My Top Five Lists

This past August, the Filmfest D.C. Cinema Lounge, our monthly film discussion group, met to reveal the participants Top Five lists. We were inspired by the film High Fidelity, in which Rob Gordon (John Cusack) and his music obsessed friends constantly debated the top five songs for a Monday morning, the top five side one/track ones, and many others. So us Cinema Lounge denizens followed suit. I've decided to share my lists because it would be both amusing and a great way to put off writing another column from scratch. If you would like to go straight to the lists, please go ahead and scroll down. But I decided to provide some explanation/background in the form of the top five questions you might ask me about these lists, and my replies:

5. Why on earth would you want to do this?

It's fun - to me anyway. I enjoyed jogging my memory and reliving some of my favorite films or parts of films. I liked weighing what to select and what not to. These lists give me a written record of my film tastes. Compiling these lists is also a wonderful way to waste time and avoid work. But the best part is the debate with your fellow film enthusiasts (movie geeks to outsiders). How could you possibly include that film? How could you leave that other one out?

4. Did you compile these lists objectively?

Not at all. With any of these lists, I'm not necessarily saying that these are the all-time best, but rather that these are my favorites.

As I noted, these lists are a reflection of my tastes, opinions, and views on film as a whole. They also illustrate when I grew up and where my life is now. For example, the "Movies To Relate To" list has movies I relate to based on my age, outlook and life circumstances. I would not expect that a 45-year-old stockbroker with three kids would have the same list.

3. How did you decide what lists to compile?

Some topics were obvious, such as an overall list, different genres, etc. I also made a concerted effort to break down some of my favorite parts of films. Sometimes I made adjustments on the fly. For example, I was working on the top five film scores and quickly realized that John Williams and Bernard Hermann had written so many of my favorites that I had to give them each their own category. Finally, some categories were spur of the moment just because they would be funny, such as the "stoner" characters, or sequels that should have been made.

2. For many lists you have multiple honorable mentions and for your overall lists you include some sequels as one entry. Isn't that cheating?

No. Many contests have honorable mentions. There are 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd team All-Americans. For me the honorable mentions are a way to acknowledge some of my favorites that are not on the list only because there are others I like just a tad more. As for stretching the overall list, the recent all-time ten best list from Sight and Sound magazine, one of the most respected film periodicals, included The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II together. If they can do it, so can I. But what it really comes down to is that these are my lists and I can do whatever the hell I want.

1. Your last list is "That Guy" actors. What do you mean?

I stole the term from Bill Simmons, who writes "The Sports Guy" column on the ESPN Website Page 2 section ( A "That Guy" actor is one you've likely seen in many films, often in small roles. You instantly know their faces, but not their names. "Hey it's . . . that guy!" If the names on this list do not ring any bells, please look up their filmographies on the Internet Movie Database at

With that out of the way, let's jump right in -


Overall (Desert Island)
1. Star Wars (Original Trilogy)
2. The Godfather (I and II)
3. Raiders Trilogy
4. This is Spinal Tap
5. Pulp Fiction
(Honorable Mention: GoodFellas, Citizen Kane, Casablanca)

Most Painful (Worst) Films
1. Tank Girl
2. The Wilderness Family
3. The Quest
4. 8 ½ Women
5. Eraserhead

1. Billy Bathgate
2. Armageddon
3. Men in Black II
4. Bonfire of the Vanities
5. Batman Forever
(Honorable Mention: Star Trek V)

Guilty Pleasures (Best Bad Movies)
1. Commando
2. Basic Instinct
3. Showgirls
4. UHF
5. Flash Gordon

1. The Cable Guy
2. Spies Like Us
3. Hudson Hawk
4. Continental Divide
5. The Impostors

1. Gone with the Wind
2. The Sound of Music
3. An Affair to Remember
4. The English Patient
5. Eraserhead
(Dishonorable Mention: The Birds)

Movies To Relate To
1. Office Space
2. High Fidelity
3. Swingers
4. Clerks
5. Free Enterprise

1. Star Wars
2. Rocky
3. The Natural
4. It's a Wonderful Life
5. Schindler's List

Lump in Your Throat Films (for Males)
1. Field of Dreams
2. Frequency
3. Eight Men Out
4. Glory
5. Schindler's List

Date Movies
1. Casablanca
2. Breakfast at Tiffany's
3. Moulin Rouge
4. The Apartment
5. Titanic

Definitely Don't Bring a Date
1. Fatal Attraction
2. The Accused
3. Showgirls
4. Porky's
5. The Brood

Getting Hungry Films
1. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
2. GoodFellas
3. Soul Food
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
5. Felicia's Journey

