The Actual Good Films

by Cordwainbird | created - 16 Jun 2016 | updated - 4 months ago | Public

Okay, ironic title aside - I've probably seen more than a thousand films, and a good lot of them were terrible! But these are the real good ones that still stick with me today.

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1. Videodrome (1983)

R | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

When he acquires a different kind of show for his station, a sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a terrifying new reality.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky

Votes: 77,683 | Gross: $2.12M

I don't typically sway with public opinion. Many praise this film and many praise it wrong. A lot call it a masterpiece, which made me skeptical because almost anything anyone calls a masterpiece I'm bound to hate. People have terrible opinions.

I hated this movie the first time I saw it. I thought it was squandered potential. Upon repeated viewing you gain new layers of depth that Cronenberg almost certainly didn't intend for.

2. Eraserhead (1977)

Not Rated | 89 min | Horror

87 Metascore

Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates

Votes: 94,347 | Gross: $7.00M

I far prefer this to any other movie David Lynch has ever made. There's isn't much to say that hasn't been said already - it's a fully-realized masterpiece which perfectly balances surrealism, minimalism, and body horror. The atmosphere is unmatched, and everybody who loves it loves it for their own reasons.

3. Naked Lunch (1991)

R | 115 min | Drama

67 Metascore

After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally kills his wife, and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands

Votes: 44,173 | Gross: $2.54M

True surrealism. Its musings on the creative process and homosexuality are translated impeccably by Cronenberg from Burroughs's nonsensical, "unfilmable" novel.

4. The Fly (1986)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

79 Metascore

A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel

Votes: 149,885 | Gross: $40.46M

If one was to look at purely the film on its own, it's almost perfect. A tragedy. It achieves a perfect balance in almost every aspect. It lacks serious depth but makes up for it with raw emotion, both in the viewer and its characters.

5. After Hours (1985)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

90 Metascore

An ordinary word processor has the worst night of his life after he agrees to visit a girl in Soho who he met that evening at a coffee shop.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Tommy Chong

Votes: 52,858 | Gross: $10.60M

To me, this is by far Scorcese's best film. It's extremely clever, absurd, and masterfully crafted. I adore the script, and the tone is unlike any other comedy I've ever seen, featuring an inescapable urban night that's nightmarish.

6. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

92 Metascore

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson

Votes: 78,555 | Gross: $27.55M

The best, most well-written film about race relations and especially racial tension ever made. Still shockingly relevant today, and probably always.

7. American Pop (1981)

R | 96 min | Animation, Drama, History

57 Metascore

The story of four generations of a Russian Jewish immigrant family of musicians whose careers parallel the history of American popular music in the 20th century.

Director: Ralph Bakshi | Stars: Mews Small, Ron Thompson, Jerry Holland, Lisa Jane Persky

Votes: 4,051 | Gross: $6.00M

This movie is about a lot of things. It's about the power music has, it's about family, and passion. It's about life. In Bakshi's ouvre this movie sticks out like a sore thumb for being the most comprehensible, staunch, and fully-realized.

("Heavy Traffic" is very good too.)

8. Stalker (1979)

Not Rated | 162 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko

Votes: 103,739 | Gross: $0.23M

Overrated, but poignant. Powerful and poetic. Characters are more like devices and aren't realistic, but it's part of the atmosphere and suspension of disbelief at-play. Slow, but for good reason.

9. Spirited Away (2001)

PG | 125 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

96 Metascore

During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Stars: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino, Rumi Hiiragi

Votes: 583,943 | Gross: $10.06M

Remains to be the only truly great anime I've ever seen. Fight me on this. I've seen hundreds upon hundreds of anime and they're almost all trash. None compares to Miyazaki and Spirited Away is his crowning achievement.

10. Dead Ringers (1988)

R | 116 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

86 Metascore

Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon

Votes: 37,842 | Gross: $9.13M

Incredible script, performances, atmosphere, et al. Would be a perfect example of a well-rounded and realized picture if not for the final fourth, which spirals down into being totally unrealistic and melodramatic.

11. Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

62 Metascore

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.

Director: Adrian Lyne | Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven

Votes: 93,606 | Gross: $26.12M

The only good horror there is - one where the horror derives from the character and not external forces.

12. Rock & Rule (1983)

PG | 77 min | Animation, Fantasy, Music

A malevolent rock star kidnaps a singer to force her to participate in the summoning of a demon, and her band must help her stop him.

Director: Clive Smith | Stars: Don Francks, Gregory Salata, Susan Roman, Samantha Langevin

Votes: 2,931 | Gross: $0.03M

Odd that a movie with so much talent behind it couldn't get a decent scriptwriter. Some of the best animation and concepts I've ever seen in an animated film, too bad the story/writing are so horribly callow.

13. Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)

PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Director: Frank Pavich | Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michel Seydoux, H.R. Giger, Chris Foss

Votes: 19,742 | Gross: $0.65M

Extraordinarily inspiring documentary about art and passion.

