a. I have to think the movie is great. Even today.
b. I had to remember watching it and how I felt when I watched it.
c. I have to have a desire to see the movie again. Must have potential to hold up to repeat viewings. For example, I loved "Brokeback Mountain" but I don't think I could watch it again.
d. It had to influence me artistically or personally in some way.
1. Children of Men (2006) - In the top 5 of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. The cinematography blew me away. The acting and story engaged me completely. I still speak of this movie with awe and reverence, almost in a whisper.
2. Amélie (2001) - This movie opened my eyes to so much ... how movies could be made and how movies could make me feel. There have been many movies since that have tried to capture everything this film was but none have succeeded.
3. Finding Neverland (2004) - Broke my heart, sewed it up and broke it again. It's a gorgeous film and the script is impeccable to me.
4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - Wes Anderson is an artist in every sense of the word. Made me wish I owned a track suit and liked the Rolling Stones. Also made me want to write movies.
5. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-03) - Epic. Especially Return of the King. You can't do fantasy better than this. Sorry, boy wizard.
6. Dark Knight (2008) - The only movie I've seen on IMAX and the best "comic book" film ever made. It's fun, scary, exciting, sad and beautiful. It's bottled chaos.
7. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004) - Heart wrenching and funny and visually amazing. Michel Gondry knows how to create a world where anything can happen at any time and still make it seem like real life.
8. Kill Bill 1 and 2 (2003-04) - A bloody good time. This super badass heroine cuts through equally badass villains blocking her from achieving one clear goal. A pair of visual and technical masterpieces.
9. Up (2009) - Perfect. As it goes along, it just keeps getting better and better. It's such a simple message: "It's less about where you end up and more about how you get there and who you get there with." It's also really funny.
10. Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Comedy and horror and romance have never been done so well together. It made me want to write witty horror movies. I think it influenced the horror genre immensely. I could watch this movie once a week for 5 years in a row.
11. Casino Royale (2006) - The best Bond movie ever made. The opening 10 minutes leave my jaw-dropped open every time. It is amazingly shot and full of action and, for once, James seems more vulnerable which I think makes him more dangerous.
12. Memento (2000) - One of the most unique movies ever made. Great noir with a great device. Blew me away. Still does.
13. No Country for Old Men (2007) - Going to this movie felt special. Like an event. I ate up every frame of film and replayed it in my head for days. Love it or hate it, it has one of the best villains ever. I happen to be someone who loves it and gets it. Jealous?
14. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) - Made me like Matt Damon. The best one of the three and one of the best-directed action movies ever. Strangely, watching this makes me want to be a better prepared actor.
15. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) - There's not a better modern Western. A Western should make you feel like you want to be a cowboy. "Yuma" does this. "Unforgiven" can suck it.
16. United 93 (2006) - If you haven't seen this, you need to rent it. It's important, well-done, reverent, cathartic and heartbreaking.
17. Hot Fuzz (2007) - Yes it was hilarious and I smiled the whole time but I couldn't stop being amazed at how exact Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright got the buddy cop genre. I kept looking at Amelia like, "Huuuhh? Right?"
18. 28 Days Later (2002) - Two words: fast zombies. This is the mother of all modern horror movies. A game changer.
19. Once (2006) - I knew I was in love with this movie within the first five minutes. We still sing that song a cappella around our house when the urge strikes.
20. Half Nelson (2006) - I don't exaggerate when I say Ryan Gosling's performance in this movie could be the best male lead performance of the decade.
21. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) - The comedy that defined the 00s and brought absurd comedy into the mainstream. Probably the most quoted movie of the decade.
22. About a Boy (2002) - Ok, I admit it. This made me cry like a baby. It probably prepared me, however slightly, to take on a role as instant dad when the time came.
23. Incredibles (2004) - Splentacular. I think Ratatouille may be "better" but this movie is here because of the awe it gave me when I watched it at the time. It showed what was possible with animated movies (again) and it happened right before my eyes. I watch it every chance I get when it comes on TV. I never tire of it.
24. Hamlet 2/Tropic Thunder (2008) - I cheated. But I loved these movies so much for the same reason. They made me pee myself with laughter and they both feature Steve Coogan. In "Hamlet 2" there is a moment that was the most brilliant acting I think I have ever seen in a comedy in my lifetime.
25. The Hours (2002) - Crushed my soul and filled me with hope at the same time.
26. History of Violence (2005) - This is how you protect your family. (If you are a former mobster, that is.) I still can't quite put my finger on why I love this movie so much. But I do.
27. Almost Famous (2000) - Full of delightful characters, one-liners and the right amount of drama. Just so you know, music journalism isn't like this anymore.
28. Road to Perdition (2002) - My favorite gangster movie of the past 20 years. The cinematography, editing, direction, acting and score are all perfect.
29. Minority Report (2002) - One of Spielberg's minor efforts for some but this was my favorite action/sci-fi movie for quite a few years ... at least until "Children of Men" came out. It holds up too.
30. King Kong (2005) - Knock it if you want but this was a pretty darn good movie. It pushes a few others off the list (Spiderman 2, Star Trek, Batman Begins) because it was the first movie I saw with Amelia. Walking through the parking lot to get our tickets I was hoping and praying she thought I was as funny and cool as I knew she was beautiful and strong. I held her hand through the whole thing and my life has been better ever since.
Late additions: Signs (2002), Mouin Rouge! (2001), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Before Sunset (2004), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Do you have any that you think I forgot? What are your lists?