Jeff Ewing's Favorite Movies Of All Time

As long as I've been a thing on this planet who knew what movies were, they've meant the world to me. I vividly remember being a scared but enraptured youngster watching "FernGully," laughing with my family at "Anchorman," or seeing "Age of Ultron" with a friend twice in a row on the same day — which was great, might I add. I'm beyond lucky that I get to review, think, and talk about films for a living, and can think of no cooler occupation than making them, and making people laugh, cry, think, or scream through them.  This is my way of saying hello, I'm Jeff Ewing, and movies are my absolute jam.

It's tough to make a streamlined list of favorites when there are so many wonderful films that mean a lot to me for different reasons, often so different from each other. I did my best to capture films that I truly love and think are great, and that I actually genuinely watch often. I also changed the list almost every time I sat down to think about it, and if you ask me on a different day you'll get a different list (except for my Top 4, which of course are a sacred and objective account of cinematic perfection — or something like that).

It's my hope that this little window into my brain gets you to think about the films you love, and to hopefully watch something new to you that's important to me (or to rewatch something you've forgotten). Hopefully you love it and it makes you happy. Of all the film lists on all the sites in all the world, you walk into mine ... and in the words of Dracula, I bid you welcome. Here's the list of my top 15 favorite movies of all time.

15. The Third Man (1949)

Carol Reed's 1949 British film noir is easily one of the greatest noir films of all time. It's a stunning exemplar of the post-war social chaos that fueled the genre, with all the themes that make the noir films great: political complexity, betrayal, love, and loss. The final shot is an absolute stunner — loaded with meaning and emotion and easily one of the most gorgeous shots ever put on film. Seriously — the first time I saw it I immediately rewound it and watched it seven more times in a row. Raw, beautiful power capping an incredible film.

14. Casablanca (1942)

"Casablanca" is one of the few films I consider absolutely flawless. Charismatic performances, stunning cinematography, exceptional writing ... there's nowhere it doesn't succeed. Smart. Political. Romantic. Everything you could want from a film, it has in spades. To top it all off, it's also one of the most quotable films of all time with line after line that are pure art. Every time I see it I find something new. Here's looking at you, kid.

13. I Saw The Devil (2010)

I'm a huge fan of the contemporary wave of top-tier South Korean thrillers, and "I Saw The Devil" is easily one of my favorites. The increasingly volatile collision course between Kim Soo-hyun and serial killer Jang Kyung-chul is thrilling, and it's incredible to watch the former's unhinged descent.  It's tense, at times frightening, and always suspenseful. More than anything, "I Saw The Devil" is the epitome of the Nietzsche warning to, "Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster," and there's no way to stop thinking of that ending for days afterwards.

12. Arrival (2016)

"Dune" is in theaters, and while Denis Villeneuve's masterful love letter to sand is a major cinematic achievement in science-fiction filmmaking, his first sci-fi masterpiece is "Arrival," a magnificent and thought-provoking piece of sci-fi storytelling. It's smart and beautifully shot with a fantastic performance by Amy Adams, and one of the few films whose extraterrestrials feel completely distinct from ourselves in every way. The best high-concept science-fiction fires on all cylinders and makes you think AND feel at the same time, and "Arrival" absolutely lands on both these aspects.

11. 13 Assassins (2010)

I love a good Takashi Miike film. They're perpetually imaginative and outlandish with a unique blend of humor, chaos, and the fantastical. While "13 Assassins" is one of his more grounded works, it's still a violent, excellent affair and one of the greatest samurai films of all time. A memorably evil villain alongside truly noble and well written protagonists. Wonderful set pieces and cinematography. The film's last 40 minutes is one of the greatest action sequences of all time — an unending cavalcade of samurai against our few but mighty protectors, in a town rigged like the "Home Alone" house. I can watch this film endlessly and it lands every single time.

10. Creature from the Black Lagoon

I never get tired of classic films or monster movies, so of course the early Universal horror classics are always on rotation at my house. While "Frankenstein," "Dracula," "The Invisible Man," and more are all excellent, it's "Creature from the Black Lagoon" I find myself watching time and again. Milicent Patrick's Gill-man design is still one of the greatest creature designs of all time, and it's an intriguing early sci-fi film that explores the potential for our hubris to expose new forces we can't control. It's a stunner.

