Saturday, April 2, 2011

Contest - What are your top films?

What's your favourite film?  It's the eternal, modern day question.

I have been known to judge people with their choice.  I know it's narrow-minded, but if you are a guy and you say "The Godfather", I will think one thing.  If you say, "The 39 Steps", I will think another.  I will admit that I am a bit of a film snob, but as with food, diversity is best.

Here are my top twenty films, in order.  Feel free to judge and add your lists in the comments area.  I will be having a drawing for one of the films on my list next week!


20) John Carpenter's Halloween

Scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis was an idol to me when I was little and to this day I still get very happy when I see Activia commercials.  She enabled me to terrorize my sister.  Waiting in the closet after my sister and her sleepover friends had watched 'Halloween' on late night tv, at 2am, I jumped out in a mask and scared them.  The beating I took was worth it:-)

19) Inglorious Basterds

I know what you are thinking, "Of all of the great Quinton Taratino films, why this one?"  I interned at the Holocaust museum in DC for a brief time.  During my tenture, I saw more pain, violence and death than I had in my entire life.  This lunatic revenge fable is the medicine I needed after all of that heartache.  It is pulp, but it is passionate and fun.  Christoph Waltz, in his well deserved Oscar winning turn, is the true star (sorry Brad).  With every scene, he oozes charm and intellegence to the point where you feel dirty for liking him.  The utter sadism of the American Nazi hunters is welcome in this film that develops like a riptide to its brutal climax.

18) Enchanted

How is that for a polar opposite?

Tell you why this is in my top 20...Amy Adams and Disney 2d animation.  Amy Adams as the future Princess Giselle shows every talent that a great actor should have.  She is a triple threat and all actors working today need to take a page from her book.  This film is a fantasy, with amazing 2d Disney animation, a drama and a fall on your face comedy.  It also gives the brilliant character actor Timothy Spall something to do besides whine and turn into a rat (Hello, Harry Potter!)  It is the best Disney film in years!

17) Notting Hill

Ok, I see the look on your face, it's the "how can you say you study film, but you pick a 'Chick Flick'" face.  Let's look past the Hugh Grant's British and Julia Roberts' American charm for a minute.  Here you have collected one of the most amazing ensemble casts ever put together on celluloid.  Rhys Ifans as Grant's scene-stealing housemate and Alec Baldwin in a sly, perfectly cast cameo come immediately to mind.

16) Real Genius

An very underrated little picture until 'Mythbusters' did the Popcorn Exploding the House test.  I could hear the squeal of millions of fanboys around the world!

Val Kilmer in his star making turn before he turned into an over-bloated egomanic. Real Genius is full of satire on society and the military.  It also has some of the most memorable lines ever written.  I urge you, if you are into geek speak, see this movie!  Also, if you ever wanted to imagine me as a teenager, check out Jordan.  HAHAHAHAHA!

15) Foul Play

 Chevy Chase's acting debut after he left 'Saturday Night Live' and before he went on to make 'Caddyshack' and the Vacation films.  I had a hard time choosing between this or 'Memoirs of an Invisible Man,' the only films of Chase's career where he plays characters and not his bumbling caricature.  However 'Foul Play' has a better supporting cast.  Burgess Meredith, Rachel Roberts, Dudley Moore, Brian Dennehy and Billy Barty are all in top notch form! 

Filmed in San Francisco, the cinematography is well done, crisp and presents the city as another character in the film.

The mystery within the comedy is intelligently played by Goldie Hawn, especially when she's being menaced by a sinister looking albino and a "dwarf."  She plays the part with a wide-eyed purity that imbues her shy librarian with heart and is the perfect foil for Chase's smart-alec copper.

14) The Women (1939)

George Cukor perfection...

