The B+ Movie Guide: Part XLIX

In May of 2012, Colin said I should make a list of movies that need to be seen, because he felt there were huge gaps in what he’d seen, and wanted something to do. The idea was that I’d make up a list, as “homework” for him, and he’d use that as things to watch.

So we came up with a giant list of 500 movies that worked, and Colin went about finishing it. And now that it’s finished, we’re gonna write it up. Because you don’t watch a giant list of movies without documenting that you did it.

We’re going through the entire list, little by little, for posterity’s sake. And here’s the next set:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)




Kind of an essential movie when we’re talking about geniuses out of their minds on drugs. Burroughs is one, Ginsberg is another, and Hunter S. Thompson is probably the guy I’m most drawn to of the bunch. Depp and Benicio knock this out of the park. Bat country. The writing is fascinating and terrible and genius, all at once — just the sort of thing that needed to be put to film.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)





An archetypal war film. World War II movies are my favorite of all war movies, and this is one of the best ones ever. Unbelievable, how gritty and nasty it is, and how Spielberg shoots it for pure chaos. The way they washed the colors out to make it look like old TIME photos, or how the characters are played as semi-tragic figures who feel out of place at war — all of this removes you from the more typical glorification of war in film and puts you squarely in pacifist territory. It’s a masterwork, and it set the tone for like, a full decade of war movies and TV that followed. Most notably, Band of Brothers.

Also, if you guys didn’t get what the GIF is, it’s when Sizemore has been shot and Hanks is yelling “Miiii-iike!” at him. Because that’s how I address B+ Movie Blog Mike most of the time. Not kidding. I also sometimes say “Michael!” like the kids in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, the video game. But watch this movie if you haven’t.

The Truman Show (1998)




This movie messes with the way you look at the world. Though not really.

Isn’t it funny how this came out at a time when constant personal surveillance and the broadcasting of the most minute details of your life was considered bizarre? The joke of it is that this show would tank in the ratings these days because of Periscope and Meerkat. 

American Beauty (1999)




Kevin Spacey. My man. High school girls. You get older, they stay the same age. Stuff like that. No, but seriously, this is an incredible movie that can be read in like 12 different ways. Sam Mendes knows how to direct, people. Watch this. And Skyfall

Being John Malkovich (1999)




They had this on Comedy Central like… every four hours there for a few years during the early 2000s. One of the weirdest cult movies I’ve ever seen and probably will ever see.

“It’s my head!”

Fight Club (1999)




I am Colin’s unflinching confidence that you have all seen this movie and will get what I’m doing here.

The Insider (1999)


There’s always a difference between someone’s best film and your favorite film of theirs. For example, my favorite Michael Mann film is Collateral. Most people’s favorite is Heat. But this — this is probably his best film. It’s about Russell Crowe, who used to work for Big Tobacco, who decides to go on 60 Minutes and expose all of the lies they’re telling. And it’s fascinating. It’s a legal drama, essentially. Since the producers need to decide if they can legally put what he’s saying on television, and they have to vet the whole thing, and then he knows that if he does this, he’s breaking a whole bunch of NDAs he signed, and will essentially go to prison for this. It’s so good. Trust me, if you haven’t seen this, you’re gonna love it. (3)


Yeah, he basically explained it. All I’ll say is — glad that we had Russell Crowe here from having done LA Confidential, and that this is probably Michael Mann’s best film, while my favorite of his remains Miami Vice, cause it’s awesome.

Magnolia (1999)


This is a very divisive film. But it’s really engaging, and really ambitious. It’s a character study. In that it’s a study of characters. And we follow a bunch of them who are all in some way, sometimes in very minor ways, connected. It’s a really fascinating movie, with great performances all around, and it was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, which means it is required viewing. (2)


PTA with an ensemble cast that would make your face melt. I’m not going to list them all — just Google the movie if you haven’t seen it. But there are two things I want to say about the movie. First, the scene where Philip Seymour Hoffman is on the phone tracking down the “long-lost son” really stuck with me because that guy could act like nobody’s business. And second, isn’t it kind of funny how Paul Thomas Anderson’s obsession with animal magnetism and evangelists came out in the character played by Tom Cruise here and then later ended up lampooning Scientology? Several of the people I’ve spoken to about this movie have commented on how Tom Cruise seemed to be cast off-type for this movie, considering that he’s more often placed in action roles. I’d say that given his off-screen persona, he was actually a perfect fit for this character and his motivations. Loved it.

