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Erik at the Movies Finale: The Top Recs


As my time writing for The Ville is sadly coming to a close, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of my favorite movies that I have seen across my lifetime to help share some recommendations for you all to watch over the summer. Thank you all so much for being willing to read my work these past 2 years, and please enjoy!


№1: The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya /『かぐや姫の物語』(2013 / 平成二十五年) (日本) = Petals falling, unable to resist the moonlight.” When I initially chose to start watching every Studio Ghibli movie, I saw the trailer for this film, and it gave me chills. I decided to save it for last, and it most certainly delivered. The story is based on the 10th century folktale “The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter” (the oldest surviving piece of Japanese literature), which follows a lowly Bamboo Cutter and his Wife who find a miniature Princess in a stalk of bamboo who grows up at an extraordinarily fast rate. Her parents become exceedingly rich due to blessings from the gods, and take her away to the capital to raise her as a member of high society. Kaguya proceeds to feign off proposals from several nobles but eventually loses her will to live after being sexually assaulted by the Emperor, and reveals that she has to return to the Moon. Her parents try to stop this from happening, but to no avail, and she returns to the Moon without any memory of her suffering on Earth. The moral of the story is about the fleeting nature of life, and since life is so short you should make the most of its profound beauty. It also manages to be one of the greatest feminist works that I have ever come across. The visuals perfectly complement the story, with the animation utilizing traditional Japanese watercolor paintings that make the movie feel as if it were made in the era the story took place in. The score by Joe Hisashi is also one of his absolute finest, perfectly complementing the animation. What is there to say about the scene of flight, other than cinema. This was the last film directed by Isao Takahata before his death in 2018 and it was a perfect end to his decades long career. This may possibly be one of, if not the single greatest film I have EVER seen. I have no higher praise to give. There is nothing else to say, except WATCH THIS MOVIE. Literal perfection. 10/10.

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya is currently streaming on Max.


№2: Network (1976) (US) =I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!” Paddy Chayefsky was a writer who got his start in the entertainment industry working as a writer in the early days of television. A teleplay that he wrote named Marty was adapted into a movie of the same name in 1955, and it swept the awards season as one of the few films to win both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Palme d’Or. He also picked up the first of his 3 Oscar wins for Screenplays. Even after leaving the industry behind for feature films, he always held onto his many grievances on how the television was stoking devisions in our society, and he decided to do something about it. His solution was to create a film that served as a systematic critique of the entire television industry, evicerating both the suits that run it and the masses who consume it, and the final product was so good that it is unanimously considered one of the greatest screenplays of all time. Our story follows the fictional television Network of UBS and their nightly anchorman Howard Beale who gets laid off due to poor ratings and has a mental breakdown on air, announcing that he will blow his brains out the following Tuesday on camera, and despite all prevailing wisdom he becomes the highest rated show on television. Even as his mental state spirals out of control, UBS exploits him and starts a vast media empire with him at the center. A new executive, a woman named Diana Christensen (played by the incredible Faye Dunaway) capitalizes on this opportunity, and corners the market for “angry content” and escuing facts for opinions and commentary to increase viewers, even being willing to hire a band of terrorists to have a prime time slot. Beale’s monologues have an unnerving quality, being so verbose and compelling that you can’t help but be enthralled, but the images of his ramblings still linger in your mind, making you doubt any credibility he may still hold. The other story follows Howard’s close colleague Max Schumacher (played by William Holden) who falls in love Diana after leaving the company, and cheats on his wife with her. During their many conversations, we learn how Diana is a soulless and cutthroat shell of a person, lacking any human emotion except for greed. Eventually, the company wishes to muzzle Beale, so they send him to talk to the CEO of the company, Aurther Jensen, who delivers one of the single greatest and most profound monologues in the history of film, which I refuse to spoil the contents of here in this review. I had such an impending sense of dread while watching this film, with it prophesying the constant deluge and delusions of 24/7 cable news and social media to an almost uncanny level. Beale was portrayed by Australian actor Peter Finch, who died shortly after filming was completed, and became the first actor in history to win a posthumous Oscar. William Holden was also up for best actor in a rare double nomination, and Faye Dunaway also won for Best Actress. Beatrice Straight, who played Max’s wife, also set a record for the shortest performance to ever win an Academy Award. Sidney Lumet, who previously helmed 12 Angry Men, does a fantastic job directing and helps elevate the film to new heights. It was a huge success at the Academy Awards, winning 3 acting Oscars and for its Original Screenplay, but ultimately lost Best Picture to Rocky. This film was satire, and while utterly hilarious, we are now living in its nightmare. I’m as mad as hell. And I’m not going to take it anymore. For the love of god, watch this movie. 10/10.

