girls. Here are the 10 best movies of all time.
…At least according to me.
John and Stasi Eldredge in their book, Love and War, wrote that one of the most intimate things that you can find out about someone is their favourite movie scenes. In the book, they implore couples to ask their partner what movie scenes mean the most to them, and that in doing so, they discover the things that really capture the heart of the one they love.
I had never thought about movies in such a profound way before reading that book. I mean, hearing someone word it like that it makes sense, but it completely changed the way I listen to people talking about their favourite multimedia experiences, whether it be a movie, a game, or book.
As for me, I have literally hundreds of movies at my house that I’ve picked up over the years. People always love to see the wall of Blurays across multiple bookshelves and additional movies across different devices.
Just so you know, you’re probably going to be surprised at this list. It’s not a list of movies that probably “deserve” the title of best movie ever, like Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind or Saving Private Ryan, although they’re all excellent. But it’s the movies that stick out as the best to me – for whatever reason, these ones have resonated with me the most. Also, these are the movies that I usually find myself going back to for a rewatch, because there’s always something new, or old, to enjoy.
There are so many brilliant movies and franchises I’ve had to leave out here – the Rocky movies (especially 3 and 4), Manny Lewis, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The King’s Speech, the Disney classics, The Sound of Music, even some anime favourites like Awakening of a Trailblazer. If you’ve read one of the multiple posts I’ve made on different movies over the years, you may recognize a few of these, but the rest… well, we’ll find out won’t we?
So sit back, relax, get your pitchforks and torches ready (especially for Number 3) as I expound emphatically the top 10 best movies of all time. At least according to me.
#10: Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
I recently saw a few top 10 movie lists that listed Eternal Sunshine as the best movie of all time. I sat there and thought, “Hmm really? I haven’t seen that movie since it came out”. I was in my teen years when I first saw this movie and can’t remember being super impressed by it, I just remember it had Jim Carrey in a serious role.
I recently rewatched this movie now I’m much older and wow. Just, wow. In terms of so many things – acting, story, cinematography, writing, originality, and casting choices – this movie really is a winner.
The movie centres around a shy man named Joel who experiences a bad breakup with his girlfriend Clementine, such to the point that Clementine decides to have a procedure carried out to erase Joel from her memories. Frustrated and destroyed by this, Joel decides to have the same procedure to remove her from his memory. It’s a surreal portrayal of the realities of breaking up and starting over.
If you know me, you know I don’t really like those romantic movies with the cliche or unrealistic love story. I like the stories that are a lot more real. And man, is the love story here ever real. Even though the premise seems totally unrealistic, the dialogue, relationships and moments have such a gritty authenticity to it that its almost scary. Everyone has parts of their life they wish they could forget, but at what cost? One of my favourite moments comes towards the end of the movie, when Joel and Clementine meet again for the first time on the other side of the procedure, still hit it off, discover they have a history, and come up with one of the greatest dialogues on relationships ever:
#9: I Know That Voice
And out of the leftfield comes this lesser known documentary from John DiMaggio on the world of voice acting. I’m a big gamer and animation fan, and I find the world of voice acting absolutely fascinating. This documentary is probably the best one on the subject for one main reason:
Everyone is in it. Everyone.
Billy West, Nancy Cartwright, Jennifer Hale (hello Commander Shepard), Tom Kenny, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Jim Cummings, Hank Azaria, Kevin Conroy… the list goes on.
It chronicles the origins of voice acting, cartoons, 3D animation, video games, voiceovers in trailers and movies, and even features a really touching story about how the voices of Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig saved the lives of their actor, Mel Blanc, from a coma following a car accident. If you’ve ever enjoyed any form of media in which voiceover work exists, you will love this.
#8: The Miracle Maker
The Miracle Maker is the most (ironically) true to life story of the life of Christ that I’ve ever seen. This movie is a masterpiece. The film uses multiple forms of animation, from claymation, to these incredibly detailed Russian marionettes, blended with some 2D animation and a touch of CGI. Ralph Fiennes stars as Jesus and uses his amazing range from his theatre career to capture something that very few biblical movies do – the humanity and reality of who Jesus was.
I’ve always felt that most retellings of the story of Christ come across as quite pretentious. Jesus is always shown to be kind of floaty, kind of firing off pot shots from a distance at people or always being somewhere beyond where He was physically located. This movie gets it perfect in my opinion – the interactions with His parents, the disciples, the Pharisees and Roman rulers, the way each parable is told. It is shot through the eyes of a young girl, the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue.
Stellar and highly recommended.
#7: Liar Liar
And for a complete change of pace from the previous entry – I do enjoy Jim Carrey. I know Eternal Sunshine is a more serious role, but I do enjoy his range of comedy. Liar Liar is a movie that always comes to mind as probably the best comedy I’ve ever seen. It’s a movie with a message, but a whole bunch of dysfunction before it gets there.
A young boy named Max is tired of his father always making promises to him and always breaking them, and so for his birthday, he wishes that his father is unable to lie. Fletcher, a dishonest and over the top lawyer, finds the next morning that his son’s wish has come true. Hilarity and soul searching ensue.
Some standouts come in the form of Fletcher trying to write down the truth since he can’t say it and ending up in a fight with his right hand, his face and a blue pen (it’s rrrrrrrrrrrroyal blue); a hilarious confessional when Fletcher is pulled over for speeding but because of his inability to hide the truth, ends up confessing to much more; and a court case that gives A Few Good Men a run for its money in its entertainment values. Good stuff.
Still hilarious all these years later, there hasn’t been a time I’ve gone back to it where there haven’t been belly laughs. Sometimes in life you’ve just gotta laugh.
