My Favorite Movies

Someone recently asked me what my favorite movie was and I struggled to answer it after blurting out my top two movies. After giving it a lot of thought, going through all of my movies (all 800+ of them), and adding a bunch of rules, I came up with this list.

Before I get to the list, I gave myself a few rules...

  1. No comedies. Comedies have something about them that create a separation in my head that makes it very hard for me to compare them to other movies.
  2. No animated movies. Although this rule has no immediate impact on my list, I didn't want to include any animated movies because, like comedies, they tend to have a different feel to them.
  3. No superhero movies. Superhero movies suffer from the same problem that comedies do - I have a hard time treating them as real movies (although the new ones, like Ironman, The Avengers, and Gauardians of the Galaxy have broken that rule).
  4. No sequels/trilogies/series. This is the Matrix rule; sequels and trilogies seem to trail off and most are pretty bad. There are a few exceptions, but those movies might take up too many spots (and I want to avoid comparing those movies to each other in this post) and most of the time there are parts to each movie that I like and dislike.
  5. Evergreen/Timeless. I wanted to leave off new movies because my favorite movies should be timeless; most notably Kingsmen, Focus, and Mad Max: Fury Road.

Since I spent a fair amount of time rationalizing each spot, I added some related movies that I liked and thise movies are allow to break the rules I established above.

10. Rounders

Matt Damon starts my list out at number ten with Rounders. A cult-hit about high stakes poker, the film hits close to home with my gambling background (althought at a much higher level than my experience).

Related Movies (Matt Damon): Good Will Hunting; The Bourne Identity; Ocean's Eleven

9. American Gangster

I'm a sucker for American crime biographies and American Gangster is the best one in the last decade or two. Denzel Washington is solid in his performance of Frank Lukas (although not very accurate. Shocking for Hollywood, I know).

Related Movies (Crime Documentaries): Blow; Catch Me If You Can; American Hustle*; Boiler Room*

8. The Edge of Tomorrow

I wanted to get a Tom Cruise movie on the list, so I'm starting my list off my favorite one, The Edge of Tomorrow (AKA Live. Die. Repeat.). I can only guess why I prefer The Edge of Tomorrow over his other movies, but I'm guessing it mainly has to do with Emily Blunt and that this movie was his first good movie in the better part of 10 years.

The list is insane, by the way... Top Gun, The Color of Money, Rain Man, Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Mission: Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, Collateral, and Jack Reacher. I want to add Oblivion to this list, but I'm pretty sure the only reason I liked the movie was because Tom Cruise was in it (okay, and Olga Kurylenko).

Related Movies (Tom Cruise): Collateral; Minority Report

7. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

I'm should take a little bit of heat for having this movie on this list. Decent story, great cast, and one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. Gone in 60 Seconds also holds a little bit of a sentimental value to me as it was one of the first DVDs I owned, back when DVDs were new and cool.

Related Movies (Nicolas Cage): The Rock; Lord of War; Con Air; Face/Off

6. Inception

My favorite Christopher Nolan movie comes in at #6. Inception has a phenomenal cast, one of the best original stories, and one of the best ending scenes (and up for debate). Leonardo DiCaprio is amazing in the movie (as always), Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are great in the movie as well (and it's always nice to see Michael Caine).

Related Movies (Christopher Nolan): The Prestige; The Dark Knight

5. Fight Club

Everything about this movie is fantastic. It could easier be higher on the list, but the plot twist keeps it at #5; it's probably the best movie on this list, but the entertainment value after the first watch suffers compared to the next couple movies.

Edward Norton gets the nod over Brad Pitt for the theme in this spot because the only movie I'm omitting is Snatch (which I just mentioned) and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (and I just mentioned it now).

Related Movies (Edward Norton): American History X; The Score; Death to Smoochy; The Illusionist; Kingdom of Heaven

4. Snatch

The Guy Ritchie slot, Snatch is an extremely entertaining crime movie (as are pretty much all of Guy Richie's movies). Considered a comedy, I might be breaking one of my rules, it doesn't watch as a comedy; the cast shouldn't be considered comedians either -- Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Benicio Del Toro (NOT Antonio Banderas... Damn you Heineken commercial).

Related Movies (Guy Ritchie): Sherlock Holmes; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

3. Lucky Number Slevin

Like Snatch, Lucky Number Slevin is a psuedo-comedy, crime movie. The movie's dialog is what makes this movie so good. I don't think it's entirely fair to compare it to Pulp Fiction and even if it was, I'd rather watch this movie.