Network is available for purchase and rental on demand.


№3: Ratatouille (2007) (US) =In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and theirselves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.” A true cinematic masterpiece god’s gift to man praise the good lord above hallelujah to the most high for letting this beautiful picture be made. In all seriousness, I have probably seen this film roughly 100 times and I feel as though I am viewing it for the first time, every single time. I must have driven my Grandma mad with the amount of times I had this movie on repeat as a young child, but I have since apologized. This is by far Pixar’s best film, while also their most underrated. The animation is absolutely fantastic and the story is a lovely journey through Paris, with the central message of “Anyone can cook” being a profoundly important moral. For a movie to have held up after all these years, I have no problems proclaiming it as one of my absolute favorites of all time. 10/10.

Ratatouille is currently streaming on Disney+.


№4: Amadeus (1984) (US/FR/ČS) =From now on, we are enemies… You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able. I will ruin Your incarnation.” I have always appreciated the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but it wasn’t until I watched this film that I truly understood not just his brilliance, but his true impact on the world of music. While most conventional biopics choose to take the perspective of their subject, this film eschews that convention by following his rival: Antonio Saliari (played by the great F. Murray Abraham). He was born a gifted child, and prayed to god that he would live his life in total devotion if he could become a great composer like Mozart (played by Tom Hulce). As his standing in society grew, Salieri became one of the preeminent composers of his age, and soon met his idol. He was surprised to find that the Mozart was a pathetic and crude boy, yet was capable of such heavenly symphonies, and denounced God for giving his gifts to someone other than him. He struggles with the pain of being able to recognize true art, yet being unable to produce it himself, and resorts to ruining the burgeoning career of Mozart and planning to kill him in order to steal his compositions and bask in his glory. Years later, Salieri attempts suicide out of his guilt and eventual mediocrity, and converses with a priest for his forgiveness. Despite the one-sided nature of this synopsis, the film gives ample screen time to both protagonists, and both leads deliver incredible portrayals of the two composers, each receiving Oscar nominations for Best Actor, with the Award ultimately going to Abraham. The director, Miloš Foreman, who previously helmed One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, made the decision to film the movie on location in his native land of Čzechoslovakia after previously fleeing the country for political asylum, and had to be careful to not get in trouble with the secret police during shooting. The production design is simply stunning, with elaborate sets and decedent wardrobes that truly let this period epic shine. As expected from a biopic about Mozart, the soundtrack is utterly brilliant, and every single piece serves to further the story in glorious fashion. The film was a great success at the 1984 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of classical music, I can promise that Amadeus will still manage to leave you enthralled. A true masterpiece. 10/10.

Amadeus is currently streaming on Netflix.


№5: Back To The Future (1985) (US) =If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious sh*t.” It only hit me on my most recent rewatch of this film, on how perfectly structured the story is. Every single line in the first act subtly feeds you clues and plot points that immediately come into effect once Marty travels into 1955. On top of being incredibly funny, the film is perfectly cast, with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd fully embodying the roles of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. The Delorean Time Machine and the Johnny B. Goode number both serve as iconic symbols of the film. I truly believe this to be a perfect Obie, and I highly recommend it to anyone who somehow hasn’t already seen it! 10/10.

Back To The Future is currently streaming on Peacock.


