"That's a lie and you know it! But I have seen a lot of movies..."
I would first like to say that I'm sorry it took me so long to post part 2 of this scintillating post. I'm sure that you have been clinging to your imaginary seats, anxiously checking and rechecking my blog everyday, your unreal nails being chewed down to the pretend quick with anticipation. In my defense, I took classes over the summer but my kids, however, did not. That particular combination of "summer fun expectations" and "accelerated-schedule classes," took up most of my time and all of my sanity. So, I'm sorry, no one. I'm sorry real bad. And now, without further adieu....
...a short recap.
As you may or may not know from previous reading... or from scrolling down to my last post, I am currently in the midst of a very in-depth and exorbitant inquiry into the inner workings of one of the world's most pointless and uninteresting pieces of literature: a personal top ten list.
I had made the following conclusions in regards to the required criteria: my list shall comprise of one master list of favorite movies, and it shall be regarded only as a snapshot in time of my current tastes and interests.
Part two begins!
Complication the third: What the fuck qualifies as a 'favorite' movie?! Do I even need to have qualifiers? Is, "I like it", going to be good enough to make the list? I like hundreds of movies! I love hundreds of movies! There are so many 5 star ratings in my Netflix account that it doesn't even know what kind of recommendations to give (An unimportant side note: my kids have rated a lot of their kid shows too, so that probably confuses that recommend-a-tron over at Netflix all the more. Take that, smart computer database thing! You won't take over MY country! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!).
Back to the qualifiers. I think there should be some kind of system to standardize my decisions. Personal and/or cultural impact, innovation for its time, heart warming, gooey-squishiness to cheesy, lame and annoying-squishiness ratio, originality, silliness quotient (that's an important one), did it make me cry, did it make me laugh, was I surprised/scared/intrigued/angry by the end? There are so many factors that make movies wonderful that I really don't know where to start.
A lot of movies I've seen can fit into most of the above categories; wonderful, amazing, groundbreaking movies: Citizen Kane, The General, Saving Private Ryan, A Clockwork Orange; the list goes on and on. The first Saw movie created an entire new film genre, for chrissake! That's gotta mean something, somehow. But are they my favorites? No. My list of the top 10 best movies ever made would be different from my top 10 favorites. I freely admit that some of my most beloved movies are not what the cinema-philes would call 'classics', or even 'worthy of not being set on fire'. But I don't care about that. I likes what I likes.
So it appears that the answer to question 3 is: because I say so. No qualifiers needed. Sure, I could come up with some important reasons over the course of many hours of painstakingly dull research and soul searching and traveling the global to meet with the best, uh, movie watching... dudes, but I'm not gonna do that. I like movies that entertain me/keep my attention, be it through laughter, fear, suspense, action, whatever.
FINALLY, in no particular order (seriously, if I had to rank them, I would have torn this place up), is my list:
1. The Sound of Music
I love musicals so goddamn much, but this one is my favorite. What makes this movie awesome, you ask? What doesn't make this movie awesome?!
Julie Andrews, beautiful songs, suspense, laughter, love, impish youths, escaping from Nazi's, nuns, the list goes on and on. From the opening scene of the glorious mountains shot from a helicopter and slowly closing in on our impetuous hero, Maria the nun, to the closing scene of the Von Traps hiking to freedom over those same peaks, it is perfect in every way. I'm totally serious.
2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Idiots and/or man-childs (men-children?) are, in real life, exasperating and usually giant wastes of everyone's time, but in the movies, they are hilariously adorable. Or maybe adorably hilarious. No one quite eptomizes this archetype like Will Ferrell. Many of his movies belong on my list, and it was hard to pick just one (Taladega Nights, Elf, Step-Brothers, Old School, Zoolander spring to mind). Anchorman created a hilarity trifecta that is often duplicated, but rarely as successful: a hilarious setting (the 70's), a hilarious supporting cast (Carrell, Rudd, Cordery, Parnell, Willard, plus a ton of cameos), and a plot that is pretty solid, but doesn't get in the way of the main objective, silliness. Christina Applegate (one of the most underrated comedic actors around today) is so earnest and serious and that makes it all the more laugh-tacular.
