A Slice of Fried Gold

Favorite Movies Ever

Monday, May 5, 2008
Recently while talking on Messenger, my friend Sheri and I started talking about the list I did of my favorite albums ever and what exactly her list would be composed of. As we discussed, she started telling me about how she wanted to do more than just that on her blog and reveal a lot of her favorites (not just in music, but in all types of interest).

I loved the idea, and suggested that we do a pairing where we both post the same list on the same day, that way we can directly compare to each other. I figured it'd be fun because we're good friends and grew up in the same place, it'd be interesting to see how similar we are. Of course we aren't the same people, so they wouldn't likely be that close, but it is interesting to see the overlaps between two people of the same age from the same place.

Up first (technically second as we both did favorite albums, but this is the first one we really paired up on) is our lists of favorite movies (once again this is favorite not best). Sheri's will be posted later, but mine is ready now, so here you go! Feel free to go back and check out our lists for favorite albums, as they are both linked to above.

Note: After discussing with Sheri, I realized I completely forgot three of my favorites which have now been slotted into 18, 19, and 20 (instead of Good Will Hunting, Better Off Dead and Garden State.

1. Rushmore (Directed by Wes Anderson; Written by Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson; Starring Jason Schwartzmann, Bill Murray, and Olivia Williams)

This is absolutely my favorite movie ever. Has been since I first saw it, will likely continue on as my favorite for the near future. It would take a heck of a movie to knock it off its perch. Why is it my favorite? I wrote about it at far greater length back in the day, so I ably guide you there instead of writing all about it again.

2. The Hudsucker Proxy (Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; Starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Newman)

The Hudsucker Proxy came to me very randomly. There I was in an Economics class in high school, as the teacher announces that we will be watching a movie today. Of course I was excited, but I had never heard of this movie. The Hudsucker Proxy? What exactly is it?

Base plot wise, it's about a man who everyone considers an idiot being installed as the leader of a massive conglomerate to swindled stockholders, but who turns out to be not such a big idiot and more of a swell guy (in reality it turns out he may not be so swell and is a bit of an idiot, but that's neither here nor there).

When you get down to the nitty gritty though, it's a wonderfully bizarre love story between an unlikely duo, a study of economics, and a brilliantly designed battle between good and evil (with some interesting religious elements to it). It features an extremely charming lead performance from Tim Robbins, a evil villain played by Paul Newman, and a career defining performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh as a big time journalist who falls for the big oaf while she's trying to destroy him.

It has one of my all time favorite scores, which is an electric mix between Carter Burwell's furious depression-era pieces, classic tracks from Khachaturian's compositions for Spartacus, and it even features a Sinatra-esque track sang by Peter Gallagher.

It's bizarre. It's fun. It's beautiful. It's my second favorite movie.

3. Moulin Rouge! (Written and directed by Baz Luhrmann; Starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman)

This is definitely one of the stranger picks of my top 20. In fact, I never wanted to watch this movie. I thought it looked ridiculous and I hate musicals. Cannot stand them in the least. But one night I was really bored, my Mom had just gotten it for Christmas and I was home alone, so I popped it in.

And I loved it.

I loved the music, ate up the love story, couldn't get enough of the characters. It was this hopeless romantic's ideal fit, and it hit me at just the right time. It made me a massive fan of Ewan McGregor, whose Christian is the heart and soul of the entire production. Sure, it's loud and freakishly colorful (sometimes almost oppresively so), but it's heart is in the absolute right place.

It's one of my most played movies, and I never get tired of it really. Sometimes it's the perfect pick-me-up on a rough day.

4. Children of Men (Written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron; Starring Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clare-Hope Ashitey, and Michael Caine)

This is one of the newest of all of my favorites. Point in fact, it is the newest. It's also the only of the top five that isn't a love story in any sort of way. It is the story of the world in the somewhat near future, as it follows our protagonist Theo (Owen) in a world where no child has been born in over eighteen years. Essentially, the human race is dying out and the last hope is a pregnant girl named Kee (Ashitey).

