Morgan Freeman, left, and Tim Robbins at the 20th anniversary screening of Shawhawk Redemption.

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McNeil: My Favorite 100 Movies Of All Time

The best movies make us feel.

Dan McNeil
May 07, 2018 - 12:05 pm
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By Dan McNeil--

(670 The Score) I'm going out on a limb and assuming you've seen Goodfellas a time or two. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) had us from his opening line of narration: "Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster."  

Ever since I can recall, I've loved movies.

I couldn't have been even 10 years old when I was impersonating Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Stewart. With the rattle of a window-unit air conditioner in the background, I fondly remember staying up late to watch "WGN Presents" with my mom. I cried when Paul Newman died in Cool Hand Luke, but mom consoled me with a tug at my chubby, cherry-hued punim and said, "It's only a movie."

No, Darlene, they aren't "only" movies. Movies become a part of some of us. They remind us we're human as stories imitate our lives or depict the tribulations of others we love.

Movies forge their way into our vocabulary. They make us laugh. The best movies make us feel.  

Below is a list of my favorite 100 movies all time. I said favorite, not the films I know to be the most successful, most heavenly produced or widely acclaimed. You won't find any pictures on my list because "it's supposed to be" on it.

Many of these pictures were decorated with Oscars. All About Eve was the first of three films to receive a record 14 nominations (Titanic and La La Land). Conversely, I have a few low-budget, crank-it-out-fast, B-level comedies on my list. And even a made-for-television film or two appear.

First, a few notes about your dutiful critic.

Typically, I'm not fond of sports themes. Boxing movies are especially loathsome to me. They're too formulaic, too much cheese ball.  

In The Natural, I rooted for Hobbs to whiff. I later learned he did, in the book. If there would have been a spread in Hoosiers, I'd have laid the points against Hickory and rooted for Jimmy Chitwood to spit the bit.

War pictures aren't among my favorites. Oh, I still jump off the couch and fist pump when Charlie Sheen fills Tom Berenger with bullets in Platoon. And who doesn't weep when the later-in-life Private Ryan crumbles at his brothers' graves and beckons, "Tell me I've been a good man." As a genre, however, war films usually don't keep me returning.

Science fiction isn't for me. You won't find any Star Wars installments on my list, and I don't speak the language.

Suspense thrillers get me going. If anybody's looking for a partner to get really dark -- ever see The Salton Sea? --  I'll be your Huckleberry.

I cherish films that capture the dynamics of guys getting into mischief with other guys. And yes, because I've ingested my fair share of intoxicants, I'm drawn to stories that illuminte the slippery slope in the seedy life of a tweaker.

But more than anything, give me a story about life's events that try men's souls. Develop endearing characters who triumph over adversity and their antagonists. The more I sob, the more I like the film.

Or just bust my ample gut with laughter.

It was a daunting assignment, paring my collection of favorite movies to just 100. I estimate I've watched more than 2,000 films and have built relationships with far more than 100 of them.  

Without apology, my favorite 100 movies of all time:

