My Favorite Directors, Actors, Films, etc. as of Spring 2016...

(NOTE: JUST ‘CAUSE THEY’RE ON THE LIST DOESN’T MEAN I WANT TO WATCH THEM RIGHT NOW. SO CHILL OUT, FANBOYS!) Jump to: Documentaries Comedies Dramas Animation MST3K Rotten Tomatoes<50% Overrated Asian Latin Bigbudget FavActors AVClub WI

DIRECTORS (Completists are bound to get themselves into trouble, but these folks can do almost no wrong in my eyes. See everything! Put them in your Netflix queue and see nothing but masterpieces for months! Making a list of favorite directors almost makes genre distinctions obsolete. Having favorite directors seems to be the best heuristic for finding new films to enjoy! Apologies if other titles in the categories are by these.)

Almodovar, P.T. Anderson, Aronovsky, Apatow, Boyle, Mel Brooks, Burton, Coen Bros., Cuaron, Eastwood, Egoyan, Forman, Gilliam, Gittoes, Gondry, Greenwald, Guest, Henson, Herzog, Peter Jackson, Steve James, Jeunet (& Caro), Jonze, Kon, Korine, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Linklater, Lynch, Luhrmann, Miyazaki, Moodysson, Moore, Morris, Nolan, Ozon, Polanski, Sayles, Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Soderbergh, Solondz, Spurlock, Oliver Stone, Svankmajer, Takeshi, Tarantino, Taymor, Tykwer, Weir.

In contrast to my list of favorite music, note from the list above that I have no problem enjoying mainstream movies. Several of the directors who moved on to blockbusters' early works are well worth a look and satisfy my need for obscurity. That said, no one needs to be told to see Oscar winners or blockbusters. Smaller films, not necessarily just independent or experimental, need promotion! For the following movie categories, I try not to repeat anything by the directors above, but there's bound to be some slip-ups. Am I missing something/someone obvious? Tell me!

These directors are far more hit & miss for me ("hits" should be listed individually in categories below)... Abrams, Altman, Wes Anderson, Bertolucci, Cameron, F.F. Coppola, Fincher, Godard, Hitchcock, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ron Howard, Jia Zhangke, Tony Kaye, Levinson, Lucas, Bigas Luna, Malick, Petzold, Pollack, Roeg, Kevin Smith, Spielberg, von Trier, Wenders, Zemeckis

I approach these directors with extreme prejudice... Michael Bay, Mike Judge, Tati

DOCUMENTARIES (Get your daily dose of propaganda here! "Superdocs," documentaries w/ opinions, are included. Rarely do I dislike a doc!)

The Act of Killing/The Look of Silence, The Age of Stupid, American Movie, The Art of the Steal, A Band Called Death, Being Elmo, Best Worst Movie, Blue Gold, Capturing the Friedmans, City of Gold, Collapse, The Corporation, Crossing the Line, Crumb, Devil's Playground, Dutch Harbor: Where the Sea Breaks Its Back, Food Inc., The Eleventh Hour, Enemies of the People, Forks over Knives, The Gleaners & I, Heima (Home), Hot Girls Wanted, I Am Divine, Inside Job, Jodorkovsky's (SP) Dune, Live Nude Girls Unite!, Lost in La Mancha, Maiden Trip, Manda Bala, Narco Cultura, No End in Sight, The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, Petition (上访), Qatsi series, Religulous, Scratch, Searching for Sugar Man, Shake Hands with the Devil, Shut Up Little Man!, Slasher, Soaked in Bleach, Street Fight, The Unforeseen, Vinyl (& the "Alternate Take", All Things Must Pass, I Need That Record!, Sound It Out), Water Wars, What's the Matter with Kansas, We Live in Public, Winnebago Man, The Wolfpack, The Yes Men/Save the World/Are Revolting

COMEDIES (A nice mix of intellectual prattle and slapstick gets my guffaws going. Note that mockumentaries are included here, rather than in the documentaries. Do you think our sense of humor is permanently locked in our adolescence, and those who grew up with lowbrow comedy can never ascend to the heights of satire?)

Airplane!, Being There, Black Cat White Cat, Bob Roberts, Cabin Boy, Canadian Bacon, Cecil B. Demented, The Full Monty, The Grand Budapest Hotel, High Fidelity, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!, In a World..., Italian Spiderman, Jackass (all), Juno, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, Leap of Faith, Monty Python (all), Mystery Men, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, Pootie Tang, Princess Bride, Rat Race, The Stupids, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, There's Something about Mary, Wayne's World, Zombieland.

