Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Top 10 favorite movies

I think at one point I did a top 10 albums list. I went out and purchased a movie today, as my stack of what to watch on a flight is running thin. (I typically rent movies and rarely ever buy them). Anyway, I thought it would be a good opportunity to put down a top 10 list for my favorite movies. I'm sure I'll get the list done and forget 5-6 that are my real favorites, but this is my best guess after minimal research and off the top of my head. (These aren't necessarily in any order, except where noted).

1. Pulp Fiction - this might be my favorite movie of all time. Quentin Tarantino's breakout classic. If there ever was a movie that personified 'coolness' on screen it was this one, literally reinventing the careers of John Travolta and Bruce Willis, and taking movie dialogue to entirely new levels. I still laugh so hard I almost cry, every time I see the scene where John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson are driving Marvin away from the shootout and Jackson hits a bump causing Travolta's gun to go off and kill poor Marvin.

2. Clerks - Kevin Smith's first movie had me laughing hysterically in the movie theaters. No movie captured Generation X better in my opinion, at least at that point in their lives, out of high school and grasping with what to do in life. Even though I was in college at the time, the issues the characters were dealing spot on for my generation.

3. Avatar: This spot could easily be Star Wars, but I'm putting Avatar here. My reasons for it are that it's a more recent candidate and due to the integration of CG throughout the film. James Cameron managed to create a world in a way that no director has ever done on the screen (imo). Visually the movie is stunning and considering how much of it is rendered through computers it's amazing to me how seamless the actual video shoots and CG are blended. Star Wars was a phenomenon, but the world evolved over time with the other movies and books. The original story while fantastic was very character driven. That's not to say that being character driven was a bad thing or that George Lucas didn't create a unique world using the tools available to him at the time, it's just that it wasn't Avatar at it's time in comparison.

4. True Romance: There's something about this movie that I just love. I don't know if it's the fact that there are so many small parts for actors that either were "B" category at the time or on their way up, or it's the Quentin Tarantino overseen dialogue that just makes it fun. The story itself isn't anything remarkable but the part I really love is the final fun scene where almost everyone ends up dead during the standoff between the groups. The buildup too it was impressive and the suspense prior to it engaging.

5. Tombstone: I've never been a fan of westerns, until I saw Tombstone. It managed to take an old concept and modernize it. Doc Holliday, played by Val Kilmer, is one of my all time favorite performances.

6. Batman (Tim Burton's): I believe this movie ultimately kicked off the philosophy that superhero movies could be blockbusters. Superman came before it and did well, but in my opinion people don't relate well to Superman. Batman when shone in the manner such as this or in the new series directed by Christopher Nolan, has a depth to his character that opens up the story potential. Tim Burton was able to capture the darkside to the character that hadn't been shown on the screen before (comics and graphic novels had always mined this). Add in the Gothic backdrop of the city and outstanding performances by Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton and you have a classic. (I will say Nolan's Dark Knight with Heath Ledger as the Joker was very good, I didn't think another Batman/Joker movie could come close to Burton's, I was wrong, as it missed by a hair being put here above Burton's. If it wasn't for my preference for Keaton and Burton's take on Batman over Bale and Nolan, I think it might have beat it out.)

7. Ghostbusters: Comedy, action, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and an epic story line. There's a reason it's the highest grossing comedy of all time (although The Hangover might have beaten it out last year). Ghostbusters was a phenomenon. Everything in 1984 seemed to be covered with the international stop symbol, red circle crossed by diagonal slash and you couldn't turn around without hearing the theme song on the radio, hearing someone quote a line, or talking about it. As a high effects movie done in the 80's it actually holds up very well to the test of time now in viewing too. We will ignore the fact that they made a horrendous sequel to this movie. There is hope though, as there seem to be indications that we might get a third movie in the next couple years. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43624

8. Braveheart: As the Southpark kids pointed out, regardless of what you think about Mel Gibson's personal views, the man knows story structure. Gibson managed to mine the history books for a story that was both interesting and which hadn't been done 30 times (Robin Hood). The epic movie did a fantastic job of showing large scale battles for the time period and in many cases the after effects of those battles. The chaotic nature of those skirmishes was brought to life during the movie. It didn't hurt that the storyline of the movie was solid as well, which just made the battle scenes stand out more.

