24. The Jerk
directed by Carl Reiner
Steve Martin’s first film as star and writer remains one his most enduring accomplishments, combining the sort of absurd, slightly knowing innocence that defined his stand-up act with a loose, familiar tale of a man who leaves home to find himself, only to discover that everything he wanted was back on the homestead. He and director Carl Reiner toss off great bits like underground cat jugglers(?!) like they were nothing, expresses perceptions of romance like statistics, and features one of the all-time great cinematic relationships between a man and his dog, albeit one he constantly misunderstands. Martin’s character’s greatest moment of ecstasy comes when the new phone books arrive, featuring his name and new address, a sign that he finally made it in the world. So, too, had Martin.