MUSICALS (Hold the schmaltz, please!)

Dancer in the Dark, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Hairspray (original only), Little Shop of Horrors, The Muppet Movie, Purple Rain, Suck, Sweeney Todd

DRAMAS (Incl. family/melodrama, political drama, etc. Clearly, serious films are cinema's finest achievement. Chortle, chortle.)

All Is Lost, American History X, American Beauty, American Splendor, Amores Perros, Auto Focus, Barbara, Basquiat, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Believer, Blood Diamond, City of God, The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover, Cry Baby, Dead Man, Death of a Salesman, Dirty Pretty Things, Dogtooth, Doubt, The Dreamers, Europa Europa!, Finding Forrester, Frozen River, Ghost World, Gran Torino, Grand Canyon, The Great Debaters, Hitler: The Rise of Evil, Hotel Rwanda, The Ice Storm, Infinitely Polar Bear, The Killing Fields, The Last Supper, The Lives of Others, The Lobster, Lovers of the Arctic Circle, Mean Creek, Mud, Naked, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, The Pianist, Priest, The Seventh Continent, The Shawshank Redemption, Sin Nombre, Six Degrees of Separation, The Squid & the Whale, Take Shelter, Thunderheart, Training Day, The Tree of Life, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Wag the Dog, Wings of Desire, The World According to Garp

ACTION/WAR (Explosions have their place. May make sense to move the boxing movies to the martial arts section.)

Borne trilogy, Come and See, The Fighter, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Hurt Locker, Letters from Iwo Jima, Sicario, Zero Dark Thirty

FANTASY, SCI-FI, THRILLERS (A fantasy/sci-fi film that skimps on the suspense or, increasingly, action, is a rare bird indeed. May need to separate these eventually)

Alive, Attack the Block, Gone Baby Gone, Beowulf, Dark City, Dark Star, The Illusionist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978vsn), Legend, Nightcrawler, Only Lovers Left Alive, Pan's Labyrinth, Planet of the Apes (original), The Prestige, Rounders, Se7en, Shadow of the Vampire, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Under the Skin, The Usual Suspects, What Dreams May Come


Bone Tomahawk (Crosslist w/ HORROR), Dances with Wolves, Dead Man, Little Big Man, Meek's Cutoff, My Name Is Nobody, Posse, Tombstone ...(That one with Fassbender & the shootout in the cabin)

ANIMATION & OTHER MEDIA (Taught an experimental college class at Oberlin on this, though my syllabus doesn't hold up very well. I have since warmed to anime considerably.)

Pixar generally, Fantastic Planet, Futurama (series & movies), 9, Rango, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, The Simpsons Movie, Summer Wars, Tekkonkinkreet, The Triplets of Belleville, When the Wind Blows, Your Name

CHILDHOOD FAVORITES I'VE WATCHED 10+ TIMES (Please tell me I'm not the only one who's watched movies more than 10x, and if you feel frisky, tell me the movie you've watched more times than any other.)

Adventures in Babysitting, Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Goes to Jail, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978vsn), My Name Is Nobody, Toys, Princess Bride, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Yellow Submarine

NOT PLANNING TO HAVE KIDS, BUT IF I DID I'D MAKE SURE THEY SAW THESE (In ascending order of age appropriateness, IMO, up to age 12. But who am I kidding? My kids would have seen all of these and many less appropriate flicks before they turned five because movies=babysitters.)

Age 4 & under: Hmm... Fantasia & Disney classics? Ponyo. Follow That Bird. Age 4-7: Most Pixar & Ghibli; Ernest movies up to "Scared Stupid"; The Wizard of Oz; The Muppet Movie; Yellow Submarine; The Princess Bride; The Neverending Story Age 7-10: Claymation Adventures of Mark Twain; The Dark Crystal; Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; Little Shop of Horrors; The Great Muppet Caper; The Great Blue Yonder; Harry & The Hendersons; A Christmas Story; Little Rascals (Original shorts & film); Flight of the Navigator; Pee-Wee's Big Adventure; Rango; Big; The Gods Must Be Crazy; My Name Is Nobody; Time Bandits; Monty Python & The Holy Grail Age before all innocence is lost: Labyrinth, Legend; The Muppets Take Manhattan; Naussica; 9; The Adventures of Baron Munchausen; Little Big Man; Hairspray (Original vsn); The Shawshank Redemption; Dances with Wolves; The Professional; The Taste of Tea; Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit; The Mosquito Coast; Boyhood; Infinitely Polar Bear

AND CONVERSELY, MY HYPOTHETICAL CHILDREN MIGHT BE SHELTERED FROM THESE (Or, at least, I wouldn't care if they never saw these under my roof.)

