I’m not saying these are the best movies ever (though many are favorites), and I have divided this up into ten different categories, but I thought it might be fun to share this with you all. These are movies that shocked and amazed me, films that horrified and inspired me, work that has influenced my writing. I hope to see your head nodding as you read down this list, but more importantly, I hope you find a few movies that you have NOT seen yet. Maybe those films will provide you with some entertainment, terror, wonder, and excitement. ENJOY!
ONE: A24 FILMS
- Hereditary: Scared me to death in theaters, and also later, at home. Wow.
- The Witch: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? I would.
- Under the Skin: What a haunting arthouse flick. Scarlett at her best.
- Enemy: A paranoid thriller that will shock and surprise. That ending!
- Ex Machina: A great SF/AI film that asks what it means to be human.
- Blade Runner: Quite possibly my favorite movie ever. Set the bar high, still holds up.
- Mulholland Drive: My favorite Lynch, the truth is shocking, the movie so stylish.
- Memento: Entirely backwards! And with short term memory loss, that’s trouble.
- Seven: What’s in the box! Such tension, great acting, tons of atmosphere.
- No Country for Old Men: Such a creepy bad guy, in Anton Chigurh. Lots of emotion.
THREE: STUDIO GHIBLI
- Howl’s Moving Castle: Has always been my favorite, my first. So weird and cool.
- Spirited Away: So strange, very original, definitely creeped me out at times.
- My Neighbor Totoro: Such a sweet film, but not without the oddities. Lots of heart.
- Princess Mononoke: An epic film, with so much to root for, great characters.
- Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind: War, environment, and lots of drama.
- Caddyshack: Classic, hilarious, great cast, lots of lines to quote.
- Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: I know you are but what am I. So funny, and weird!
- Rango: Totally cracks me up, not just for kids, adult references, surreal at times.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High: No shoes, no shirt—no service.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox: Something about the dry humor just cracks me up.
FIVE: CULT CLASSICS
- Repo Man: Always the first thing I think of when I hear “cult film.” Plate of shrimp.
- Donnie Darko: Such a dark, strange film, but a compelling one, for sure.
- Ghost World: A great graphic novel, and film. Excellent cast.
- Clerks: Starting to show its age, but so many great lines. Early Kevin Smith.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show: Hopefully you first saw it in theaters with all the props.
- Silence of the Lambs: A classic, with an excellent cast.
- Leon, the Professional: Definitely not formulaic. Lots of heart. Breaks the mold.
- The Game: It’s an older flick (1997) but the head games—wow. So good.
- Cape Fear: I like De Niro’s version, he’s so damn creepy.
- The Prestige: What a game of cat and mouse, has us guessing to the end.
SEVEN: TRANSGRESSIVE FILMS
- Fight Club: The first rule about fight club…had to list this one. Great book, too.
- Requiem for a Dream: What a dark, bleak, insane film, the ending unbearable.
- Trainspotting: Likewise, what a downward spiral this one is. Trippy.
- Oldboy: A wild ride, and then the ending is just so…shocking, in so many ways.
- Kids: So screwed up, but it still sticks with me. Unsettling. Dark stuff.
EIGHT: EDGY DRAMA
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Just breaks my heart every time.
- American Beauty: A haunting film about so much—love, intolerance, lust, loss.
- The Machinist: Christian Bale at his best, so surreal, and the ending!
- Shutter Island: Love Lehane’s books, this story really takes us for a ride.
- The Usual Suspects: Love the way this story is told, another intense ending.
NINE: SCIENCE FICTION
- Alien: Set the bar very high, inspired so many other films. Great franchise.
- Arrival: When you understand what’s going on, it breaks your heart. I always cry.
- Interstellar: Another one that crushes me at the end, such a great ride.
- Inception: The layers and layers and layers—goes so deep. That ending!
- The Matrix: I mean, another trendsetter, still holds up, great effects.
TEN: CONTEMPORARY HORROR
- Black Swan: I like the mix of lust and danger, good casting, too.
- The Ring: Still freaks me out, and it was kind of ahead of its time.
- Get Out: Another film that breaks the mold, so much paranoia, and tension.
- A Dark Song: Love the rituals and authority, and then that ending! Whoa.
- Spring: A romance! And so much more. Very original. Touching ending.