Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part II: Favorite Films of All Time

NOTE: This is the second part of a note posted earlier this week. Just FYI, I'm writing this while I'm home sick, so if it isn't as peppy or zippy as it usually is, I apologize.

Same song and dance as last time. No repeats from directors, not the best, just my favorites, drama is equivalent to comedy, etc.

10. (tie) The Devil Wears Prada/Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Okay, make it a Top Eleven. Both fun, humorous, and infectious films in their own right, each had a towering villain (Meryl Streep, Penelope Cruz), a great actor surrounded by women (Stanley Tucci, Javier Bardem), a well-known ingenue (Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johanssen), and a scene-stealing British female (Emily Blunt, Rebecca Hall). I couldn't leave either movie out, so they tie for the final spot.

9. The Nines
Never heard of it? I don't fault you. Few have seen this absolutely exquisite three-part film from director John August. Well-cast, with Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Who?'s Melissa McCarthy, and In Treatment's Hope Davis using the uncommon film structure to their advantage. Rented on a hunch, I loved The Nines a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who's willing to embrace a slightly quirky film. Your mind will be blown and you'll be humming "Is That All There Is?" for the rest of the day.

8. The Invention of Lying
The newest film on this list. After seeing this on Saturday, I really fell in love with the film. Yes, it has its weaknesses, and yes, Tina Fey was woefully underused. However, the movie has something powerful to say, and it does so in an extremely well-crafted manner. Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais have a strange chemistry together, and Rob Lowe is a perfect smarmy villain. The movie will have you and your viewing company talking the whole way home. Perhaps the concept is the greatest question of all: what would our world be if we couldn't lie?

7. Life is Beautiful
My favorite Holocaust movie, which honestly isn't saying a whole lot considering my disdain for the genre, but I digress. In all seriousness, Life is an excellent movie, anchored by the emotionally gripping performance by Roberton Begnini. The only Holocaust movie everyone needs to see, this movie was beyond good. It was Beautiful.

6. Crash
Another excellent film and Oscar-winner, I have a real love for this film for several reasons. First, it's an ensemble film. It's ridiculously hard to balance a full cast and make them all look as good as Paul Haggis did in this movie. Second, it received a whole mess of backlash after it beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture. Mountain was a good directorial effort. Crash was a masterpiece.

5. Thank You for Smoking
This movie shows how satire is supposed to look. Aaron Eckhart made this movie about a smoking lobbyist great, and perfectly skewered lobbying and liberalism. Few realize this was Jason Reitman's first film. He was the director of Juno and has a new (sure to be brilliant) movie coming out this December, Up in the Air. If you're wondering how his movies will be without the help of Ellen Page and Diablo Cody, look no further than this masterpiece.

4. The Wizard of Oz
What didn't this movie have? "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" remains my favorite (and arguably the best) original song for a film. Judy Garland's performance was pure magic. The sentiment was beautiful. The movie remains a classic. For film purists, this just might be the best movie ever made. Still, for me, three others trump it. The next three are incredibly close, though.

3. Sunset Boulevard
Maybe the first satire, the concept of an old silent film actress gone batty who (essentially) kidnaps a screenwriter to help her with her comeback was genius enough. Getting an actual silent film actress (Gloria Swanson, brilliant in her performance) to play the role was even more incredible. My favorite "old" film by far, Boulevard is still relevant and still rings true to this day.

2. Doubt
No one was quite as riled up about Doubt as I was, and I can understand why. In a year of film that favored the epic (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the fantastic (Slumdog Millionaire), the political (Frost/Nixon), or the bleak (good Lord, only The Reader, Rachel Getting Married, I've Loved You So Long, The Dark Knight...), this film based on the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by John Patrick Shanley really was a play on film. Subtle, quiet, furious, curious, and devastating all at the same time, Doubt boasted some of the best performances of the decade, a script that made you question everything you believe about the Catholic Church, and a question that everyone has a different answer to. If you never saw Doubt, do yourself a favor and go rent it. It's enough for the Streep/Viola Davis showoff alone, not to mention the former's final, iconic, anguished cry: "I have such doubts!" Genius.

1. A Few Good Men
For a guy who hates Tom Cruise, having this movie top the charts is pretty incredible. A Few Good Men, penned by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame, is like Doubt in that it is a play onscreen, but the performances are more dynamic, the cast is more vast, and nothing matches the drama of a courtroom. The final scene between Cruise and Jack Nicholson is iconic, perhaps the most iconic single scene of modern cinema. At a time when films were weak, Men was strong, and it is my favorite film of all time.

If the first list was objectionable, this one is sure to be reviled. Comments? Take them to the bottom. I would love to hear what you all think!

No comments: