Eric's Top 10 Movies You Can Watch Over and Over Again

by Eric Melin on April 15, 2008

in Top 10s

Anybody who reads my writing on any kind of semi-regular basis probably knows that “This is Spinal Tap” is my favorite movie of all-time. I’ve seen it so many times that I can quote virtually the entire film back to you at any given moment. It’s not just the funniest movie I’ve ever seen. Every moment of it rings of truth, and there are still new things to discover each time I watch it. Since I’ve written about that movie ad nauseam, here is a list of 10 other films that hold those same qualities for me. I just never get tired of watching them. What are yours?

gabriel byrne miller's crossing10. Miller’s Crossing (1990)

What’s the rumpus? This overlooked early movie by Joel and Ethan Coen is full of so many great little details and so dense with questionable characters and double-crosses that it may take more than one viewing to digest it all. After a friend revealed to me that this was one of his favorite movies too, I marveled at its inclusion of gay gangsters. “What?” my friend said, “There are gay gangsters in it?” Set around the Irish mob during Prohibition, “Miller’s Crossing” features one of the greatest mysterious lead characters in film—a mob advisor played by Gabriel Byrne whose loyalties change more often than his underwear. Or do they? The dialogue is so fast and full of quick-witted lingo from the 1930s that it is hard to keep up. Watch it again and again and something new opens itself up every time.

Eddie Dane: How’d you get the fat lip?
Tom: Old war wound. Acts up around morons.

schwartzman murray rushmore9. Rushmore (1998)

Often times a great comedy is something that you can revisit time and time again and this one is so far off base from every other comedy out there that I never get sick of it. Like “Miller’s Crossing,” “Rushmore” has an anachronistic lead character. Max Fischer (played by Jason Schwartzman) is a 15 year-old private school student who has more extra-curricular activities than he does good grades. His unusual relationship with a depressed but wealthy industrialist played by a deadpan Bill Murray forms the basis of this perfectly realized creation. “Rushmore” may have shades of J.D. Salinger’s writing and Hal Ashby’s movies, but director Wes Anderson pulls humor from the trickiest of situations (the only actual jokes in the movie are bad ones, and in context, they are really funny) and always manages to surprise. For all its absurdities, “Rushmore” is also a very humanist film. Your sympathies may lie with any number of different characters each time you watch it. Whatever happens, it will probably put a great big smile on your face like it does for me.

Herman Blume: You guys have it real easy. I never had it like this where I grew up. But I send my kids here because the fact is you go to one of the best schools in the country: Rushmore. Now, for some of you it doesn’t matter. You were born rich and your going to stay rich. But here’s my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can’t buy backbone. Don’t let them forget it. Thank you.

mitchum greer out of the past8. Out of the Past (1947)

My favorite classic film noir stars Robert Mitchum as a man trying to make a clean break with his past who eventually gets sucked right back into it. Mitchum is at his laconic best, Jane Greer is seductively dangerous and terribly sexy, Kirk Douglas is menacing, and Jacques Tourneur ’s direction is flawless. For as old as it is, “Out of the Past” is full of modern storytelling techniques and remarkably realized characters. Trouble keeps piling up for poor Mitchum, obsessed and in love, as Tourneur flashes back and forward, deepening the story at every turn. The script, full of quotable treats and ice-cool Mitchum narration, was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring (under the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes) from his own novel. And, unlike many noirs, the mystery here is not a whodunit, but a what-is-going-to-happen-next in a bitter love triangle with high stakes. Knowing the ending never spoils the ride since there’s so many things to enjoy along the way, least of all Nicholas Musuraca ’s beautiful black-and-white cinematography.

Kathie Moffat: Oh, Jeff, I don’t want to die!
Jeff Bailey: Neither do I, baby, but if I have to I’m gonna die last.

dustin hoffman anne bancroft the graduate7. The Graduate (1967)

Even though it was made in the 60s, “The Graduate” stills feels like today for me. For every person who ever felt alienated from anything (isn’t that everybody?), Dustin Hoffman is here to let us know we are not alone. I’m starting to see a trend as I write this list and I’m wondering if an iconic character Top 10 is not in my near future. Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock is full of contradictions and as long as people remain confused about who they are or where they are going in their lives, this movie will have an audience. Director Mike Nichols tapped into something very powerful with “The Graduate.” Its stature as a classic is well-deserved, and what makes it so watchable is that he didn’t forget to fill Benjamin’s journey from aimlessness to uneasiness with lots of awkward humor—fans of “The Office,” take note. If you haven’t seen this yet, you are missing out. If you have, then you’re probably like me and you pull it out every year or so to remind yourself that life is by nature untidy and someone understands.

