My Best Friend’s Top 25 Movies

Recently, my best friend took some time, thought for a while, and eventually performed the liberating task of making a list of his top 25 favorite movies. I made one a while ago, Top 25 Movies. It’s quite the experience to establish to yourself exactly what movies you love and just how much you love them. My friend made his list and I thought it would be fun to post his list of favorite movies just to show a differing opinion. Part of the fun of movies is discussing them and what they mean and it’s all subjective so why not look into someone else’s cinematic opinion?

25. The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is a modern classic. It’s a dark and thrilling movie about murder and the mind. The Silence of the Lambs tells the tale of an ambitious FBI in training as she tracks the whereabouts of a psychotic killer. However, the killer you become more fascinated by is the intelligent, charming, and sinister, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In order to catch her killer, Clarice Sterling gets into the mind of a one through Anthony Hopkins’ chilling Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

24. The Shining

The Shining is a masterpiece of a horror movie and an epic as only Stanley Kubrick could make. It’s a fascinating haunted house story that makes you feel as isolated and uneasy as its main characters. As the evil that is The Overlook Hotel subtly consumes a family, you can’t help but be enthralled by the madness and the drama. The Shining offers an unreal and completely memorable experience that makes for arguably the greatest horror movie ever made.

23. Schindler’s List

It’s a hard task to deny that Steven Spielberg is an incredible director. There may be movies he’s made that you don’t enjoy, but the man has made many movies. Schindler’s List is “the beard’s” greatest feat. It’s a dark and poignant masterpiece that tells a story as inspiring as they come while enveloping a definitive story of the darkest point in history. It’s some how able to be realistic and operatic. It’s a flawless and prominent film that was crafted by a man who knows how to make good movies.

22. Amadeus

Amadeus is just one of those classic art house films. It has all the makings a masterpiece in it’s beautifully epic tale of rivalry, obsession and artistry. Structured to perfection, an old, bitter rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart recounts the “murder” of Mozart himself. It’s a vast excursion into music through mystery. It’s also about a devotion to one’s craft. Behind this dark drama of murder, there’s quite the witty side to Amadeus, but more importantly a thrilling side. You really become consumed by the magic of it all.

21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the most inspirational pieces of cinema ever crafted. The futile, yet necessary battle between the free spirited R.P. McMurphy and the tyrannical Nurse Ratched is a thrilling one. It is very much a story about freedom and a fighting the want to simply conform. Randle McMurphy is quite the fish out of water when it comes to the tight shift the Mildred Ratched runs. He sure as hell isn’t going to stand idly by and let the man get him down and change him or his new friends from the fun-loving people they are.

20. Skyfall

skyfall-james-bond-trailer

Skyfall is tells the greatest story that will ever be told about one of the most iconic characters in all of fiction, James Bond. This is, in part, due to the fact that Skyfall touches on so much more than just a story about 007. Skyfall tells a beautiful constructed tale of duty and betrayal, past mistakes and future consequences, the old and the new, but in its simplest form Skyfall is a movie about a hero and a villain. Daniel Craig’s raw and perfect turn as a grizzled Bond proving his worth even after so many missions really meets his match against the slithery and savage, Silva (Javier Bardem in another flawless portrayal as a villain).

19. Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is one the most memorable epics ever filmed. It’s a blood-soaked masterpiece about love and revenge. Any chance he gets as he tells his most epic tale of all, Tarantino pays homage to the samurai, kung-fu and even spaghetti western movies that he loves and respects to no end. Kill Bill is exciting and poetic. It’s a simple enough tale of vengeance and it’s told to perfection. We are brought on a very hectic journey and we know where it will lead but it’s hard not to enjoy the ride until you get there and when you do get there, there aren’t that many movies that are as satisfying.

18. Gladiator

Ridley Scott is often associated with the science fiction genre. He has defined and redefined the genre with some of the masterpieces he’s made. Scott’s sword and sandal epic, Gladiator, is arguably his greatest feat. The general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator and the gladiator who defied an empire is quite the striking story. Maximus is the kind of hero you want to watch prevail while his nemesis, Commudus is the kind of villain you want dead. Gladiator is a through and through a story of not just revenge, but justice.

