10. Her (2013)
THIS, is the love story I have been waiting for. Not only does Spike Jonze give you one of the saddest love stories in Hollywood history, but he also makes a statement about humanity and just how much we depend on technology. Joaquin Phoenix is unbelievable in this film, from the delivery of his lines, to his posture and facial expressions when he doesn’t even speak. Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Samantha is nothing short of beautiful. The two work great off of each other, between Phoenix using his expressions and Johansson using only her words, it’s a great contrast. The impact this movie had on me was astounding, which is why it deserves a spot in my top 10, despite how recently it was made. The last five minutes of this movie is some of the best writing and conveying of emotion on celluloid that I’ve ever seen and I think it’s a movie that everyone in my generation needs to see.
9. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
This is indeed my favorite film by Stanley Kubrick. I saw this movie my sophomore year of high school (five years ago), and it hasn’t left me since. I’ve read the book, I’ve studied both Anthony Burgess’ (The author) version of the story and Kubrick’s (Yes, there are some differences). Kubrick does what he does best and tells the story of a rogue teenager in the bleak future and his relentlessness. But is it Alex that failed society, or did society fail Alex? Malcom McDowell is great as Alex and his monologues and narration – spoken in Nadsat, which is a cross of English and British slang. The movie is shocking, disturbing, funny, well shot, well written, and one of the best movies in film history. Kubrick considers Eyes Wide Shut (1999) his best film, but I beg to differ.
8. The Lion King (1994)
Disney’s animated classic is hands down my favorite animated movie of all time. Sure, it’s Hamlet with lions, but it’s a great portrayal of trust, deception, life, death, and being true to whom you are. Plus, let’s face it the songs are awesome. Elton John composes the opening track, “The Circle of Life,” and Carmine Twillie performs it outstandingly with the opening Zulu vocals everyone is familiar with sung by Lebo M. Timon and Pumbaa are classic comedy relief as they show you that life without worries is the way to live, and there is no point in living if you aren’t happy. Time and time again I find myself watching this movie and thinking of excuses to watch it.
7. Casablanca (1942)
The classic love story of the great Humphrey Bogart as he plays Rick Blaine as he runs a restaurant in unoccupied Africa during WWII. I wrote a paper on this film a year ago and after reading about the history this movie has, and the processes of its production throughout the beginning and end of WWII, I fell in love with it even more. What’s most interesting is actor Conrad Veidt, who plays Major Heinrich Strasser. He was a renowned German actor who fled Germany in 1933 with his Jewish wife, and began acting in Hollywood sometime later. The use of lighting and shadows on a black and white canvas are beautifully done and compliment the noir feel of the entire story. Casablanca is a love story for sure; but also a defining movie of American cinema and a movie that reflects the era it was made in. “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
6. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
If you have ever had a single iota of a thought about doing hardcore drugs in your life, I strongly urge you to watch Requiem for a Dream. It’s a movie that has one of the simplest and best messages: If you do drugs, bad things will happen to you and those around you. Darren Aronofsky has made some bizarre movies in his career, and this is certainly no exception. In fact, I would argue that this is his most bizarre movie. 30 Seconds to Mars lead singer, Jared Leto, leads the cast of young adults who find solace in their lives from using heroine, however as viewers go through a year of their lives they see, just like these characters, that drugs aren’t all they turned out to be. If this were a top 50 list of my favorite editing in movies, this would be number one. The fast cuts and still images used throughout make this a movie that pulsates through you. The soundtrack is as eerie as the cinematography, and the lasting effects of this movie are what place it so high on this list.
5. Back to the Future (1985, 1989, 1990)
Robert Zemeckis’ take on time travel is quite possibly the best iteration of the classical narrative, displaying simple cause and effect. Cool teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) goes back in time with Doc. Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) DeLorean-turned-time-machine to the year 1955, and he must find his way back without altering the future to the point where he is never even born. It’s a heartfelt movie with laughs and suspense, and two sequels that also deliver with the same concept. In fact, Part III is my favorite Western (They go back in time to 1885 and Marty pretends to be Clint Eastwood – surely showing some of Zemeckis’ inspiration via Sergio Leone and his Man with no Name trilogy). Zemeckis has brought other timeless wonders to the screen like Forrest Gump (1994) and Cast Away (2000); but I think he nails it with his classical writing and humor in this trilogy. It was also a new and original way to integrate time travel into movies with a DeLorean that has to reach 88mph causing the Flux Capacitor to produce 1.21 gigawatts, “Which is what. Makes. Time. Travel. POSSIBLE.”
4. The Departed (2006)
My favorite Martin Scorsese picture about Boston crime and the definition of, “A rat.” Leonardo DiCaprio goes undercover in Jack Nicholson’s organized crime ring while Matt Damon goes undercover in the Boston Police Department. Loyalties are tested the entire movie as paths are crossed and bullets are dodged (Figuratively and literally). Literally everyone in this movie gives an outstanding performance – from the main cast listed above to the supporting cast such as Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Vera Farmiga. It’s my favorite Boston movie by far, and my favorite Scorsese picture. It’s also my favorite movie that any of the actors in this have done. There’s action, great conversation, a classic Rolling Stones induced soundtrack, and about as many F-bombs as a movie can possibly hold.