№6: Ikiru /『生きる』(1952 / 昭和二十七年) (日本) = How tragic that man can never realize how beautiful life is until he is face to face with death”. At the beginning of this story, our protagonist is a Japanese bureaucrat named Kenji Watanabe who has never missed a day of work in almost 30 years, and is then diagnosed with stomach cancer and given 6 months to live. He then realizes how throughout all that time, he has been nothing but a mummy, a lifeless husk that stamps paperwork endlessly and hasn’t had a meaning to live in ages. After a night on the town with a nameless writer, he tries to understand his purpose, but still feels empty. He then tries reconnecting with his coworkers to live vicariously through them, and then he has an epiphany and finds his own「Ikigai / 生き甲斐」(A reason for living). Sometimes it is the little things in life that stick with you, like brightening up someone’s day. He realized that what really matters, and what lasts long after you are gone, is how you made the lives of others better, by singing a song, gifting some pantyhose, or building a playground. For the final third of the film, it cuts between the bereaved bureaucrats who realize what he was living for, and then see how they are just as mummified as he was, resolving to finally make a difference in the world. Akira Kurosawa has achieved a triumph in filmmaking and this picture should be considered one of the all time greats. Takashi Shimura delivers one of the most compelling performances I have ever seen in any film as Kenji Watanabe, he says so much with just his beautiful, piercing, eyes. The emotions he brings to the character are so abundantly apparent, and you truly feel his passion and drive for making the world a better place. After all, “Life is brief”, so why not make the most of it and give someone a helping hand, and find a new meaning to live. 10/10.

Ikiru is available from the Criterion Collection and currently streaming on Max.


№7: Malcolm X (1992) (US/日本) =We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” Malcolm X is one of the most important Americans to have ever lived. Serving as one of the major civil rights leaders during the 1960’s until his assassination at the hands of the Nation of Islam. Adapted from his own autobiography and from a script written by the great James Baldwin, Malcolm X manages to fully depict his evolution from a two-bit gangster to a devoted family man and leader of his people. Spike Lee, coming off his 1989 masterpiece Do The Right Thing, successfully told this story in an authentic and all encompassing manner, leaving not a single second of its 3 hour and 22 minute runtime wasted. Denzel Washington is absolutely incredible as Malcolm X, delivering one of the most powerful and engrossing performances I have ever seen. This film is also notable for being one of the only times in recorded history that a non Muslim (Denzel Washington) was granted entry into the holy city of Mecca to perform the scenes of Malcolm’s hajj. When Nelson Mandela himself learned about this movie, he asked to have a small part, and he actually ends the movie as a school teacher in Soweto, South Africa, educating children about this great man. This is one of the 10 greatest films that I have ever seen, and I consider it a true masterpiece in the history of cinema. Please, WATCH THIS MOVIE. 10/10.

-Malcolm X is currently streaming on Max, and is available from the Criterion Collection.


№8: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989) (US) = “The quest for the grail is not archeology, it’s a race against evil. If it is captured by the Nazis the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the earth. Do you understand me?” This has always been a comfort film for me, and I am pleased to say that it still holds up. Opening with a flashback to a young Indiana Jones as a Boy Scout, we see his first real encounter with adventure and gain his iconic fedora. Jumping back to the present, we see Indy reconnect with his father (Played excellently by Sean Connery) on the search for the legendary Holy Grail, while trying to defeat the evil Nazi’s. Their dynamic is fun and really adds a lot to the movie. The location shots in Jordan were also stunning, particularly the stone city of Petra. This film means a lot to me, and remains one of my favorite movies of all time. Highly recommended. A true masterpiece and a real bit of movie magic. 10/10.

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade is currently streaming on Paramount+ and Disney+.


№9: Princess Mononoke /『もののけ姫』(1997 / 平成九年) (日本) = You must see with eyes unclouded by hate. See the good in that which is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead to preserve the balance that exists between the two.” This is a grandiose and truly epic film about the struggle between the forces of nature and the industrialization and progress of man set in a world of magic, with our protagonist Prince Ashitaka being cursed by a boar demon and is forced to leave his village in order to be healed by the Great Forest Spirit. He then enters into a conflict between the people of Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi, who live in a bastion of social progress, while destroying the forest, and the eponymous Princess Mononoke, San, a girl raised by wolf gods who will stop at nothing to protect the forest. San and Lady Eboshi have an amazing dichotomy both in their personalities and the two sides of the conflict that they each represent, but neither are truly right or wrong. Hayao Miyazaki managed to deliver The score by Joe Hisashi is absolutely phenomenal and it is an amazing movie that is definitely more violent than most other Studio Ghibli films. The relationship between San and Ashitaka is handled excellently and unfolds in a satisfying manner. The animation is on another level and contains some truly breathtaking footage. It is a testament to the film’s quality that it was chosen as the best Japanese film of 1997 and was their submission to the Oscars for the Best International Feature Film. A true cinematic masterpiece. 10/10. 

Princess Mononoke is currently streaming on Max.


№10 (Tie): The Apartment (1960) (US) = ‘The mirror… It’s broken.’ ‘Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel.’” The story follows a low level insurance worker named C. C. Baxter (played by the great Jack Lemmon) who makes a deal with his superiors in order to climb the company ladder. He lends out his apartment to his bosses to be used as a safe house for their extramarital affairs, and receives promotions in return. While at work, he meets and soon falls in love with an elevator attendant named Fran Kubelik (played by Shirley MacLaine). The two have excellent chemistry, and become good friends, but Baxter discovers at the office Christmas party that Ms. Kubelik has been coerced into being the sidepiece of his boss. He must make the difficult decision either to say nothing and keep his job, or stand up and help Ms. Kubelik become a mensch (or, a human being). This is one of the few films in history to be shot in both black and white and in widescreen, with the scenes in the office making an extensive use of deep focus cinematography (à la Citizen Kane) to create images of incredible scale that look like they stretch on forever. It is also one of the best written films I have ever seen, with the dialogue making consistent use of irony for both comedic and targic effect. The film was a great success at the Oscars, winning the academy awards for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. This is my favorite romantic film of all time, and I highly recommend it. 10/10.

The Apartment is currently streaming free on Tubi.


№10 (Tie): High And Low /『天国と地獄』(1963 / 昭和三十八年) (日本) =I know how much this money means to you, but a human life means more.” I am still shocked at how fundamentally perfect this movie is. Despite making the vast majority of his work in 4 by 3, Akira Kurosawa manages to showcase that he is also the master of widescreen. Every single image fully utilizes the power of horizontal composition and makes the first act one of the most visually stunning sequences I have ever seen on film. Our story follows Kingo Gondo (portrayed by the incredible Toshirō Mifune) who is an executive at National Shoes, and has just set in motion his hostile takeover of the company, leveraging every possession he has to meet the ¥50,000,000 bill. But just before he can accomplish this, his chauffeur’s son was kidnapped and is being held for a ¥30,000,000 ransom. He calls over the police, and the investigation is led by Chief Detective Tokura (played by the great Tatsuya Nakadai) who helps wiretap his phones in an effort to find the boy. But Gondo must make a difficult choice, on whether this young boy is worth his family’s livelihood, or to be labeled a heartless executive for the rest of his days. But the second half of the film focuses on the police scouring the streets, utilizing every clue they can find on order to bail the kidnapper. It goes from the relative “high” of the penthouse suite to the “low” slums of Yokohama. Interestingly, Japanese law at the time did not have any criminal penalties for kidnapping if they were not related to the perpetrator or owed them money, and the film was partly made as a political statement to advocate for higher jail sentences for kidnappers, which it ended up succeeding at. This is both a fantastic allegory of class struggle, and the best police procedural I have ever seen. It’s almost impossible to say, given the sheer number of perfect movies he made, but this just might be one of Kurosawa’s finest films. 10/10.

High And Low is available from the Criterion Collection, and streaming on Max.