17. Boogie Nights

Through a timeless tale of rise and fall, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the porn industry (70s through 80s) and its own rise and fall. It was with Boogie Nights that Paul Thomas Anderson began his reign of masterpieces. Boogie Nights was the first of five flawless, and very different, films. Boogie Nights is filled to the brim with vivid characters and memorable moments. It’s a colorful, yet dark film that’s hard not to be consumed by. Paul Thomas Anderson is just a man who knows how to make extraordinary movies and Boogie Nights is a perfect example of his expertise.

16. Inception

Inception is a masterpiece through and through. With a fantastic cast on his side, the brilliant Christopher Nolan tells a beautiful story of grief and redemption all while crafting an exhilarating science fiction setting where true reality is always in question. The setting for Inception is that of dreams and this world that Nolan has confidently explored is one that’s hard not to visit and revisit over and over again. Inception is a beautiful drama filled with vibrant characters and perfectly executed action sequences. It’s a compelling film that both entertains and makes you think from beginning to end.

15. The Social Network

2010 was an incredible year in film and arguably the greatest movie to come out of that year was The Social Network. Using the story of Facebook, David Fincher delves into broad themes of morality and betrayal what is easily one of the greatest films ever made. The Social Network tells a compelling human story that’s unmissable. Fincher defines a generation of technology and punks. It’s a film that manages to establish itself as a classic before it even passes the test of time. There’s no question I’ll be watching this movie in years to come. The Social Network is masterpiece in every way.

14. The Godfather (Part I +II)

The character arcs of the father and son that make up for the masterpiece that is The Godfather (Part I + II) are two of the greatest in film. The Godfather just tells this perfect story about family, while The Godfather Part II is more about character and the tragedy of Michael Corleone is fully realized. It utilizes the gangster genre, yet it’s so much more. Francis Ford Coppola was just ahead of his time in terms of how good he could make a movie, he proves that with this dark and operatic drama. The story is a powerful one and worthy of every bit of praise.

13. The Departed

Martin Scorsese is simply one of the greatest filmmakers to have graced this planet. He’s made countless masterpieces and The Departed is his greatest feat. The Departed tells a flawless intertwining tale of cops and criminals. It’s completely gritty, it’s relentlessly enjoyable and poetic. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an extraordinary performance while Jack Nicholson chews through every scene he’s in. Martin Scorsese has told many stories of crime, but never did he tell one so masterfully. The Departed is an unforgettable masterpiece through and through.

12. Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic is the greatest film he’s ever made. Captain Benjamin Willard is a sent to kill Walter E. Kurtz, a rogue Colonel who has fancied himself a god among the aborigines in Cambodia. We’re brought down the river with Willard and we learn more and more about Kurtz along the way, the anticipation to his first appearance is palpable as we go deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece about life’s journey and madness.

11. There Will Be Blood

The dark, emotive and gorgeous There Will Be Blood just barely misses his top ten movies of all time. There Will Be Blood was created by a movie mastermind. Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t made that many movies, but every time he does he manages to make completely captivating masterpieces. He also manages to get the best performances out of his actors which is quite the accomplishment when your main character in this case is played by the great Daniel Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is a beautiful and archaic excursion into greed and the american nightmare as it studies the ruthless and despicable oilman, Daniel Plainview.

10. American Beauty

Kevin Spacey expertly portrays Lester Burnham, the father and center-piece of American Beauty. As he goes through a midlife crisis he slowly begins to realize how beautiful life is and how it deserves to be appreciated. Lester is just one in an assortment of characters that make up for a fantastic story of the lives of others. The film opens and you learn that Lester will die by the end, but it’s the journey that matters. The film got a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar back in 1999 and it lives on still as one of the greatest films in history. American Beauty asks you to look closer and what you find is something quite beautiful indeed.

9. Pulp Fiction

Told through vignettes, Pulp Fiction offers a mosaic of the lifestyle of criminals. Genius in its execution, Quentin Tarantino offers up the greatest gangster movie ever made. Whether you’re watch diner thieves, hitmen, a prized boxer or a crime boss’ coveted wife, it’s hard not to find endless enjoyment in the oddity of it all. Tarantino has crafted a puzzle piece of a movie filled with imagination and innovation. Many have attempted what he did, but nothing ever came close to Quentin’s vastly original and gorgeous masterpiece.

