Essays · Television and Film

My Favorite Films

Critics and fans list their ten favorite films of all-time. by Joe Bob Briggs, Mike Nelson, Douglas Rushkoff, David Poland, Ty Burr, Stephanie Zacharek, Bonnie Burton, Adam Finley, Tim Grierson, Rob Blackwelder, Matt Hinrichs, Joe Lavin, Rob Walker, Daniel Dunn, Tod Goldberg, A.J. Daulerio, Bob Sassone, and Brian Lewandowski.


Mike Nelson

This list of my (current) top ten favorite films is brilliantly illustrative of one thing: I am the least cool person on the face of the earth. Foreign, art house and indy films are sadly under-represented. Not that I didn’t love Aguirre, The Wrath of God, or The Seventh Seal, or that one Inuit film about the fast runner (called, I think, Fast Runner), I loved them all! They represent some of the finest…okay I didn’t see them. So I have to go with those films that I have seen, or else it would be kind of cheating.

1. Casablanca: So easy, I know. But it’s awfully good, and let’s face it, every man thinks he’s Humphrey Bogart, even if the end of our romances usually involve punching parking meters and screaming, “Sherri! Just come out and talk to me,” at the window of a two story apartment building in a thick, sloe gin-induced slur.

2. Local Hero: How can you not love this Burt Lancaster line: “I’m glad I got here in time to stop your oil refinery caper, MacIntosh.”

3. Love Affair (1939): Either I’m secure enough in my masculinity to wholeheartedly recommend this film, or…well, I’m a woman. But there is a substantial amount of evidence suggesting I’m not a woman, which somehow means that this a great film and Irene Dunne is just fabulous. (Hmm. “Fabulous.” I guess I am a woman.)

4. The Elephant Man: No, he’s not much to look at. And I’m told it wasn’t easy to be around him because the huge bags of cauliflower-like rotting flesh hanging off his body could be somewhat off-putting. But he makes a great subject for a film! And truly, the scene where Treves takes him home to meet his proper Victorian wife is just one of the most heart breaking moments ever filmed.

5. My Favorite Year: Not a “great” film, certainly—blame it on the fact that Mark Linn Baker wasn’t able to play off Balki—but even so, it’s pretty sweet and hilarious and it captures a performance by Peter O’Toole for which he should simply be canonized.

6. Henry V (1989): Shakespeare, he write good. And Brian Blessed in that huge suit of armor always brings a smile to my face. And Hank was right, I do think myself accursed that I was not there, and hold my manhood cheap (see Love Affair, above.)

7. To Kill a Mockingbird: A Hollywood studio film that is so much better than other examples of the breed (e.g., Billy Madison, Corky Romano, Little Nicky) that they should have dismantled the system after if was made. Among its good points: some fine source material, Elmer Bernstein’s score, those amazing kids, Gregory Peck, Brock Peters, and that scary guy who played Bob Ewell. (If you get the DVD, watch the accompanying documentary in which Peck claims that the Bob Ewell actor was just like his character and pretty much hated Peck and the rest of the cast. Wow!)

8. Animal Crackers: While I admit that this is filmed about as artfully as Billy Madison, or Corky Romano, or Little Nicky, the Marx Brothers are at their best and the dementia praecox style of comedy writing was at its zenith, which I think means that it’s really funny.

9. It’s a Wonderful Life: It’s another easy one, sure. But it says something about the artfulness of this film that I begin “pre-crying” when I think ahead to the next touching scene while style crying about
the one I’m currently on. (That cuts it—I’m not just a woman, I’m a wonderful, vibrant female speciman.) This is an incredibly well written script and there is an economy to it that is astounding, as well as a depth to the art direction that I think gets overlooked because of its popularity.

10. The Straight Story: The story of an old guy. It’s actually a lot better than it sounds.

Mike Nelson is the former host and head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the author of several books. His latest, the novel “Death Rat,” will be released this spring.


