Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#100 – Time Bandits
Why is it here:
Time Bandits is an all-timer and were this a sequential list it’d be high in the upper half. It’s Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin collaborating and distilling their Monty Python madness into something for audiences young and old, a bizarre mindbending journey of a boy and a group of time traveling dwarves. It’s such a quirky blend of real-world issues and mythological ones that were it filmed today, would be filled with computer generated beasts and short attention span usage of the screen that it’d descend into whatever the latest teen lit nonsense is. It was made at the perfect time. It may be the most appropriate choice to illustrate why Terry Gilliam is a vital part of cinema for five decades.
Moments to savor:
The first non Harryhausen generated minotaur that worked onscreen. The dwarves in all their slapstick, vile, conniving glory. David Warner absolutely killing it as Evil. One of the best villains of my lifetime, complete with a Giger-esque outfit. One of the best. Great music. A true sense of adventure. Just a movie bursting at the seams with great moments and ideas.
High. Especially when you have kids. It’s a gateway drug for Monty Python. It’s a missile of concentrated creativity that explodes upon impact. It’s aged gracefully and with considerable new charm. It is a totem of pre-CGI production design brilliance. It’s for the whole family but with a lot of darkness throughout. In a really great way.
I was a kid who lived at the mall one of my first years in Georgia after moving from New York. My aunt owned one of those T-shirt shops that would press on logos or text or whatever and my parents helped run it while settling in. As a result I was a nine year old piece of the mall when I was in school. The movie theater upstairs grew to know me and would allow me to hang around and watch movies. The late summer/fall of 1981 was one where I watched Time Bandits at least twenty times in the theater. It takes a special movie to do that, even to a bored nine year old asshole.
If there’s an afterlife and I get 100 flicks to watch this is up there.