8. Fight Club

Fight Club defines a bored generation and the insanity that can result from that boredom. Our narrator needs something more out of life. He can’t just go through the motions anymore, he’s lifeless and he can’t take it anymore. Thus begins Fight Club and a chance meeting with the charismatic Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is chaos incarnate. What begins as brawling to release angst eventually leads to rising anarchy. There’s a Tyler Durden in all of us and to attempt to hide that fact is futile and only serves to drive yourself crazy. Fight Club is cerebral, pertinent and entirely fascinating.

7. Django Unchained

django-2

Quentin Tarantino can do no wrong. With his seventh directorial outing he makes what he was always meant to make, a spaghetti western. Django Unchained also happens to be a rollicking and epic excursion through the south when slavery was still at large. The film follows a freed slave on a journey to rescue the woman he loves, now tell me that’s not a story everyone can get behind. Props also goes out to Leonardo DiCaprio for his first and riveting performance as a villain, a sadistic and slimy plantation owner. With Django and his new friend, Dr. King Schultz, Tarantino has crafted a pair of heroes of mythical status. We’re just left to enjoy the ride as in their wake the bodies pile up, villains who represent clear symbols for exactly what was horribly wrong with that point in American history.

6. The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate in fantasy. It has dragons, wizards, goblins, magic, a giant flaming eye on a tower and an evil ring that can only be destroyed in the dark fires of Mt. Doom where it was forged. The epic journey that unfolds and the vivid characters you meet along the way leave you awe-struck and breathless. There’s just so much to the film to appreciate; the friendships, the battles, the countless inspirational moments, the creatures, the monologues, etc. The Lord of the Rings is simply one of the greatest stories ever told and it’s told masterfully and with grace.

5. Inglourious Basterds

With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino takes the darkest period in history and tells an epic fantasy filled with blood and bullets. Every moment is so important to the story as a whole, while each scene just commands your attention. We get to know three very different characters before their adventures culminate in a glorious final chapter that solidifies Inglourious Basterds as one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s a movie made by a man who knows what a movie can be and what a movie can be is whatever the director wants it to be. It’s a story that deserved to be told and it was told to perfection. Inglourious Basterds is just as much a piece of art as it is one of the greatest times you’ll ever have at the movies.

4. Barton Fink

Barton Fink is the unspoken Coen Brother masterpiece. Most think of Fargo, No Country for Old Men or The Big Lebowski, but Barton Fink deserves to be held right up there as one of their masterpieces. As Barton’s writers block consumes him in the Hotel Earle a friendship begins to take shape between Fink and his next door neighbor. Charlie Meadows offers a little distraction in the form of innocent conversation. This is that everyman that Barton tries to capture in his writing. Little does Barton know that there’s more going on than he initially thought. Barton Fink is a thought-provoking masterpiece.

3. No Country for Old Men

A man finds drug money, while another man pursues him. It’s a simple story of cat and mouse that used to touch on important ideas of violence and malevolence. Llewellyn Moss attempts to get away with the money, while the cunning and emotionless killer, Anton Chigurh, is hot on his trail. Wise, old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell feels helpless on the sidelines as he watches this onslaught of blood unfold. No Country for Old Men is the Coen Brothers’ magnum opus. It is directed flawlessly, every choice made with such purpose. Nothing is out of place; each shot, line, performance, scene, etc. All of them are simply perfect. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

2. Drive

Drive is proof that the way you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. It’s just this perfect clash style and substance. It’s honest, it can be brutal and it’s consistently satisfying. Our nameless and quiet protagonist progresses along in stylishly sleek and cool tale. Drive is a spectacular film about what it means to be a hero and about what drives a man to do the things he does. Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks steal the show, but everyone is on their A-games and the includes off screen. Nicolas Winding Refn hasn’t done much, but he could’ve only made Drive and it would be hard not to consider him an extraordinary director. Drive is a masterpiece and one of the highest caliber.

