100 Things I Love About My Favorite Movies

Flickcharter Travis McClain was recently inspired by a friend of his to create a list of 100 things he loves about films. The “rules” for the list-making are as follows:

Rather than posting your 100 favorite films (which has been done and overdone), you simply post your favorite things about movies.  I dig the concept, because instead of obsessing over whether the films you put on a list are “objectively good enough” to put on said list, you simply jot down 100 moments/lines/visuals that have made a lasting impression on you or sneak their way into running gags between you and your friends. Just read below and you’ll get the idea.

So here’s a selection of 100 scenes, thoughts, opinions, quotes, moments, and observations on my favorite films – in no real specific order. It doesn’t necessarily align directly with my top 100 on Flickchart, but most of those films are represented. I did make a concerted effort to make this an audiovisual list as well, so enjoy the sights and sounds of some marvelous movie moments…


It’s an odd film. Dark tone. Strange plot. Unusual scenes. Mysterious events. But it’s just so remarkable. Altered States.


The sexiest film I’ve ever seen. Secretary.


One of my favorite war movies, Three Kings, has an incredible moment showing exactly what happens when you get shot. It’s permanently imprinted into my memory.



Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go is one of the best science fiction movies without spaceships, aliens, lasers, time travel, robots, and all the usual settings for the genre. It’s also an incredibly powerful character study.


The supporting actors in No Country for Old Men are really what make the movie great. The leads all do a fantastic job, but the Coens really know how to cast the small roles with people that bring a sense of realism and history to their paltry roles. Just look at how good the store owner (Gene Jones) is in the famous coin toss scene with Javier Bardem.



The Hangover shouldn’t be as good or funny as it is – but it is. It’s great. Chemistry between actors can make or break a comedy, and this movie nails it.


There are few films that make you feel the testosterone flowing through you more than 300.


The interstitial trailers were arguably the best part of Grindhouse.



A movie about the relationships of people and wine CAN be quite interesting – and at times side-splitting hilarious. Sideways proves it.


Frances McDormand in Fargo. Just awesome.


Effects that serve the story and impress with their technical prowess at the same time? The Curious Case of Benjamin Button works both of these angles in so many ways. It strongly reminds me of an exemplary, feature-length version of an episode of Amazing Stories.


Robin Williams as a creepy dude in One Hour Photo and Insomnia, or in more serious roles like The Final Cut.


The intensity of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was unexpected, and one of the best mystery movies I’ve ever seen. With Fincher & Reznor teaming up for the remake, I have high hopes – but it has a hard act to follow.


Despite what you may have heard, The Illusionist IS better than The Prestige. Get over it, Nolan fanboys.


I’m really glad that movies like Up in the Air are made. It’s funny without being cliché. Acted with understated performances. Scripted with heartfelt moments and scenarios that both seem hyper-real and relatable simultaneously. It’s much better of a movie than I ever thought it could be.


Unstoppable absolutely deserved its Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing. Making trains sound as awesome as they did in that movie is not easy. Very impressive.



Even though it’s turned into a mostly mediocre horror legacy franchise, the original Saw is a fantastic film. If you called the twist ending at any point during the movie, bravo, because the rest of us didn’t see it coming. As a result – a brutal, satisfying ending to a grueling movie.


It was only playing in my town one night. There were no promotions for it. No television spots. When we arrived at the one theater in a 100 mile radius that was playing it, it was not on the marquee, and not on any of the placards at the box office window. My friend Eric and I asked if it was playing. The teller nodded. We bought our tickets to this admittedly secret show. We’re still scratching our heads as to why this movie was essentially thrown away by the studio. It’s a pretty fun, cool movie. Equilibrium.


Let The Right One InLet Me In / Daybreakers. Modern vampire movies can be good.


Time travel movies. Primer. Frequently Asked Questions About Time TravelBill & Ted’s Excellent AdventureThe Time Traveler’s WifeBack to the Future. I can’t get enough. One of my favorite film genres, for sure.


The uncomfortable hilarity of Borat. If you’re not laughing at least once out loud watching this film, you’re missing a funny bone. (Side note: Bruno. Not funny. At all.)


Crawling through the dark subway tunnels with night vision revealing the evil lurking. Walking between fallen skyscrapers. A wonderful monster design. Subtle, but smart use of “found footage” genre tropes. A fantastic marketing campaign behind it – using the shroud of secrecy and ARG techniques to tease us all. Great, great stuff. Cloverfield.


