For years I have wanted to decide on a list of my favorite movies. It is a very difficult task (and I'm sure my list will change tomorrow). I love movies. Going to see a film in theaters is one of my favorite activities. I think cinema is one of the greatest art forms in existence. You can convey so many things to an audience through film. It is highly versatile. Consequentially, I like the films on this list for varying reasons. Each brings something unique and special to the table. I will endeavor to give a small explanation of why I love each movie as we go through the list.
One caveat should be noted. This list does not include any pure comedies (by the modern definition of the term). There is no Monty Python or Blazing Saddles. I believe that comedy movies are so different from the rest of film that they are their own category. Perhaps one day I will write a list of my favorite comedy films. For now, you should know that Nacho Libre is probably the funniest film ever made.
Without further ado, here we go:
This film has everything. Music, dancing, romance, combat, a drinking song, the greatest Disney prince, dragons, swords, magic, fairies, baking, rivalry, spite, and the greatest Disney villain of all time. Oh, and she actually swears. She says "hell." There is basically nothing to dislike about this film. It is the greatest Disney movie and if you disagree, you are wrong.
9-The Princess Bride
Inconceivable! Speaking of movies that have it all, this movie has it as well (it even lists its own qualifications in the beginning of the film). I have to immediately mention that casting Andre the Giant is the most perfect casting of any role in the history of film. No one else could have played this character properly. No one. The rest of the cast are no slouches, either. This movie is also rippingly funny, in spite of being as much an adventure film as it is a comedy. I just adore this film (and the book is even better).
I was born and raised a Trekkie. I grew up on The Next Generation, which is my bread and butter. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot get into the original series. It is just so painfully dated. Revolutionary for its time, to be sure. But its just so hard for me to go back to. This film took the great ideas and characters that the original series had and presented them in a manner that makes sense in the contemporary film world. Elevated by impeccable acting (particularly on the parts of Chris Pine and Karl Urban), this film gives a whole new perspective on the world of Trek. I love it. Haters be damned.
7-Stranger than Fiction
A perfectly ordinary, average man begins to hear a voice in his head. It is narrating his life. Simultaneously, a brilliant author is writing a novel about a character identical to this man in every way. Coincidence leads to questions about fate, destiny, and choice. This film is beautifully tragic, and rather funny. It is mildy pretentious and highly self-aware. It is as much a commentary about art as a whole as it is a piece of art. I don't want to say much else if you haven't seen it. But this movie is brillliant.
6-The Man from Snowy River
This is the greatest horse movie of all time. Horses are extremely important to this story, but it's about far more than that. It is a coming of age story. A young man lives in the high country of Australia. The locals tell him he must earn the right to live up there with them. He goes down to civilization in order to seek his fortune and prove himself to be a man. He gets a job with the wealthiest man around and eventually gets the opportunity to show that he really does belong in Snowy River. It also has one of the finest soundtracks ever written for a film. You have to see this movie. It's on Netflix in the US right now. Go watch it!
Is there anything I can say about this that hasn't been said? It is probably the greatest science fiction movie of all time. It's cultural relevance is incomparable. The music ingrained upon our souls. The characters are unforgettable. You know this and you love it.
This is another self-aware film. It is a criticism of critics. The brilliantly named Anton Ego is the quintessential critic and, while he is not the film's antagonist, he is the person who the hero must overcome. It is a discussion about art and its relationship to criticism. It also has themes of identity, family, and love. It expresses a love a food that few films are able to convey (CHEF being the only example I can think of that compares). Food is incredibly important to me, as I have discussed before, and this film reflects that passion.
3-A Knight's Tale
Move over, The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger's greatest achievement is here. A Knight's Tale is exactly what it sounds like. A Knight goes on an adventure. Not unlike the aforementioned Man from Snowy River, this is a story of a man proving that he is a man. It s a story of a boy learning to reach for the stars and define his own place within his world. Magnificently directed and perfectly acted on all counts. The dialog is quick and witty. The action is palpable. And the music. Oh my goodness, the music. It is the most perfect use of music in a non-musical film. Not even Tarantino uses music as adeptly as this movie does.
2-The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
This is one 13 hour movie, and I won't hear anything to the contrary. Only the Extended Edition of the films is worth your time. I love this film so much. I think about it often. There are so many lessons to take from it. As a film, it is the ideal adapation of a book to a movie. A good number of things are changed. But the things that are changed make perfect sense in the context of a movie. And they are done with absolutely reverential respect for the source material. I don't know what I can say about this that you don't already know. Suffice it to say that Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece of fiction in both novel and cinema. I advise you to consume it often. I haven't watched it since I've been married. My wife's deepest flaw is that she find Lord of the Rings to be boring. :(
1-That Thing You Do
This was a passion project of Tom Hanks. He wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it. He even helped write a bunch of the music. It is a musical, but not like Oklahoma. It's a story of a band. The One Hit Wonders. They catch lightning in a bottle and release a hit record. Their popularity explodes. The story is really about what it does to them individually and as a group. The music is unbelievably awesome, spanning many different genres. The story is relatable. The characters feel like real people. The dialog is funny and fast. I can't recommend this enough.
So there you have it! This was a lot of fun to write. I encourage you to write your own list of favorite films. And feel free to tell me what I got right and what I got wrong!