The Joys and Benefits of Living Compassionately and Healthfully. In Other Words: Vegan.
Colleen’s Favorite Films
I’ll admit I’m a person of lists. It’s simply not sufficient for me to create a list of favorite films; I have to create a list of favorite films within various genres. Though the second list (animal conscious films) seems the most relevant to the work I do, I believe every work of art has the potential to create transcendence and thus make us better people. So, by that standard, all of these films are related to my intention of encouraging people to rise to their highest potential.

Favorite Thirteen Movies (I couldn’t pick just ten!)

  • The Human Condition (Kobayashi)
  • Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
  • The Searchers (Ford)
  • L’Eclisse (Antonioni)
  • Le Cercle Rouge (Melville)
  • Au Hasard Balthazar (Bresson)
  • All About Eve (Mankiewicz)
  • Lucky Star (Borzage)
  • Out of the Past (Tourneur)
  • A History of Violence (Cronenberg)
  • Nowhere in Africa (Link)
  • Goyokin (Gosha)
  • Sword of Doom (Okamoto)

Favorite Movies with a Consciousness about Animals

Many sophisticated films explore our relationship with and exploitation of non-human animals. Some of these classic films entertain as they educate, some inspire deep discussion, and some require tissues to be on hand at all times.

  • Au Hasard Balthazar (Bresson)
  • Umberto D. (De Sica)
  • Lonely Are the Brave (Miller)
  • The Misfits (Huston)
  • Amores Perros (González Iñárritu)
  • Eyes without a Face/Les yeux sans visage (Franju)
  • Killer of Sheep (Burnett)
  • Plague Dogs (Rosen)
  • Fantastic Planet/La planète sauvage (Laloux)

Favorite Sad Movies

Though “unrelentingly sad films” doesn’t sound like an endorsement, these are also the most beautiful, honest, truthful films about how humans are capable of behaving and what they’re capable of enduring. Because these movies get at the heart of human cruelty, human relationships, human hope and despair, and human potential, I think they are incredibly important films to see. Stock up on tissues.

  • The Human Condition/Ningen no jōken (Kobayashi)
  • Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata)
  • Au Hasard Balthazar (Bresson)
  • Shoeshine/Sciuscià (De Sica)
  • Germany Year Zero/Germania, anno zero (Rossellini)
  • The Children Are Watching Us/I bambini ci guardano (De Sica)
  • La Terra Trema (Visconti)
  • Rocco and His Brothers/Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Visconti)
  • Sansho, the Bailiff (Mizoguchi)
  • Mouchette (Bresson)
  • Rome, Open City/Roma, città aperta (Rossellini)
  • To Live/Huozhe (Yimou Zhang)
  • Forbidden Games/Jeux interdits (Clement)
  • Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky)
  • Burmese Harp (Ichikawa)

The only reason my runners up Umberto D (De Sica) and Bicycle Thief (De Sica) didn’t make the cut is because both of them end on a note of hope, albeit very small.

Favorite Samurai Films

The idea of people living by a moral code is a theme that interests me immensely. All of these films have to do with the idea of living by a certain set of rules that may or not be reflected in the larger community or the changing times.

  • Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
  • Sword of the Beast (Gosha)
  • Goyokin (Gosha)
  • Sword of Doom (Okamoto)
  • Kill! (Okamoto)
  • Samurai Rebellion (Kobayashi)
  • Harakiri (Kobayashi)
  • Three Outlaw Samurai (Gosha)
  • Kwaidan (Kobayashi)
  • Ran (Kurosawa)
  • Samurai Trilogy: Miyamoto Musashi, Duel at Ichijoji Temple, Duel on Ganryu Island (Yamada, Inagaki)
  • Ghost Dog (Jarmusch)
  • Favorite Westerns
  • Like Samurai films, the themes of the best Westerns have to do with justice, morality, and relationships.
  • The Searchers (Ford)
  • Rio Bravo (Hawks)
  • Once Upon the Time in the West (Leone)
  • For a Few Dollars More (Leone)
  • Shane (Stevens)
  • Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman)
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford)
  • My Darling Clementine (Ford)
  • Lonely Are the Brave (Miller)
  • The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah)
  • Stagecoach (Ford)
  • Fort Apache (Ford)
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales (Eastwood)
  • Bad Day at Black Rock (Sturges)
  • Cheyenne Autumn (Ford)
  • The Gunfighter (King)
  • 3:10 to Yuma (1st half of the 1957 original; 2nd half of the 2007 remake) (Daves/Mangold)
  • The Misfits (Huston)
  • The Grand Silence (Corbucci)
  • The Proposition (Hillcoat)

Favorite Japanese Films

Some of my favorite films are Japanese, so you’ll find a cross-reference in other lists. My favorite directors of all time include Kurosawa, Kobayashi, and Gosha.

  • Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
  • The Human Condition (Kobayasi)
  • Onibaba (Shindo)
  • Ran (Kurosawa)
  • Late Autumn (Ozu)
  • Stray Dog (Kurosawa)
  • Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata)
  • Sword of the Beast (Gosha)
  • Goyokin (Gosha)
  • Sansho, the Bailiff (Mizoguchi)
  • Sword of Doom (Okamoto)
  • Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki)
  • Burmese Harp (Ichikawa)

Favorite Film Noir

Because of the breadth of films that could be defined as “film noir,” it’s pretty hard to narrow it down, but these are my faves, many of which have to do with justice.

  • Out of the Past (Tourneur)
  • The Narrow Margin (Fleischer)
  • Gun Crazy (Lewis)
  • Murder My Sweet (Dmytryk)
  • Brute Force (Dassin)
  • Double Indemnity (Wilder)
  • Pickup on South Street (Fuller)
  • The Big Combo (Lewis)
  • Kiss of Death (Hathaway)
  • The Set-Up (Wise)
  • Asphalt Jungle (Huston)
  • The Killers (Siodmak)
  • Chinatown (Polanski)
  • The Big Heat (Lang)
  • Night and the City (Dassin)
  • Thieves’ Highway (Dassin)
  • L.A. Confidential (Hanson)
  • On Dangerous Ground (Ray)
  • Crossfire (Dmytryk)

Favorite Heist Films

Though some of these could technically be included in “Film Noir,” I think they deserve their own category. Like those in the Film Noir category, these films are heavy on style and clever – though disastrous – robberies.

  • Rififi/Du rififi chez les homes (Dassin)
  • Le Cercle Rouge (Melville)
  • Asphalt Jungle (Huston)
  • Bob Le Flambeur (Melville)
  • Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino)
  • The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 (Sargent)
  • The Killing (Kubrick)
  • Fargo (Coen)
  • The Lavender Hill Mob (Crichton)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (Lumet)
  • The Ladykillers (Mackendrick)
  • How to Steal a Million (Wyler)

Favorite War Films

This is a broad category, as it encompasses more than just films with battle scenes; in a broad sense, it includes films about how war affects human behavior and the human psyche.

  • The Human Condition (Kobayash)
  • Army of Shadows (Melville)
  • Paths of Glory (Kubrick)
  • Nowhere in Africa/Nirgendwo in Afrika (Link)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
  • The Longest Day (multiple directors)
  • Stalag 17 (Wilder)
  • Bridge on the River Kwai (Lean)
  • Shame (Bergman)
  • Burnt by the Sun (Mikhalkov)
  • Battle of Algiers/La battaglia di Algeri (Pontecorvo)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (Milestone)
  • Breaker Morant (Beresford)
  • The Deer Hunter (Cimino)
  • Glory (Zwick)
  • Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
  • Apocalypse Now (Coppola)
  • Coming Home (Ashby)
  • The Best Years of our Lives (Wyler)
  • Dawn Patrol (Goulding)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer)
  • The Big Parade (Vidor)
  • J’accuse (Gance)
  • Rome, Open City/Roma, città aperta (Rossellini)
  • The Killing Fields (Joffe)
  • Grand Illusion (Renoir)
  • La Grande Guerra (Monicelli)
  • Burmese Harp (Ichikawa)

Favorite Gangster Films

Though many pop culture “gangster” or “mafia” films tend to romanticize crime and violence, these films – though not without violent scenes – reflect the consequences of a life of crime and the reasons many people turn to crime as a lifestyle. Great performances in all.

  • White Heat (Walsh)
  • Public Enemy (Wellman)
  • Le Samurai (Melville)
  • Goodfellas (Scorcese)
  • Cry of the City (Siodmak)
  • The Roaring Twenties (Walsh)
  • Sexy Beast (Glazer)
  • Angels With Dirty Faces
  • Bonnie and Clyde (Penn)
  • Mafioso (Lattuada)
  • Boyz n the Hood (Singleton)
  • Scarface: The Shame of a Nation (Hawks)
  • History of Violence (Cronenberg)
  • On the Waterfront (Kazan)

Favorite Prison Films

Whether they’re about trying to break out or enduring life within, these films are unforgettable.

  • Brute Force (Dassin)
  • Le Trou (Becker)
  • Shawshank Redemption (Darabont)
  • I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (LeRoy)
  • Cool Hand Luke (Rosenberg)
  • Dead Man Walking (Robbins)
  • Papillon (Schaffner)
  • Midnight Express (Parker)
  • The Great Escape (Sturges)
  • Stalag 17 (Wilder)
  • Escape from Alcatraz (Siegel)
  • Dirty Dozen (Aldrich)

Favorite Police Films

Great films whose emphasis is on law, order, and then men and women in blue.

  • He Walked by Night (Werker)
  • Detective Story (Wyler)
  • The Big Heat (Lang)
  • L.A. Confidential (Hanson)
  • On Dangerous Ground (Ray)
  • Serpico (Lumet)
  • Le Cercle Rouge (Melville)
  • Dirty Harry (Siegel)
  • The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3
  • High and Low (Kurosawa)
  • Stray Dog (Kurosawa)
  • Insomnia (Skjoldbjærg)
  • Fargo (Coen)
  • The Naked City (Dassin)
  • In the Heat of the Night (Jewison)


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