Top 50 Movies, Directors, Actors List

Here is my Top 50 “movie industry” list. These 50+ items represent a broad cross-section of talented actors, screen writers and directors I love and/or admire tremendously.

I’m sure I could have kept going, and I know the second I post this I’ll remember 25 more that could have made this list…

This is NOT in priority order because that wouldn’t be possible….I tried to mix it up to keep it interesting. That said, if an individual movie is listed, it means I’ve seen it more than once – and in some cases – many more than that.

  1. The Piano
  2. Groundhog Day
  3. The Ten Commandments
  4. Good Will Hunting
  5. His Girl Friday
  6. The Shining
  7. The Harry Potter series
  8. Fried Green Tomatoes
  9. Blue Sky
  10. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  11. Some Like It Hot
  12. Tombstone
  13. Blade Runner
  14. Glory
  15. American Beauty
  16. Rounders
  17. Misery
  18. Rain Man
  19. Addicted to Love
  20. The Red Violin
  21. An American in Paris
  22. Raise the Red Lantern (Chinese)
  23. Only the Lonely
  24. Sling Blade
  25. The Crying Game
  26. The Wizard of Oz
  27. Platoon
  28. Sea of Love
  29. Out of Sight
  30. 12 Monkeys
  31. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  32. The Hunt for Red October
  33. Star Wars (the first 3 movies released)
  34. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (but I saw every single ST movie ever released and loved them)
  35. Steven Spielberg, including but not limited to: uh, a LOT. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, ET, Empire of the Sun, Jurrasic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, Munich, etc.
  36. Charlie Kaufman, including but not limited to: Adaptation; Synecdoche, New York; Being John Malkovich, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  37. The Coen Brothers, including but not limited to: Fargo, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, etc.
  38. Mel Brooks, including but not limited to: Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The 2000 year old man (not a movie, so sue me), Spaceballs, The Producers, History of the World Pt I, etc.
  39. David Mamet, including but not limited to: Heist, The Spanish Prisoner, Ronin, The Edge, Glengarry Glen Ross, etc.
  40. Woody Allen, including but not limited to: Bananas, Hannah and Her Sisters, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point, etc.
  41. Albert Brooks, including but not limited to: Defending Your Life, Lost in America, Mother, Broadcast News, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, etc.
  42. Martin Scorsese, including but not limited to: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, Casino, The Departed, Kundun, etc.
  43. Quentin Tarantino, including but not limited to: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Inglorious Basterds
  44. Wes Anderson, including but not limited to: The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  45. Jim Jarmusch, including but not limited to: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Broken Flowers, Down By Law, Dead Man
  46. John Hughes, including but not limited to: Uncle Buck; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Home Alone; The Breakfast Club;
  47. Meryl Streep, including but not limited to: The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Sophie’s Choice, The Bridges of Madison County, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Defending Your Life, Death Becomes Her, Adaptation, The Devil Wears Prada, A Prarie Home Companion, Julie and Julia, Fantastic Mr. Fox, It’s Complicated, etc.
  48. Tom Hanks, including but not limited to: Big, The Money Pit, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Catch Me If You Can, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story, etc.
  49. Robert Redford, including but not limited to: (Directing) The Milagro Beanfield War, A River Runs Through It, The Horse Whisperer, The Legend of Bagger Vance, etc. AND (Acting) Out of Africa, Indecent Proposal, The Horse Whisperer, The Sting
  50. Gene Hackman, including but not limited to: The French Connection, Hoosiers, Mississippi Burning, Unforgiven, The Firm, Get Shorty, The Birdcage, Enemy of the State, Heist, The Royal Tennenbaums
  51. Robert Duval, including but not limited to: Get Low, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Colors, A Family Thing, etc.
  52. Edward Norton, including but not limited to: Primal Fear, Rounders, American History X, Fight Club, The Illusionist, 25th Hour, Keeping the Faith (directed & acted), etc.
  53. Michael Keaton, including but not limited to: The Dream Team, Clean and Sober, Multiplicity, Jackie Brown, Batman Returns, etc.
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Being Funny Just Ain’t That Humorous

If you always wanted to know just how much sublime fun it was to be a writer of wit and humor, read the comments below from greats like Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen, Fran Lebowitz, Dorothy Parker, Erma Bombeck and Mark Twain – then think again. It was damn hard work then, and it’s damn hard work now.