Benjamin: I’m just…
Mr. Braddock: Worried?
Benjamin: Well…
Mr. Braddock: About what?
Benjamin: I guess about my future.
Mr. Braddock: What about it?
Benjamin: I don’t know… I want it to be…
Mr. Braddock: To be what?
Benjamin: [looks at his father] … Different.

pesci liotta deniro goodfellas6. Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese’s epic examination of three decades in the mob is such an involving film that when I’m flipping channels and I see it rerun on TV, I always stop and watch it, even though I know it’s presented in pan-and-scan and half the movie is cut out. Then I have to find time to pop in a DVD and experience the whole movie widescreen and in its entire 145-minute running time. This movie crackles with energy and amazing stylistic touches—Scorsese uses long tracking shots, quick edits, freeze frames and an ongoing narration from Ray Liotta to immerse the audience into the gangster’s world. The frenetic style isn’t distracting, though—it’s essential to the storytelling. The viewer becomes an insider and is granted all access to a world few people can actually see. The fact that it is based on a true story only makes it all the more amazing. There is so much rich detail in “Goodfellas” that one viewing doesn’t do it justice.

Anthony: Tommy no, You got it all wrong.
Tommy: Oh, oh, Anthony. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how? What?
Henry Hill: Just… ya know… you’re funny.
Tommy: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Henry Hill: Just… you know, how you tell the story, what?
Tommy: No, no, I don’t know, you said it. How do I know? You said I’m funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!
Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!
Tommy: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

l.a. confidential russell crowe guy pearce5. L.A. Confidential (1997)

I never tire of seeing this movie. Curtis Hanson’s masterful adaptation of James Ellroy’s sprawling novel follows three detectives in 1950s Hollywood to reveal the ugliness beneath the glitz. Hanson’s Oscar-winning screenplay trimmed Ellroy’s eight labyrinthine plotlines down to three, but retained all the spirit of the characters and rounded up a perfect cast. Kevin Spacey, Danny Devito, and Kim Basinger were big names at the time, but Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce were virtual unknowns in America yet. The jazzy soundtrack and atmospheric production design are absolutely top notch, and it is thrilling to see this era come to life in an era when movies don’t have to shy away from grittiness anymore. One of the best reasons to watch a film over and over again is a rich evocation of a time period or location, and “L.A. Confidential” does that to perfection, while juggling a massive cast and storyline.

Ed Exley: Take a walk, honey, before I haul your ass downtown.
Johnny Stompanato: You are making a large mistake.
Lana Turner: Get away from our table.
Ed Exley: Shut up. A hooker cut to look like Lana Turner is still a hooker. She just looks like Lana Turner.
Jack Vincennes: She is Lana Turner.
Ed Exley: What?
Jack Vincennes: She is Lana Turner. [Lana throws a drink in Ed’s face]

dr. strangelove george c. scott4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

One of the greatest screen satires of all-time is this black-and-white Stanley Kubrick movie which, for all its dated references and Cold War-era black humor, still translates 100 percent today. This film never gets old for me. One commonality I’m also noticing in this list is the fact that all these films are eminently quotable, and this one is no exception. Peter Sellers’ comic dexterity is on display in three decidedly different roles, and George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden are also drop-dead funny in caricatures of trigger-happy military types. While you try to analyze Kubrick’s war-as-sex analogy, you can marvel at the absurdity of the situations and enjoy rapid-fire dialogue that just gets better and sharper each time you hear it. Hey, if you can’t laugh at an impending government-caused nuclear holocaust, what can you laugh at?

Miss Scott: It’s 3 o’clock in the morning!
General “Buck” Turgidson: Weh-heh-heh-ll, the Air Force never sleeps.
Miss Scott: Buck, honey, I’m not sleepy either…
General “Buck” Turgidson: I know how it is, baby. Tell you what you do: you just start your countdown, and old Bucky’ll be back here before you can say “Blast off!”

philip seymour hoffman lester bangs almost famous patrick fugit3. Almost Famous (2000)

The DVD extended cut of Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age picture is retitled “Untitled” and runs a whopping 2 hours and 40 minutes, and it still leaves me wanting more. The heyday of 70s rock is chronicled through the eyes of a teenaged journalist who falls in love on the road. Nowhere else has the pure joy of rock n’ roll been illustrated so confidently. This movie makes me wish I would have been born a decade earlier so I could have grown up with rock music before it was taken over by big business. Every moment feels real, and the era is lovingly rendered with so much authenticity that it the fictional band at its core—a middle-of-the-road riff rock band called Stillwater—feels absolutely real. It also takes “inside baseball” issues that most rock bands are concerned with—like selling out—with the same sincerity it has for groupies (and why they don’t like being called groupies). Even if the rest of the movie was terrible, it would be worth it for the scene where Stillwater plays in Topeka that features the following exchange between rocker and a high schooler:

Russell Hammond: You, Aaron, are what it’s all about. You’re real. Your room is real. Your friends are real. Real, man, real. You know? Real. You’re more important than all the silly machinery. Silly machinery. And you know it! In eleven years its going to be 1984, man. Think about that!
Aaron: Wanna see me feed a mouse to my snake?
Russell Hammond: Yes.

do the right thing spike lee radio raheem mookie2. Do the Right Thing (1989)

“1989 the number/another summer/sound of the funky drummer!” With that opening salvo, Chuck D announces that Public Enemy is in the house and Spike Lee’s incendiary day-in-the-life movie about a neighborhood in Brooklyn has begun. From its opening dance number to its sobering morning-after conclusion, “Do The Right Thing” is one of the funniest and most alive movies ever created. People remember this being an issue-related film, which is correct, but often times what is missing from their memory is how funny it really is. If every “serious issue” film was this much fun, they would do a lot better at the box office. “Do The Right Thing” didn’t do that well in the theaters, though, because it was way ahead of its time. Despite it being a snapshot of a certain time period (right down to its ghetto blasters and white Air Jordans), it feels absolutely timeless. The much-debated ending takes on resonance with each repeated viewing, and is always a great conversation-starter.

Da Mayor: Doctor…
Mookie: C’mon, what. What?
Da Mayor: Always do the right thing.
Mookie: That’s it?
Da Mayor: That’s it.
Mookie: I got it, I’m gone.

fargo frances mcdormand marge norm gunderson1. Fargo (1996)

The second appearance on this list from the Coen brothers is one of my favorite quotable movies ever, and a shining rebuttal to critic Pauline Kael’s opinion that you need not see a film more than once to get it. “Fargo” is a twisted black comedy with so much misfortune heaped upon the dim-witted lead characters that it actually gets funnier the more you see it. In a way, the movie can eventually de-sensitize you to the violence, allowing its absurdity to become front and center. A terrorized housewife with a blanket over her head tumbling down the stairs in an unconscious heap after being chased by kidnappers? Funny! A dead body in a woodchipper? Funny! Just thinking about pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) and the loving relationship she has with her artist husband makes me smile. Steve Buscemi’s foul-motor-mouthed criminal and William H. Macy’s emasculated car salesman are absolutely hilarious and heartbreaking—a far cry from the reserved tenderness that Marge shows her husband, even after a long day of fighting both crime and morning sickness. “Fargo” allows me to laugh at life’s desperate nature while simultaneously warming my heart every time. Each line in this movie is a treasure, and even the ones not necessarily meant to be funny seem to find their way into my daily conversation. All hail “Fargo”—a movie I can watch over and over again.

Marge Gunderson: So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’t you know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes for The Pitch. He’s former President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls, Ultimate Fakebook, and Truck Stop Love . He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Reed April 15, 2008 at 1:14 pm

You have two Coen Brothers’ films and neither of them is The Big Lebowski? That one would top my list, by a good margin at that. Rushmore would likely be second for me, and Goodfellas, Dr. Strangelove, and Almost Famous would make it as well. Others include (in no particular order):
any Coen Brothers movie up through O Brother
Blade Runner
Hoop Dreams
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The Waterboy
2001: A Space Odyssey
<a href=””Conan the Barbarian
Spinal Tap
Mulholland Dr.
The Blues Brothers
Pulp Fiction
The Silence of the Lambs
The Fellowship of the Ring (yeah, I’m kind of a nerd)

To narrow this down to ten would be a really major challenge.


2 Paul Mazzoni April 15, 2008 at 7:11 pm

L.A. Confidential? Loved it, but I already know what happens. “Do the Right Thing” just sucks. And a movie from 1947? Yeah, I’ll watch it, if I am having a hard time falling asleep. This does not remind me of a Melin list, but if you say so. Hmmm, what would I pick.

Babe – everything shot in this movie is perfection. Not just a kid’s movie. Plus, I did just watch it for probably the 6th time about 2 weeks ago.
Raising Arizona – I love Coen brothers movies, but this is really the only one I can watch again and again and again.
Robocop – As you know, this was probably my “Spinal Tap”. But I haven’t watched it in a really long time.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Adventures of Baron Munchausen
For Your Eyes Only (and most Bond movies)
The Right Stuff
A Christmas Story

I am sure there are more, but these came to mind first.