14. The Holy Mountain (1973)

R | 114 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve enlightenment.

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky | Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Zamira Saunders, Juan Ferrara

Votes: 33,229 | Gross: $0.06M

Not nearly as great as it could have been, but still wonderful absurd and surreal fare you can expect from Jodorowsky. This is debatably his best work.

15. Total Recall (1990)

R | 113 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

57 Metascore

When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or does he?

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin

Votes: 285,840 | Gross: $119.39M

A great adaptation of PDK's work. Satirical, violent, and doesn't take itself too seriously.

16. Liquid Sky (1982)

R | 112 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her androgynous, bisexual nymphomaniac ... See full summary »

Director: Slava Tsukerman | Stars: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr

Votes: 5,283

This is a hard film to like. If you like its aesthetic (and its aesthetic is great) you may find a lot of clever subtext about sex, drugs, and self-destruction. It's also depressing as hell, kind of dumb, yet an incredibly faithful recreation of the early 80s new wave scene. It's hard to watch at times, and for all the right and wrong reasons.

I particularly like its (unintentional) satire of the punk aesthetic as a whole, with the glamorous exterior glaringly juxtaposing with the depraved, hopeless interior, ad infinitum.

17. RoboCop (1987)

R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

67 Metascore

In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox

Votes: 220,652 | Gross: $53.42M

Science-fiction satire done right. The most disappointing thing about it is the emphasis on action, and the downplaying of the human emotion. Is that part of the message here?

18. Taxi Driver (1976)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama

94 Metascore

A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks

Votes: 670,633 | Gross: $28.26M

Overrated but a very good portrayal of urban alienation. Paul Schrader takes the archetypal existentialist antihero and makes him an American, somebody who externalizes his suffering rather than internalizing it.

19. Dark City (1998)

R | 100 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

66 Metascore

A man struggles with memories of his past, which includes a wife he cannot remember, and a nightmarish world without a sun.

Director: Alex Proyas | Stars: Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt

Votes: 180,690 | Gross: $14.38M

Bundled with "Brazil". Purely visual experiences. All about atmosphere. Everything else is unfortunately secondary.

20. Brazil (1985)

R | 132 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

88 Metascore

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 179,375 | Gross: $9.93M

See above.

21. Blade Runner (1982)

R | 117 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

89 Metascore

A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Votes: 651,731 | Gross: $32.87M

Remains as one of the actual honest-to-God attempts to make a smart sci-fi flick. Overrated as hell but still a treat.

22. Tetsuo (1989)

Not Rated | 67 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.

Director: Shin'ya Tsukamoto | Stars: Tomorô Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shin'ya Tsukamoto

Votes: 17,754

I dunno about this one. I can't imagine any movie being more up my alley, but it's too garish in all the wrong ways. The peppy "real-life manga" tone that many have praised it for painfully and obnoxiously clashes with the gritty, surreal visuals and style. I've seen it over five or six times each time hoping to get some more out of it, but viewing just makes it feel more dull. Still, I dig the atmosphere and effects.

23. Freaks (1932)

Not Rated | 64 min | Drama, Horror

80 Metascore

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.

Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates

Votes: 39,742

A powerful and moving story. Could've been made years ago.

24. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

R | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

80 Metascore

An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.

Director: James Foley | Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin

Votes: 90,828 | Gross: $10.73M

David Mamet's overly-praised but he deserves a lot of it. A purely character-driven film with the best acting ensemble I've ever seen.

25. Barfly (1987)

R | 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

70 Metascore

Based on the life of successful poet Charles Bukowski and his exploits in Hollywood during the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Director: Barbet Schroeder | Stars: Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Alice Krige, Jack Nance

Votes: 17,752 | Gross: $3.22M

Plays out like one of Bukowski's short stories put to film. A kind of unremarkable one, but it has a fun charm and is a visual treat.

26. Akira (1988)

R | 124 min | Animation, Action, Drama

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath who can only be stopped by two teenagers and a group of psychics.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda

Votes: 149,361 | Gross: $0.55M

This movie's existence is an odd thing. It's overall very deserving of its praise, but it has some glaring issues that kind of dull all the truly amazing things the film has going for it. But it's no less iconic, and the body horror is especially incredible.

27. An Evil Town (1995)

Not Rated | 20 min | Short

Based on a short story by Charles Bukowski from the collection "Tales of Ordinary Madness."

Director: Richard Sears | Stars: Matt Chesse, John Johnson, Mike Kuchar, Greg Lucey

Votes: 167

I love how self-contained and impactful this is. Seriously the best short film I've ever seen.

28. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

R | 96 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

A data courier, literally carrying a data package inside his head, must deliver it before he dies from the burden or is killed by the Yakuza.

Director: Robert Longo | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Dina Meyer, Ice-T

Votes: 63,852 | Gross: $19.08M

One of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Corny, implausible cyberpunk played straight. Awful Keanu Reeves acting. Literally nothing not to love.

