Fury Road is the third in the Mad Max franchise. It's the first without '80s Mel Gibson, and the first with Tom Hardy. Not only is it visually stunning, but the story is good, the actors are solid, and the action comes full swing and non-stop. In it, Tom Hardy, famous for his chameleon method acting, said his biggest inspirations for his Max Rockatansky were Indiana Jones and Wile E. Coyote. His performance made for a fun combination of the two.
24. The Grey (2011)
23. From Hell (2001)
For a short amount of time, I was an amateur Ripperologist - someone who studies into the crimes and the possible identity of Jack the Ripper. I don't remember exactly, but it was likely spurred on by this movie, Johnny Depp playing one of his best roles to date. This movie is a Gothic horror masterpiece, an under-the-radar effort based on the graphic novel by Watchmen maestro, Alan Moore. The movie was directed by the Hughes brothers, known more for their graphic depictions of urban African-American life (Menace II Society), though they did a fantastic job with the casting, making sure Johnny Depp could perfect a London East End accent.
22. Predator (1987)
I saw Predator in the theater on opening day, June 12th, 1987 - otherwise known as my 11th birthday. It was considered my birthday present, and while my parents absolutely reviled it, I did quite the opposite. Predator was so different for its time, taking the popularity of '80s action movies Rambo, Missing In Action, and Commando to mesh it with a hostile alien. The characters were good, the story line was better, and Arnold actually did a solid job acting here.
21. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is one that grew on me over time. I used to get pretty scared in horror movies. Once I got older and appreciated the sub-genre of psychological horror more, I found it fascinating how solitude could quickly turn on one over the course of a few months. It's now my favorite sub-genre, as I think that we ourselves can be far scarier than any ghost or monster, especially when our mind starts to unravel. Before The Shining was a movie, it was a book by Stephen King. When Stanley Kubrick bought the rights, he did with it as he pleased, which left King a little salty. King eventually saw his own vision come to fruition in a TV movie, but in terms of the creep factor, Kubrick won the day.
20. Scream (1996)
Scream is considered a hit and a cult classic all within the same breath. It's also probably the only movie in which you'll see Drew Barrymore die within the first 20 minutes. While a masked slasher with a knife hunting down teens in a small town seems far from original, Scream finds a way to breathe new life to the premise. Like The Cabin in the Woods, it spends much of its time poking holes through overdone genre tropes, while its characters ironically fall into the same traps they're scoffing at.
19. Last Man Standing (1996)
There are three Bruce Willis gems in my opinion - the iconic Die Hard, the war-time tear-jerker Tears of the Sun, and this underrated crime flick, Last Man Standing. The movie takes the urban noir, drops it on its head, and relocates it in an Old West-style universe, giving us a fascinating glimpse at a tough, grizzled anti-hero.
18. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic characters to come out of the '80s. Besides Jack Burton (Big Trouble In Little China), he's likely my favorite. He's brainy, he's handsome, and he's good with a whip, using it against Egyptian swordsmen in crowded Cairo agoras and to swing to safety across booby-trapped cave ravines. Tom Selek was originally supposed to play the role of Indy, but I'm so grateful that it never came to fruition.
17. The Warriors (1979)
I first came across The Warriors when I was in high school, and though it was highly dated, even at that point, I loved it. The concept was good, the fighting scenes were better, and I could appreciate the attempt to create a whole slew of gritty, although often cheesy, gangs for the Warriors to fight their way through. This is an iconic movie that has since become a cult classic, spawning video games and even a forever in development remake.
16. True Romance (1993)
At one time, this was my cousin's favorite movie, and so years later, I finally checked it out for myself. True Romance is filled to the brim with colorful characters, memorable baddies, and Brad Pitt as the weeded-up roommate everyone loves but nobody wants. The romance here is true, and the far-fetched characters and ideas are actually grounded enough to come off authentic. Maybe that's because it was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott (Man On Fire, Deja Vu).
15. The Godfather (1972)
My parents had this one recorded on VHS when I borrowed it and gave it a watch. This is finest mafia movie ever made to never even mention the word mafia. Before it was even cool, Francis Ford Coppolla pulled off the same idea that saw the word zombie never mentioned in The Walking Dead. That kind of mentality is what made this this such a timeless classic, with fantastic storytelling, realistic characters, and a look at the anti-hero before the concept was even really a concept.
14. The Lost Boys (1987)
Based on the idea of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan, this one takes the concept and flips it on its head. introducing a group of young, nihilistic teenage vampires. It featured the Coreys (Haim and Feldman), Keefer Sutherland, and Jami Gertz, who was one of my first celebrity crushes. The soundtrack is excellent, the storyline is solid, and the scenes are bloody and sexy and intense, a horror movie meshed with a comical teen drama. It's one of the '80s movies that influenced the adventurous kid angle of Stranger Things.
13. Red Dawn (1984)
We stay in the '80s with Red Dawn, one of the most influential films of my childhood. I played war in the woods with friends, and I wanted to be John Rambo, and Robert Morris (C. Thomas Howell) from Red Dawn. This had every little boy's dream in the '80s loading their BB guns and filling their canteens, ready to defend their town against Soviet and Cuban invaders in World War III. Well, not really, but we could pretend, failing to see just how scary the concept really was in the first ever movie to receive a PG-13 designation.
