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.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I can relate to the difficulty of making a top ten list. Being such a big movie buff I want to squeeze established classics alongside personal favs that not many people know about. Then I start to wonder if I should make a separate list for dramas and for comedies, but then I get into films were its hard to make the split.

Of course there are plenty of movies I think fondly of, but I think my list should only consist of movies that I currently own a copy of, that I can truly say that they stand the test of time for me.

Its expected that when you make a big list like this that you have either part of an established franchise or something that started a big franchise, but its even more interesting to see which stand alone films make the cut.

Perhaps I'll post my own list in a similar manner here, a countdown with short commentary. Thanks Michael!

Michael May said...

Do it! Do it!

Brothermidnight said...

Nice list! Wish I had thought of stuffing 3 movies into one spot.Finding Neverland is also one of my favorite movies and just barley missed my top 10.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Alright, you got me excited, so I made a list of my own:


Ken O said...

A while back Brandon and I were doing an "about us" post. When we got to movies we did it a little different. It was in 3 questions. What is your favorite Star Wars movie? What is your favorite Indiana Jones movie? and then pick five other favorite movies (Jaws is a given, pick 5 more).

Michael May said...

Ha! Those are great rules.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Reminds me of the high school years when I would ask "What's your favorite movie that doesn't star Keanu Reeves?"

Shawn Robare said...

Glad to see a flick like Atlantis making one of the League's lists. Definitely this it's way underrated, if only for the Mignola design work...

True Mister Six said...

Oh thank god! Looking over the League lists this evening I was starting to think none of you had seen a film past the 80s until I saw this list!

Yankeejetsfan said...

There are some great movies here.

I was lucky enough to have seen Dr. No at a restoration theather recently, as well as Goldfinger. To see classic Bond on the big screen is a thrill I can't put into words. Goldfinger just missed my list.

Finding Neverland was one of those pictures that I wasn't expecting much from, but God was it it good. That was the movie that, for me, cemented Johhny Depp as a terrific actor.

Casablanca was another one of my favorites that narrowly missed my list. I had the privlage of showing it to a friend who had never seen it and she loved it. I love turning people on to classic cinema.

Mitchell Craig said...

Okay, my Top Ten Movies (in no special order):

The Searchers: There's an eerie quality about Monument Valley in this one. Also, John Wayne's Ethan Edwards is a remarkable bastard.

The Incredibles: Even though we have had the likes of The Avengers recently, THIS is, for me, the greatest superhero movie of all time. It has the sense of scope, adventure, and fun that superheroes should have, with drama and heart in abundance. Plus Samuel L. Jackson.

Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Evidence that the human race will endure, as it shows we can laugh at the utterly horrific.

North by Northwest: Hitchcock. Grant. "Games, Mr. Kaplan? Must we?" The cornfield.
Mount Rushmore.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Like you, Mike, I go with this singular Indy adventure. Don't need the others.

Singin' in the Rain: The greatest musical of all time.

A Hard Day's Night: The second greatest musical of all time.

Casablanca: Because.

The Adventures of Robin Hood: Errol Flynn. Accept no substitutes.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut: A man dreams that he is a machine who hunts other machines, who proceed to hand him his ass.


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