29. I Stand Alone (1998)

Not Rated | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A horse meat butcher's life and mind begins to breakdown as he lashes out against various factions of society while attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Philippe Nahon, Blandine Lenoir, Frankie Pain, Martine Audrain

Votes: 18,890 | Gross: $0.05M

By far the most depressing movie I've ever seen. You need to be in the right mood to watch it otherwise it'll just make you angry. In this case I take that as a sign the movie's working.

30. Funny Games (1997)

Not Rated | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

69 Metascore

Two violent young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic "games" with one another for their own amusement.

Director: Michael Haneke | Stars: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering

Votes: 59,207

Unintentionally funny, but still a biting portrayal of how violence is commonplace and how movies treat human life often as if it's meaningless. A counter-film that serves its purpose well.

31. Re-Animator (1985)

Unrated | 105 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.

Director: Stuart Gordon | Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale

Votes: 52,022 | Gross: $2.02M

Pretty much a tutorial from start to finish about how to make a good intentional B-Movie. None of the others come close.

32. The Exorcist (1973)

R | 122 min | Horror

81 Metascore

When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb

Votes: 344,586 | Gross: $232.91M

Amongst the thousands of horror movies that deal with external forces, this is the only real one I can point to that actually has good characters, writing, and a story. No doubt something of a rarity. Not my taste, but I admire its existence.

33. Angst (I) (1983)

Not Rated | 87 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A troubled man gets released from prison and starts taking out his sadistic fantasies on an unsuspecting family living in a secluded house.

Director: Gerald Kargl | Stars: Erwin Leder, Robert Hunger-Bühler, Silvia Ryder, Karin Springer

Votes: 7,365

Gritty, realistic, and plausible. Essentially serial killer: the movie.

34. Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama

The trials and tribulations of Eddie and other transvestites in Japan.

Director: Toshio Matsumoto | Stars: Pîtâ, Osamu Ogasawara, Yoshimi Jô, Koichi Nakamura

Votes: 3,998

Admired almost solely from a filmmaking perspective. One of the best and most cleverly edited films I've ever seen, though the story is lacking.

35. Brother (1997)

99 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

An ex-soldier with a personal honor code enters the family crime business in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Director: Aleksey Balabanov | Stars: Sergey Bodrov, Viktor Sukhorukov, Svetlana Pismichenko, Mariya Zhukova

Votes: 15,173

Interesting and exhilarating time capsule piece, exploring Russia's obsession with the illicit. My favorite action movie by far. Its subtlety and direction is great, and Segrey Bodrov lives and breathes his role.

36. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

PG | 87 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

83 Metascore

An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers' retaliation.

Director: Wes Anderson | Stars: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman

Votes: 183,255 | Gross: $21.00M

My favorite kids film. Clever, funny, wonderful dry-wit.

37. A Boy and His Dog (1975)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

68 Metascore

A young man and his telepathic dog wander a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Director: L.Q. Jones | Stars: Don Johnson, Jason Robards, Susanne Benton, Tim McIntire

Votes: 15,702 | Gross: $6.90M

An extremely original post-apocalyptic story spoiled with a poor production value and ending.

38. The Brood (1979)

R | 92 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

63 Metascore

A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, amidst a series of brutal murders.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman

Votes: 23,444

Extremely close to hitting all the extremely fascinating points it brings up, but ends up missing on most occasions. With more work and more competence, this film could've soared, but it's still absorbing, engrossing, and terrifying.

39. Street Trash (1987)

Unrated | 91 min | Comedy, Horror

A liquor store owner sells alcoholic beverages to homeless people, unaware of what the bottles actually contain: toxic brew.

Director: James M. Muro | Stars: Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Vic Noto, Mark Sferrazza

Votes: 8,420

In terms of creativity in sheer exploitation gore, you can't get better than this. Besides maybe for Brian Yuzna's "Society" (1989), or Stuart Gordon's From Beyond (1986).

(Though in a more abstract sense, House (1977) is another incredible effects-driven film, just not exploitation...)

40. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

PG | 104 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

83 Metascore

A toon-hating detective is a cartoon rabbit's only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder.

Directors: Robert Zemeckis, Richard Williams | Stars: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer

Votes: 173,088 | Gross: $156.45M

41. Sorry to Bother You (2018)

R | 112 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

80 Metascore

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.

Director: Boots Riley | Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick

Votes: 50,042 | Gross: $17.49M

42. Miracle Mile (1988)

R | 87 min | Action, Drama, Romance

A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

Director: Steve De Jarnatt | Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar, Lou Hancock

Votes: 8,615 | Gross: $1.15M

43. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

R | 99 min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy

78 Metascore

In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.

Director: Stephen Chow | Stars: Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Qiu Yuen, Siu-Lung Leung

Votes: 120,241 | Gross: $17.11M

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