What a fucking chore this turned out to be!
I saw a Facebook post by our good friend Chad J. Shonk on Sunday morning that was a list of his favorite movie from each year that he has been alive. I thought it was neat and I’m pretty much a sucker for gimmicky new ways to make lists of favorite things, so I decided I’d participate. Of course, once I got started I realized a few things:
*This undertaking would certainly produce enough material for a Needless Things article rather than a mere Facebook post
*Browsing through every movie made (listed on Wikipedia) in the last forty years was going to take many hours
*There were going to be quite a few years where it was incredibly difficult to pick a favorite
*Wikipedia is the drizzling shits as far as accuracy goes; it took me two different lists to do this and I still think there are some movies that got overlooked
*Hollywood has produced far, far more movies that I don’t care about than it has movies I do and of those an overwhelming majority are hot garbage
Over the course of putting this post together I can’t even begin to count how many times I winced at the remembrance of movies, had trouble believing some got made, or was just outright embarrassed to be part of a species that had produced such crap.
Of course, some of you are going to look at some of the films on my list and feel the same way.
I have run down each year and listed my favorite movie from that year, but I also included the list I put together for each year to parse it down to the single favorite movie.
I had a fairly strict set of requirements for the favorite from each year:
1 – I must own the movie
2 – I must have watched it more times than I can remember (except for things that came out on the last decade – those had to be more than twice)
3 – I must not have to think too hard about the plot and I can’t have trouble singling it out from any sequels or related films
4 – I will, under no circumstances, choose a favorite based on what I think anyone’s
perception of the pick will be; no choosing Brazil when I know for a fact I enjoy A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 more, even if I am somewhat loathe to admit it
perception of the pick will be; no choosing Brazil when I know for a fact I enjoy A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 more, even if I am somewhat loathe to admit it
Rewatchability is my number one requirement for a favorite movie. There are movies that I think are phenomenal, but that I’ve only watched the one time because that was just enough. Those are not favorites. They’re just great movies.
So now, nine-and-a-half hours after I started, here’s The List!
1976 – Rocky – In my opinion the greatest movie about personal triumph ever made. No list here because I immediately knew.
1977 – Star Wars: A New Hope – Nothing else from this year even compared. How much more do I need to say about Star Wars?
1978 – Dawn of the Dead – This one was tough, you guys. I love the two listed below, but if I’m looking at my shelf, I’m most likely to grab Dawn of the Dead to watch.
Runners-Up: Halloween, Superman
1979 – Alien – One of the greatest and most unique horror movies of all time. That could also be said about Phantasm ( by me), but there’s no denying that Alien is simply a better movie. Soon to be part of the Needless Commentary collection!
Runners-Up: The Muppet Movie, Phantasm
1980 – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – The epic space fantasy continues! As much as I might love the others – and I do – this isn’t just the best movie of 1980, it’s one of the all-time best.
Runners-Up: The Shining, Superman II, Caddyshack, Mad Max, Flash Gordon
1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark – It was really close between this and History of the World, but I realized that I do not currently own Mel Brooks’ epic comedy. I sold the DVD some time ago in anticipation of buying the Blu-ray and have yet to do so. I don’t know that I could have otherwise picked between those two. And if you know me, Evil Dead may seem like a no-brainer, but I don’t love the original quite as much as I do the sequels.
Runners-Up: Clash of the Titans, Escape from New York, Evil Dead, The Great Muppet Caper, History of the World: Part I
1982 – The Thing – The perfect horror movie. You can listen to our Needless Commentary here.
The Beastmaster, Conan the Barbarian, Star Trek II, The Road Warrior
1983 – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – People seem to like to shit on Jedi, but not me. I love it. And this isn’t some new, against-the-grain stance. I’ve loved it since my dad took me to see it in ’83 and that’s never changed. Well, maybe a bit with the Special Edition, but I still love the theatrical cut!
Runners-Up: National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, Octopussy
1984 – Ghostbusters – This was another tough year. I dearly love Buckaroo Banzai, Nightmare, and Temple of Doom (another long-time favorite, despite the general consensus), but Ghostbusters is one of the most rewatchable films of all time. It never gets old and it has aged immaculately. It’s just as good today as it was back then.
