top 10 movies of all time

If you were trapped on a deserted island and had only 10 films to watch for the rest of your life..what would those movies be? Granted this list will always update depending on current releases and what have you but what would they be and why? what are some of your “dark horse favorites?” (films that may not be in the popular mainstream, but make your personal favorites list)

18 Responses to “top 10 movies of all time”

  1. Reid

    One of the interesting things about these type of discussions is the specific criteria of the question. For example, the criteria is what 10 films would you want have to watch for the rest of your life. That list may be very different from your favorite films of all-time.

    Hmmm, let me think about my list, and I’ll get back to you.

  2. burgess

    This was kind of tough because only one or two of the films on my list would rank in my top ten of the best movies. Schindler’s List, while easily in the top ten of what I believe to be the best movies of all time, is not a movie I watch frequently, and so would not make the trip with me to a deserted island.

    Anyway, here’s my list, in no particular order.

    Strictly Ballroom

    Get Shorty



    Fight Club

    Pulp Fiction

    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

    The Mummy (the new one with Brendan Fraser) also, The Mummy Returns, if I can count this as one choice, but no to The Scorpion King

    O Brother, Where art thou?

    And my personal dark horse favorite, Ronin

  3. joel

    I choose to word the question this way to give perspective. I understand films may be great. They may have deep meaning and lasting impressions…like “Schindler’s list.” But you might not want to watch it over and over. Or maybe remind of you of what life did or life has to offer. In choosing my personal list I tried to find something that was timeless…lasting…and challenged or questioned my own beliefs. How many times have you watched a film once and then see things differently the second time around. Like in “usual suspects.” Watching that film knowing who kaiser sose (sp) was the second time around was pretty cool. I mean you got to see how manipulative he really was. Or even a film like the “matrix” listening to words used like “coppertop.” You didn’t know what that meant until Morpheus explains it to neo. But when you watch the film again you get the inside joke the first time around. Another great example of this is watching “memento.” when you watch the scenes as they overlap you get a perspective of the natural chronology of the film as well as the perpective of the main character as he continually losses his memory.

    My darkhorse choices are more sentimental favorites that may have lasting impressions on my life.

    so here is one of my choices in detail and why…

    “Raiders of the Lost ark.” I remember the first time I saw this film it was right after summer school and my father and Reid picked me up in our old valient A.K.A. “white lighting” (did anybody else name their cars or other inanimate objects that we’ve grown to love…guess that will be my next topic) we watched raiders in the old “royal theatre in Waikiki and I just fell in love with it. From start to finish the film kept me on my toes wondering what would happen next. I totally love this film because It gave me perspective on different cultures. The Bar fights in Katmandu. The desert scenes in Eygpt. Even the native americans in central america had appeal. Aside from all of that Indiana Jones is a great character. I’d just love watching this film on the deserted island seeing how involved he was with his work. Like all great characters Indiana Jones wasn’t all powerful! He had his vunerabilities to. I love that line as he just narrowly escapes the “hovitos” (central american natives) and then he sees a harmless snake in his lap and goes nuts over it. “What’s this snake doing in my seat jaque!” “aw it’s just my pet snake reggie.” “I hate snakes jaque! I hatem!” It’s like he survives near death experiences only to be “tripped up” in something so comparatively minor. He grabs the idol and almost falls into a pit, but he jumps across and grabs the root from the ground…he pulls himself up, but the root almost gives out. He gets out of that only to be chased by a bolder. He leaps to safety only to encounter the hovitos! Indiana Jones is escape artist, comedian, hero, all wrapped up in one! I watched that film 5 times in the movie theatre and countless more on dvd or video, and I can still watch it and be entertained!

  4. joel

    People ask me from time to time…why do I buy all of those dvds? *i have a lot if you didn’t already know* Well, for the same reason I’m posting my question here. I can watch the same films over and over again because each time they tell me something new or remind me of something I’ve learned. Watching a movie like “Godfather” when you’re 17 has a totally different perspective when you’re watching it at 31 my current age. Still, I watch it and relate much more to the characters of my age. That’s why movies are so timeless…you get a unique or fulfilling experience each time you watch it.

    So with that in mind I give you my second choice of films I choose to take with me to the deserted island. “Rocky.”

