Alright, so, here is the second part of my favorite films. This is my top ten films that I love, all leading to number one. I hope you enjoy. Great film is something that everybody should enjoy, not just story buffs like me. Anyway, enough random chatter. Here we go.
10. Reservoir Dogs
This is the movie that reminds us why Quentin Tarantino is a master of dialogue. Every piece of dialogue in this film was just awesome. This film tells the story of a jewelry store heist gone wrong. Here’s the kicker – you never see a single moment of the heist. You see the before, the after, but you never see this heist which becomes a complete and total disaster. It is all told through dialogue, and man is it awesome! This was such an awesome film! It is one of Steve Buschemi’s best, and it kills me that he is so underappreciated as an actor. Every person in this film was at their best, and given that this was a pretty low-budget film, that’s pretty impressive. This is a film that has been rather forgotten in the world of cinematic mastery, but it shouldn’t be. This film should be a lesson to all up-coming filmmakers as to how they should do dialogue. Every single moment of this film is great. I would put everything that Tarantino has directed (not produced. Hostel was not Tarantino’s fault! That was Eli Roth’s abomination, he just produced it) on here, but this is the film I will put as my favorite of his. A close second is Inglorious Basterds.
9. Leon the Professional
Probably the most mature film that I have ever seen, this movie looks at what it means to be a human being, starring two of the most amazing people I have ever seen in film – Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Reno is Leon, an incredibly skilled and principled hitman for the mob. Portman plays a young girl whose family is brutally murdered by a corrupt cop, who just happens to be played by a brilliant Gary Oldman. Leon rescues the girl when her family is being murdered, and the two begin a sad and sometimes cruel relationship that is sometimes paternal and sometimes darkly romantic as the girl learns the way of Leon and they both find something in themselves that they never had before. This is a cold movie, yet it is so emotionally beautiful, due in large part from Leon and his young charge and their relationship that grows. It all culminates into a beautifully tragic story that is hard to look away from.
8. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
Never heard of this? That’s not surprising. Neither had I, when a friend recommended it to me. Man, what an odd movie. It stars Forrest Whittaker as Ghost Dog, a hitman for an Italian crime syndicate. He is a firm believer in the ways of the Samurai, with the Hagakure (a book that lays out the Samurai code) being his guiding light. However, he lives in a world where his values system has little place. When both him and the man in the syndicate he works for, who he believes he owes his life to, are in targeted, he is forced to face down the reality that he may be a man out of time. This is probably the coldest movie about a hitman I’ve ever seen. Most movies like this would be filled with action. But the action in this film is almost brutally-brief, as Ghost Dog is a master assassin. The cultural elements and the existential moments in this film are great, and Whittaker really takes the cake for his cryptic performance. If you ever want to see the story about a man out of time, I recommend it.
7. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Similar to how Fantasia was my the first animated film by Disney that I saw, this movie was the first life-action Disney film that I saw. And I love this film to death. For what they had to work with, they did an amazing job. Granted, it doesn’t follow the book particularly closely, but I don’t really care about that. Each role in this film was amazing. James Mason made for a haunting Captain Nemo. Paul Lukas did a good job as Professor Arounax. Kirk Douglas was awesome as Ned Land. And the atmosphere of this film was great. Arounax and his companions are trapped on board the Nautilus with Nemo’s crew, and you learn not only about Nemo and the demons at work within him, but also about these characters and who they are, and what they find in themselves on this journey. And say what you want about the special effects, but the giant squid battle was awesome. For the budget that these people had, they did an amazing job. All in all, this is a classic adventure film and I will remember it fondly for the rest of my life.
6. Princess Mononoke
This is most definitely the legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s best work. This movie was meant to be his magnum opus. He poured a TON of money into it, and once all was said and done, it’s clear that it was money well-spent. The film tells the story of a young man named Ashitaka. He is a prince of a tribe that has been outcast from their home, driven into a very remote region of Japan. When a boar god that had become a demon tries to attack his village, Ashitaka goes to battle. He is touched by the creature, thus giving him a curse. It will slowly consume his body and soul, then kill him. His only hope is to leave his village and seek out the legendary Forest Spirit and beg for him to cure the curse. The story that follows is probably the most subtle environmental message ever. It doesn’t hammer “man bad, nature good!” in your face like the film Avatar does. Here, they show both man and nature as having valid points, with neither side appearing truly good or truly evil. Even the villain can be hard to really hate, as you come to understand why he is doing what he is. This film is gorgeous. The dub is flawless. It is one of the greatest anime films of all time, from one of the greatest directors of all time.