Clive Owen is the man. He's always entertaining and is an extremely talented actor (not to mention he is my choice as MCWIWTBMBFF, aka male celebrity who I want to be my best friend forever) , and this performance is him at his best. However, the true stars of the production are Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who immerse the viewer in this dystopic society as well as any duo to ever tackle the oft-traveled path of dystopic future films.

This is the most commonly referred to scene of the entire movie, but the single tracking shot they unveil in the films final act, following Theo as he desperately tries to save Kee, is the most visceral scene I've ever seen in film. The fact that Lubezki did not get the Academy Award for cinematography that year is an absolute travesty.

This movie is hauntingly beautiful and full of a strange feeling of hope mixed in with the despair. It's a movie that it is hard to sit down and watch and not feel strongly towards one way or the other.

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Directed by Michel Gondry; Written by Charlie Kaufman; Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet)

I first saw this movie while visiting New York City, which is where this movie takes place at. There was something that clicked about it, as I walked out of the theater and realized I could take the same journey that protagonist Joel Barish (Carrey) takes within the film...well, you know...besides the mind wipe aspect of it.

Really, that summarizes the feel of the movie perfectly as it is another head trip film by genius writer Kaufman, following a couple who break up and use an experimental procedure to erase each other from their memories. The key for Kaufman in this film (and what he was mostly missing from previous lesser successes Adaptation and Being John Malkovich) is that he wrapped his head trip around much more relatable central themes: love, melancholy, and heartbreak.

Tying the quirk to much more grounded themes makes the whole concept fly far better, and it is brought together by a wonderfully restrained performance from Carrey and a predictably electric performance from Winslet. In addition to that deadly duo, this film also stars Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Wilkinson. Really, this is quite the package of a movie, as it also has a score from Jon Brion and an incredible original track from Beck.

Love this movie to death, and it's one of the most wonderfully inventive love stories ever set to film.

(tie) 6. Big Fish (Directed by Tim Burton; Written by John August; Starring Ewan McGregor, Allison Lohman, and Billy Crudup)

I completely forgot this. Due to the fact it has to fit in here, I am absolutely going to cheat and put it in as a tie for my sixth favorite. This is one of the only movies I ever actually cried at (tell no one) and I even did that on three consecutive occasions watching it. I personally think it is Tim Burton as his best, as it is the best balance of his style with the great storytelling that he has in him.

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, but I love it and couldn't let it not be represented in here.

(tie) 6. The Goonies (Directed by Richard Donner; Written by Steven Spielberg and Christopher Columbus; Starring Sean Astin and Josh Brolin)

I've seen this movie over 200 times. Sadly, I'm hardly exaggerating, if at all. This was the most dominant movie of my childhood, and was my favorite movie growing up. The Goonies captures the wonder of being a kid better than any movie I can think of, as it follows a group of young friends in a quest to keep their crew together and to find lost pirate gold.

Seriously. How could that movie not be awesome? I have no idea. Really I don't.

Of course, this is one of those movies where if you didn't see it when you were younger, it's less good. That's ok, because I saw it plenty. Heck, I love it so much I visited where it was filmed and did the infamous Truffle Shuffle in front of it. If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

7. The Empire Strikes Back (Directed by Irvin Kirshner; Written by George Lucas and Leigh Brackett; Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher)

Not sure if you've ever heard of this one. It's part of this series called Star Wars, it's the second one made and the fifth in the series. It's about these Rebel guys trying to overcome an evil Empire, it's about family, it's about you know...midochlorians and what not.

Everyone on the planet has seen this movie. It rules, and is the best episode of the entire Star Wars series. In this film, we have such classic moments as the Battle of Hoth, Yoda's first appearance, Billy Dee Williams Landoing the hell out of everyone, Boba Fett being a badass, and oh yeah...what was that quote again? Oh yeah. "I am your Father."

Ever hear that one? Yeah. I'm a big sci-fi dork, and this is pretty much the grand poobah of all that is sci-fi.

8. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Directed by Adam McKay; Written by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell; Starring Will Ferrell, David Koechner, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, and Christina Applegate)

"60% of the time, it works every time." - Brian Fantana

"I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgundy

"Milk was a bad choice!" - Ron Burgundy

Anchorman was a great choice. This is both the funniest movie I've ever seen and the most quoted movie ever. Hell, I once dressed as Ron Burgundy for Halloween. In summation, I freaking love this movie! It takes me to Pleasure Town every time I watch it, and that is in no way sad.

Sure, it is occasionally dumb and sophomoric, but you know what? Not every movie can be Schindler's List. Even though for every good comedy there are probably two to three bad ones (if not more), it doesn't matter. Anchorman is just too good and too funny.

Don't pretend you're not impressed.

9. Almost Famous (Written and directed by Cameron Crowe; Starring Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Frances McDormand)

I think I've mentioned a time or two in here that I like music a little bit. Almost Famous is all about the love of music, and how it affects you as you're growing up and how it influences every facet of your life. It's about the passion people have for the creation and the presentation of songs and artists, and mostly how it affects an aspiring young music writer who is growing up in one of the greatest times ever for music.

This movie is very autobiographical, as it essentially tells the time that writer/director Cameron Crowe spent with the band the Allman Brothers (amongst others, including the Who and the Eagles) and how that changed him growing up. Instead of making it straight up autobiographical, Crowe changed it all around, putting newcomer Patrick Fugit in as his stand-in under the name of William Miller.

Whatever the intent of presentation was, the whole thing comes together stunningly. The combination of the absolutely incredible soundtrack (standout tracks include "the Wind" by Cat Stevens, "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John, and fictitious band Stillwater's hit single "Fever Dog") and the coming-of-age tale of Miller fuses incredibly well, and there are fantastic performances throughout.

Particular kudos go to Billy Crudup, who turns the should be somewhat unlikeable Russell Hammond into a very three-dimensional yet mysterious genius (like a true rocker should be), and to Kate Hudson who gave the performance of her career as Penny Lane. She's the object of everyone's affection within the movie, and the living embodiment of the love and passion contained within music.

Cameron Crowe has had a great career to date, and this is in my opinion by far his finest work. It gets better every time I see it no less.

10. The Shawshank Redemption (Written and directed by Frank Darabont; Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman)

This is another one that seemingly needs no explanation. It's one of the most highly voted on movies in IMDB's history. Not only that, but it's the second highest rated one on there as well. Besides perhaps the Godfather, it is the most universally loved movie ever made. And why not?

It's a note perfect adaptation of a Stephen King novella, brilliantly directed by King fanboy Darabont, and featuring one of the best performances I've ever seen by Morgan Freeman. It's about hope in spite of great odds, it's about friendship, really, it's about life and all of the curveballs it throws you throughout. I don't have anything new to say about the genius that is this movie. If you haven't seen it...well...shame on you. You need to get on that.


11. Finding Nemo (Written and directed by Andrew Stanton; Starring Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres)

12. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Written and directed by John Hughes; Starring Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck)

13. Aliens (Directed by James Cameron; Written by James Cameron+; Starring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn)

14. The Sting (Directed by George Roy Hill; Written by David S. Ward; Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford)

15. 28 Days Later (Directed by Danny Boyle; Written by Alex Garland; Starring Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson)

16. Howl's Moving Castle (Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki; Starring Christian Bale and Jean Simmons)

17. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Directed by George Roy Hill; Written by William Goldman; Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford)

18. Shaun of the Dead (Directed by Edgar Wright; Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright; Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost)

19. Office Space (Written and directed by Mike Judge; Starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston)

20. Army of Darkness (Written and directed by Sam Raimi; Starring Bruce Campbell


Erok said...

Solid list my friend.

Just off the top of my head I would go in loose order:

1. Fight Club
2. 25th Hour
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
4. Empire Strikes Back
5. True Romance
6. Harold and Kumar 1
7. The Departed
8. Heat
9. The Road Warrior
10. Aliens

Patty said...

I am surprised with the inclusion of the Sting and Butch Cassidy but WHERE is Forest Gump?

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