1.  The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont, 1994

2.  It's A Wonderful Life, Frank Capra, 1946

3.  One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Miles Forman, 1975

4.  The Cider House Rules, Lasse Hallstrom, 1999
  
5.  The Pope Of Greenwich Village, Stuart Rosenberg, 1984

6.  Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe, 2000

7.  Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, 1941

8.  L.A. Confidential, Curtis Hanson, 1997

9.  Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese, 1990

10.  Cool Hand Luke, Stuart Rosenberg, 1967

11.  Good Will Hunting, Gus Van Sant, 1997

T12. Slap Shot, George Roy Hill, 1997

T12. Caddyshack, Harold Ramis, 1980

14. American Beauty  Sam Mendes, 1999

15. All About Eve, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950

16. Dance With Wolves, Kevin Costner, 1990

17. The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer, 1995

18. Rounders, John Dahl 1998

19. The Majestic, Frank Darabont, 2001

20. Everybody's All American, Taylor Hackford, 1988

21. The Imitation Game, Morton Tyldum, 2014

22. The Verdict, Sidney Lumet, 1982

23. Scarface, Brian De Palma, 1983

24. Parenthood, Ron Howard, 1989

25. As Good As It Gets, James L. Brooks, 1997

26. Hoffa, Danny DeVito, 1992

27. The Silence Of The Lambs, Jonathan Demme, 1991

28. Ordinary People, Robert Redford, 1980

29. Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino, 1997

30. Thief,  Michael Mann, 1981

31. Grand Canyon, Lawrence Kasdan, 1991

32. A Few Good Men, Rob Reiner, 1992

33. Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton, 2006

34.  A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick, 1971

35. Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet, 1975

36. Anatomy Of A Murder, Otto Preminger, 1959

37. The Sound Of Music, Robert Wise, 1965

38. Spotlight, Tom McCarthy, 2015

39. The World According To Garp, George Roy Hill, 1982

40. A Mighty Wind, Christopher Guest, 2003

41. Jaws, Steven Spielberg, 1975

42. North Dallas 40, Ted Kotcheff, 1979

43. Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee, 2005

44. My Blue Heaven, Herbert Ross, 1990

45. Private Parts, Betty Thomas, 1997

46. I Love You, Man,  John Hamburg, 2009

47. Barfly, Barbet Schroeder, 1987

48. The Lion King, Roger Allers, 1994

49. Prince Of Tides, Barbra Streisand, 1991

50. Best In Show, Christopher Guest, 2000 

51. Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, Mel Stuart, 1971

52. 40-Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow, 2005

53. Blow, Ted Demme, 2001

54. Broadcast News, James L. Brooks, 1987

55. Stand By Me, Rob Reiner, 1986

56. The Doors, Oliver Stone, 1991

57. The Break-Up, Peyton Reed, 2006

58. Runaway Train, Andrei Konchalovsky, 1985

59. The Wolf Of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese, 2013

60. Walk Hard: The Legend Of Dewey Cox, Jake Kasdan, 2007

61. In Bruges, Martin McDonagh, 2008

62. Heaven Help Us, Michael Dinner, 1985

63.  Chicago, Rob Marshall, 2002

64. Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy, 2007

65. Breakfast Club, John Hughes, 1985

66. Charlie Wilson's War, Mike Nichols, 2007

67. The Fugitive, Andrew Davis, 1993

68. Office Space, Mike Judge, 1999

69. True Romance, Tony Scott, 1993

70. Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder, 1953

71.  Blue Velvet, David Lynch, 1986

72. Mississippi Burning, Alan Parker, 1988

73.  American Hot Wax, Floyd Mutrux, 1978

74. The Town, Ben Affleck, 2010

75. To Kill A Mockingbird, Robert Mulligan, 1962

76. American History X, Tony Kaye, 1998

77. Key Largo, John Huston, 1948

78. The Ides Of March, George Clooney, 2011

79. Angels With Dirty Faces, Michael Curtiz, 1938

80. Terms Of Endearment, James L. Brooks, 1983

81. 12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet, 1957

82. The Family Stone, Thomas Bezucha, 2005

83. 48 Hours, Walter Hill, 1982

84. The Pianist, Roman Polanski, 2002

85. How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Ron Howard, 2000

86. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, Lasse Hallstrom, 2011

87. Waiting For Guffman, Christopher Guest, 1997

88. The Big Sleep, Howard Hawks, 1946

89. Ted, Seth McFarlane, 2012

90. The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, 1972

91. The Aviator, Martin Scorsese, 2004

92. Anchorman, Adam McKay, 2004

93. The Sting, George Roy Hill, 1973

94.  The Sandlot, David Mickey Evans, 1993 
  
95. Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996

96. Brian's Song (ABC), Jonathan Gray, 1971

97. St. Vincent, Theodore Melfi, 2014

98. Rope, Alfred Hitchcock, 1948

99. Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen, 2006

100. The Rat Pack, (HBO) Rob Cohen, 1998 

Dan McNeil is a co-host of the McNeil and Parkins Show in afternoons. You can follow him on Twitter @DannyMac670.​

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