Stephanie Zacharek

Ten favorites, in no particular order, and subject to change at any moment depending on which way the wind blows:

The Lady Eve
Broken Blossoms
The Wild Bunch
The Godfather I & II
The Apu Trilogy
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Jules et Jim
L’Atalante OR Sunrise (I know that’s cheating, but how can I choose between the two?)
Masculine Feminine
The Elephant Man
Irma Vep
The Leopard

I know that’s way more than 10, but seeing them all written
down like that, I just can’t bear to cut any. So we’ll leave it at that.

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer at Salon.


Douglas Rushkoff

1. Night of the Hunter: Can actually give you weird dreams. Charles Laughton’s only directing stint.
2. Sweet Smell of Success: As far as a movie can go this side of camp.
3. Cabaret: The only successful movie musical other than Wizard of Oz.
4. Pickpocket: Bresson’s subtle masterwork.
5. The Stalker: Tarkovksy trippy weirdness in Russia.
6. Vanya on 42nd Street: The best Chekhov on stage or film.
7. Fight Club: The culmination of the 90s.
8. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut: The culmination of the century.
9. The Private Life of King Henry VIII: Watch the eating.
10. Freaks: Made me feel loved.

Douglas Rushkoff is the author of ten books, translated into
twenty languages. His latest, a deconstruction of religion called
“Nothing Sacred, will be released in April.


Ty Burr

Today, mine are:

1. Bringing Up Baby
2. The Godfather
3. Celine and Julie Go Boating
4. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
5. I Know Where I’m Going
6. Aliens
7. Rear Window
8. Written on the Wind
9. Pierrot le Fou
10. Seven Samurai

Ty Burr is film critic for The Boston Globe.


Joe Bob Briggs

1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
2. Hellraiser
3. Night of the Living Dead
4. The Wild Bunch
5. And God Created Woman
6. Reservoir Dogs
7. Re-Animator
8. The Wild Angels
9. Crash
10. Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.

Joe Bob Briggs is a writer, actor, and former host of TNT’s “MonsterVision.” A former commentator on “The Daily Show,” he has written for Playboy, Rolling Stone, Talk, Penthouse, and writes a column for UPI. He has appeared in several movies, including “Casino,” “Face-Off,” and “The Stand.” His latest book, “Profoundly Disturbing: Twenty Shocking Films That Changed History,” will be released on May 1.

Rob Blackwelder

1. Breaking the Waves: Absolutely gut-wrenching, but I’m obsessed with it.
2. The Thin Man: There’s never been a more enjoyable, adorable or funny on-screen marriage than Nick & Nora Charles.
3. What’s New Pussycat: Unfairly forgotten sex farce by a then-unknown Woody Allen!
4. Amélie: Arguably cinema’s most inventive, least sappy, most delightful romance.
5. Bound: Modern noir at its very, very best – and imminently quotable.
6. Rear Window: Hitchcock’s best, and exemplary of everything that made him great.
7. Run Lola Run: Tons of fun and totally innovative.
8. One, Two, Three: One of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and another film undeservedly little-known.
9. Brazil: Ironic genius.
10. His Girl Friday
(tie) The Philadelphia Story
(tie) The Seven Year Itch
Three all-time comedy highlights. I can’t possibly rank which one is more favorite than another.
11. Moon Over Miami: I have thing for Betty Grable musicals, and this is the most delightful of them all.

Rob Blackwelder, SPICEDwire.


David Poland

Coming up with 10 is brutal… numbering them is insanity… and I cheated.

In alphabetical order:

1. Bridge Over The River Kwai: Lean’s grittiest work, but also majestic in size and theme. Lean made films about the point at which spirits break and reconfigure themselves. Somehow , this film is as contained in itself as is the prison camp.

2. A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove: Kubrick lays out the foundation of world culture that still rings true today. The two films are on either side of The Kubrick Line, on one side of which he drew inside the lines but with his own crayons and on the other side of which he created his own coloring book and let us learn to get used to its charms.