Diet Films (Lose Your Appetite)
1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
2. eXistenZ
3. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
4. Trainspotting
5. Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me

More Effective Than Any Frying Egg (If You Were Taking Drugs, These Films Would Make You Stop)
1. Requiem for a Dream
2. Trainspotting
3. Pulp Fiction
4. Boogie Nights
5. Scarface (1983)

Worst Movies Made by Superior Directors
1. The Age of Innocence -- Martin Scorsese
2. Hook -- Steven Spielberg
3. The Birds -- Alfred Hitchcock
4. Regarding Henry -- Mike Nichols
5. Mumford -- Lawrence Kasdan

Sequels That Should Have Been Made
1. Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money
2. History of the World, Part II
3. Good Will Hunting II: Hunting Season (from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)
4. Gandhi II (from UHF)
5. The Graduate II (from The Player)
(Honorable Mention: Amistad II, from Scary Movie)


1. This is Spinal Tap
2. The Naked Gun
3. Duck Soup
4. Some Like it Hot
5. Swingers
(Honorable Mention: Spaceballs, History of the World Part I, Life of Brian, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Love and Death)

1. The Godfather (I and II)
2. GoodFellas
3. Pulp Fiction
4. Once Upon a Time in America
5. White Heat
(Honorable Mention: Reservoir Dogs)

1. Moulin Rouge
2. The Music Man
3. Yankee Doodle Dandy
4. Singin in the Rain
5. A Hard Day's Night
(Honorable Mention: 42nd Street)

1. High Noon
2. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
3. The Searchers
4. The Good the Bad and the Ugly
5. The Wild Bunch
(Honorable Mention: Tombstone, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More)

1. Chinatown
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. Double Indemnity
4. L. A. Confidential
5. Out of the Past

1. Blade Runner
2. The Terminator
3. A Clockwork Orange
4. Close Encounters
5. Metropolis
(Honorable Mention: Starman, Total Recall, Dark City)

1. Star Wars (Original Trilogy)
2. E.T.
3. Fantasia
4. The Wizard of Oz
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

1. Raiders Trilogy
2. Die Hard
3. Terminator 2
4. Hard-Boiled
5. The Matrix

1. Psycho
2. The Shining
3. Jaws
4. Alien
5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

1. The Candidate
2. The Manchurian Candidate
3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
4. Dave
5. True Colors

1. Field of Dreams
2. Eight Men Out
3. Raging Bull
4. Rocky
5. North Dallas Forty

1. Apocalypse Now
2. Saving Private Ryan
3. Full Metal Jacket
4. All Quiet on the Western Front
5. Glory
(Honorable Mention: Paths of Glory)

1. Psycho
2. Notorious
3. Vertigo
4. North by Northwest
5. Strangers on a Train
(Honorable Mention: Rear Window)

Coming-of-Age Movies
1. Stand by Me
2. Y tu Mama Tambien
3. American Graffiti
4. The Breakfast Club
5. Dazed and Confused

Movies About Movies
1. Ed Wood
2. Sunset Boulevard
3. Singin in the Rain
4. 8 ½
5. Cinema Paradiso
(Honorable Mention: The Player)

Movies About TV
1. The Truman Show
2. Network
3. Broadcast News
4. The Insider
5. The Cable Guy

Bond Films
1. Goldfinger
2. Thunderball
3. Tomorrow Never Dies
4. Octopussy
5. From Russia with Love

Movies from TV Shows
1. The Fugitive
2. Star Trek II
3. The Blues Brothers
4. Wayne's World
5. The Addams Family

Movies from Comics
1. Superman
2. Batman
3. X-Men
4. Blade
5. Spider-Man

Book Adaptations
1. The Godfather
2. Goodfellas
3. Schindler's List
4. Jaws
5. The Silence of the Lambs
(Honorable Mention: The Manchurian Candidate)

Genre Spoofs
1. This is Spinal Tap
2. The Naked Gun
3. Spaceballs
4. Blazing Saddles
5. Airplane
(Honorable Mention: Life of Brian)

Worst Films in Overall Good Franchises
1. Star Trek V
2. Superman IV
3. Batman Forever
4. Diamonds are Forever
5. Licence to Kill


Score (John Williams)
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
2. Star Wars
3. Superman
4. Jaws
5. Schindler's List
(Honorable Mention: E.T., Amistad, The Empire Strikes Back)

Score (Bernard Hermann)
1. Psycho
2. Vertigo
3. Taxi Driver
4. Citizen Kane
5. Cape Fear
(Honorable Mention: North by Northwest)

Score (80s films)
1. Chariots of Fire
2. The Natural
3. Batman
4. Blade Runner
5. The Untouchables