№12: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) (US) =Me, I’m dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. I mean honestly, it’s the honest ones you have to watch out for. Because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.” Despite the concept of a movie based on a theme park ride from the 1960’s sounding like a horrible idea destined for failure, Gore Verbinski somehow managed to pull it off and create one of the greatest blockbuster films of all time. Johnny Depp stars as Captain Jack Sparrow, a washed up pirate who wishes to regain control of his ship, and meets a young man named Will Turner (played by Orlando Bloom) who has fallen in love with the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann (played by Keira Knightly). She is taken hostage by Captain Barbosa (played by Geoffrey Rush), and the two men go off to rescue her and take back the Black Pearl. The soundtrack is incredible, and the film is also incredibly hilarious. While I do love the entire Pirates series, I will always hold a special appreciation for this first film. A true masterpiece. 10/10.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl is currently streaming on Disney+.


№13: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (US/UK) =Do, or do not. There is no try.” This is one of the best sequels of all time. The film builds upon everything that made the first Star Wars so special, and makes something truly amazing. Darth Vader’s character is fleshed out brilliantly, and it makes the ending reveal hit even harder. It also introduces the Characters of Yoda, Lando, and Boba Fett, some of my personal favorites in all of Star Wars. The camera is so much more fluid and dynamic then the original, and its pacing is flawless. The score by John Williams is flawless as always, and the dialogue has substantially improved from the first film. A true masterpiece. 10/10.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is currently streaming on Disney+.


№14: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (US) = Salvation lay within.” Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, . Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, the story follows an innocent man named Andy Dufrane (portrayed by Tim Robbins) who is convicted of two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover, and sent to Shawshank Penetentiary to serve out the remainder of his days. While there, he soon becomes friends with an older inmate known as Red (played by the great Morgan Freeman) who. As the decades pass, we see both how the prison changes, and how the inmates are changed by prison. The film does an incredible job at forcing the audience to connect with the characters, and it makes the ending escape scene even more breathtaking. While many people may debate on whether this or Forrest Gump deserved to win Best Picture in 1994, I think that you should decide for yourself based on the merits of each film. Still, I really love this movie and highly recommend it. 10/10

The Shawshank Redemption is currently streaming on Max.


№15: Whisper Of The Heart /『耳をすませば』(1995 / 平成七年) (日本) = “You see that rough surrounding stone? You can polish it all you want, but it’ll still be worthless. But there might be something much more valuable inside that you can’t yet see.I did not expect much from this movie, but it ended up blowing me away. The story is incredibly relatable as it feels with a teenager wondering about her eventual place in the world as she tackles her parents expectations, school, and boys. Eventually she meets someone and he motivates her to follow her true passion of becoming a writer. The recurring motif of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” seemed jarring at first, but it ended up greatly helping the film. The film pulls at your heartstrings and doesn’t let go. A true masterclass in storytelling. However, it is also incredibly sad that this was the only film ever directed by Yoshifumi Kondō, as he passed away less than three years after the movie came out, and leaves me wondering what could have been. 10/10.

Whisker Of The Heart is currently streaming on Max.


№16: Singin’ In The Rain (1952) (US) =If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’. Bless you all.” I had the biggest smile on my face from beginning to end. The musical numbers are all perfection with such kinetic choreography and timeless lyrics. The title number is absolutely iconic, and I also adored the choreography for Good Morning. I laughed out loud on several occasions, which serves as a testament to the quality of the films script. The performances from Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Conner, and Jean Hagen are all fantastic. A pure piece of movie magic that I will be sure to rewatch many more times in the future. 10/10.

Singin’ In The Rain is currently streaming on Max.


№17: Ran /『乱』(1985 / 昭和六十年) (日本/FR) =In a mad world, only the mad are sane!” I never knew that art could be this colorful. Every single frame radiates with such saturated beauty. The fact that the hand-painted storyboards could’ve been shown on their own as an animated film speaks volumes to the quality of the production design. The story is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, where a elderly lord decides to give up control of his lands to his three children, and in the process causes both the complete destruction of his family, and of his own mind. But this wasn’t the original intention, as Kurosawa began by writing a historical reenactment of the Japanese lord Mōri, but once he realized the similarities to Shakespeare, he leaned into them, and also used the famous archetype of Lady Macbeth as the basis for Lady Kaede. But the real standout scene is the eponymously named hells picture scroll, in which Kurosawa built an actual castle to be burned down on camera, while the red and yellow armies are massacring each other in tragic and senseless violence. The film was so good, that even the Oscars paid attention, where it won for Best Costume Design, and Kurosawa received his only career nomination for Best Director, but lost to the incredibly droll film Out Of Africa. While it may not be my favorite film of Kurosawa’s, it is undoubtedly one of his most towering achievements. 10/10.

