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My top 100 films of all time

Posted by Aaron Dries on March 31, 2015 at 2:25 AM

It's my top 100 (and you can cry if you want to)...

Whilst there's bound to be cross-over, don't read this list expecting the IMDB top 100. My brain is wired in weird and wonderful ways, so it should be of no surprise that this list film crosses the entire spectrum. From childhood cartoons to Academy Award winners. From quiet dramas to screeching horror. It's all here. And it's all me. This Top 100 films of all time list is what all Top 100 films of all time lists should be, though rarely are. It's personal, it's passionate, and it's an honor to share.

So without further ado, let's get things started!

100. The Land Before Time

99. Almost Famous

98. Sunset Boulevard

97. Pulp Fiction

96. Zodiac (2007)

95. Festen

94. The Invisible Man (1933)

93. Adaptation

92. Tokyo Decadence

91. Clive Barker's Nightbreed: The Director's Cut

90. I Heart Huckabees

89. Chasing Amy

88. Sleepwalkers

87. Santa Sangre

86. The Neverending Story

85. Toy Story

84. After Hours

83. Mean Girls

82. Army of Darkness

81. Edward Scissorhands

80. The Lion King

79. Bubba Ho-Tep

78. Wes Caven's New Nightmare

77. Deep Red

76. There Will Be Blood

75. The Beyond

74. Excision

73. Big Trouble in Little China

72. Boyhood

71. Paths of Glory

70. Poltergeist

69. Suspiria

68. Kill Bill Vol. 1

67. Dead Ringers

66. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

65. Hellraiser

64. O Brother, Where Art Though?

63. Misery

62. Hocus Pocus

61. Bride of Frankenstein

60. The Devils (1971)

59. Fargo

58. Exorcist 3: Legion

57. The Shawshank Redemption

56. Society

55. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

54. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

53. A Clockwork Orange

52. Alien

51. Rosemary's Baby (1968 )

50. 2001: A Space Odyssey

49. Me and You and Everyone We Know

48. The Silence of the Lambs

47. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

46. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

45. Happiness

44. Holy Mountain

43. Near Dark

42. American Beauty

41. Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring

40. The Lady Vanishes

39. Asylum (1972)

38. Blue Velvet

37. Deconstructing Harry

36. The Mist

35. Magnolia

34. The Birds

33. Dogvile

32. Escape from the Planet of the Apes

31. Gods and Monsters

30. A.I. - Artificial Intelligence

29. Gremlins 2

28. Incredible Shrinking Man

27. Battle Royale

26. Dressed to Kill

25. Dawn of the Dead (1978 )

24. Audition

23. Dancer in the Dark

22. Alexandra's Project

21. Once Were Warriors

20. Halloween (1978 )

19. Heavenly Creatures

18. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

17. E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial

16. The Ninth Configuration

15. Cujo

14. Rebecca (1940)

13. Punch Drunk Love

12. Scream

11. Jurassic Park



10. Eyes Wide Shut

As a teenager, I was all about A Clockwork Orange. The older I get, the Kubrick film that fascinates me the most is Eyes Wide Shut. Elliptical, frustrating, cold, and vaguely threatening, Kubrick apparently did a Bad-Bad-Thing by not spelling out the obvious, or giving the world the sex-romp they wanted, but I think this dreamy and intoxicating film is better for it. Kubrick was a master. He scaled the universe, transcended time, destroyed the world … and yet his swan song was this: a small film about the consequences of truth, as whispered between two loved ones in a cramped bedroom.


9. Muriel's Wedding

This is the only Australian film to make it into the top ten, which is a shame. It’s also the only out-and-out comedy, too. But its place here is so well deserved. We watch, hopeless, as poor Muriel (a not too distant cousin to Carrie White, perhaps?) dreams of becoming a Dancing Queen, yet struggles to rise above Porpoise Spit’s crushing waves. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Muriel’s Wedding is one of the best films this country has ever produced, if not THE best.


8. Elephant

Gus Van Sant’s fly-on-the wall exploration of high school, sexuality, violence, and curiosity is a contemplative gut-punch. And that’s not an easy task to pull off, when you stop and think about it. Set in a post-Collombine world, Elephant floats along like passing clouds threatening lightning at any given moment, the dread as cloying as humidity. Van Sant’s crowning achievement.


