A Life in Great Movies I Haven’t Seen

Two months ago I participated in the fun meme A Life in Movies wherein I listed a great movie that was released in every year of my life. Now, I’m doing the same, but this time the movies that were released in these respective years of my life are all “great” movies I have yet to see. So, without further ado:

1987: Wings of Desire

This famous foreign film is one of the many Criterion DVDs owned by my Criterion-obsessed friend Stephen, and it is the subject of an upcoming movie night between me and friends, so I’m excited to finally see it, as it looks marvellous.

1988: Cinema Paradiso

Okay, feel free to shoot away. I feel tremendously guilty for not having seen this family cult classic. And it’s a movie about a kid who enjoys movies! Why haven’t I seen this again?

1989: Do The Right Thing

Alright, I understand I must be starting to seriously piss people off with this list, and I can assure you it’s imperitive for me to see these movies, and this modern classic is as high up as you can get on the queue, so it’ll be knocked down very soon.

1990: Dances with Wolves

It’s my mother’s favourite movie of all time, and it indeed looks like something special, but this Oscar-snatching three-hour epic has evaded me even though it’s exactly the kind of film I’d enjoy.

1991: Delicatessen

Again, exactly the kind of film I enjoy. Lynchian, delightfully comic and disgusting adventures, and what’s more, it’s French! And it’s Bastille Day, so I might get this one delivered in the next few days.

1992: The Best Intentions

Scripted by Ingmar Bergman in the seemingly dormant part of his career after the phenomenal out-with-a-bang Fanny and Alexander, this Palme D’Or-winning film is on the list of movies I must see for several reasons, most of all the ones I’ve already mentioned.

1993: Carlito’s Way

Being quite a fan of the diverse work of Brian DePalma, it’s obvious that this is a must-see. And also, Al Pacino… well, Al Pacino, for God’s sake, fresh off the set of the brilliant Scent of a Woman.

1994: The Lion King

Ouch, this one hurt. Childhood favourite? For some, yes, but I honestly wasn’t interested in lions growing up, so I couldn’t give a flip. I’m sure it’s brilliant, though.

1995: Braveheart

I saw parts of it growing up, but never got around to seeing the whole thing? I enjoyed what I saw, but I just can’t be bothered revisiting it! Am I a bad movie person?

1996: The English Patient

One of the only movies on this list I’m not in a huge hurry to see, I still feel kinda bad about skipping this Best Picture winner. What d’you think, am I missing anything?

1997: Air Force One

Now this looks badass. A friend called it Die Hard with Harrison Ford, and you have no idea how appealing that description is to me, even though in general I don’t love action films.

1998: The Thin Red Line

In the days leading up to my long-awaited viewing of The Tree of Life, I’m going through all of Terrence Malick’s films, and this is one I am awaiting eagerly.

1999: The Straight Story

What makes this especially shocking is that it is directed by one of my favourite directors, David Lynch, who I have obsessed over in the past and whose films have provoked hours – even days – of relentless thought. But this comparitively simple true story directed by Lynch continues to evade me, most probably because I’m afraid to try something different from the man.

2000: Gladiator

Again, I like epics, and films with a lot of time and effort put into them, but some of them I just haven’t got around to seeing. This is a primary example.

2001, 2002, 2003: The Lord of the Rings trilogy


I’ve already copped a lot of hate for missing out on this famous trilogy, and I promise I’m aiming to see it very soon, but for now it remains shamefully present on this list.

2004: The Aviator

You probably already know how much I love Scorsese, which makes skipping The Aviator in my movie watching habits a glaring omission. Yes, I intend to see it, as I do so many of this list, but not in the immediate future.

2005: Walk the Line

As much as I love biopics (and Johnny Cash), I seem to have struck out again by missing this supposedly brilliant tale of the singer’s life. Bugger me ignorance!

2006: The Lives of Others

As intriguing and alluring as it sounds, I’ve yet to get around to seeing the Oscar-winning German drama. And it looks pretty bloody good too, the above image reminds me eerily of Coppola’s The Conversation, so that can’t be a bad thing.

