Ryan Night’s Top 100 Movies: 70-61

Continuing the countdown of my top 100 favorite movies, we move on to the third set.
For 100-91, click here.
For 90-81, click here.
For 80-71, click here.
For 60-51, click here.
For 50-41, click here.
For 40-31, click here.
For 30-21, click here.
For 20-11, click here.
For 10-1, click here.

70. The Usual Suspects
Number 70 on my favorite movies list is The Usual Suspects, wherein everyone is trying to figure out the identity of the enigmatic criminal mastermind Keyser Soze, which culminates in one of the most iconic and satisfying crime mystery endings of all time. The movie is obviously known for its super clever ending and its use of unreliable narration, but the ride getting to the ending is also very enjoyable.

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69. Shaolin Soccer
Shaolin Soccer is an incredibly uplifting movie by a director named Stephen Chow, about a down-on-his-luck Kung Fu master looking for a way to bring Kung Fu to society at large. Come to think of it, that’s pretty apropos to my current situation. In any case, he accomplishes his goal by playing soccer and applying the lessons of Kung Fu to the game. This movie utilizes a sort of magical realism that gives it a colorful Peter Pan kind of a vibe and despite the natural ups and downs in the plot, it’s a real feel good movie overall.

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68. Training Day
Somewhat opposite Shaolin Soccer, Training Day is gritty, hyper-realistic and the general overall vibe of it can be described as disillusionment. Ethan Hawke is all pumped up for his first day as a detective on LA and he’s in for a real rude awakening about how the world really works, that the cops operate much like a gang and exist in the same ecosystem as gangs. Denzel Washington plays a veteran cop who basically has Hawke’s number from the very beginning. It’s a great movie. Well worth watching.

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67. Ready Player One
Some people might judge me for putting this so high on my list of favorite movies when there are probably 10 critically acclaimed films that deserve to be on this list, but aren’t. My answer is basically that I just liked it, especially the general conceit of it and the future it predicts which is this consumerist dystopia wherein not only is everyone a poor serf who self-medicates their real-life problems through escapism and simultaneously everyone is only interested and knowledgeable about pop culture minutiae, the currency of consumerist lore. Even more than that, I like the aspirational side of the vision this movie puts forward, which is that eventually VR worlds become just as real in terms of their impact on people’s consciousness, status and daily concerns as the real, physical world, which I think is an inevitable future full of creative possibility, but not one that comes up much in sci-fi for whatever reason.

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66. Almost Famous
When I was young I really looked up to and idolized 70s era rock stars. Especially Led Zeppelin, but also The Doors, AC/DC, Credence Clearwater Revival, Blue Oyster Cult, The Who, King Crimson and others. Actually one of the earliest books I ever read about business was about how to negotiate a record contract. Almost Famous was about a kid who wanted to be a rock journalist for Rolling Stone who followed around a kind of catch-all 70s rock band. I loved that world, the kid functioned as kind of a self-insert and, fun fact, Kate Hudson’s boobs in this movie were the first boobs I ever saw.

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65. The Way Way Back
A movie about a sad kid with a shitty family life who has a magical summer working at a water park. His step-dad is played by Steve Carell and proves to be a real piece of shit, and the kid sort of stumbles across a mentor/surrogate uncle kind of male role model in the owner of the water park, played by Sam Rockwell. I identified a lot with this movie, and it also filled me with longing because I, myself, never had this kind of magical summer, but always wanted one.

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64. 12 Monkeys
A very trippy and confusing movie about time travel and insanity starring Brad Pitt. I’m 90% sure this movie was a huge inspiration for the Legion TV show that was on FX over the last few years. Basically, Bruce Willis is sent back in time to kill Brad Pitt, who is a trust-fund kid/schizophrenic psychopath who starts an ecoterrorist group/cult and spreads a virus that wipes out humanity. I hope I’m remembering the plot right, it’s pretty out there. Anyway, it’s a really good movie.

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63. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Definitely one of my all time favorite movies. It’s full of iconic cinematography, iconic characters, iconic scenes, and it has, perhaps, the weirdest ending of any movie ever made ever and, not only that, the further along I get in my life, the more I feel like I understand this movie. I think a lot of what people saw as just weird and didn’t get was actually very prescient, especially the zohar that evolved the apes at the start of the film and the way reality gets distorted at the end and actually visually relates cosmos to consciousness. That’s some wild shit for the 1960s that’s asking questions quantum physicists right now, almost 6 decades later, are just beginning to think to ask. This movie is a huge inspiration to me right now. I should rewatch it, and it should probably be higher on this list. The only reason it’s not is just… it’s just so goddamned slow.

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62. Road to Perdition
Told through the eyes of a young boy connecting with his father, this is a movie where Tom Hanks plays a gangster hit-man who betrays his gang and has to get out of dodge with his son before his whole family gets whacked. Hanks gets revenge by taking his son on a fun road trip while going from bank to bank and robbing the gang. They’re also being stalked by a very creepy Jude Law.

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61. Starshoop Troopers
Finally, we’re starting to get to the point on this list of favorite movies where we’re talking about movies I actually really, really like, and Starship Troopers is one of them. Based on the Heinlein novel of the same name, it predicts a human future predicated on total adoption of militarism. The movie overtly satirizes war propaganda and walks us through the media-portrayal of war vs. its reality. All three of our wide-eyed young heroes grow up in a propagandist bubble and then get sent out into the real world where it turns out nothing they were raised to believe was really true: the humans aren’t the clear-cut good guys and war isn’t glamorous. Excellent movie. Side note, the book also features an additional alien race they refer to as the “Skinnies”, and Starcraft is almost assuredly a direct, 1-to-1 ripoff of the world imagined by Heinlein’s original Starship Troopers novel.

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That’s it for part 4 of my favorite movies list.
For 100-91, click here.
For 90-81, click here.
For 80-71, click here.
For 60-51, click here.
For 50-41, click here.
For 40-31, click here.
For 30-21, click here.
For 20-11, click here.
For 10-1, click here.

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