1. The Dark Knight Legend

The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is the greatest movie ever made. It’s filled to the brim with characters of the elemental variety to tell a vibrant, exciting and deep tale about heroism, villainy, legends, good, evil, despair, but above all else, hope. If I had to describe this single story in one word, that’s what it would be; hope. At the end of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight there is still much work to be done, but there is hope for a better tomorrow. In The Dark Knight Rises, hope in the form of the greatest hero in existence, triumphs in the face of despair.

In Batman Begins, you get the perfect hero’s journey with a tale of how Batman became Batman. In The Dark Knight, you get the perfect story of good (Batman) and evil (The Joker (Heath Ledger gives the greatest performance in the history of film)). Then the trilogy is defined flawlessly in its last chapter as, like I said before, hope triumphs over despair. This icon is utilized to perfection to tell a real story with so much meaning and emotion. What Christopher Nolan and friends have crafted isn’t just the greatest movie in existence, but the greatest story ever told.

Advertisements

Top Ten Movie Actors

The art of performance is an art form that’s hard not to find an appreciation for if you love movies. As a result of this appreciation, this is a list that has been in the works for a very long time. To preface this list of the people I consider the greatest actors in existence I’d like to make a few things clear. This is a list of actors that are all around the greatest performers, but it’s also a list of actors whom, on a personal level, I just enjoy watching. Along with the names of my favorite actors I’ve also listed three films in front of each actor. I want to make it apparent that these three films aren’t necessarily the three best films to come out of that actor’s career, it’s a list of that actor’s three best performances. This is a broad list so I’d like to start with a list of Honorable Mention (in no particular order).

Honorables

  • Brad Pitt
  • Edward Norton
  • Jim Carrey
  • Jeff Bridges
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Ralph Fiennes
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Liam Neeson
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • George C. Scott
  • Marlon Brando
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Morgan Freeman

And here we go…

10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Most, if not all, will be surprised to find actors like Morgan Freeman, Marlon Brando, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt on a list of Honorable Mention while Joseph Gordon-Levitt is right here at number 10. There’s never a need to justify or rationalize one’s opinions when it comes to discussing something as subjective as film. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s aura of charisma any time he’s on screen. He knows how to do what he does and he does it perfectly. I respect him a lot.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

2. Brick

1. Looper

9. Robert De Niro

This list would be incomplete without the great Robert De Niro. He deserves every ounce of praise he gets for any role he plays. There is certainly an intensity to the way he becomes engrossed in his characters and like any brilliant actor, he really does have such a broad range. Whether he’s playing the awkward and psychotic Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver or the calm and collected crook in Heat, he always manages to put a very raw touch on any performance. The industry wouldn’t be the same without him.

3. Taxi Driver

2. The Deer Hunter

1. Raging Bull

8. Michael Fassbender

Whether he’s playing a robot or even the main character in an X-Men movie, Michael Fassbender always has such a powerful presence. He first caught my attention when I saw him in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, Inglourious Basterds. He didn’t play a huge part in the story, but couldn’t help but command the screen. He has such a naturalism to the way he acts making every single one of his actions feel completely real. If you want to watch truly flawless performing watch Michael Fassbender become his character in Shame.

3. Inglourious Basterds

2. Prometheus

1. Shame

7. Tom Hardy

Its slowly starting to be realized by all with each movie he’s a part of, but Tom Hardy is a truly masterful actor. Its a sight to behold anytime he acts. He makes such lucid choices and stays absolutely consistent. Any character he plays becomes so ridiculously defined due to his flawless work as an emotive performer. At this point I can expect nothing less than greatness anytime he chooses to act in a film. It’s always enjoyable to watch him do what he does regardless of the part, be it a charismatic action hero or a feral and emotionless monster of a man.

3. Warrior

2. Bronson

1. The Dark Knight Rises

6. Al Pacino

I feel as though there’s an unspoken competition when it comes to the legendary actors, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. I would have to go with Al Pacino. Every character he plays is made so intensely human due to a dedication to his work. Realism is what it seems to be about with Pacino. Whether he’s chewing apart the screen in Scent of a Woman or playing a more cool-headed ex-con in Carlito’s Way, with confidence he always manages to bring out the humanity in the men he becomes. Al Pacino is a true master at what he does.