2007: Gone Baby Gone

Considering how much I loved Affleck’s The Town, it comes as a surprise even to me that I haven’t yet properly seen Ben Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone. It looks and sounds like a great movie, so I’ve got to see it.

2008: In Bruges

I keep continuously disappointing myself. This has been recommended time after time, and I must apologise again for a film I haven’t seen. But Colin Farrell looks better than ever here, and I trust the recommendations.

2009: Up in the Air

Ouch. George Clooney is a man who I think is tremendously talented, but I’ve yet to see this award-winning film that gives him apparently one of his best roles.

2010: Easy A

I’ll admit, at first I was wary that this was going to be another stupid high school comedy, but I’ve since heard quite good things about it, so no doubt I’ll see it at some point in the future.

So there’s the list. Phew! It feels good to get them all off my chest. I’d like to apologise for the umpteenth time for not seeing some really great films, but I guess the real reason is I’ve been trying to knock over all the obscure, independent movies, or foreign films, rather than the more mainstream ones, so I’ve had less time to check these off, though undoubtedly there will be a point when I go for broke and madly watch them all over the course of an insanely good week.

Anything you’d like to add, say, or speak about? Any great movies you haven’t seen that’re killing you? Leave a comment below.

About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on July 15, 2011, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. There are about 9 on here that I have on my list to see, but still haven’t gotten around to. And there are a few I’ve seen and some I haven’t even heard of. Great list, and don’t worry your not alone on some of these.

  2. What a cool idea.

    Although I will not be imitating as I have 37 films to choose and the last one nearly killed me off!!

    I am happy to say I have seen pretty much all of the films on this list. I say this with joy as most of the lists you put together I have never heard of the films let alone seen them!!! HAHAHA

    Thanks dude!


    • Yeah, I thought because I talk so much about foreign or obscure films that I should really bare the truth about all the mainstream greats I’m missing.

  3. Hi, Tyler, Custard and company:

    I kind of wandered over here from ‘Flix Chatter’. Very intriguing site, Tyler.

    I’ve seen a few that you’ve missed.

    I sat through ‘Dancing With Wolves’ on a date. Super sanctimonious, Kevin Costner vanity project chock full of ‘Chief Dan George’ moments. Three hours of my life I will never get back.

    ‘Carlito’s Way’ should be seen not for Pacino’s ex-con Carlos Brigante, but for the supporting cast. Led by a nearly unrecognizable Sean Penn and an over the top, extremely snotty John Leguizamo.

    I was a bit leery of Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’, but Leonardo DiCaprio (Who’s very hit and miss with me) makes a great, conflicted Obsessive/Compulsion Disordered Howard Hughes.
    His smack down of Alan Alda .on Capitol Hill, Cate Blachett’s Katherine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsdale’s Ava Gardner are not to be missed!

    • Thanks for wandering over, Jack!

      I’ve really underestimated the talent of DiCaprio, I think, and it’s only recently I realized what range and ability he has as an actor when he gets the right script in his hands. As with any Scorsese movie (except the upcoming Hugo), I am looking forward to it.

  4. Great idea for a post and I’m stunned you haven’t seen all of those movies! The Lion King? Braveheart? Gladiator? LOTR? The Lives of Others? It’s time to get to work my friend 🙂

    • Yeah. Some would say I’ve spent too much time watching obscure, independent films and ignoring the bigger ones and the reason is simply because you can walk into a DVD store and find most of the movies on this list with the snap of your fingers, but it’s more difficult to find smaller movies or foreign films and that’s what attracts me to them, in a way.

  5. Cool idea. Because I don’t have a movie blog of my own, I hope you don’t mind, Tyler, if I write my own list with the same criteria right here in the comments section. I won’t add the flashy pictures or a quick synopsis in order to take as few of the valued space of your blog as possible.