3. Crimes and Misdemeanors: My list used to have Manhattan on it. But C&M is the one truly complete Woody Allen film, blending rich, challenging drama with brutally funny satire.

4. The Godfather I&II: Coppola’s masterworks. Perfection.

5. The Hairdresser’s Husband: Patrice LeConte’s low-key look at quiet, perfect, absolute love and the fragility of it all.

6. Network: One of Lumet’s masterpieces, Chayefsky’s Network has come true before our eyes 25 years later. Every performance in the film is brilliant and some are legendary.

7. Shoah: The most important document of the Jewish Holocaust, Claude Lanzmann brings us the witnesses, even those who looked away.

8. Singin in the Rain: A movie musical about the birth of movie musicals (and really, all of Hollywood). Great songs. Two of the three greatest male film dancers ever. Lots of variety. Not a moment not worth remembering.

9. Stalag 17: Maybe it’s something about prisons, but my favorite Wilder is the one with the widest range of emotions. There is comic relief, the anti-hero, the anti-villain, real danger and real passion. I love Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, but the canvas here is richer.

10. Sullivan’s Travels: Preston Sturges is the least appreciated writer/director in the historical rear view mirror. There are cineastes who appreciate him, but the public has lost him. Underneath the laughs, Sullivan’s Travels is a remarkable film about self-identity and the constant search for meaning. meaning that may not require a search at all.

David Poland, columnist, and The Hot Button.


Matt Hinrichs

1. Bringing Up Baby
2. Gold Diggers of 1933
3. Manhattan
4. Mon Oncle, and
5. The Party (basically the same movie made 10 years and a continent apart)
6. Smile
7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
8. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
9. Singin’ in the Rain
10. Tootsie

Matt Hinrichs is a writer and designer who maintains the weblog in sunny Phoenix.


Bob Sassone

Picking ten movies is hard.

1. It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street: Yeah, I know, a tie. But they are both perfect in every single way. And two of the very few movies that I have to stop and watch if I catch them while channel surfing.

2. L.A. Confidential: This should have won the Best Picture Oscar for 1997, even though Titanic is a great film also.

3. Swingers: A remarkably entertaining, well-made look at the lives of a group of guys trying to make it in Hollywood. Jon Favreau’s script is so true, so funny, that you really feel for him and want him and the others to succeed. Vince Vaughn became an instant star with his performance. All this and great music too. (And get the new DVD, with some interesting deleted scenes and Favreau and Vaughn’s commentary, one of the best I’ve ever heard.)

4. Back To The Future: Not only an enormously entertaining crowd-pleaser, but a film that premiered during a really important time in my life.

5. Three Days Of The Condor: CIA reader Robert Redford tries to track down who murdered seven of his colleagues. Great screenplay, direction (Sydney Pollack), cast, and NYC locations.

6. Out Of Sight and Ocean’s Eleven: Steven Soderbergh is one of the best directors around today. The former is the best adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, with terrific performances from George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, and Albert Brooks. The latter manages to be a real mainstream popcorn movie that also just happens to be laced with style, wit, and intelligence. Both flicks are extremely entertaining.

7. Goldfinger: The best Bond movie, the one that set the structure of the films that followed.

8. Rio Bravo: John Wayne’s best western (great cast too – Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson at her most Dickinson). I almost picked another western, The Tin Star, with Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins. Both great films.

9. The Day The Earth Stood Still: What, you thought I’d name this mag Professor Barnhardt’s Journal and not list this film?

10. One Of My Wives Is Missing: A TV movie from the 70s, with Jack Klugman as a detective investigating the disappearance (?) of a man’s wife. This film has so many shocking twists and turns, and a triple-whammy surprise ending, that just when you think you have it figured out, it fools you over and over again.

Bob Sassone edits the very magazine you are reading right now. Fancy that.


