My Favorite Movies

All right, I teased you with some of my all-time favorite films, but now it’s time to get serious and deliver on the promise of my Top-6. Again, this is in no way my opinion on the GREATEST FILMS OF ALL-TIME, these are merely the ones that I could watch endlessly without ever tiring of them, and they always spark something special in me; a spark that makes me want to sit down and write something as great as these.

The Royal Tenenbaums#6. The Royal Tenenbaums [2001] By far my favorite Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums deals with family dynamics in a way no other film can match. All the characters are so impossibly flawed it’s hard not to root for them. The cast is perfect and Gene Hackman is simply brilliant as Royal Tenenbaum. There’s just enough quirky humor to counter balance the movie’s many tender and heartbreaking moments. The Alec Baldwin voice-overed intro is exactly what EVERY film could use. I’m not even joking.

When Harry Met Sally#5. When Harry Met Sally… [1989] The king of the RomComs! Often imitated but never duplicated, Nora Ephron & Rob Reiner’s timeless masterpiece sits in a place of its own. Its ideas on relationships and whether men and women can be friends still ring true. Famously known for the “Deli Scene,” there are still plenty of other laughs throughout; Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan both being at their best here. The Harry Connick Jr. soundtrack is a bonus too, and suits this film perfectly. I try and watch When Harry Met Sally… at least once a year; it’s the perfect film for a New Years Eve viewing. If you’ve never seen it, what the hell have you been waiting for?

Vanilla Sky#4. Vanilla Sky [2001] I could probably use a full post just for my thoughts and feelings on Vanilla Sky (and I still just might!) but I’ll try to sum it up for you here as briefly as possible. This is the American remake of the Spanish film Abre los Ojos (“Open Your Eyes“) and in my humble opinion, although the original was good, director Cameron Crowe took a great idea and made it that much better. In Vanilla Sky we have elements of a beautiful and tragic love story, a maddening thriller, and a haunting impressionistic art piece all with a science fiction twist that doesn’t take away from the heart of the film. Vanilla Sky was met with more than its share of criticism, but to me this is a near-flawless movie and I can honestly say that I actually enjoy Tom Cruise’s performance, which is a pretty bold statement for me.

Back to the Future#3. Back to the Future [1985] Dare I say this is THE PERFECT MOVIE. Back to the Future crosses demographics so well I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t enjoy it. There are plenty of laughs that still hold up and the stakes are high enough that we actually care what happens. The complicated science of time machines and flux capacitors has all been dumbed down (or, Eighties-fied as I like to call it) so that even the youngest of viewers can follow along. I love that small, Anytown U.S.A. feel that Hill Valley exudes. Like most boys my age when the film was released, I would have loved to have been Marty McFly and had the opportunity to travel to 1955 small town America. There’s something so innocent and charming about the idea, and it’s resonated well into adulthood. Absolutely timeless (pun intended).

The Big Lebowski#2. The Big Lebowski [1998] You could probably count on one hand the number of movies that literally get BETTER with every viewing, and this is certainly one of them. The Coen Brothers astound me at the sheer diversity of every film they put out (what other filmmaker can boast a list of films like this, The Hudsucker Proxy, No Country For Old Men and O Brother, Where Art Thou?). The Big Lebowski is a comedy with such a far-reaching storyline; so multi-layered and over complicated, but that’s exactly the point: it’s all about The Dude’s journey through this crazy world. John Goodman’s Walter Sobchak is easily one of my all-time favorite characters in cinema. It’s no surprise that this film has become a cult classic to the point where fans have attended annual Lebowski festivals and started The Church of the Latter-Day Dude. No lie.

And my #1 Favorite Film of All-Time is:

Fight Club#1. Fight Club [1999] A film that could never possibly be duplicated in its raw originality. The film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s debut novel, which is one of my favorite works of fiction and it’s the kind of book you might read and think, “there’s no possible way this could ever be a movie.” Well, director David Fincher did it, and as much as I love the novel, I believe this is one of the rare instances where the movie is actually better than the book. Full of scenes of violence, Nihilistic attitudes, fascist terrorism and chaos, Fight Club is really not about any of that: this is a film about men seeking enlightenment in a society where they have come to feel worthless and numb. There’s a lot to say in Fight Club and a lot we can listen to, but it’s worth noting that a lot of the ideas the film glamorizes are also the same ideas that it simultaneously tries to tell us are wrong.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my list and I look forward to your thoughts.

