Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Top 20 Movies Of All Time: 8 To 5

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.
8. Batman Begins & Dark Knight
What They Are About - The origins of the Caped Crusader of Gotham City are finally brought to the big screen in this new adaptation of the perennially popular comic-book series. The young Bruce Wayne (Gus Lewis) leads a privileged life as the son of wealthy, philanthropist parents, both of whom stress their commitment to improving the lives of the citizens of crime-ridden Gotham City. After his mother and father are murdered by a   mugger, however, Wayne grows into an impudent young man (Christian Bale), full of rage and bent on retribution until encouraged by his childhood sweetheart, Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), to search for answers beyond his own personal vendettas. Wayne eventually finds discipline in the Far East under the tutelage of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), a member of the mysterious League of Shadows who guides him in the study of martial arts -- and the ways in which an ordinary man can hone his senses to an almost superhuman acuity. After seven years away from Gotham, Wayne returns, determined to bring peace and safety
 back to the city. With the help of his faithful manservant, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), a scientist at his late father's corporation, Wayne develops a secret identity as Batman, a masked fighter for justice. But when a shady psychiatrist (Cillian Murphy) joins forces with the criminal underworld, Wayne realizes that putting an end to their nefarious plans will be very difficult indeed. Then Christopher Nolan steps back into the director's chair for this sequel to Batman Begins, which finds the titular superhero coming face to face with his greatest nemesis -- the dreaded Joker. Christian Bale returns to the role of Batman, Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel Dawes (played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins), and Heath Ledger dons the ghoulishly gleeful Joker makeup. Just as it begins to appear as if Batman, Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are making headway in their tireless battle against the criminal element, a maniacal, wisecracking fiend plunges the streets of Gotham City into complete chaos.

Why It Makes The List - I will start by saying that Batman is hands down my favorite superhero. He is everything you could want him to be, brave, smart, fearless, and unlike most superheros, he is completely without powers. Now there have been lots of  screen adaptations of Batman, and they have ranged from ok to terrible, but none of them compare with the brilliance that Christopher Nolan was able to bring to the table. Batman Begins is
 an incredible film, taking Batman away from the cheesiness of the past and placing him firmly in reality and showing how totally cool he really is. It has great acting, directing, action, pace, musical score and story which totally set a standard that would be hard to top, that is until Nolan made the next Batman movie. If these two films were compared to a meal, Batman Begins would be the totally awesome starter, preparing the pallet for the stellar main course which is the Dark Knight. As much as I did not think it was possible, Nolan tops his first effort in every aspect. He got almost the entire cast back from the first movie, with only one exception, ( replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes) and that was done on purpose and for the better, and then he cast Heath Ledger as The Joker, which at the time I thought was a terrible choice, but I was completely wrong.
I now trust Nolan so much for choosing the right actor that I would totally believe him if he showed up at my door and told me that I was going to play Robin in the next movie, I would just accept it and put on some yellow tights. In the end you find that Batman Begins and the Dark Knight are both movies that are made so well, and are so true to the spirit of the characters that you forget you are watching movies about a superhero, they are just that good, and that is why they are so high on my list.

7. Fightclub
What It Is About - In this darkly comic drama, Edward Norton stars as a depressed young man who has become a small cog in the world of big business. He doesn't like his work and gets no sense of reward from it, attempting instead to drown his sorrows by putting together the "perfect" apartment. He can't sleep and feels alienated from the world at large; he's become so desperate to relate to others that he's taken to visiting support groups for patients with terminal diseases so that he'll have people to talk to. One day on a business flight, he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charming iconoclast who sells soap. Tyler doesn't put much stock in the materialistic world, and he believes that one can learn a great deal through pain, misfortune, and chaos.
Tyler cheerfully challenges his new friend to a fight. Our Narrator finds that bare-knuckle brawling makes him feel more alive than he has in years, and soon the two become friends and roommates, meeting informally to fight once a week. As more men join in, the "fight club" becomes an underground sensation, even though it's a closely guarded secret among the participants. (First rule: Don't talk about fight club. Second rule: Don't talk about fight club.) But as our Narrator and Tyler bond through violence, a strange situation becomes more complicated when Tyler becomes involved with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), whom Edward Norton's character became infatuated with when they were both crashing the support-group circuit. From there Tyler becomes more and more militant and starts something called PROJECT MAYHAM, which Edward Norton's character is not included in and a rift starts to grow and the mystery of Tyler and Edward Norton's character true relationship starts to come to light.

Why It Makes The List - Fightclub has to be one of the most mind blowing movies I have ever seen. It is one of those type of movies that once you have seen it the first time, you will never see that same movie again, yet you will see new things every time you watch it after that. The story of Fightclub seems simple enough when it starts, but the deeper you go into the movie the more layered and complex the story gets.

Flashback humor, funny.
Director David Fincher makes use of editing and effects techniques that really enhance the storytelling and the cinematography. Then you have some amazing acting on the part of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, being incredibly cool, funny, crazy and violent, all the while asking questions about what it means to be a man in modern day society. Fightclub is not a movie for everybody, (my friend Rob M. actually thinks that it is one of the worst movies he has ever seen, but he likes King Kong, which is a terrible movie, so I think it kinda all balances out in the end) it is really harsh in a few places, and confusing in others, but overall it is just an incredible movie that really is unlike anything else I have ever seen, and that is why it makes my list.