3. The Orignal Star Wars Trilogy (IV- A New Hope, V- The Empire Strikes Back, and VI- Return of the Jedi)
I know, it's technically three movies, but I didn't want to take up three spaces. I do like I, II, and III; they provided a lot of interesting back story to the Star Wars universe, and they were amazing eye candy, both with it's sexy actors (Natalie Portman, Ewan MacGreggor, JarJar Binks...) and visual effects (not sure if they'll hold up against the test of time though. I haven't seen them in a while). But they're just not the same as the scrappy, earnest underdogs fighting against the terrifying Emperor and his white-armoured henchman. It's the fight against impossible odds, the battle with the darkest evil, and the fact that life goes on (i.e. debts, love, shitty transportation, annoying muppet dudes) in spite of said tribulations, that burns these movies directly into the worlds' hearts, and rightly so.
4. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King)
Another trilogy, I know, but LOTR can be considered one very long movie. And also, this is my list, so shut your face. I will admit that I hadn't read the books when I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring (but after that I was completely hooked and read them before The Two Towers came out, so all you book snobs can just... continue to judge me because you're right I should have read the books when I was 15 like most people that like to read books do. I'm sorry). Like with Star Wars, this is an entire universe created by one man's imagination about an unlikely and reclutant hero. What sets it apart from Star Wars:
1. the wonderfully talented and respected cast of actors (Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortenson, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving! Come on!).
2. A faithful, carefully written script based on an incredibly in-depth and well written story by Tolken.
3. The visual effects technology to give Middle Earth the justice it deserves.
This is the above and beyond any fantasy lovers possible expectations. All the chain mail was real and made by hand! Watch even a fraction of the hours and hours of special features and see how the dedication and love of this world by every person involved is dripping from the scenery.
*Geekish Anecdote: The only time I've ever waited in line for several hours to see the midnight showing of a movie was The Two Towers. It was cold (January in Colorado), uncomfortable and lame. Some of the fellow waitees were in costumes, capes and stuff. At one point, some jockish-type dude that was leaving the theater in an over-sized truck yelled something mean out his window that I can't remember, "get a life, nerds," or something. I remember at the time thinking, 'what a rude thing to say to these nice geeks', before realizing that I was among this group of movie waiters and therefore the insult was also meant for me. The absolute best part was that by the time the movie started, I had a terrible headache and couldn't enjoy it*
5. Back to the Future
I was a little conflicted whether or not to include the entire trilogy, but after some thought, I really do like the first one much more than the other two. As a kid, I was hooked from the very first scene with the elaborate automated dog food dispenser, and as an adult I was surprised by the tounge-in-cheek enuendos and the traveling through time logistics.
Michael J. Fox was at his most charming, Crispin Glover was still likeably creepy (instead of fucked up creepy), Christopher Lloyd was the perfect eccentric scientist, and no one has quite relished the job of playing a bad dude like Thomas Wilson did as the shit-eating sexual predator, Biff Tannen (the best part of BTTF III was Buford 'Mad Eye' Tannen).
6. Mary Poppins
Another Julie Andrew gem. Another musical full of catchy tunes, magic and the precociousness of youth. Except this one takes place in early 20th century England (I loves me those British accents), features cartoons meshing with real life, and Dick Van Dyke secretly playing a really old dude that dies from laughing at this joke: "I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith" says one bloke to another. "What's the name of his other leg?"
Come ON, that shit is funny! But the fact that some old, serious banker dude DIED because he thought it was so funny makes it epic on a whole other level. Who wouldn't want to live in a world with tea parties on the ceiling, talking parrots attached to flying umbrellas and endless carpet bags of delight? No one, that's who.