9. Say Anything: I have a confession, with the exception of the movie listed here, I hate the 80's 'brat pack' movies. Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles I can't stand any of them. I just could never get into them. You can imagine my pain as they are some of the wife's favorites and if they are on TV, the channel mysteriously finds its way to them. Having said that, the one I do like is Say Anything, I'm guessing that I never related much to characters in the other movies, but that I connected a bit more with "Lloyd Dobler".

10. I wanted something a bit more obscure here, I debated between Fight Club, In the Mouth of Madness, and my actual choice Army of Darkness. I decided on Army of Darkness based on the fact that Bruce Campbell. Army of Darkness was the third movie in the "Evil Dead" trilogy it has the highest production costs and took the series in a bit more of a comical direction then the previous two, which were a bit more horror focused. The movie works for one reason alone, the coolness of Bruce Campbell. I would do a poor job at trying to describe why Bruce Campbell is cool and even just watching this movie you might not be convinced, it might require viewing the whole Evil Dead series, watching "Bubba Ho-Tep" and "My name is Bruce" as well. If you aren't familiar with who Bruce Campbell is, he's in all three Spiderman movies directed by Sam Raimi (who collaborated with Bruce and their acting troupe on the Evil Dead series). Bruce appears as three different characters during the Spiderman movies, typically hassling Tobey Maguire.

There were a ton of other movies I could have put on the list, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the first three Star Wars, Rocky I or II, Fight Club, Silence of the Lambs, In the Mouth of Madness, Jurassic Park, Talladega Nights, Office Space, the Professional, and many others. I tried to focus on a bit of variety and personal preference, rather then greatest movies of all time. It's tough though to find criteria to narrow it down to just 10 places though and it doesn't help that I think most of my favorites are from the 80s and 90s.


Grange95 said...

OK, Clerks, Ghostbusters, Say Anything, and Batman are excellent picks. Pulp Fiction is defensible. But you must have Star Wars (or Empire Strikes Back) on the list. Off your near miss list, I think Raiders of the Lost Ark and Silence of the Lambs are also must-picks.

For flicks you didn't mention, what about Saving Private Ryan? For comedies, how about Dodgeball or Anchorman?

Michael said...

I know, Star Wars, Empire, and Raiders should almost qualify for Hall of Fame status, i.e not included due to being the best ever. Lambs is good but I don't mind leaving it off the list. I liked Saving Private Ryan and thought about putting a war movie on the list, but if I had to choose a favorite war movie, I'd go with Platoon or Full Metal Jacket. Dodgeball and Anchorman were good but if I'm choosing a comedy would have to be Talladega Nights.

Grange95 said...

For a war movie, the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan was the best war movie scene ever, but I can understand giving overall war movie to Platoon or Full Metal Jacket.

However, even suggesting Talladega Nights is remotely in the same league as Dodgeball or Anchorman is a borderline tasering offense. You have been warned. That is all.

Michael said...

I do like Dodgeball, I'll have to give Anchorman another viewing, I found it funny but I loathe the 70's which is likely the reason I put it farther down on the list.

Grange95 said...

OK, Spike TV is running the original Star Wars trilogy this weekend. The Luke-Leia-Han love triangle in the first two movies is creepy knowing the whole sibling reveal in the third movie. Was this George Lucas channeling a little Roman Polanski? Or just bad writing?

Michael said...

Based on second trilogy, where for years he claimed to know that story and then after they came out and were so bad, admitted that he had a basic outline. I'm guessing it's bad writing and that he hadn't made up his mind yet that they were siblings.