This year I’m looking at my Top 50 films of All Time. Periodically throughout the year I’ll be sharing this countdown in blocks of 10 films at a time. If you’d like to take this journey week-by-week, feel free to visit here on Fridays. For now, here’s a look at the next 10 films on my list, going from 30-21.
This list is very personal. Those who follow me on Letterboxd or weekly reviews know that I am cautious with my grades. In fact, I don’t even have 50 films that I’ve given Five Stars. But all those I have reviewed as Five Stars will be in this countdown. So, enjoy my Top 50 of All Time, a list I worked hard to curate.
30. Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
About: This second Star Wars film upped the ante and is well regarded by most hard-core fans and casual observers as the best. I have always loved it. The big moments and the emotional arc of the story are great. For years, it was my favorite Star Wars film. It’s still one that I come back to time and again.
29. X-Men: First Class (2011)
About: This film was a re-boot of sorts for the FOX X-Men franchise. It took the action back to the 1960s and the origin of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). I enjoyed their on-screen partnership and I loved the way Matthew Vaughn put this movie together. It’s long been one of my favorite superhero films.
28. Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
About: Rian Johnson took this middle installment of the sequel trilogy and delivered nothing short of a masterpiece. I realize that it was divisive among Star Wars fans, but I loved the film. I saw it many times in theaters and it struck me both emotionally and visually. Johnson is an incredible storyteller and this film is my favorite of the Star Wars universe.
27. Watchmen (2009)
About: Zack Snyder adapted this film from the Graphic Novel, which is on Time Magazine’s list of the 250 best American novels. This is an incredibly faithful adaptation, which rankled some. I thought it was brilliant. I saw it during a midnight screening, when that was still a thing, and saw it four times in the theater in the first week. I love the story for the way it pushes me to think deeply about the issues and ideas raised. I love the film.
26. Serenity (2005)
About: Joss Whedon developed a TV series called Firefly that barely lasted a season—13 episodes. This film was a shoutout to fans, adding closure to the series. It was my first introduction to the world and it captivated me with its style and storytelling. I love the film to this day, particularly the arcs about the world. It’s got action, humor and pathos. It’s an incredibly under-rated film.
25. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
About: I knew little about the Guardians before piling into the theater to see it. What I got from James Gunn was a masterpiece. To this day, it’s my favorite film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love the style and humor, and I love the characters. Chris Pratt is great in the lead role.
24. La La Land (2016)
About: Director Damien Chazelle delivered a beautiful musical that serves as a love letter to musicals and Los Angeles. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are incredible together and the music is stirring. I loved the production and the performances. It was one of the best films released that year and one that remains a favorite to this day.
23. Miller’s Crossing (1990)
About: There is something about the writing and directing style of the Coen Brothers that just grabs me. This film, their third feature, is one of my favorites, and one of their most under-rated. It’s a mob drama led by Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney. The dialogue crackles and the story hooks you and won’t let go.
22. Inception (2010)
About: If you’ve made it this far—and have been following my work long—you know I’m a huge fan of Christopher Nolan. This deep dive into the world of dreams was nothing short of a visual masterpiece. But it’s the characters and story that stuck with me long after the production. This one has a lot of depth.
21. Spotlight (2015)
About: There are good movies and there are important movies. This docudrama from Tom McCarthy manages to be both, as it follows the team of reporters in Boston who uncovered the abuse in the Catholic Church. I was saddened and enraged when I first saw it. I remember crying a bit in the theater. That’s the power of good art, and this film is certainly that. I love the craft and the performances.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.