7. Napoleon Dynamite
This movie is small scale in every sense of the word. No elaborate costumes, sets, musical score, actors etc. It's a quiet, simple movie that doesn't answer many questions (What year is it?, why do Napoleon and Kip live with Grandma? Who exactly is Uncle Rico? How can someone dance so crazy-awesomely whist wearing snow boots?) which sets the obscure tone for the entire movie. Napoleon is a young version of the oblivious man-child that I love so much, but he seems aware of it on at least some level, and so is perpetually frustrated with himself and his environment. He copes with being a weirdo by sneaking tater tots into class, drawing fantastical creatures, and dancing it the fuck out. You know, like normal teenagers do.
8. The Big Lebowski
The Cohen brothers make many movies, and most of them are good. This one has an actual totally awesome film noir-type plot so convoluted by its own colorful characters that it's hardly noticeable. Jeff Bridges is an aging, Californian pot head that doesn't ask for much. He enjoys bowling, white Russians and rugs that really tie a room together. He's the victim of circumstances, each one more outlandish than the next. There's no real reason why the Dude continues to be involved in so many shenanigans, and there in lies the awesome. The hilarious, traumatized 'Nam vet Walter (John Goodman) and poor, sweet Donnie (Steve Buscemi) are comedic icing on a funny cake.
Plus John Turturro as Jesus. You don't fuck with the Jesus.
9. The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson hasn't made a bad movie yet (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zoussu is my least favorite, but I still like it). It seems I'm drawn to movies about weirdos, and most of Wes' creations are a little off-center, flawed, but have the best of intentions and that's why I love them. The Royal Tenebaums is my favorite because it's about a remarkable family that is no longer remarkable. They've all been heartbroken and/or traumatized in one way or another, and end up under the same roof again, brokenly dealing with the deadbeat Dad/husband that has returned to make amends before he dies (but actually he just needs a place to crash and isn't dying at all and is generally a giant asshole, but he is actually trying to make amends in his own fucked up way so it's ok). It's a compact film, I guess. Not too many sets or fast-paced, complex plot twists. It flows comfortingly through the difficult times, blanketed by the Matriarch's love and concern, while life's complications continue within. Makes me optimistic about my family, and families in general. There's also the best epitaph ever: "Died tragically saving his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship."
10. Star Trek (2010)
I know this may seem blasphemous to those faithful to the orginal movies, but I don't give a crap what you turds think (just kidding, please don't stop reading)! It's smart, funny, action-packed, emotional and for you purists out there, has Lenoard Nemoy in it. I don't like the original TV show, and I haven't seen all of the movies, but I LOVE Star Trek the Next Generation; Kirk, Spock and McCoy just never interested me like Picard and Riker did (the sexy bastards). J.J Abrams is an amazing and original filmmaker, and the shiny new cast playing these well-known and beloved characters sucked me right in. There's something about catching a movie/band/TV show right at the beginning that makes us feel special and included, than simply watching history.
And if you aren't emotional invested and doomed to love this movie after you watch the first 10 minutes, you are a terrible person. There, I said it.
11 (yeah, there's more than 10 in my top ten list). Amelie
Most adorable movie ever, filled with quirkiness and romance. Amelie is a shy introvert that has grand ideas of romance and decides to use her complicated schemes for good (and a little evil) and falls in love with another quiet weirdo. And it's in French with subtitles, so you feel more smarter when you watch/read it!
12. Nightmare before Xmas
Tim Burton, clay-mation, singing, nasty monsters, Halloween, Santa being kind of an asshole = awesome. It's become some kind of counter-culture symbol, popular among goth kids that are all different because they're just like all the other goth kids. I mostly like it because of the songs and sweet love story. But a clay-mation skeleton and a Frankenstein's monster-girl are certainly a plus.
13. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
If I need to explain why this movie is awesome, maybe you shouldn't be reading this blog. Hmm, perhaps I should have put this as number one so as not to have wasted so much time of your time. Oh, well. Ni!
So, there it is. I left a bunch off because it was only supposed to be 10, and I change my mind a lot. But I am finally done with this infernal list and shall never mention it again!
Until I inevitably mention it again....
*Edited on 11/11/12. This post vexes me.*