Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 20 Favorite Movies of All Time

I've been working on this list for a while now. I've decided to give you a list of my top 20 favorite movies of all time. I know a lot of people like to do top 10 and top 5 lists, but I figured if I gave you a top 20 list, then you would be able to get a better sense of my taste in movies. And I will be working backwards starting at 20 and working to 1. So without more ado, let's get right into it...

20. Raiders of the Lost Ark- Some of these entrees might seem a little cliche, but like my heroes list, I make no apologies for mentioning some of these movies. This is no exception. The movie is one of the best action movies ever made and is probably the best adventure movie ever made. Few have been able to meet the bar set by this movie, and even fewer have passed it. Not even it's own sequels could pass it in terms of greatness. I love Harrison Ford and this has to be one of his best roles

19. Braveheart- There has often been a debate on which is better, Braveheart or Gladiator. For me, personally, Braveheart is the uncontested winner. I think the story is a bit more engaging and a bit deeper, even if it does stray from historical fact. Gladiator was good, but it was your basic revenge story. Braveheart started as revenge, but turned into something much bigger.

15. District 9- This is one of my favorite science fiction movies. I know a lot of people will make the argument that this has the same flaws as Avatar, but I felt more connected with the aliens in this movie, which is weird considering that they were essentially walking 6 foot cockroaches. But that really is an achievement if you ask me. Also, even though there was an obvious political message (like Avatar), I didn't feel like I was being slapped in the face with it (like I was with Avatar).

17. Scarface- I am a huge Al Pacino fan, especially when he does gangster pictures. So it would make sense that I include the crown jewel of his career in this countdown.

16. Hugo- I think it's kind of weird that one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies is not a cops or gangster movie considering that is what he is best at. But this is by far one of his best, making one of the best family films I have ever seen. The movie is essentially a homage to the movies that inspired Scorsese himself, and you can tell he put his soul into this movie.

15. Bladerunner- I have heard a lot of complaints that this movie is really bizarre and weird, and that is why a lot of people don't like it. Ironically, that is the very reason why I like it. This is probably my other favorite Harrison Ford role, playing a much darker and more depressing character than the adventure icons we are used to seeing him play. The story itself is great and I especially love the twist at the end of the director's cut. It's pretty easy to miss and you have to really be paying attention if you are going to catch it. This is one of the few movies where if you are going to see it, see the director's cut because it is much better than the theatrical version.

14. The Shining- I already mentioned that I love Kubrick, and this is my favorite movie of his. I read the book and at first I was a little upset with the amount of artistic license that he took from it, but the more I thought about it, I really didn't mind it and really began to love the subtlety of this movie. This is a horror movie that takes its audience seriously, which is not often seen in this genre. When it is seen however, it really does deserve recognition.

13. The Taxi Driver- Martin Scorsese makes another appearance here as we see another one of his best movies. This is a dark character study that is not for the weak-stomached towards the end. It's a dark, disturbing movie that is a combination of both De Niro's and Scorsese's best efforts. You also can't help but be intrigued by this movie when you hear all of the rumors and legends surrounding the production of the movie (Scorsese planning on shooting a man for making him edit it down).

12. Heat- I love a good old fashioned cops and robbers movie, and Heat set the bar for heist movies. Again, I don't think many heist movies have met it and none have surpassed it. Sure, I love movies like  The Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven and The Town, but this is by far the best. I really like this movie because there is a ten minute shootout scene involving no CGI and no green screen. It's just a bunch of guys running through the streets of Los Angeles with guns. And yet, it is ten times more engaging than most action movies I see these days. Michael Bay and George Lucas, take the hint.

11. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street- I really love Tim Burton, and this is my favorite movie of his. There was a time when Hollywood tried to resurrect musicals and make more movies out of them like they did years ago with West Side Story and Sound of Music. This movie is the only one that we remember because Tim Burton's visual style is perfect for this story and this music. It's a match made in cinema heaven. It was something that could have been really mediocre, but Burton really made something great out of it, as well as giving us some of Johnny Depp's best work and some other good performances from Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman.

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas- I really don't have to talk about this anymore because I've already talked about it to death. Just know that I love the concept, the atmosphere, the animation, the story and the characters.

