Our newest movie writer and reviewer, Henry Faherty, has gotten some gripes since he’s been pretty hard but very fair on the films that he’s been asked to review so far.
Some of our readers complained that there were worse movies out there than The Crooked Man, but they obviously didn’t read why he didn’t care for the film. Like all of our reviewers, Henry will explain why he likes or doesn’t like a film in detail. Unlike some reviewers who just want to make a couple snarky comments about a film, we like to delve deeper.
On that note, we had Henry compile a Top 10 list of his all-time favorite films to give you an idea of his broad taste. Rather than make the usual list, he’s gone into detail about why each film is so important to him. He likes to go deep too like the rest of us.
I’m sure some of you will have an opinion to share, so that’s what the comments section and our social media accounts are for. Praise or bitch about Henry’s list, it’s all up to you.
There’s not an Alfred Hitchcock movie better than Psycho, I think. While the shower scene is insanely iconic, it’s really the performances, unsettling atmosphere, and fascinating setting that really intrigues me. First off, I love how quickly the story gets going. Even though it’s a simple one, you immediately get thrown into this chase of a woman who seems pretty normal that suddenly decides to just take some money and run for the hills. Janet Leigh is spectacular as Marion Crane; every scene she constantly looks unsettled and suspicious of people she meets, making the audience guess who’s good and who’s bad. And it doesn’t really matter in the end—you just go with it. That makes the film all the better.
But while Leigh is great and all, the shining crown goes to Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. And there’s one of his scenes that for some unknown reason I love more than anything. Before Leigh is killed, there’s that parlor scene where she and Bates talk—simply speak to one another about a variety of odd topics. You see all sides of Bates, for better or worse. And Perkins’ delivery of the dialogue and his nuanced facial tics is amazing to watch. Psycho is a great thriller with a little bit of spectacular horror thrown in. But it’s the performances and the mysterious perspectives of the lead characters that makes me watch this over and over again. Not to mention, rainy nights are perfect viewing for this film. It was that way the first time I saw it, so you obviously should follow that advice like it’s the word of God.
“Put her in some place…” Sorry, so good.
9) The Dark Knight
Batman is probably my favorite comic book character of all time. He feels the most relatable and grounded, along with him having this endless aura of darkness to him that’s always interesting. But, as we all know, this really is The Joker’s movie. And it’s not just Heath Ledger’s performance that makes it incredible, which may or may not be surprising to diehards of this film. Unlike most Batman movies, this centers around how the villain affects him, not the other way around. While you do get that in The Dark Knight Rises a tad bit, it’s nothing like what you get with Batman v The Joker: Dawn of Absolute Chaos.
The Joker tries to make Batman someone who he could actually be in another reality. He tests him, over and over, hoping he becomes a common criminal, which is who The Joker hates the most. So, that stuff is just dandy—love it. But in giving out the credit to this film, you have to give some to Ol’ Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister. Nolan directs in his trademark extended montage way, but he manages to keep the entire film grounded in a very believable world. That style goes nicely with Pfister’s amazing shooting ability. He’s among the best in the business, despite him not yet being a very capable director (looking at you, Transcendence). And the theme of chaos is also pretty fascinating. But just so people know, that whole Iraq War metaphor hypothesis that some have conjured up on the internet—so wrong.
8) Fantastic Mr. Fox
I may love this movie so much because it’s the first Wes Anderson movie I saw, so silly nostalgia may play a part in that. However, this is the best stop-motion animated movie I’ve ever seen. Not only is the animation gorgeous in detail and design, but the film around it is equally superb. Anderson’s writing is always great since he makes adults feel like kids and vice versa. And among the others in the niche genre, this is probably the most adult of its kind, too. The jokes are subtle, whether it be from the script or the fantastic voice performances.
It may sound silly to say, but this is Anderson at his most kiddy. And it works so well when he combines that quirky mindset with Roald Dahl’s mature storytelling. I mean, there’s only so much I can say before it gets repetitive. It’s one of those comedies that gets better every time you watch it. You notice those little moments that you were too busy eating the last time you saw it to catch it.
7) Inglorious Bastards
I think this may have recently become the new Pulp Fiction. It seems like everywhere you go now, someone in your group has this as their favorite film of all time. What can I say? Brad Pitt’s performance is so unique, even beyond his own career. And it’s complimented perfectly by Tarantino’s writing. Some people complain about how the eccentric writer-director can make his script be…too much, often times incorporating rhyming and other devices into his dialogue. But whether or not he does that with Inglorious Bastards doesn’t matter at all. So, there.
