Ever had that non-movie geek friend or other half who asks you why bother wasting another 90 minutes to three hours of your life rewatching your favorite movie when you could have done something else or be watching something new? Yes, they might have a point, but the answer quickly gets buried in denial since that something else or something new just hasn’t come to mind at the time. So we watch and rewatch, wanting to get entertained and somehow feeling good or accomplished after doing so. It’s like an addiction, wanting to get some endorphins and great memories from the films we love.
Of course, the films we love vary from person to person, and they may be good for some and bad for others. I have a list here that many folks probably would agree with. Some may have Oscars, some don’t but we don’t care much about that stuff because again, people’s sense of entertainment can be quite relative. Oscar winner or not, if a film causes me to cry from joy or sadness, the film has my vote and a place on this list.
The films in this list I either consciously play or watch through on cable whenever I see them on. If a film is fun enough it will be here. If your list is similar to mine, you’re my kind of movie geek. If not, let me know your favorites in case I missed them. So, without further ado, here are the top thirty films I can’t stop watching over and over again. Yes, thirty, but that’s not bad considering the thousands of old and new films to choose from. Rather than drive myself crazy putting them in order of favorites, I just put them in alphabetical order. I’ll let you all decide how they should be listed.
Also, this list is of big budget films (mostly) so if you’re wondering why I didn’t put classics like “House of Yes,” “Spanking the Monkey,” or “Friday Night Lights,” that is the reason. Those three alone, I must have watched over 20 times each. “Friday Night Lights” is my favorite Billy Bob Thornton and Peter Berg film.
This is technically the mother of all disaster films. I love watching disaster films like “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Twister” and “San Andreas,” but a film about the end of the world that shows death and destruction in detail. It’s the story of the struggle of a handful of survivors and how the governments of the world handled the situation should the Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy come to pass. This film got criticized for bad science as well as some of the other films included in this list but it’s entertaining just the same. For some reason, I keep hoping Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin can get back together to make just one more kick ass disaster movie. They are much better together than apart.
Similar to Roland Emmerich’s “2012,” this film got slammed for its bad science. I don’t know why Michael Bay apologized for it but it keeps going back on cable for a reason, and I watch it every time my schedule allows it, especially on weekends. I think it’s one of Michael Bay’s greats and one of Bruce Willis’ greatest films. Mr. Bay should apologize instead for all his Transformers films except for 1 and 3. I also really liked “Deep Impact,” but it felt a little more like a soap opera compared to “Armageddon,” plus it didn’t have the hummable closing credit Aerosmith song.
I get complaints from other half whenever I watch this on cable, but I just can’t get enough of this epic undertaking by Marvel Studios. Unlike DC, Marvel really took its time carefully introducing its heroes one at a time to the general public before going gung-ho, leading to an epic gathering of the heroes in one great battle. If you’re not a fan of Marvel, at least see Phase 1 and appreciate their shared universe concept which every other studio is trying and failing to copy.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
I appreciate a good horror film every now and then but will all due respect to the late great Sir Christopher Lee, this is the best Dracula film so far because except for the included love story between Dracula and Mina Murray, this film followed the source material very closely, and I love its source material as I’ve read the unabridged version of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” several times. It, actually got me into reading. I will admit that the first time I saw it on the big screen was in Leicester Square in London, and it didn’t get me as excited as watching it later on the small screen.
This film never gets old like Nicolas Cage wanted to be in “Kiss of the Vampire.” This is a fun entertaining action-packed film during Crazy Cage’s heyday. If “Face-Off” didn’t feel so dated, that film would also be on this list. If you’re a bit young, this is about a special forces guy convicted for self-defense. He later gets paroled but had to be shipped with a group of violent hardened convicts who hijack the plane. Of course, what’s a nice guy like him to do?
Like “Con Air,” this is the story of what happens when someone is at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s also a pretty violent Christmas cult classic like “Home Alone” along with being the film that catapulted Bruce Willis into Hollywood’s A-list. One can never get tired of the attitude and one-liners of 80s action films. It’s also one of the late Alan Rickman’s best films. “Die Hard” is shown every holiday season so do we have to describe it? Its sequels Die Hard 2 and 4 are also among my favorites. For those that remember the late 80’s, the film’s success also marked the end of the tv show that made Willis a star in the first place, “Moonlighting.”
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Perhaps one of my most watched films on this list. I never realized that I have a love for musicals after seeing this film. IMHO, Disney hasn’t matched this film’s musical quality until “Frozen.” I love its take on the classic story as well as its characters, and the animation is as fluid as only Disney can provide.
A truly visual masterpiece space opera by director Luc Besson and another great Bruce Willis starrer. I have yet to see “Valerian” to make a comparison, but this film is wildly entertaining and one of Chris Tucker’s best films before “Rush Hour.” Plus those Jean Paul Gaultier costumes are really kick ass. For some reason it makes me think of that 90s Peter Greenway classic “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.” If you’ve not seen that one, you are in for a truly visual surprise.
