Friday, December 26, 2014

100 Favorite Films - #20 - #11

A continuation of my list of my 100 favorite films of all time.

20. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

One of the finest sequels in the history of film, The Godfather: Part II is actually the first one to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards and a deserving honor without a doubt. In fact, rarely is the merits of this film ever debated but rather the question of whether or not it is superior to The Godfather (spoiler alert for this list: I slightly prefer the first). Absolutely perfect epic crime storytelling.

19. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

My Review of Eyes Wide Shut

The final masterpiece from the genius auteur Stanley Kubrick, the film Eyes Wide Shut was misunderstood before it was even released with a marketing campaign that seemed to sell the eroticism of its actually married real life stars rather than the actual point of the work. A downright eerie, unsettling, hypnotic, and literally nightmare inspiring piece of cinema, if you wrote this off upon its release as being a lesser Kubrick, it's time to revisit and reevaluate. The film is absolutely brilliant.

18. Boyhood (2014)

My Review of Boyhood

That's right, a film released in 2014 has made the top twenty of my all time favorites list. Boyhood is absolutely worthy, an almost indescribable experience crafted by Richard Linklater that feels so real and authentic, watching young Mason grow up before our eyes. It was impossible for me not to make every possible connection to this movie, as I connected with both the struggles of adolescence and also the difficulty of a parent, as at the age of 30 I am not that far removed with the child and teenager I once was, but I also have a 7 year old at home whom I am watching grow up seemingly far too fast. One of the finest aspects of this film that doesn't seem to get the credit it deserves is the editing, which is never flashy because it doesn't need to be but it allows a film that took 12 years to make flow with grace in a running time under three hours. Boyhood is an experience I can't wait to share with my daughter for years and years and years to come.

17. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

The final piece from the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi is my least favorite of the three and yet still finds a spot in my top 20 films of all time. The key is that I word it "least favorite" rather than "worst", because this is a film I love, an adventure I have taken so many times before and will continue to on a regular basis. Was it a step down from The Empire Strikes Back? Sure, but how could it not be? Regardless, I still have a nostalgic joyous blast with this epic conclusion to the single greatest trilogy of all time.

16. Drive (2011)

My Review of Drive

Drive was released in 2011, and I didn't get a chance to see it until early 2012, and despite this being less than three years ago, I have seen the film literally 15 times. That isn't an exaggerated guess or made up number, honestly, 15 times I have sat on my couch and watched Ryan Gosling soak in the gorgeous neon glow of the streets of Los Angeles. Drive is a cinematic drug and I cannot get enough. The aesthetic, the score, the subtly nuanced performances...I knew within the first ten minutes that this would be a special film for me, and I was right.

15. Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense, and quite possibly the finest example of this throughout his illustrious career came with the 1960 film Psycho, which has not lost even a bit of steam despite approaching its 55th anniversary. I recently read the novel of the same name that the film was adapted from, and it actually made my respect for the work of Hitchcock grow even bigger (which I didn't think was possible). It isn't that the source material was poor, in fact it is quite good, but the changes that were made as it was translated to the screen were done so perfectly, and this for me is the mark of a wonderful filmmaker. Hitchcock was clearly willing to use a majority of the book that he felt was on point, he was willing to admit that he shouldn't change EVERYTHING but rather only the small amount of pieces that he just felt could fit better...and the result is incredible.

14. Se7en (1995)

My Review of Se7en

Before I had any concept of who David Fincher was, he was keeping me awake at night with the disturbing thriller Se7en, as I was viewing it at an age that was probably inappropriately young for the material. The rain soaked streets set the somber mood that resonates throughout, and the concept is both deranged and endlessly intriguing: a serial killer showcasing his artistry through the deaths of those he deems worthy, those whom he believes have violated one of the seven deadly sins. While many other scenes are more memorable, I could watch Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey talk about the historical significance of these killings on repeat.

13. Metropolis (1927)

A silent science fiction wonder that was so far ahead of its time it's crazy, Metropolis knocked my socks off the first time I saw it, at a time when I unfairly associated the word "silent" with "boring". An entertaining, bizarre landmark of cinema that managed to blow my mind 80 some years after it's release. I can't even begin to imagine what it did for moviegoers when it was first unleashed onto the big screen.

12. Gravity (2013)

For many, the scientific inaccuracies or the "simplicity" of the story were enough to tarnish the appeal of the film Gravity, but not only did these inaccuracies not bother me, I find them completely meaningless, and there is nothing simplistic about the story being presented. Gravity is absolutely a survival story, but not one of astronauts in space but instead the survival of Dr. Ryan Stone as she searches for a reason to carry on after the tragic death of her young daughter. The cold vastness of space represents death, the glow and inviting nature of a beautiful Earth below represents life, and the obstacles faced by Stone symbolize the extremely painful burden one most carry with them when they are grieving.

I was emotionally wrecked the first time I screened this film, as I recognized the thematic depth of what was being portrayed immediately and I connected to it on so many levels. A major part of me thought of my own daughter sitting at home in that moment and just how awful it would be to not have her in my life. Another part of me was thinking about those people who share this level of grief as the character being portrayed, and my heart shattered thinking about their loss.

Gravity is one of the boldest, most original allegories regarding the subjects of grief and loss and moving on, and those questioning the position of satellites or whether or not the circumstances are "realistic" are missing the point of this cinematic miracle.

11. Singin' in the Rain (1952)

My Review of Singin' in the Rain

A film I look to when I need a little bit of joy in my life, Singin' in the Rain is an absolute classic, one that I almost never gave a chance to because of some ill-conceived notion that as a man I wouldn't be able to connect with a musical. I cannot stop smiling from beginning to end when I watch this picture, with iconic songs and magnetic performances, seriously, this is a treasured piece of the history of film. I never can take my eyes off of the screen and I find myself laughing out loud from beginning to end. Delightful.

Here we go, into the top 10. Well, top 11 actually, as a lame tie will rear it's ugly head in there to allow an extra slot for a film worthy of the recognition. Either way, the next list I post will conclude my favorite films of all time. The image above is one that will appear in my top 10 (11) films of all time.

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