I have resisted lists for quite a while, for a variety of reasons. Most of all, because on some level all lists are lies.
But somehow every time I saw someone post their favorite movie from every year they've been on the earth, I was tempted.
And eventually, list loving bastard I am, I made one. It was a lie. The list below has been altered twice from the one I originally posted. If I were posting later, I'm sure I'd show it show even more deceptions and failures. But for whatever it's worth, I'm reposting it here for posterity, as well as including some notes. I doubt many of these notes will be especially insightful, so read at your own risk.
1971 – A Clockwork Orange
I confess spending no time on this one. As I've noted elsewhere, I've long listed this as my favorite movie of all time. A couple of the choices later on this list, as well as Once Upon a Time in the West, occur to me on occasion as alternatives. If I had a strong tie to having a favorite movie, I might consider it. None of the other choices from 1971 have been considered, though.
It's a good year. The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Devils, Don't Deliver Us From Evil, Dirty Harry, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, The Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay, The Last Picture Show, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Two-Lane Blacktop and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would all have been choices I'd have considered in the right mood.
And those, as well as the later, similar lists I might include, leaves out many great movies that I love, but simply don't resonate with in a way that I'd consider them as my own "favorite" of the year. And, of course, some that others consider great that I didn't like as well. I'll leave it to your imagination or perhaps some, much later, post, to decide which are which.
1972 – Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
This was where I stopped the list several times. This year is nearly impossible for me.
Bone, Cabaret, Cries and Whispers, Cut-Throats Nine, Fat City, Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion, Five Fingers of Death, Junior Bonner, the first four Lone Wolf and Cub movies, Pink Flamingos, Prime Cut, Private Parts and Season of the Witch. It's a nearly impossible choice.
Frankly, I considered a selecting the Lone Wolf and Cub series as a cheat. Seriously, four of the six movies came out in 1972. That's extraordinary.
But ultimately, I decided I'd have to start choosing them fairly quickly, like tearing off a Band-Aid, so I went with my love of the Planet of the Apes series, which beats out my love of most other things.
1973 – The Long Goodbye
This is one of the movies I'd consider as a possible favorite movie, were I to make a new choice, so it wasn't as hard as it should have been. It's the one Kim has walked in and said "Didn't you just watch that?" about.
The Wicker Man is a movie I've been listing in my top 12 for years, so it was the only other movie I gave serious consideration, although it's another excellent year, so I'll spare you another extended list.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
As many great movies came out this year, and as many movies beloved by me, this was the only one I considered for a second. This absolutely among my favorite movies of all time.
Here, of course, is where my lack of Godfather movies becomes obvious. I recognize and appreciate their greatness. I have watched them a number of times and expect to again in the future. I can't say they resonate with me in a way that I considered them for being my favorites, though. I will note The Conversation was the only other movie to catch my eye for this year and could easily have beat out the favorites from many of the other years on this list.
I do note the many other brilliant movies from this year. Removing those two, I'd have a very hard time making a selection between them all. I think I'd have a longer than the overlong ones above to work with.
1975 – Hard Times
I think this is when I thought I was creating a one movie per director rule, in order to rule out Nashville. I considered Deep Red, Dersu Uzala, Four of the Apocalypse, Love & Death, The Man From Hong Kong and Race With the Devil.
I'm sure I did ok here, though. Hard Times is a movie I didn't love on first viewing, but having watched in a number of times since, I've come to feel very strongly about it. The characters reveal more of themselves every time, but it's not a quick process.
Master of the Flying Guillotine
This was another fairly easy one. I considered Assault on Precinct 13, Eaten Alive, Logan's Run and The Outlaw Josey Wales.
This was a major part of my introduction to martial arts movies, though, and holds up great for me. I am quite happy with this choice.
1977 – Star Wars
Of course I considered Annie Hall. Death Race 2000, Eraserhead, House, Rolling Thunder and Suspiria also stand out as potential answers, but, considering my life, it'd really be a lie to choose anything else here.
1978 – Martin
For what it's worth, the only other movie I considered for this one was Dawn of the Dead. George Romero really had a hell of year that year.
1979 – Rock 'n' Roll High School
This is another seminal movie in my cinematic and personal development, for better or worse, so there was no real competition.
All That Jazz, Life of Brian, Mad Max, The Muppet Movie, Over the Edge, Phantasm, Time After Time and Zombie are all really important movies in my life, from one point or another. It's hard to believe that none could make it on a list like this.