This one was quite unique for its time. No one else has ever thought of a team of paranormal pest exterminators before, except maybe for that similarly named 70s TV show with the talking gorilla. It’s never been done on the big screen before, the effects were amazing and the chemistry of its four male leads just made it work. The show was quite funny and the actors weren’t even trying. “Ghostbusters” is a classic example of good things coming together at just the right time.
Speaking of ghosts, this film may be bad for many but not as bad as the second installment. Ghost Rider is my favorite superhero comic book character, even more than Spider-Man, Superman or Batman. His looks alone kick ass and he also literally kicks ass when he looks at you. This may seem like a bias choice but I also watch through this film whenever available not because I’m a fan, but because it grows on you. If the former were the case, I’d also include Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in this list, but no.
This is the film that introduced yours truly to the Godzilla franchise. The first thing I noticed was the Japanese cast with English dialogue. Then the massive monster shows up tearing up a city with almost realistic destruction. The Japanese military attacks it to no effect. It was awesome. It even becomes more awesome when Japan’s super weapon the Super-X, a ship that can probably take on a US naval fleet, fights the monster and loses. Despite its many sequels and reboots, I always go back to this film and its sequel Godzilla vs. Biollante.
Are you all entertained yet? Yes, we are. It had been a while since Hollywood captured the glory of Rome and its gladiatorial battles since Spartacus. This film has great action, drama, realism and a well-executed plot. Thanks to director Ridley Scott and a great performance by actor Russel Crowe when he was in prime shape and before becoming famous for throwing phones at people like Naomi Campbell.
This film is the reason why I still love Adam Sandler despite Jack and Jill. Hopefully he gets back from his slump makes a real effort at a good comedic film which is where he’s good at. It’s a fine example of a fish out of water story except the fish evolves and walks on land. If you’re not familiar with the film, it’s about a professed hockey player who actually finds his real talent in golf and takes the brusque attitude and violence of hockey to the quiet and more refined atmosphere of the golf course. Imagine the chaos.
Who hasn’t watched “Home Alone?” Seriously, who hasn’t? I uust have seen it dozens of times whether or not it’s the holiday season. Set on Christmas Day this hilarious film has evolved into a holiday staple catching up with “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The jokes here never get old probably due to the performances of actors Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern and young Macaulay Culkin. That seen with the old man in the church always gets me choked up no matter how many times I see it.
Of the mostly re-watched films in this list, “Independence Day” belongs to the top 5. This film successfully combines a disaster film with alien encounters. It’s also an ambitious film that showed what would happen if aliens truly invaded. Not individually or covertly but actually invaded with an army in live action on the silver screen. This film is full of action, it has a cool plot and is quite funny thanks to the tandem of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum. That speech by Bill Pullman remains inspiring to this day.
Despite having his own comic book title, Iron Man was a B-lister in Marvel comics before this movie came out. I already liked his character when I saw Marvel’s 60s cartoons and after reading some comics. When the film came out starring Robert Downey Jr., it just worked. It worked because RDJ was Tony Stark and because Tony Stark was RDJ. Besides, people were starting to get fatigued with Batman. The public needed some iron in their diet. The character, the acting, the grounded realism, and the action combine to make a very re-watchable film. I also re-watch “Iron Man 2” and don’t judge me, “Iron Man 3.”
Probably the least popular among the films in this list but I like this feel good film just the same. “Joe Dirt” starring David Spade is about a kid abandoned by his parents but managed to make it on his own through determination, street smarts and hard work. His character is rough around the edges but he managed to endear himself to a set of weird characters and is put in funny situations throughout his journey to find his parents. It’s a funny but feel good comedy.
Need we say more? The moment I picked up the book in a bookstore and read Michael Crichton’s synopsis, I knew this would be a plot for a great film. And it is. Despite being over 20 years old, its special effects hold up very well. The effects, the action, and the suspense blend well together plus, it’s a film about dinosaurs. It never gets old. What got old is seeing the T-Rex guest star in a ton of other films afterwards. Whatever the film, a T-rex has to appear in it. When it came out, it set a whole new standard for CGI.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
This is more of an undertaking than just a simple past time but re-watching “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy is a satisfying experience. It’s a rite of passage for every nerd. It’s not enough to watch just one of the films, you’d have to be there throughout the extended editions. Think of it as spending the whole day within Middle-Earth. The films are over a decade old but its effects and story remain captivating. This is best done during the long holidays if you don’t feel like leaving home. Don’t bother asking me which of the three is my favorite, as I just can’t decide.
This Hugh Jackman starrer is a fairly recent entry to my list. Forget about it being based on the Rock’em Sock’em Robots kids toy and think about it as more of a futuristic boxing film. Besides, Hugh Jackman is in it right? No. What makes this film special aside from good effects is the estranged father-son bonding story reminiscent of Sylvester Stallone’s “Over the Top,” plus the added magic of the first Rocky film, and of course, robots. It’s a feel-good experience every time I see Jackman’s deadbeat character happily reliving his heyday beating his much more powerful opponent.