9. Pulp Fiction- I am a huge fan of nonlinear storytelling and this movie is a prime example of that. In fact, I think this influenced a lot of nonlinear movies that followed it. The characters are great and Quentin Tarantino is a master of writing dialogue. In fact, most of his fans will tell you that the most memorable things about his movies is the dialogue. Not the action or the gore, but the dialogue itself.

8. Fight Club- This is a classic movie that every guy needs to see at some point in his life. It really explores the idea of being a man filled with pent up rage stuck in a PC world with nothing to vent on.  There have been a lot of movies that are social commentaries, a number of which have been directed by Oliver Stone. This one however, is the best. And of course, there is arguably one of the best twist endings I have ever seen. I think The Sixth Sense should take its hat off to this movie.

7. The Lord of the Rings trilogy- which one? All of them! I love all of these movies and put them in the same spot here. I could go on for days as to why I love these movies so much. For now, I'll just tell you that I adore the story, characters and above all, the lore. I may do a day where I talk about what I like about each movie individually.

6. Mystic River- As much as I love Clint Eastwood as an actor, I love him even more as a director, and this movie is my favorite of his. The overall theme of the movie is how violence can affect somebody in the long run. Anybody can say 'Violence is bad', but this story really takes a look at how one act can affect a person's life forever. The other part of the story that I really love is the theme of trying to fight off one's demons and how right when we thought we got them beat, fate comes along to test us and (when human nature is factored into the equation) sometimes, the good part in us doesn't always triumph. It's a brilliant story with brilliant performances all around, especially from the three leads: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon.

5. The Dark Knight- It's no secret that I am a huge Chris Nolan fan, as well as a huge Batman fan. This has to be my favorite movie of his, being the first superhero movie to tackle the issue of ethics and how far one is willing to go in order to achieve success, even if it means breaking their own code. It is also the first super hero movie that really adressed the question of whether or not the hero's presence has done more harm than good. To be honest, you could put any Chris Nolan movie in this spot and I would be happy. Whether it is Memento, Batman Begins or Inception, I love all of his movies. Going back to Pulp Fiction for a minute, Nolan actually confessed to being inspired by the nonlinear storytelling method employed by Quentin Tarantino when he was writing Memento.

4. The Silence of the Lambs- Where do I begin with this movie? I'm usually a guy who, when it comes to scary movies, likes to creeped out to the point that I am not merely just jumping, I want to be disturbed. I want a movie to really have a lasting impression on me if they claim that they can creep me out. And this movie was the first and one of the only movies to ever achieve that. Of course the best parts are Ted Levine and Anthony Hopkins's performances, becoming two of the most memorable villains without ever actually harming anybody on screen, with the exception of one time. The build up to both of these characters is just great. Okay, it wasn't really build up, but when we heard about Buffalo Bill and then saw him on screen, we already knew he was trouble. I had heard a story that this movie was released in the middle of February as a way of marketing it as this year's Valentine's Day date movie for couples to see. I would have loved to been in the theater when the hot young teens all saw some of these scenes just to see what their reactions would be.

3. Saving Private Ryan- Something you should know about me is that I am a history nut, more specifically, I am a World War II nut. I think it's an interesting and important part of human history and needs to be taught to everyone. This movie is the perfect war film, showing us the brutal parts of war and giving little to no romance or thrill to it, or to the deeds done by the men taking part in them. This is a movie where the characters ask the same questions that we would be asking if we were put into that situation. And of course, the whole dilemma can be summed up by Tom Hanks' dying words 'Earn this'. If you haven't seen it, you won't know what I'm talking about. That scene is one of many in this movie that actually get me teary-eyed.

2. The Godfather/ The Godfather pt. 2- They both belong on this spot because I honest to goodness, can't decide which one I like more. Each have their own perks and something that the other doesn't. I could go on about why the first one is better and then spend as much time saying why the second one is better and in the end, still be no closer to deciding which I like more. The second one has some of Al Pacino's finest work, as well as Robert De Niro, but the first one has the oh so memorable performance of Marlon Brando. Everything about these two movies is great.

1. Goodfellas- This is a movie that would easily belong here. It's a gangster film directed by Martin Scorsese and features the old school type of gangster. This was destined to be my favorite movie before I even saw it. This is a movie where the star of it may be Ray Liotta or Robert De Niro, but the real star is the criminal life style that is both glorified and condemned all in the same movie. Much like Scarface, this movie explores the idea of being careful what you wish for, because the characters in this movie DID have everything they wished for, and ended up paying for all of it in the end.

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