Friday, April 29, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Movies...

I love movies. I love nothing better than to gather up my Kansas City Chiefs blanket (which looks remarkably well for being over 15 years old), a bowl of popcorn, a Diet Coke, and watch a good movie. Now, like you, I've watched a ton of movies. I watch all kinds of movies, made for TV, action, comedy, musicals, foreign language films you name it. According to, if a person went to the movies once a month during their life they could see at least 840 movies, 3390 if they went every week. Last week I stumbled over a website called Here you can check off all the movies you have ever seen. Three hours after I started, I was up to 745, which doesn't begin to touch the number I've actually seen. Those were the ones I could come up with based on their lists.

Picking a favorite movie is difficult. I love movies for different reasons. The movie moved me in a way I didn't expect. It made me laugh until I cried. It made me cry. It made me angry. Some movies that I loved as a child, I hate now that I'm an adult. Mostly, my favorite movies are movies I want to see again and again. Movies that I will watch every time TNT plays it. Movies that I know by heart. By the way, this list could easily change in the next month, week, or hour. But as of right now, these are my 10 favorite movies.

#10-The Negotiator (1998 directed by F. Gary Gray) Is definitely not the greatest movie in the world, but it does have over the top action, and Samuel L. Jackson, being well, Samuel L. Jackson. It is about a police negotiator Samuel L. Jackson, who is framed for murder and fraud, and in an effort to clear his name, he takes hostage members of internal affairs not to mention, an innocent, and a not so innocent. He is to be talked down my a fellow negotiator, played by Kevin Spacey. Like Jackson's Danny Roman and Spacey's Chris Sabian, you don't know who is dirty and who is clean. One of my favorite actors, David Morse, is particularly shady as he appears to want to kill Roman at every opportunity. Late actor J.T. Walsh was at his swarmy best, and the late actor John Spencer tries to be a voice of reason. The cast alone is why this is one of my favorite movies, there are plot holes, but who cares!!?? Things blow up, people are shot, and you don't find out until the very end who the puppet master is.

#9-Whale Rider (2002 directed by Niki Caro) Whale Rider tells the story of a young girl named Paikea who is destined to become the leader of here tribe much to the chagrin of her grandfather Koro, who had expected to pass the title to her father or her twin brother who died at birth. It seems as if young Pai, who absolutely adores her grandfather, can do nothing to please the old man who is bent on making a male-any male-the leader before Pai. Keisha Castle-Hughes, who plays Pai, was nominated for an Oscar for the role of Pai. She will absolutely break your heart. I tear up every time she does her tribute to her grandfather, and even as a write, I get goose bumps thinking of her triumph.

#8-Pan's Labyrinth (2006 directed by Guillermo del Toro) Originally entitled, El Laberinto del Fauno, Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish language film. Like Whale Rider, I first heard about it during the Oscars, and its hero is a little girl named Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero. Little Ofelia loves fairy tales, but her life is anything but one. She and her very pregnant mother are off to live with her horrible stepfather in the midst of a military camp in Fascist Spain. While there she discovers a Labyrinth and a Faun, who explains to her that she is the daughter of the king of the Underworld and that she must complete a quest in order to return. The movie follows Ofelia as she tries to complete the tasks, take care of her ill mother, and contend with her stepfather and his malicious nature. Ofelia shows strength, determination, and perseverance as she works to complete her mission, and ultimately, has to make choice that has tragic consequences. It is a modern fairy tale with a dark side.

#7-A Soldier's Story (1984 directed by Norman Jewison) A Soldier's Story was based upon the Charles Fuller's 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning play A Soldier's Play. Fuller also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Many of the actors in the original play found themselves recreating their characters for the big screen, including Aldolf Caesar, Larry Riley, and Denzel Washington.
The story is a who done it mystery with Harold Rollins as Captain Richard Davenport a dashing Army officer who has been sent to segregated Fort Neal, Louisiana to investigate the murder of a black sergeant named Vernon Waters. The movie deals with the always incendiary topic of race relations especially those among African American's themselves. The movie opens with the death of Sgt. Waters, who if he wasn't the victim would be one of the best villains ever. As they flashback through interviews to find the murderer, you want to kill Waters yourself, and you wonder what took them so long. The suspense builds until the murderer is finally revealed. The cast with the aforementioned Caesar, Riley, and Washington, includes Robert Townsend, Art Evans, David Allen Grier, William Allen Young, and Patti LaBelle. Even though I know the identity of the murderer, it never ceases to keep me on the edge of my seat.

#6-Blazing Saddles (1974 directed by Mel Brooks) This movie is literally as old as I am. We both were delivered the same year. I first saw Mel Brooks' western farce on a small black and white TV in my grandmother's living room. I've been laughing at it ever since. Starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Mel Brooks, and Madeline Kahn. It follows the Sheriff Bart, the new duly appointed black sheriff of Rock Ridge, and his attempts to foil Hedley LaMarr's attempt to drive a railroad through the town. If you are a fan of politically correct humor, this is most definitely not the movie for you. It mocks everything and crosses every line drawn in its path. I really don't think this film could be made today, because I believe it's goal is to offend everybody equally, but you are too busy laughing to care. This is Mel Brooks' masterpiece, and I know practically every word by heart.

