Ever since I was a thing on this planet that knew what movies were, they meant the world to me. I vividly remember being a scared but delighted youngster watching “FernGully”, laughing with my family at “Anchorman” or seeing “Age of Ultron” with a friend twice in a row on the same day – which was awesome, might I add. I’m more than lucky to be able to review, think, and talk about movies for a living, and I can’t think of any cooler occupation than doing them and making people laugh, cry, think or scream through them. It’s my way of saying hello, I’m Jeff Ewing, and the movies are my absolute jam.
It’s hard to put together a simplified list of favorites when there are so many wonderful movies that mean a lot to me for different reasons, often so different from each other. I’ve done my best to capture movies that I really love and find great, and that I really watch often. I also changed the list almost every time I sat down to think about it, and if you ask me on another day you will get a different list (except for my Top 4, which of course is a story. sacred and cinematic goal perfection – or something like that).
Hope this little window in my brain gets you thinking about the movies you love and hopefully watching something new to yourself that’s important to me (or revisiting something you forgot). Hope you like it and it makes you happy. Of all the movie listings on all the sites around the world, you come into mine … and in Dracula’s words, welcome to you. Here is the list of my 15 favorite movies of all time.
15. The third man (1949)
Carol Reed’s 1949 British film noir is easily one of the greatest film noir films of all time. It’s a stunning example of the post-war social chaos that fueled the genre, with all of the themes that make noir films great: political complexity, betrayal, love and loss. The final shot is an absolute stunner – loaded with meaning and emotion and easily one of the most magnificent shots ever to be filmed. Seriously, the first time I saw it, I immediately rewound it and watched it seven times in a row. Raw, beautiful power styling an incredible film.
14. Casablanca (1942)
“Casablanca” is one of the few films that I consider absolutely flawless. Charismatic performances, breathtaking cinematography, exceptional writing … there is nowhere that it does not succeed. Clever. Politics. Romantic. Everything you could expect from a movie, it has it in spades. To top it off, it’s also one of the most-cited movies of all time featuring, line after line, pure art. Every time I see it, I find something new. I’m looking at you, kid.
13. I Saw the Devil (2010)
I’m a huge fan of the contemporary wave of leading South Korean thrillers, and “I Saw The Devil” is easily one of my favorites. The increasingly volatile collision between Kim Soo-hyun and serial killer Jang Kyung-chul is thrilling, and it’s amazing to see the disorderly descent of the former. It’s tense, sometimes scary and always full of suspense. More than anything, “I saw the devil” is the epitome of Nietzsche’s warning: “Be careful, when you fight monsters, you don’t become a monster yourself”, and there is no way to stop thinking about this end for days.
12. Arrival (2016)
“Dune” is in theaters, and while Denis Villeneuve’s masterful love letter to sand is a major cinematic achievement in sci-fi cinema, his first sci-fi masterpiece is “Arrival.” , a beautiful and stimulating piece of science fiction storytelling. It’s smart and beautifully shot with a fantastic performance by Amy Adams, and one of the few movies where aliens feel completely separate from us in every way. The best high-level sci-fi shoots all cylinders and makes you think AND feel at the same time, and “Arrival” absolutely lands on those two aspects.
11. 13 Assassins (2010)
I love a good Takashi Miike movie. They are perpetually imaginative and quirky with a unique blend of humor, chaos and the fantastic. While “13 Assassins” is one of his most entrenched works, it’s still a violent and excellent affair and one of the greatest samurai movies of all time. A memorable villain alongside some truly noble and well-written protagonists. Magnificent sets and cinematography. The last 40 minutes of the film is one of the greatest action sequences of all time – an endless cavalcade of samurai against our few but mighty protectors, in a city rigged like “Home Alone”. I can watch this movie endlessly and it lands every time.
10. Creature of the Black Lagoon
I never tire of classic movies or monster movies, so of course the first Universal horror classics are always in rotation with me. While “Frankenstein”, “Dracula”, “The Invisible Man” and many more are all excellent, it is “Creature from the Black Lagoon” that I watch over and over again. Milicent Patrick’s Gill-man design is still one of the greatest creature designs of all time, and it’s an intriguing sci-fi debut that explores the potential of our pride to exhibit new forces that we cannot control. It is a stunner.