#6: Everything by Christopher Nolan (except Momento which I haven’t seen)
Christopher Nolan is a genius. He really is. I don’t think he’s capable of directing a bad movie.
He is probably best known for his brilliant work for The Dark Knight trilogy of Batman movies, forever changing the world of superhero movies into some of the biggest moneymoving films of all time. Inception was one of the most creative thrillers of recent years. Interstellar was a bit more linear but still a blockbuster in its own right (“Those aren’t mountains… those are waves”).
I think his best piece of work would have to be The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Christian Bale, about two warring magicians whose rivalry turns sour, with some of the best twists in movie making history.
Oh yeah, and Michael Caine is in all of these. Rightly so.
#5: We Bought A Zoo
Ah man, We Bought A Zoo. As soon as I even wrote the name of this movie down, its stellar soundtrack begun to play in my head, and a sense of relief swept my heart. Sounds a bit extreme, but We Bought A Zoo truly is one of the most moving movie experiences of all time.
The story follows a man named Ben and his two kids who have recently lost their mother to illness. Struggling to get over the loss, Ben decides the best move is to take his family out of the city and into the country, where they (wait for it) buy a country zoo to live in. The zoo is already staffed by a whole litany of different characters and animals, and now it’s up to Ben and his family to adjust to their new life.
This movie is probably the most beautiful movie I can think of about having the light return into your life. I think that life can be so dark at times, which Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansonn, Elle Fanning and the cast so brilliantly portray, but there’s always an opportunity for light to enter back into your life. There are some truly restorative moments in this movie, from Ben confronting the sickness of one of the tigers which echoes his inner turmoil during the last few months of his late wife’s life, to Ben learning to find love again with a woman who is really just there for him and understands him, to the most beautiful moments in the movie where Ben’s son Dylan finally sees the sun reenter his darkened heart through the love of those around him.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh the feels.
#4: Something Borrowed
Look, I’ve written way too much about this movie already, but this is definitely my favourite movie about romance that was ever made. Ultimately, Something Borrowed is a movie about the importance of saying what you mean, and saying it as soon as you can.
Another movie I wrote a bit about already in 13 Reasons I Prefer The Star Wars Prequels, Star Wars Episode 3 is my favourite Star Wars movie out of the 7 that have been presented so far at the time of writing. People complain all the time about what is described as stiff dialogue, cardboard acting and a weak story.
My feelings are quite to the contrary, for the most part.
Yeah okay okay okay okay okay okay okay, the acting for all the characters isn’t going to win any Oscars (although a movie later will take care of that problem), but it was pretty decent in my book. When Anakin discovers that Padme is pregnant, when Anakin finally gives up on the Jedi Council for refusing to trust him, and pretty much all of Obi-Wan reacting to the loss of the fall of the Chosen One is all pretty great stuff. Hayden Christensen even nailed the mannerisms of Darth Vader in Episode 4, both vocally and physically. Watch Episode 3 then immediately watch 4, you’ll see what I mean.
Over and above that, the story is great. It’s just so epic. The epicness of Star Wars really didn’t come into its own until Episode 3 was complete – it opened so much of the universe and fleshed out so many characters. In fact, most people who go on about how good the original trilogy was (and hey, it is very good), they’re usually quoting pieces of information that Episode 3 introduced.
But ultimately, it’s the story about a great betrayal leading into a great redemption. The action is absolutely stellar and compliments the universe. The soundtrack – far out. The scale – amazing. Check the 13 Reasons article I listed above for some more reasons I love this movie so much.
#2: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
If there was a movie I could watch every day of my life, it would be Scott Pilgrim, and I would never get tired of it.
This is probably the greatest spectacle I’ve ever seen in terms of sheer entertainment. It’s like watching a comic book, a video game and a movie all fused into one in equal measures of brilliance. Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, a Peter Pan syndrome nobody who is smitten by Ramona Flowers. However, to capture her heart, he must defeat her seven evil exes, culminating in a Sepiroth-style showdown with the music producer Gideon Graves.
I still can’t believe how amazing this movie is to look at. There has been nothing like it since, nothing even close. I can’t believe how touching and raw this movie is at times, particularly in the ending where they have a chance to start again. I can’t get over the soundtrack.
Oh yeah, and Chris Evans as Evil Ex #2, Lucas Lee, the action hero. He sent up every action star in history, including himself, so well that I still find his segments in the movie laugh out loud funny after dozens and dozens of rewatches.
#1: Return of the King (Extended)
And here it is, ladies and gentlemen. The golden crown.
Winner of 11 Oscars, Return of the King is my favourite movie of all time and I doubt it will ever move. The real reason this became my favourite movie was a book called The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge, who used the movie as a way to describe the 6 stages of the masculine journey. I can’t even really describe how profound that affects you as a man, or even as a person, to experience. Go get the book then rewatch Return of the King and you’ll never forget it. I know I never will – it’s a journey that the soul can’t fully repeat without experiencing yourself.
On top of all that, the film is an absolute masterpiece. There isn’t one thing about it to dislike. Well, except any parts featuring Frodo – I usually shorten the movie by myself by skipping over most of the scenes he’s in. But the journey of Aragorn to the throne, his love for Arwen, and his eventual reign and rule over the enemy is my favourite story to watch in a movie.
So there you go. The top 10 best movies of all time. Yeah okay I know I probably lost a lot of you on a bunch of those entries, but that’s the great thing about movies – they really resonate with everyone differently, and usually say more about you than most things ever could.
So how about you? What are your favourite movies? Agree with any of these? Have a completely different set of favourites?