6. The Matrix Trilogy

What It Is About - It's the year 1999, and Thomas Anderson AKA Neo (Keanu Reeves) works in a cubicle, manning a computer while hacking on the side. He has trouble sleeping and spends his nights searching for another hacker named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and when they finally meet he has some interesting news for Mr. Anderson -- none of what's going on around him is real. The year is actually closer to 2199, and it seems Thomas, like most people, is a victim of The Matrix, a massive artificial intelligence system that has tapped into people's minds and created the illusion of a real world, while using their brains and bodies for energy, tossing them away like spent batteries when they're through. Morpheus, and his protege Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) however, are convinced Neo is "The One" who can crack open The Matrix and bring his people to both physical and psychological freedom.
How cool was this the first time you saw it!
All the while three matrix agents led by Agent Smith will stop at nothing to destroy Morpheus and his crew, capturing him and trying to hack his mind for access codes to Zion, the last human city. Neo then has to chose whether or not he is,"The One" and risk his life in saving his friend on a suicide mission. From there the rest of the series has Neo and Trinity falling in love, and the machines putting on a final push to destroy Zion, with Agent Smith gaining the power to replicate himself, he slowly starts taking over the matrix while Neo goes to the final fight to decide the fate of both worlds while an epic battle rages between the humans in Zion and the machines that want to destroy it.

Why It Makes The List - The Matrix was a movie that was shrouded in mystery when it first came out. The trailers showed lots of cool things happening, but you couldn't quite tell what it was really about, then you stepped into the theater and the lights went dark and BAMB, you saw something you had never seen before.

The Matrix movies pushed the limits of special effects and cinematography, in ways that most people, including myself, never even dreamed of. It mixed great shoot-em up action with incredible fighting scenes, hard core philosophy and people running around in lots of leather like nobodies business. Then it upped the ante in the continuing movies, making them bigger (although some of the special effects in Reloaded were not on par with the original, but I think it was a lag in the tech more then anything else) and going deeper and deeper into the mind process behind what makes men and women special and how important  love, family, faith and belief are. Then you throw in lots of cool effects, a cool ship escape, more martial arts, the best mid air fighting scene in the history of film, not to mention all the cool spiritual stuff hiding under the surface (for more on that check out my Christ In Film post) and you have a what I call number 6 on my list of best movies of all time.

5. Star Wars: The Original Trilogy

What It Is About - (I am writing this sysnopis myself, cause I can sum it up much faster then allmovie.com can) A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a evil empire controled the galaxy, and a small rebel alliance is formed to try and overthrow it. Although the universe is one of technology, there is an element to the universe called THE FORCE which binds the universe together, and certain people, called Jedi's, can draw upon the force and do superhuman
 things. So, the empire wants control, the rebels want freedom, and when this takes place in space you have "Star Wars". (That is all I am saying for this, cause I feel a little silly writing more, cause if you haven't watched it already, shame on you, stop reading this right now, go watch the origianl 3, which are numbered 4, 5 and 6, (yeah, don't ask) and be treated to one of the best things on film ever. Oh, and just pretend that numbers 1, 2 and 3 don't exsist, you will thank me for it later, and if you have seen it 4, 5, and 6, then writing more would be pointless anyway)

Why It Makes The List - So, A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, (way back before he sold out to the all mighty dollar) George Lucas decided to write a modern day hero quest myth, so he sat down and wrote, THE STAR WARS movies, problem was, it was too long, so he split it up into three parts. This story had everything you could want, a young idealistic hero, a brash cocky rouge, a brave beautiful princess, a huge hairy growling guy, two funny and awesome looking bickering robots, the coolest spaceship in the history of film, (I am talking about the Millenium Falcon incase you are clueless) and possibly the greatest villian in film history, (I am not even going to tell you who that is, cause I would be insulting your intellegence).
Take all that, then add Lucas stealing ideas, (I mean, being inspired by other better directors) and ground breaking special effects techniques, (Star Wars was so groundbreaking that without it, movies like The Matrix and many others would not exsist, so big ups to George and the crew for that) and you have one incredible film. So that is all well and good, but why it makes my list is more then just that. Star Wars managed to do something more then just be a movie franchise, it impacted culture, in its time, more then any other movie I can think of. It became part of our lives in such a way that it changed the way a generation viewed movies. A space movie ladies and gentlemen, who knew that a space movie could do so much, and thus, it is my number 5.

Well that is all for now, the top 4 are coming up next, I am sure you are just dying to know, (I know my friend Michelle was actually trying to get the number one movie out of my bestfriend the other day, sorry "Russell", you have to wait like the rest of the internet) so check back next week were I will recap, and also give you a quick list of the movies that almost made it, and then hit you with the best movies ever. Till then, ramblers, keep rambling.

Here are links to the rest of the list, in case you missed them.
12 To 9,  16 To 13, 20 To 17 Happy Reading

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