Saturday, August 27, 2016

My top 10 Movies of all time and some honorable mentions!!!


I can't believe we are finally here! My top 10 of all time! This has been a strangely rewarding project for me, and I want to thank everyone who read and support it. it means a lot.

Movies are the quintessential art of our day. They have the power to change minds, hearts and people. I love, and will always love movies. When I set out to make this top 100 list, it was so intimidating because I knew there was well more than 100 movies I could consider favorites. The so many movies were put on and taken off the list, because I love so many movies. It would have been easier to do a top 200, but 100 was excessive enough. The way I narrowed it down was by researching as many movies as I could remember liking and making a list, and I then chose 100 off of that list.

 I would be amiss if I didn't give a shout out to some of these outstanding movies that just missed the cut; OR movies that I hadn't seen by the time I already started publishing my list that might have made the list earlier.


 I also want to say that this is not Tony's cannon, the list will be updated from time to time, because as we change and evolve, as does our perception of art, and what kind of art that resonates with us most. You might have noticed no movies from this year have been omitted any movies from 2016, but movies like Sing Street, Jungle Book or Captain America: Civil War are all, in my opinion, top 100 quality stuff.

So, here are movies that could have easily been on my top 100 in alphabetical order.
Honorable mentions:


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And so here we are with my top 10 favorite movies of all time!



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10. The Deer Hunter (1978)
(R)

Director: Michael Cimino
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep and John Cazale


Winner of 5 Oscars Including; Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor (Walken)



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There may be better war movies out there, and I can concede that; but no war film has ever shaken me to my core the way The Deer Hunter has. This may be the most horrifying non-horror movie on my list, and horror, I believe, is probably the most accurate way to portray war. (Admittedly, I wouldn't know, I've never been in combat, so this is purely speculative.) Unfortunately this is often over shadowed by the much more stylistic Apocalypse Now which was released the following year and was, at the time, ironically, over shadowed by this film. While Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite movies, it's The Deer Hunter that will stay with me for the rest of my life on a deeply intimate level. This was the first war movie I saw that really illustrated what it might be like for some veterans to leave the war zone, but carry the war home in their hearts. Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken give some of the most, if not THE MOST, heartbreaking performances I've ever seen. This quiet, beautiful and scary war film has set the ultimate standard by which I will judge all other war movies.


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9. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
(R)

Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Clancey Brown and James Whitmore

Nominated for 7 Oscars Including; Best Picture and Lead Actor (Freeman)



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One of the most uplifting, and deeply satisfying movies I've ever seen. The movie sees these convicts the way I think Jesus would see them. It doesn't judge them or portray them as villains, rather it sees them as real people who, yes are crooks and killers, but also people with context, substance, dignity and beauty. That's how I think Jesus sees us. While there is plenty of metaphors to be found in the construct of the authority being more corrupt than the prisoners, this movie doesn't let those things over shadow it's heart and soul. Sensitive direction and fine performances make Shawshank an early, and unrivaled, classic.

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8. Vertigo (1958)
(PG)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: James Stewart and Kim Novak

Nominated for 2 Oscars



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The one I'd seen for the first time most recently of all the movies resting in my top 10. When I watched Vertigo, I immediately rewatched it that same night, and then 2 more times the next day. I don't know if I've ever done that with a movie before. But I am as obsessed as the films protagonist. There are a lot of movies on my list that go out of their way to deeply explore human psychology, movies that meditate on madness, obsession, loss, greed and violence. Movies that dare to peak at the darkest faces within the human body. Vertigo, by Alfred Hitchcock, does this better than just about any movie. This is an unpredictable, scary thriller that also takes it upon itself to be a meditation on love, loss and human comfort. This movie was a critical and box office failure upon it's release, it destroyed the beautiful friendship of Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock (Stewart was set to star in Alfred's next movie, North By Northwest, but was quickly replaced by Carey Grant after Alfred blamed Jimmy for Vertigo's failure.) Yet, today, with very good reason, it was widely considered one of the greatest movies of all time.



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7. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
(PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Andy Serkis, Karl Urban, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchette

Winner of 17 Oscars between all 3 films; Including Best Picture and Director



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If you were mad that I was cheating with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, this is REALLY going to bother you. I don't even feel good about this. But it is what it is. This is the greatest movie trilogy of all time; disagreeing with me is futile. Filmed as one, 12 hour long movie, then edited to 3 separate, slightly shorter movies, this is the biggest movie game changer I've gotten to see in my lifetime. I remember being 10 years old and watching the first one with my dad and friends in the theater... and how ever year, Dad, brother and I would eagerly await the release of the next one. These movies flourish with personal sentimentality for me; but they are also undisputed masterpieces that will be remembered as long as we are making movies!


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6. Good Will Hunting (1997)
(R)

Director: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Casey Affleck and Stellen Skarsgaard


Winner of 2 Oscars; Including Supporting Actor (Williams) and Original Screenplay


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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are now some of the most famous faces currently breathing the same air as us mere mortals; yet in 1997 most people didn't know who they were. Before Ben was Batman and one of the best directors of his generation, and before Matt Damon was Jason Bourne and one of the best actors of his generation, they were two south Boston boys with a perfect screenplay they had crafted together. What is seen is a menagerie of wit, heart, talent and inspiration. Not to mention Robin Williams finest and most tender hour. Possibly the most uplifting movies on this list, Good Will Hunting gets my eyes watery and my heart soaring more than most movies out there. 