Biting dialog, expert direction and the FINEST female cast ever assembled, 'The Women' came out in the pen-ultimate film year 1939 with 'Gone with the Wind,' 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' 'Stagecoach,' 'Wuthering Heights,' and a film that is number 11 on my list.  Clare Luce Booth originally wrote the play this spectacular film was based on.  Here are some of its best here

13) Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I am a sucker for a screwball comedy.  Unfortunately, modern screwball comedies almost always fall short.

'Miss Pettigrew...' is based on a book from 1938 by Winifred Watson, which probably explains its success in this genre.  Where the film diverges from its source is the additional plot line concerning the impending war.  It is an adding plotline that actually enhances the story.  Again, it's a rare package.

Guinevere Pettigrew, Oscar winner Frances McDormand, who has been fired repeatedly as a nanny. Now destitute, Miss Pettigrew cons her way into the home of American singer/actress Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) wants a social secretary rather than a nanny.  In twenty-four hours, Guinevere and Delysia learn the lessons of trust, duty and true love.

12) North By Northwest

This one is simple, Alfred Hitchcock directing my favourite actor, Cary Grant.  He is suave, handsome and hapless as the innocent brought into the mystery by Eva Marie Saint.  Perfection!  'The Tourist' writer really needed watch the movie and not read the liner notes if he was going to steal a plot.

11) Ninotchka

Another masterpiece from 1939!

Masterfully directed by Ernst Lubitsch, this film is most famous for Greta Garbo's laugh.  'Ninotchka' is a sweet, happy film about love overcoming ideology, nationality, and geography, and one that doesn't feel the need to beat us over the head with it. The relationship is well-developed, the characters interesting, and the execution frothy perfection.

10) Local Hero

I have never understood why this film is so under-rated.  I initially watched it because I am a huge Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles of  'Star Wars' fame) fan. 

Full of interesting characters, a brilliant musical score by Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits), satirical without being demeaning; it invites you into a totally believable, but still fantastic world.  The script, direction and performances are perfect.

If anyone ever doubted the importance of a screenplay in the success of a movie or thought that a big budget and special effects could cover up a movie's shortcomings - see this film. It should be required at all film schools as an example of what can be accomplished on a little budget.

9) City Lights

This is the first comedy I ever saw that made me cry happy tears at the end.  I will not give it away, but breathtakingly painful and joyous is hard to achieve, and done with no words at's just the look that breaks your soul.  It is the art of the silent film perfected by one of its masters, Charlie Chaplin.  It is the ultimate tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl and understanding, the end.  Makes me tear up just thinking about it, so let's move along...sniff...

8) 300

I love a good 'Love or Hate' film.  A viewer either loves it completely or hates it with untold passion.  Polar opposites but '300' alway incites an emotional response that goes unequaled in most Hollywood productions.

Based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, it is my favourite in the 'comic book' movie subgenre.  Please do not look for historical accuracy!  Watch it as a door way to knowledge on the subject of the great 300 of Sparta.  Even if you can't get into it, everyone is naked at one point of another, so enjoy that - LOL!

7) Some Like it Hot

I was five or six years old.  My Mum and I went to The Byrd Theatre in Richmond and sat down to watch a double feature.  I remember her leaning over and telling me 'Some Like it Hot' was a classic (the co-feature was 'The Misfits').  Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and an ok actress named Marilyn Monroe starred in it.  This faithful day changed my life.  Ms. Monroe's performance transformed my movie study into utter obsession by the last reel.

Click here for a clip of Sugar, the woman who walks 'like jello on springs.'  Tony and Jack are good too;-)

If you haven't seen the film, stop reading now and get it off Netflix.

6) The Hangover

Offensive for all of the right reasons...

'The Hangover' is a formula movie, the Vegas bachelor party, the characters themselves, everything is a stereotype.  "The simplest reason for its success in being genuinely funny is the fact that it achieves a rare balance of character and vulgarity. We laugh at the characters' misfortunes because we like them, we empathize with them, and they are distinctly actualized. It's a testament to the strengths of these actors that they make their characters endearing and believable, even in the face of total lunacy."  IMDB put it way better that I did, so thanks to them for the quote.