Joe Lavin

1. The Seven Year Itch: which starred Marilyn Monroe who was in There’s No Business Like Show Business with Ethel Merman who was in…

2. Airplane!: with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was in Fletch with George Wendt who was in Guilty by Suspicion with Robert De Niro who was in…

3. Brazil: with Jim Broadbent who was in Bridget Jones’s Diary with Embeth Davidtz who was in Army of Darkness with Bruce Campbell who was in The Hudsucker Proxy with Paul Newman who was in What A Way to Go! with Shirley MacLaine who was in…

4. Being There: which starred Peter Sellers who was also in…

5. Lolita: with James Mason who was in Yellowbeard with Tommy Chong who was in Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie with Paul Reubens who was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Stephen Root who was in…

6. Office Space: with Ron Livingston who was in…

7. Swingers: with Jon Favreau who was in Daredevil with Ben Affleck who starred in…

8. Chasing Amy: with Joey Lauren Adams who was a voice in Dr. Dolittle II which starred Eddie Murphy who was in Trading Places with Jamie Lee Curtis who was in…

9. A Fish Called Wanda: with John Cleese who was in The Great Muppet Caper with Miss Piggy whose voice is done by Frank Oz who is also the voice of Yoda who was in Episodes I and II of Star Wars with Samuel L. Jackson who starred in…

10. Pulp Fiction: with John Travolta who was also in Phenomenon with Kyra Sedgwick who happens to be married to Kevin Bacon.

Joe Lavin hasn’t seen anything that was nominated for an Oscar this year and plans to keep it that way.


A.J. Daulerio

1. Goodfellas: Fuck you, pay me.
2. Wonder Boys: Fit as a fucking fiddle.
3. Rudy: He’s so little!
4. Boogie Nights: It’s a real movie, Jack.
5. Best in Show: Mr. Hip!
6. Rushmore: Yeah, I was in the shit.
7. Rounders: Women are the rake.
8. Cool Hand Luke: Kick a buck.
9. Natural Born Killers: American Maniacs.
10. Meet the Parents: You a pothead, Focker?

A.J. Daulerio is part of The Black Table. He lives at Camp Bowery.


Tod Goldberg

1. Repo Man: It’s been said – mainly by me – that for a brief time Emilio Estevez was the last great hope of American cinema. That brief time is the space of celluloid he spends being Otto in this modern classic of love, loss and a trunk full of dead aliens. Let’s go get sushi and not pay. Word.

2. Out of Sight: Before Jennifer Lopez became J. Lo (a simpler time in the world, if you ask me) and before George Clooney became whatever he was in Oceans 11, they both starred in this underrated adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s brilliant crime novel. Both stars are surprisingly sexy and subdued, their performances hallmarked by two great scenes of flirtation – one in the trunk of a car, the other in a hotel bar in front of a window filled with passing flurries of snow. Plus, Jennie from the block smacks a guy with a black jack and says, “You wanted to tussle? We tussled.”

3. The Godfather I & II: Remember when Al Pacino still acted? Remember when he didn’t chew gum constantly? Remember when there were only two Godfather movies? Remember that no one, and I mean no one, comes to Vegas and talks to a man like Moe Green like that!

4. Quiz Show: It doesn’t matter that we all know how this ends (or, at least all of us who are students
of game show history), this poetic and literate look at the rise and terrible fall of Charles Van Doren and the quiz show Twenty-One remains a compelling look into the moral reasons we make the choices we make. And nothing is better than when Paul Scofield, as Mark Van Doren, admonishes Ralph Fiennes (as Charles) that, “Your name is mine!” Powerful, sad, and ultimately as suspenseful and tense as any political thriller or horror film.

5. Shawshank Redemption: I’m a sucker for prison films (American Me just missed the cut because I have a thing about Edward James Olmos that, legally, disallows me from mentioning him in print). Get busy living, or get busy dying. You’re goddamned right.