    You can hear the theme music que as the name Rocky scrolls across the screen. The ultimate training film, sports film, inspirational film, maybe ever! I’m sure there would be much debate over my claims, but still Rocky would have to be considered as one of the greats! I remember watching the Rocky series and relating it to my interest in basketball. In fact, I know my brother can relate to it as well because I’d remember him drinking raw eggs, running down to the park at 5:00 AM in the morning to work on his game. Even mocking rocky as he finished running up the mountain (this was rocky IV of course) and screeming “DRAGGOOO!!!” at the finish. Feeling a sense of accomplishment. Working your butt off to be the best you can be…this is Rocky.

    What’s cool about watching the film now is that in rocky he’s 30 years old–my age!!! To understand how much he really struggled…how much he really worked…how he was put down by Micky, even neighborhood punk/kids…and still managed to “try” and do the right things. That was cool. Rocky wasn’t a saint by any means–he was a collector for a loneshark–but he still strived to do what he could to make the best of his life…he even learned that and never went back to “collecting” even when he got poor again.

    His ability to endue and his will to survive and achieve blows me away. That’s what I learned when I first watched this film. What I get from it now is watching how much character and integrity Rocky has as a person.

  5. Reid


    We gotta talk about Unforgiven some day. I thought the first 3/4 of the film was wonderful. Eastwood surprised me (in a good way) by making a film about the harsh and unglamrous psychological consequences of killing. I found this tact refreshing and I was really excited. To me, the last quarter of the movie wiped away all of that realism, and so I was disappointed.

    I really liked Strictly Ballroom for it’s quirkiness and fun. Travolta as Chili Palmer in Get Shorty has to be one of the coolest characters on screen.

    I also kinda enjoyed Ronin, too.


    I really enjoy reading posts where you can tell the writer really cares about what he or she is writing–and that’s what I read in your posts above. (Maybe should make separate threads–reviews?–for movies like Raiders and Rocky)

    Anyway, you know I love both films. Both films may actually be the best of films of their respective genres. (I heard that Rocky didn’t make ESPN’s top 25 greatest sports films, which totally baffles me.)

    Both films have great musical scores, too. Rocky can be a little cheesy and over-the-top, but who cares. I can talk a lot about both films.

    But I want to make one comment about seeing films over and over again. (I had a thread a while back asking how many times can you see a film.) A viewer can get something out of most good films after multiple viewings, but I wonder if even great films are as unlimited in the way you describe above. I love It’s Wonderful Life, but I have to admit that I’m not as enthuiastic about seeing that film again (Maybe if I don’t watch it for a couple of years. I’ve been watching that film at least once a year for over ten years now.)

    I’m not saying there aren’t aspects of the film that I never noticed that could be interesting. I just don’t think those details wouldn’t be so interesting for me–not interesting to make me really enthusiastic about the film. I guess, what I’m saying is that I can’t maintain the original level of enthusiasm I had for the film, which may be how most of you all feel. I don’t know. Anyway, I’m just stalling, and hopefully I’ll get to my list soon.

  6. Tony

    Okay. This might seem like a strange list, but I base this on movies that are either representative of a certain time in my life or a certain emotion that the movie conveys well. In no particular order:

    Star Wars: A New Hope (hands down);
    Fellowship of the Ring (I wish the Ring had never come to me);
    Young Sherlock Holmes (great graveyard scene);
    Fight Club (the first rule of Fight Club…);
    Moulin Rouge (I long for it with all my being);
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (all-around goodness);
    The Matrix (follow the white rabbit);
    Serendipity (consider me a fool);
    Unbreakable (there is one survivor, he is unharmed);
    The Shawshank Redemption (hope is a good thing, perhaps the best).

    My dark horse would probably be something like Memento (I can’t remember to forget you).

  7. Mitchell

    Not in order:

    1. The Breakfast Club. I’d probably get tired of this after a while, but it’s so quotable that I’m sure it would last me quite a while.
    2. The Shawshank Redemption. Never, ever, ever get tired of this.
    3. The Princess Bride. “This is true love. You think this happens every day?”
    4. Pulp Fiction. Maybe the best-directed film I’ve ever seen.
    5. Casablanca. I’d take this with me only to watch it perhaps once a year as a special treat. A movie where true love does the right thing and yields to the greater good.
    6. The Wizard of Oz. I’d need a musical, and how could I ever tire of this one?
    7. Castaway. What better companion movie for a long stay on a lonely island? Certainly not Lord of the Flies!
    8. Romeo and Juliet (1968, Franco Zeffirelli). I’m tempted to take the Baz Lurhmann version, because it’s got the whole play, but what I figure is there’s no way I’d come to this island without a book containing the complete works of William Shakespeare anyway, so I’m covered there.
    9. Of Mice and Men. To remind me of my teaching career.
    10. Beauty and the Beast. Sigh.
  8. joel

