The year is winding down and before long we will begin seeing lists of things like the top 10 sporting events of the year, the top 10 books, the top 10 TV shows, the top 10 news events and so on and so on. I am a big fan of top 10 lists. Remember the top 10 lists on the David Letterman Show?

I have always been a fan of movies. When I was in elementary school my ambition was to be a movie star and leap tall buildings on a single bound. Almost every Friday evening my brother and our neighbor would walk to the Gem Theatre to see the latest action movie.

Movies expanded my imagination. They allowed me a chance to escape and be the person rescuing a damsel in distress or escaping from a hungry lion. I always tell my wife, Kathy, that when I retire I am going to do nothing but watch Turner Classic Movies all day.

Well, here’s the list of my favorite top 10 movies. Maybe some of mine will match yours. I didn’t put them in any order because to me, they are all No. 1. I also listed some honorable mentions.

"To Kill a Mockingbird"

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There probably isn’t an English teacher around who hasn’t had students read the novel by Harper Lee and then showed students the black and white award-winning movie starring Gregory Peck. It was first shown in 1962 and provoked a lot of discussion about racial inequality. I especially enjoyed the behind the scene narration by Scout, the daughter of Atticus Finch.

"Lonesome Dove"

Although this was a made for TV mini-series western movie based on a 1985 novel by Larry McMurtry, I still consider it a movie. I have seen it a dozen times and I just never grow tired of it. Both Robert Duvall (won Golden Globe award for best actor in a mini-series) and Tommy Lee Jones were both superstars in the movie. The movie motivated me to become a big fan of Larry McMurtry books.

"A Shot in the Dark"

If I ever need to get well quickly, just show me Peter Sellers in "A Shot in the Dark" and I will laugh myself well in a minute. This Blake Edwards film stars Sellers as the bumbling inspector Jacques Clouseau. The film aired in 1965. From opening a car door and walking out into a pool to investigating a murder in a nudist colony and not knowing it is a nudist colony, Clouseau can’t seem to get the idea that he is a bumbling detective.

"Schindler’s List"

I enjoy movies based on historical events and this is one of the best. This 1993 film was directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, which won Academy Awards for best picture and best director. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German industrialist, saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. It’s a black and white film that keeps you on the edge of your seat for 195 minutes.

"When Harry Met Sally"

Star Billy Crystal was pessimistic about this romantic comedy. He was sure that the movie wouldn’t make any money. The film ultimately grossed $92.8 million in North America, well above its $16 million budget. Both Meg Ryan and Crystal were nominated for best actor and actress. It remains one of the top romantic comedies of all time.

"Forrest Gump"

As you know, Tom Hanks starred in the role of Gump but John Travolta was the first choice. They wanted Travolta, but he passed. "Forrest Gump" has made over $683 million worldwide and Tom Hanks won best actor for his role.

"A River Runs Through It"

The book kind of dragged but the movie was exceptional. I liked the narration along with the movie and the spectacular photography. It made you want to move to Montana. Fly fishing doubled in size after the movie was released. Brad Pitt was outstanding and the narrator, Robert Redford, helped make the movie special.

"Dances With Wolves"

The bison hunt in the film used 3,500 bison, 20 wranglers, 24 bareback Native American stunt riders, and 150 extras, and took three weeks to film at the Triple U Buffalo Ranch outside Fort Pierre, S.D. Kevin Costner, who did most of his own horseback riding, nearly broke his back in a fall. "Dances With Wolves" was the first Western to win Best Picture since Cimarron (1931). Costner won the Oscar for Best Director and grossed over 40 million alone on this now classic film.

"The Godfather"

For the filming of the movie, star Marlon Brando, had a dentist make him a custom mouthpiece to create his "bulldog" sagging jowls look. Al Pacino, as Michael Corleone, didn’t really want to play the role. In the scene that featured a horse’s head in bed, a fake horse head was used in rehearsals, but when the cameras were actually rolling, director Francis Ford Coppola used the real thing. The words "mob" and "mafia" are not used in the movie. Godfather I, II and III are arguably the best gangster movies ever made.

"American Graffiti"

I am a product of the 50s so I can’t leave out "American Graffiti." Directed by George Lucas (he also directed Star Wars), there is no connection between the TV series, "Happy Days," and the movie, "American Graffiti." The soundtrack sold three million copies. Actually, the film is more about life in the early 60s. That’s OK, I was around then, too, and I still like to rock around the clock—well, not really.

Picking only 10 movies is tough. Here are some honorable mention movies that are equally as good. "Dead Poets Society," "Goodwill Hunting," "High Noon," "The Graduate," "Sound of Music," "Annie Hall," "Out of Africa," "Christmas Story," "The Sting" and "What About Bob?"

Riddle: What was Forrest Gump's email password? Answer: 1Forest1. I would run to the film section in the library to select films that have teachable moments for young people.

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For every student that drops out of school, a district loses thousands of dollars. This fact alone should be enough motivation for districts to do whatever they can to keep kids in school.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.