Ranking Terry Gilliam’s Top Seven Movies

When thinking about the “weird” directors of the world you have to rank Terry Gilliam up there with the likes of a Stanley Kubrick or a Tim Burton.  Some guys just have a very strange way of interpreting a story.  Granted that interpretation can be completely awesome.   In Gilliam’s case (as with the other two) I would argue that their styles are incredibly successful and refreshing.

As such I thought it’d be a fun idea to rank some of my favorite Terry Gilliam movies.  He’s only directed 15 films so I didn’t have a ton to choose from but below you’ll find my top seven…..

7.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

I might get reamed for putting this at number seven but then again there are going to be tons of people disagreeing with the rankings anyway.   But to defend my position here.   Seriously, you really had to be on drugs to watch this movie.   It’s extremely hard to follow unless you yourself are tripping on acid or mushrooms.   It’s a great film but what is it about again?

6.  Monty Python and  the Holy Grail

I had to put it in here but I won’t lie when I say I really don’t think this movie is funny at all.  That’s all I have to say about that.

5.  The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

This movie was all kinds of weird.  What’s weirder is that there’s a cameo by Robin Williams and he was never credited.   Second, Sarah Polley is the little girl who stars in the film.  Third, you see Uma Thurman topless. And lastly the film’s star, john Neville had a tiny part in The Fifth Element.   I really thought he’d be big time after this movie.   In any event, very imaginative and a very fun film.

4.  Brazil

This was definitely one of Gilliam’s weirder films…even for him.   I can’t get that image of Katherine Helmond’s head being stretched out of my dreams.   But Gilliams always had an eye for strange apocalyptic type scenarios.   Plus to see Robert DeNiro in such a weird movie is definitely pretty cool.

3.  Time Bandits

Personally this is one of my favorite movies of all time.   It’s just an amazing journey through worlds.   The movie is filled with great guess appearances including Sean Connery.   And to top it all off the whole thing is hilarious.  A bunch of little midgets running around in time warps robbing stuff?  It’s incredible.

2.  The Fisher King

I was debating whether or not this would be number one.   Of all of Gilliam’s films this is the most “real.”   While there’s still the creativity and craziness, this is Gilliam’s first portrayal of real characters in real life with real problems.   It was probably my favorite “serious” role of Robin Williams.  And of course, Jeff Bridges is always awesome.

1.   Twelve Monkeys

From the zany soundtrack to the incredible plot to the perfect cast, what’s not to love about this movie?  Everything about it scream awesome which is why it’s my number one.

  • Anon E. Moose

    There’s so much wrong with what you said in this article, I won’t even discuss it…
    But yeah, 12 Monkeys is a good pick for number 1.

  • Russ

    “I had to put it in here but I won’t lie when I say I really don’t think this movie is funny at all. That’s all I have to say about that.”

    You are going to get raped for this. And rightfully so.

  • mortualio

    i second your vote that holy grail is an over-hyped p.o.s. i grew up in south america and came back home to the u.s. for college. all i heard was monty python this, holy grail that. when i finally caught the film i was so overwhelmingly dissapointed. it has its moments…but it’s certainly nothing special. maybe its another high movie?

  • HG kills me every time, but I know enough people who don’t find it funny that this does not surprise me. I love it so much because I grew up watching it. At 9-10 years old I was of course going to find the catapulted animals, limbless black knight and a killer rabbit funny. Then I started getting older and understanding more and more of the jokes with each re-watch.

    What I give you major credit for is realizing that it has a huge fan base whether you like it or not. Most people would say something along the lines of “it is not funny.” Stating like a fact. It is nice to see someone actually express an opinion properly and still give the movie the credit it deserves despite disliking it. Kudos.

  • Steve

    I’ll also second not finding Holy Grail funny. A few years ago the guys at work couldn’t shut up about it. So I figured I’d check it out. With the exception of the Black Knight scene and the scene where the dude is running in place for 90 seconds, then appears instantly in front of the castle and kills everyone at the wedding, this movie is not funny.

    Now one of my friends is telling me I should check out Life of Brian. Ugh.

  • J5

    I agree with The Holy Grail, but Fear & Loathing at 7? I hate people who say this all the time but, read the book. Shit’s hilarious and it might help you to understand what’s going on in the movie a little bit more. The first time I saw the movie I didnt know what the hell was going on, but after about the 5th time seeing it, I finally understood what they were doing, how it got derailed and how they even managed to recover and screw up all over again.

    You dont need drugs to watch this movie….

    But it helps.

  • Brazil is behind Time Bandits and The Fisher King? No way. I never watched Time Bandits as a kid and that’s probably why I find absolutely nothing to like about it now. I actually hate that movie, but I love everything else from Gilliam.

    Except for Tideland, obviously.

  • Filthwizard

    Gilliam can be awesome when he gets the right project and the right people, although studio interference has caused his films to suffer in some cases. Nice to see you’re not pandering to the crowd by ranking Fear and Loathing quite low and admitting you don’t find Holy Grail funny – respect your opinion.

    But do you still think he’s British?

  • Metallimetal

    Time Bandits and Brazil are the only movies on the list that I have yet to see, although, it’s been so long since I’ve seen the Adventures of Baron Munchausen, that I might as well chalk that one up to the list as well. As for Holy Grail, I would agree that it’s not the funniest, but let’s face it, either you get it, or you don’t.

    It’s hard to dispute that the Fisher King has the most realistic characters among the movies that were listed. However, couldn’t… No, shouldn’t you say the same of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? I mean, the characters in the film were actually based on real people. However crazy the shit in the movie/book might have been, you can’t deny it being real. I’ve read the book, and I’ve watched the movie, and to me, not much was left out. One more thing, I’ve never done a single drug in my life, and I can easily say that Fear and Loathing is one of my absolute favorites. You don’t have to be high to like this movie, you just have to pay attention. You have to, if not, you’ll end up missing a small sound that could send you to the floor laughing uncontrollably.

  • Anon E. Moose

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas WAS NOT MEANT TO BE FUNNY.
    And believe me, being under the influence of any drug, just makes it harder to understand the true core of the movie.

  • Sean

    Terry Gilliam is one of my favourite directors around.
    As for saying he’s directed 15 films. Thats wrong. He’s directed 10 films and co-dirrected one. Then there is 5 shorts he’s done.
    Decent list. I adore Brazil more so than Time Bandits.
    I just wonder why you just didn’t rank his films from least favourite to most.

  • What about Parnassus and Tideland? <— yeah, I know people either love it or hate it (I'm in the former camp).

  • Wenamun

    Couldn’t agree more for 12 Monkeys as #1, well done. However, Brazil is a much better film than Time Bandits. Have you watched Time Bandits recently? It’s horrible. Well, okay horrible isn’t fair but it’s not nearly as good as Brazil. Still, 12 Monkeys is surely #1, no questions asked.

  • maniacal

    “None shall pass!!!” It’s the absurdity that gets me every time. Also, check out The Life of Brian- good stuff.

    Also, I agree with the comment regarding reading Hunter S Thompson- although, I enjoyed the movie as well. And on that note, if you enjoy the strangeness that is Gonzo’s writing style, check out the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolf) about Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.

  • jamie

    moron, brazil is one of the best films ever made, one of the best pieces of art of the 20th century, get it right bro