3. The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005, 2008, 2012)
I consider Batman Begins (2005) to be the best BATMAN movie of all time. It is the perfect rendition of the caped crusader, who is my favorite comic book hero. It calls back to the Batman of the golden age of comics who not only counted on his physical prowess, but also his craft as a detective who used his resources and cunning to solve crimes as well. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get better, The Dark Knight (2008) came into play. While I think Begins is overall the better BATMAN movie, I find TDK to be the better overall movie. Not only is it arguably the greatest comic book movie to ever be conceived – but it is also one of the greatest crime movies conceived. Heath Ledger gives the most realistic and therefore terrifying portrayals of The Joker to ever grace the screen, and I think Aaron Eckhart isn’t given enough credit for his portrayal of Harvey Dent. It truly is the villains that define this trilogy about a hero, and that is perfectly identified in the third film, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Tom Hardy’s take on Bane is unprecedented as he perfectly executes what every villain in this trilogy wanted to do. Of course none of this could have come to fruition if it weren’t for the creative genius of director Christopher Nolan who created this whole world. Of course I can’t help but thank the box office bomb that was Batman & Robin (1997), also. I feel like if that movie never happened, it would not have led to the revival of Batman in Hollywood and given us such a real iteration of the character, with grounded characters in a realistic setting – definitive trilogy for the Dark Knight mythos.
2. Star Wars (1977, 1980, 1983, 1999, 2002, 2005)
There’s a cardinal rule in my home, which is that you cannot marry a girl unless she likes Star Wars. To me, it’s THE hero’s journey, and my favorite way it is told. You have the protagonist, Luke, who is trying to become a Jedi Knight. Along the way he meets some obstacles, along with a few friends, and they all work together to reach their own goals. Each character in this saga has their own story and their own goals in life. Between that, the sci-fi action, and the iconic moments, there is a reason that I sit down every Memorial Day weekend when these movies are on TV. Now I know the prequel trilogy that was produced some odd ten years ago is often regarded with distaste; but I find it in my heart to love them too. They certainly entertain the hell out of you with the special effects that weren’t offered in the late 70s and early 80s, but you cannot deny the story and originality of the original trilogy. Of the six, I will say that The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is my favorite. It raises the stakes, delves into the characters more, as they develop and evolve throughout their journeys, and leaves you on one of the biggest cliffhangers afterwards. Of the prequel trilogy, I will say Attack of the Clones (2002) is my favorite. A lot of people will tell you I am off my rocker and that that movie is awful due to Hayden Christensen’s acting capability; but I just love the climax that is the Battle of Geonosis and the start of the Clone War.
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
My favorite movie by my favorite director, there’s no surprise it’s number one on this list. I have seen this movie at least 50 times in my life. I have written papers about this movie, I have looked at this movie from the perspective of just about every character. I think it is the most quotable movie of all time, “SAY WHAT AGAIN!” I’m the kid who when you watch this movie with him, he spits random facts at you for every scene. Like the fact that they filmed Mia Wallace getting the adrenaline shot backwards, then they played it in reverse in post-production. Or the fact that the coffee shop manager’s title on the credits is just, “Coffee Shop.” The cinematography is unreal in this movie, from the tight close ups on people’s faces, to the long tracking shots following characters walking to and from their cars. The movie has so many cool characters, I think I’ve changed my favorite character five times. It was Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson) at first. Then it was Vincent Vega (John Travolta) for a while. As of now, it’s The Wolf (Harvey Keitel), and his scene is also my favorite segment of the movie. The script is one of the most original scripts out their, jumping around in the timeline to the point where the beginning of the movie is actually the end of the movie, yet the story is the beginning. It makes sense once you watch it if you haven’t seen it. Anyway, I fell in love with this movie immediately upon viewing it like six years ago. It’s funny, dark, often twisted, smart, memorable, original, and there’s 270+ F-bombs and variations of it dropped. I was going to save this pick for another blog post just to build the suspense up even more (Because I know you all hang on every word of this blog), but I decided that that will be a post for a different day. Not to worry, though, I will come back to Pulp Fiction and give it its due.
Thank you for the patience, I hope that you all enjoyed this. I also hope that if you have not seen a great deal of these movies that you sit down and at least watch the ones that intrigue you. If you do find the time to watch some of these films and you’re not a fan of them, or if you aren’t a fan of some of the ones you’ve seen on this list, just remember that you are more than entitled to your own opinion. There’s a reason it’s called MY Top 50. Not everyone is going to have the same taste, and that’s what makes us human.
@Were_Not_Sorry <- Please?