A Special Report from Agent Carter
Greetings readers of AgentPalmer.com, I am back to share another list with you. This time it’s an A to Z list of my favorite movies. This list is not the end all be all of my favorite movies, and in some cases, certain movies may be my favorite now but may not stay my favorite. Tastes change, and with the media machine churning out new films constantly (even if it may have slowed down for the moment) it’s inevitable. So let’s get into it, shall we?
A – Arachnophobia
Right off the bat, I wanted to go with a movie that is not your typical movie when you think of movies that begin with A. Of course, An American Werewolf in London and Alien were thought of but were the obvious choices.
I decided on the 1990 Black Comedy from director Frank Marshall, executive produced by Steven Speilberg and a joint venture of Amblin Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios’ Hollywood Pictures. It starred Jeff Daniels and John Goodman and was about a San Francisco Doctor moving to a small town that becomes infested by dangerous spiders.
I don’t have arachnophobia, but this was a creepy movie to see as a child and certainly made me not second guess disposing of any spider I saw for a while afterwards,
B – Batman
There was no way that B was going to be anything other Batman, the 1989 Tim Burton version of my favorite caped crusader. I have been a fan of Batman since I was a child and this movie (along with the Kevin Conroy animated series of the ‘90s) was the reason why. Michael Keaton to this day is still my favorite Bruce Wayne/Batman and it’s still a fun movie to rewatch.
C – Clueless
This pick is definitely influenced by recent factors, having recently read Jane Austen’s Emma and noting the direct comparison between the novel and the film during a podcast episode about the movie. It’s a typical ‘90s comedy about a rich Beverly Hills high schooler, played by Alicia Silverstone, who makes a clumsy attempt at playing matchmaker for the awkward new girl. It leads to Cher fumbling her own love-life and learning a lot about how her actions affect her and those around her.
D – Drunken Master
To this day, despite his many great roles, this is still my favorite Jackie Chan movie. It is also one of his earlier film successes. Released in 1978, it has become a kung fu classic and a must see for fans of the genre. Jackie Chan plays Wong-Fei Hung, a well-meaning young man who’s drinking gets him into trouble one too many times, until he is sent away by his father to learn from a Master of the Drunken Martial Arts. I won’t give away more than that, in case there are those out there that have still not seen this great kung fu movie.
E – E.T.
This was the first of the hard decisions. I don’t consider it cheating to reveal that the other option was Evil Dead. I actually had never seen Evil Dead, or at least didn’t remember having seen the entire movie, so I watched it last Halloween with my partner, Jason aka Agent Palmer, and a friend, as part of a Raimi marathon of the Evil Dead films( Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness). So given that I have only really seen it once, I defaulted to a movie I have seen many times and that actually scared me as a small child.
I don’t know if it was the way E.T. looked or the mysterious introduction in the dark with that high-pitched squealing sound he made. Either way, I reacted the same way as Drew Barrymore’s character, except with less screaming. I would watch from behind my fingers, until I eventually got used to it. I also have a memory of the first time we tried to watch E.T., and by tried I mean we didn’t get too far in the first viewing. The reason being, my mom had accidentally bought a Spanish-language version and it had to be returned for an English version before we could finally watch it.
F – Fifth Element
Similar to B, F was going to be Fifth Element. It’s my favorite sci-fi movie and I have seen it countless times. It was also a movie that Agent Palmer and I bonded over, when we first met. We watch it together regularly and quote lines from it constantly. Super green…
G – Ghostbusters
G could have been other things, but I settled on Ghostbusters, as I found it amusing that this movie was once again #1 at the box office. With Ghostbusters: Afterlife postponed, drive-in movie theaters decided to play the original and I love that it managed to hit home with a new generation of movie go-ers, as it did for Gen-X and older Millennials.
H – A Hard Day’s Night
I know, you were expecting Hamilton. But I wanted to keep this list truer to movies, and while Hamilton is a film, it is a filming of the broadway musical and does not have scenes that do not involve some type of singing. A Hard Day’s Night on the other hand, certainly does have a plot and dialog, plus The Beatles! I am a big fan of The Beatles and yet had never seen this film, until it was introduced to me this year. Yes, by Agent Palmer, who himself is more of a Stones guy, but appreciates what The Beatles were doing with this film.