My Favorite Movies (The Prologue)

There are people who like lists and people who don’t. I think lists serve a purpose but I also believe that there are some who assume lists are the be all and end all to their personal opinions; like there’s no room for movement. But the truth is, things change. We get older and we form different opinions. We have kids and priorities change. There’s a trickle-down effect from everything that happens to us on a daily basis and it will either significantly or insignificantly alter how we feel about things. Life happens. Don’t get stuck on lists.

That being said, I’ve always carried my favorite movie list around in metaphorical back pocket. I mean, you never know when someone’s going to ask, “What’s your favorite movie?” It’s a common question. And I don’t want to be that smug guy who wants to fight convention with a “I’m-better-than-you-because-I-don’t-actually-have-an-opinion” attitude. I hate that guy.

A Top-5 list is all it takes. A Top-50 list of films all in order or preference is excessive and simply obnoxious. I can confidently supply you with a Top-6. Let me state though, these are not the films that I consider “THE BEST MOVIES EVER!”, these are simply the ones that I can watch over and over again and be entertained and inspired every time.

But first off, here are some of my Honorable Mentions, movies that have all flitted in and around my Top-10 in the past:
(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer [2009] If Joseph Gordan Levitt wasn’t so wide ranging in his acting chops and was type-cast into only doing roles like this one I actually wouldn’t complain at all. He’s just so dang perfect in this! The script is smart, witty and brings a lot of unique storytelling methods to the screen. A joy to watch every time.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [2004] An understated masterpiece! Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is definitely a unique talent, having written scripts for this, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Synecdoche, New York. Eternal Sunshine is my favorite and one I can easily watch over and over again. It’s got some laughs, some science fiction, and a whole lot of heartache; a good recipe.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump [1994] Well deserving of all the praise and awards it garnered. Tom Hanks is simply brilliant in this film. One of only a handful of films that can guarantee some tears from me.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity [2000] John Cusack is at his best here (my apologies to Say Anything) and Jack Black is actually not annoying, which is an incredible feat in itself. It’s a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s relationships in the way people actually are: we’re stupid and selfish and easily broken. Mandatory viewing for anyone in their twenties.
Hottest State

The Hottest State [2006] Written and directed by Ethan Hawke, adapted from his own novel of the same name. This is obviously a project very close to Hawke’s heart and it shows in the end result. Actor Mark Webber (who I’d never heard of and still have yet to see in anything else) is fantastic in his role. The two scenes that always get me are when William talks with his father (Hawke himself of course) and when William talks with his mother (Laura Linney). Both incredibly powerful ans well-written moments in the film.

Rocket Science

Rocket Science [2007] A real under-the-radar hit. I rented (yes, RENTED) this on a whim from my local independent video store because it sounded like it might not suck. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it! Reece Thompson is fantastic in the lead role and Anna Kendrick (then unknown to me) was also memorable in a role that is meant to be hated. The soundtrack is very unique too, with Eef Barzelay giving us music perfectly suited to the movie’s awkwardness. I recommend this coming of age film to nearly everyone I know.

Sidewalks of New York

Sidewalks of New York [2001] Ed Burns quietly delivered a very solid film when he made Sidewalks of New York. Filmed in a documentary style (though all fictional) the movie looks into the lives of six adults – three couples – all of whom are involved with members of other couples. Stanley Tucci is one of my favorite actors and he gives a great performance as the lying, cheating and frankly despicable dentist. The soundtrack by Cake is also a nice touch. Burns followed this up with Purple Violets, another film that definitely did not get the attention it deserved. Check ’em both out!

Sideways

Sideways [2004] An acclaimed hit, and one well-worth the praise. A buddy film, where Paul Giamatti takes his soon-to-be-married best friend (Thomas Hayden Church) on a road trip through California wine country. What proceeds is many laughs, hijinks, uncomfortable moments, some filthy humor (while not going into American Pie/Road Trip territory), and a whole lot of tenderness. It’s a shame Giamatti was not even nominated for an Oscar for his performance here.
Spongebob Squarepants Movie

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie [2004] A great, goofy good time! I dismissed this movie almost immediately, thinking it was just animated schlock for kids and pot-heads. Well, it IS that, but it’s actually so much more. If you want nothing more than some silly humor, good belly laughs and to feel like a kid again for an hour and a half there’s not many options better than the Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Seriously. I’m a goofy goober!

You know, as I compiled the above list I kept thinking of more movies I could have included. There’s just so many films out there that can move and inspire me. I hope you’ll check these out if you haven’t already.

But enough foreplay! Let’s get to the main event. Below, you will find the link to my Top-6 Favorite Films. Enjoy!

And HERE is a list of one hundred movies (in chronological order…I’m not insane) that might consider my favorites.