Gary Sundt’s Top 50 Favorite Films

As Printed in The Lumberjack on Dec. 9, 2010

by Gary Sundt

After four years of reviewing movies, it seems fitting to sign off my beloved post by providing a list of my 50 favorite films. This list is by no means a “best of” list (mainly because those are almost completely pointless), nor is it a listing of the films in order of their quality (example: Mallrats is in no way a better film than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Rather, this is a list of movies that have had a large impact on me in some form or another, and have helped shaped the moviegoer I am today. Were you to ask me about this list tomorrow, it would probably be different.

1. King Kong (1933, Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack)

When I was a kid, my grandfather would let me borrow a movie from his house every week. More often than not, the film I chose to borrow was the 1933 black-and-white King Kong. I watched this film so many times, the VHS tape began to get all static-y, and we eventually had to replace it. I was very happy, about a year before his death, to give him King Kong on special edition DVD. He smiled knowingly, probably regretting he had doomed his grandson to a lifetime obsession with the movies.

2. Kill Bill – The Whole Bloody Affair (2003 – 2004, Quentin Tarantino)

My dad took me to the theater to see Kill Bill Vol. 1 when I was 15. He sat through the opening scene, saw Uma Thurman get shot in the head, and walked out to go watch a movie about dogs. When I walked out of the theater, I was sure I wanted to make movies, and I have since produced one film and directed two others. Anyway, Quentin Tarantino has never made a bad film, but the kung fu/western opus of The Bride as she hunts down the people responsible for her attempted coup de grace is some of the best repeated viewings I’ve ever had.

3. WALL-E (2008, Andrew Stanton)

Not only is this Pixar’s very best film, but it also showcases my absolute favorite onscreen couple: Wall-E and Eve. Andrew Stanton did something very special when he created that little trash compactor: He crafted an utterly timely story about our fragile ecosystem and filled it with more sweetness than any movie has a right to have. When that little robot lost his (its?) memory at the end of the flick, it was enough to make a 20-year-old college film critic nearly cry.

4. Boogie Nights (1997, P.T. Anderson)

P.T. Anderson’s landmark film is an ensemble masterpiece. Sure, it’s about a guy with a 13-inch penis, but so is every Liam Neeson movie (or so I’ve heard; think about that the next he’s talking about midichlorians). Burt Reynolds is a porn director, Julianne Moore is his cocaine-addict wife, and Marky Mark, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle and Heather Graham are porn stars. Does it sound very strange? It is, but it is also one of the most honest and insightful films ever made.

5. Mallrats (1995, Kevin Smith)

Kevin Smith’s sophomore effort was not loved by many upon it’s initial release in 1995. However, it found its audience on VHS and DVD, and I was one of those followers. I was 13, and I remember watching Brody Bruce (Jason Lee) talk about comic books, his sexual desires and the many idiosyncracies of popular culture, and my mind was absolutely blown. I not only realized I wasn’t alone in my mindset, but that movies were allowed to be made however a filmmaker wanted to make them.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
7. Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)
8. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)
9. The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin)
10. Jaws (1975, Stephen Speilberg)
11. No Country for Old Men (2008, The Coen Brothers)
12. The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
13. Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)
14. Where The Wild Things Are (2009, Spike Jonze)
15. The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan)
16. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
17. Silence of the Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)
18. Nixon (1995, Oliver Stone)
19. Chasing Amy (1997, Kevin Smith)
20. Adaptation (2002, Spike Jonze)
21. The Toy Story Trilogy (1995–2010, John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich)
22. Boyz n the Hood (1991, John Singleton)
23. Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
24. The 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut)
25. The Star Wars Trilogy – Episodes IV–VI (1977–1983, George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand)
26. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo Del Toro)
27. Ed Wood (1994, Tim Burton)
28. Dawn of the Dead (1978, George A. Romero)
29. Clerks (1994, Kevin Smith)
30. Aliens (1986, James Cameron)
31. Bowling for Columbine (2001, Michael Moore)
32. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987, Sam Raimi)
33. Serenity (2005, Joss Whedon)
34. Se7en (1995, David Fincher)
35. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010, Edgar Wright)
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004, Sam Raimi)
37. Sleeping Beauty (1959, Clyde Geronimi)
38. Being John Malkovich (1999, Spike Jonze)
39. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998, Terry Gilliam)
40. Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
41. A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)
42. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004, Danny Leiner)
43. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992, James Cameron)
44. Bonnie & Clyde (1967, Arthur Penn)
45. The Harder They Come (1972, Perry Henzell)
46. The Matrix (1999, The Wachowski Brothers)
47. Slither (2006, James Gunn)
48. Crumb (1994, Terry Zwigoff)
49. True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993)
50. King Kong (2005, Peter Jackson)


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