1980 – The Elephant Man
I've written a number of times about the importance of this movie in my life. Airplane!, The Gates of Hell, Inferno and Popeye all deserve a spot near the top, too.
The Beyond, The Decline of Western Civilization, The Howling, Scanners and Time Bandits could all have made it instead, but didn't.
This could, on some days, be my favorite John Waters movie. That goes a long way.
1982 – Blade Runner
Yes, I considered Conan the Barbarian, which might be a more important movie to my life, but it's only a piece of a larger entity. Creepshow was also a very big deal in my life, but similarly, that is at least as much for the Bernie Wrightson illustrated comic book as the movie.
The Beastmaster, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Last American Virgin and Tron are both favorites of the time and remain sentimental favorites today.
Blade Runner is another movie that I watch quite regularly. In fact, I'm due a viewing of this soon. And would be even if the sequel wasn't on the way. Just a matter of deciding which version I'll watch. The workprint version has been my go-to recently and might very well be again.
1983 – Strange Brew
Videodrome, Zelig and Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain are the only choices I'm looking at that I gave real consideration to, although Krull and Trading Places have a place in my heart.
It's not a very strong year. Even the ones that leap out at me as movies I'd happily watch again or introduce Conan to when he gets old enough are kind of also-rans, which might sound harsher to ol' Bob and Doug than I'd like it to.
1984 – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Yeah, I love this one without apology. I know it's not as popular an opinion. I don't much care.
I originally added The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension in this slot. I might have been right. I certainly can't justify it beating out Gremlins or Repo Man, I'm sure. I don't think I can justify it over Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind or Once Upon a Time in America.
But there it is. This is the part where sometimes I just had to tear off the Band-Aid and choose. I do love Temple of Doom.
For what it's worth, I never seriously considered Gwendoline. I tried to make myself do it. Is that the same thing?
1985 – Re-Animator
This is another that's really not that hard for me. After Hours, Better Off Dead, Brazil, Flesh + Blood, Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Return of the Living Dead each got a moment's consideration, but really had no chance.
A Better Tomorrow
Big Trouble in Little China, Dead End Drive-In, The Fly, Hannah and Her Sisters, Laputa: Castle in the Sky and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 are all good choices.
A Better Tomorrow was a game changer, though, for me and for action cinema.
1987 – Robocop
I basically just said, "What year was Robocop, so I can slot it as the favorite that year?"
I looked at Au revoir les enfants, The Dead, Hellraiser, Matewan and River's Edge, but none turned me.
1988 – They Live
Dead Ringers, Eight Men Out, Heathers and Hellbound: Hellraiser II are favorites. The only other movie I really considered for this was The Last Temptation of Christ, which fell to the dreaded question of how often I rewatch one or the other. If that's a fair test or not, I'm still not sure.
1989 – Crimes and Misdemeanors
Do the Right Thing, Mystery Train, Santa Sangre and Tetsuo: Iron Man are great choices, too.
1990 – Pump Up the Volume
Yeah, I didn't choose Goodfellas or Miller's Crossing. Both are great movies by great moviemakers. They just don't resonate specifically with me above that.
Barton Fink, Highway 61 and Night on Earth were the others I considered. But I do come back to Naked Lunch so often, in my mind as much as anything.
1992 - Unforgiven
I can imagine picking Braindead, Gas Food Lodging, Malcolm X or Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I didn't.
1993 – Groundhog Day
This was Short Cuts when I first posted this. I noticed that I'd broken my rule of thumb to not put two movies by the same director, but decided fuck it, Robert Altman is as good a moviemaker as any to make an exception for.
Now, I've changed my mind. It brings a little more comedy to the list, which isn't a bad thing.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Blue, Cronos, Iron Monkey and True Romance all might have had a chance in this slot, too.
1994 – Pulp Fiction
I'm not holding myself a slave to choosing my favorite movie at the time. Indeed, I was three when Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia came out. It was not my favorite that year.
That said, I think the me of 1994 would be more enraged at me for picking something other than Pulp Fiction for this year than the me of any other year for not picking their favorite.
Ed Wood, Fresh, Heavenly Creatures, Nobody's Fool and Red are the obvious runners up for me now, just as they would have been for 1994 me. Some things don't change much.
This is the last of those movies that I consider deciding is my new favorite movie, when I ponder if such as thing is meaningful. As such, this was not a difficult choice.
12 Monkeys, Babe, Dead Man, Strange Days and Tank Girl leap out as choices I'd have considered, if I'd been trying to find something else.