Best fight scene. Ever. They Live.



I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how perfect the “Tiny Dancer” scene in Almost Famous is.



I’m not really into stoner comdies, but “Afghanistanimation”? Funny. Super Troopers


The 15-year old me still loves the mood, music, and menace of The Crow.


Charlie Chaplin doing some of the most entertaining stunt work on roller skates in Modern Times.



Everybody in Batman Returns. So dark. So Tim Burton. It’s such a weird movie…


The ability for a feature film to work better as drug use prevention than anything you might ever see in a school health class. I’m looking at you Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream.


Best. Car Chase. Ever. Ronin.



Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door. Yes, please.


The mean, green mother from outer space in Little Shop of Horrors.


Billy Mitchell. What a smug bastard he’s made out to be in The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.


The last time Eddie Murphy was funny, in Bowfinger.


The only movie to make me openly sob in a movie theater. Mr. Holland’s Opus.


Shaky-cam notwithstanding, the film that changed the game on microbudget filmmaking success. Still a triumph. The Blair Witch Project.


They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. The Music Man.



Absolutely any scene featuring Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.



The film that rekindled my love of The Beatles in the most powerful way. Across the Universe.


Crazy Gene Wilder. Genuinely scary, unnerving scenes throughout. Early 70s fashions seeping into the costume designs. Freaky midgets. An entire scene devoted to burping to avoid certain death. It doesn’t get much stranger, or endearing, than the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.


The iconic score of Batman by Danny Elfman. Still one of the most memorable movie scores on par with John Williams’s best work.



“Dad, how can you hate ‘The Colonel’?”  “Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!” So I Married an Axe Murderer.



Some of the best acting-against-yourself scenes, smack-dab in the middle of a wonderful, small sci-fi tale. Moon is simply a great movie.


The best bleak, tragic ending to a film ever conceived. The Mist.


Pretty much any scene in Weird Science.


What a great use of a single set! Cube.


The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky in Fantasia 2000.


The palpable tension – both between James Stewart and Grace Kelly, and the mystery and paranoia contributing to the unfolding events of Rear Window. Hitchcock at the top of his game.


The justifiably famous moment in Jaws where Roy Scheider is throwing chum into the water, who then turns, now startled and taken aback seeing “Bruce” for the first time (as we in the audience are), and then slowly backs into the cabin to announce what’s on his and our minds… “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”



The genuine happiness I felt for longtime musical hero Trent Reznor on winning the Best Original Score Academy Award for his work on The Social Network.


The right way to do product placement with the Speak & Spell and Reese’s Pieces in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.


The funniest the Farrelly brothers have ever been, by far, and hilarious performances from the three leads – Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and the inimitable Bill Murray. Kingpin.


“It says one hundred percent guaranteed, you moron!”  “Mister, if you don’t shut up I’m gonna kick one hundred percent of your ass!” Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (Also, Phoebe Cates pool scene, of course.)


The inspired use of a typewriter as an instrument in Dario Marianelli’s score to Atonement.



My first introduction to the brilliance of Darren Aronofsky, in Pi.


Despite whatever pitfalls Fincher faced from all angles of the industry and having to follow two superior movies, I still think Alien ³ is a good, visually gorgeous film. It just wasn’t what anyone was expecting to see out of a third Alien film.


Still some of the most effectively terrifying  practical visual effects ever created. Here’s hoping the reboot/prequel/remake doesn’t rely to heavily on CG. The Thing.


The extreme slow motion intro credits sequence set to Bob Dylan in Watchmen.


A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. It’s better than everyone says it is. Underrated.


The mystery, allure, and beauty of Kim Novak  in Vertigo.


The fact that vampires don’t show up until 45 minutes into the movie in From Dusk Till Dawn. Until then, it’s just an odd crime thriller…


Everything I wanted and more. So well executed. So creative. The best animated character/live action blending since Roger Rabbit. Awesome. District 9.


The uncanny valley is about to be jumped. It’s coming. Cameron’s going to be the one leaping over it. Avatar.


BUM BUM BUM Boummm Bummmmmmmmmmmm. Close Encounters of the Third Kind.



A great remake. A stellar performance. A dark, disturbing science fiction horror masterpiece from Cronenberg. The Fly.


