Greatest vs. Best vs. Favourite
This is my slight variation on Adam Cook's list. I felt the need to make another distinction, a distinction between greatest, best and favourite. The terms are used interchangeably but for the purpose of this list I think it's important to distinguish.
Admittedly I'm getting a little nitpicky with words but for me Greatest is the word I use to describe the most important, influential and technically impressive movies of all time in a somewhat more objective sense. The first five movies listed here are my choices for the greatest films ever made. These movies are daunting films. Everything about them is big. It's possible, for this reason, to not love a movie but still respect it as a great film. That's not to say that I don't genuinely love all the films listed here. Indeed, all five of those films would place very, very highly on my list of the best movies ever made. But they wouldn't be the top 5.
So what would be the top 5? The next five films listed are my choices for the best films ever made. These films fit somewhere between great and favourite. They speak to me personally all the while being impressive from a less emotional, technical point of view. A great film can be flawed but can still be made great by their ambition. The best films need not be ambitious, though. They only need to be successful. For example, the best film of 2003 for me would be Lost in Translation but that wouldn't be my pick for the greatest. The most technically impressive film of that year would have to be The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Still, if you asked me for my most beloved film of 2003 I'd have to say Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - though I know it's flawed. This leads me to the distinction of personal favourite.
The final five films are what I would deem my personal favourite films. These are my most beloved films, movies which I have a personal connection to which I could understand not being shared by other people. This doesn't mean that I don't think these movies are genuinely great films or that these films wouldn't place highly on my list of the best movies of all time. What it does mean, however, is that I probably like them a little more than they deserve because I look past all of their flaws. In some cases it's a movie that I loved as a child. In either case, these last five movies are movies that I've watched many times, the movies that never fail to make me smile.
This list is not written in stone, of course. I'll keep updating it as I see more movies and as my opinions change.