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5. Psycho (1960)
(PG-13)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles

Nominated for 4 Oscars; Including Best Director and Supporting Actress (Liegh)



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We have officially arrived at my all time favorite horror movie! Psycho is the best representation of the brilliance that was Alfred Hitchcock I have ever seen. This movie pushed the bar so much with audiences back in 1960, people were outraged at the sexuality and violence portrayed in it. But this isn't a mind numbing, senselessly violent trash can. Hitchcock, though obviously demented, never lets it get out of hand. You always know you are under the careful control if the director. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins deliver legendary performances, and Psycho is the greatest horror movie masterpiece of all time.


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4. The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
(R)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, John Cazale, Talia Shire and Diane Keaton

Winner of 6 Oscars; Including Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor (DeNiro)



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Here we have arrived at maybe the greatest movie of all time. This mafia saga set new standards for sequels. It goes deeper than its predecessor in analyzing the twisted mentalities of these men who pervert the capitalist system for their own gain. I believe it is also richer in texture, and gives even more evidence of social awareness. A tale of loss, grief and absolute loneliness, an unflinching stare into the darkest moral abyss. The performances are pitch perfect, from Robert DeNiro (winning his first Oscar) as a young Vito Corleone to a horrifying Al Pacino, who never once asks for the audiences sympathy, but through his suggestive performance demands the movie. I'm obviously bias because I love it so much, but The Godfather Part 2 might be the objectively best movie ever made. 



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3. The Dark Knight (2008)
(PG-13)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Cain, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhall, Anthony Michael hall and Morgan Freeman


Winner of 2 Oscars; Including Best Supporting Actor (Ledger)



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While no sequel has ever bested The Godfather Part 2, The Dark Knight definitely matches it. It's hard to imagine now, where dark and moody super hero movies aren't really welcomed (Sorry Zac Snyder, but at least I'm in the minority who enjoys your movies.) But when The Dark Knight came out, nobody had ever seen a super hero movie with so much.. humanity. The stakes were real, the performances were real (greatest movie villain performance of all time!), you got a sense of spirit from these characters. Watching it, even today, and it's hard to imagine this came from a comic book. I don't want to just say it's my favorite batman movie ever made, or even super hero movie, but my favorite crime drama. I predict that decades from now, people look back on The Dark Knight as the game changer for super hero movies that Star Wars (1977) was for sci-fi.


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2. Stand By Me (1986)
(R)

Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Keifer Southerland and John Cusack.

Nominated for 1 Oscar; Best Adapted Screenplay



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Choosing between any of my top 4 to be my number 1 pick was an impossible endeavor. But I feel comfortable with where Stand By Me sits. I was a youth pastor for 5 years, I worked in Young Life, in high school Special Ed. and now as a Residential Counselor for Looking Glass, a program designed to rehabilitate troubled youths. Youth are the future and now of the world. To help a kid, to guide and love one, is to place an investment on the future of our country. So it cannot be overstated how vital it is that we understand them. No movie has ever done a better job at getting inside the hearts and minds of teen aged boys like Stand By Me. When I was a kid, I at one point identified with all of these kids, now as an adult I see the kids I've pastored, mentored and counseled in these characters. This movie isn't a perfect movie by any means, in fact some moments are just down right sloppy, but it put independent movie making on the market. It showed that lower budget movies with no special effects and lots of heart still have something huge to offer. Stand By Me is a beautiful look at adolescents, one that I will never forget.


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1. Tree of Life (2011)
(PG-13)

Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn

Nominated for 3 Oscars; Including Best Picture and Director



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We have now, finally arrived at my all time favorite movie. The Tree of Life. If you know me, you know that my faith, wrestling with God and theology, are at the very core of my person-hood. Tree of Life is the beautiful on screen representation of what that internal struggle. Reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's not for everyone. It follows no narrative structure, you don't get from point A to point B by narrative standards. It tears down the constructs of traditional film making just as it tears down the constructs of mans idea of God. Rather, this movie is a song that doesn't resolve, a sacrament of sweet incense to heavn, a theological statement that the human experience may feel God is distant, but he exists in the cosmos, in the trees and in our hearts. No leaf falls without the Father knowing of it because in a way, He is in the leaf, He is in His creation. It is because He is in His creation that He is able to reconcile creation back to Himself. That's the picture this movie paints. It is a journey from doubt and chaos to the place of healing and reconciliation. I've seen this about nine times since it's release, and every viewing leaves me more breathless, more moved and shedding more tears. Tree of Life is an experiment in film making, it takes risks that might leave a lot of audience members feeling isolated, but no movie have I ever seen that resonates so strongly with me and my faith journey, and that is why Tree of Life is my favorite movie of all time.

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So there you have! My 100 favorite movies of all time. It's been a lot of fun taking on this project, thank you so much for riding along and providing input!

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