Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Top 20 Movies Of All Time: 12 To 9

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 http://www.allmovie.com/, and then I will put in my two cents afterwards.

12. Casablanca

What It Is About - Casablanca is the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, notably the crafty Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), Rick's café has become a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit which will allow them to escape to America. One day, to Rick's great surprise, he is approached by the famed rebel Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick's true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris. She still wants Victor to escape to America, but now that she's renewed her love for Rick, she wants to stay behind in Casablanca. "You must do the thinking for both of us," she says to Rick. He does, and his plan brings the story to its satisfyingly logical, if not entirely happy, conclusion.

Why It Makes The List - Casablanca is one of those movies that would not have been on this list if I made it a year ago. Not because it is not worthy, but because I had never watched it until 2010. I have been watching a lot of older movies lately that I have missed, and quite often some of the movies that are considered the greatest of all time end up being a disappointment to me, (I am looking at you 2001: A Space Oddesy) but this was not the case with Casablanca. It is just as cool and iconic as everybody says it is. The story is great, Humphrey Bogart is all together awesome in his acting and delivery, Claude Rains is incredibly likeable in a kinda villian sort of way, and Ingrid Bergman is simply stunning, being a picture of elegance and grace. Then you also have the great use of music, political overtones, unforgetable and incredibly quotable lines, and they get to stick it to the Nazis in the end, (I hate frickin Nazis) plus the ending is just great. All of these things add up to a movie that easily is amongst the greatest ever made, and thus it made my list.

11. Iron Giant

What It Is About - Set in 1957, The Iron Giant focuses on Hogarth (voice of Eli Marienthal), an imaginative nine-year-old boy who daydreams of alien invasions and doing battle with Communist agents. One day, Hogarth hears a local fisherman talk about something that surpasses anything he could dream up: a fifty-foot robot that fell from the sky. Needless to say, Hogarth's mom, Annie (voice of Jennifer Aniston) finds this a little hard to swallow, but when Hogarth finds the robot (voice of Vin Diesel) they quickly become friends, yet Hogarth knows that he has to hide the Iron Giant. Dean (voice of Harry Connick Jr.), a beatnik sculptor who also runs a junkyard, is "convinced" to help by hiding the robot with his salvage. A government agent named Kent Mansley (voice of Christopher McDonald) soon gets wind that there's a mechanical invader of unknown origins in the neighborhood and wants to wipe out the potential threat. However, the robot (which loves to eat metal and is learning to talk) turns out to be friendly, and the boy in turn tries to teach his new pal the ways of humans.

Why It Makes The List - Iron Giant is the one and only animated movie to make it on my list, and that is saying something, because I love animated movies. Yet as far as I am concerned, Iron Giant is the greatest animated movie ever made. Why you may ask? Well lets look at what it is not first before we get to what it is. It is not ground breaking in its storytelling, animation, editing, direction or voice work, it is not award winning, and it is not well known, so why the heck is it that I would consider it to be a good movie, no matter the best animated movie and amongst the best of all time? Well, what it is is an incredibly well told story that does not rely on new technology (like Pixar movies do, now before anyone jumps down my throat, I love Pixar movies, and they pretty much hold most of the animated spots if this was a top 10 animated movies of all time, but part of their greatness relys on their computer animation) or trick techniques like rotoscoping and it has no musical numbers where the people break out into song. It just plain and simple tells a really great story that has an overall message that can't be beat, "You choose who you are, not other people" (as for me and the Iron Giant, I can tell you this, we are not guns, Booya). The voice work is really solid, the animation is crisp and beautiful and it is directed in a straight forward no nonsense way, (Brad Bird, the director, also made The Incredibles, which is also one of the best animated movies). All in all, it is an old fashioned, well told, honest heart string pulling animated movie, that although I saw as an adult, made me feel like I was a kid again, and it always manages to make a tear come to my eye during the finale, and that is why it is on my list.

