Our critic's top movies of all time countdown
What, no "Citizen Kane"? Nope. Nor did I include "Gone With the Wind," anything by Martin Scorsese or a single French New Wave landmark in my list of the top movies of all time.
After all, it is "my" list. All perfectly defensible, but I'll wager that your personal list looks much different. We all likely a fairly personal list of films that shaped our youths, hit us somewhere deep, that we still watch over and over.
20. "Repo Man" (1984)
One of the earliest and best alt-culture touchstones, starring a perfectly cast Emilio Estevez as a blinkered L.A. punk surrounded by brainless parents, generic food, terrible bands and, it turns out, space aliens. Its final, all-encapsulating line: "Whoa."
19. "Zardoz" (1974)
Not for all tastes, but John Boorman's sci-fi freakout -- starring Sean Connery, pictured above, as a codpiece-clad savage invading a utopian society -- is visually dazzling and swirling with weird, cosmic ideas. Think Bertrand Russell on acid.
18. "Take the Money and Run" (1969)
Sorry, "Annie Hall" fans, but I prefer Woody Allen's mockumentary about Virgil Starkwell, the world's least-successful criminal. An ingenious format for its time and mercilessly deadpan -- even when Virgil's soap gun begins foaming -- it's Allen's most painfully funny film.
17. "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)
Sidney Lumet's masterpiece stars a phenomenally charismatic Al Pacino as a bank robber- turned-folk hero. Based on a true story, it remains the definitive portrayal of the modern "media circus": captivating, hilarious, inexorable, tragic.
16. "Touch of Evil" (1958)
Its opening, three-minute tracking shot is justifiably famous, but Orson Welles' snarling, wild-eyed noir is filled with cinematic marvels. The violence is harrowing, the pace heart-pounding and the atmosphere even thicker than the makeup on Charlton Heston as a Mexican cop
15. "Point Break" (1991)
Action cinema at its zippiest and most visceral, with Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey as FBI agents, and Patrick Swayze unapologetically cast as a surfing bank robber. Director Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for 2009's "The Hurt Locker," but I'll take this 1991 bruiser any day.
14. "Rear Window" (1954)
Hitchcock's best movie has it all: two romantic leads (James Stewart and Grace Kelly), a terrifying villain (Raymond Burr) and just the right mix of chills, cliffhangers, pathos and humor. From start to finish, this 1954 film is pure satisfaction.
12. "The Graduate" (1967)
Mike Nichols' 1967 comedy-drama about an aimless college kid (Dustin Hoffman) and a middle-class cougar (Anne Bancroft) is filled with iconic scenes, but it's the stunning finale -- just two lines in perhaps 10 seconds -- that will resonate forever.
11. "Aguirre, The Wrath of God" (1972)
This 1972 film about a conquistador searching for El Dorado became a myth itself, thanks to the near-fatal friction between tyrannical director Werner Herzog and his half-crazed star, Klaus Kinski. Mad, brilliant filmmaking on a grand scale.
10. "Bedazzled" (1967)
Not the Brendan Fraser remake but the 1967 original, a tour-de-force starring Peter Cook (who wrote it) and Dudley Moore (who scored it) as Satan and his latest dupe run amok in Swinging London. Directed with panache by Stanley Donen ("Singin' in the Rain"), it's a buoyant, barbed satire of class, culture, counterculture and our hopelessly square Creator.
9. "The Wages of Fear" (1953)
A stunning 1953 action-thriller from Henri-Georges Clouzot, in which desperate truck drivers are paid to haul unstable explosives over rugged jungle terrain. A white-knuckle ride riddled with existential horror -- every pothole becomes a potential abyss -- it was a shocker for its time and remains an electrifying experience.
8. "Jaws" (1975)
Steven Spielberg's pop version of "Moby-Dick" invented the summer blockbuster in 1975, and you can see why: "Jaws" is terrifying, funny, dramatic and just ridiculously entertaining, with career-defining performances from Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Next time it's on television, try not watching. It's impossible.
7. "Harold and Maude" (1971)
Before Tim Burton, even before Goth, there was this 1971 comedy-drama starring Bud Cort as a hearse-driving youngster who begins dating a lively 79-year-old (an iconic Ruth Gordon). Morbidly funny but brimming with joy, it's the crowning achievement of director Hal Ashby ("Coming Home") and writer Colin Higgins ("9 to 5").
6. "Apocalypse Now" (1979)
Francis Ford Coppola's extended nightmare about the Vietnam War is so vivid that at times its madness seems catching. Released in 1979 with a riveting cast that includes Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper, it feels like the last word on the 1960s, and may stand as the last truly visionary epic ever made.
5. "Enter the Dragon" (1973)
There are action stars, and then there is Bruce Lee, whose electrifying physicality and cool charisma turns this chopsocky film into something transcendent. Kudos also go to the forgotten director, Robert Clouse, whose dazzling mirror-maze finale is one of cinema's most thrilling sequences.
4. "Blue Velvet" (1986)
David Lynch's noir depicts a distorted but recognizable Main Street, USA, filled with fresh-faced hypocrites, damaged sex objects and Dennis Hopper as a drug-huffing super-psycho. It's a dark commentary on America and on American movies, from one of the most distinctive filmmakers around.
3. "The Breakfast Club" (1985)
Teen flicks were largely about cars and cleavage until John Hughes' drama, which approached its five troubled protagonists -- from Anthony Michael Hall's "Brain" to Ally Sheedy's "Basket Case" -- with extraordinary sensitivity, intelligence and respect. Almost single-handedly, it created a new kind of teen movie. Perhaps a new kind of teenager, too.
2. "Duck Soup" (1933)
Whenever America is in crisis, just rent this slice of Marx Brothers lunacy, starring Groucho as the disastrously glib leader of Freedonia. His campaign-worthy mantra: "If you think this country's bad off now, just wait'll I get through with it!" Achingly funny, impossibly anarchic and visually inventive (the famous mirror routine is here), it's also uncannily relevant.
1. "Barry Lyndon" (1975)
Stanley Kubrick's underrated epic, starring Ryan O'Neal as a feckless 18th century Irishman, is also his most human and profound. Roger Alcott's Oscar-winning cinematography looks better than most paintings, and Kubrick's screenplay feels even richer and deeper than the original Thackeray novel. In terms of beauty, craft and vision, this movie has no equal.