Instead of giving you a boring Top 10 Favorites Movie list, today I want to engage in an an exercise that I’ve seen bouncing around the internet. The challenge is this: To pick a favorite movie for each year you’ve been alive. Just one per year!
This is going to be crazy long, so let’s hop to it! Here’s my list:
1976: Carrie — There weren’t a lot of great choices for my birth year, but this is a great old-time Stephen King classic, so I’ll start with this!
1977: Star Wars: A New Hope — What? I wasn’t going to pick Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I can tell you that!
1978: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes — This spoof was highly influential into getting me into weird movies in my teens.
1979: Alien — Still an amazing movie with great visuals, tense scenes, and a heroine for the ages!
1980: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — It’s really hard to turn my back on Airplane!, but the original trilogy was formative for me.
1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark — It’s tempting to pick a lot of dark horses for these, but I’m going with straight-up honestly. Raiders was — and is — a masterpiece of action-adventure.
1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — KHAAAAAAAAN!
1983: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — My favorite of the original trilogy. I’ll fight you over it.
1984: Ghostbusters — Blue-collar ghost fighters with some of the best quotables of all time!
1985: Back to the Future — This right here is Peak ’80s, with time travel, great music, memorable characters, and outlandish premises.
1986: Aliens — I can’t tell you how hard it was to pick this over so many other greats from this year, especially Short Circuit and Karate Kid Part II. But this right here is one of my top three films of all time.
1987: The Princess Bride — Not just a romance-fantasy lampoon, this manages to spin a storybook adventure I’ve watched hundreds of times.
1988: Die Hard — Action perfection.
1989: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — Narrowly edging out that OTHER time-travel movie, I’m giving it up for the San Dimas duo!
1990: Tremors — This creature feature is filled to the brim with laughs and cheer-worthy moments.
1991: Hudson Hawk — The cult movie that directly led to the creation of Mutant Reviewers!
1992: Encino Man — So dorky yet so lovable. Let’s all squeeze the ju-u-uice!
1993: Army of Darkness — Blood cranked down, laughs cranked up for Ash’s third outing. Gimme some sugar, baby!
1994: PCU — This movie isn’t just about college; this WAS college for me.
1995: Empire Records — Hackers and Tommy Boy were a close follow-ups, but I couldn’t say no to Rex Manning.
1996: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie — There are better MST3K episodes, but I have the movie nearly memorized.
1997: The Fifth Element — It’s such a weird scifi movie, tonally, but its got an enduring goofiness that makes it very watchable.
1998: Can’t Hardly Wait — This movie felt like a close friend to me as I watched it almost daily the year I left college and moved to live by myself.
1999: Galaxy Quest — Old favorites like The Matrix and American Pie have been ousted in recent years with an appreciation for this Star Trek homage.
2000: The Emperor’s New Groove — A highly underrated Disney animated film, it had to be here for the sheer laugh-out-loud density.
2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring — This might have lost some of its luster, but it still is a top shelf adaptation.
2002: Equilibrium — Gun-fu in a dystopian future devoid of feelings. A true cult find that you wanted to share with your friends.
2003: X2: X-Men United — The first was OK, but this was a fantastic superhero film from start to finish.
2004: Spider-Man 2 — I loved the Raimi trilogy, and this was the best of the bunch.
2005: Wallace and Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit — Yeah, I’d rather watch this funny romp than most of what came out that year.
2006: Children of Men — So depressing but so amazingly filmed.
2007: Hot Fuzz — Not just a great send-up of cop action movies, but a good cop action movie as well.
2008: Trick ‘r Treat — A couple of great superhero movies this year, but I’m going with this cult horror anthology that does Halloween justice.
2009: Moon — A quiet scifi mystery with a lot of heart.
2010: The Book of Eli — A post-apocalyptic film with faith at its core. I loved the combination.
2011: The Cabin in the Woods — One of the most meta horror movies ever. Pure genius.
2012: Dredd — No-nonsense brutal scifi comic book action.
2013: Gravity — Not a super-strong year for movies, so I’ll give the nod to this beautifully-shot space survival flick.
2014: John Wick — Likable character, interesting world, and lightning-paced action scenes.
2015: Mad Max Fury Road — I’ve seen few other movies look this fantastic and keep my attention this riveted.
2016: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — Not close to perfect, but that’s actually made it kind of a cult Star Wars film.
2017: Happy Death Day — Groundhog Day done with a horror movie overlay (and plenty of comedy).
2018: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse — One of the most inventive animated movie styles I’ve ever witnessed.
2019: Knives Out — Ugh this is a ridiculously good whodunnit. Want to watch it blind all over again.
2020: Bill and Ted Face the Music — Not a lot of pickins from the Corona Year, so I’ll slot this as a placeholder until I find something better.
2021: Nobody — I might like this even more than John Wick. I need to digest it for a couple more years.