I've written a lot of stuff about Arnold Schwarzenegger. I've done reviews, features, and lists; I even devoted part of the comprehensive exam required to get my Master's degree to his relationship with Maria Shriver and her impact on his films. People tell me I'm obsessed, and I'll tell you the same thing I tell them as I scramble to cover up my T-800 neck tattoo: you're crazy.
As perhaps the leading scholar in the field of Schwarzeneggenomics that I just invented, the one thing I've never written and get asked for a lot is a full ranking of Arnold's movies. It's not an easy task. Some people might compare it to a parent picking their favorite child. I look at it the opposite way. A parent picking their favorite child is relatively easy compared to naming my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. But in honor of this week's release of "The Last Stand," Ahnuld's first big starring role in a decade, I decided it was finally time to man up get this over with.
The question at that point became: how do you rank the movies? For most people it would just be a simple matter of arranging from most to least entertaining. It's a bit more complicated than that for me. Some Schwarzenegger movies that the average fan might find quote-unquote "boring" are amongst my favorites for the ways they reflect on Schwarzenegger's evolving persona and his filmography as a whole. "Collateral Damage," for example, is a middling action movie and a really intriguing part of the last phase of his movie career (before his comeback), when his previously invincible hero suddenly and repeatedly fails to protect everyone around him (a phase that directly coincides with his heart surgeries and, as we now know, his affair with his housekeeper). So I'm not just looking at these things for the action sequences or the one-liners — I'm taking the long view as well.
Ultimately, here's how I did this: I imagined a scenario where every single movie in Schwarzenegger's filmography was placed in front of me. In a vacuum, which would I watch first? Which would I watch last? I let that be my guide. The best movie is both the most engrossing and the most stimulating. The last is the least on both counts. I left out the two early Schwarzenegger rarities — you'll forgive me, I hope, for still having never seen the out-of-print "Scavenger Hunt" and "The Jayne Mansfield Story" — along with his television work, voiceovers, and occasional cameos in movies like "The Long Goodbye" and "The Rundown." Everything else is here.
You may not agree with my list. I encourage you to share your own favorites and to question mine. If you're wondering why I like a particular Schwarzenegger movie, I'll be happy to explain. If you want to read my thoughts on "The Last Stand," you can find them at ScreenCrush. And now, here are my definitive Schwarzeneggenomics rankings:
The Films of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ranked From Best to Worst
1. "The Terminator" (1984)
2. "Total Recall" (1990)
3. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991)
4. "True Lies" (1994)
5. "Commando" (1985)
6. "Predator" (1987)
7. "Conan the Barbarian" (1982)
8. "Pumping Iron" (1977)
9. "Kindergarten Cop" (1990)
10. "The Running Man" (1987)
11. "Red Heat" (1988)
12. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" (2003)
13. "Collateral Damage" (2002)
14. "The 6th Day" (2000)
15. "Eraser" (1996)
16. "Raw Deal" (1986)
17. "Last Action Hero" (1993)
18. "Junior" (1994)
19. "End of Days" (1999)
20. "The Expendables 2" (2012)
21. "The Last Stand" (2013)
22. "Batman & Robin" (1997)
23. "Twins" (1988)
24. "The Villain" (1979)
25. "Stay Hungry" (1976)
26. "Red Sonja" (1985)
27. "Conan the Destroyer" (1984)
28. "The Expendables" (2010)
29. "Hercules in New York" (1969)
30. "Jingle All the Way" (1996)
31. "Around the World in 80 Days" (2004)
Think I gave your favorite Arnold movie a raw deal? Want to give me some red heat for a pick you don't like? Leave me feedback in the comments below.