Score (Miscellaneous)
1. The Godfather
2. Lawrence of Arabia
3. The Good the Bad and the Ugly
4. The Third Man
5. The Magnificent Seven
(Honorable Mention: Forrest Gump, The Pink Panther)

1. Pulp Fiction
2. Apocalypse Now
3. GoodFellas
4. American Graffiti
5. Almost Famous
(Honorable Mention: Reservoir Dogs, High Fidelity, Boogie Nights, The Graduate)

Opening Scene/Sequence
1. Touch of Evil
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
3. Raging Bull
4. The Godfather
5. Saving Private Ryan
(Honorable Mention: Chariots of Fire, Citizen Kane, Goldfinger, Lethal Weapon 2, Happiness)

Closing Scene
1. The Godfather
2. Citizen Kane
3. The Sixth Sense
4. Casablanca
5. La Dolce Vita
(Honorable Mention: Some Like it Hot)

Closing Line
1. Some Like it Hot -- "Nobody's perfect."
2. The Apartment -- "Shut up and deal."
3. Casablanca -- "Louie, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
4. King Kong -- "It was the beauty that killed the beast."
5. The Candidate -- "What do I do now?"
(Honorable Mention: The Roaring Twenties -- "He used to be a big shot.")

1. Blade Runner - Roy Batty ("Tears in Rain")
2. On the Waterfront - Terry Malloy ("It was you Charlie")
3. The Godfather, Part II - Hyman Roth ("This is the business we've chosen")
4. Network - Howard Beale ("Mad as Hell")
5. Taxi Driver - Travis Bickle ("You Talkin' to Me?)
(Honorable Mention: A League of Their Own - Jimmy Dugan, "There's no crying in baseball")

Death Scenes
1. Star Trek II - Spock
2. The Roaring Twenties - Eddie Bartlett
3. GoodFellas - Tommy DeVito
4. The Godfather - Sonny Corleone
5. Bonnie and Clyde - Bonnie and Clyde
(Honorable Mention: From Here to Eternity - Maggio, The Godfather - Luca Brazi, Return of the Jedi -- Anakin Skywalker)

Casting Mistakes
1. The Godfather, Part III -- Sofia Coppola
2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Kevin Costner
3. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Christian Slater
4. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Hanks
5. The Devil's Advocate - Keanu Reeves
(Honorable Mention: The Godfather, Part III -- George Hamilton, Speed -- Keanu Reeves, Pumpkin - Christina Ricci)

Surprise Endings
1. Planet of the Apes (1968)
2. Psycho
3. The Sixth Sense
4. The Usual Suspects
5. The Others
(Honorable Mention: Soylent Green)

Funniest Single Scenes
1. The Producers - Springtime for Hitler
2. This is Spinal Tap - Stonehenge
3. Take the Money and Run - Cello in a Marching Band
4. A Night at the Opera - The Party of the First Part
5. The Naked Gun - National Anthem
(Honorable Mention: Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Dark Knight, Office Space -- Busting the Machine)

Courtroom Scene(s)
1. A Few Good Men
2. The Caine Mutiny
3. And Justice for All
4. To Kill a Mockingbird
5. Serial Mom

"Stoner" Characters
1. Spiccoli - Fast Times at Ridgemont High
2. Slater - Dazed and Confused
3. Jay - every Kevin Smith movie so far
4. Floyd - True Romance
5. Photo Journalist (Dennis Hopper) - Apocalypse Now


Director/Actor Teams
1. Martin Scorsese/Robert De Niro
2. Akira Kurosawa/Toshiro Mifune
3. John Huston/Humphrey Bogart
4. John Ford/John Wayne
5. Billy Wilder/Jack Lemmon
(Honorable Mention: Quentin Tarantino/Samuel L. Jackson, Neil La Bute/Aaron Eckhart, Paul Thomas Anderson/John C. Reilly, Paul Thomas Anderson/ Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Allen/Diane Keaton, Wes Anderson/Bill Murray)

Actor Duos (Not established teams or franchises)
1. Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau
2. Paul Newman/Robert Redford
3. Robert De Niro/Joe Pesci
4. Burt Lancaster/ Kirk Douglas
5. Orson Welles/Joseph Cotten
(Honorable Mention: Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson, Jon Favreau/Vince Vaughn)

Actor/Actress Duos
1. Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall
2. Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers
3. Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn
4. William Powell/Myrna Loy
5. Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn
(Honorable Mention: Woody Allen/Diane Keaton, Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan)

"That Guy" Actors
1. Luis Guzman
2. William Fichtner
3. Michael Ironside
4. Robert Costanzo
5. Brion James
(Honorable Mention: William Zabka, Charles Napier)

Adam Spector
November 15, 2002

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