A lifetime of cinema: a favorite film for every year I’ve been alive.

So, it seems everyone’s doing this now, and it’s actually a pretty cool idea: making a list of your favorite film released for each and every year you’ve been alive.

It’s a surprisingly hard analysis, but also one that, at least for a film buff, demonstrates the primacy of the medium of cinema to one’s past, memories and connotations. I can recall sitting in the theater in July 1991 watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day for the first time, and being amazed by what I saw. I can also remember watching Remains of the Day in the living room of the scholars’ house next door to the American Antiquarian Society, where I was staying on a 2014 research trip in service of my dissertation. Movies really do form one of the important backdrops of my life. Thus, more than being just a “listicle,” this selection is nothing less than a journey through my past.

Here are the favorite films of my life.

The 1970s

1972: Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, director)

1973: The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, director)

1974: The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, director)

1975: Jaws (Steven Spielberg, director)

1976: Network (Sidney Lumet, director)

1977: The Last Wave (Peter Weir, director)

1978: Death on the Nile (John Guillermin, director)

1979: Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, director)

The 1980s

1980: Somewhere in Time (Jeannot Swarc, director)

1981: Reds (Warren Beatty, director)

1982: Deathtrap (Sidney Lumet, director)

1983: The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, director)

1984: Dune (David Lynch, director)

1985: Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, director) *

1986: The Mosquito Coast (Peter Weir, director)

1987: Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, director)

1988: Working Girl (Mike Nichols, director)

1989: Licence to Kill (John Glen, director)

* I struggled with the choice of my favorite film for 1985. While I do like Back to the Future, and it’s a classic, it doesn’t really rise to the level of a “favorite” like most of the others on this list. 1985 was actually a pretty lackluster year for movies, so this was a hard call to make.

The 1990s

1990: GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese, director)

1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, director)

1992: The Player (Robert Altman, director)

1993: Remains of the Day (James Ivory, director) [also my favorite movie of all time]

1994: Quiz Show (Robert Redford, director)

1995: Jefferson in Paris (James Ivory, director)

1996: The Pillow Book (Peter Greenaway, director)

1997: Titanic (James Cameron, director)

1998: The Red Violin (Francois Girard, director)

1999: Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, director)

The 2000s

2000: Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, director)

2001: The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, director)

2002: Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese, director)

2003: Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, director)

2004: Sideways (Alexander Payne, director)

2005: Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, director)

2006: The Queen (Stephen Frears, director)

2007: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, director)

2008: Bottle Shock (Randall Miller, director)

2009: Julie & Julia (Nora Ephron, director)

The 2010s

2010: The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, director)

2011: Margin Call (J.C. Chandor, director)

2012: Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, director)

2013: The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, director)

2014: Gone Girl (David Fincher, director)

2015: Brooklyn (John Crowley, director)

2016: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, director)

2017: Watch this space!

The poster for Solaris is presumably copyright (C) 1972, but I do not know the copyright holder. I believe my inclusion of it here is permissible under fair use. I am not the uploader of any YouTube clips embedded here.
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