Ran is currently free to stream on Kanopy.


№18: Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters /『ミシマ:ア・ライフ・イン・フォー・チャプター』(1985 / 昭和六十年) (US/日本) =All my life I have been acutely aware of a contradiction in the very nature of my existence. For forty-five years I struggled to resolve this dilemma by writing plays and novels. The more I wrote, the more I realized mere words were not enough. So I found another form of expression.” The life of Yukio Mishima was a fascinating and controversial one. He was an author that became radicalized with ultra nationalistic views and died attempting to overthrow a base belonging to the Japanese Self Defence Force on November 25th, 1970, and later committing ritualistic Seppuku after he realized that the soldiers were not swayed by his oration. The “Four Chapters” portion of the title comes from the four concurrent stories being told, which are three adaptations of his written works and the last day of his life. The movie is both written and directed by Paul Schrader, the writer for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. Due to the controversial subject matter of the movie, several right wing groups protested the film and successfully got it banned in Japan. The stories all offer an interesting glimpse into the psyche of Mishima at different points throughout his life, that being「The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion / 金閣寺」 which depicts his views on Beauty and Obsession,「Kyoko’s House / 鏡子の家」showcasing his depiction of Art and Love, and「Runaway Horses / 奔馬」which can best be described as “Poetry written with a splash of blood”, embodying his beliefs on Patriotism and Action. The soundtrack by Phillip Glass is absolutely phenomenal and has no right to be this good and it greatly enhanced the movie. Interestingly, it was even sampled for some of his later compositions, including The Truman Show. My favorite part of the film would be the final chapter「The Harmony Of Pen And Sword / 文武両道」which cathartically brings to a close all four stories we were following with a bang, showing the inevitable conclusions of their actions brought full circle with a booming orchestral score in the background, finishing with a single breathtaking shot of the rising sun “lighting the sky for an instant.” I highly recommend this film to all who are willing to experience it. 10/10.

Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters is available from the Criterion Collection.


№19: Parasite / 기생충 (2019) (한국) =What are you, a family of charlatans?” After its explosive debut at the Cannes Film Festival, where it became one of only a handful of films to be UNANIMOUSLY declared to be the winner of the coveted Palme d’Or. Parasite soon made its way to the rest of the world, and became the first foreign language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. On top of winning best international feature film, it also won for best original screenplay, and best Director. I am pleased to say that it deserves the hype, and is worthy of your time. The story follows the _ family, who live in poverty in a sub basement apartment. Their eldest son discovers an opening for a tutoring job for a rich family, and the family slowly worms their way into becoming their servants through lying and dishonest means. Eventually, the old housemaid returns to retrieve her belongings, and all hell breaks loose. The production design of the main house was incredible, helping to fully immerse the audience in the film. Parasite stands out as an excellent example of class conflict in film, and one of the best films of the 21st century. 10/10.  

-Parasite is currently streaming on Max, and available from the Criterion Collection.


№20: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End Of Evangelion /『新世紀エヴァンゲリオン劇場版 エア/まごころを、君に』(1997 / 平成九年) (日本) =The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.” Oh my god. This is really something else. It takes a lot for a movie to warrant a rewatch just after your first viewing, but Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End Of Evangelion practically demands it for the full effect. Even as someone who just thought the original series wasn’t particularly exceptional, this film is so good that it more than justifies the 10 hour commitment of the show. It serves as a replacement for the final 2 episodes of the original show, which was created only after the creators received death threats from entitled fans. Partially due to the depression of the director Hideaki Anno, he decided to create a film that directly called out his audience for their behavior by directly calling out everything wrong with the otaku subculture. Every single grievance I had with the original show was put under a microscope and forces the audience to confront their reliance on fantasy to escape reality and their disgusting objectification of the female characters with brutal honesty. The animation is absolutely phenomenal, with the Asuka fight in the first half showcasing an incredible amount of technical skill from the filmmakers. However, once the second half begins the film kicks into overdrive with the annihilation of all life in the Human Instrumentality Project. The screams of humanity paired with the song Komm, Süßer Tod playing over some of the most abstract, horrifying, and beautiful imagery ever put to film manages to evoke a sense of dread and pure awe. Despite the strong barrier to entry, The End Of Evangelion manages to perfect every aspect of the original show and stand on its own as one of the greatest movies of all time. A true masterpiece. 10/10.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End Of Evangelion is currently streaming on Netflix. 


