Reed’s Tenth Favorite Film

3 May

Selecting your favorite list of anything can be a pretty pretentious act at times. If you’re like me, you enjoy multiple pieces of art for multiple reasons and the stack of qualifying elements to place something in a category of favorites can get buried under the weight of its own possibilities.

For me, the act of qualifying my favorite films, books, or music albums is a part of defining my creative identity. It is a process of focusing on the items which have inspired and attached themselves to me over time as a means of better understanding what I’m all about. What questions most intrigue me? What themes most engage me? To what characters or scenarios do I most relate?

There’s much more I could say about the process and value of selecting a favorites list, but I know that if you’re reading this at all, you aren’t reading it to find out why I wrote it. So, after one more brief detour (which you may skip if you care to), I present for your consideration, my ten favorite movies of all time…

**DETOUR ** I have to say a brief word about the TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. It was made in 1977 and I first saw it when I was about 4 years old. I have watched it more than 20 times since then (often annually). It’s a presentation of the gospels that continues to excite and inspire me and, all things being considered, would probably be my very favorite movie. I’m excluding it from this list for three main reasons: 1) It was produced for television and I wanted this list to focus exclusively on theatrical releases, even though many works produced for television could rival actual cinematic achievements. 2) Having been designed as a mini-series, an argument can be made that it is actually four separate mini-movies in addition to one cohesive work. And 3) When a Christian film lover cites a 6 ½ hour mini-series on the life of Jesus as his favorite movie ever, there’s bound to be some skepticism surrounding that placement, so I chose in this instance to simply avoid those qualifiers. Alright. Here we go…



Starring two of the most legendary names in Hollywood, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a fascinating character study touching on themes of justice, courage, and perception vs. reality. Jimmy Stewart is an idealistic lawyer who is constantly accosted by bullies of both the written word and flesh and blood is forced into a confrontation beyond his abilities to overcome. John Wayne is a salt-of-the-earth cowboy, with enough of blend of romance and violence in him to make him both endearing and frightening. Their two lives intersect over the affections of one woman and the threat of one villain, and one of them may have to lose everything in the process. One of the film’s final beats expresses perfectly the ambiguity and nuance the film displays: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” What I love about this film (by director John Ford) is its blurring of the lines of heroism and tragedy, and you must decide for yourself whether you believe the characters (one acts on principle and the other acts on love) have acted bravely or foolishly. This is a beautiful and brilliant western whose performances and plotline still holds up wonderfully in today’s nuanced climate of heroes and villains.

Check back for Reed’s ninth favorite film of all time.

2 Responses to “Reed’s Tenth Favorite Film”

  1. Davide May 3, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    Nice!!! 🙂

    I agree making a top ten is very hard and poses many problems, also I think it is always destined to change, unless you stop discovering new movies or evolving as a cinephile (which would be sad). Well, maybe my favorite films change a little too often, also I noticed that it depends on the season (which it shouldn’t?).. But anyawy looking forward to this list and seeing new films.

  2. Reed May 3, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Davide, I totally hear you about favorite shifting over time. There are films which 15 years ago would have been in my top five that now don’t even make my top ten.

    As far as seasonal favorites go, it’s an interesting observation that sometimes the current conditions of the world around us can heavily influence where our tastes are drawn. I certainly could make a list of my favorite holiday movies, or scary movies, etc. Narrowing those favorites down to which favorites of mine transcend seasons was really tough, but ultimately I think it’s a very good exercise for any film lover.

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