The most incredible one-shot ever as we follow Tom Cruise and family in the minivan escaping the devastation in War of the Worlds.


The superb editing makes the film both thrilling and completely comprehensible simultaneously. No small feat. Jam packed with amazing sequences. Inception.


The heart wrenching performance of a very young Christian Bale in Spielberg’s lesser-known war film, Empire of the Sun. It’s rare when a child actor is also the lead in a serious, dramatic film. Even rarer when the acting is nuanced, understated, and telling of a great career to come.


Say what you will, but Titanic is awesome. It made a lot of money for a lot of reasons, but the best reason is that it’s a great story. Perhaps a touch melodramatic, but it’s a tragedy enveloped with intense emotional output. Pretty much everything after the boat hits the iceberg is pure bliss.


How incredibly excited I am to see Super 8, and hoping it’s everything I wish it can be.



Top 5 things I love about High Fidelity:

  1. If you’re into music, you’ll love the movie.
  2. Cusack rules.
  3. Early Jack Black.
  4. Cosby sweater.
  5. “Do we look like the kind of store that sells I Just Called to Say I Love You? Go to the mall.”


Explorers is the cinematic embodiment of how I felt, thought, acted, and imagined as a kid. Use a computer and fair ride parts to build a crude spaceship with a few buddies to find space aliens that have visited you in your dreams? Joe Dante – thank you for making this movie. I still love it.


Incredible filmmaking. If you were ever to point to a piece of cinema as art, this is it. Everyone should see it. Do yourself a favor. Watch Koyaanisqatsi.


Don’t get him wet, keep him out of bright light, and never feed him after midnight. Gremlins.


The best Star Wars parody. Hilariousness from start to finish. So many quotes. Pullman. Moranis. Candy. Brooks. Still a riot. Spaceballs.


Gary Oldman creeps me out in the best way possible in The Professional.


Hoverboards. Back to the Future Part II.


The chestburster. Alien.


“I don’t shut up, I grow up, and when I look at you, I throw up!” Stand by Me.



“‘Empire’ had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader’s his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that’s what life is, a series of down endings. All ‘Jedi’ had was a bunch of Muppets.”  Clerks.


Who knew that a love story between a “pumpkin king” and a tattered, stitched-up doll could be so compelling. Doubly so as a stop-motion animated musical. The Nightmare Before Christmas.


Indy takes the easier option in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


This seqeuence. From AKIRA.


“I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.” Groundhog Day.


What’s in the box? Se7en.


All the chaos of the war room climax in WarGames.


“Yeah, but you know what? This one here? This was my dream, my wish – and it didn’t come true. So I’m taking it back. I’m taking them all back.” The Goonies.


Seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit more times in theaters than probably any other movie.


The score. The effects. The action. The look. I was obsessed with this film from the moment I saw it, and it’s never ceased to remain a favorite. Terminator 2: Judgment Day.


But action doesn’t get any better than Die Hard.


The T-Rex. Raptors. Every dinosaur, really. Jeff Goldblum. Everyone in the cast is really “on”. What’s not to love? Jurassic Park.


Simply the finest underwater film ever made. The Abyss.


Jabba. Sarlacc Pit. Speederbikes. The final lightsaber battle – slow and psychologically fueled. Vader’s true face revealed. The atonement of Anakin with the defeat of the Emperor. There’s a lot to adore in Return of the Jedi.


Just about every damn thing about Fight Club just rules. What an incredible movie. Score. Characters. Cinematography. Script. Twist. So, so good.


“Cats and dogs. Living together. Mass hysteria!” I was a member of the official fan club. Will always be close to my heart. I love Ghostbusters.


A tale of time travel – and moviemaking – at its absolute best. A perfect script. A classic. It’s hard to imagine that it could ever be done better than Back to the Future.


Star Wars. I’m a lifelong fan. Always will be.


The best sequel anyone could have ever dreamed to receive. Cameron at his absolute best. The most adrenaline-fueled blend of horror, science fiction, and action by far. It’s incredible. Aliens.


There has been, and probably never will be, a more succinct combination of so many genres so well executed. Out of nowhere, the bar was raised before anyone knew what hit them. My jaw’s been dropped since the first time I saw it. The Matrix.


The Empire Strikes Back is my absolute favorite film.