12. State of Grace (1990)
Before there was The Departed or The Town, there was State of Grace, a highly-underappreciated movie that was overshadowed by the release of Goodfellas. It features Sean Penn and Gary Oldman at their absolute finest, chronicling the little-known Irish-American mob in Hell's Kitchen New York City. They drink, they fight, and they have a tendency for unpredictable violence, especially the character portrayed by Oldman.
11. The Crow (1994)
This was my favorite movie for a few years after high school. It was so different from anything I'd ever seen before, a superhero movie for people who don't like superhero movies. The Crow is romantic, gritty, and dark, an urban Gothic thriller featuring Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, who died tragically toward the end of filming. It was released to honor Lee in what would have been his breakout role, one that he was born to play.
10. Bright Star (2009)
Bright Star features the final years of famous Romantic poet John Keats' life. I was introduced to Keats and the other Romantic poets in junior college, and found myself drawn to the young man whose poetry would be worth far more after his death than it ever was in life. His is a tragic story, especially once he met the love of his life, or his Bright Star, Fanny Brawne. The Regency-era costumes are spot on, the cinematography reflect the best of the Romantic mentality, and the romance is tender and brooding and ill-fated.
9. Kill Bill (2003 & 2004)
I see the two Kill Bill films as interconnected, as they came out just months apart. The first has more of an Asian feel, while the second dabbles more into the realm of a spaghetti western. Tarantino is all about style, which certainly comes through in the saga of Beatrix Kiddo and her epic quest for revenge against Bill and the Deadly Viper Squad. Pictured is Vol. 1 and Uma Thurman's obvious homage to Bruce Lee in his final role, Game of Death.
8. Fight Club (1999)
This used to be one of my fall asleep movies. It was funny, it was familiar, and its great characters, as well as its great director in David Fincher, were like family to me. The Narrator (Edward Norton) remains unnamed in this movie adapted from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk about deconstructing artificial, society-driven concepts and feelings, but doing so to the point that it becomes completely destructive.
7. Wicker Park (2004)
Wicker Park is an American remake of the French film, L'Appartement (The Apartment). It looks more like a psychological thriller from the trailer, but it's more of a psychological drama with a heavy dose of romance. This one fits into the same genre as films like Vanilla Sky, The Jacket, and Stay. While those branch out beyond the ordinary world, Wicker Park remains grounded, a brand new sort of cat and mouse game and a love triangle meshed as one.
6. Amelie (2001)
Amelie is not just a cute girl with a cute haircut and a cute smile. It deserves its international acclaim for its lead, Audrey Tautou, but also for its director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The music isn't too shabby either, every string, piano, and accordion composed by maestro Yann Tiersen. This features a lot of subtitles, and they're fast, but they're well worth the read, as Jeunet created colorful characters, snappy dialogue, and a directorial style flushed with lush, glossy color.
5. Good Will Hunting (1998)
Good Will Hunting is such a unique movie, showcasing the working-class neighborhood of South Boston under the lens of an academic opus. Director Gus Van Zant chose Robin Williams to fill the role of Sean McGuire, a psychiatrist who breaks through and finally motivates rudderless genius, Will Hunting (Matt Damon). The scenes with he and his knock-around neighborhood friends are fun and memorable, his relationship with Skylar (Minnie Driver) is endearing but elusive, and his budding relationship with Sean is filled with dirty jokes, laughter, and tears.
4. 25th Hour (2002)
I never thought I would like 25th Hour as much as I did, and as much as I still do. It was directed by Spike Lee, and though I don't care for Lee, he made a great movie here, based on the novel by Game of Thrones screenwriter David Benioff. It portrays of the easy, criminal lifestyle and how it eventually catches up with us, no matter how much we love our friends, our father, and our girlfriend.
3. Brotherhood of the Wolf (2000)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups) is like no other movie I've ever seen. It combines the French-speaking period piece with action, adventure, and even bouts of horror. I followed a group of friends blindly to this one, and likely left the most impressed with the stunning cinematography and the overall uniqueness the film had to offer. It chronicles the real life exploits of the Beast of Gevaudan, who ravaged the countryside in 1764, killing over a hundred women and children.
2. Charlie Countryman (2013)
This movie helped me decide that Shia LaBeouf was one of my favorite actors. It doesn't have the strongest title on the planet, but man, is it the story good. It's one most people have never heard of, but I took a chance on when it was streaming on Netflix. It really should have made more of a splash for its solid characters, its comedic flashes, and its heartfelt overtures on the streets of Bucarest, Romania. What's most endearing about this one is the absolute beating Charlie is willing to take for Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), the love of his life.
1. Drive (2011)
Speaking of great soundtracks and scores. It's because of this movie that I discovered not only a new genre of music that I fell head over heels for, but acts like Desire, Silver Swans, Com Truise, and Neon Indian. The music is really just an extra benefit of a movie like Drive. It's another superhero flick for people who don't like superhero flicks, the lead character acting selflessly to save the innocent, sporting a flashy scorpion jacket like a superhero's logo.