Aladdin, ET, Home Alone (All), The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Old Yeller, Star Wars, Transformers, and really most "family" films, superhero, or underdog sports movies from the last several decades

SO BAD THEY'RE GOOD (I'm an avid MST3K-er, but I don't watch as many terrible movies as I used to.)

A Cry in the Wilderness, The Elmchanted Forest, Hercules (Reeves version), Plan 9 from Outer Space, Reefer Madness

MST3K EPISODES (All right, since I just mentioned it and have an entire site dedicated to Torgo, I should have a page of my favorite quotations also.)

Hobgoblins, Manos: The Hands of Fate, Mitchell, Prince of Space, The Pumaman, Soultaker, This Island Earth (MST3K Movie)

REWARDS REPEATED VIEWINGS (Or so I say to rationalize having seen them 3+ times. Every time I watch I appreciate something new. A tight script like Coen Bros. films or pace too fast to catch everything the first time makes a big difference. Being deliberately obtuse or convoluted is no guarantee!)

The Believer, Brain Candy (Kids in the Hall), Dances with Wolves, Donnie Darko, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Game, Groundhog Day, Little Man Tate, Memento, Monty Python (all), The Mosquito Coast, Primer, Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, The Professional, Shaun of the Dead, Synecdoche NY, Trainspotting

I'VE WATCHED THESE 3+ TIMES AND AM NOT TERRIBLY PROUD OF IT (Some remain guilty pleasures, while others may be dismissed as indiscretions of a sheltered youth.)

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Balls of Fury, Beethoven, Brain Donors, Cabin Boy, Defending Your Life, Encino Man (said by either Mike or Joel of MST3K to be the worst movie of all time), Ernest: Scared Stupid, Field of Dreams, Harry & The Hendersons, Home Alone (1&2), Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Land Before Time, Luggage of the Gods, Mom & Dad Save the Earth, Nothing But Trouble, The River Wild, Serial Mom, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, What about Bob?

MY FAVORITES GETTING LESS THAN 50% FRESH ON ROTTEN TOMATOES (Siding with the minority feels good sometimes! See also the AV Club's "My Year of Flops" secret successes. Apologies for titles repeated in other categories.)

Absolute Power, The Beach, Big Top Pee-Wee, Brain Candy: The Kids in the Hall, Cabin Boy, The Da Vinci Code, Dune (Lynch's), Erik the Viking, Kiss the Girls, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Posse, Suck, Toys, Wagons East, Young Einstein


Alps, Antichrist, Belladonna of Sadness, Bipolarized, Don Bluth (Animator), Bubble, The Campaign, Cannibal: The Musical, Casa de Mi Padre, Clan of the Cave Bear, The Darjeeling Limited, Detachment, Detroit Metal City (Both the anime & the feature film), Fern Gully, Final Fantasy (Spirits Within, Advent Children), Freddie Got Fingered, Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Director), Ichi the Killer, Idiocracy, I'm Still Here, Imaginationland (South Park), In the Realm of the Senses, Inland Empire, Love Liza, The Luzhin Defense, Melancholia, The Mill and the Cross, Multiple Maniacs, Naked Lunch, The People VS. George Lucas, Pink Flamingos, Please Vote for Me, Police Adjective, The Princess and the Warrior, Story of Jen, Team America: World Police, Two Days One Night, Up & Down, Upstream Color

OVERRATED (Unduly popular or critically acclaimed, I was not wowed by these and give little more than grudging respect. Go ahead and watch them so as not to be left out of conversations, but please stop praising to high heaven. Line up your sacred cows for the slaughter! ... And the fact that I consider these overrated while at the same time many haven't even heard of them goes to show how feeble anything but word of mouth is at promotion.)

Woody Allen, The Artist, A Beautiful Mind, Juliette Binoche, Blow-Up, Bottle Rocket, American Graffiti, Cinema Paradiso, Cool Hand Luke, The Descendants, Disney cartoons (most of 'em!), Down by Law, The Edge of Seventeen, Election, Harold & Maude, The Hours, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1950s vsn), LA Confidential, Liar Liar, Lost in Translation, Miranda July, Monsoon Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Office Space, Parenthood, Paris Je T'aime, Signs, The Sixth Sense, Steve Martin, The Truman Show, The Virgin Suicides, Yi Yi (A One and a Two)

DISHONORABLE MENTION/DIDN'T LIKE/WASTED MY TIME (I never walk out of movies before they end, but these tempted me. Just didn't get 'em.)