9. Ran (1985)

Akira Kurosawa is a master, and easily one of my favorite directors of all time. The complex perspectives of "Rashomon," the epic attributes of "Seven Samurai" or "Throne of Blood" ...  Kurosawa has a nigh-magical knack for building epic stories that still feel richly emotional, and nowhere is this better exhibited than his "King Lear" adaptation "Ran." He effortlessly translates the classic material into a historical Japanese context in a way that feels modern but eternal in this colorful, complex, quick paced affair, and I love it deeply. 

8. Alien (1979)

Between "Alien" and "Blade Runner," Ridley Scott is responsible for some of the greatest sci-fi films ever made. His vision provides so much layered depth in the making of these science-fiction worlds that they feel lived in. While the latter is also one of my favorites, the former is the one I watch the most. The film introduces us to one of the silver screen's best protagonists alongside one of the coolest movie monsters ever invented (shout out to H.R. Giger), and it's so smartly written that you can't help but be sucked in. Its a film that always holds up, with new details to discover every time you watch.

7. Rear Window (1954)

Nothing puts me in a good mood like a Hitchcock film. "Rope" is a messed up meditation on true villainy. "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Vertigo" boast strong suspense and great performances ... ask me on a different day and I'll give you a different favorite. "Rear Window," however, is the film I come back to time and again. It's elegantly contained, achingly paranoid, with Jimmy Stewart excelling as its glorified peeping tom of a protagonist ... one who happens to catch real villainy behind closed doors. People throw around "masterclass" too often, but it actually is a magisterial effort in creating suspense out of nothing at all.

6. Shin Godzilla (2016)

1954's "Gojira" carries insightful social commentary backed by elegantly constructed horror, and the influential film literally invented a whole tradition in special effects. I love every entry in the long-running franchise, but "Shin Godzilla" takes the cake as a successful reboot of the original that doesn't lose its themes, restores the horror, but modernizes its look and feel. You can feel Godzilla's raw, unyielding rage. The Godzilla of "Shin Godzilla" wordlessly exudes a perfect, unequivocal hatred — it attacks because that's all it wants in the whole wide world. It wants us dead. I can't think of anything scarier.

5. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The noir genre boasts a number of classics I've watched innumerable times. The trio of noir films by the fantastic Billy Wilder, "Double Indemnity," "Sunset Boulevard," and "Ace in the Hole," are easily three of the finest in the genre. It's tough for me to choose between "Double Indemnity" and "Sunset Boulevard" ... both boast stunning performances, effectively flawless scripts, and lovely lighting. Ultimately, I chose "Sunset Boulevard" for its ability to capture the dirty underbelly of Hollywood better than any other film, and it never gets old.

4. The Babadook (2014)

Jennifer Kent's 2014 horror masterpiece "The Babadook" quickly became one of my favorite horror films of all time for its novel and effective entity, stunning performances by Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, and a its spectacular direction. I always find it effectively frightening, and its musings on grief, sorrow, and trauma continue to be compelling to me. Every time I watch it I'm stunned by the caliber of its lead performance and the continued effectiveness of its scares.

3. Parasite (2019)

The first Bong Joon-ho film I fell in love with was his 2006 monster masterpiece "The Host," revealing a director with an incredible command of tone, effortlessly switching between tension, fright, and humor. Nowhere do all these elements come together better than "Parasite," an incredible, class conscious genre-hopper of a film. All the performances land (Song Kang-ho is incredible), and every element from the exceptional production design and cinematography really pull me into story each time I watch it. It's just an exceptional, effectively perfect film that never gets old to me.

2. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

My favorite thing about movies is their ability to grant us experiences that transcend our ordinary ones — at their best, they're magic. No one excels at consistently evoking such sorcery as well as the master of the monstrous himself, Guillermo del Toro. Of his exceptional filmography (and I've watched each more times than I can count), if I have to pin one film down that feels like every frame is drenched in a sort of sacred power, that's easily "Pan's Labyrinth" and its use of fairy tale elements to tell an otherworldly, multi-layered narrative with a political edge.

1. The Thing (1982)

If you were to ask what filmmaker I rewatch the most, it's easy: John Carpenter. The run of his films from "Halloween" to "In The Mouth of Madness" have such a perfect balance of high concept fun and scares (when horror) that I watch them all the time. Still, to me its "The Thing" that stands as his masterpiece (and in my estimation, the best horror movie of all time). It's a gorgeous, suspenseful, well performed, high stakes affair with stunning creature design and practical effects — it's just perfect, and I love every minute of it.