Monday, January 31, 2011

My Top 20 Movies Of All Time: 20 To 17

When most people find out that I watch as many movies as I do, the first question they usually ask is, "How did you get so good looking?" (ok, to be truthful, that is the second question, the first is, "Really, what do you think is the best movie?") to which I usually say, "The best movie, or my favorite movie, cause they are not the same thing?". You see, a favorite movie doesn't actually have to be a good one, it can be awful, but a favorite none the less. On the other hand, "best" means that it has incredible value, is unique in its message or technique and has impacted me on a deeply personal level. So what follows is a list of what I think are the top movies of all time, starting at 20 and counting down to what I consider to be the greatest movie ever. So, saying that, as to not make this the hugest post ever, I will break it up in blocks of 4, but first, here is the little spiel that will go before each post.

What follows is a list of what I think are the best films of all time. Now rating films is a very subjective thing, and I have by no means seen every film ever made, so some of the films that you may think are the best might not be on this list. Feel free to suggest something that I might have missed, and if I agree with you I will amend my list and give you credit for introducing me to a new awesome movie. Other then that, enjoy and feel free to comment about my choices. Due to laziness, I will be using the synopsis's from, and then I will put in my two cents afterwards.

20. The Princess Bride
What It Is About - The Princess Bride is staged as a book read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his ill grandson (Fred Savage). Falk's character assures a romance weary Savage that the book has much more to deliver then a simpering love story, including but not limited to fencing,fighting, torture, death, true love, giants, and pirates. Indeed, The Princess Bride offers a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale depicting stable boy-turned-pirate Westley's journey to rescue Buttercup (Robin Wright), his true love, away from the evil prince (Chris Saradon), whom she had agreed to marry five years after learning of what she had believed to be news of Westley's death. With help from Prince Humperdinck's disgruntled former employee Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a very large man named Fezzik (Andre The Giant), the star-crossed lovers are reunited.

Why It Makes The List - The Princess Bride, in my opinion, is one of the most quoted films in movie history. There are so many great lines, uttered by such memorable characters, that they just demand to be repeated. The basic plot is simple, and there is nothing overly groundbreaking, although it does have one of the greatest sword fights ever put on film, but where it really shines is in the characters. You have a sweet grandpa, a reluctant princess, a masked pirate on a mission, a genius with a massive ego, a sword swinging revenge driven Spaniard, a cranky miracle worker, a plotting pompous prince (wow, all bow down to me, the king of alliteration) , a evil six fingered man, a albino henchman, and best of all, a rhyming giant. But it doesn't just stop there, you also have great locations, like a fire swamp, pit of despair, and cliffs of insanity. All in all, it is just a great story, and although it is cheesy and does have some sketchy acting in parts, it is just a great fun heartwarming movie, and that why it gets a spot on my list.

19. Gladiator
What It Is About - In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus (Russell Crowe) is one of the Roman army's most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus' devious son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences. His battle skills serve him well, and he becomes one of the most famous and admired men to fight in the Colosseum. Determined to avenge himself against the man who took away his freedom and laid waste to his family, Maximus believes that he can use his fame and skill in the ring to avenge the loss of his family and former glory. As the gladiator begins to challenge his rule, Commodus decides to put his own fighting mettle to the test by squaring off with Maximus in a battle to the death.

Why It Makes The List - Gladiator is one of those movies that is very epic yet also very personal at the same time. It opens with a fantastic battle scene, and then swiftly moves to balance that with a walk through of the wounded soldiers and the partying politicians that celebrate the victory as if they had won the day themselves. From there it moves to a father / emperors love for family and those who would be family, to betrayal, murder, escape, tragedy, sorrow, hope and in the end, revolution and redemption, all the while being balanced with great action and fight scenes. Add to that fantastic performances from the diverse cast and you have one incredible film that I think is among the best films ever made.

18. Tombstone
What It Is About - Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) desiring to retire from law enforcement with brothers Virgil (Sam Elliot) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) arrives in Tombstone, Arizona intending to build his fortune. He discovers that long-time friend Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) is there and that the town is run by a group of brutal outlaws called the Cowboys. The Cowboys terrorize the citizens of Tombstone unchecked and when the town marshal is killed by a Cowboy, Earp steps in to prevent a lynching by an angry mob. He also refuses to hand the killer over to his fellows, beginning the enmity between the Cowboys and the Earp brothers. Virgil, overcome with guilt at doing nothing to help the Tombstone citizens, accepts the position of town marshal. With Wyatt and Morgan as his deputies, and the help of Doc, Virgil attempts to arrest several Cowboys, resulting in the famous OK Corral shoot-out. The Cowboys take revenge by ambushing two of the brothers and injuring Virgil and killing Morgan. The Earps leave town, apparently cowed. Wyatt returns, wearing the badge of a U.S. marshal, vowing to destroy every last Cowboy.

Why It Makes The List - Tombstone is the one and only western that made my list, (although I am a fan of many westerns, especially ones with Clint Eastwood in them) but I think it definitely deserves to be here. It has a huge and talented cast, is based on a true story and has some of the most iconic characters from this period in American history. The other incredible selling point is that Tombstone probably has the best performances of both Kurt Russell and Val Kilmers careers, Kilmer in particular is simply astounding in the role of Doc Holiday, he looks so sickly yet deadly at the same time for the whole movie, and I doubt anybody could say, "I'll be your huckleberry!" any cooler then he did. All of these, plus great tension filled stand offs and gunfights all make this one of the greatest westerns and movies ever, and that is why it is on my list.

17. Unbreakable
What It Is About - David Dunne (Bruce Willis) is taking a train from New York City back home to Philadelphia after a job interview when his car jumps the tracks and collides with an oncoming engine, with David the only survivor among the 131 passengers on board. Astoundingly, David is not only alive, he hardly seems to have been touched. As David wonders what has happened to him and why he was able to walk away, he encounters a mysterious stranger, Elijah Prince (Samuel L. Jackson) who explains to David that there are a certain number of people who are "unbreakable" -- they have remarkable endurance and courage, a predisposition toward dangerous behavior, and feel invincible but also have strange premonitions of terrible events. Is David "unbreakable"? And if he is, what are the physical and psychological ramifications of this knowledge?

Why It Makes The List - Many people would say that The Sixth Sense is M. Night Shyamalan's best movie, but for me, it has to be Unbreakable. Forget Spiderman, Ironman and all those other superhero origins (not including Batman here) cause they can't even begin to compare with Unbreakable. M. Night has created a realistic tale of "What if" that is believable, original and compelling. It has a "hero" that is flawed and vulnerable, a "guide" who is equal parts wise and crazy and a great ending that leaves you left off balance yet very satisfied. The cast of Bruce Willis, Samuel
L. Jackson, Robin Wright and Spencer Clark are amazing (although that has got to be Samuel L. Jacksons worst hair piece that he has ever worn) and really allow you to be drawn into the story. Add to that some great use of blocking for scenes (this means the way scenes are presented to the viewer, a good example of this is in the beginning of the movie where you see a whole conversation between two people through the gap in two seats on a train, because it is being shown from a child's perspective sitting in front of them.) and great use of flashbacks, and you have a movie that I think is among the best ever made.

So there you have it, the first 4 of what I think are the 20 best movies of all time. Let me know what you think so far, and look for 16 To 13 to be up in the next week or so. Until then, God Bless you all you Internet peoples, and may your bandwidth always be awesome.


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