1996 – Grace of My Heart
For a time, during this period, I considered making this my favorite movie. Writing this, it sounds like this is something I think about often, but it's not. I've just lived a long time and pretty occasional thoughts manage to add up.
Bound, The Cable Guy, Fargo, From Dusk Till Dawn, Get on the Bus, Lone Star and Tromeo & Juliet are all strong runners-up.
1997 – Princess Mononoke
Chasing Amy, The Full Monty, Grosse Pointe Blank, Jackie Brown, Lost Highway, Open Your Eyes and Starship Troopers are all on the list of could have beens. This is a pretty solid year.
1998 – Last Night
I really like Antz, The Big Lebowski, Bio-Zombie, Out of Sight and Ring. This isn't a strong year, to my eye, but that's not to dismiss Last Night, which I think is a minor classic.
1999 – Titus
This is the only year I seriously considered making it a tie. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai absolutely feels like it should be on this list and it feels naked without it.
Audition, Eyes Wide Shut, The Iron Giant, The Limey and The Mission came out that year, too. I might have considered them in a year without two such obvious choices for me.
O, Brother Where Art Thou?
This seems a solid choice for the representation of the Coens on my list, so it'll work. Another tough year. Almost Famous, Battle Royale, Chicken Run, Ginger Snaps, Sexy Beast, Tears of the Black Tiger and Uzumaki could all have a shot.
2001 – The Royal Tenenbaums
1 the Killer, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Dagon, The Devil's Backbone, Frailty, Gosford Park, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Moulin Rouge, Mulholland Drive and Spirited Away would all be excellent choices, too. I could re-think this one on another day easy. There's a lot this year.
2002 – Bubba Ho-Tep
28 Days Later, Dark Water, Dog Soldiers, Hero, Infernal Affairs and Spider are also terrific and could have been considered.
2003 - Oldboy
If Kill Bill had been released as a single movie, it would have been hard to beat, even for Oldboy.
American Splendor and The Triplets of Bellville are obvious runners-up.
2004 – House of Flying Daggers
B13, Dumplings, Howl's Moving Castle, Marebito, Night Watch and Shaun of the Dead are solid runners-up.
2005 – V for Vendetta
Brick, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A History of Violence, Match Point, The Proposition, Sin City, SPL, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit are all great choices, too.
Black Book, Black Snake Moan, Bug, Casino Royale, Children of Men, Exiled, The Host, Inland Empire and Slither all stand out, too. Looking at them, I wondered for a second if I made the right choice, then remembered it was Pan's Labyrinth. Still a good call.
2007 - Zodiac
This is a gimme, quite frankly. Death Sentence, Eastern Promises, Grindhouse, Once and The Orphanage are all very good, though.
2008 – Let the Right One In
Chaser, Gran Torino, Ip Man, Pontypool, Punisher: War Zone and Red Cliff are probably the ones I'd choose between if Let the Right One In wasn't clearly the top movie of the year, in my estimation.
2009 - Coraline
Black Dynamite, Crank, Inglourious Basterds, Moon and Vengeance are the obvious other choices.
2010 – 13 Assassins
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, How To Train Your Dragon, I Saw the Devil and Machete would be the alternates. This might be the start of there being a lot I haven't see, for whatever it's worth. Not that a lot is leaping out at me as stuff I'm disappointed to not have seen.
2011 – The Raid
Drive and Rise of the Planet of the Apes are the runners-up, but this one is pretty easy.
John Carter of Mars
I put Dredd when I first posted this, but corrected it.
Django Unchained, John Dies At the End, Looper and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning would be runners-up to those two. The latter movie is a sequel to three (or more) movies that all didn't come anywhere in the ballpark of making this list.
2013 – The World's End
Blue Ruin, The Dance of Reality, Only God Forgives, Only Lovers Left Alive, Pacific Rim, Snowpiercer and Under the Skin are the runners-up.
2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inherent Vice, John Wick and The Raid 2 would be up there, too.
2015 – Mad Max: Fury Road
Green Room, The Hateful Eight and The VVitch had a shot in there, too.
2016 – Kubo and the Two Strings
This is corrected from Rogue One - A Star Wars Story, which remains the runner-up.
And we're done. Like everyone else I've seen, my pick so far for 2017 is Get Out, with Logan as a strong runner-up, but there's a lot of year left.
As it goes, I already regretting much of what isn't here, which means it's time to post this and let this lie live its own life.