I – Independence Day
With the 4th of July having come and gone, it seems natural and right to have the letter ‘I’ be Independence Day. The 1996 sci-fi action movie from Roland Emmerich starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman. It has Will Smith, in his second major movie appearance, fighting aliens alongside Jeff Goldblum. It has one of the best fictional Presidential speeches and so many quotable lines, many of which belong to the loveable Judd Hirsch.
J – Jaws
It was very hard not to go with Jurassic Park for this one, but I also felt it necessary to include a movie older than the 1980s that wasn’t a Kung Fu movie or about a band. So I went with Jaws, still a Spielberg movie, and one that was very influential on a younger me. I have always loved the water and swimming, but I am still to this day always a bit apprehensive when going into the ocean, and I have this movie to thank for it.
K – The Karate Kid
And we’re back to the ‘80s! Let’s face it, I was born in the ’80s, so a lot of the movies on my list are going to be from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Like many others my age, this movie was on heavy rotation in my household and I dreamed of learning Karate. This movie made it seem more possible, when you have just an average American kid learning to wax on and wax off and what it means to appreciate the lessons of karate. I never did get to learn karate, but boy did I practice at home.
L – Labyrinth
This was another one of those letters that could not and would not be anything else but Labyrinth for L. Let’s talk about influential movies of my childhood. I can without a doubt trace my love of David Bowie to this movie. A certain bulge was something older me appreciated, younger me loved the music, the muppets, the fantasy adventure tale. I imagined myself as Sarah, we both had long dark hair, and had a younger sibling, even if mine wasn’t a little brother. I even had her speech to Jareth at the end of the movie memorized. It’s a great movie, I watch it all the time, I still own my original VHS copy in addition to a DVD copy.
M – Metropolis
I don’t have any animated films on this list yet and I decided the first would be a Japanese animated film based on a 1939 manga of the same name, but unlike the manga also took heavy inspiration from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis of 1927. Rintaro’s 2001 animated film Metropolis, released in the US in 2002. It was in the early 2000’s that while I was in High School that I first saw this film. It was such a fascinating movie about a futuristic dystopia where humans and robots coexist, with a great soundtrack, that I immediately fell in love with it. I was heavy into Japanese culture, Anime, and Manga at the time, and this movie quickly found it’s way into my DVD collection, along with the movies of my favorite Japanese animation director, Hayao Miyazaki.
N – Night at the Museum
This is a great movie with a fun premise. What child hasn’t visited a museum and thought what if the exhibits came to life? What if history came to life before your eyes and you got to experience it as an unexpected adventure? This movie is every child’s and museum lover’s dream come true. And you can’t go wrong with Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Rami Malek, Owen Wilson, and even Paul Rudd! Its sequel was even good, thanks to a lot of the cast returning and the addition of Hank Azaria. I have not seen the third so I can’t comment on that one.
O – Once Upon A Time In China
I included Jackie Chan on this list, so I had to also include my other favorite, Jet Li. This early movie of his from 1991, has a character with the same name as Jackie Chan’s character in Drunken Master, but the two are not related. In this film, Wong Fei Hung teaches a group of men to stand up against British oppression. There are six movies in the series, but only four of them have Jet Li (I, II, III, and VI). If you like Jet Li’s more modern movies, these are definitely worth checking out for their more traditional stories and kung fu styles.
P – The Princess Bride
Oh look, another ‘80s movie that is also a huge pop culture phenom, and it deserves to be on this list, as one of my favorite movies of all time. This list would be incomplete without Princess Bride as P. If I can attribute Labyrinth and many (many) Speilberg films with having a big effect on me growing up, the Princess Bride is right up there with the rest of them. I still quote movie lines from this movie to this day and I’m seriously considering signing up for Quibi just to watch the Celebrity fan version that many actors filmed during quarantine.
Q – The Quick and the Dead
Honestly, I was at a loss for Q and I just went through Q movies on IMBD and that’s when I stumbled across The Quick and the Dead, which I had completely forgotten about. I haven’t watched it in years, but I remember liking it. It has a good cast: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leo DiCaprio and many more. It’s a western about revenge, and while there may be better westerns out there with that same theme, this one’s certainly not a waste of time.
