Friday, August 26, 2016

Top 100 movies of all time! part 9 of 10! Numbers 20-11!

Here we are! Part 9 of 10 of a series on my 100 favorite movies of all time! This has been a lot of time and research but I'm so excited to finally start publishing them.

Here's a couple things to keep in mind.

1. This is a FAVORITES list, not a BEST list. I'm hardly qualified to make a best of list. So there will be movies on the list that are admittedly sloppy, but I love them. As well, there are masterpieces out there that I have seen and just really didn't like. So you wont see Citizen Cain or Raging Bull here.

2. I am 24 years old who has obviously not seen all the movies, and, like everyone else, am inclined to like movies more from my generation. So while there are a few older movies on here, I'm attempting to abandon pretension and go with what resonates with me the most.




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20. The Conjuring (2013)
(R)

Director: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston



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In 2012 I had started to feel like the horror movie genre was dying. For a while I stopped watching horror movies, and I didn't really feel like I had missed much. I hate torture porn; no genre shows less concern to the sacredness of human dignity; so I wasn't sad to miss out on the Saw, Hostel and Human Centipede franchises. And the none torture porn movies? I mean, Halloween, My Bloody Valentine and Black Christmas remakes? One Missed Call, Silent Hill? Yeah there was some glimmers of hope for the franchise; one of my all time favorites, Let Me in came out in 2010, and Paranormal Activity was amazing as were a few others (which I wouldn't know about until doing some research. Secret to most great horror movies? A low budget.) So you can imagine my overwhelming delight when I saw the best ghost horror movie I'd ever seen in The Conjuring. My best friend, Jordan, kept insisting that this movie was a masterpiece, so I went with him, not thrilled, and left blown away. I went 3 more times afterwards. This has everything you could wish for in a movie: Brilliant performances, a compelling narrative, and more than competent direction. James Wan has an eye for what makes people afraid. What I loved most about The Conjuring is there is nothing new to it; creaky doors, jump scares, flickering lights and a fairly predictable plot. The brilliance in the movie is that it takes what has scared previous generations for decades and re-presents to a new generation in fresh, horrifying ways. Scares aside, the movie also has sympathetic characters, a strong emotional core and some very faith affirming moments. All elements that more than qualify this to be one of my all time favorites.


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19. Higher Ground (2011)
(R)

Direcor: Vera Farmiga
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard and John Hawkes



Image result for higher ground movie poster


Another Vera Farmiga movie! Can you guess if she's one of my favorite actresses? I don't say this about a lot of movies, in fact I try to be very careful and discerning with what I insist I think Christians need to do, but I'm insisting EVERY CHRISTIAN WATCH HIGHER GROUND. This is not your Pureflix attempt at art from the creators of Gods Not Dead, and it is rated R for some language and a few sexual moments. This is a love letter from Vera Farmiga to a faith tradition she wants so hard to be real, but doesn't always know how to make it so. So why should Christians watch it? This movie is a study on faith and doubt. There is an underlying culture of doubt shaming that lives in the subconscious of  many Christians, especially myself. But if any faith tradition should be a safe place to ask tough questions and wrestle with your doubts and struggles, it should be the tradition that was mandated by it's founder to reject shame. Higher Ground speaks powerfully to these themes, not mention that Vera as an actress and director accomplishes the almost impossible task of creating a piece of art that is both critical and admiring of the church.

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18. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
(G)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood and Douglas Rain

Won 1 Oscar

Image result for 2001 a space odyssey movie poster


Here's another one of those movies that has a very split audience. People either love it or hate it. And even though it is one of my favorite movies, and one of the most impressive viewing experiences I've ever had, I totally understand why some people would hate it. If the themes don't resonate with you, if you don't like having to interpret movies, and if you like your space movies with a little more action, than yeah this movie wasn't made for you, and that's okay. But this movie spoke to me as a profound meditation on the mysteries of God. With this cryptic monolith that shows up, supposedly initiating the next phase of life each time it appears, you see a potential God metaphor. It's the mysteries of this movie that compel me, and call be back to rewatch it. The special effects are outstanding, you won't know you're watching a movie from 50 years ago; and this, in my opinion, is the best example of why Kubrick was so far ahead of his time. 


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17. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
(R)


Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher

Nominated for 1 Oscar

Image result for when harry met sally movie poster

Here's a great example of why this is a "favorites" list, not a "best" list. In what other world is When Harry Met Sally above 2001? If this really ticks you off, I'm not sorry. That's the beauty of opinions and art. But this is my favorite romantic comedy; which isn't saying much seeing as how it's probably my least favorite genre. Yet, When Harry Met Sally, even though containing every cliche in the book, is elevated by the pitch-perfect script, charismatic performances and Rob Reiner's affectionate direction. Full of heart, plenty of belly laughs and a few iconic moments, When Harry Met Sally is my favorite movie to cuddle up with my wife and watch over and over again.


