Ben Pearson’s Favorite Movies of All Time

The Fellowship of the Ring

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring is nothing short of a cinematic miracle. It’s insanely rare that every single detail of a movie – from big things like casting and cinematography down to the tiniest piece of costuming or carving in a prop – works as perfectly to build a fictional world as they do here. The sheer amount of effort and artistry that went into making this is truly mind-boggling, and Howard Shore’s score is downright legendary. The breathtaking landscapes and jaw-dropping scenery of Jackson’s native New Zealand provided the perfect setting for Middle-earth, and when my wife and I visited the country last year (almost entirely because of our love of this series), we found it to be just as awe-inspiring in person as it appears on the screen.

The Big Sleep

4. The Big Sleep

After falling hard for Rian Johnson’s Brick in 2005, I went on a huge film noir kick and watched as many as I could get my hands on. Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep ended up being my favorite, and it’s stuck with me ever since. In many ways, this is the prototypical noir: hard-boiled detective, double-crosses, small-time crooks, organized crime syndicates – the works, baby. Sure, it’s next to impossible to fully comprehend its labyrinthine plot, but for me, this one has always been more about luxuriating in the smoky atmosphere, charged dialogue, and electric chemistry between two of the genre’s icons, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

tombstone

3. Tombstone

I’m a big fan of westerns, and I realize Tombstone is heavily influenced by a lot of what came before it in that genre. But for my money, there’s nothing better than Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton as the Earp brothers facing off against an absolutely stacked supporting cast that includes Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Stephen Lang, just to name a few. The whole cast is dynamite – especially Val Kilmer, doing career-best work as the fast-talking, quick-drawing Doc Holliday. There’s family drama, action scenes galore, and it isn’t quite the clear-cut story of white hats vs. black hats it seems, either. Russell’s Wyatt Earp is far from a saint, but there’s a moral righteousness to his actions that allow us to easily side with him. This is one of those movies I always stop to watch whenever I come across it on cable, even though I own the Blu-ray and have already seen it countless times.

Back to the Future

2. Back to the Future

I wonder if anyone has ever watched Back to the Future and, as the DeLorean blasts past the screen and Huey Lewis starts playing over the end credits, thought, “Well, that was a waste of two hours.” Seems impossible, doesn’t it? That’s because Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s time-travel comedy is maybe the best example of pure pop entertainment ever made – a riveting, hilarious film that beautifully pays off every one of its perfectly-placed set-ups and actually makes you think a little bit along the way. It’s so damn satisfying to watch Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly team up with the inimitable Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd, in an utterly titanic performance) to get his parents together, correct the timeline, and return to 1985. It captured the imagination of a generation, and like many of you, I know every nook and cranny of this movie after spending a lifetime watching it. Even the burst of borderline-excessive coverage about the franchise back in 2015 couldn’t ruin this one for me; Back to the Future has proven it can, and will, stand the test of time (I’m so sorry).

steven spielberg ranked last crusade

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The Indiana Jones movies are my Star Wars. While childhood friends were running around pretending to be Luke and Han, I was donning an imaginary fedora, cracking a fake whip, and searching for secret artifacts. It’s always a toss-up for me between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for my favorite Indy movie, but today, I’m choosing the latter. The chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery is wonderful (and plays right into Steven Spielberg’s long-standing exploration of characters with daddy issues on the big screen), the adventure is genuinely thrilling, and John Williams’ score is top notch. Not to mention the fact that the movie contains, in its opening few minutes in which River Phoenix plays a young Indy, the best prequel/origin story ever conceived. If only that ending, in which Indy, Dr. Jones Sr., Sallah, and Marcus Brody ride off into the sunset would have remained the final image from this franchise…oh well. Even after the disaster that was The Sequel Of Which We Do Not Speak, I’m still excited about seeing how the series evolves in 2019 and beyond.

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