Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Best Movies for Each Letter of the Alphabet – Part 2: I to Q

Note: For an explanation of my ground rules for this, as well as my picks for letters A to H, plus numbers, click here.

For those films I have reviewed, I have made their titles clickable to take you to them, if you are interested.  Maybe you are wondering, “Why the heck does he think so highly of that film?”  My review will shed some light on that.


I have only three “I” choices, but they are so different from each other it makes it very difficult to pick among them.  They are – Ikiru (1952), Inherit the Wind (1960), and The Iron Giant (1999).

Inherit the Wind contains not one, but two powerhouse performances, and The Iron Giant is probably the best animated film ever made that almost no one has ever heard of.

While Rashomon is the film that most people cite as Akira Kurosawa’s first classic I have always preferred Ikiru more.  It’s a simple modern day tale of an otherwise ordinary man and it becomes a truly moving story.

Best Film – Ikiru (1952)


This one is easy because I have only a single five star film – Jean de Florette (1986).  Actually, this should always be paired with Manon of the Spring (1986) because they truly are a single story told in two parts.  The second film is not a sequel and was made at the same time as the first.  They were released within months of each other and were always intended to be together.

One piece of personal trivia: Jean de Florette is the first foreign language film I ever saw, way back when I was first starting to watch a lot of movies and Cinemax would show a new foreign film, a new documentary, and a new independent film every month.

Best Film – Jean de Florette (1986)


This is the next letter with no five star films.  I do have two 4.5 star films to pick from, though.  They are Kick-Ass (2010) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).  Kick-Ass is one of the very best “superhero” films made, and a big reason for that is that no one has superpowers.  It’s a somewhat more realistic take on things.  And it has a wicked sense of humor.

I’ve got to go with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, though.  It restarted Robert Downey, Jr.’s career, I can’t believe it didn’t do the same for Val Kilmer, and it’s just as much a wickedly humorous take on the action genre as Kick-Ass is on the superhero genre.


The numbers for “L” vary depending on how you count things.  I’ve got Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Lives of Others (2006), the Lonesome Dove TV miniseries, and The Lord of the Rings as a whole.  If you split the last one into the three separate movies, then the first and third films get five stars from me.

I never thought anyone would be able to bring The Lord of the Rings to movie theaters in anything remotely close to the quality of these films.  It was a tremendous undertaking and achievement.  When you bump that up against Lawrence of Arabia, though, it comes in second best.  Lawrence is itself an epic achievement of filmmaking and I consider it no less than the best Best Picture winner of all time.


I’ve got four choices for the letter “M” – M (1931), The Man from Earth (2007), The Matrix (1999), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).  Once again, these are completely different kinds of movies.

M is, along with Das Boot, one of the two best German films ever made and it was decades ahead of its time.  A small part of me wants to pick it just for its title.  The Man from Earth is about as pure a science fiction story as you can get.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is my pick for the best film of 1939, which I consider to be the best year ever for movies.

I’ve got to make all of those second behind The Matrix, which is one of the rare films that is both SF and sci-fi.  It also was a leap forward in movie visual effects and has been tremendously influential on the entire industry.

Best Film – The Matrix (1999)


This is the next letter where I have no five star films.  I do have two I rated 4.5 stars, though – Nosferatu (1922) and North by Northwest (1959).  Nosferatu is one of the oldest, yet still perhaps the best vampire movie ever made.  For sheer re-watchability, though, I’ve got to go with North by Northwest where Hitchcock and Grant combined to make a movie that is both thrilling and entertaining.


I’ve got two choices for the letter “O” (three if you include the animated short One Froggy Evening), but the choice is clear.  While I laughed my ass off at Over the Hedge (2006) it can’t compare to Once Were Warriors (1994).  This is a powerful drama that hits like a sledgehammer and that will stay with you long after the movie is over.  It will also make you re-think your own reactions to various events in the film as later events get presented.


I’ve got five choices for the letter “P” – The Parent Trap (1961), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1929), Paths of Glory (1957), Pride & Prejudice (2005), and The Princess Bride (1987).

The Parent Trap was my most favorite movie when I was a child.  I consider The Passion of Joan of Arc the best silent drama ever made.  Paths of Glory is, along with All Quiet on the Western Front and Das Boot, one of the very best war films ever made.  Pride & Prejudice rises above the origins of the novel and becomes far more than just a period piece.

These are all great movies, but I once wrote that if I absolutely had to pick my favorite film of all time it would be The Princess Bride.  It’s too long to reiterate why here, but I did explain it in my review, if you are interested.


As you might expect, there are not a lot of movies that start with the letter Q, so I have no 5 star or 4.5 star films.  I do have a single 4 star film and that is Queen Christina (1933).  This was another pleasant find from doing the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list.  (See also the letter “G”.)

Best Film – Queen Christina (1933)

That’s all for now.  Next up are the letters R to Z, plus some observations.  You can go to that post by clicking here.


  1. North by Northwest. Hell to the yes.

    Good choices all, even if I might pick some of them differently.

    1. Thanks. I'm curious what some of your choices would be, if different from mine. I was hoping to get some folks discussing options.

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