I will warn you, it is not for the easily blushable type.  The language and the subject matter is adult.  Grow up, its fun trash with a nekkid chinese guy...

5) Shaun of the Dead

Say Simon Pegg, Nick Frost or Edgar Wright and fanboys and girls alike get excited and giggle alot.  Before 'Paul' and 'Scott Pilgram VS. the World' (two of my top 50 flicks), there was 'Shaun...', perhaps the best use or horror and comedy ever created.

I think the link through all of my favourite films is the use of the supporting cast.  I like a well-rounded film.  This cast includes Bill Nighy (Love Actually) as Shaun's stepfather, Penelope Wilton (Doctor Who) as Shaun's absent-minded mum, Dylan Moran (Notting Hill) as Liz's snooty housemate David and Lucy Davis (The Office) as wannabe actress Diane.  Brilliance abounds in the writing, casting, soundtrack and direction.

Click here for my favourite fight scene which shows the beauty and horror of the film.

4) Auntie Mame

Not to be confused with the shill musical knock-off starring Lucille Ball, Auntie Mame is the movie I have learned the most from.  "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."  How can you argue with with such a timely message.  Carpe Diem but said with the style and glamour of Rosalind Russell.  She flaunts every one of Mame's eccentricities without stepping over the line into caricature. She also brings alive Mame's decency, compassion and tolerance. Every time I watch it, is like a pep talk or a kick in the ass.

3) Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi

This one can be explained by geek algebra:

Fangirl +Wedge Antilles with correct Scottish accent+Denis Lawson is spelled right this time George+speeder bikes=Happy Fangirl

2) The Philadelphia Story

The perfect comedy, directed by the perfect director (George Cukor), a perfect fast-paced script with the perfect cast of superstars that Hollywood had to offer.  Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in one amazing film.

1) The Thin Man

If I could have picked my ideal life, I would be Myrna Loy with wise cracking William Powell as my husband.  We would be rich and solve mysteries with wit, fun and love.  My favourite movie is actually six films, even though the Thin Man was only in the first one.  Based on the Dashell Hammett ('The Maltese Falcon') novel of the same name, it is better than its source material.  Only the delivery from these well teamed masters punctuated the lialogue with such gusto.  Click on the link for a sample.

If you haven't seen them, there is great set.  Pick a rainy afternoon and enjoy!!!


  1. Love your list (Jedi = squeeeee!) There's a few I'm going to need to check out now, for sure.

    If you've never seen "I Heart Huckabees" you should really check it out. Dustin Hoffman is hilarious!! And being stuck in "Mom" mode "How to Train Your Dragon" is my current favorite *kids and adults alike* will love it film. The message of acceptance is perfect for this day and age, and the kids love the dragons. Win! "Way of the Peaceful Warrior", "Son of Rambow", "Sorority Boys", and "Bowfinger" in no particular order are also on my list of frequent watchables.

  2. LOVE Bowfinger. "How to Train your Dragon" is my hubby's favourite! Loved Dustin Hoffman's hair in Huckabees. It was a character all its own...Great choices.

  3. I originally posted this in the wrong place so youre getting it twice. LOL.

    20. Driven
    19. Clerks II
    18. Slap Shot
    17. Before Sunrise
    16. Ferris Beullers Day Off
    15. Grave of the Fireflies
    14. Office Space
    13. Real Genius
    12. How to Train Your Dragon
    11. PCU
    10. Spirited Away
    9. End Of Evangelion
    8. Youngblood
    7. Empire Strikes Back
    6. Return of the Jedi
    5. Hellboy
    4. Empire Records
    3. Blade Runner
    2. Clerks
    1. Serenity

    I would have included Voices from a Distant Star in the top ten but it's only 28 minutes long.

  4. Wendy, the NOT so good WitchApril 3, 2011 at 10:20 PM

    Thought 'Before Sunrise' was number 1? Good list:-)