№21: Seven Samurai /『七人の侍』(1954 / 昭和二十九年) (日本) = “What do you think of farmers? You think they’re saints? Hah! They’re foxy beasts! They say, “We’ve got no rice, we’ve no wheat. We’ve got nothing!” But they have! They have everything! Dig under the floors! Or search the barns! You’ll find plenty! Beans, salt, rice, sake! Look in the valleys, they’ve got hidden warehouses! They pose as saints but are full of lies! If they smell a battle, they hunt the defeated! They’re nothing but stingy, greedy, blubbering, foxy, and mean! God damn it all! But then . . . who made them such beasts? You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food! Force them to labor! Take their women! And kill them if they resist! So what should farmers do? D*mn it…Throughout my time watching this movie, I had a faint sense of familiarity, that I had seen this before. This is because countless other filmmakers have seen this film, LOVED this film, and incorporated aspects of it into their own works. Hell, the film The Magnificent Seven is a direct adaptation with the director, Akira Kurosawa credited for the story, and Pixar’s A Bug’s Life was also a loose remake. The story follows seven rōnin samurai who are contracted by a village of farmers to protect them from raids for a year, and to train them to fight back. The performances are absolutely phenomenal, starring Kurosawa regulars Takashi Shimura (Who played Kenji Watanabe in Ikiru), Isao Kimura as the romantic disciple Katsushirō, and Yoshio Inaba as the warrior Gorobei. But the standout performance was from Toshirō Mifune, delivering one of the best performances I have ever seen as the poor Samurai Kikuchiyo. The grand scale, interpersonal drama, and strong characterization are some of the most extraordinary things about the film. The final battle, however, serves as one of the greatest set pieces of Akira Kurosawa’s entire career, with such kinetic movement and thrilling action serving as the perfect payoff to an incredible film. Despite being 3 and a half hours long, not a single second felt wasted, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Because of these reasons, and so many more, it has undoubtedly earned its place as one of the greatest films of all time. 10/10.

Seven Samurai is available from the Criterion Collection and is currently streaming on Max.


№22: Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975) (UK) =And now! At Last! Another film completely different from some of the other films which aren’t quite the same as this one is.” This is probably one of the funniest movies of all time. The team behind the film, Monty Python, recently finished production of their BBC show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and decided to shoot a film afterwards. Due to numerous technical issues and production delays, they were forced to beg rich musicians to donate to the film as a tax write off. Despite these problems, the final product ended up as a superb example of comedic cinema. We follow the adventures of King Arthur and various knights, as they follow the advice of God and go across the Scottish countryside in search of the legendary Holy Grail. There, they encounter the legendary Black Knight, coconuts, knights who say “Nee”, killer rabbits, holy hand grenades, and a wizard who some call… Tim. The film pokes fun at its own existence constantly, with the opening credits supposedly being written by Swedish llamas, and the vile monster being slain because the animator died on the job and they couldn’t afford to hire a new one. For a comedy to be this rewatchable, and remain laugh out loud funny each time, I have no choice but to declare it one of my favorite movies of all time. 10/10.

Monty Python And The Holy Grail is currently streaming on Netflix.


№23: Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) (US) =He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy.” While this film may seem very out of place in comparison to my other favorites, I have always had a soft spot for the Guardians Of The Galaxy series, and this one happens to be my favorite of the trilogy. The emphasis on found family is something that really speaks to me, and the humor is also fantastic. As always, the soundtrack is incredible and I still regularly listen to the songs chosen for the film. The film also gave the world the gift of Baby Groot!  No matter what James Gunn chooses to do next, I will check it out in order to support him. 10/10.