Related Movies (Entertaining dialog): Smokin' Aces; Seven Pyschopaths

2. The Departed

All of the Martin Scorsasee/Leonardo diCaprio movies are good (it says a lot when the worst movie of the five are Shutter Island). As with just about all of the movies on this list, the cast is insane -- Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin ("Patriot Act! Patriot Act!"), and Vera Farmiga. The first time I watched the movie, I needed to pick my jaw up off the floor, pause the movie, and rewind it at least once in the last 15 minutes of the movie because of everything that happened.

Related Movies (Martin Scorsasee & Leonardo diCaprio): Gangs of New York; The Wolf of Wall Street; The Aviator; Shutter Island

1. Gladiator

I'll be honest, even though Gladiator #1 on my list, I have a hard time committing 3 hours to rewatch the movie (the same goes for The Departed, actually). It has one of the most memorable quotes on the list ("Are you not entertained?!") and this movie is responsible for me hating Joaquin Phoenix for the better part of ten years (I was actually happy at the end of Ladder 49...). Gladiator was responsible for my obsession with Russell Crowe movies for a decade (A Beautiful Mind, 3:10 to Yuma, Master and Commander, American Gangster, Body of Lies, Tenderness, State of Play, and Robin Hood)

Related Movies (Russell Crowe): A Beautiful Mind; 3:10 to Yuma (2007); Robin Hood

Bonus: Honorable Mentions

The following movies deserved to be on the real list (or at least listed as similar movies), but didn't quite fit. For some, it was the rules that excluded them (but they still deserved to be on the list); others just weren't good enough.

Casino Royale

I know. I'm breaking the rule of no movie series, but this is my favorite James Bond movie. Since it's the first in the series of a new Bond and not a continuation of the previous Bond, you didn't need to see any of the previous movies and there's enough closure to the movie that there didn't need to be another movie.

The opening chase scene is all you really need to see to understand why I love this movie.


Arguably an animated movie, I left Avatar off the list because it's going to be part of a trilogy (and for its use of Papyrus). Still, it's a solid movie that should have won best picture over The Hurt Locker.

King Arthur

King Arthur suffers from the "not as good as Gladiator" problem. I like this movie (I actually like this genre of movies where a fictional character is made to be real -- see Troy) and the cast is great; I love Clive Owen and Kiera Knightly.

Enemy at the Gates

Jude Law, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz. Solid cast. Sniper move. World War 2 movie. Enough said. Being loosely based on real life makes it more interesting as well.


Shooter gets an honorable mention for being the best Mark Wahlberg movie not already mentioned (and not a comedy). Just like Enemy at the Gates, it's a sniper movie, so there's that...

The Town

The Town is one of my favorite crime movies but just suffers from not being the best in any category. Ben Affleck's movies overlapped too much with everything else on the list -- Matt Damon with Good Will Hunting; Lucky Number Slevin beat out Runnin' Aces; and The Departed was better than The Town. I almost put The Town in Gone in 60 Seconds place (and that meant putting Ben Affleck in over Nicolas Cage, which would have let me add Boiler Room as a related movie)

A Knight's Tale

I enjoyed a lot of Heath Ledger movies: 10 Things I Hate About You; The Order; The Brothers Grimm; The Patriot. His early/untimely death makes these movies difficult to watch. The same goes for Paul Walker in Running Scared and any of the Fast movies.

Anything Left Off...

Getting through this entire post and leaving Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan; Requiem for a Dream; The Fountain) off this list hurts and I almost want to go back and try to work one of those movies in. It's hard to not mention Hugh Jackman when mentioning Aronofsky and he's another one that I missed (The Fountain was fantastic and Jackman deserves a nod for Phantom of the Opera, one of the only musicals that I can watch).

I managed to get through the list without mentioning Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Pirates of the Caribbean, all of which deserve to be on a list somewhere but I managed to hold my guns on the no series rules. I'm sure I'll eventually write another post that covers these movies (I'll include the Bond movies too).

I covered a lot of movies and I'm sure I missed some movies or I could have categorized it better. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Corey Docken

Corey Docken

Corey is a designer and developer with over 10 years of experience building websites. He currently lives in southeastern Minnesota in a small town outside of Winona, MN.

Published on Friday, March 4th, 2016 at 5:00 PM.
Last updated on Saturday, March 5th, 2016 at 2:17 AM.