Tuesday, June 05, 2012

LXB | My Ten Favorite Movies

This week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment is simple, but difficult. Inspired by summer blockbuster season, Brian asks, "What are your Top Ten Movies?"

I'm always nervous about making these kinds of lists. My Top Two rarely change (though I do swap them back and forth and I've recently redefined how I think of one of them), but the rest of the list is hugely dependent on a) my ability to remember all the movies I love and b) my feelings about those movies at the exact moment I'm making the list.

So, with the major caveat that this is my list for right this very second, here we go. I'll look forward to reading the rest of the League's answers so that I can kick myself for not thinking of some of their movies. I'm already trying to figure out if Breakfast Club or The Lost Boys should depose any of the films on this list.

10. Dr. No

It's really tough to pick a favorite James Bond movie. I narrowed it down to this one and Casino Royale, but From Russia With Love, Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, and The Living Daylights were also tempting. In the end, I went with Dr. No because it's the first. When I watch it, I'm not just thrilling to Sean Connery, Jack Lord (my favorite Felix), and Ursula Andress in the tropics; I'm thrilling to the knowledge that I'm going to watch the rest of the series as soon as I finish it.

9. Night of the Demon

For my full thoughts on this horror masterpiece, check out the guest post I wrote on That F'ing Monkey. The short version is that it's an awesome mash-up between horror (both supernatural and psychological) and film noir by one of the masters of both genres.

8. Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Contains just about everything I want in an adventure movie. Undersea adventure, a lost civilization, weird technology, an eccentric billionaire, a stunning femme fatale, a jungle girl, Mike Mignola designs, a giant submarine, a diverse ensemble of complicated adventurers, and humor that works no matter how many times I watch it.

7. Pirates of the Caribbean (the initial trilogy)

I'm cheating by cramming three movies into one entry. I know that. I'm going to do it again later in the list, but that trilogy was at least always a trilogy and it stopped when the story was complete. I can't say that about the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. The Curse of the Black Pearl is a standalone film that became part of a trilogy when it turned out to be successful. And when the trilogy ended, the series continued. It feels haphazard to just pick the first three movies in a four (so far) movie series and try to make one entry out of them.

And yet, those three movies are undeniably a complete story. The fourth one starts something new and doesn't get to hold onto the coattails of the first three, but I'm counting the saga of Elizabeth Swann and Jack Turner as a single tale.

6. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Much like what happened with another popular series from my childhood, I've recently accepted that I'm not an Indiana Jones fan; I'm a Raiders of the Lost Ark fan. I do like those other movies, even Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, but I don't love them like I do Raiders. All of them have one element or another that I don't care for, but I love pretty much everything about that first one.

5. Love Actually

It really is just about perfect. The only stories that don't completely work for me are Laura Linney's and Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson's, but only because they're painful. They're also completely honest and vital to exploring the film's central theme, so I'm really not dinging it for including them. And otherwise, it has some of my favorite actors playing my favorite kinds of characters that they play in a funny, heart-warming, Christmas movie with a great soundtrack. And it makes me cry. That, it turns out, is an easy way to get on my Top Five.

4. Finding Neverland

Another movie that makes me cry. I explained why a couple of years ago and why at one point I had this in my Number One spot. It could easily be there again. It probably wouldn't take anything more than my watching it more recently than some of these others. Most of these rankings are dependent on how recently I've seen or thought about each individual film.

3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy

I haven't written much about The Lord of the Rings, either the novels or the films. I don't know why that is; the films are some of my favorites because of how well they communicate the novels' most powerful themes. Much more than just Good vs Evil, Lord of the Rings is about faithfulness, redemption, friendship, loyalty, overcoming prejudice, fighting for justice, and seeing the value of the unvalued. It's that last theme - particularly in the scene where the entire nation of Gondor bows before four, small, humble Hobbits - that makes me blubber every time I watch it.

2. Casablanca

I've written about this a couple of times: once in trying to pick a favorite character and again just gushing about the whole movie. It's a heart-wrenching, exciting, hilarioius, absolutely captivating film.

1. Star Wars

I've written about this one most recently, which may explain why it's at Number One for now. It's been slowly moving down the list over the years, but that's because - similar to Pirates and Lord of the Rings - I insisted on making one entry of the entire saga. Now that I've pruned my affection down to just the first film, Star Wars zooms back to the top again. Though it doesn't make me cry, there really is no other movie I love more or is as influential on my life.
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