30. The Graduate (1967)
Dustin Hoffman’s take as a college grad not sure where he is headed with his life is everything I am afraid of in the next two years when I graduate college. The movie is a classic case of external forces trying to lead one’s life, only to result in utter helplessness. That is until you choose to make decisions for yourself and take control of your own life. It also gave cinema one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, thanks to Simon & Garfunkel, and the first on screen cougar, Mrs. Robinson.
29. Kill Bill (2003, 2004)
Tarantino’s two part revenge story was originally cut as a four hour long movie, but the studios told him no way in hell would they let him do that… Part of me is surprised he complied. However, I can say that I have a hard time watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 without watching Vol. 2 right afterwards. The first one has one the greatest cliffhangers of all time, and pays a great deal of tribute to the old Japanese works of Akira Kurosawa while the second has more of a spaghetti western field, paying tribute to Sergio Leone. While both have different atmospheres, the story is incredible along with the action.
28. Boogie Nights (1998)
Who doesn’t want to see a movie in which Mark Wahlberg plays a porn star? No but seriously, Paul Thomas Anderson’s take on the world of adult filmmaking is an incredible movie. So many great stories intertwine in this movie and the cinematography is unbelievable. From the tracking shots, the close-ups, and more. What I love about this movie is you can watch it from any character’s perspective and the entire movie can seem like they are the protagonists of the whole picture. Just a warning, don’t watch this on your first date with a girl, she may not respond as positively as you’d think. PS, another great soundtrack.
27. Drive (2011)
It takes a particular kind of viewer to watch Drive. Some people think it’s a beautifully filmed piece, and others think its pretentious as hell on the director’s part. It’s okay; those people who think the ladder are entitled to their wrong opinions. The car chases in this movie are fantastic thanks to the sound mixing/editing supported by the camera work. There’s a lot of emotion in this movie, and I think the people who aren’t fond of this movie can’t see that. Yes, Ryan Gosling’s nameless character doesn’t say much. However it’s the actions and his expressions that really give his character depth in this movie. There’s one scene in particular in an elevator that I’m thinking of that is just beautiful in this movie. There are no words spoken, but Gosling owns it.
26. The Social Network (2010)
David Fincher’s movie about Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, is a period piece for my generation – in my humble opinion. It’s a movie that shows how Facebook has become not only a means of social media, but also a lifestyle in its own way. It shows how people strive on social status and it’s what makes people tick. An outstanding movie due to the acting of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake; and the screenwriting of Aaron Sorkin.
25. Se7en (1995)
Another David Fincher film, this murder mystery about the seven deadly sins is actually one of the most suspenseful and memorable movies of all time. If you haven’t had the ending spoiled for you yet, count yourself lucky. Morgan Freeman plays the classic cop who is one case away from retiring, but do not let that turn you away from the movie. Brad Pitt as a hothead rookie detective also keeps you invested in this story.
24. American Beauty (1999)
I wrote a speech last summer that was influenced by this movie. It’s a sad movie at times, but also a movie that shows audiences to really grab life by the balls and dream big. Kevin Spacey is phenomenal as the main character and I don’t think I’ve been more attached to a plastic bag as much as I have watching this film. I base a good amount of my morals off of this film; but the homophobic ones, though, don’t worry.
23. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The ultimate story of hope, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is framed for the murder of his wife and now he must go through Hell before taking back his freedom; but not without making a friend along the way named Red (Morgan Freeman). Based on the short story by Stephen King, it shows that fear can hold you down and to overcome it will gain you your freedom.
22. The Godfather (1972, 1974)
Arguably the greatest gangster movie of all time, both these movies show the harsh truths about living in a family of organized crime and what can happen when a reluctant son loses himself in the “Family business”. I consider these two, again, two chapters to one overarching story as we see, first, the development of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) as his father, Vito (Marlon Brando), asks him to take his place, and then we movie to Part II and not only see Michael’s ruthless behavior, but also see how his father came into power in his youth (The young Vito being played outstandingly by Robert De Niro). Some of the best writing in cinema, and one of the most heart wrenching stories about family and what can happen if you betray the ones you love. “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.”
21. The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)
I have a lot of friends who hold this movie near and dear to them. Some put it in their top 5, others put it in their top 1. While it may only be 21 on my list, it’s one of the best movies of 2013. It’s a movie with three clear-cut three acts, a protagonist in each part, each of these protgonists faces obstacles to reach an outlying goal, they face a climax, and a resolution. Like I said, sometimes it’s easy just to keep it simple. Pines is a great movie that shows the classical narrative of what can happen with cause an effect. It shows us the sins of our fathers and arguably one of Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper’s best performances of their careers.
Check back in tomorrow for Part 4: #20-11!
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