Movie Meme: My Life in Movies!

No Smoking in the Skull Cave had a really interesting meme a few days ago that was a lot of fun to read, and I thought it'd be a lot of fun to create as well. The idea, according to becca, originated with samurai frog and basically goes like this:

Make a list of what you think was the best movie from every year since you were born.

The beauty of the concept is how it can vary widely from author to author. I can pretty much guarantee your list would differ significantly from the films on my list (no matter how eclectic your tastes)... and that's the fun of it. So, let's give it a try.

1970: Toomorrow

No, this is not a misspelling. Toomorrow was Don Kirshner's attempt to follow up the success of The Monkees and featured an early appearance by Olivia Newton-John. Since its original release it has rarely been played on TV and hasn't been released on DVD or VHS. Thus, like caviar, its greatness may lie in its rarity rather than true quality, but who cares? I mean, it's an outer space bubblegum rock musical, what's not to love?

1971: Pretty Maids All in a Row

This one deserves a post on all its own. It was directed by none other than Roger Vadim (Barbarella) with a screenplay by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry! Even better, it stars Rock Hudson as a sexually deviant coach, Telly Savalas and the beautiful Angie Dickinson. Like the previous year's selection, this one hasn't been released on DVD - probably due to some highly irreverent and irresponsible plot points which I won't give away.

1972: Superfly

This was a very good year in film (and I'm not talkin' about the overrated The Godfather). Imagine my dilemma having to choose between Dracula A.D. 1972, Deliverance and The Last House on the Left. Well, let's just say Curtis Mayfield had a lot to do with my decision.

1973: The Exorcist

If you've seen Regan climb down a flight of stairs like a demonic spider, then you know why The Exorcist is on my list. If this doesn't terrify you, what will?

1974: The Man with the Golden Gun

I wanted to choose The Satanic Rites of Dracula, but I couldn't pass up this magnificent Bond movie. You've got Herve Villechaize, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, and Christopher Lee. The cherry on top is the theme song by Lulu.

1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Simply one of the greatest movies ever made. I can't adequately describe this film's greatness, so I won't even try.

1976: Logan's Run

I recently read an article in Filmfax magazine where the authors of the original Logan's Run expressed their extreme disappointment in this film - it didn't live up to their script. Well, I must respectfully disaggree. If you happened to read my earlier post "The Future was Fab" then you know I typically like my science-fiction fun and entertaining without all that depressing dystopian Blade Runner crap. And if it features Farrah Fawcett, as in Logan's Run, then that's an added bonus!

1977: Saturday Night Fever

No self respecting discophile like myself would leave this one off the list (sorry, Smokey and the Bandit). The movie includes three iconic 70's film moments: (1) the opening scene where Travolta struts down the street to "Stayin' Alive" (2) Travolta primping for a night at the disco idolizing a Serpico poster with "Night Fever" in the background, and (3) Travolta showin' us how disco is done on the dance floor to "You Should Be Dancing". Pure 70's gold!

1978: Halloween

I can remember not being allowed to see this when it came out, but hearing my aunt and uncle describe scenes to my parents... and that gave me nightmares! Just the thought of this relentless and faceless bogeyman will stir the primeval scaredy cat deep within all of us. Perfectly executed by John Carpenter, this is the film that launched a thousand bad imitations.

1979: Phantasm and Rock 'n Roll High School

I told myself that I wouldn't have any ties on this list, and I'm not even out of the 70's and I've got a tie. I can't help it. To ask me to choose between the silver balls of death and The Ramones is asking the impossible.

1980: The Shining

I love every single millisecond of this film. This is the perfect picture - I wouldn't change one line of dialogue or a single camera angle (although, I hear Stephen King has a much different opinion). Note: It saddens me to not put The Empire Strikes Back on the list, but you just can't compete with Kubrick's nightmarish masterpiece.

1981: Cannonball Run

Look, I know it's no Citizen Kane, but let me throw some names at you: Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, and Dom DeLouise as Captain Chaos. 'Nuff said.

1982: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

I realize there's not a lot of Oscar winners on my list, and Leonard Maltin's list would be a whole lot different. What can I say except "All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine."

