On this list, also, I want to focus on works that had a significant impact on me.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and Return of the King. To be honest, this trilogy doesn't stack up well against the sands of time. But they were a fun phenomenon in their day, and should be enjoyable for years to come, Avatar notwithstanding.
Napolean Dynamite. Oh, Lord. I laughed my fool head off on this one. I wish I could say that this movie was thematically challenging, or it brought in something novel and fresh and bold to the screen, but I'd be lying. It had the greatest nerd performance of all time, though. And some of the best-delivered lines in a comedy movie I have ever witnessed. "Come get your dinner, Tina!"
Control Room. Opened my eyes to bias in the media. But more importantly, it allowed me to see the devastation wrought in the Arabic-speaking world due to our acts of violence but through their eyes - at least a bit more.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Best romantic movie ever? I think so. The lo-fi-ish effects are to die for.
Hotel Rwanda. Yeah, the hero is really a jerk. But I can't think of a more impacting mainstream movie that actually moves me and a large host of others to actually care about people on the other side of the world.
Punch-Drunk Love. Unrequited love at its finest. Ok, maybe this is the best romantic movie of all time. Adam Sandler is somehow amazingly frightening, real, and a bit funny in his one powder blue suit.
Spellbound. Documentaries can be funny. And thrilling.
Taxi to the Dark Side. Phenomenal indictment. Piercing. How do we condone, allow and interpret orders for torture?
Class and Chalk. Two very different movies about teaching. Very different from each other (one a look at the continuing influx of poor non-French in a once-prestigious French school and the other a comedy about first-year teachers) and certainly different from the Hero Teacher crap I've been forced to watch and subconsciously emulate over the last five decades. And both long, long overdue.
Food, Inc. A movie to act on, this one follows our tummy backwards and asks the big questions without getting all paranoid on ya.
Spider-Man 1 & 2. Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight. X-Men 2. Hooray for comic book movies... done right, that is. Boo for creepy Superman returns.
Wall*E, Finding Nemo, Incredibles, Ratatouille, What to say? Dang it, Pixar is the shnizzle. With the exception of Cars, that is...
Memento. This movie messed with my head almost as much as it messed with Guy Pierce's head. Nolan's probably the darkest mainstream director out there since noir, and the evil at the heart of the hero's deeds
Last King of Scotland
There Will Be Blood
Ghost Dog (Way of the Samurai)