6. Hard to Hold: Rick Springfield’s star turn as a rocker named, uh, well, it was something that sounded a lot like “Rick Springfield” if memory serves me correct, withstands the test of time
and remains one of the greatest movies to ever star Rick Springfield. You gotta love somebody.

7. When Harry Met Sally: I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Meg Ryan (and some stiff spots elsewhere) and this movie always makes me laugh and cry and feel all mushy. Plus, my wife
loves it and when you’re married things like the shared admiration of certain movies has a way of becoming something more than just entertainment. So, if you’ve got a problem with this selection, you’re dead inside and no one will ever love you. Join a fucking convent. And move to Iraq. It’s un-American to dislike this movie and if you do, the terrorists win.

8. The Animal: Rob Schneider’s finest moment and truly the greatest comedy of our generation. (Okay, the truth is that the guy who directed The Animal, Luke Greenfield, is directing the movie
version of my book Fake Liar Cheat and I’m trying to curry favor with him because he basically holds my financial future in his hands and I don’t want to piss him off.)

9. Forrest Gump: I love Tom Hanks; he could masturbate a cow for two hours and I’d buy tickets to watch. People say this is a sentimental movie, that all that crap in the middle with him running was like a root canal done without anesthetic in a Vietnamese torture camp and that the ending wherein Ginny gets AIDS is contrived. Well, they’re right. I don’t care. I still cry every time.

10. A five-way tie: Pulp Fiction, Unforgiven, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List.

Tod Goldberg is the author of two novels, Fake Liar Cheat(Pocket Books) and Living Dead Girl(Soho Press). His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The Sun, Other Voices, and Oyster Boy Review, and has twice been shortlisted for The Pushcart Prize. He writes the award-winning weekly column GOLDBERG in The Las Vegas Mercury and has edited two travel books on the City of Sin.


Tim Grierson

A few thoughts before I give you my list:

1) I could never tell the difference between “best” and “favorite” — mostly because I never considered them to be mutually exclusive terms. I mean, my favorite films are the ones I think are the best, right?

2) I have no idea what this list will say about my movie tastes. Overall, I suppose it will show that I can tolerate subtitles, black & white, and three-hour running times.

3) I’d like to thank the friends who were my sounding board for cutting this group down from 16 to the final 10. Having to answer the question “Why the hell do you like THAT movie?” over and over again helped me determine which flicks simply had to make the list.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Manhattan
3. The General
4. Singin’ in the Rain
5. Bicycle Thieves
6. The Godfather
7. La Dolce Vita
8. Chinatown
9. Hoop Dreams
10. Short Cuts

Tim Grierson is an editor of The Simon, a weekly online publication of culture, politics, and humor.


Rob Walker

This will be obvious to most people, but it took me a while to figure it out: there’s a big difference between “the best” and “my favorites.” I know enough to know that I don’t know enough to name “the best” films. “Favorites” are easier. They can present themselves on the basis of one line of dialogue, or a particularly memorable lead actress. I cant think of a simpler way to put this: The best films reveal something; my favorite films revealed something to me. Why my favorites would be of an interest to anyone else remains unclear. But here they are. Number 1 is Number 1; the other nine are in no particular order.

1. Stranger Than Paradise
The Crowd
Nights of Cabiria
Stardust Memories
Do The Right Thing
Carmen (Carlos Saura version, 1983)
Deadline USA
Killer of Sheep
After Hours
A Face In The Crowd

Rob Walker has just put out a ‘zine, Letters From New Orleans.


Bonnie Burton

1. Better Off Dead: Quite possibly the best break-up movie of all time – you just can’t go wrong with a suicidal yet klutzy John Cusack, animated hamburgers singing Van Halen songs, explosive dinners, extreme skiing, a very young Booger and a cute French girl who loves baseball. Plus how many times have you yelled “I want my two dollars?”

2. The Dark Crystal: Jim Henson’s creepiest muppet movie ever. Part fantasy, part horror- these elfin creatures go through quite the journey to save themselves from pending doom.

