Chris Evangelista’s Favorite Movies of All Time

haywire

10. Haywire

Imagine if someone took the type of cheap action film they used to play on TBS on Sunday afternoons and turned it into a work of art? That’s Steven Soderbergh’s glorious Haywire, which pits MMA fighter Gina Carano against the entire world. Carano isn’t the best of actresses, but she can clearly beat the hell out of everyone, and that physicality gives the character presence. There’s a fight scene in this film between Carano and Michael Fassbender that’s brutal, amazingly staged and goes on seemingly forever. I watch this movie multiple times in a year; it’s like junk food – I know there’s something better out there, but I can’t get enough of it.

conversation

9. The Conversation

Some may hold up Apocalypse Now or The Godfather as Francis Ford Coppola’s best film, but my favorite is The Conversation, Coppola’s low-key 1974 thriller about paranoia, guilt and the end of privacy. Gene Hackman is superb as a surveillance expert in over his head, slowly coming undone as he tries to get to the bottom of a potential murder. Editor Walter Murch builds tension and mystery through sound in a way few films have ever been able to duplicate. Most of all, this is a lonely, melancholy film, and that seems to be what I’m drawn to the most. Make of that what you will.

road house!!!

8. Road House

Oh, hell yeah, Road House!!!!! Listen, if you’ve never watched Rowdy Herrington’s Road House, I’m not sure you’ve ever even lived. Patrick Swayze is at his absolute best as Dalton, the best bouncer in the world who also has a degree in philosophy. Dalton gets hired to clean up the world’s worst bar, and that he does – and more! This movie is big, dumb and a hell of a lot of fun. Plus, Sam Elliott shows up late in the proceedings with long greasy hair and flirts with everyone. Oh, and it all ends with a monster truck. Because of course it does. Road House!!!!

point break

7. Point Break

What’s this? Two Patrick Swayze films on one list? I know, I’m just that crazy. Kathryn Bigelow has only become a bigger and better director since she made this 1991 action fest, but for my money, Point Break is her masterpiece. A sun-baked crime flick that pits Keanu Reeves against surfing bank robbers, there’s a stealthy brilliance underneath all the showiness; a beating heart that never lets up and a pulse that carries you right along with it. At the center of it all is the relationship between Reeves and Swayze, one part adversarial, one part romantic. It’s sort of like Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, but with surfing. Oh, and don’t even talk to me about that remake. 

barry lyndon

6. Barry Lyndon

This is Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. I once saw someone call Barry Lyndon a “lesser Kubrick film”, and I was so annoyed by this that my head literally departed from my neck and floated directly into the sun. A sweeping, sprawling tale of a complete jerk who fails upward through society, Barry Lyndon is like a great portrait gallery come to life. Cinematographer John Alcott shot the film using only natural light, creating a gorgeous, otherworldly look to it all. Some may be turned off by the film’s length (it’s about 400 hours long, I think), but I could honestly watch this film for the rest of my life.

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