10. To Kill A Mockingbird

What It Is About - Set a small Alabama town in the 1930s, the story focuses on scrupulously honest, highly respected lawyer Atticus Finch, magnificently embodied by Gregory Peck. Finch puts his career on the line when he agrees to represent Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of rape. The trial and the events surrounding it are seen through the eyes of Finch's six-year-old daughter Scout (Mary Badham). While Robinson's trial gives the film its momentum, there are plenty of anecdotal occurrences before and after the court date: Scout's ever-strengthening bond with older brother Jim (Philip Alford), her friendship with precocious young Dill Harris (a character based on Lee's childhood chum Truman Capote and played by John Megna), her father's no-nonsense reactions to such life-and-death crises as a rampaging mad dog, and especially Scout's reactions to, and relationship with, Boo Radley (Robert Duvall in his movie debut), the reclusive "village idiot" who turns out to be her salvation when she is attacked by a venomous bigot, all help to round out the story and give the characters more depth in the storytelling.

Why It Makes The List - This is another one like Casablanca, that would not have been on my list a year ago, but after finally seeing it last year, it easily made it. Now just as other highly regarded older films, I had my doubts going in, (in fact, I was kinda annoyed before I even put the dvd in the player, cause a quote on the case touted Atticus Finch as being one of the greatest heros in film history, and do you know what, they were right, I was shocked) but Harper Lee's story is just great, and Gregory Peck was astounding as Atticus Finch. He is the epitome of what a good man should be, he stands up for what he believes, is a great father that is loving yet disciplined, and has great skill in many areas yet never brags or boasts. All in all, Atticus Finch rocks. Then add to that a great story, nice performacnes from the kids in the movie and a morality tale about race relations and you have a movie that just left me thinking, "Now this is why the meduim of film was invented!" and thus, you find it here, on my list.

9. Jaws

What It Is About - Based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark saga set the standard for the New Hollywood popcorn blockbuster while frightening millions of moviegoers out of the water. One early summer night on fictional Atlantic resort Amity Island, Chrissie decides to take a moonlight skinny dip while her friends party on the beach. Yanked suddenly below the ocean surface, she never returns. When pieces of her wash ashore, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) suspects the worst, but Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), mindful of the lucrative tourist trade and the approaching July 4th holiday, refuses to put the island on a business-killing shark alert. After the shark dines on a few more victims, the Mayor orders the local fishermen to catch the culprit. Satisfied with the shark they find, the greedy Mayor reopens the beaches, despite the warning from visiting ichthyologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) that the attacks were probably caused by a far more formidable Great White. One more fatality later, Brody and Hooper join forces with flinty old salt Quint (Robert Shaw), the only local fisherman willing to take on a Great White--especially since the price is right. The three ride off on Quint's boat "The Orca," soon coming face to teeth with the enemy.

Why It Makes The List - Jaws is a movie that equal parts terrified and mezmerized me when I watched it as a kid. It is scary, especially when it was made, but it also had a opposite effect with me then it did the general public. When Jaws was released, all of a sudden, sharks were enemy # 1 in the water. People started fishing them more and they were painted as villians pretty much around the world. But as for me, as scared as I was of Jaws, it also made me fall in love with sharks. Now, as for the film itself, it was pretty ground breaking for its effects and directing, doing things with props (I'm talking about the shark here) and water filming that was never seen before and has been copied countless times since. Then you have the acting. The cast does a great job, from the town residents, to the greedy mayor, and Mrs Brody, to the three main characters when they are on the boat together, (if I do ever end up owning a boat it will be called The Orca, hands down the most iconic boat in film history) their dynamic is incredible, and the "Comparing scars" speech about the sunken navy boat is one of the best of all time on film, (Robert Shaw's depiction of Quint is one of my favourite characters in film history). All these things and probably more that I am missing make Jaws one of the best movies, and that is why yada yada yada, you know the rest.

So there it is, comment or don't (don't seems to be the norm) and I will get 8 To 5 up next week, and check out numbers 20 To 17 and 16 To 13 if you missed them. Stay together in an orderly fashion internet people as we get nearer to the end of the list, and always bet on black, if you bet, if not, always support people who bet on black.

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