Last year, I decided I wanted to familiarize myself with some well-known actors and actresses that I hadn’t seen that many movies from or none at all. For each month in 2020, I watched four movies for a specific actor or actress to familiarize myself with their respective filmography. Those actors and actresses were as follows: Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier, Julianne Moore, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Bette Davis, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Jack Lemmon, Charlize Theron, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. In total, I watched 48 films, here are each of them ranked from my least favorites to favorites.
*Ranked by the overall quality of the movies, not performances. That would be a different list in entirety.
48-42: Good, But I Didn’t Connect To Them.
- 48. The Letter (1940) – Bette Davis
- 47. JFK (1991) – Jack Lemmon
- 46. Spellbound (1945) – Ingrid Bergman
- 45. Philadelphia (1993) – Denzel Washington
- 44. Monster (2003) – Charlize Theron
- 43. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Jack Lemmon
- 42. Taxi Driver (1976) – Robert De Niro
Let me get this out of the way already, these are not bad movies. In fact, many of them are good. They are well made and well-acted, but what holds them back that I didn’t care for the stories. I didn’t find myself interested in the plots of each of these movies the way I would have wanted to. I even found myself bored at points watching some of these films. That’s not to say these are bad films, they are definitely not bad. They just didn’t captivate me the way I was hoping they would.
41-31: Not Perfect, But Very Good.
- 41. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Charlize Theron
- 40. Adaption. (2002) – Meryl Streep
- 39. Adam’s Rib (1949) – Katherine Hepburn
- 38. The China Syndrome (1979) – Jack Lemmon
- 37. Casablanca (1942) – Ingrid Bergman
- 36. Casino (1995) – Robert De Niro
- 35. Bringing Up Baby (1938) – Katherine Hepburn
- 34. The Defiant Ones (1958) – Sidney Poitier
- 33. Atomic Blonde (2017) – Charlize Theron
- 32. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – Marlon Brando
- 31. Cool Hand Luke (1967) – Paul Newman
I found these movies to be very good nearing the edge of greatness. But I had some issues with each of them. Whenever it was pacing, issues with the plot, or something else, they each had a problem that held it back for me to completely love them. Overlooking those issues and these are overall great films, but not quite perfect. I may enjoy these movies more on second and third viewings, but for now, these are where I rank them.
30-14: Great Movies, But Not All-Time Favorites.
- 30. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967) – Katherine Hepburn
- 29. The Hustler (1961) – Paul Newman
- 28. Safe (1995) – Julianne Moore
- 27. North Country (2005) – Charlize Theron
- 26. The Hours (2002) – Julianne Moore
- 25. The Godfather (1972) – Marlon Brando
- 24. The King of Comedy (1982) – Robert De Niro
- 23. Training Day (2001) – Denzel Washington
- 22. Doubt (2008) – Meryl Streep
- 21. A Raisin in the Sun (1961) – Sidney Poitier
- 20. Holiday (1938) – Katherine Hepburn
- 19. Autumn Sonata (1978) – Ingrid Bergman
- 18. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane (1962) – Bette Davis
- 17. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – Meryl Streep
- 16. The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Katherine Hepburn
- 15. Inside Man (2006) – Denzel Washington
- 14. On The Waterfront (1954) – Marlon Brando
Not every movie you watch is going to end up becoming a new favorite. Movies can just be enjoyable and not hold any more weight to them than that. These were those movies for me. I think all of these movies are great. They have compelling stories, incredible acting, terrific direction, and more. But I don’t foresee them becoming all-time favorites. That may change with more time and more viewings, but at this moment I don’t see these as new favorites. I would recommend them to anyone and I really liked them. I just don’t love them right now.
13-5: Near Perfect
- 13. Still Alice (2014) – Julianne Moore
- 12. Malcolm X (1992) – Denzel Washington
- 11. Apocalypse Now (1979) – Marlon Brando
- 10. Goodfellas (1990) – Robert De Niro
- 9. In the Heat of the Night (1967) – Sidney Poitier
- 8. The Verdict (1982) – Paul Newman
- 7. Notorious (1946) – Ingrid Bergman
- 6. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) – Meryl Streep
- 5. Some Like It Hot (1959) – Jack Lemmon
I don’t have anything bad to say about these movies. Not a thing. I can realistically see them becoming all-time favorites for me because they are almost perfect. I don’t think there is a such thing as a perfect movie. I do however think there are perfect movies for every individual person. And these movies are very close to that mark for me, but not quite. They don’t do anything wrong, but they are missing something for me to fully put them over the top. I do love these movies, but I hold four more movies on this list to a higher level. The next four movies I do consider to be apart of my all-time favorite movies.
4-1: The Elites.
- 4. Now Voyager (1942) – Bette Davis
- 3. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – Paul Newman
- 2. All About Eve (1950) – Bette Davis
- 1. Boogie Nights (1997) – Julianne Moore
I said it before that there are no perfect movies. But I also believe that there are perfect movies for everyone and these four movies are perfect movies for me. I’m biased to these films, they probably have flaws and I’m overlooking them. The great thing about having a favorite movie is that it can have problems, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. You can see through those problems and love the movie for what it is. You can love it for what emotion it invokes in you. The feeling it makes you feel. Each of these films invoked a specific emotion in me whether it was sadness, happiness, excitement, etc. But they all left me with the feeling that I had just seen the perfect movie, flaws and all. I love them and they are new favorites for me.
If you are curious about who are the actors and actresses’ discographies I’m diving into this year, they are as follows:
- Jane Fonda
- Daniel Day-Lewis
- Al Pacino
- Viola Davis
- Humphrey Bogart
- Alfre Woodard
- Hideko Takamine
- Gena Rowlands
- Lana Turner
- Margit Carstensen
- Robin Williams
- Laurence Fishburne
Any suggestions for films I should watch that star the previously mentioned actors and actresses? Tell me in the comments below, I’m open to all suggestions.