Welcome to TG10s. This year, echoing another publication, we are posting our top 10s, and taking votes from you. Keep reading The Twin Geeks for lists from our regular writers, as well as some extra special selection of lists from some amazing guests.
This is, without a doubt, objectively the top ten best films made of all time, past, present, and future. It simply doesn’t get better than this.
I know what you’re saying, probably. You’re probably saying that a list of what I consider to be the ten best movies of all time is, at its foundation, an impossible task. I have simply not seen every movie ever made, and without doing such, can I really say that anything on my list is really that much better than Shrek the Third (2007), or 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)? That’s what you’re probably saying.
While I haven’t seen either Taxi Driver (1976) or The King of Comedy (1982), I have seen Joker (2019), and surely that counts as having watched all three.
If there’s any central idea I had going on in my head when I was constructing this list, it’s the idea of what these films meant to their genre, to their creators. A lot of this list is composed of personal favorites, but me just liking a movie didn’t feel like enough, otherwise Demolition Man (1993) would’ve made the cut. For me these are standout films that have awed me and that I still look to with something akin to reverence.
These are my top ten.
THE THING 
In a sense, The Thing plays out a bit like a closed room mystery. In a facility off in the Antarctic several men have been killed and the killer is in that very room. What separates The Thing from the traditional closed room mystery is that there’s no question of motive. There’s a monster among us, and if anyone was off screen long enough they could be the monster. This movie excels in many ways, from its creature effects to its strong grasp of keeping things suspenseful to its mastery of the unknown.
A lot of monster movies hide their creatures, building up suspense via the creature’s mystery, only to lose that capacity for the unknown once the creature has been revealed. Because of the thing’s status as a mimic, as well as its incredible design, the unknown never really disappears. The thing isn’t just a threat because it’s monstrous, it’s a threat because it can be right next to you, standing beside you, and you wouldn’t be the wiser.
There are a few movies in Paul Verhoeven’s career that scratch a similar itch, the kind of thrill seeking, over the top allegory of society plus violence. Starship Troopers (1997) has been getting newfound appreciation lately, and Total Recall (1990) is a classic, but Robocop is, I would say, the best example of a film that both embraces its excess while also still being true to its characters, story, and themes.
Is it about the corporatization of the police, and the lack of humanity a corporate system that prefers profits over accountability would have? Yes. Is it also a movie where toxic sludge splashes all over a guy who then starts melting, only to explode into mush as he’s run over by the dad from That ‘70s Show (1998)? Also yes.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 
One of the most enduring icons of film is that of Hannibal Lector as played by Anthony Hopkins. His lines have been referenced and parodied, his style has been imitated, but if there’s anything to learn from Hannibal (2001) and The Red Dragon (2002) it’s that the enigmatic serial killer wasn’t enough to hold up an entire film.
There’s the dynamic between Clarice and Hannibal, with her character development presented as a means to an end, pulled along by the meticulous investigation into the psychology of a killer long before criminal investigation shows boiled down the genre to its essentials.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY 
This is, without a doubt, the pinnacle of the action blockbuster. The heroes are larger than life, the villains merciless, and the explosions are massive. It’s a chase movie but also a spectacle in its own right, balancing action with the development of its characters. It’s a movie that pushed the boundaries of special effects without building a foundation upon them. And its theme could possibly be more iconic than the movie itself.
THE MATRIX 
For me the first Matrix is a perfect film. Blending action and concept and plot and character development, all with a keen cinematic eye, isn’t the easiest task. Many have tried (including The Matrix sequels), but few have gotten it quite as right as the first film. A slower start allows for story and exposition to be delivered with style, with fight scenes that not only look cool but also racket up the tension. The action builds and escalates, culminating in a highly choreographed showdown that not only looks great, but is also meaningful to the characters involved.
THE SIXTH SENSE 
The Sixth Sense is two stories, both with their own payoffs. It’s a twist ending by a series of red herrings, misleading the viewer that a dead man is interacting with the living, but it also fits perfectly alongside the story of a young boy who sees dead people. Many film makers have tried for twist endings, but few have succeeded at a twist ending that redefined the rest of its story in such a meaningful way.
Just before The Ring (2002) came out and made the US market hungry for Japanese horror, but after Ringu (1998) reminded film audiences of the terror that is VHS formatting, there was Pulse (also called Kairo in Japan). It’s a ghost story meets The Happening (2008) via the internet, and it works on a level that the American version didn’t understand. It’s a highly unsettling horror movie that leaves a lasting impression of sadness, as the fear of death is supplemented by the fear of living alone.
If there’s any consistent theme to Christopher Nolan’s work is that he thinks big. When he’s at his best there’s a combination of character and high concept that work together to create something amazing, and for me Interstellar is the best example of that. Is the science correct? Probably not, I’m not an expert, but that’s not really the point of the story. The science and the use of it to a fantastic degree allow the character driven story to go beyond the stars and build something new.
Are blood, sweat, and tears the necessary requirements to be passionate for something? The themes of the film always draw me in. There are countless films about self sacrifice in the sake of pursuing some passionate interest, but Whiplash is one of the few that makes me question the idea of pursuing a dream over your mental and physical well being. Our hero triumphs and impresses his teacher, but was it really worth it? Do the ends justify the means?
JOJO RABBIT 
Balancing out humor and drama can be difficult. An imbalanced story that flips from trying to make you laugh to trying to make you cry without any sense of timing can easily feel like neither has room to breathe. Funny scenes just seem silly and serious scenes lack weight. Taika Waititi’s films all seem to seek that balance between humor and sadness, and it’s here in Jojo Rabbit that that balance feels just right.
Those were my top ten picks, the best movies, at least from what I’ve watched so far. There’s always room for change as that list grows longer, and as the eventual subtle shifts in my personality affect what I consider important in a film. For now, though, this’ll do just fine.