Tuesday, January 31, 2012

100 movies you should see before you die: Main Index

Below is an ongoing alphabetical list of movies covered in my 100 movies to see before you die. Each title links to the review. For an explanation of how these titles were picked, please scroll down.

1. 12 Angry Men
2. 127 Hours
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. The 400 Blows
5. Alien
6. Amelie
7. American Beauty
8. As Good as It Gets
9. Avatar
10. Babel
11. Bambi
12. Baraka
13. Being There
14. Black Swan
15. Blow Out
16. The Bourne Trilogy
17. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
18. The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves
19. Cache (Hidden)
20. Cast Away
21. Chungking Express
22. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
23. Closer
24. Control
25. The Dark Knight
26. Dead Poets Society
27. The Departed
28. Die Hard
29. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
30. Dog Day Afternoon
31. The Double Life of Veronique
32. Doubt
33. The Elephant Man
34. El Norte
35. Falling Down
36. Fantastic Mr. Fox
37. Fargo
38. Field of Dreams
39. Fight Club
40. Freedom Writers
41. Frost/Nixon
42. Gran Torino
43. Grave of the Fireflies
44. The Great Escape
45. I Am Legend
46. Jaws
47. Juno
48. Kes
49. Kill Bill Vol. 1
50. The King's Speech
51. Leon: The Professional
52. The Lives of Others
53. Lolita
54. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
55. Love Actually
56. The Matrix 
57. Memento 
58. Midnight in Paris
59. Million Dollar Baby 
60. The Mist 
61. Moneyball 
62. Monty Python and the Holy Grail 
63. Moon 
64. Mulholland Dr. 
65. My Neighbor Totoro 
66. Once 
67. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
68. Paris, Texas
69. Pay It Forward 
70. Play Time 
71. The Prestige 
72. Psycho
73. Pulp Fiction 
74. The Pursuit of Happyness 
75. Rabbit Hole 
76. Ratatouille 
77. The Reader 
78. Revanche 
79. Seabiscuit 
80. The Shawshank Redemption
81. The Shining 
82. The Silence of the Lambs 
83. Spirited Away 
84. Stop Making Sense 
85. Sunshine Cleaning 
86. Taken 
87. Taxi Driver 
88. There Will Be Blood 
89. Three Colors Red 
90. Up in the Air 
91. Vertigo 
92. Wall Street 
93. The Warriors 
94. Wings of Desire 
95. The World's Fastest Indian 

As I was working through my initial list of 100 movies, I found that five titles were no longer as good as I remembered them. For that reason, the final five entries were added after the initial list was exhausted and will not appear in alphabetical order.

96. Bottle Rocket
97. Apollo 13 
98. The Descendants 
99. No Country for Old Men 
100. Broadcast News

Have you ever read a list like this before?

Doesn't it seem a little arrogant to believe that if you like something it should be seen by everyone?

Think about it logically for a moment. Movies appeal to different people for different reasons. If you detest musicals, do you really want to watch The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz? If you don't like violence, will you enjoy Casino or Goodfellas? If you can't bear to watch a subtitled film, will you subject yourself to Das Boot or The Bicycle Thief?

Some people will never watch a black and white film. Others will avoid movies in which an animal dies or gets hurt.

Do you avoid movies with nudity, swearing, or extreme sadness? Can you sit down and watch something that runs for three or four hours, or will you only watch shorter movies?

Do you avoid certain genres or find yourself only watching comedy or action movies?

There is so much to consider when recommending a movie to other people. I regularly try to suggest titles to three or four different groups of friends. I want them to enjoy my selections, but I also want to wow them or broaden their horizons. It's enjoyable seeing friends react when they are watching a movie you have seen several times. Well, it's enjoyable if they end up liking it. It's not much fun knowing that you wasted two hours of someone's life. It doesn't matter how well you think you know a person, one tiny little scene can ruin the movie for them.

With all that in mind, it's clearly impossible to make a sweeping statement such as, "Here are 100 movies you must see before you die." That list differs depending on your audience.

How do you even judge which 100 should be on your list? Should you include movies that introduced ideas or techniques which changed the way movies were made? What about just listing your 100 favorites? Could you even determine your 100 favorites, or would your list have changed by the time you finished compiling it?

What is the purpose of such a list anyway? Are you trying to show people that you have a vast amount of film knowledge? Or are you brave enough to list personal favorites that you know will be ridiculed by some of your audience?

Is the list for you, or is it for your audience?

In my case, I have decided to include 100 movies which are important to me in some way. I admire everything on the list, but the reasons for choosing each title vary. I have also decided not to just list 100 movies I love. I'm a fan of certain directors and actors, but including everything they have produced serves very little purpose.

One of the aims of this exercise is to introduce you to new movies. The best way I can think of to do that is to suggest other titles you may like if you like one of the 100 on my list. So, for each movie, I will include suggestions for similar films.

You have probably noticed that if I do that I'll have considerably more films than 100. Not only that, you'll realize that if you don't like 50 of the films on my list, there's very little point in investigating suggestions related to those particular titles. That's the idea.

I hope that my ramblings so far make some kind of sense and that you see what I am trying for here. I'm not an authority on film like Roger Ebert. He's been around a long time and has been reviewing films for a living for over 40 years.

I'm passionate about film and have been around a while too, but I wasn't always the person I am now. The importance of film is still quite a new realization to me and exploring the medium has only been a big part of my life for the past five years.

If I omit one of your favorites, it may mean that I simply haven't seen it. Or it could mean that it's just not my kind of film. Many on the following list will be loved by some of you and despised by others. There probably aren't two people on earth who would list exactly the same 100 films on a list like this.

Now that you know my reasoning, intent and (lack of) qualifications, I'll start the list. It will be in alphabetical order and I'll add to it when I have the time and inspiration.

Return to index of 100 movies to see before you die.


  1. There are quite a few films I have not watched in your top 100 list. I don't think much of the films that have been released over the past few years. The old ones are the best! I did like watching Fargo and The Warriors which is included in your list. Ryan's daughter is a visually stunning film which wasn't in your list. No Star Wars films get a mention either.
    Never been able to watch Bambi, it gets to a certain point (you know which part I mean) and my vision blurs with tears.

  2. Hi Jacqueline,

    I think I included so many recent films because I have started taking such a big interest over the past five years. I do own Star Wars and like the six films, but they didn't quite make the list. I'm not sure whether I have seen Ryan's Daughter.

    I like the innocence in Bambi. It reminds me of Miyazaki's work in general and My Neighbor Totoro in particular. No deaths to deal with in that one.

  3. Hello Mr. Aldersley,
    I just ran across your blog and I found it very interesting and very informative and also fun.
    I found your list of "The 100 Movies to see before you
    Die" really wide-ranging and inspiring. There are a numbèr of films on your list that I have already seen and some that I have been curious about and a few I have'nt even thought about. But, after reading your blog, I'll definitely check them out! Thanks!!

  4. Hi Deborah,

    Thanks for the nice comment, I'm glad you found it fun. I sometimes wonder whether my writing is too dry and technical.

    Inspirational dramas are high on my list when it comes to all-time favorites. I hope that I have done a good enough job describing the ones you haven't seen so that you can decide what might suit your taste. Let me know if you discover any gems.


  5. Great list! I've seen most and totally agree, and i've added some to my list of movies to see. Check out my blog at http://boxofficebrad.blogspot.com.