Runners-Up: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, Beverly Hills Cop, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Terminator
1985 – Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure – Things really get tough here in my formative years. This is where I was starting to really develop my own opinions about movies and pop culture, so everything starts to have more personal weight because I was finding things on my own. And Pee-Wee was definitely my own. This movie spoke to me so strongly. I love every one of the films below, but Pee-Wee Herman will always be extra special to me.
Runners-Up: Back to the Future, Brazil, Fletch, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Re-Animator, The Return of the Living Dead, Rocky IV, Silverado, Spies Like Us, A View to A Kill
1986 – Big Trouble in Little China – My all-time favorite movie.
Aliens, The Fly, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Three Amigos, Transformers: The Movie
1987 – Evil Dead 2/ A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors/ RoboCop – And this is where I lose serious credibility points and you guys leave me forever because I wuss out and can’t pick between these three. I bet I’ve watched all three of these movies – each cinematic perfection in my opinion – over a hundred times each. That may sound crazy, but you don’t know how much I love them. I could go home right now and watch all three in a row if I didn’t have other stuff to do like post on Needless Things.
Asking me to pick between these is like asking Vince Neil to pick between whores, cocaine, and playing rock n’ roll – it just isn’t fair.
Runners-Up: Hard Ticket to Hawaii, Hellraiser, Lethal Weapon, , Predator, The Princess Bride, Spaceballs
1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – If you’re under thirty or so, you probably don’t even understand how mind-blowing this movie was when it came out.
Maybe you do. It’s not fair of me to presume.
But seeing Daffy and Donald in the piano duel and Mickey and Bugs having a mid-air conversation are among the most incredible moments of my life. Add that to the glorious sight of Bob Hoskins’ furry little torso and you’ve got a bona fide winner.
Side Note: I read an article the other day where a guy said Bob Hoskins should have been Wolverine and he was totally right.
Runners-Up: Beetlejuice, Child’s Play, Coming to America, Die Hard, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, They Live
1989 – Batman – I love UHF. There is no bigger deal in the world than the fact that one of my biggest heroes, Weird Al, got to make a movie and that I got to see it in a theater. But Batman defined everything the year it came out and for many years after. It changed superhero movies forever, made Tim Burton a household name, and gave us what I think is the most iconic and memorable version of the Joker (you may disagree – that’s for another time).
Runners-Up: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Leviathan, The Little Mermaid, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, UHF
1990 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Hot on the heels of the game-changing Batman, my newest (at the time) favorite comic book heroes got their own movie. And it was (and still is) awesome! As much as I revere Sam Raimi and love Darkman, it just isn’t as much fun as the Heroes in a Half Shell.
Runners-Up: Home Alone, Total Recall, Darkman, Night of the Living Dead
1991 – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – This might be my favorite of the Trek films. I love the whodunit nature of the story and it ties in with so many of the themes and narratives of the original show and the prior films. To me, this is the send-off for the original crew. Generations is best left unmentioned.
Runners-Up: The Addams Family, City Slickers, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Cape Fear, Hudson Hawk (that’s right – I said Hudson Hawk), Nothing But Trouble, The Silence of the Lambs
1992 – Reservoir Dogs – I don’t think I could recite this movie off the top of my head, but I could certainly talk along with it. Tarantino’s film changed everything for me. It was my gateway into a years-long obsession with crime movies, though none ever satisfied me in the same way. From The Godfather to Carlito’s Way and even to Menace II Society, I ate up crime movies like pizza for years. All because of this incomparably cool flick.
Runners-Up: Aladdin, Batman Returns, Singles
1993 – Army of Darkness – Ash at his best.
Runners-Up: Addams Family Values, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Dave, Jason Goes to Hell, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tombstone, True Romance
1994 – Pulp Fiction – The year I graduated high school was surprisingly sparse. But that’s okay because it would take an awful lot to beat what is still my favorite Tarantino film (as of this writing).