3. The Hunger: Any Goth kid (we were called Death Rockers in my day) will tell you this is THE artsy vampire movie. No cheap gimmicks – just an intelligent story, a great soundtrack (live performance from Bauhaus) and David Bowie as a damn sexy vamp!

4. Watership Down: This animated movie is NOT for kids. In fact, I remember seeing it in 1978 when I was a wee lass and ended up pertrified of rabbits for a very long time. The story itself deals with topics we all face today – freedom, war, betrayal and the right to happiness. I thank my lucky stars daily that Disney never got hold of this one.

5. Female Trouble: One of John Waters’ best films. Anything staring Divine is a gem, and I could go on and on about the genius of John Waters. In this film, Dawn Davenport (Divine) runs away from home and enters a life of crime, all because her parents didn’t buy her cha-cha heels for Christmas. (It includes one of the best family fights ever involving the destruction of the Christmas tree – a
funny tribute to the mom/daughter Christmas tree fight in A Summer Place!) I wish Waters would make more films like this one.

6. Valley of the Dolls: Campy cult movie of success and failure in the old school entertainment industry…in Hollywood and Broadway. I particularly love the trashy bathroom fight scene and of course a strungout Patty Duke screaming “Shine Neely,Shine!” It’s so bad, it’s good.

7. All About Eve: When Bette Davis was bitchy, she was at her best. This movie has so many great one-liners and sassy retorts that you’ll find yourself saying “meow” on a regular basis. Plus the cameo
from Marilyn Monroe is priceless.

8. Mr. T’s Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool: It’s actually a self-help video for teens and not a
REAL movie – but you’ll find yourself eating popcorn and wishing it was. One of the most memorable skits includes a kid tripping and falling over himself. “How does a brutha recoup?” asks Mr. T. Heck, by pretending you’re breakdancing instead, that’s what. Brilliant.

9. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School: Some say it’s a legit movie, others say it’s a really long Ramones music video. Either way, I love it. The scene where a girl fantasizes about Joey crooning to her in her bedroom makes me giggle hard enough to give me sidepains.

10. Sixteen Candles: Farmer Ted, how I love thee. Amazingly enough, this movie stands the test of time. Great music, funny one-liners I still use today and Molly Ringwald at her best. It makes me long for a time when John Hughes movies were studyguides for how to survive high school. Plus Joan Cusack with a headgear can’t be beat.

When Bonnie Burton isn’t watching campy drag queen movies, she’s busy running and Grrl Radio.


Brian Lewandowski

Ahem (clear throat). Now presenting my “My 10 Favorite Films” (or “10 Films I Would Take With Me if I Were Stranded on an Island…but if I was packing to be stranded, it would mean I knew I would be stranded, kinda like a psychic…so I wouldn’t get stranded in the first place.”):

1. Dressed to Kill: Way back when people got excited to see Angie Dickenson in the shower. Brian DePalma pays tribute to Hitchcock.

2. Harold and Maude: It’s more like a February –December romance with leap year thrown in. I feel real dirty after watching this one……that Ruth Gordon!

3. La Femme Nikita: It’s really hard to describe a movie involving a woman with big bazookas and not think it’s an X-rated film. Luc Besson’s original is more fun than Bridget Fonda’s version.

4. Re-Animator: Sometimes a severed head is just a severed head. And sometimes it’s love. I really don’t love this movie but I love using that joke!

5. So I Married an Axe Murderer: The first ¾ of this film are hilarious. This film is from way back when before Mike Myers stole every joke from every old British skit and hid behind more make-up
then Joan Collins.

6. Wings of Desire: An ever-observant angel considers a career change in Wim Wender’s classic.

7. Night of the Living Dead: Please don’t feed the zombies. It’s George Romero’s scariest movie…maybe even the scariest movie ever….maybe even scarier than Pet Sematary…maybe…

8. Wild Man Blues: I love so many things Woody Allen…except for when he tries the serious stuff like September and Another Woman….I didn’t know which film I would choose…so I took the easy way out as the Woodman toots his own horn as Barbara Kopple turns the camera on his life.

