1. Duck Soup (1933)
2. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
3. Citizen Kane (1941)
4. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
5. Casablanca (1942)
6. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
7. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
8. Adam's Rib (1949)
9. Father of the Bride (1950)
10. Stalag 17 (1953)
11. 12 Angry Men (1957)
12. Inherit the Wind (1960)
13. Psycho (1960)
14. Goldfinger (1964)
15. The Godfather (1972)
16. Annie Hall (1977)
17. Star Wars (1977)
18. Superman (1978)
19. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
20. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
21. Batman (1989)
22. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
23. Goodfellas (1990)
24. The Rocketeer (1991)
25. Groundhog Day (1993)
26. Pulp Fiction (1994)
27. Toy Story (1995)
28. The Usual Suspects (1995)
29. Hamlet (1996)
30. The Big Lebowski (1998)
31. The Mummy (1999)
32. American Psycho (2000)
33. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
34. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. The Departed (2006)
37. Stranger than Fiction (2006)
38. Charlie Bartlett (2007)
39. No Country for Old Men (2007)
40. Iron Man (2008)
41. The Dark Knight (2008)
42. Taken (2008)
43. Black Swan (2010)
44. Easy A (2010)
45. Inception (2010)
46. Toy Story 3 (2010)
47. Skyfall (2012)
48. Man of Steel (2013)
49. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
50. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
It's been said that the best way to find errors is to submit a manuscript, and in this case it's entirely true. Though I wracked my brain for the fifty, inevitably a few slipped through the cracks, and so I'll address a few "notable omissions" that you the readers identified:
- Gone With the Wind (1939) - This one's probably on a lot of other people's lists, and it's a cinematic accomplishment, to be sure. But is it more meaningful to me than any of the other movies? I'd have to say no. Remember, this isn't a list of the greatest or most important movies of all time - just the personal favorites of yours truly.
- A Hard Day's Night (1964) / Scarface (1983) - Never seen them. In fact, these are going to be installments in an upcoming new feature, "How'd He Miss That?!" in which I review movies that you and I are surprised that I've never seen.
- The Godfather, Part II (1974) / Superman II (1980) - Both of these were on an early draft of the Personal Canon, but I cut them because the original films are already on the list, and I actually do like The Godfather (1972) and Superman (1978) ever so infinitesimally more than their sequels. Furthermore, I tried to avoid putting first films and sequels on the Personal Canon, but in the cases of Toy Story and Star Wars I couldn't choose. In the case of one, I think a future iteration of this list will change in that respect. In other words, the next draft will either have only one Toy Story film or only one Star Wars film. Stay tuned!
- Taxi Driver (1976) / Raging Bull (1980) / Gangs of New York (2002) / The Aviator (2004) - Great films, to be sure, but some consideration went into this list not being dominated by any one actor/director/genre/era, and while it's certainly true that Martin Scorsese is a god among directors, I had to restrain myself. Even including two of his films, Goodfellas (1990) and The Departed (2006), felt like an indulgence. But how could I choose between those two?
- Air Force One (1997) - This was my first R-rated movie as a kid, and it holds a special place for me. It's in the caliber of The Rocketeer (1990) and The Mummy (1999), in that I concede your mileage may vary with it but I can't help loving it. No Personal Canon of mine is complete without it.
- There Will Be Blood (2007) - This is a masterpiece, and I have no excuse for leaving it off the list. In hindsight, I could say that it's very much of a piece with No Country for Old Men (2007) and that of the two from the same year I prefer No Country ever so slightly, but neither you nor I believe it. It'll have to be renegotiated onto the list.
- Burn After Reading (2008) - I agonized over this one, I really did. For Coen Bros. representation, it was a toss-up between this and The Big Lebowski (1998), and it really could have gone either way. Having just looked at Burn After Reading once again this weekend, maybe the pendulum is shifting. Stay tuned.
- Literally any superhero movie ever - Look, this entire list could have been superhero movies and Star Wars. Those movies are my bread and butter, occasionally even the reason I get up in the morning. But for the sake of diversity, The Personal Canon should be an accurate representation of who I am as a moviegoer. And while Supermen and Skywalkers are a very significant portion of that, it's not all I am. Indeed, Captain America: Civil War very nearly made it onto this list, but it's too fresh. Let me see how it holds up on home video. Heck, if the "Ultimate Cut" of Batman v Superman (2016) is as good as I'm hearing, maybe it'll supplant Man of Steel (2013).
Long story short, there's more to come with The Personal Canon. In its present state, it demands revision because of a few glaring omissions, but I'm imagining this might be a document to which I come back for the rest of my life, a curated collection of "Me in 50 Filmic Nutshells." Stay tuned, loyal reader: once a stable list exists, we can start running reports on it. Until then, keep dropping those notes about omissions, and feel free to share your Personal Canon!