#10 – THE GUYANA TRAGEDY – I have loved this movie since I was a very young piss ant kid. Of course then I didn’t understand it, but it was fascinating to watch Powers Boothe (one of the most underrated actors EVER) as the charismatic cult leader Reverend Jim Jones. In my opinion one of the greatest acting performances ever put on film. His transition from a well-meaning, empathetic holy man, to corrupted preacher and politician, to finally a power hungers, lunatic cult leader is astonishing. The cast is fantastic, the script is great and for that time very risqué. It’s a TV mini-series so it’s about three hours or more on DVD. But it’s so good it flies by. Lastly a big message from the film to me is that mixing religion and politics is a recipe for disaster.
#9 – BEETLEJUICE – Still one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. But it’s not just funny but unique, original, even a bit scary at times. A bizarre, funny, and wild take on the supernatural and life after death and how different people look at it. What I really love is it doesn’t take a stand on religion or step on any toes to offend anyone. It just tells a story. That is part of the genius of Tim Burton, the director. This being one of his first films and my second favorite of his. Yes, I like this even more than Edward Scissor hands. Last but not least I would be stupid to not mention the wild and hilarious performance of the great Michael Keaton as the title character. How he made such a reprehensible character so funny and likeable is a true testament to his talent. Such an overlooked and underrated artist.
#8 – PREDATOR – I saw this in the theater when I was probably ten years old. I still get the same charge from it now that I did then. Ahnahd’s best film and to me still the best made monster film today. Sure it has action, and sci-fi mixed in, but it is a horror film at its core. Say what you want about the Alien/Xenomorph. It is an animal and to me not nearly as scary as the Predator creature. Think about, he is a highly trained and massively equipped hunter from outer space. He can bend light and camouflage into anything and took down an entire highly trained special forces unite. Alone!!! Only defeated by the guy he beat the shit out of earlier by luck and the fact he threw away his weapons. The Alien/Xenomorph killed a few scientist and had its ass kicked with very little effort. That being said the film is just so well done. It’s exciting, fast paced, original and stands the test of time where many 80’s action movies have not aged well at all.
#7 -BRAVEHEART – Is Mel Gibson a bad guy, hate Jews, or a homophob? Hell I don’t know. He definitely has a bad temper and has some issues to work out. But John Wayne was a racist, misogynist, homophobic jerk and people still rank him atop of every film list. So why can’t Gibson’s work be celebrated. Braveheart is a great movie. Gibson is a great actor and director. This film is in my opinion his best work. His attention to detail in the costumes, to the sets, and particularly the battle scenes is outstanding. For a film so large in scale that is quite an achievement. Look at a film like Last Samurai for instance. It pales in comparison to the spectacle that is Braveheart. Also the ensemble cast should be recognized for their work. The acting gets overlooked in Braveheart, but the performances are quite good. Gibson does a great job. Patrick McGhoon as King Longshanks is rigidly despicable. Sophie Marceau is beautiful and soulful as Princess Isabell, and Angus Macfadyen does a fin job as Robert the Bruce. So say what you will about Mel Gibson the man. But you can’t deny the masterpiece that is Braveheart.
#6 – WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? – Why haven’t Johnny Depp or Leanardo Dicaprio won an acting Oscar yet but Roberto Benigni, (Life is Beautiful) John Wayne,(True Grit) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist) have? Because the Oscars are full of ass kissing political bull shit!!! Rarely does the Academy give awards to anyone or film that actually deserve it. Watch Gilbert Grape and you’ll see what I mean. I mean, awards for a piece of art is a bit strange. But if you’re going to be handing them out then give them to the best most deserving ones. Gilbert Grape is the perfect blend of heartbreaking drama and sentimental comedy. Lasse Hallstrom should have been recognized for his great direction. As well as Peter Hedges for his beautiful script. Not to mention Depp, Mary Steenburgen for their performances. As well as Darlene Cates for her very brave and raw performance as Gilbert and Arnie’s obese manic depressed mother. And speaking of Arnie, we can’t forget the knock out, one part hysterical, and one part heartbreaking performance by Leo. At the age he was then it was a revelation to see such a truly real job he did as the mentally challenged Arnie Grape. One reason I love the film is because I have a nephew who is Autistic that I have helped to raise. The scenes with Gilbert and Arnie remind me of the moments I shared with him. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes they are sad and sometimes they are frustrating. But that’s family and you make the best of it.
