Caliburn24 here on Skull Island.
5 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). Ray Harryhausen teamed up with long time pal, Ray Bradbury, to take his “The Fog Horn” story and turn into a kaiju epic. An atomic blast, Godzilla-style, wakens the Rhedosaurus. The confrontation of the beastie at Coney Island (actually the Pike in Long Beach) and its interest in the lighthouse are classics. Riding a roller coaster to stop a kaiju is just too cool.
4 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). Akane is a maser operator for the Anti-Megalosaurus Force. She is confined to desk job over soldiers death during a Godzilla attack. They use the skeleton of the 1954 Godzilla to construct Mechagodzilla. Akane is brought in with the team, makes friends with a scientist and his daughter, and she solo pilots Kiryu (Mechagodzilla) against Big G. She does give Godzilla the big beat down so technically a woman did what the military, kaiju, robots, and aliens couldn’t do.
3 Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995). This film tries to follow the footsteps of Jurassic Park. The re-boot emerges from the series created by Daiei Motion Picture Company. The new film uses a suit and also CG to realize the flying turtle. Gamera is directed through a necklace by teen, Asagi, played by Steven Seagal’s daughter, Ayako Fujitani. The film excels in having kaiju attacks affect the stock market and other impacts on society.
2 Godzilla (1954). The original is worthy of following Kong and slowly unveils the threat of Godzilla. This is an atomic horror which actually gives an origin to kaiju, Kong is just there. Big G is taken down by the Oxygen Destroyer, but there are hints that there are other Godzillas out there. The 1998 American version is just sad, CG effects can’t replace a suitmation stomping, that version named Zilla, showed up in the last Godzilla: Final Wars. G: FW was a poor rip-off of Matrix and X-Men with Godzilla making only a cameo. Gareth Edwards, director of the brilliant Monsters (2010), has his Godzilla film out in 2014 and it looks promising.
1 King Kong 1933). Technically, this is the first Kaiju film and also one of the most influential movies for anyone with imagination. Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake falls short of capturing the realistic ape animated by Willis O’Brien. Instead, he jams CG beasties onto Skull Island. Of course, electro shock grip Kong in goofy suit wrassled with Big G in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). What stuns me is that Fay Wray is far more sexier than the modern movie and it is horrible the Kong foot stomping the Skull Islander. Every scene in this movie is a classic.
Other contenders: Cloverfield (2008), this has the shakey cam “found footage” to bring the Clover kaiju to NY. It’s focus on the runners than than the work to stop Clover takes away some of the fun. Ray Harryhausen’s other kaiju, the Ymir in 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) is a cool beastie. Lastly, The Host (2006), not the Twilight novelist sci-fi film, but the Korean kaiju which makes some attempts at creating a cool kaiju, but following a young girl then killing her, is just wrong. Introducing a little boy half way in and he survives seems to make up for her death for the filmmakers. Will Pacific Rim top the list?