Runners-Up: The Chase, Fear of A Black Hat, True Lies
1995 – Toy Story – Jaw-dropping wonder and beauty. Emotional wreckage. Huge laughs. Everything that is right and good about Disney, animation, and technology.
Runners-Up: Babe, Bad Boys, Billy Madison, Friday, Mallrats, The Quick and the Dead
1996 – From Dusk Till Dawn – I did not like this movie the first time I saw it and I have no idea why. Maybe I was still too deep into my crime phase and was actually disappointed that the wild action movie turned into an insane, gory vampire flick. If so, what a dope I was. At least I learned.
Runners-Up: The Birdcage, The Frighteners, Mars Attacks!, The Rock, Star Trek: First Contact
1997 – The Fifth Element – Twenty years later and there still hasn’t been a film that is as unique and entertaining as this one. Obviously there have been plenty of great movies, many of which might be better than Luc Besson’s masterpiece. But no other science fiction film has come close to capturing what this one did. I am anciously awaiting Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Runners-Up: As Good As It Gets, Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Event Horizon, Jackie Brown, Orgazmo, Starship Troopers
1998 – The Big Lebowski – I love all of the other movies here, but I haven’t watched them nearly as many times as I have this one. The Coen Brothers are among my favorites. I’d love to see them direct a Babe movie.
Runners-Up: Babe: Pig in the City, Blade, A Bug’s Life, Deep Rising, Out of Sight
1999 – Beyond the Mat – This movie hit at just the right time and captured the most amazing pro wrestling stories ever devoted to film. Long before WWE was producing long-form documentaries on their superstars, Barry W. Blaustein was constructing the most compelling documentary film I have ever seen. It provided an unprecedented look behind the scenes of the business, depicting the heroes of my favorite sport in a frank and sometimes graphic way that I had never seen before.
There are some heavy hitters this year, but I have dissected every frame of Beyond the Mat and can’t get enough of it.
Runners-Up: American Pie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Deep Blue Sea, Dogma, Fight Club, Galaxy Quest, Idle Hands, Magnolia, he Matrix, The Mummy, Office Space, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, Toy Story 2
2000 – Almost Famous – I became a fan of Cameron Crowe’s work back when Singles was released, but this movie stands out to me as his best work. It’s a powerful look at rock n’ roll and the lifestyle that comes with it. Crowe’s excellent cast of characters will draw every emotion you have out of you. Especially when they’re all signing “Tiny Dancer”.
Runners-Up: Best in Show, Charlie’s Angels, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Pitch Black, Unbreakable, X-Men
2001 – The Royal Tenenbaums – This is the movie where I got on board with Wes Anderson. I didn’t get Rushmore at first, but this one did the trick.
Runners-Up: American Pie 2, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Tomb Raider, Monsters, Inc., Wet Hot American Summer
2002 – Jackass: The Movie – I love everything about the Jackass guys. This movie was another landmark for me, as I have never laughed as much in a theater as I did when watching this. And I still laugh every time I do watch.
It was tough to pick this one over some of the others down there, but I know that I have watched it many more times than any of those.
Runners-Up: Austin Powers in Goldmember, Cabin Fever, Comedian, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Jason X, Punch-Drunk Love, Resident Evil, The Ring, Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo
2003 – Elf – This is, to me, the perfect Christmas movie. I have watched it every year since it came out. That means I might have actually watched X-Men 2 more times, but FOX decided to call it X2, which is stupid, so it’s disqualified even though I love it.
Runners-Up: Bad Boys II, Coffee and Cigarettes, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, X-Men 2
2004 – Anchorman – I have absolutely watched this more than any other movie this year. It is my all-time favorite comedy.
Runners-Up: Blade: Trinity, Club Dread, Dawn of the Dead, Hellboy, The Incredibles, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Man on Fire, Spider-Man 2, Team America: World Police
2005 – The Devil’s Rejects – This is my favorite Rob Zombie flick and one of my favorite movies in general. This might get a Needless Commentary soon. With Wilson, if you’re lucky.
