Fuck it, I'll make the list. Work is sloooooow today.
1. Blade Runner - I didn't even like this movie until recently. Didn't get it as a kid. Thought it would be more action oriented, or maybe just more obvious. But after watching it on the big screen this last fall, I realized that it is a towering masterpiece of a movie, in the same league as 2001.
2. Gladiator - Still great. Fuck the haters. Historical epics don't get better than this. Great score, great photography, great design, great dialogue, great action pieces. Some people call it cheesy, but as far as movies set in the ancient world go, I have to point out this is probably the least cheesy one out there. And the acting is top notch, especially Crowe. He's often great, but Maximus is going to be the role he is always associated with.
3. Alien - Like Blade Runner is a detective story with sci fi trappings, this is a horror movie with sci fi trappings. As effective as it ever was, and probably the best of the series. Dark and mean and not too complicated. The best thing in it for me is the epic sense of isolation. Or the creature design. Or Yaphet Kotto.
4. White Squall - Underseen and underrated. The storm sequence is Ridley going nuts with an action scene, and it's one of his best. But the surrounding stuff is great too. It's got kind of a 1950s Boy's Adventure vibe that you never see anymore, and the scenery is awesome. The kids are all okay, even a very whiny Ryan Phillippe, but the adults are kick ass. After The Dude, I would say Jeff Bridges' best performance. And all very subtle.
5. Hannibal - This isn't technically as good as movies listed lower, but I revisit it more because it's utterly watchable and fun. In fact, everything about it is really strong, except the one thing they couldn't do anything about, the story. It's a piece of shit book, that they somehow cooked into a pretty good film. What really works about this though is the Florence sequence, which plays out like a great short film in the middle of the rest.
6. Matchstick Men - That this relatively slight con artist flick can contend with the big guns here speaks highly of Scott's flexability. Everything in this works a little better than it should. It all feels more geniune than a synopsis would allow you to believe, and it's Nicholas Cage at his best. It's like the best Mamet movie Mamet never made.
7. Black Hawk Down - Maybe the most realistic war movie out there. All the classic war movies (Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket) tend to put bit of boilerplate into the mix, which isn't a bad thing per se, but BHD really manages to make combat operations the entire thrust of it's narrative, without worrying excessively about character arcs or the like. And it's still all very thrilling in an action movie sort of way, and yet not disrespectful. Tough balancing act. And its the only thing Josh Hartnett was really good in.
8. Thelma & Louise - This movie became a real cliche. But it's actually great! And because of the excellent ending, people forget that it is pretty much a comedy. The leads are at the top of their game, as is the supporting cast, especially Brad Pitt. And the female empowerment stuff is all pretty tasteful and well handled. I love the rumored alternate ending too, where they land the car on the opposite side of the canyon and drive off. That sounds hilarious.
9. American Gangster - Here's where they start to not work as well for me, but that said, this movie is still strong. I think it was all a bit rote, but it's certainly not shit, and everyone is pretty cool in it, particularly Washington and Brolin. I think ultimately, the events of Frank Lucas's life don't lend themselves to a two hour narrative all that well. Still, the technical stuff is aces.
10. Kingdom of Heaven - I haven't seen the director's cut. I know. I'll get right on it. The theatrical cut, though, is severely lacking a strong lead, which I always attributed to Bloom sucking, though there isn't much there on the page either (in that cut at least). There is cool stuff throughout, and a great action-packed ending, and Ed Norton as the leper king is terrific, but there's a sense of aiming low on the story and characters here. Once again, the visual styling is top notch.
11. Legend - This is where the visuals overwhelm the directing. This movie looks and feels incredibly weird, which is generally a plus, but if memory serves, it's borderline incoherant as a story. Tom Cruise is absurd in it, but Tim Curry makes up for that. Even still, I'd like to see it again, perhaps with the Goldsmith score this time.
12. Black Rain - Has it's moments. Mostly forgettable. Except the ending, because it's a total anti-climax, and yet somehow works.
UNSEEN BY ME
Someone To Watch Over Me
A Good Year
Should I get on those?
Compiling this list reminds me how great he is. That's a lot of great on one guy's resume. That compares to people like Scorsese. And he's got a hell of a touch with actors.