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. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
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.
#67 -Full Metal Jacket
Why is it here:
Here’s the dirty secret about Full Metal Jacket: The second half of the movie is also amazing.
So many people over the years have praised the film’s unforgettable and utterly quotable first half but when the film veers into the war itself a lot of people check out. It’s phenomenal. It’s different, but it’s phenomenal. In a film so focused on duality of course there’s going to be a tonal change midway through. It’s a have your cake and eat it too situation. And the ‘These Boots Were Made For Walkin” moment is my favorite musical cue of all time.
The first half isn’t great. It’s perfect. It really is. Tragic, funny, scary, thought-provoking. It’s everything one would want from a Vietnam story, which is why the second half is so rewarding. Stanley Kubrick will live forever in film and this film does a nice job of taking his style and processing it for a wide audience. It’s a difficult movie but one that is as important and vital as any put on celluloid.
Moments to savor:
Almost anything R. Lee Ermey says. Private Joker’s askew commentary. Private Pyle’s downfall. Meeting and saying goodbye to Cowboy. The dialogue that made the 2 Live Crew famous.
Once a year. And to introduce new people to greatness and the film that so many imitated.
I have a friend who was wounded, killed men, and has a chapter in a war book devoted to him. A Marine who served in Vietnam. A great guy who knows R. Lee Ermey. He shared his story and he said this movie was bang on and that rare movie that is critical of and glorifies his brethren that is universally beloved. That’s not faint praise.