And unless you’re a Nazi, basically everyone loves to see a bunch of buff guys kill them with machine guns. That’s just a fact. The film is absolutely hilarious, endlessly quotable (perhaps more than previously mentioned classic—sorry, sorry, sorry), and it delves into a historical fantasy that almost everyone on the entire planet has dreamt about.
6) Tropic Thunder
I know I have a lot of comedies on my list, I’m aware. Therefore, I won’t dive to deeply into why this film is one of the funniest of the 21st Century. It’s a perfect satire of Hollywood, action blockbusters, and spoiled rat actors. Every person in this film, with Tom Cruse coming in at the number one spot, is at their best. And with Cruise, every second he’s on screen, it’s basically game over for me. His dance scenes are some of the best ever, and his absurdly explicit rants are sheer genius.
And even the supporting players are good in this one, which is rare for a modern comedy. Steve Coogan, Bill Hader, Jack Black, are all top class; and even Matthew McConaughey explodes on screen, despite this being before the glorious McConaughssaince a few years later. If you need dumb fun that’s actually smart in so many ways, Tropic Thunder is the way to go.
5) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Besides it more than likely having the longest name of any movie ever, this Western is truly brilliant. And my love of this film isn’t just because I love the genre, and hope to bring it back to the forefront of Hollywood one day. Firstly, the dialogue in the script by writer-director Andrew Dominik is weirdly realistic. When Brad Pitt says in a soft voice, “You’re actin’ queer,” or when as he contemplates his existence, he states I “Look at my red hands and my mean face… and I wonder ’bout that man that’s gone so wrong.” Now, doesn’t that sound like how an actual Westerner in the 1880s would speak? There’s just nothing like this one.
Also, the great Roger Deakins is at his best here. You get this cold, starkly beautiful look at the West. Regardless that the film is pretty dour, and perhaps a little too long for some, it never ceases in being dramatic. Not only that, it’s filled with incredible performances by the actors, particularly the underrated Casey Affleck, who are at their career best here. Plus, despite the title giving away the ending, it’s still endlessly compelling.
4) Monsters, Inc.
Again, this one has some nostalgia love for me. It may not reach the heights of Toy Story 3 or Inside Out, but I still find Monsters, Inc. the funniest, most touching, and featuring one of the best performance and characters of any Pixar film—Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski. That green ball of a monster feels so original, relatable, and uncommon in the world of animation. He’s not only hilarious, but he’s really a very, very imperfect hero. And I love him for that.
I think the concept of scaring kids for fun is also pretty hilarious, although I always change my mind by the end of the film. For the animation itself, it’s a little flawed. But as I have been for all my life, that type of issue only makes me love things like that more.
3) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings is my favorite trilogy of all time. It helped me through a lot of hard times as a kid and was probably the first time I actually saw film as more than just entertainment. So, it’s pretty important in my life, whether or not it holds up today. And it so does! As most know, how much work and time went into creating Middle-earth’s buildings, creatures, weapons, clothing, and more still blows my mind.
It has some of the best action sequences that I’ve ever seen. The Fellowship of the Ring gave us the cinematic birth of Legolas, which is why I still love archery. And sure, Legolas is now kind of a joke because of The Hobbit films. Nevertheless, how the film looks, feels, and plays never seems to age for me. The Fellowship of the Ring was also among the first films of the century that continued the lifespan of epic trilogy marathoning.
2) Mad Max: Fury Road
I saw this four times in theaters, just have to say that out of the gate. Without a doubt, Fury Road is my favorite action film ever. It features the best action I’ve ever seen, it’s the best looking of its kind, and introduced the amazing character of Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Tom Hardy is awesome as Max, but Theron is on an entirely different level of performance.
Her character is simple yet endlessly explorable. And that’s just the beginning of the amazing places this film goes. It really is a Western-on-wheels, almost never taking a moment to stop—literally. It’s so kinetic, not Michael Bay kinetic, but genuinely makes the film feel like it could go anywhere, where anything could happen, and no one is safe.
1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The main reason this film is my number one is because of its heroine, Lisbeth Salander. She’s unlike any other character I’ve come acrosss in both film or television. While she’s an extreme version of a damaged girl, I connect with her in weird ways that I can’t really explain. And if people admit it not, almost everyone can see the good in her. Not only that, Fincher does stellar work here. Despite the story being very complex, Fincher handles it with complete ease. He’s my favorite director, not to mention he’s just one of the best in the business.
I have seen the Swedish trilogy, and I love it, so back off before hating on me for backing a remake. The film is aware that it’s a remake, which is rare these days. It is in English, even though it’s set in Sweden and incorporates native phrases and traditions into the trademark styles of a western filmmaker. But bottom line, Lisbeth destroys all.