9. Ran (1985)
Akira Kurosawa is a master and easily one of my all-time favorite directors. The intricate perspectives of “Rashomon”, the epic attributes of “Seven Samurai” or “Throne of Blood” … Kurosawa has an almost magical gift for building epic stories that are always rich in emotion, and nowhere is it – he exhibited better than his Adaptation of “King Lear” “Ran”. It effortlessly translates classic material into a historical Japanese context in a way that feels modern yet timeless in this colorful, complex, and fast-paced affair, and I love it deeply.
8. Alien (1979)
Between “Alien” and “Blade Runner”, Ridley Scott is responsible for some of the greatest science fiction films ever made. His vision provides so much depth in creating these sci-fi worlds that they feel inhabited in. While the latter is also one of my favorites, the former is the one I watch the most. The movie introduces us to one of the best protagonists of the big screen alongside one of the coolest movie monsters ever invented (shout out HR Giger), and it’s so cleverly written you can’t help but to be sucked. It’s a movie that always holds up, with new details to discover every time you watch.
7. Rear window (1954)
Nothing puts me in a good mood like a Hitchcock movie. “Rope” is a failed meditation on real wickedness. “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Vertigo” deliver strong suspense and great performances … ask me another day and I’ll give you a different favorite. “Rear Window”, however, is the movie I keep coming back to over and over again. It’s elegantly contained, painfully paranoid, with Jimmy Stewart excelling as a glorified voyeur of a protagonist… one who gets to catch the real villainy behind closed doors. People too often throw “masterclasses”, but it’s actually a masterful effort to create suspense out of nothing at all.
6. Shin Godzilla (2016)
1954’s “Gojira” contains insightful social commentary backed up by elegantly constructed horror, and the influential film literally invented a whole tradition in special effects. I love every entry in the long-running franchise, but “Shin Godzilla” sees the cake as a successful reboot of the original that doesn’t lose its themes, restore horror, but modernize its appearance. You can feel the raw, unyielding rage of Godzilla. The Godzilla of “Shin Godzilla” utterly exudes perfect, unequivocal hatred – he attacks because that’s all he wants in the whole world. He wants us dead. I can’t think of anything more frightening.
5. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
The noir genre has a number of classics that I have watched countless times. Fantastic Billy Wilder’s film noir trio, “Double Indemnity,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Ace in the Hole,” are easily three of the genre’s best. It’s hard for me to choose between “Double Indemnity” and “Sunset Boulevard” … In the end, I chose “Sunset Boulevard” for its ability to capture Hollywood’s dirty undersides better than any other movie, and he never gets old.
4. The Babadook (2014)
Jennifer Kent’s 2014 horror masterpiece “The Babadook” quickly became one of my all-time favorite horror films for its original and effective entity, Essie’s mind-blowing performances. Davis and Noah Wiseman and his spectacular staging. I still find it scary indeed, and his thoughts on grief, grief and trauma continue to convince me. Every time I watch it I am amazed at the caliber of its lead performance and the continued effectiveness of its alarms.
3. Parasite (2019)
Bong Joon-ho’s first film that I fell in love with was his 2006 monster masterpiece, “The Host,” revealing a director with incredible mastery of tone, effortlessly alternating tension, fear and humor. Nowhere do all of these elements come together better than “Parasite,” an incredible, class-conscious genre film. All the performances land (Song Kang-ho is amazing), and every element of the production’s exceptional design and cinematography really takes me into the story every time I watch it. It’s just an exceptional film, indeed perfect, which never gets old for me.
2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
My favorite thing about movies is their ability to give us experiences that transcend our ordinary experiences – they’re magical at best. No one excels at constantly conjuring up such witchcraft as well as the master of the monstrous himself, Guillermo del Toro. From its outstanding filmography (and I’ve watched each more times than I can count), if I’m to pin down a movie that makes every frame feel like every frame is drenched in some sort of sacred power, it’s easily “Pan’s Labyrinth “and its use of fairy tale elements to tell a multi-level, otherworldly story with a political side.
1. The Thing (1982)
If you had to ask which filmmaker I see the most again, it’s simple: John Carpenter. The sequence of his films from “Halloween” to “In the Mouth of Madness” has such a perfect balance between fun and fears (when horror) is so perfect that I watch them all the time. Yet for me, it’s “The Thing” that is his masterpiece (and in my opinion, the best horror movie of all time). It’s a gorgeous, suspenseful, well-played, high-stakes affair with a stunning creature design and practical effects – it’s just perfect, and I love every minute of it.