So, I did some rethinking of the post of my top ten favorite movies. It was my first ranking post, and I was kind of winging it. Here, I want to make a big change up, and also to be a bit more thorough. I love film. I love so many of them. But my list of top ten favorite movies is a little different than other people’s. My favorite movies are the ones that I can watch over and over again, and never lose enjoyment. These films are the ones that I enjoy the most. And I couldn’t just make a top ten list. So here is my top 20 films that I love.
This is one of those movies that just kind of got swept under the rug. It was a very unique and kind of interesting. The premise is that a satellite returned to Earth. It had been in space, trying to find extra-terrestrial life. It succeeded. It returned to Earth, but unfortunately brought some guests home with it. Several years later, there is a massive quarantine zone around most of Mexico, where the creatures have been rapidly multiplying. Two Americans are trying to get home. The film is amazing. It is the perfect mix of science-fiction and drama. The human element is so plain. It also is not the typical monster movie. This is a slow and subdued film focusing on the two Americans, as they go through this wasteland that belongs to the aliens. The subtle music and the very believable characters make this film a genuine work of cinematic mastery that didn’t get the respect it deserved.
19. WXIII Patlabor
This is a movie that I love for the music. The visuals are great, and the story is great, but the music really gives this film the atmosphere that it has. It tells the story of two detectives on the trail of a criminal that is destroying “Labors.” These are large machines used for various purposes, from construction to military. As the detectives investigate, they realize that all is not as it seems, and there is an interconnected web of deceit and corruption that is all over this case. The music in this film was soft, mellow, and almost sad at a lot of points, and really added to the atmosphere of this movie. From mysterious to tragic, this was a movie that really reminds us that animation doesn’t have to be for kids. It can be for the older crowd, and can be very mature, where subject matter is concerned. This movie wasn’t some kind of epic form of animation. Like Monsters, it was quiet and subdued, but still told an amazing story, right up to the bittersweet end.
18. The Andromeda Strain
Now, part of why I love this movie so much is because of the love of the source material. I am a HUGE Michael Crichton fan. His books were part of my childhood, and it is very much a part of why science is such a big part of my life. I absolutely love his books. My biggest problem with most of the adaptations of Crichton’s work is that Crichton likes to focus on the science, with the characters and everything else being developed around it. It is a tricky style of writing that I haven’t been able to see most any other author do well. The movies made from his books, on the other hand, have generally focused on the characters, and have the science develop around that. To me, that always seems to miss the point. You never get to see just how much effort and research went into it when the science is downgraded. In this film, no such problem. Robert Wise decided to make the most faithful adaptation of his works that I have ever seen. And it is a great film. The characters are awesome, the tension is real. When I read the book, and then saw the movie, I said to myself, “oh yeah, this is what I imagined.” It is a testiment to one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and an amazing movie.
17. Blade Runner
Anyone feeling nostalgic? After Star Wars, Harrison Ford was becoming a little bit typecast. He was always the badass. Always the action hero. But then Ridley Scott came to him and asked, “hey, how you would you like to be in my movie about dystopian city in the future?” The rest, is history. Now, this movie was not a critical success when it came out. Even the critics didn’t know exactly what to think about it. But make no mistake, this is an awesome movie. After all, it is on my list of top 20 films, right? The atmosphere in this movie is simply amazing. It gets all the cyberpunk feel just right. This was before the term cyberpunk had entered people’s lexicon. And now that it is here, this is arguably one of the first films that really got it moving. I love this movie’s heavy atmosphere, dense thematic elements (it’s a Ridley Scott movie. Of course the themes will be heavy) and the awesome world that it inhabits. I love this movie. It’s the kind of film that leaves you thinking, and wanting to understand.
16. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
This film is kind of unique. It followed up the amazing TV series, Cowboy Bebop. A lot of people thought that this was a sequel, a continuance of the story. However, it isn’t. This movie takes place before the end of the show, somewhere toward the end, actually. It brings our favorite characters onto the big screen and gives them the respect they deserve. Like the show, it tells the story of the crew of Bebop. Four bounty hunters traveling the stars, trying to make money. They end up being part of a terrorist plot against Mars. Keeping with the anti-hero nature of the characters, they are in it for the money, but they are still fighting the good fight. The visuals in this film are amazing, the dialogue is keeping with Cowboy Bebop tradition and being down-beat and sometimes kind of mystical. If you are looking for a way to know what Cowboy Bebop is, check it out. I think everyone should watch that show, if they have the time.