3 blowjobsforcoens April 16, 2008 at 8:07 am

I love brilliant comments like “Do the Right Thing” sucks. Paul, you should be a critic.

Since we are pontificating on suck… “Big Lebowski” the most over-quoted movie since “Pulp Fiction” and “Office Space.”


4 Reed April 16, 2008 at 11:09 am

Well, The Big Lebowski came out two years before Office Space, but thanks for the compelling insight anyway.


5 kenny April 17, 2008 at 6:03 am

That is a very good and well-planned list. My picks would be Seven, The Fifth Element, The Shawshank Redemption, Blade Runner, Almost Famous, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Gladiator, Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Wedding Crashers. A very eclectic list, but nonetheless movies I could watch repeatedly.


6 Eric Melin April 17, 2008 at 7:57 am

Reed, I must confess I am one of those weirdos who cannot get into “The Big Lebowski.” It is my least fave Coens film (although technically I may dislike “The Ladykillers” more– I’ve just only seen that once.) One of these days, I’ll have to make another return visit to Lebowski and see if I can finally get over John Goodman bellowing for the whole movie and everybody trying a little too hard to be quirky. I will recognize Jeff Bridges’ great performance, but Julianne Moore’s artist? The “nihilists”? Please. As the Beatles once said, “It’s all too much.” “Chinatown” almost made this list, but I already had plenty o’ noir, so it just missed. I’ve written about “Blade Runner” too much as well. “Mulholland Dr.” is a near-miss, too, but I love the atmosphee and trying to test out a new theory on the plot each time I see it.
Paul, I think you need to watch “Do the Right Thing” again. You may see it differently now. I did a paper on “Robocop” AND one on “Starship Troopers.” Love those flicks. Verhoeven is a mad genius when he wants to be, and other times he’s just mad. “Babe” and “Babe: Pig in the City” are fantastic films and not just kids’ movies for sure!


7 Eric Melin April 17, 2008 at 7:59 am

Kenny, I’m suprised to see 2001 on your and Reed’s list. I love it and I’ve seen it numerous times, but it’s a bit of a chore, not one that I would think of to just pop in and watch again and again. That said, I haven’t seen it in awhile, and I think I’m due.


8 nina April 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Wow! This list is hard! I could probably pick a top ten in every genre of film. Coen brothers have made quite a few I adore and I will just clump them together as general faves though I agree with Eric on Ladykillers and Lebowski warrants a certain mood to watch. Admittedly several on my list I haven’t seen in a while but they are permanent fixtures in my collection and reliable favorites. Others have mentioned quite a few I love but these are the ones I go back to time and time again.

Empire of the Sun (passed over for the Oscar because The Last Emperor was far more epic but I think an equally better film. Not to mention preview to Bale’s brilliance.)
Usual Suspects
Shawshank Redemption
Amelie (Delicatessen and City of Lost Children could probably be added here too)
Black Hawk Down
Fight Club
Strictly Ballroom (Luhrman’s gaudiness indie style)
Indiana Jones Trilogy (depends on the day as to which one stands out more)
Saving Private Ryan
Love Actually (Yes, I listed this. Sometimes you just need a chick flick to mellow out the day and this one has almost every British actor I love in it. Granted there are two others in my list that could go into this category)

Honorable Mention: Charade (Grant and Hepburn. Just love ’em)


9 nina April 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Whoops! I meant Empire of the Sun was an equal if not BETTER film! The Last Emperor was soooo long (well, back then).


10 Dana April 17, 2008 at 3:02 pm

For all of the Coen Brother’s fans who have been posting, Screenland has devoted their next couple of Friday’s to their films:

The Big Lebowski
Friday, April 25th at 9:00

First Friday Film Series: Raising Arizona
Friday, May 2nd at 9:00
Saturday, May 3rd at 9:00
Sunday, May 4th at 7:00


11 kenny April 17, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Yes, I mainly listed 2001 because of how I can just put in the movie and it makes me think each and every time I watch it. Yet, honestly it’s probably the last of my ten, but one I enjoy watching a lot. You and J.D. should make a list of the top ten movies you’ve watched way too many times. I think it’d be interesting and fun to see. Keep up the good work.


12 Clint May 28, 2008 at 10:57 pm

What an odd list, in the sense that it contains so many movies I’ve seen and either didn’t like much in the first place, or even if I did, I wouldn’t watch them more than once.

The Coens keep cropping up on these lists and for good reason, but except for Raising Arizona, not the ones I liked the most. Hudsucker Proxy I’ve watched at least once a year ever since I first saw it years ago, and I never tire of it.