9. Blow Up: Do you see what I see? Michelangelo Antonioni makes a great thriller with lots of
hippies, sex, and drugs…in the movie I mean…I am not sure what he was doing when he was making it…hopefully Vanessa Redgrave…

10. Wild at Heart: I can’t decide if it’s the midgets, the fat chicks, the psychos, or the Lollipop Guild that make this film David Lynch’s “personal statement of individuality”. You go decide for yourself.

Brian Lewandowski is a somewhat former stand-up and media writer who has a penchant for being opinionated, often daily, often at


Dan Dunn

10 Favorite Flicks (in no particular order):

An American Werewolf in London
Pulp Fiction
Wild at Heart
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
The Graduate
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Roger & Me
The Warriors

Dan Dunn is a syndicated humor columnist, and film critic for Metro International Newspapers. For a hearty laugh, check out Dan’s “Sweatshop Boy” column at


Adam Finley

Lately my answer to every philosophical query thrown my way is, “Reality is subjective.” It’s the answer I give when people ask me if I believe in God, and it’s not a bad response when people start asking me about my favorite movies, either. So here we go, a few of Adam Finley’s favorite
flicks, chosen not because of any mainstream appeal, but because they appeal to me, god damn it.

1. Harold and Maude: This movie, a cup of hot tea, and a long reflective walk afterwards are all I need to keep the suicide hotline off my speed dial for another year.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Not just one of my favorite horror movies, but one of my favorite movies period. It’s poorly lit, cheaply made, and scary as hell. And for those with a darker side, it’s not entirely unfunny. Supposedly based on serial killer Ed Gein, but I’ve read a couple reputable articles that negate this claim.

3. The NeverEnding Story: Movies can easily win you over when you’re young, but once viewed through cynical adult eyes, you see them for the manipulative commercialized tripe they truly are. I’ve seen this movie no less than seventy trillion times in the last twenty years, and it still sweeps me off my feet without insulting the frosted side of my Mini-Wheat psyche.

4. My Dinner With Andre: It’s just two guys talking, but what exactly is it all about? One could speculate for hours. It’s a source of smug personal satisfaction that I’ve seen this movie at least seven times, and have never seen The Matrix.

5. Evil Dead 2: The first Evil Dead is a horror movie with a dash of comedy thrown in, and Army of Darkness is a comedy peppered with some scary moments. The film that came between them, however, blended equal parts horror and comedy beautifully. It’s also fascinatingly surreal. And no
one does tongue-in-cheek machismo better than Bruce Campbell.

6. Stand By Me: Too many movies play on the myth that childhood is an idealistic time. Gordy LaChance, as played by Wil Wheaton, embodies every shred of uncertainty and low self-esteem I had at that age. I don’t want to use a cliché and say this movie speaks to me, but this movie speaks to me.

7. Gremlins: When I was young, I loved being scared by this movie. Now that I’m older my admiration for this Frank Capra-on-LSD outing is rooted in an insatiable lust for Phoebe Cates.

8. Dawn of the Dead: Mindless flesh-eating zombies wandering around a shopping mall. Would that they’d make this kind of pointed, satirical horror flick today.

9. A Clockwork Orange: A twisted homage to original sin. Watching this movie is like having Stanley Kubrick bore a hole through your skull and knead your subconscious like Play-Doh.

10. Ghost World: I think this movie strikes a chord with anyone who has struggled to set themselves apart from the crowd, and then realized how desperately lonely that kind of existence can be. Comic books can make good films, and they’re not all Spider-Man.

Adam Finley lives and writes in Des Moines, Iowa. He recently did his first “famous person” interview with comedian Lewis Black of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” It went pretty okay.


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