7. The Exorcist

I stayed up until two in the morning to tape this off television, and even when censored for the masses, The Exorcist still spellbinds. Eventually, I saw the film in its uncut version, and later again, in its extended form, which I prefer, as it re-instates Blatty’s final glimmer of optimism. It holds up remarkably well, primarily due to the strength of the performances. Linda Blair may be what you take away from the movie, but I swear to you it’s Ellen Burstyn who anchors the entire story. Without her, the entire haunted house of cards would crumble.


6. Shortbus

I loved John Cameron Mitchel’s first film Hedwig and the Angry Inch and thought it an almost impossible feat to match. And yet this sophomore effort stepped up to the plate. Big-time. Jubilant, sexy, frustrating and dreamy, Shortbus is a film for all love, all sexualities, all colours. There comes a point when you’re so swept up in the life of the party that you actually forget you’re watching un-simulated sex on screen, all of the flesh melding together and parting in a tide to reveal all of the raw, unedited emotion beneath. Feel like utterly loosing yourself? Catch this bus.


5. Mulholland Drive

Bizarre and wonderful, David Lynch’s winding and dark road into Hollywood’s heart still makes me wonder and weep. I remember seeing it for the first time at a Sydney with my mother, who I think I dragged along against her will, or surely under false pretences. I remember her verdict: “well, it wasn’t so bad until it went off the rails.” I know for a fact that she’s seen it a couple of times since, despite herself. “And I still don’t get it,” she’s told me. And yet she continues to watch it, trying to piece together a jigsaw that cannot be put together successfully. No matter what theory you’ve got (and I’ve got plenty) … there are those elusive missing pieces, Lynchian cigarette holes of logic through which we have no choice but to journey through, and slowly disappear.


4. Jaws

I think I loved Jaws even before I saw it, having seen parts 2, 3, and 4 in advance. I’m not sure why, but Spielberg’s greatest eluded me. It wasn’t at my local video store (I vividly remember being told the VHS tape had been chewed up – how appropriate!), and it didn’t replay on television with the same frequency as its sub-par (albeit wonderful) sequels. And then it finally came on one night – a 9:30 start. I was at my aunt’s place babysitting my cousins. I made popcorn. My heart didn’t stop racing until the following morning. Who would’ve thought that a film about incredibly painful death could make me feel so alive? (Trivia: the main character in my novel A PLACE FOR SINNERS is named after the town the film is set in).


3. Psycho (1960)

If there ever was a film that has influenced my creative output, it’s got to be this: Psycho, based on Robert Bloch’s great novel, as realized by Alfred Hitchcock. My novel THE FALLEN BOYS is in essence an elaborate tribute to Norman and his proclivity for peeping and pins. Also, having seen it recently at the cinema, I’ll tell you this: the scares still work, as I suspect they always will.


2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This was the film that I rented from our local video store so many times the owners eventually relented and just gave it to me. Rich, warm, terrifying – these are just some of the words that spring to mind when I think of this film. Yes, I know every word, I know every song. And it’s never stepped into the world of camp, not for me at least, as it’s just pure, unselfconscious heart and soul at 24 frames per second. I’ve referenced The Wizard of Oz in all of my novels, thus far — that’s how deeply its hooks and melodies are stuck in me. And even just writing this now has made me want to dig the Blu Ray off the shelf and disappear over the rainbow one more time.


1. Carrie (1976)

The realization that Carrie was my favourite film of all time came upon my slowly. I’ve seen it so many times I can literally recite it word for word. Like all of the films in my top twenty, despite the repeat viewings, this film’s power has not lessened. And the older I get, the more of myself I see in the film. It’s not nostalgia, per se. It’s retrospect. And that’s frightening. I see all of the bad choices I made as a teenager; I see the bullying; I see how I was used. As we all are, at one point or another. Yet on the other hand, I also see the hope others put in me, the leaps of faith. I can’t watch Carrie and not get a lump in my throat. It moves me deeply. DePalma’s visual sense, King’s source material – it all adds up to more than the sum of its parts. It speaks to me on my base level: the part of me that wants to be accepted. And that slice of my soul will never go away, no matter how I age, which is why I think Carrie’s spell will never waiver. If anything, I only expect the hold to strengthen, regardless of whether or not they laughed.

So there you have it, folks. What did you think? Are there titles here you hadn't heard of? What are your favorite films? Let me know below.

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