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Massie Twins’ Top 100 Greatest Films (Part 1)

It’s one of the most daunting lists for a film critic to compile – the 100 greatest movies of all time. It’s exceptionally subjective, to be sure, and it’s something most critics experience through a collaborative effort – with a large enough group of associates that it becomes averaged out by popularity and longstanding acclaim. Rarely does anyone think about how one film matches up against another, specifically as genres are so diverse and dissimilar, and the medium itself has flourished for more than a century. For renowned projects like the American Film Institute’s lists of greatest films, hundreds of critics, historians, moviemakers, and industry insiders were polled;  to collect data worthy of such grandly publicized arrangements of significant titles, it’s undoubtedly worthwhile to survey numerous authorities.

But for this site, it’s just the two of us. Nevertheless, we’ve tackled the mind-numbing task of contemplating how a film like “Jaws” might end up just one place higher or lower on a list than “The Best Years of Our Lives” – two pictures that couldn’t be more different in subject matter, tone, actors/actresses, scripting, editing, direction, and so much more. Fortunately, we tend to agree on things more often than not.

For this particular “Top 100,” there are a couple of guidelines worth mentioning. The first is that only films that received a score of 10/10 on this site are eligible for inclusion. This means that a few undeniable classics and personal favorites, such as “The Lady Eve” (1941), missed the mark by the tiniest amount (when it was originally reviewed, it only scored a 9/10). And countless movies have scored a 9/10 due to just one of us not liking it as much as the other. The second guideline is that each film must be predominantly in the English language and, if not a strictly American production, must have permeated American cinema to the point that the general populace does not consider it a foreign film. A movie like “The Third Man” is technically British, but it’s eligible since it’s widely considered a Hollywood picture – despite its filming origins and the location of its theatrical premiere. And lastly, this list isn’t meant to represent personal “guilty pleasure” movies (otherwise, the highly entertaining yet admittedly faulty “Demolition Man” might have made it on here). Each selection was instead chosen for its merit as a work of art that can be scrutinized by fellow scholars and critics and appreciated for a contribution to the medium that surpasses merely being fun or worthy of repeat viewings. These aren’t just good movies or great movies – these are the best of the best!

 

#100: Wuthering Heights (1939)

No, not dead, Dr. Kenneth. Not alone. He’s with her. They’ve only just begun to live.

#99: Fargo (1996)

We run a pretty tight ship here.

#98: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

She warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.

#97: Sleuth (1972)

There’s nothing like a little bit of mayhem to cheer one up.

#96: Platoon (1986)

What happened today is just the beginning. We’re going to lose this war.

#95: Taxi Driver (1976)

What is the one thing about this country that bugs you the most?

#94: Amadeus (1984)

The only thing that worried me was the actual killing. How does one do that?

#93: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Did you ever have so much to say about something, you just couldn’t say it?

#92: Psycho (1960)

What are you running away from?

#91: The Cowboys (1972)

I’m thirty years older than you are. I had my back broke once, and my hip twice. And on my worst day I could beat the hell out of you.

#90: Chinatown (1974)

I don’t get tough with anyone, Mr. Gittes. My lawyer does.

#89: Shane (1953)

A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.

#88: True Lies (1994)

What kind of a sick bitch takes the ice cube trays out of the freezer?

#87: Raising Arizona (1987)

We didn’t escape. We released ourselves on our own recognizance. We felt we’d reached the limits of what the institution had to offer us.

#86: Blade Runner (1982)

Have you ever retired a human by mistake?

#85: From Here to Eternity (1953)

Maybe back in the days of the pioneers a man could go his own way, but today you got to play ball.

#84: The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

His brain has not only been washed, as they say, it’s been dry-cleaned.

#83: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

He’s calling his people, and I don’t know where they are. He needs to go home.

#82: Ben-Hur (1959)

May God grant me vengeance. I pray that you live till I return.

#81: My Man Godfrey (1936)

I was curious to see how a bunch of empty-headed nitwits conducted themselves. My curiosity is satisfied.

#80: Memento (2001)

So you lie to yourself to be happy. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all do it.

#79: Goodfellas (1990)

Everybody gets pinched. But you did it right. You told ’em nothing and they got nothing.

#78: Dead Alive (1993)

Damn fine custard … rich and creamy, just the way I like it!

#77: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Well, haven’t you heard? She’s irresistible. She told me so herself.

#76: Point Blank (1967)

I’m not going to give you any money and nobody else is. Don’t you understand that?

#75: Braveheart (1995)

This Wallace, he doesn’t even have a knighthood, but he fights with passion and he inspires.

#74: The Gold Rush (1925)

We must laugh in the face of our helplessness against the forces of nature – or go insane.

#73: Spartacus (1960)

When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.

#72: Die Hard (1988)

Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.

#71: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Now don’t take this the wrong way, but you are a Terminator, right?

#70: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast! What kind of hamburgers?

#69: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

We do not follow maps to buried treasures and ‘X’ never, ever marks the spot.

#68: It Happened One Night (1934)

I just had the unpleasant sensation of hearing you referred to as my husband.

#67: The Big Lebowski (1998)

Walter, Walter – I don’t see any connection to Vietnam, man.

#66: The Matrix (1999)

You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.

#65: The Usual Suspects (1995)

I’m smarter than you, and I’m going to find out what I want to know, and I’m going to get it from you whether you like it or not.

#64: 12 Angry Men (1957)

We have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system.

#63: Dirty Harry (1971)

The City of San Francisco does not pay criminals not to commit crimes. Instead, we pay a police department.

#62: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick, and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultra-violence.

#61: Random Harvest (1942)

Smithy, do I always have to take the initiative? You’re supposed to kiss me.

#60: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The funny thing is, on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.

#59: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

What would you do if some miracle happened and we could walk out of here tomorrow morning and start all over again clean?

#58: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

How many times have we had to fall in love all over again?

#57: Dances with Wolves (1990)

The strangeness of this life cannot be measured; in trying to produce my own death, I was elevated to the status of a living hero.

#56: A Place in the Sun (1951)

I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you.

#55: Some Like It Hot (1959)

It’s not gonna happen to me again, ever. I’m tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

#54: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

No one leaves a star. That’s what makes one a star.

#53: Patton (1970)

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.

#52: Groundhog Day (1993)

This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.

#51: The Wild Bunch (1969)

The next time you better plan your massacre more carefully or I’ll start with you!

On to Part 2!

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