Saturday, September 18, 2010

15 Movies That Stuck With You

From a shared note on my Facebook page, this is my top 15:

1) To Have and Have Not: Lauren Bacall's first film role and the chemistry between her and Bogie is palpable. I think it's their best movie together. Also interesting that the credited screenwriter is William Faulkner.

2) Groundhog Day: The premise is completely relatable, the screenplay is tight and the acting - in particular, Bill Murray's - was spot on. One of those movies I can watch again and again (which is quite ironic, I guess).

3) Lost in Translation: A completely different Bill Murray vehicle, I was totally hooked from the very beginning and really got absorbed by the storyline. Both Murray and Scarlett Johansson light up the screen and Sofia Coppola's direction is superb.

4) Star Wars: I'm referring to the entire series here, not just the original offering. Classic themes abound in this (loss and redemption, unrequited love) and classic heroes and villains. To me, Darth Vader is the best bad guy ever, at least in sci fi flicks.

5) Adam's Rib: Another of my favorite movie couples, Tracy & Hepburn, in a movie that broke a lot of ground on the screen - two professionals who are at odds philosophically and literally. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, this movie shed light on women's rights more than any other of that era.

6) The Shawshank Redemption: Probably one of the best movies I've ever seen only ONCE. Some of the finest acting ever on the big screen (though I only watched it on video), I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to see the "good guys" win in the end.

7) The Godfather: I've only first seen this movie (and the ones that followed) in the last ten years and now I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. OUTSTANDING acting, great characters, superb directing and a storyline that's a total win for me. Oh, and the violence (despite what some say, not gratuitous in the least).

8) Pulp Fiction: One of the most imaginative films I've ever seen, there isn't one part of this multi-part movie that isn't a winner - and the weaving is truly movie magic. Tarantino really shows his brilliance here and it was good to see John Travolta in such a great role.

9) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Loved the book, loved the film even more. I think Nicholson really shows why he's a master of his craft in this role. This peek inside a mental institution is frighteningly real.

10) As Good As It Gets: What characters! The acting is incredible in this unlikely plot, but it does showcase Nicholson's ability to play a great antihero. This is the movie I wish I wrote!

11) Casablanca: Okay, I'm a fanboy of Bogart, that's no lie. This pick may be a bit cliché, but it's a classic film for any screenwriter (or actor or director, I imagine) to deconstruct and learn from. Besides Bogart masterfully masking his seething jealousy and regret beneath a mask of cool indifference, the tragic sadness of Ingrid Bergman really leaves its mark.

12) Psycho (the original): I think this is Hitchcock's masterpiece and Anthony Perkins sells it as a deeply disturbed young man. Probably one of the first movies that kept me up at night with nightmares.

13) The Shining: Back in the day, I was a huge Stephen King fan, so with some trepidation I went to see this at the theater and man, I was NOT disappointed AT ALL. Again, Nicholson plays the insane person with such force and realism, you are left wondering if he really isn't a bit "off" in real life.

14) To Kill a Mockingbird: Such a great dramatic production, this was Gregory Peck's finest showing on the big screen and one of those movies that still resonates today. When I read the book, Harper Lee's only novel, I was amazed how well it translated to film.

15) Amadeus: This one is probably the least likely for this list, but for a number of reasons - the acting, Mozart's music, the period costumes & set design and the storyline itself - convinces me it should be in the top 15. This movie shows that Mozart would've been Mick Jagger - or Iggy Pop - if he lived in the 20th century.