    I just read some of Reid’s post in the “watching a movie more than once files.” And I must admit and am pretty suprised that Mitchell or some other people wouldn’t take “Ground hog day.” If anything else the film would remind that no matter what sort of constant monotony I may be in for on my deserted island, I’ll strive to keep doing the “little things” to make a difference in my life. I think Ground hog day is an excellent film on it’s own merits.

    I love “shawshank redemption” and “cassablanca” excellent choices Mitch in which I totally agree with. But I haven’t seen some of your other choices and now thinking I should. You know I’ve still never seen “the breakfast club” all the way through. I can just hear my brother’s voice *in the tone of the fonz* “you neva saw the breakfast club?” I haven’t seen “beauty and the beast,” nor have I seen “of mice and men.”

    As far as “losing your enthusiam” for a film goes. I’m sure we can all relate to that. I definitely don’t watch the same film with the same passion as I may have the first time. Still, it’s an cool and interesting experience non-the-less. I guess my point of focus “shifts” when I watch a film again. Sometimes I just need to see a could action sequence to pass the time while i’m eatting dinner. Other times I’m wondering about decisions in my own life and seeing what other characters have done or other people have thought up is pretty cool too. Which brings me to my thrid choice of films in my trip to the deserted island…”good will hunting.”

    I just love the pure honesty and passion gone into this film. A comming of age story about an extrodinarily gifted young man with a troubled and jaded upbringing. This combination of troubled youth and incredible potential bring together one of the ultimate themes in everyone’s life…finding out who we are and how do we go about getting there???

    I know many of us still struggle with this concept and wonder what should we do with our life now? We’ll never really fully understand what is the right “path” in ourlives, but if we pursue interests passionately, honestly, faithfully, etc…at the very least…the journey along the way will teach us about ourselves.

    This film covers many themes…how to motivate someone…how to teach someone…relate to someone.

    I love the Minnie Driver’s character when she totally goes all out and tells Will that she loves him. That scene is soo cool! She’s so honest about everything, and he has to many issues to deal with her raw honesty.

    This film is one of my all time best list on a deserted island or anyplace else…

  9. burgess


    What I liked most about Unforgiven were the characters–Eastwood’s good guy/bad guy, Morgan Freeman unable to kill the cowboys with the bounty on their heads, Wild Bill, and the Duke (and the way everyone referred to him as the Duck) of Death. The psychological impact and the unglamorous side of the gunslinger, for me, was a bonus.

  10. Reid

    Thanks for the explanation, John.

    (Unforgiven Spoiler)

    Strangely enough, I was talking to my cousin about this last night, and I was telling him that the film didn’t show how the Eastwood character, Munny, overcame all that psychological pain he was in the first 3/4 of the movie. He explained that the of his good friend was the thing that did it. Yeah, that makes sense, but I don’t think that was enough–or the way Eastwood showed this wasn’t enough–to convince me. I plan on seeing this again, as so many people I’ve met liked this film. I’m wondering if I missed something on the first time around.

  11. burgess

    Wow, we could start a new thread on Unforgiven.


    I wasn’t bothered by the lack of info regarding Munny’s transformation back to killer, mostly because I don’t think the character ever made the transformation from killer to “ordinary man”. Throughout the film, Munny is uncomfortable with who he is, as a pig farmer, father and reformed killer. Although Munny might want to change who he is, mainly because of his dead wife, he is who he is.

  12. Reid

    Your wish is my command. Follow Burgess and I to discuss the movie here: Unforgiven

    One of the films that I would choose is Singin in the Rain. It’s a film that never fails to put a smile on my face at some point in the film. I love most of the songs and the dance numbers in the film. There’s just a good spirit to the film, too.

    I feel like I need to choose a comedy in there, but I can’t think of what that would be. I’ve seen Manhattan and Annie Hall so many times that I don’t think I would choose those films. I don’t know what comedy I could choose that would remain funny no matter how many times I watch it.