15. Loving Annabelle
A lot of women are going to call me a perv for putting this film, which is about forbidden lesbian romance on here instead of a film like Brokeback Mountain. Now don’t get me wrong, I thought that was a good movie, but to be honest, what I like most about this film is the music and the title character, Annabelle. This film tells the story of Annabelle, the daughter of a US Senator. She is a notorious problem-child, and is sent to a Catholic school. There, she meets Professor Simone Bradley. Very quickly, the two start to bond, and from there, a forbidden romance begins. Now, let me say up front that this film was very well done. This isn’t me having some kind of perverted moment. The scenes were well-shot, and the character of Annabelle is well-portrayed. The soft music added to the most powerful scenes of the film. The scene where Annabelle finds out the truth about Simone’s last love was so intense and poetic. This is a film that everyone should enjoy, and they can. It was a great movie.
14. Good Night, and Good Luck
Since I am a journalism major, this film had some incredible resonance with me. This film told the story of Edward R. Murrow and his battle against the McCarthy witch hunts. What makes this film especially good is that almost all of this was true. Even a lot of the details are on the money. The black-and-white atmosphere of this film makes it all the better, like we are taking a peek back in time. This film, and the man behind it, are one of the reasons that I don’t support that false idol of “objective reporting.” It is kind of cool that this film was directed by George Clooney. He’s not just a successful actor, but also a good director too. Every role here was perfect, and the mellow jazz numbers that would acompany it just gave this film such a cool atmosphere. Check this film out, if you are looking to take a trip back through time. It is a good trip, to a time when people actually wanted to fight the power, unlike today, where Americans will let anything happen to them, and say nothing.
13. Summer Wars
Man, talk about a good idea done right. When the director of the three Digimon films (which America stupidly tried to combine into one) saw his creation, he liked the concept of the second (and best) film. He wanted to remake it, but not have it be tied in to the Digimon franchise. So, that’s exactly what he does. Following a young man and his summer vacation, this is one of the most beautifully-made anime films ever. The visuals in this movie are AMAZING! The action is top-notch, with Mad House’s (the studio who made it) stamp all over it. The characters are all fun and memorable. The dub was perfect, capturing the really natural relationships that this really large family has and making them feel real. The digital world of the film, while not at all realistic, is freakin’ awesome. This film gets everything right. If you haven’t seen this visual marvel, I really suggest you do.
12. Children of Men
This is one of those post-apocalyptic films that doesn’t shy away from the cold darkness of its premise. It’s the not-too-distant future, and humanity has a problem – no babies are being born. The story follows a man named Theo, who is a disillusioned and completely uncaring misanthrope, having once been a vocal activist against the totalitarian government that now rules over Britain. After his ex-wife gets in touch with him, he is brought on board a mission to get a foreign refugee to the border for reasons unknown. Filled with a lot of astounding performances, this film is gritty, unrelenting and unapologetic of how cold the social commentary is. The really cool thing about said commentary is that it doesn’t just have to refer to England. This could be anywhere. Clive Owens is an amazing actor, and this was the perfect film for him. However, this is a film that is HEAVY on the dark, so watch at your own risk, if depressing-as-fuck films bother you.
11. The Dark Knight
This is the film that really put the idea of a comic-book villain being real in my head. I don’t think that anybody watched this movie for Batman. He seemed almost like an extra in this tale of the Joker’s madness infecting the entire city of Gotham. It was a tale of madness. The Joker didn’t want power. He wanted to make a point. He destroyed a good chunk of Gotham to make his point, too. He wanted to prove that Batman was just as corruptable as the rest of us. This film was terrifying in a lot of ways. The Joker was really given his true calling here. This was the portrayal that was meant to be. Twisted, maniacal, and dripping with insanity, this movie gave the idea of a comic book hero a really amazing twist. Of course, it also brought back a concept that I had been thinking of – do comic book heroes really do more harm than good? There were a lot of good arguments to be made in this film for that concept. But really, what made this film so great was that there was also something to discuss, always something to talk about. Even people who hate comic books could get into this movie. Truly, a work of cinematic art.
And that’s my first part of my Top 20 films list. Stay tuned tomorrow, there will be more.
Until next time, a quote,
“Introduce a little anarchy, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos – it’s fear!” -The Joker, The Dark Knight