The Matrix (1999)




People have seen this movie. It like, changed the world and stuff. We wrote stuff about it. 

Office Space (1999)




Total cult movie, but I think I’ve seen like… maybe seven people who haven’t seen it. I mean, between Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, this and Idiocracy, Mike Judge has carved out his place in American comedy for sure. Of all of it, this is my favorite, if only because I spent a lot of time in my parents’ cubicles in the 90s. 

Three Kings (1999)


Some might say this is David O. Russell’s best movie. It’s so entertaining. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube are bored soldiers at the end of Desert Storm, who have nothing to do, and end up on a treasure hunt for a bunch of gold Saddam stole from Kuwait. It’s a perfect movie. This is one of the great forgotten masterpieces of the past 20 years. People know it’s good, but it always is never the first to get mentioned. But it deserves to be. (2)


Just rewatched this and it is a total blast. It deals with tough issues that still apply in the Middle East, like how the US shows up and then leaves (though, don’t you have to leave sometime? Are we supposed to just annex these countries?) or how shifting politics in the region often leave the average local on the receiving end of some serious BS. But through it all, it stays funny in a way that I’ve never seen another film of this genre pull off. AND it has Ice Cube, which is an added bonus for me.

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:


And that’s the end of the list. Just in time, too. Because I was totally out of shit to say.

I will end with one small caveat, which is — this list was meant to be something for Colin to watch movies he hadn’t seen, that one would think are “essential” viewing. Now, part of that is stuff that’s required viewing for anyone interested in movies. You’ve heard Colin say a few times that he saw movies during the course of this list that he hadn’t seen before that he knew he probably needed to have seen. That’s how we all feel. And then there were movies on there that I felt he needed to see. It was mostly one friend giving another friend a list of movies to watch. But then it ended up on here, which means we had to start analyzing it, and picking apart which ones really didn’t belong there in the grand scheme of things. Sure, one movie isn’t as “essential” as another movie in the eyes of most people, and this other movie really should be on the list too, and because we’re dealing with a fixed number, some other movies could probably come off… I know about all of that. The idea was just to give people movies to watch. This was the list we had, and it was made under particular circumstances. But since it is fun to give people movies to watch, I’m not going to end with this. Stay tuned, because a lot more movies are coming.


Couldn’t have said it better. I’ll put it to you all like this: I know you think that there are some movies on here that aren’t worthy of a spot on a list like this, and that there are some movies that probably shouldn’t have been omitted. That’s what happens on a subjective list. I met someone who insists that by several objective measures, The Godfather Part II is a worse film than Weekend at Bernie’s II. I’m betting — and hoping — that none of you agree with that, but on the off chance that one of you does, there’s a possibility that you think our list failed you in some small way. So take this all for what it is, which is a list that was originally intended to round out my own viewing experience in a hurry. The list is a sort of hybrid or compromise between those movies that I should totally have seen and the movies that everyone totally should have seen. We also wanted at least one from each year, and a decent representation from several genres.

So we’re clear, nobody’s calling this the be-all, end-all of film lists. What I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty is that if you do take the time to watch everything (yes, everything) on here, you’ll feel pretty good about it. I do.

– – – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

3 responses

  1. BlueFox94

    Great essentials list, guys!

    Based on my experience reading this blog, I’d predict, unless what’s coming tomorrow is something entirely different from everything else, you guys have enough time left for a few things before the Oscar season gets underway in December.

    There might be time to do one or two Fun With Franchises installments.

    Mike also could go through Big Hero 6 to continue building Ranking Disney.

    August is almost over, so I’m guessing we’re due for another Year In Review Trimester report of capsule movie reviews. I’m curious to see Mike’s thoughts are on Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside out, among other new releases.

    How about the Pictorial History of the Movies entry for 2014? There’s definitely time to pick one and write on it.

    Lastly…I’m mighty curious about that Director’s List you’ve talked about before, Mike.

    I’ll be waiting patiently to see what gets posted soon. Cheers!

    August 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    • Wrap-up post from me tomorrow, but Mike’s stuff… yeah, starting the day after tomorrow, there’ll be something big that you didn’t mention. No shortage of content.

      August 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      • BlueFox94

        I still stand by my belief that the B+ Movie Blog is the best film blog on the internet right now, dick jokes and all. You guys are the best!

        August 26, 2015 at 11:25 am

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