1983: National Lampoon's Vacation

I'd love to impress you with some obscure independent film from Brussels, but I've got to go with the Griswolds.

1984: This Is Spinal Tap

The Stonehenge segment has to be one of the funniest moments in movie history.

"In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing... "

Notice the great string of comedies in the early 1980's! (Note: Revenge of the Nerds came out this year as well.)

1985: Better Off Dead

Another incredibly funny movie from the early 80's. This one kind of got lost amid the flood of John Hughes films and other teen comedies like Porky's. But if you haven't had a chance to see it, you're missing out.

1986: River's Edge

A rather bleak look at teenage life as compared to its contemporaries (Pretty in Pink, Can't Buy Me Love, etc.) with Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper and Ione Skye. A very enjoyable film... in a nihilistic kind of way.

1987: Evil Dead II

Ah, yes. The year of Ishtar and Dorf on Golf. I had to go with Sam Raimi's innovative horror film over Full Metal Jacket because the second half of Kubrick's film sucks (to put it bluntly).

1988: Scrooged

I can tell I am getting way out of my "retrospace" element now because it is getting harder and harder to find a movie I really liked. Most of the horror films are lame sequels and I was never much of a Rain Man fan. Check out The Ten Best Things About Scrooged at I-Mockery.com. My favorite is the adaptation of A Christmas Carol featuring the Solid Gold dancers!

Here comes two back to back Stephen King adaptations.

1989: Pet Sematary
1990: Misery

1991: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

This year's films really sucked. Hook, King Ralph, JFK - I hate 1991's movies! Smokey and the Bandit where are you?

1992: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Captain Ron, Sister Act, Stop or My Mom Will Shoot... help me!! I don't even really like Bram Stoker's Dracula! Please tell me there's a few good movies this year that I'm just missing. Of course Reservoir Dogs and El Mariachi stand out as a new breed of film in stark contrast to the blandness of cinema this year. Foreshadows of things to come certainly, but I just don't enjoy either one of these films no matter how hard I try.

1993: Dazed and Confused

At last, after a bleak few years, a movie that I can sink my teeth into! I have watched this film easily a hundred times and it gets better each viewing. I have an entire post devoted to this film, so I'll spare you any further ravings. Suffice it to say that Matthew McConaughey's character is my role model for life.

1994: Pulp Fiction

Things are certainly looking up at the ol' cineplex once again. Pulp Fiction gave Hollywood a much needed kick in the ass.

1995: Tommy Boy

I'm starting to feel really old at this point. It seems like only yesterday that Tommy Boy came out, and I've still got thirteen years to go!

1996: Bottle Rocket and Fargo

Another tie... sorry, but I wouldn't feel right leaving either of these amazing films off the list.

1997: The Ice Storm

An excellent depiction of where the hedonism and amorality of the 1970's ultimately lead you: depressed and alone. This was the year Titanic came out, but I've never been much of a fan of this movie.

1998: Buffalo '66

Independent films had become really popular by this point. This one, starring queen of the independents, Christina Ricci, is one of the best low budget productions to come out of the 90's. Another great independent flick to come out this year was Slums of Beverly Hills.

1999: Office Space

If you want to know what my life is like from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, look no further than this near perfect comedy. I mean it nails "the cubicle life" with its TPS reports and "two Bobs" perfectly. I would love to hatch a plan from Superman 3 like Peter, Samir, and Michael Bolton. Of course you just might wind up in federal "pound me in the ass" prison.

2000: Meet the Parents

There's probably something better than this, but I'm just not finding it. You have to admit though, the painfully awkward scenes between Stiller and DeNiro are fun to watch. Watching Gaylord Focker explain how to milk a cat is priceless.

2001: The Royal Tenenbaums and Mulholland Drive

Both, in my humble opinion, are works of genius. I'm tempted to put Donnie Darko on there as well, but having two on one year is pushing it.

2002: Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
2003: Kill Bill
2004: Hellboy
2005: Sin City
2006: Apocalypto
2007: Planet Terror
2008: Iron Man

Whew! That took a lot longer than I thought it would (I guess I'm just old). At any rate, I had a lot of fun doing it, and look forward to looking at anyone else's movie meme. If I have a glaring omission on this list, or you can recommend something for me to drop in my Netflix queue, please let me know.


