April 16, 2021 (Updated: February 7, 2022)

Watching the Top 100 Highest-Rated Movies: #51-60

Watching the Top 100 Highest-Rated Movies: #51-60

This post is part of an ongoing series where my wife and I watch the top 100 highest-rated movies of all time. You can learn more about the challenge itself, and you can see all of the movies we've watched under the tag #top-100-highest-rated-movies. You can also check out the previous post in the series where we watched movies #61-70.

#60. The Third Man (1949)

Beautiful cinemagraph of The Third Man (ยฉ 1949 British Lion Film Corporation) created by Floris Kloet, Tech Noir

Directed by Carol Reed
Screenplay by Graham Greene
Starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘Ž
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘Ž

It was pretty darn slow and I think I accidentally nodded off at one point. But that ending shot sure was pretty.

#59, 62, 95: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, ยฉ New Line Cinema

Note: Because of the Ground Rules, we waited to watch all of the movies in the LotR trilogy until we reached the highest-rated installment, which was #59: The Return of the King.

Directed by Peter Jackson
Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Stephen Sinclair (The Two Towers)
Based on ย The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis

Ok, it's no secret, I'm a big fan of this trilogy and the source material. I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books as a kid (and many times since), plus all the supplementary books, and was jazzed when the movies came out. To speak to my level of enthusiasm: I'm from a very rural part of the country, and the closest theater playing these movies was 90 miles away, so on release night, my friends and I left work at 9:30pm, piled into one vehicle, and drove 1.5 hours to the city to catch the midnight showing. Repeatedly.

This may surprise some of my fellow enthusiasts, but because of the Ground Rules, we watched these movies in their original theatrical form, not the extended editions. I stand by that choice, and honestly, it was refreshing seeing them in their non-extended editions because I've seen the extended editions so many times that I no longer remembered what was extended versus theatrical. (Plus, with a little baby at home, the theatrical releases were much more... logistically appealing.)

Anyway, I could just throw a bunch of thumbs-up emojis here and be done with the whole review, because they're all spectacular and are some of the most comprehensively-good fantasy movies ever made, but let's go through them one at a time anyways, because why not?

#62. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, ยฉ 2001 New Line Cinema

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘

What can I say: I've seen this movie a million times and enjoyed it just as much this time as ever. As an extra bonus, the timing worked out that the LotR trilogy was just re-released in 4K with Dolby Vision and Atmos, and we recently upgraded all of our A/V tech, so we were able to fully appreciate the remastered versions. It looked and sounded fantastic.

#95. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, ยฉ 2002 New Lin Cinema

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘

Per The List, this is the worst of the three (wink), but it's a downright banger. Especially after watching the final season of Game of Thrones โ€“ the battle of Helm's Deep really shows what a masterful night battle scene can look like.

Also, this movie has several spectacular Legolas moments. There's the whole shield-slide thing, but even earlier in the fight with the Wargs, there was a simple scene where he mounts a horse via crazy acrobatics for no reason โ€“ I love it.

#59. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, ยฉ 2003 New Line Cinema

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘

What can I say? It's perfect. They're all perfect.

It was super cool seeing the trilogy again after 9ish years (I think I last watched them in preparation for The Hobbit being released), and the 4K / Dolby Vision / Dolby Atmos remaster was chef's kiss.

#58. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, ยฉ 1962 Paramount Pictures

Directed by John Ford
Screenplay by James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck
Based on ย 1953 short story by Dorothy M. Johnson
Starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘

This movie was fantastic. Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne were an incredible duo and it was great seeing them in the same film. (Oh man, am I becoming a huge Jimmy Stewart fan?) We would happily watch this one again.

I also don't think it would be possible for John Wayne to have said "pilgrim" any more frequently than he did in this movie. Pilgrim.

#57. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The Adventures of Robin Hood, ยฉ 1938 Warner Bros.

Directed by Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller, Rowland Leigh
Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Una O'Connor

Did we like it? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘Ž
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘Ž

For being one of the oldest movies on the list - over 80 years old - I'm super impressed with the quality. This movie was made only 5 years after #88: King Kong (1933), but it's much more sophisticated filmmaking.