#5 – SLING BLADE – The only film that truly gets southern people, and way of life. Most hollywood movies about the south are true bull shit. The accents, the dialect, the clothes. Everything. Especially the stories and characters. As one who has grown up in the south I can tell you that yes there are rednecks and bigots. But not everyone is. Not every man in the south beats up their women and not every woman wants to be beaten. But it happens as I’m sure there are women in Beverly Hills that are beaten by their millionaire hubbys. This film (brilliantly written and directed by Billy Bob Thorton) gets that. He shows why the mother of Frank stays with such an abusive jack ass like Doyle. (terrifically played by Dwight Yoakum) He shows why Doyle is such a temperamental jerk. It’s not just because he’s from the south. But because he’s a product of the abuse cycle. He was raised that way as was his father and so on. (Again, I’m sure the abuse cycle rolls through the north south east and west) The characters are real and diverse, like John Ritter’s homosexual store owner Vaughn. (In Ritter’s best acting job ever) He’s comic relief, but not the subject of ridicule. The script is fluid, deep, and perfectly written. You hear the south in every line. Stuff is said that NO Hollywood twit could ever even thin of let along write. Of course Thornton is brilliant in the role of Carl Childers. (As is Thorton in almost any role he plays) Carl soon became a fixture of pop culture as everyone soon started doing Carl impressions. As funny as Carl could be, he also is a character of much sadness and depth. A product of poverty, ignorance, and lack of education. His parents were ashamed and never knew what to do with him. So they hid him and taught him what they knew. Which wasn’t much and ended up causing Carl to kill his own mother. She taught him to fear and hate sin. He catches her sinning and “cut her down” as Johnny Cash once sang. Sling Blade takes the southern stereo types and fleshed them into real people. Brilliant movie.
#4 – THE CROW – It’s true when they say the good ones always go too soon. Brandon Lee was right at the cusp of finding himself as an artist. His first few feature films showed him to be a great action star. Charismatic, athletic, good-looking. But in The Crow, he showed his depth as an actor. He developed a character in Eric Draven that was complex as well as exciting. He came back from the dead with a not just vengeance in mind but also wisdom that he may or may not have had before his murder. (One thing that the film lacked was the back story. ) Like when Eric goes to the little girls junkie mother after killing one of his and his fiance murderers. In the scene with the killer Eric is angry and maniacal. But when he finds the little girls mother doing dope in the next room he approaches her with calm and wisdom. Brandon Lee played both scenes like a young Brando or James Dean. It was perfect. Also much has to be said about the photography. Few films have such a brilliantly dark look that is still beautiful. The Crow is one of them. A sad film when you remember the tragedy that befell the production. A shame it was his last, but it is Brandon Lee’s master work. I’d rather remember it for that.
#3 – THE DARK KNIGHT – Another case of gone too soon. Heath Ledger was another gifted artist on his way to legendary status. Shortly after filming arguably his best performance as the Joker he went to sleep and died from an overdose. I have reviewed this film on this blog before, (My review of The Dark Knight) so I won’t spend much time on it here. But I will say there few films that have wowed me as much as this one. Most are on the top ten list. The second TDK was over I wanted to watch it again.
#2 -BATMAN – The only Bat – movie that tops Nolan’s Dark Knight. Again I have reviewed this film before, so I won’t go into it too long. (My review of Tim Burton’s Batman) I will say, Keaton is still the best Batman. Nicholson is an awesome Joker. (Sorry Jack but Heath really is THAT GOOD.) Kim Bassinger is adorable. The film is gothic beautiful and Burton blends the comic world with the real world perfectly. (one thing Nolan’s lacked was the comicness. Just my opinion.) Maybe it’s nostalgia, but this Batman to me is still THE Batman.
AND MY FAVORITE MOVIE EVER IS ….
# 1 – PULP FICTION – The best movie of the 90’s. One of the most original, exciting, best acted, written, and directed movies in history. Darkly funny, and blood splatteranly exciting Pulp changed the way many film movies to this day. Tarantino filmed Pulp in non linear sequence that turned it into a real life comic book. What’s the big deal some youngsters may ask? Well now a days lots of films have copied Tarantino’s style. Crash (2004) 2 Days in the Vally (1996), Smokin Aces (2006) just to name a few. Not just the non linear back and forth editing. But the layers of character and dialog. The way the people speak in his movies. The dialog is a character in the film as much as Marcellus Wallace. So much has been said about Pulp over the years so I can’t add much. But it is one of those moments in cinema that changes everything. It is not just a movie but an experience. There was Gone with the Wind. Citizen Kane, Star Wars, The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause, and 2001 a Space Odyssey. They were landmarks that changed movies. So was Pulp Fiction.