Ben Pearson’s Favorite Movies of All Time

The Thing

10. The Thing

A powder keg of a story with rising tension, unforgettable practical effects, and a Kurt Russell performance for the ages? No wonder The Thing made the cut. John Carpenter’s 1982 classic flawlessly blends horror, science fiction, and suspense, The paranoia of its characters is so palpable it nearly oozes through the screen. The blood test sequence alone is an all-timer, and that ending is just ambiguous enough to still have fans arguing about it 35 years later.

The Wizard of Oz

9. The Wizard of Oz

This is my dad’s favorite movie and his love for it was passed down to me through countless viewings during my childhood. Sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of watching classic films like this from a distance, revering them for their cultural status instead of engaging with them like I would any other movie. But the last time I sat down to watch this, I really watched it, and was blown away all over again that a movie so gorgeous, so rich, and so dynamic was made in 1939. It’s such a visual marvel that I had forgotten just how incredible the songs are, from “Over the Rainbow” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard” to “If I Only Had a Brain” and “The Merry Old Land of Oz.” This is a movie that will always hold a special resonance for me.

Die Hard

8. Die Hard

There’s no denying it: Die Hard is a perfect action movie. It turned Bruce Willis into a bonafide movie star and introduced the world at large to the late, great Alan Rickman, playing one of the best movie villains of all time. Those two aspects alone might be enough for a movie to make a list like this, but Die Hard is so much more than a showcase for its actors. It has one of the tightest, most propulsive scripts of any action movie ever made, and John McTiernan’s direction is aces the entire way through. He establishes the geography of the Nakatomi building so clearly that we always know exactly where the characters are, which is a necessary skill that’s often not required of today’s action filmmakers.

There’s not a wasted moment here: every second either builds character or pushes the plot forward, and there are far too many iconic moments to name. And I’ve gotta give a quick shout-out to Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell, one of my favorite sidekicks in cinema history. That dude is so great in this film.

Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel Feud - Fast Five

7. Fast Five

I consider myself a ride or die member of the Fast #family. I unapologetically love this franchise (okay, maybe not 2 Fast 2 Furious), but that love affair began in full with Fast Five, the entry that took these movies to an entirely new level of ridiculousness. Director Justin Lin went all-out here, boosting the franchise from fairly standard action movies to must-see event films with increasingly insane stunts (that cliff jump!) and a sense of giddy, go-for-broke glee that no other modern franchise has right now. The addition of Dwayne Johnson also injected Fast Five with some much-needed charisma, and six years later, I’m still smiling and laughing at the glorious audacity of that train-robbery-to-cliff-jump sequence.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I’ve loved this movie since I was a kid. So much, in fact, that when I was in high school, my license plate read “DAY OFF.” Every teenage guy wanted to be Ferris at some point in his life, right? John Hughes was absolutely on fire by this time this came out in 1986, but this has always been my favorite of his teen classics. The casting is brilliant: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, and Mia Sara are wonderful, but let’s not forget about the often-overlooked Jeffrey Jones as Principal Rooney, who radiates smugness and cowardice at all the right moments. But most importantly for a comedy, though, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is consistently laugh out loud funny.

I had a chance to see one of Jason Reitman’s Live Reads in which he recast the film with new actors and had them read Hughes’ original script on stage. While it was a lot of fun to watch, it gave me a newfound respect for the way Hughes and his editor trimmed down the screenplay to its essential components and created a much better movie in the process.

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