There are numerous movies I can watch do that with, but if I’ve got to narrow it to my faves, I guess they’d have to be, in mostly no particular order:

* Shawshank Redemption
* The Man from Snowy River
* Roman Holiday
* The Philadelphia Story
* Raiders of the Lost Ark
* Singin’ in the Rain
* The Incredibles (I watched it 5 times the first week I rented it, with all the various commentaries, and watch it more than my kids do)
* Amelie (also watched five times the first week I rented it, but just the movie, with other people)
* The Bourne Identity
* The Empire Strikes Back


13 Tbonez May 29, 2008 at 4:13 am

Back to the future
Raiders of the lost ark
Star Wars


14 Lynz May 29, 2008 at 4:58 am

Where is Ghostbusters! Whats wrong with you people!


15 Skitlez May 29, 2008 at 7:32 pm

This is my first time posting here but I just couldn’t help myself. Interesting stuff. Mine would have to be (In no particular order of course):

Reservoir Dogs – I don’t know why I haven’t seen this movie mentioned on any list on here. My fav of all time.

Fight Club

Pulp Fiction


A Christmas Story


A League Of Their Own – I’m embarrassed about this one lol.

Coneheads – You know you’ve seen this a million times!

Any Star Wars movie


16 Ryan May 30, 2008 at 8:58 am

I’m surprised The Royal Tenenbaums isn’t on here anywhere. Since it came out it’s been a movie I can’t stop watching.


17 Gloria May 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm

My list of top 10 rewatchable films would include:

1. Rushmore–a unique film
2. George of the Jungle–Jay Ward ruled
3. L.A. Confidential–acting supreme
4. The Fifth Element–highly original in a copycat way
5. The Sixth Sense–I don’t care that I know how it ends
6. Serenity–for fun and Fillion
7. Three Colors: Red–one of the most beautiful films ever
8. Casablanca-come on, you have to watch this once every two years
9. The Big Sleep-so sexy
and finally
10. Speed–Keanu’s best


18 NOYB June 19, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Bottle Rocket- I know it’s not as sophisticated as Rushmore and the Royal Tenenbaums but the film still slays me everytime I watch it.
A Christmas Story
Usual Suspects
Groundhog Day
Annie Hall
Young Frankenstein
Pulp Fiction
Broadcast News
Dr. Strangelove- or…
Not necessarily in that order- Harold and Maude and Bull Durham would be runner ups


19 NOYB June 19, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Annie Hall needs to be moved to runner-up category and replaced by Raising Arizona which I’ve probably watched more times than any other film.


20 Eric Melin June 19, 2008 at 9:54 pm

I love the variety on your list. “For fun and Fillion”– perfect!

So glad you mentioned “Broadcast News”– an overlooked classic, to be sure. When are they going to get around to releasing a decent DVD of it? Comedies are real easy to watch over and over again. “Annie Hall” almost made my list!


21 Fingerling June 23, 2008 at 11:24 am

No bottlerocket? Or Rules of Attraction?


22 NOYB June 23, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Granted I’m getting way past ten but I can’t believe I forgot Lost in America, Flirting with Disaster, and Out of Sight.

Eric- Yes, a decent DVD is long overdue for Broadcast News- the picture quality is terrible.


23 mc April 11, 2009 at 9:15 am

Fargo, GoodFellas definitely but the one I’ve probably watched over and over most is Jaws.


24 matt April 14, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Top 5 Movies I’ll Watch Over and Over Again (To Fall Asleep To):

5. The Name of the Rose – Loved the book, tried to watch the movie several times.
4. Mulholland Drive – What the hell is happening in this movie!?! It took a trip to Wikipedia to figure it out and then want to watch again to see if that is how it plays out. But every time I try to watch it again, the slow pace knocks me unconscious.
3. 2001 – What can you expect other than to fall asleep from one of the greatest movies of all time that plays classical music and the first line of dialogue isn’t until the second act?
2. Solaris (new)- The incredibly slow pace coupled with a stellar soundtrack from Cliff Martinez that I use to fall asleep to, I don’t think I ever made it all of the way through this one in spite of owning the DVD.
1. Blade Runner – I think my problem is the version I first tried to watch was the first “director’s cut” where all of the narrative has been removed – so there is a lot of film between dialogue. I gave that a few tries, but gave up a few years ago. I hear there’s a “final cut” that I may try to watch – hopefully that will be a little more exciting.


25 gary April 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Fargo,Reign Over Me, Reservoir Dogs,Crash,From Dusk till Dawn,Harlem Nights, Forrest Gump, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Before The Devil Knows Your Dead, Happy Gilmore, Black Sheep.


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