Star Trek: First Contact
While “Star Trek” (2009) and “Star Trek: Beyond” may be good films, there are two Star Trek films that many agree are actually the best. “Star Trek: First Contact” and “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” The latter, while great, is not in this list but more on that later. “Star Trek: First Contact” is arguably the best of the TNG Timeline of films, not just because of the Borg, but it shows us a conflicted and imperfect Picard. Like the film suggests, it’s an Ahab/Moby Dick story of the future.
Star Trek: The Voyage Home
Another favorite Star Trek film of mine, even though I wasn’t a Trekkie until years later. This film follows the original cast in their quest to save the Earth of the future by going back to the past. It’s actually a lighthearted adventure film. Quite entertaining but it has two prerequisites before it can be much appreciated by the uninitiated.
Star Wars: Original Trilogy
Some readers would probably crucify me if I didn’t include Star Wars in this list. Who hasn’t watched and loved the original trilogy? Like “Lord of the Rings,” you can’t watch one without seeing the others. Many would agree that “Empire Strikes Back” is the best of the three. While I’m more of a Trekkie, I also re-watch these films every time they’re shown on cable. Who doesn’t appreciate a great legendary space opera like Star Wars?
The Dark Knight
Easily one of the best Batman films out there. Forget about the hype generated by the death of Heath Ledger. His performance as The Joker is what really mattered. It’s the most dramatic, thought-provoking Batman film I’ve seen. The Joker has no interest in money but is instead interested in spreading out his insanity and questioning the people’s morality. Let’s just say the film is quite deep, witty and action-packed. This was the film Ledger was born to be in, and he easily stole every scene he was in.
Perhaps the most-watched Pixar film second to “Toy Story.” If “Galaxy Quest” is considered a good Star Trek film, “The Incredibles” is what a good Fantastic Four film should be like. Despite being more than a decade old, the animation still holds up and even if it doesn’t in today’s 4K TVs, it’s great story continues to captivate many of its viewers. The long-awaited sequel will be with us soon. Pixar had to do another “Cars” film first to sell more Hotwheels with eyes.
For me, “The Mummy” is perhaps Brendan Fraser’s finest since “Encino Man,” “With Honors” and “Airheads.” It’s a fine mix of action, horror and comedy kind of like “Army of Darkness” and “Tremors”. I’d go so far as call it the 90s equivalent of Indiana Jones. The effects are great, the action is fast-paced, and laced with a good dose of humor. I also have to mention Fraser’s performance with Ian McKellan in “Gods and Monsters.” I know many people say he’s an awful actor, but given the right movie, director and editing, he comes across very well in some films.
The Ten Commandments
Speaking of Ancient Egypt, the oldest film in this list, Cecil B. DeMille’s masterpiece is as timeless as its source material. Like “Home Alone,” it’s a seasonal film shown mostly during Lenten Season and even though I have a wide collection of films available during the extended vacation period, me and the family can’t help but sit through this film. The sheer epicness, for lack of a better word, of this 1956 film, plus the great performances of Charlton Heston, Yul Brenner and Anna Baxter continue to sway audiences up to this day. It’s not about the biblical message but the spectacle of it all.
Transformers: The Animated Movie
Perhaps the top one of my re-watchables list. You could say I’m addicted to this film’s visuals and soundtrack and as any Transformers fan would say, tops all of Michael Bay’s movies combined. It’s not like I want to see Optimus Prime die over and over again, but his action scenes and his final battle with Megatron are priceless. I still have The Touch and Dare in my music playlist and the concept of Unicron was just amazing. Critics call it a 90-minute toy commercial but 80s cartoon fans don’t consider them as such do we? It’s a cool 90-minute space epic.
This is my favorite monster series after “Godzilla.” This is probably not the best known in this list but it has developed its own cult following and spawning several sequels and a one-season TV series. This film starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward is about the struggle for survival of a handful of townspeople against a group of giant man-eating underground worms. Mr. Bacon considered this film as a low point of his career but we fans beg to differ. It’s simple, comedic and suspenseful.
The Wayans are great when it comes to comedy. The Scary Movies are fun but “White Chicks” is the film I watch most. The family really enjoys this as well. It’s also a pretty old film about two black cops going undercover as two VIP white chicks. Terry Crews is funny as hell in this film.
There are many other films that didn’t make it onto this list but I have great love for, notably The Harry Potter films, “Sister Act,” “Face Off,” “The Rock,” “Army of Darkness,” “Galaxy Quest,” Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy, “There’s Something About Mary,” “Troop Beverly Hills,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Macross: Do You Remember Love,” and “How to Train Your Dragon (that one still brings tears to my eyes).” I haven’t re-watched these as many times, but I felt they deserve some talking about.
Those are my happy re-watchers and guilty pleasure. It was going to be just my favorite twenty, but just like a great back of chips, you have to have more.