3. Insomnia

2. Dog Day Afternoon

1. The Godfather (Part I + II)

5. Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman is a brilliant character actor who is more than capable of playing the leading man as he sees fit. He has one of the widest ranges of any actor who has ever performed. He can play a ferocious villain in an action movie such as Air Force One and he has the ability to play a more subdued protagonist in a complex drama like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. With maturity and grace, Oldman makes everything he does so completely memorable. Gary Oldman is still working today, but he’s already left such a lasting and magnificent legacy with the fascinating ways he takes on the vibrant characters he plays.

3. The Professional

2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

1. The Dark Knight Legend

4. Jack Nicholson

Ever since I fell in love with the art of film, I’ve always considered Jack Nicholson one of my favorite actors. It’s hard not to love the actor when you look at his track record. He is extraordinary, that’s all there is to it. Due to his work as a magnificent performer he is partly responsible for some of the masterpieces fundamental to the progression of cinema. He’s always having fun just doing exactly what he does best, perform flawlessly. Jack makes you feel it no matter what it is. When he laughs, yells, cries, breathes, it’s not him,  it’s his character. Jack Nicholson is an incredible artist and one of the best there is.

3. The Departed

2. The Shining

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

3. Christian Bale

There is something so miraculous to the way Christian Bale completely throws himself in his roles. Regardless of the character, he makes you believe it. As Batman he’s heroic, as Patrick Bateman he’s psychotic, as Dicky Eklund he’s pathetic, as Alfred Borden he’s enigmatic and I could easily go on. It’s as if he just has some kind of vast knowledge on exactly how to tap into the mind and shoes of the characters he portrays. Christian Bale defines a generation of actors who have learned a lot from a long, long history of film and excels because of that knowledge.

3. The Fighter

2. American Psycho

1. The Dark Knight Legend

2. Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis is a phenomenal artist and the greatest actor working today. He is incredibly deliberate in the choices he makes and I don’t just mean in the ways he chooses to portray a character, but also in the characters he chooses to play. He’s touched on such a broad spectrum of emotions and he does so flawlessly. No one does it the way Daniel Day-Lewis does it. You want to talk about intensity in performance, just watch him tear through the scenery as the violent villain, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is coming soon and I just can’t wait to see what Day-Lewis does with it.

Daniel Day-Lewis blows me away any time he takes on a performance, but it’s in There Will Be Blood where he really hits his stride and shows just how extraordinary a performance can be. Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is an epic character study about consumption, greed and the American nightmare. At the heart of the film is the complex and depraved oilman, Daniel Plainview. Rarely does the film have a scene without its black-hearted protagonist. It’s one of the juiciest roles in all of film and as always, with precision and dominance, Daniel Day-Lewis plays the character to perfection.

3. Gangs of New York

2. Lincoln

1. There Will Be Blood

1. Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger is the greatest artist to have ever acted in film and its a shame to think about what could’ve been. The Australian actor was only 28-years-old when he passed away and all we have of him is an enigmatic and extraordinary career that was tragically cut very short. Even since a very young age, Heath showed great promise when he took on any role. No matter what it was, be it an rollicking adventure movie like A Knight’s Tale or a serious drama like The Patriot, Heath Ledger showed more than potential to be one of the greats.

A turning point that marked the career of a mature and defiant actor was Heath Ledger’s performance of Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. This was a role that needed a powerful and honest performance and Heath Ledger responded with a portrayal that exceeded those necessities. Heath Ledger is an extraordinary actor who never needed to prove anything, but if he did, he proves it here. You’d be hard-pressed to find other performances that are as touching and real.

Heath Ledger is the kind of actor who just seems to have fun with whatever he’s doing. He loves doing what he does and just happens to be the best at what he does. Never did he have more fun with a role than when he gave not only the greatest performance of his career, but the greatest performance in the history of film. In The Dark Knight, Ledger was universally praised for his realistic portrayal of one of the most iconic villains in the history of stories. In The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger crafted the greatest character in film, which is in part due to a landmark performance that cements Heath Ledger as the greatest actor to have ever performed.

3. The Patriot

2. Brokeback Mountain

1. The Dark Knight