I've seen permutations of the Robin Hood story a million times, so nothing too surprising here, but mainly this made me want to rewatch Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) again...

#56. Strangers on a Train (1951)

Strangers on a Train, ยฉ 1951 Warner Bros.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by Raymond Chandler, Whitfield Cook, Czenzi Ormonde
Based on Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Starring, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker

Did we like it? Evan: ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘, Sarah: ๐Ÿ‘Ž
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘Ž

One of several Hitchcock movies on The List. It was pretty good and pretty dark, but we didn't record any other thoughts other than that. I guess the moral of the story is: don't talk to anyone?

#55. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption, ยฉ 1994 Columbia Pictures

Directed by Frank Darabont
Screenplay by Frank Darabont
Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy, Brown, Gil Bellows, James Whitmore

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘

This movie is perfect, and is just as good every time I watch it.

#54. One Flew Over the Cuckooโ€™s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, ยฉ 1975 United Artists

Directed by Miloลก Forman
Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman
Based on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield

Did we like it? ๐Ÿ‘Ž
Would we watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘Ž

This movie was the second-ever to win all big five Academy awards, including a win for Jack Nicholson.

We didn't enjoy this one; it was dark, plodding, loud, and cruel. But it was interesting seeing some folks we recognized in supporting roles: a young Doc Brown, young DeVito, and "hey wait, how do I know that guy?": the guy who played Wormtongue in LotR.

#53. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan, ยฉ 1998 DreamWorks Pictures

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Robert Rodat
Starring Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore

Liked it: ๐Ÿ‘
Watch again? Evan: ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘, Sarah: ๐Ÿ‘Ž

This movie was superbly well-made and is obviously meant to convey the brutal and gory horror of WW II. This is a super tough one to watch, and doesn't get easier no matter how many times I see it. I think I was still bummed out the day after watching it.

On an unrelated note, it was fun seeing some familiar faces in supporting roles: Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson, Nathan Fillion, and Vin Diesel.

#52. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind, ยฉ 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Directed by Victor Fleming
Screenplay by Sidney Howard
Based on Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland

Did you like it: ๐Ÿ‘Ž
Would you watch it again: ๐Ÿ‘Ž

Whew, where to start with this one.

It was 4 hours long, which was a surprise to me, so it took us 3 nights to finish (mainly because baby). I'm going to keep this movie in mind the next time somebody mentions that the LoTR extended editions are long.

In the end, I'm not sure what the takeaway from this movie was supposed to be. The first half made more sense as we see the downfall of the Confederate South and repercussions from the war, but then the second half was mainly high school drama with a bunch of middle-aged aristocrats. I'm told the movie was very faithful to the book on this front, but I suspect some focused editing could have made this movie much better.

Ultimately, the main characters in this movie were just so tragically cruel to each other; there's not much to feel good about. I guess the main lesson here is that horseback riding is dangerous.

Oh, a few upsides: the production quality and budget of this movie really stand out - it was dramatically better quality than other films we've watched, including many that came out after 1939. And they certainly made it epic, regardless of whether it should have been; some of the dramatic, silhouetted red sunsets were quite beautiful.

#51. Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas, ยฉ 1990 Warner Bros.

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese
Based on Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
Starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino

Did you like it: ๐Ÿ‘
Would you watch it again? ๐Ÿ‘

This was great, dark, and super engaging gangster movie. It's amazing how consistent Scorsese has been over his career, especially since we watched The Irishman (2020) fairly recently.

Also, it's very obvious how much this movie inspired The Sopranos. Apparently over 20 actors in Goodfellas later acted in The Sopranos, although I only noted a few of them.

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If you liked this, you should check out the next post in the series where we watch movies #41-50.

Want to see more posts about our challenge to watch the top 100 highest-rated movies of all time? Check out the tag #top-100-highest-rated-movies, and you should also sign up for my newsletter (it's free!) to get automatically notified when I make new posts in the series.