Anguish, Babette's Feast, The Big Sleep, La Cienaga, Drowning Mona, Krull, The Lady Killers (remake), Mac & Me (Wasted my childhood time!), Mon Oncle, Playtime, Swing Vote, Track 29

HORROR (I don't really watch horror movies, but these stood out...)

American Psycho, It Follows, Ravenous, Ringu, 28 Days/Weeks Later

KUNG FU/MARTIAL ARTS (I'm not as into these as I used to be.)

Bruce Lee (all), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The 18 Jade Pearls,

KOREAN (Almost all seen in the past five years.)

Breathless, The Handmaiden, Mother, Old Boy, Poetry, Snowpiercer


Caterpillar, Funky Forest: The First Contact, Go Go Second Time Virgin (Wakamatsu), Rikyu, The Taste of Tea, Tampopo, Tokyo Fiancee, Welcome Back Mr. McDonald, Pulse, Ringu

CHINESE (There should be a lot more here given how many times I've been over there, but other than festival fare I haven't seen much.)

Chen Kaige, Jiang Wen, Wong Kar-Wai. The Assassin, The King of Masks, Lie It Be, Quitting, Shower

LATIN AMERICAN (Especially those that don't fit neatly into previous categories)

Nine Queens, Quilombo, Sleep Dealer, También La Lluvia (Even the Rain), Wild Tales

BLOCKBUSTERS (Okay, I DO really like some of them. Sometimes a gigantic budget is necessary to do cool stuff. Unlike some others, though, they gain nothing from my appreciation!)

Avatar, Cliffhanger, Cloud Atlas, Cold Mountain, Contact, Elysium, Gladiator, I Am Legend, Live Die Repeat, Lord of the Rings, World War Z

FAVORITE ACTORS & ACTRESSES (Especially those who can elevate an otherwise bad, mediocre, or not particularly interesting film to being a favorite. Being on here doesn't mean I won't have trouble recalling their names from time to time; if you haven't gotten the point by now, these pages exist mainly to relieve my memory of media burdens.)

Kathy Bates, Lake Bell, John Candy, Robert Carlyle, Charlize Theron, Johnny Depp, Laurence Fishburne, Jodie Foster, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar Isaac, Samuel L. Jackson, Diego Luna, Patton Oswalt, Christina Ricci, Tim Robbins, Peter Sellers, Timothy Spall, David Strathairn, Denzel Washington

OTHER NAMES IN FILM I WATCH OUT FOR IN A POSITIVE WAY (Writers, producers, composers, critics, distributors, studios, etc.)

Roger Ebert, Danny Elfman, Charlie Kaufman, Quay Brothers, Nathan Rabin, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Village Voice reviewers, Hans Zimmer

I'M GONNA BE A HATER AND HATE (Critics I find laughably objectionable, actors who can wreck a film for me or who just rub me the wrong way. And for the record, I'm not thrilled by the superheroization of American movies.)

Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Pauly Shore, Kyle Smith (NY Post & National Review), Stanley Tucci, Armond White (NY Press...see him hate on Ebert here), Owen Wilson

FAVORITE AND MOST USEFUL AV CLUB FILM LISTS & FEATURES (Yearly Best-of lists are a guaranteed Netflix marathon of interesting flicks! What lists like these are really good for is finding great films that you had no idea existed. See also Features at The Dissolve up to its untimely demise in mid-2015.)

Not Again...24 Great Films Too Painful to Watch Twice Nathan Rabin's My Year of Flops AV Club Best of 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

STILL HAVEN'T SEEN (AND PROBABLY SHOULD) (Now if I could only remember to consult this at the video store. Basically most films since the 2010s I'm way behind on cause it was time to read hard.)

Disenchantment, Finding Nemo, Gremlins, Killswitch, Life Is Beautiful, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Scent of a Woman, Toy Story (1,2,3), Wall Street (1,2)

PREVIEWS OF NOTE (Funny fake ones, especially)

CRACKED "Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever", In a World, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders

ADMIRABLE WI CONNECTIONS IN FILM (Other sites probably note this better, but I'd like to personally acknowledge these...)

American Movie, Behind the Candelabra, John Belushi (UWW drop-out), Larry Clark (Layton Sch. of Art), Joan Cusack (UW), Willem Dafoe, Chris Farley, Heather Graham, Joel Hodgson, Houdini, Errol Morris (UW), Mark Ruffalo, Gene Wilder, Terry Zwigoff


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