    1989 – Born on the Fourth of July
    1990 – Miller’s Crossing
    1991 – Hearts of Darkness
    1992 – Unforgiven
    1993 – Carlito’s Way
    1994 – Ed Wood
    1995 – Nixon
    1996 – The People vs. Larry Flynt
    1997 – Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella)
    1998 – Happiness
    1999 – Magnolia (how dare I say it)
    2000 – Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru)
    2001 – Monster’s Ball
    2002 – Irréversible
    2003 – The Dreamers
    2004 – Downfall (Der Untergang)
    2005 – No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (one of my directors doing a documentary about my favorite artist; if I somehow manage not to like it…)
    2006 – The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)
    2007 – Zeitgeist
    2008 – Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)
    2009 – The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos)
    2010 – Somewhere

    From your list I have seen 15.

    • I’ve seen 11 of yours, and I guess you’re expecting me to scold you on not having seen Magnolia. I will refrain from it, as I’m sure you intend to see it as soon as possible… RIGHT??!

      And, looking at your list, I can only say you’ve got some great movies ahead of you. Some brilliant ones, actually, and I’d try and watch 1990, 1991, 1992, 1999, 2002 and 2008 before any of the other ones.

      • Magnolia is currently third on my watchlist. So I will tackle it soon enough. As I have enjoyed all of PT Anderson’s movies I’ve seen so far, I know this will definitely be good, but the question is “how good?”.

    • That’s fine, take your time with it. I know you’ll enjoy it, although I’ve yet to meet someone who enjoyed it as much as me. But it’s great, anyway.

  6. I’ve only seen ten of these. And I need to see Cinema Paradiso or The Lives of Others before I die or else.

  7. I was at first completely befuddled at a lot of the mainstream films on that list, but I reminded myself how late in the game you got into film. I was born in 1985 so not a big age difference but I’ve always been watching film only really broadening my horizons after leaving school though.

    I’ve seen all of these films with the exception of three, Do the Right Thing, The Best Intentions and (I know right!) The English Patient. I fully understand how you haven’t got around to that one.

    Your priorities need to be Cinema Paradiso, The Straight Story, (it will blow your mind at how incredibly… normal it is) LOTR, (for God’s sake what is wrong with you!) and Up in the Air.

    I am now keen to make a list myself. Can you tell me the easiest way to check out the best movies of each year so to speak?

    Good list, it profoundly shocked me. Good luck with all your catching up.

    • Thanks, and the catching up has already begun. I suppose my laziness is simply because I’ve been so obsessed with tracking down films that are harder to find that I’ve really just forgotten about the easier mainstream movies.

  8. Easy A is really cool, but mind you, I’m right in its target audience. I never saw the LOTR movies until last year, and I guess it’s just law for every New Zealander to watch them (so you better watch them!). The Aviator is a really good movie, probably my favourite Leo performance. Up in the Air is one of my favourite movies. Oh, and The Lion King is a childhood classic!

    Otherwise, I’ve gotta see all the rest. Especially In Bruges, to go with my current Ralph Fiennes obsession.

    • Oh and Air Force One is on TV next Saturday, 8.30pm, channel one 🙂

      • Yep, will be watching Air Force One for sure. And all the others on this list. Everyone keeps recommending In Bruges like it’s the best thing that ever happened, so I’m watching it on Friday.

  9. Such a great idea! I’ll consider doing a similar round-up myself I think!

    On to your list. If you are a big Scorsese fan you might think twice about seeing the Aviator. I think its one of his worst films ever and I think he didn’t wan’t to do it to begin with. Michael Mann was supposedly directing it but jumped ship when he got some other feature greenlit (Miami Vice?) and Martin stepped in as a favour to Leo (this is his pet project).

    I might do a rant post on this film sometime beacuse it could have been a lot better.

    I just watched Easy A a couple of days ago! Its really great, especially if you are into teen coms from the 80’s a la John Hughes! If you are you’ll have a great time!

