Monday, July 9, 2012

Scene It: A Movie Appreciation Post

So, I've decided to make a post dedicated to my favorite movies. Most of my friends would call me a film-snob, but I prefer "cinematically selective." Actually, like books, I find films to be cathartic. To make my list, a great movie depends on several things; originality, writing, and cinematography pretty much make it or break it for me. Here are the top 15 movies that I couldn't live without having seen. I'm certainly no critique, but I think people's preferences say a lot about them. Be warned, spoilers ensue.

In no particular order----------------------------

1.Life As a House- This film is the perfect mix of wit, humor, and truth. A story about a broken family and a dying wish, it's lyrical but unpretentious, and a film everyone should see.

2. Top Hat- Ginger may bring all the beauty, but Fred brings all the class. Top Hat is funny and tender. The entire Art Deco motif of the movie is on reason in one-hundred as to why I love this film.Irving Berlin's iconic soundtrack also includes Dancing Cheek to Cheek, which is one of my favorite songs of all time. This scene makes Grace Kelly look uncultivated and crass.

3. Mystic River- This movie makes my list because the acting is simply outstanding. Clint Eastwood made this novel into a masterpiece by casting Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. The story feels as real as any.  Sean Penn plays the part of Jimmy Markum with perfect vulnerability (as seen below). It's pretty resounding. Most of all, the thing I love most about this movie is the fact that it's not predicable in the least. I dare you to guess the ending.

4. A Little Princess- When I was little I was obsessed with this movie. Based on the book "Sara Crewe" by Frances Hodgson Burnett ("The Secret Garden"), this film is magical and heart-warming. I prefer the 1995 version to the old Shirley Temple one. Frankly, it's more charming and much prettier to look at. I used to watch it every time I was home sick from school. It's the perfect movie for any daddy's girl, and the ending still gets me every time.

5.The English Patient- My favorite book adapted by my favorite director... The stunning rhetoric of Michael Ondaatje combined with the cinematic talents of Anthony Minghella make this film near perfection for me. The cave scene is heart-wrenching, but also really perfectly beautiful. Many might find this film too much of a sweeping 90's epic, but I love every second of it. How could a combination of Ralph Finnes, Juliet Binoche, Kristen Scott Thomas, Willem Defoe, and Collin Firth ever be bad. If you've never seen it, you should. The writing, acting, scenery, and music are all really as good as it gets.

6. Love, Actually-A story about stories, this movie has an amazing cast and is extremely well written. In fact, Mr. Bean, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Collin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, and Laura Linney are just a few of the title characters. Despite being more appropriate for Christmastime, I find myself watching it often. British humor combined with a healthy dose of romance and realism make for an extremely entertaining couple of hours. A couple of hours very well spent.

7. Elf- "Elf"may, in fact, be one of the most quotable movies of all time. It's splendid. I have never in my life met someone who didn't love this movie. That would be unfathomable, because only the most angry of elves could ever hate a movie so full of happiness.

8. The Fall- One of the most visually stunning movies I've ever seen. Really, this film is a bed-time story seen from the imagination of a little Romanian girl. What most impressed me about this movie is the fact that it contains little to no CGI. It's the definition of eye candy.

9. Almost Famous- "Almost Famous" is a story that everyone wishes they had for themselves. Based on the Director, Cameron Crowe's, own experiences writing for Rolling Stone and touring with the Allman Brothers, this is a coming of age story filled with great writing and an even better soundtrack.

10. Midnight in Paris- Pedantic as it might be, this Woody Allen film is meant to be seen by those who love history, art, music, and celebrity of the past century. As per usual, Allen uses witty dialogue and humor to showcase his storytelling skills. This one is for the romantic dreamer in all of us.

11. Shawshank Redemption- I'm pretty sure this one makes everyone's favorite's list. No explanation needed.

12. Fever Pitch- A movie all about being a Red Sox fanatic. What else can I say? It's not only hilarious, but it was filmed during that fateful 2004 season when the Sox finally reversed the curse. Maybe it's not as intellectual as my other choices, but that's why this is my list and not yours.

13. Good Will Hunting- Another movie set in Boston. Really, what I love most about this film is how genuine the characters are. Robin Williams does a great job of being a great counterpoint to Matt Damon. I can watch this one on repeat and pretty much never get sick of it. It's amusing and smart, stirring, and everything I love in a movie.

14. The Green Mile- Okay, the truth is I can barely stand to watch this movie. As much as I love it, I'm not that much of a masochist. Never has a film reduced me to tears the way this movie has. Literally beginning to end, I'm a blubbering fool, but nevertheless, it's an astonishing story with great characters and acting. If I feel brave I might watch it again soon. Oh, another reason to love this movie is the tribute it plays to "Top Hat", which is also on this list.

15. A League of Their Own- I love baseball. I love Tom Hanks. I love to laugh. What else can I ask for in a film? If you haven't seen this one you need to crawl out from under the rock you've been living in and rent it now.

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