10 Favorite Movies

Pastor Bob O'Bannon

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would be interested, but just in case, below are my 10 favorite movies. Note that I didn’t say, “10 most important movies,” or “10 most influential movies,” or even “10 most Gospel-centered movies.” These are simply 10 movies that had a striking and memorable impact on me personally, and in most cases are movies I have watched multiple times and found to be equally rewarding on repeated viewings. 

As a quick disclaimer, be forewarned that I am not necessarily recommending these movies. Some of these films feature content that Christians might find objectionable, and many of them are somewhat gloomy in mood, so please do the appropriate research before watching. 

Here are my 10 favorite movies, in order of release:

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

Classic heartwarming holiday film starring Jimmy Stewart and emphasizing the value and importance of every human life, even when life seems not worth living.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).Timeless story of a white lawyer (Gregory Peck) in the Depression-era south who defends a black man against a false charge.

Cool Hand Luke (1967).

A prisoner (Paul Newman) brings hope to his jaded cellmates through his stubborn refusal to give up.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

So many outstanding performances (Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd) it’s hard to know where to start. Disturbing exploration of the power and influence that institutions have in our lives. 

Network (1976).

What an inspired performance by Peter Finch, who plays a modern-day prophet warning us of the dangers of television: “You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs!” 

Amadeus (1984).

The life of Mozart, with special attention given to his envious colleague Salieri, who is angry at God for making him mediocre: “All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing, and then made me mute. Why?”

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987).

A boarding school welcomes a student during World War II. He is befriended by another student who slowly comes to understand that his new friend is a Jew being hidden from the Nazis. (French — English subtitles).

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

One of Woody Allen’s very best, this movie depicts how heavily guilt can weigh on a man’s conscience, and shows the desperate measures we will take to undo our sins. As one writer said, our nature is not to seek to be just, but to justify ourselves.

The Lives of Others (2006).

Takes place in 1980s communist Germany, showing the power of art to motivate a man to be good. (German — English subtitles). One of the most thoroughly satisfying endings.

There Will be Blood (2007).

Two men (Daniel Day Lewis as an oil tycoon and Paul Dano as a preacher) occupy very different occupations, but maybe they’re more alike than they think. Lewis has to be one of the greatest living actors.