R – Robocop
There were many ‘80s action movies I could have included on this list, many that I enjoy, and while Robocop is not my favorite (that goes to Demolition Man), I remember this movie being more than just an action flick. It tackled issues of morality and had you question whether Robocop was a machine or a man. I also remember watching this far too young for how violent and gritty this movie can get.
S – Scream
I did not expect S to be the hardest letter on this list, until I started jotting down all the titles of movies I really like that start with S. I narrowed it down to four my first go around, and then I left those three alone while I started working on the beginning of the list. I got to S and was able to drop another, and then went back and forth some more before finally settling on Scream. I don’t have any horror/thrillers on this list, so that’s what finally tipped the scales to Scream. Simply because what this movie meant to my generation and the one before me. It was a movie with a killer murdering teenagers, but it was unlike any to have come before it. It had comedy and a surprise twist and it was just a fun and iconic movie with scenes that have been spoofed in many other movies.
T – 10 Things I Hate About You
This movie combines one of my favorite authors, William Shakespeare, with my late ‘90s/early 2000’s crush Heath Ledger. I know I wasn’t alone in that regard, whether it was his dark hair in this movie or blonde in A Knight’s Tale, the man was a looker and the accent. Plus, the movie is a great Shakespeare modernization, since it does not use the bard’s words like the DiCaprio Romeo and Juliet.
U – Up
I will gladly plant my flag on the hill that the first five minutes of Up is one of the greatest fictitious romances of all time. I felt so many emotions during those short minutes that walk us through the life of Carl and Ellie. There are live-action rom coms that came out the same year that can’t hold a candle to this love story. Then you also get a coming of age story and an unlikely friendship forged through adventure. It’s such a good Pixar movie.
V – V for Vendetta
This was a movie that took a few rewatches to really understand fully, and I’m still not entirely sure I get everything that happened in it. But it was unique, dark (in both theme and the way it was shot), and Nathalie Portman and Hugo Weaving were excellent in it. This movie also made me look into Guy Fawkes, and I still have the rhyme memorized. “Remember remember, the 5th of November. The gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason, the gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot.”
W – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
This letter was easy for me and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is another perfect fit for this list. This movie broke the boundaries of animation and live action, together in the same film. You throw in a great cast and a fun who-dunnit plot, and it is without a doubt a classic that everyone should see.
X – X-Men
An obvious choice, and really the only choice for a geek-minded individual. I remember X-men being a big deal, the first of the superhero team movies, that I like to think paved the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite being from a completely different film studio. But prior to X-men, you just did not have a major motion picture with an ensemble cast of superheroes and it was a big deal. It also gave us a very good-looking Logan/Wolverine played by Hugh Jackman.
Y – Young Frankenstein
I was definitely going to include a Mel Brooks movie on this list and without making it more difficult on myself by having to bump something else. I thought this would be the easiest way to knock out Y and get the terrific Young Frankenstein on this list. I have loved Mel Brooks movies since I was a child, and I own most of them. This movie takes a comedic look at the classic tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, but with tap dancing! A definite must watch, then go check out the rest as well!
Z – Zombieland
This was another easy pick, and I did want to have a zombie movie on the list. I am not big on horror movies as a genre, especially modern horror movies, but I have a soft spot for zombie flicks. This one was funny, unique, and just overall very entertaining. I watched the sequel recently, and it was just as good, a testament to the good writing and cast of the first, returning for the second with some new fun things thrown in.
So there you have it, my A to Z Movies. Did any of the selections make you want to rewatch them? Do some of them match your own list were you to come up with one? Were there some movies you haven’t seen? The hope would be that this list reminds you of some old favorites you haven’t seen in a while, or even introduces you to some new films. Either way, let us know which movies make your list.
Agent Carter (@ThisAgentCarter) is a writer, podcaster, and geek. From Jane Austen to Agatha Christie, Doctor Who, Marvel, DC, and more, she geeks on books, nerds on movies, enjoys music, and fedoras.