top ten

UPDATE: Jimmy Patterson at Sticky Doorknobs has a post today, the first item of which is movie related. I laughed. I cried. Go read it, and stick around for the rest of the post.

Yesterday I wrote about my current disaffection with the movies. In commenting on that post, an Esteemed Lonestar Blogger asked me to list my top ten favorite movies.

I was once a movie freak. Once, reading a Roger Ebert review of a Wes Anderson film, I ran across the line... "If you see everything, you've seen his previous film Bottle Rocket." I had seen that movie. Twice. Those days are gone, so the list below includes almost no great movies that may have come out in the last two years or so.

I should further add that I do not like top ten lists. Actually, I don't like making them. I enjoy reading others' very much. This is probably some insecurity complex manifesting itself in my bloghavior. Anyway, without further ado...

Jim's Top Ten Movies

10. The Empire Strikes Back --unquestionably the best of all the Star Wars films. I love the scene in which Darth approaches Luke for the climactic fight, the one that ends with the show stopping plot revelation.

9. Once Upon A Time In The West. This movie makes the list for the first 13 minutes alone. The rest is just gravy, but mighty tasty gravy. Hooray for Henry Fonda playing against type. His Frank is one cool customer, man. Nasty too. The coming together and long collaboration of director Sergio Leone and composer Ennio Morricone should prove beyond doubt that there is a God and that he cares about creativity.

8. Heat. Pacino and Deniro share their only film scene together to date. And that's the low point of the movie. My favorite line is unprintable in this space, but Pacino speaks it to Hank Azaria about Ashley Judd's character. Watch the movie and hear it for yourself. Which reminds me, what an amazing cast: Bobby, Al, Hank, Ashley, Mykelti Williamson, Val Kilmer (who can act every so often), David Fincher and of course, Tone Loc. Directed by Micheal Mann who's made one or two other decent movies.

7. Contact. A case of the movie being infinitely better than the book which spawned it. Jodie Foster is a scientist who discovers something that forces her into an encounter with the nature of faith. David Fincher (who was a lowlife in Heat) faultlessly plays a blind astronomer in this movie though he himself is not. People like to criticize Robert Zemeckis as a lightweight and pompous pretender. I think he's a genius and almost included another of his films in this list. I love this movie.

6. Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Do I really need to explain? I'm putting the whole trilogy in this not as a cheat but because Jackson filmed them as a single story, which they are.

5. Field of Dreams. I'm a sap and proud of it. The next entry will serve as further proof.

4. It's A Wonderful Life. Go on, criticize this one. I dare you, you grinches.

3. Unforgiven. There's never been a better western. "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." Great characterization of mercy, though that's not at all what's occurring when this line is spoken. This movie is Eastwood's masterpiece even if Million Dollar Baby won last year.

2. Dances With Wolves. Another masterpiece. Costner should have stuck with directing only after this one. Oh well.

And in the top spot...

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Made in 1968 and (almost) all of the special effects still stand up. A mesmerizing movie thematically, philosophically, and theatrically. I honestly don't think there's any way to improve upon it.

If you're still reading...

This was an agonizing project. I had to leave out the Godfather films and I'm not sure if I made a mistake doing so. Also not present are some smaller films that remain sentimental favorites (like Wes Anderson's Rushmore, and Cameron Crowe's Say Anything--I think Lloyd Dobler is one of the all time great screen characters). Saving Private Ryan (which is an excellent film) is out because of "Earn this." How dumb. Cast Away is not here only because I didn't want to include two Zemeckis films. And of course, there's Sophia's Lost In Translation, which is a lovely movie. And so many others. Oh well, that's the nature of a top ten for a film lover: complicated.

Now, Eric, don't go asking me for a list of top ten books. That would be just too hard. Though you could offer your own 10 film choices. A search of your archives did not turn up such a list, although I'm sure Farenheit 9/11 would be real close to the top! ;>


Eric said...

Jim, I don't know why you don't like making "Top 10" lists...you're quite good at it. Our respective lists have very little overlap -- assuming, of course, that I ever make one (I did post a Top 10 Scary Movies list, btw) -- but your descriptions of each of your movies gave me no reason to second-guess your picks.

Other than Lost in Translation, which was a real snoozer. But, that's just me.

Now, about those favorite books of yours... ;-)

Jim said...

I liked Lost In Translation for a host of reasons. But mainly because the relationship between the two main characters is never made into a cliche, if you get my drift.

It's definitely no Die Hard, however.

Okay, over to your site now to find that list of scary movies.

zalm said...

Top 10 lists are tough, indeed. I'm definitely less of a Zemeckis fan than you are (I guess I never really did forgive him or the Academy for Gump), but there's a lot to love in many of your other choices.

I finally saw "Once Upon a Time..." last year, and I agree, it's a brilliant opening scene. And you'll get absolutely no arguments from me regarding "It's a Wonderful Life." None.

And yesyesyes to Rushmore/Dobler/Lost in Translation.

Jim said...

I almost put Forrest Gump in the list. And I find that most people are not as fond of Zemeckis fan as I am.

We need a new movement in this country! Let's start spray painting "Lloyd Dobler was here" on bridges and see if it takes off.

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