Runners-Up: The Aristocrats, Serenity, Sin City, Sky High, Walk the Line
2006 – Slither – James Gunn’s disgusting outer space creature flick edges out Jackass Number Two because that one felt a little dark to me. I still think it’s great and have watched it a bunch of times, but there’s something off. And not even the grand return of James Bond can defeat the appeal of Nathan Fillion fighting a snotty Michael Rooker space monster.
Runners-Up: Casino Royale, Monster House, Talladega Nights, Jackass Number Two
2007 – Stardust – Another tough year to pick, but Matthew Vaughn’s fun and beautiful fantasy pic won my heart the second I saw it. This is the kind of movie that makes me a fan for life.
Runners-Up: TMNT, Grindhouse, Evan Almighty, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Resident Evil: Extinction, The Mist
2008 – The Dark Knight – This was a solid year, but Christopher Nolan’s most Batmanly movie remains excellent despite my feelings about the other two. Heath Ledger as Joker is fantastic and though I call Nicholson more iconic, I don’t think anyone will ever equal Ledger’s performance.
Runners-Up: Rambo, Iron Man, Wall-E, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Burn After Reading, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, Quantum of Solace, Punisher: War Zone, Splinter
2009 – Inglorious Basterds – Another big year, but this film is a masterpiece, pure and simple.
Runners-Up: The Haunting in Connecticut, Star Trek, Drag Me to Hell, Up, Brüno, The Collector, District 9, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, Pandorum, Zombieland
2010 – Jackass 3D – I wish so badly that I had gone to see this in the theater, but it was two years prior to my eye surgery and I couldn’t see 3D yet, so I didn’t think it was a priority. Not only is this movie pants-shittingly funny, it’s a story of redemption and friendship. I love these guys.
Runners-Up: Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, Insidious, Inception
2011 – Captain America: The First Avenger – Stiff competition from the likes of Matthew Vaughn and Stephen Spielberg, but this one did everything just right in my opinion. It remains my favorite Marvel movie and possibly my favorite superhero movie.
Runners-Up: Attack the Block, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Fright Night, The Adventures of Tintin, The Muppets
2012 – The Cabin in the Woods – An instant classic for me. As much as I enjoy the other selections from 2012, this is the one I would zero in on every time if they were on a shelf together.
Maybe I’ll go home and organize my movies by year.
Runners-Up: Chronicle, 21 Jump Street, The Avengers, Safety Not Guaranteed, Brave, The Possession, Dredd, Wreck-It Ralph, The Collection, Django Unchained, The Hunger Games
2013 – Evil Dead – I know everyone isn’t on the same page here, but I freaking love this gruesome flick. I feel like it doubled down on the horror of the original and brought a solid story with it, to boot. It’s another one that I could go home and watch right now.
Runners-Up: Texas Chainsaw 3D, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, The Conjuring, Kick-Ass 2, You’re Next, Carrie, Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy – One of the greatest movies of all time. Imminently rewatchable. Baby Groot won everyone over.
Runners-Up: The Guest, The LEGO Movie, Chef, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Birdman, John Wick, Big Hero 6, Paddington, Kingsman: The Secret Service
2015 – The Hateful Eight – Another classic from Tarantino. It came out less than two years ago and I’ve watched it five times, once when it came out in the theater.
Side Note: It Follows might have edged Hateful Eight out, but it might be considered to have come out in 2014 by some people, and I don’t need any controversy!
Runners-Up: It Follows, Ex Machina, Cinderella, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Ant-Man, Straight Outta Compton, Crimson Peak, Spectre, Krampus, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2016 – Green Room – It’s really too soon to be judging, but this is the movie that stayed with me the most from last year. If you haven’t seen it, correct that situation ASAP.
Runners-Up: The Boy, Deadpool, Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, The Conjuring 2, The Shallows, Suicide Squad, Don’t Breathe, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rogue One
2017 – Logan – Obviously it is pure nonsense to even select a movie this early in the year, but when something absolutely destroys me, feels like the ultimate representation of everything I have ever read about a character, and leaves me suiting in my car crying afterward, it deserves some recognition.