#5-The Shawshank Redemption (1994 directed by Frank Darabont) I'm a huge Stephen King Fan, and I read Different Seasons after watching the movie Stand By Me which was based on the novella The Body. The first of the four novellas in Different Seasons is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. I absolutely loved the novella, and when the movie was made, I didn't have a clue. I missed it, until the Oscars when Morgan Freeman was nominated for an Oscar. Of course, I had to see it, and I immediately fell in love. Tim Robbins was the perfect Andy Dufrense, and even though "Red" was suppose to be a white man, I can not see anyone else as Red except Morgan Freeman. You see the hell that Andy goes through as he is imprisoned for the murder of his wife and her lover, a crime he didn't commit. You cry for him during his encounters with the "Sisters," his triumphs in a corrupt prison system, and his friendship with Red. I swear, they play this movie at least once a week on some channel. If I have it, I'm usually watching. Still get the goosebumps when Andy emerges from the sewer with the rain washing over him.

#4-The Green Mile (1999 directed by Frank Darabont) Like The Shawshank Redemption, I read The Green Mile first. I loved the novel, and I could not wait to see the movie once I saw that Tom Hanks was going to play Paul Edgecomb. Frank Darabont definitely has a way with Stephen King. Michael Clarke Duncan was perfection as John Coffey, a huge black man accused of raping and killing two little white girls. The novel and movie explore miracles, responsibility, respect, and humanity. The characters become so real, that you find yourself sympathizing with men, like Michael Jeter's Eduard Delacroix, a convicted murderer. Doug Hutchinson is malicious as guard Percy Wetmore. Barry Pepper, Jefferey DeMunn, and David Morse (one of my faves) are all perfect as their characters move from easily between the drama and humor of the movie. The relationship between John Coffey and Paul Edgecomb is the best part of the whole movie, as Coffey changes Edgecomb not just physically, but spiritually. I loved this movie so much, that when it was first released on DVD, I watched it every day for a month. Like Shawshank, when it's on, I'm front in center choking up as John Coffey prepares to walk the green mile.

#3-The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003 directed by Peter Jackson) As a kid one of my favorite movies was the animated classic The Hobbit. My grandmother bought me the novel, and I loved Bilbo and his adventure. When I first heard about The Lord of the Rings movies, I made the decision to not watch any of the movies until the third one was released. I read the entire novel and waited. The weekend of the release of The Return of the King, I watched The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers before heading to the theater to watch Return on the King. I fell in love with all three movies (although The Two Towers is my favorite part). I don't see The Lord of the Rings as three movies; I see it as one very long movie. I've watched the trilogy the extended version in its entirety on 4 different occasions. I've seen The Two Towers over 100 times. Peter Jackson captured the spirit of the novel with his movies, and by using actors who were not very well known, they became the hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Pippen, and Merry. Viggo Mortensen became Aragorn. Ian McKellen is Gandalf. The sets are spectacular, and Howard Shore's music ties it all together. They all come together to save Middle Earth risking their lives in the process. Not to mention, the battle scenes bring a whole new meaning to the word epic! I can't wait until The Hobbit next year. Oh, and Orlando Bloom is the hottest elf ever.

#2-The Color Purple (1985 directed by Steven Spielberg) Back in the old days before DVDs and DVRS, we had those old pop top VCRs. One of the first movies we rented was The Color Purple. Alice Walker's 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel was brought to life starring Whoopi Goldberg as Ms. Celie, Danny Glover as Mr., Oprah Winfrey as Sophia, Margaret Avery as Shug. I love the character Ms. Celie. She endures hardships that would have broken most women. She overcomes and finds her place in the world. I dare you not to tear up when Celie asks the Minister's wife about her baby, the baby taken away from her by the man she thought was her father. To feel the unbelievable pain she feels when her beloved sister is stripped away from her by her husband. To feel defiant, when Sophia refuses to work for the Mayor's wife and becomes a victim of racial violence. Laughter and tears abound throughout the novel. Of course, there is love-love for others, love for yourself, love enough to forgive. Tell me don't get goosebumps when Shug sings "Maybe God's trying to tell you something." I dare you not to get a lump in your throat when Celie's son calls her "Momma" for the first time, or when she is finally reunited with Nettie. You leave this movie emotionally drained, but I find myself watching over and over and over again. How Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey didn't win Oscars for this movie, I'll never know.

#1-The Wizard of Oz (1939 directed by Victor Fleming) One of the first movies I can remember is The Wizard of Oz. Growing up, once a year CBS would role out Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz. Once again we would be swept away through song and dance to the wonderful land of Oz. As a kid, you didn't really notice the plastic flowers or the fact that they had to stop at the walls at the end of the numbers. Even now, that doesn't matter, it is that simple idea that there is no place like home. It's the moment when you realize that home is house, but the people who help you to become who you are and the people who love you. I love the music the most. Judy Garland's voice was simply amazing, and she had the ability to make you believe that she was the most heartbroken little girl ever. Margaret Hamilton's witch however has become my favorite. Her facial expressions and laugh are priceless. Ultimately, the movie is about growing up and the obstacles we have to overcome to get there. I have it on VHS, DVD, the DVD box set, the soundtrack box set. In college, I even had a poster on my wall. I will always love this movie and will continue to make it a tradition in my family.

Well, that's my list (for now). Who knows maybe a movie will come along in the next few years to knock one of them off this list. What are some of your favorite movies?

Until next time, don't forget that movies are ""The stuff that dreams are made of."~Humphrey Bogart.

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