I love movies, all kinds of them. Whether it is science fiction or an epic drama I probably have watched it. The other day a friend asked me to list out my ten favorite movies for a project that she was working on. I said, “Sure, how hard could that be.” Well, as it turns out it is actually a difficult thing to do. I started going through, in my mind, all of the movies that float my boat. A flood of films came to me, but thinking a movie is good is a lot different than loving it. It became clear that I would have to come up with some sort of criteria to weed the list down. In the end the deciding factor would be: How many times have I watched the film and would that continue into the future? So, after sitting down and working through my list I was able to pare down it to ten films.
So, why am I am I telling you this? Well, I am guessing that you figured out I am going to share my list with all of you. I will list the first five in this blog and next time finish it up. Do you agree with my top ten? What ten films are your favorites?
Here are mine and why:
#10 Armageddon – There are films that come out that just make all the right moves. This is just one of those: Powerful music, super sound, outstanding special effects and good chemistry between the actors all make this a great movie. The plot is a simple one. When mans survival is at stake heroes step up and deal with it. An asteroid the size of Texas is headed for Earth and the world’s best deep core drilling team is sent to nuke the rock from the inside. I know that Armageddon will never be a classic, but for me it is one that I watch at least once a year.
#9 Ben Hur – When it comes to the classics or epic movies of the 60’s and 70’s there are a lot of great ones to chose from. You can go with The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Ten Commandments or even the true epic The Bible. However, for me the best of the best of those is Ben Hur starring Charlton Heston. I would watch it again and again just for the famous chariot scene alone. Unlike the other films of that genre Ben Hur is a fictional tale that tells the story of a Jewish prince that is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend. In the end he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge, but the journey we take with Judah Ben Hur is nothing short of spectacular. It was actually released in 1959 and it garnished an amazing eleven Oscars. About the only downside to the film is that it takes over 3 hours to watch it. I have to say that they just don’t make movies like this anymore.
#8 Silverado – Westerns is one of my favorite categories. After all who does not love a good old cowboy tale. When I started to break down which western was going to make the top ten I ended up looking at the elements of a great old west tale. Silverado not only meets the requirements, but should actually be the mold. You have the town in peril, a group of super cowboys thrown together to come to it’s aide. Throw in some well done gunfights, amazing scenery and a twist and turn or two and what you have is a true classic. The tag-line for the film was, “Four strangers became friends. Four friends became heroes. On the road to… Silverado.” That alone makes me want to watch the film right now. The movie was released in 1984 and sports one of the best casts of the era: Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner and the great Danny Glover. It was nominated for two Oscars and has been recognized for it’s musical score by Bruce Broughton.
#7 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – In the family films category I had two finalists for my favorites. The first was the original Disney production Swiss Family Robinson. But, when it came right down to it E.T. got the nod. I guess it was because here we have a feel good story about an alien. In most cases we are told to fear the coming invasion of the horrible beasts that have come to destroy us and take our planet. All E.T. wanted was to “Phone Home”. I can’t say how many times I have watched this one and if I figured it out it would probably be considered borderline obsession. E.T. was released in 1982 and forever changed the face of the movie industry. It took 4 Oscars and is already a true classic.
#6 Forbidden Planet – I was not alive in the 50’s, but I have a true respect for science fiction movies of the era. That is why two films of this genre has made my top ten. Forbidden Planet is the first we will talk about. America was just coming around to the whole concept of flying through space and warming up to the fact that someday we will be out there. This movie’s tag-line was: “It’s Out of this World” and it was far ahead of its time. Even the music was all done with what we call today synthesizers. I have spent an amazing amount of time analyzing the plot, characters and hidden meanings buried deep in movie’s production. I even wrote a 10 page report in high school for an English class. Forbidden Planet was released in 1956 and has been nominate for a number of awards, but has never won any. For me this movie represents more than just a great science fiction story, it gives us pause to think about our own future. If you have never seen this one, shame on you!
#5 The Great Escape – This was a difficult choice for me. There have been so many great war epics. You have to consider such movies as The Longest Day, The Bridge on the River Kawi and even new movies like The Windtalkers. In the end I chose to go with The Great Escape. The cast alone is worth watching this classic. Actors like: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough and James Coburn take the story to a whole new level. It is a 1963 American film about an escape by Allied prisoners of war from a German POW camp during World War II. The film is based on the book of the same name by Paul Brickhill, a non-fiction account of the mass escape from Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland). I love the character interactions and the great dialogue through out the film. It translates well over the decades and is worth grabbing some popcorn and give it a view.
#4 Young Frankenstein – Ah yes, the comedy. Who does not like to laugh once in a while. For me, I not a big fan of comedic movies, but I do make exceptions. Just about anything done by Mel Brooks is okay in my book. He had a great sense of timing and silliness that just makes fun times at the ole theater. My very favorite of his films is Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder. This movie puts a whole new twist on the classic monster movie and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The basic plot is: Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, after years of living down the family reputation, inherits granddad’s castle and history repeats itself. Well, kind-da-sorta. An interesting fact about the film is that most of the lab equipment used as props was created by Kenneth Strickfaden for the 1931 film, Frankenstein.
#3 When Worlds Collide – This is our second SciFi film from the 50’s. To call this one out of date is a bit of an understatement, but I still love it. The science is all wrong, the special effects is “very” 50’s and storyline is impossible. However, I love it just the same. The acting is wonderful and don’t get me started on the characters. The matte paintings used are beautiful and I have been on the lookout for years to get a couple of them. The story can be described as the a disaster film. A group of scientist discover that a planet is going to collide with the earth. They decide to build a rocket to fly to this new world and escape the destruction. Do they make it? Well I highly recommend this film and then you can find the answer for yourself.
#2 Raiders of the Lost Ark – Some films stir memories and this one brings back quite a few. I remember the very first time I saw Raiders and the excitement I felt. I can also remember every person that I went to film with that night and the bound we shared. To a person we were sure that he had just seen the greatest action film ever made. Raider’s of the Lost Ark was released June 12, 1981 and was the creation of Steven Spielberg. I have very little doubt that anyone reading this has not seen or heard of this one. But just in case, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy and watch it. Raider’s garnished 4 Oscars and was nominated for 3 others. So, with credentials like that it is easy to see why it is a must see.
#1 Star Wars – In truth Star Wars and Raider’s are 1 and 1a because they both inspire the same type of response from me. Total and utter awe. Star Wars takes the lead simply because this film changed the film industry forever. It was first released May 25, 1977 and took the world by storm. I was in high school at the time and during its initial run I saw it a total of 33 times. No I am not ashamed to admit that. What can I say about this one that has not already been said a thousand times. It is a classic and I guess that will have to do. At the Oscars in 1978 it won a staggering 7 academy awards and was nominated for 4 more. This movie single handed revived the science fiction genre and made George Lucas a very rich man.
There you have my list of the top ten movies that make me say, “WoooHooo”. What are your top ten films? I am sure your list will be very different from mine. Also, I think you will find that when you sit down to figure yours out, it is going to be a lot harder than you thought. Thank you for reading!