I am a big movie fan, as anybody that knows me well is already aware of. While I've delved into my favorite movies numerous times with many different people, I haven't broached the subject yet on this blog. Therefore, over the course of several blogs (not to be posted back to back), I will go through my favorites. I'm not necessarily going to go by genre, I'm just going to do it as it comes to me.
I'll start with the top 10 movies that I can think of as being my favorite right now. These movies are in no particular order, because basically it's impossible for me to determine where in the top 10 these movies should go.
1. Godfather Part II
I know I said above that these movies are in no particular order, but that is not true for the Godfather Part II. This is unquestionably both my favorite movie of all time, and what I consider to be the best movie off all time. It's true that it doesn't work as well if you haven't seen the first, but this movie has so much depth, and such great acting, it's easy to understand why it's close to the top of most people's greatest movie list.
2. Apocalypse Now
This movie is unquestionably my favorite war movie off all time, and what I would consider one of the best made films of all time. Reading about the struggle it was to get this movie made; the budget, the weather, the heart attack, the weight, it all makes for a hardship that I think actually added to the movie, instead of detracted from it. This movie perfectly captures the growing feeling of uneasiness our protagonists feel as they go deeper and deeper into the jungle.
3. Lawrence of Arabia
For those of you that have not seen this film, SEE THIS FILM! I had heard the name for years, as well as the lauditory comments made about Peter O'Toole's performance, but until I watched it I had no idea what I was missing. This film is the ultimate "epic". The scope of the story, the music, the scenes, the acting; it's all so huge and so beautiful, it just wraps you up, and you don't want to be let go. While the first part of this film (before the intermission) is admittedly better than the second, upon subsequent viewings, the second part gets better and better.
4. High Fidelity
I won't try and tell you that this is a great "film". It's not a bad film, but it definitely isn't going on any critics top 100 lists. But I think what this movie does is cut through some bullshit, and really gets to the heart of what many men feel in relationships. It's hard to be happy with the good things we have. The guy has exactly what he could want, but he doesn't want it. I know I've been in this situation (no reference to current situation), and it's frustrating to want to want to be happy, but not being happy with being happy with what you want.
5. Mean Streets
What can I say, this movie has everything I love about great movies. Martin Scorsese is a genius, and this movie was made even before Martin Scorsese was a genius. It's incredibly raw in both its shots, its cuts, and its language. The movie feels as though it was Marty hanging out with a bunch of his hustler buddies around the neighborhood, and filming the whole thing.
6. Annie Hall
I consider this a quintessential New York movie. Not only is it quintessential because it was written, directed and acted in by Woody Allen, but because the language and the motives of the characters are quintessentially New York. I know a lot of people are not big fans of Woody, but I consider his nebbishness to be satirically funny, as if he's making fun of himself, but it was funny because at least in his earlier movies it was before he actually became himself.
7. The Shawshank Redemption
This is a perfect movie. I repeat, this is a perfect movie. I've never said that about any film, and it doesn't necessarily make it the best movie of all time, but it's still perfect. The setting, the writing, the music, the acting, the shots used, the dialogue, and the triumph. This is a movie about a prison, but as the title states, redemption is the center motif, and we see this time and again as the plot rolls on.
8. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Great music, great director, great film. This movie meanders through the unforgiving landscape of the civil war (which the main characters seem completely ambivalent to), and somehow makes all three of the protagonists Blondie (the good), Angel Eyes (the bad), and Tuco (the ugly) seem likable. The films final climactic scene, is probably the best finish in movie history.
9. Once Upon a Time in America
This movie I stumbled upon a few years ago, and I have watched it repeatedly since my first viewing. Like the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, this movie is another Sergio Leone/Ennion Morricone teaming, where the music plays an indespensible part of creating the mood and scope of the movie. I like this movie because unlike so many others shot in New York, it highlights Brooklyn instead of Manhattan, and especially Dumbo which is such an interesting neighborhood; its boutique shops and cobblestone streets, darkened by the shadows of the brick warehouses and dual bridges that tower above.
Let me say from the outset that I don't like this movie because it is a "drug movie". I am not particularly drawn to drug movies (although I do like a few, but it's for their aesthetic quality, not because of the subject matter), but this movie is much more interesting than just a drug trip movie, because it actually follows the characters throughout their experiences, rather than just their experiences on drugs. A great scene in the movie is where the crew takes the train out to the hills, and instead of being happy with being out of the city, they are all pissed off because there's nothing to do there. What this movie lacks in real character development, it makes up for in wit.
I understand that this is not a particularly inspired list, but these are movies that I can watch repeatedly (and do watch repeatedly), and that I continue to enjoy - they age well over time.
Some honorable mentions: Boyz n the Hood, Pulp Fiction, Inception, Fight Club, City of God, the Usual Suspects, Saving Private Ryan, Unforgiven, the Star Wars Trilogy, Almost Famous, and Field of Dreams (I still cry at the end).
What are you some of your favorites?