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16. Inception (2010)
(PG-13)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard,Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Michael Cain

Winner of 4 Oscars



Image result for inception movie poster


Christopher Nolan makes yet another appearance on my list with my favorite sci-fi movie ever. This movie has had pages and pages and pages of work written by people tearing apart every aspect of this mind bending achievement in science fiction movie making. The all-star cast does great work here, but as usual, Christopher Nolan doesn't let those pesky actors cause the audience to forget who the real star of the movie is: The story, full of heart and intellectually challenging. As per usual with Christopher Nolan moves, the less you know going into it, the more you'll get out of it. If you haven't seen, don't speak to me until you have seen it. You don't exist until you've seen Inception.


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15. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
(PG)

Director: Frank Capra
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymoore

Nominated for 5 Oscars; Including Best Picture, Director and Lead Actor (Stewart)




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The holiday classic to define all holiday classics. The only Christmas movie I need  to watch annually. This movie may be needed more now than ever; in a world that is over come with cynicism, depression, anxiety, fear and anger; It's A Wonderful Life is a light in the darkness. A movie that demands its audience to examine what it is that really makes life worth living. Featuring my favorite Jimmy Stewart performance and Frank Capra's tender direction; this is a sentimental in all the right ways classic.




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14. Ordinary People (1980)
(R)

Director: Robert Redford
Starring: Donald Southerland, Mary Tyler-Moore, Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch

Won 4 Oscars; Including Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor (Hutton)

Image result for ordinary people movie poster

I have a bone to pick with pop culture. Because this movie is known not for all of its worthy qualities, but as the movie the majority feel wrongfully beat Raging Bull for Best Picture. Well, even though I can appreciate what an astonishing piece of art Raging Bull is, I despise it. My joy that this movie took home top prize at the Oscars is not why it's so high on my list though, that would make me petty and vindictive. Ordinary People is a somber and quiet critique of western civilizations inability to confront and wrestle with tragedy. We move from moment to moment, and if the moment stings, we move fast away from it, ignoring the lasting results of those painful moments. Our inability to face our suffering leads to even more suffering. Ordinary People shows what happens when a suicidal young man decides to confront his pain, to learn, to grow and to fight; and how his parents, determined to move to the the next good moment, are effected by his choice. This is a small movie with a lot to say. Donald Southerland, the most underrated actor of all time (next to Martin Sheen) does his best work here, Mary Tyler-Moore goes against type in an age that didn't allow women to do so easily, Timothy Hutton embodies guilt and Robert Redford directs it all with a gentle compassion, handling the movie as a delicate piece of glass. Ordinary People is astonishing.


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13. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
(PG)

Director: Robert Mulligan
Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford and Robert Duvall

Winner of 3 Oscars; Including: Lead Actor (Peck) and Adapted Screenplay


Image result for to kill a mockingbird movie poster



Hard for me to even talk about this movie without getting choked up. Telling stories of racism, injustice, poverty, rumors and fear through the eyes of two young children; and how their father walks them through these stories, either with his words or with his character. Gregory Peck perfectly embodies the legendary Atticus Finch, demonstrating his tough and tender demeanor effortlessly. Full of suspense, moments of levity and more heart than most movies can contain; To Kill a Mockingbird is an important, powerful and classic masterpiece. Not to mention it is the screen debut of one of my all time favorite actors, Robert Duvall as Boo Radley. 


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12. Inside Out (2015)
(PG)

Director: Pete Docter
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mindy Kailing, Lewis Black and Diane Lane

Won 1 Oscar; Best Animated Feature Film


Image result for inside out movie poster


2015 was one of the best years for movies in recent memory. Spotlight, Mad Max Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, Creed, Straight Outta Compton, The Big Short, The Martian, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies... all movies that in another year could have easily been worthy of best picture.. yet, in my opinion, the most innovative, emotional, brilliant and daring movie of 2015 was a Disney/Pixar cartoon. Here's the thing, my closest friends and family know that I don't usually care for cartoons. They have to work harder than any other genre (except maybe romcom)to win my heart. Maybe it's because I'm cynical, I should go watch It's A Wonderful Life... But all that to say no movie has helped me heal with some very intense emotional stuff like Inside Out. Having seen it right after I lost my dream job and put my marriage in a really rough spot, while I felt like a failure in every aspect of the word. I'm not one to beat around the bush, so I'll be honest, it was the closest to suicide I had ever been. Then I saw Inside Out, and it was one of the biggest sources of life and healing for me. I had never understood before why it was, not only okay to be sad, but it's important to be sad sometimes. Sadness gives other emotions gravity and richer substance. And this is a cartoon! I cry like a pregnant woman every time I watch this. But there are very few movies more personal or important to me.



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11. The Godfather (1972)
(R)

Director: Francis Ford Copolla
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire and Diane Keaton

Winner of 3 Oscars; Including Best Picture, Lead Actor (Brando) and Adapted Screenplay


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The Godfather presents maybe the best anti hero ever filmed in the person of don Vito Corleone. Unrivaled in its glimpse into mob life, this movie is every bit as masterful and impressive as its reputation would suggest. This movie gets everything right: dialogue, direction, performances, depiction of tragedy. This is the movie that established new benchmarks in American cinema. Featuring an alternative take on the American Dream, The Godfather traces the arc of this doomed idealism with a beauty that is still fresh.

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