    Here’s a dark-horse off the top of my head: World According to Garp.

    I love Robin Williams and a writer/teacher in this, and Glen Close gives one of her best (if not the best) performances, as Garp’s eccentric mother. She’s hilarious in this. John Lithgow is also great in this film. (He either won best supporting or got a nomination–or at least should have.) The main reason I chose this film is because I love watching this film every time it’s on TV. I probably haven’t seen this film more than ten times, so I don’t know how well it would hold up after more than ten viewings.

    Hey Kevin,

    I have yet to watch 8 1/2. I’ve been waiting to see La Dolce Vita. Do you think I should see that one before 8 1/2?

  13. Reid

    No, it’s a place to make comments and participate in a discussion.

  14. Tony

    I take it that everyone is reeling from the events of the last couple of days. I’ll do my best to honor that silence. 🙂

  15. Reid


    I just saw 8 1/2, and I think I agree with your assessment, (although that realization is coming to me over time). Anouk Aimee is beautiful. (Have you ever seen A Man and a Woman, not a great film, but she’s really beautiful in that, too.) There’s a shot of her in that “barn of women” scene, (she has her hair wrapped in a bandana) where she looks like Penelope Cruz. Not that that means anything, but…The film was really hard for me to absorb and grasp. It’s only on the second viewing that I began to think more clearly about the film. It’s the type of film that would reveal more with repeated viewings.

  16. kevin

    Hmmm… I’d not thought about the Penelope Cruz connection, but you’re right, there it is. I didn’t like La Dolce Vita as much; it seemed similar thematically as L’Avventura, which I thought was a stronger movie.

    Did you feel that 8 1/2 was harder to absorb b/c there’s no real “plot” per se, but a string of incidents & struggles that ended wherever the ending was?

  17. Reid

    I did think of L’Avventura when I watched La Dolce Vita, and I agree the former is a much stronger film. I would probably have to watch “Vita” again to make a more definite judgment of it.

    (8 1/2 spoilers)

    Not having a plot, plus the stream of consciousness approach made the film difficult to absorb. After the first viewing, I had a hard time recalling the events in the film. The viewer also had to distinguish scenes of flashback, dream or fantasy from the “real” scenes in the film. There are also symbols and points made from dialogue (the dialogue between Guido and Daumier in the last scene is very important to the meaning of the film, I think) that go by too quickly to absorb, at least for me.

    However, I think the very qualities that make the film difficult to grasp also make it inventive and enjoyable to re-watch. It’s the type of film that you like the more you watch it, and the more you think about it.

  18. kevin

    A lot of your guys’ above movies make my general top 10 general list ( Unforgiven, Fight Club, Matrix.) There are just two movies for me that come to mind for longevity, tho. The first one:

    1. Cinema Paradiso. There’s something about this movie that really strikes me about the captive power of love to prevail over the imperfection and mistakes of our lives. For Salvatore (Toto), his encounter with the beauty and sadness of love came not through the institution of the church but through acts of kindess (by Alfredo, the projectionist), experience (his first love, Elisa) and encounters with art (love expressed on film, censored by Father Adelfio, the Catholic priest.) I also think there’s something pretty powerful about the imagery of love, in a representational way & not a literal way; I’m not talking about sex or lust. The priest’s fixation with censoring the titilating aspects of love expressed can’t prevent Toto from being changed by its transformative and maturing effect. The end scenes suggest the flaws in Toto’s present life and yet his ability to still be moved by love represented and expressed. As in the movie, life is both beautiful and tragic for the choices we make and aren’t given the chance to make.

    2. 8 1/2. As in the above, there’s a lot of imperfection in the central character’s life, Guido’s self-involved, flirtatious, indecisive, indulgent. The creation and process of art as an uneasy & often torturous struggle is made pretty evident, and something I identify with. But in the end, the acceptance of limitation, of increasing self-awareness, and repentance seems redemptive to life and relationships. Each time I see it I identify various opposite gender formative archetypes that maybe we (guys) would do well to be more conscious of mother, wife, whore, confidant, muse; boyhood innocence, aging male mortality. Some critics have seen this movie as misogynistic, but I don’t think so. I think it’s the opposite, deconstructing the male ego in order to rebuild it rightfully. But I can’t keep myself from adding that Anouk Aimee is groovilicious as ever in classic 60’s style of Guido’s wife. Yeah, baby.

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