  10. Forman’s films are an accessible watch for anyone. You should check out Man on the Moon, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Amadeus. Amadeus is a little jarring at first with the American accents but you get pulled into Salieri’s bitter obsession with Mozart very quickly thanks to F. Murray Abraham’s vulnerably sinister performance and Tom Hulce’s frustratingly childish Mozart. (Where the heck is Hulce nowadays?)

    But aside from that I made my own list. Let me know how many you’ve seen that I’ve missed out on so far.

    1985 – Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (Tim Burton’s first feature, only one I haven’t seen.)
    1986 – Hannah and Her Sisters (Apparently one of Woody’s more sophisticated films)
    1987 – Au Revoir Les Enfants (I know. How embarrassing)
    1988 – Dangerous Liaisons (I love Stephen Frears’ work but never got around to this)
    1989 – Lean on Me (Worth it just for Freeman)
    1990 – Europa Europa (I’ve heard good things, I should really get around to it)
    1991 – The Doors (This is a cult favourite, but I’m not a big music person nor do I care much for Val Kilmer – but then Kyle MacLachlan is in it so…)
    1992 – The Crying Game (Guess I never saw it cause I already knew the controversial twist)
    1993 – Philadelphia (Tom Hanks! That’s the guy! Everything he says is a stitch.)
    1994 – Spanking the Monkey (David O. Russell’s first feature)
    1995 – The City of Lost Children (Like his work but just never got around to it.)
    1996 – Sling Blade (I really want t watch this, can’t find on DVD)
    1997 – The Ice Storm (Great cast. Would really want to see this)
    1998 – Great Expectations (It’s always on TV as well but I can’t bear the ads)
    1999 – The Virgin Suicides.
    2000 – Almost Famous – (Music again, and Cameron Crowe is not high on my list)
    2001 – Y tu mama tambien (Supposed to be brilliant)
    2002 – Philanthropy (Romanian cinema is hard to come by)
    2003 – Spring Summer Fall Winter… and Spring (The title alone begs you to watch it)
    2004 – Ray (also The Notebook which EVERY girl in the world has seen)
    2005 – Joyeux Noel
    2006 – Volver
    2007 – Love in the Time of Cholera (I don’t really know if it was that acclaimed thought?)
    2008 – The Reader (and Revolutionary Road sorry Kate Winslet.)
    2009 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (It goes without saying I have not seen the sequels either. I keep meaning to read the nooks first but I’m sooooooo lazy.)
    2010 – The Fighter (The only thing more demotivating than music biobics is sport biobics.)
    2011 – Bridesmaids (Apparently the comedy of the year. But I don’t watch comedies at the cinema. It will have to wait for DVD. Kristen Wiig is very funny though.)

    How did you do?

    • I have seen 11 of yours (87, 89, 91, 92, 93, 97, 00, 01, 08, 09, and 10), and I must say it is an impressive, surprising list. The one I would aim to see first is Au Revoir les Enfants. It’s an all-time favourite of mine, and gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. Brilliant film.

  11. ‘Nooks’ means books in Sweden 😉

  12. I know, it’s on my DVD wish list so soon, soon.

    I originally set out to make this list because I was intrigued at how may ‘iconic’ films you had to catch up on and I to want to check out what I’d been missing out on. In the end I was more surprised at how many movies I had seen both good and bad. I thought there would be a ton from the 80s I had to check out but I rather impressed myself at what I had seen. And as for the years that I had worked in a rental store I actually had trouble finding films I hadn’t seen.

    I guess I always associate the volume of my DVD collection with the amount of films I’ve seen but this list opened my eyes and I want to thank you for your excellent original post and I’m sure you will amaze yourself at just how many films you chew through. In saying that don’t burn yourself out, I’ve certainly experienced that but I’ve had a great revival lately watching Rialto channel.

    Thanks again for the great post.

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for the praise! I always value your thought-provoking and inspiring comments.

      • Again, this is a great motivator. I’ve already ticked off 9 films on my list in one weekend, the majority of which were worthwhile.

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