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you. – Oscar Wilde

People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing. If you can do it, it’s not hard at all. It would be like if I said to somebody who can draw very well, My God, I could take a pencil and paper all day long and never be able to draw that horse. I can’t do it, and you’ve done it so perfectly. And the other person feels, This is nothing. I’ve been doing this since I was four years old. That’s how you feel about comedy—if you can do it, you know, it’s really nothing. It’s not that the end product is nothing, but the process is simple. Of course, there are just some people that are authentically funny, and some people that are not. It’s a freak of nature. – Woody Allen

FRAN LEBOWITZ

When I was very little, say five or six, I became aware of the fact that people wrote books. Before that, I thought that God wrote books. I thought a book was a manifestation of nature, like a tree. When my mother explained it, I kept after her: What are you saying? What do you mean? I couldn’t believe it. It was astonishing. It was like—here’s the man who makes all the trees. Then I wanted to be a writer, because, I suppose, it seemed the closest thing to being God.

I never wanted to be anything else. Well, if there had been a job of being a reader, I would have taken that, because I love to read and I don’t love to write. That would be blissful. Sometimes you meet people who really enjoy their work. Those are the people I am most envious of, no matter what their work is.

INTERVIEWER

You never enjoyed writing?

LEBOWITZ

I used to love to write. As a child I used to write all the time. I loved to write up until the second I got my first professional writing job. It turns out it’s not that I hate to write. I hate, simply, to work. I just hate to work, period. I am profoundly slothful. Practically inert. I have no energy. I never have. I just have no desire to be productive. Now that I realize I don’t hate to write, that I just hate to work, it makes writing easier.

INTERVIEWER

What, then, would you say is the source of most of your work?

DOROTHY PARKER

Need of money, dear.

INTERVIEWER

And besides that?

PARKER

It’s easier to write about those you hate—just as it’s easier to criticize a bad play or a bad book.

INTERVIEWER

You have an extensive reputation as a wit. Has this interfered, do you think, with your acceptance as a serious writer?

PARKER

I don’t want to be classed as a humorist. It makes me feel guilty. I’ve never read a good tough quotable female humorist, and I never was one myself. I couldn’t do it. A “smartcracker” they called me, and that makes me sick and unhappy. There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

UDQ: Tell me about your writing process.  How do you write?  Do you set aside a certain time of the day, and if so, why aren’t you writing now?

Erma Bombeck: I am.  You just interrupted me at a page and a half.  Discipline is what I do best.  I can’t imagine any writer saying to you, ‘I just write when I feel like it.’  That’s a luxury, and that’s stupid.  The same for writer’s block.  If you’re a professional writer, you write.  You don’t sit there and wait for sweet inspiration to tap you on the shoulder and say now’s the time.  We meet deadlines.  I write for newspapers, and newspapers don’t wait for anybody.  You write whether you feel like it, you write whether you’ve got an idea, you write whether it’s Pulitzer Prize material.  You just do it, that’s it.  Discipline is what we’re all about.  If you don’t have discipline, you’re not a writer.  This is a job for me.  I come in every morning at 8 a.m. and I don’t leave until 11:30 for lunch.  I take a nap, and then I’m back at the typewriter by 1:30 and I write until 5.  This happens five, six, seven days a week.  I don’t see how I can do any less.

Mark Twain:

“I tell you, life is a serious thing, and, try as a man may, he can’t make a joke of it. People forget that no man is all humor, just as they fail to remember that every man is a humorist. We hear that marvelous voice of Sembrich – a wonderful thing – a thing never to be forgotten – but nobody makes the mistake of thinking of Sembrich as merely a great, unmixed body of song. We know that she can think and feel and suffer like the rest of us. Why should we forget that the humorist has his solemn moments? Why should we expect nothing but humor of the humorist?

“My advice to the humorist who has been a slave to his reputation is never to be discouraged. I know it is painful to make an earnest statement of a heartfelt conviction and then observe the puzzled expression of the fatuous soul who is conscientiously searching his brain to see how he can possibly have failed to get the point of the joke. But say it again and maybe he’ll understand you. No man need be a humorist all his life. As the patent medicine man says, there is hope for all.”