  1. GIL! This list is amazing. There's two films that I dislike for various reasons (dislike is a bit strong, I fail to see the charms in one film, Tenenbaums, and the other I dislike for its postmodern politics, Planet Terror) but my my, what a fantastic list. The real SHOCKER for me is the inclusion of Pretty Maids All in a Row - I thought I was one of a handful of people who even knew about it! Imagine my surprise to see you're a big fan too! Great film, I love it! I always had a thing for Aimee Eccles! (for those who don't know her, 4th from the left). This list would be impossible for me (and we were born in the same year too) - I'm too busy writing about film to write about film (the dissertation). But, I sure would like to join in, I'll chime in with 1979 & 2001. 79 For the theatrical cut of Apocalypse Now and 2001 for the Redux of Apocalypse Now! Was that cheating? Later Gilligan Lil Buddy!

  2. Ps, As I start to think about it more and more, this list would take me weeks! You put a lot of work into this post. It is greatly appreciated, I hope you get a chance to write a few capsules for the last few choices (probably ran out of steam!) I'd like to read your comments on them.

  3. I can understand your dislike for Tenenbaums, but for some reason this odd little movie just clicked with me.

    As far as Planet Terror goes, I guess any sort of political message went under my radar. To me, it had everything you could ask for in a movie: zombies, wall to wall violence, pretty ladies, and lots of guns.

    Yeah, that's something about Pretty Maids. When is this going to be on DVD!?! I really really wanted to include a lot of movies like this where they were maybe less well known. However, this meme is for my FAVORITE films by year. Maybe down the road I'll do underrated favorites by year.

    Again, thanks for the feedback! I'll be checking out Trash Aesthetics tonight.

  4. AnonymousJuly 27, 2008

    I am a little older than you by a decade or so and such a list would be impossible now as I am leaving tomorrow, but I am interested. A lot of sites do these lists or polls or marathons. I doubt I would do that for fear no one would participate or even know it was happening then I would feel hurt and sad and get pushed over the edge and wind up like Scorpio in Dirty Harry and that is just too much to deal with.

    I may try this later though and submit it to you if you're interested then.

    I was suggested the Royal Tenenbaums by the guy who left me hanging with my website. He praised the director and I saw some scenes and will try it before I make an judgment.

    I liked Planet terror mostly and there is a review on that and Death Proof in a folder waiting to be finished. At one point my blog was going to be called Project Terror, but it was before this movie. Project terror was a local "creature feature" style movie show in San Antonio Tx that I am sure Richard Rodriguez would have seen at some point.

  5. Dear Gil,

    I like Wes Anderson but was underwhelmed by Tenenbaums, but I can certainly see it in many many favorite and top lists. It is a very rich film. As for Grindhouse, yeah, I had MAJOR problems which were spelled out very concretely first here: http://trash-aesthetics.blogspot.com/2008/01/my-beef-with-grindhouse.html and the later here: http://trash-aesthetics.blogspot.com/2008/01/adendum-to-my-grindhouse-post.html
    I had a lot to say about both films. I'd be honored if you took a peak at those posts as my thoughts are laid out somewhat cogently. I enjoyed the films but had many reservations. Not so much "political" as "political use" of the problems, as I see them, with postmodernism. Again, I LOVED this post and wish I had the time to do one of my own (apart from my Apocalypse Now cheat!).


    And Bill, no Scorpio for you! If I hear you calling anyone a "dirty rotten little oinker" or saying "every penny's worth!" we're gonna get worried!

  6. Phantasm is like one of my top ten favorite scary movies! I get shivers anytime I here Angus Scrimm say Booooy! Plus it has Reggie Bannister and he is the man!

  7. AnonymousJuly 28, 2008

    Greetings Gillian,
    I love your site, found it through LAMB. I would love to have your take a look at what we are doing at our blog and possibly consider participating. Natsukashi (natsukashi.wordpress.com) looks at films we recall from our youth, but we review them again after a 10-, 15-, 20, 25-year distance from seeing them. Let me know what you think, I look forward to your comments.


  8. hey great List, Buffalo 66 a classic!
    and the seventies movies, kick ass selection!