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 2 is currently streaming on Disney+.


№24: Groundhog Day (1993) (UK) =When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter. From Punxsutawney, it’s Phil Connors. So long.” It may be blasphemy, but I finally found it: The greatest holiday movie. Both hilarious, and heartwarming, Groundhog Day stands out as one of the best movies not just of 1993, but the 90’s as a whole. This simple story of a man trapped in a time loop, and the actions that ensue has been beloved by audiences ever since its release. Bill Murray is absolutely phenomenal as Phil Conners, helping to bring a lot of heart to the film. While spring may be coming early this year, (Thanks Phil) I will be sure to be rewatching this film every Groundhog Day without fail, forever. 10/10.
Groundhog Day is available for purchase and rental on demand.


№24 (Again…): Groundhog Day (1993) (US) =When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter. From Punxsutawney, it’s Phil Connors. So long.” It may be blasphemy, but I finally found it: The greatest holiday movie. Both hilarious, and heartwarming, Groundhog Day stands out as one of the best movies not just of 1993, but the 90’s as a whole. This simple story of a man trapped in a time loop, and the actions that ensue has been beloved by audiences ever since its release. Bill Murray is absolutely phenomenal as Phil Conners, helping to bring a lot of heart to the film. While spring may be coming early this year, (Thanks Phil) I will be sure to be rewatching this film every Groundhog Day without fail, forever. 10/10.
Groundhog Day is available for purchase and rental on demand.


№25: The Great Dictator (1940) (UK/US) = “When he was silent, the world laughed. When he spoke, the world listened. When speaking about the great Charlie Chaplin, the world remembers him as one of the most beloved and influential pioneers in the history of cinema. Debuting his iconic “Little Tramp” character in 1914’s Kid Auto Races At Venice, he entertained audiences the world over with the character in various forms until 1936’s Modern Times, when he retired the silent character due to the proliferation of “talkies”. But the second most famous person in the world at the time held quite a few similarities to Mr. Chaplin, such as being born in the same week, a famous public persona, and an iconic mustache. You may have heard of this man, his name was Adolf Hitler. Many people brought up this fact to Charlie Chaplin, and he was so vehemently opposed to the ideals of Nazism and the West’s (then) inaction to the atrocities of Germany that he took the matter into his own hands: that Hitler, must be laughed at. Writing, directing, and starring in the film, Chaplin plays the duel rolls of an unnamed Jewish Barber (bearing striking resemblance to the Little Tramp), who just emerged from a 20 year coma after WW1, and Adanoid Hinkel, the dictator of Bacteria. Despite their differences, they both look practically identical. It switches back and forth between these perspectives, showing the hardships faced by the Jewish people, and the inane ramblings of a cowardly and spiteful man. But the barber manages to switch places with Hinkel, and manages to deliver what I consider the single greatest speech ever put to film. Written without any forknowledge of how the war would turn out, he speaks not just to the Bacterian people, but to the audiences listening around the world. He advocates for peace, hope, and respect for your fellow man, to let soldiers remember their humanity. And to say that empires may pass, and dictators die, but that the people and democracy will always prevail. It is not just his passion that makes me weep every time I view this film, but his desperate appeal to innate human dignity and morality in the face of pure and imaginable evil is simply inspiring. While it was nominated for best picture, it was overlooked for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, because America was still too cowardly to stand up and fight for the right thing. Long after the tyrants of the world today are turned to dust and forgotten, this film’s message of humanity in the face of tyranny will still ring true. Please, watch this movie. 10/10.

The Great Dictator is streaming on Max, is free on Kanopy, and available from the Criterion Collection.

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Erik Larson
Erik Larson, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Erik Larson and I am currently a staff writer at The Ville who specializes in reviewing the latest and greatest in film. In the words of game director Hideo Kojima: “70% of my body is made of movies.” You can find more of my movie reviews here at my Letterboxd: https://boxd.it/4N1v5

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