Coolest Movies of All Time

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

The coolest movies of all time are certainly subject to debate. Ask a hundred people their opinion on the matter, and you’re likely to receive the same amount of differing responses. Never one to back away from controversy, I decided to put together my own list of the coolest movies ever made. From vigilante cops to a harmonica-playing Charles Bronson, this list covers a large range of genres and generations. I hope you like it, and be sure to share your own selections in our comments section.

If you haven’t seen all of the film listed below, I’d recommend giving Netflix a try. They have a “no late fees” policy, meaning you can keep your rentals out for weeks if you want. Nobody is going to be calling your house to remind you to return the movie, and nobody is going to charge your credit card to recoup their late fees. That’s why Blockbuster is swirling down the toilet and Netflix is continuing to grow daily. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Click here to become a Netflix subscriber.

The Matrix (1999) – Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is an office drone by day and the hacker known as Neo by night. Then he learns that the world around him is nothing more than an elaborate computer simulation designed by a race of sentient machines. Rescued from this mundane existence by a group of freedom fighters led by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Neo must utilize his latent abilities to challenge the powers that be on behalf of humanity. The directing team of Larry and Andy Wachowski draw inspiration from anime, spaghetti westerns, science-fiction, and so much more, creating a very cool concoction that tastes like tight leather and smells like spent shell casings.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) – After a botched robbery, a gang of experienced thieves meet up at a warehouse to figure out what went wrong. Hint: there’s an undercover cop in their midst. Quentin Tarantino makes his directorial debut and establishes himself as one of the primary forces of pop culture cool in Hollywood. Whether it’s Michael Madsen dancing to “Stuck in the Middle With You” while torturing a cop, or the aforementioned thieves (including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Steve Buscemi) discussing the lyrical content of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” the film is peppered with references to music, cinema, and television. For another of the coolest movies of all time, be sure to check out Tarantino’s follow-up masterpiece, Pulp Fiction.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – A mysterious man with a harmonica (Charles Bronson) pursues a hired killer (Henry Fonda) across the Old West landscape. Meanwhile, a prostitute-turned-landowner (Claudia Cardinale) must fend off attempts to take both her land and her life. A sprawling epic by Sergio Leone that would prove highly influential on directors such as Sam Raimi and Quentin Tarantino. Jason Robards co-stars as a bandit, but Fonda steals the show with his first-ever portrayal of a villain.

Seven (1995) – Punishing the wicked never seemed so diabolically cool as in this David Fincher film about two cops (Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt) on the trail of a methodical serial killer (Kevin Spacey in an appearance unbilled during the opening credits). Set in an unnamed city where it almost always rains and minding your own business is an art form, the body count slowly rises around the theme of the seven deadly sins. The vibrantly gloomy cinematography from Darius Khondji plunges the viewer into a world of hopelessness and apathy, although brief rays of hope shine through thanks to the youthful optimism of Det. David Mills (Pitt) and the world-weary tenacity of Det. William Somerset (Freeman). A crime/thriller/drama to top all others.

From Russia with Love (1963) – The second of the James Bond series features 007 (Sean Connery) battling the agents of SPECTRE in an attempt to help a Soviet clerk (Daniela Bianchi) defect with a highly-prized cryptographic device. Along the way, Bond beds a number of beauties, hangs out with gypsies, takes on fanatical assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw), and dodges women wearing poison-tipped shoes. Less campy than most films of the franchise, which is a big reason why many critics consider it the best Bond movie ever made. President John F. Kennedy was a big fan of the original novel, and his mentioning this fact in an interview helped it become the second Ian Fleming novel chosen for a big-screen adaptation. As it turned out, it was also the last film he screened at the White House before embarking on his ill-fated trip to Dallas in the fall of 1963.

Scarface (1983) – There’s a reason why hip hop stars have went nuts over Scarface throughout the years: it’s just a damn cool movie. Al Pacino affects an outrageous accent to portray Tony Montana, a Cuban criminal who washes up on the shores of the United States. Before you can say “magical nose candy,” he’s working his way up the criminal ladder in southern Florida. But the American dream is dangerous even for outsiders, and Tony is soon caught up in a vicious spiral of excess and addiction. The climax, in which an army of hired killers descend on Tony’s mansion only to be met by a coked-up and machine gun-wielding Montana, is one of the most entertaining and over-the-top moments in cinema. Say hello to my little friend!

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – When a serial killer named Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) unwittingly nabs the daughter of a U.S. Senator to be his next victim, the F.B.I. vows to try every method possible to locate and rescue her. This includes a visit to master criminal Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a famed psychiatrist who turned to murder and cannibalism. A promising FBI trainee named Clarise Starling (Jodi Foster) is chosen for the visit, and she and Lecter form a bizarre bond that stretches into the inevitable sequel. As for Buffalo Bill, he’s busy playing with his ratty-looking dog, tucking his genitals between his legs, and making a body suit out of female flesh. Hopkins is present for less than 10 minutes of screen time, but a little goes a long way. Upon the film’s release, it quickly shot up the rankings of the coolest movies of all time, and Lecter would challenge such notables as Darth Vader for the title of “most awesome villain ever.”

The Killer (1989) – When it comes to sheer coolness, it’s hard to beat any film directed by John Woo. Even when the script is less than perfect, you can count on Woo to give his characters numerous opportunities to walk and fight in slow-motion. If there’s a mysterious breeze to dramatically cause their coats to whip behind them, all the better. In The Killer, Woo favorite Chow Yun-Fat plays a hitman who accidentally blinds a lounge singer during an assignment. Vowing to raise enough money to get her a cornea transplant, he agrees to take one more job. That’s when the double-cross kicks in, and soon he’s fighting wave after wave of cons and hired killers. To further complicate matters, he’s got one of those noble Hong Kong cops on his trail. The final showdown takes place at a church, with Woo going apeshit in the use of Christian iconography (We need more doves over here!). Organized religion never seemed cooler.

Blade (1998) – Wesley Snipes is Blade, a half-vampire who hunts down and kills the undead. His scowl is just as dangerous as his martial arts and sharp weaponry, and he’s full of interesting observations such as “some motherfucker is always trying to ice skate uphill.” If his bizarre philosophy regarding winter sports wasn’t enough, he’s also got Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) to watch his back. Whistler looks to be about 100 years old, walks around with a knee brace, puts gas in the car while smoking a cigarette, and likes to curse at people in the most grizzled manner possible. Together, they must take on the vampiric prowess of Steven Dorff and Donal Logue. Smartass comments aside, Blade is filled to the brim with attitude, fashionable–and lethal–characters, and plenty of fights to the (un)death. The Cullens wouldn’t last 10 minutes in Blade’s world.

Dirty Harry (1971) – When a serial killer begins terrorizing the streets of San Francisco, it’s going to take an incredibly cool cop to stop his rampage. Enter “Dirty” Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), a lean, mean lawman who speaks with a gravelly voice and wields a massive .44 Smith & Wesson. More than willing to throw the proverbial book out the window in the name of justice, Callahan possesses the same badass resolve found in most other Clint Eastwood roles. That’s a good thing, as Dirty Harry inspired and influenced decades of movies about cops driven to work outside the law to get things done.

While it’s impossible to detail every one of the coolest movies of all time, I hope this list will get you started. Netflix carries all the films I’ve discussed, and they offer fast delivery, no late fees, and a rapidly growing library to choose from. Click here to become a member.
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 9:27 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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