I truly believe that Chris Nolan is the greatest director living today. This film was visual poetry of a different kind. It combined two things that I just think are so cool – psychological thrill with hardcore action. And the pseudo-science atmosphere that this movie had was amazing. It told the story of a man named Cobb trying to get home to his children. After being suspected of killing his wife, he is now on the run. With one last job, he believes he will be able to get home to his family. That’s the premise. Every actor was perfectly cast. The action was inspiring, the dialogue was amazing, and the story was so complicated that you really had to pay attention. That’s the best thing about this film – how incredibly complicated it was. I remember going to see it in theaters and seeing these girls walk out going “I didn’t get it.” The moment those blonde bimbos spoke, I knew I was going to love this film. This film and the depth it goes into makes me realize that Christopher Nolan may be one of the best directors in history. He can make anything as filled with special effects as he wants, but can still make the story amazing. Definitely check this film out. It’s worth it, for sure.
4. Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance
This is the second of a series of remakes of the famous series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. This series tells a science-fiction version of the biblical apocalypse. While the first film was great, this one is epic. Really epic. It is so incredibly powerful in the visuals and story-telling, while keeping very true to the depressing atmosphere of the original. It picks up where the first film left off. Shinji is still fighting to destroy the Angels and keep humanity safe. It brings Asuka into the film series, which is cool, along with a new character who wasn’t in the series. It is a female pilot who is kind of an Eva junkie, needing to pilot. I don’t want to say too much, because like Spirited Away, this is a film you have to experience, but really, this is so incredibly powerful. Every single aspect was incredibly done. The ugliness of Shinji’s position, the ugliness of the people around him, and the sadness of just how little humanity has left to cling to, it is all captured very well in this movie. This is not an uplifting movie, and it shouldn’t be. Truly a wonderful remake of a classic masterpiece.
3. Cloud Atlas
When I heard that they were making a film adaptation of this book, my first thought was – how on EARTH can they possibly do this without making it a total fuck-up? The book this film was based on is one of the most complicated books that I have ever read. The idea that a film could be made out of this and not be a complete disaster was inconceivable to me. Yet against all odds, they made a film that was a damn-good adaptation. The best that has ever been done! This film is not only the best book-to-film of all time, but one of my favorite films of all time. The beautiful cinematography, the interconnected nature of the stories and the beautiful thoughts about character were just wonderful. A lot of people got on this film for this and that, but in my eyes, given what they had to work with, the Wachowski’s did an amazing job and should be proud of doing right by a book that I thought would have been impossible to adapt.
So, I’ve already talked a LOT about this movie, so I won’t go into too much detail. This was an amazing film, though. It is easily the best animated film that Disney ever came out with. It combined beautiful music with visual poetry. The concept was amazing, and the delivery of it in this film was incredible. Since I have talked so much about it, you all might be wondering what I thought of the sequel, Fantasia 2000. I really liked a lot of parts of it. The Pines of Rome skit with the flying whales was good. The Rhapsody in Blue skit paying homage to Al Hirschfeld was really cool, since I love jazz. I liked their musical portrayal of the story “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” And the last skit of The Firebird with the Goddess of Nature was beautiful. But where it did well, it also did horribly. The celebrity appearances were painful. And several numbers just didn’t fit. But the original was the absolute best. It was beautiful and mystical, combining the best and worst aspects of both films. See it, if you want to go into a realm of music and art.
After all these great movies, many of you will know what my #1 pick is…well, two movies. I honestly couldn’t choose between them. They are both that good.
1a. The Sky Crawlers
I think this is a genuinely perfect movie. Each scene in this animated film was perfect. It wasn’t the most visually compelling, but I think this movie had all the animated visuals match up just right. Each scene was done just right. Nothing was in the wrong place, and nothing was overdone. The film tells the story of a group of children who are eternally-young clones. They fight a fake war in order for the world that is at peace to believe their peace is being fought for something. It is a thematically unpleasant story about the idea that there is no innocence of youth, and that people who are being stuck in a situation where they should lose their humanity still retain it. It also questions the pointlessness of war, and the idea that war never truly ends, that humanity needs it. This was a hard film to watch in a lot of ways, but at the same time, you couldn’t look away. I don’t think any other film has taken a concept this different and treated it so seriously. I think it was amazing, and I hope all of you enjoy it as well.
1b. 5 Centimeters Per Second
This movie is incredible. Nothing less. I could go on for a million years about how glorious the animation is. It is spectacular. Miyazaki hasn’t made anything that has come close like this movie has. Not to me, anyway. Yeah, I don’t care what you think, this movie is the best. I love every single moment of this film, from the subtle opening, the heart-breaking moments. This film examines love. It looks at the pain of love that can never be (which I cry at every time), the love that pain of not being able to tell the person who you love how you feel. I can relate so much to that. This film REALLY doesn’t pull punches with how hard love and admitting love can be. Every single moment of it is a visual masterpiece that you have to see to believe. I love this movie, with every part of me. It makes me cry, and not just tears of sadness, for my fiancee who died, but also tears of joy, remembering the great moments that her and I had together. I love this movie, and it is tied with The Sky Crawlers at my #1.
Well, that’s my list. Great film is another area of story that I hope always remains good, but if people like Michael Bay have anything to say about it, it is going right down the shitter.
Until next time, a quote,
“I don’t care what happens to everyone. I don’t even care about the world. Just give her back! Give Rei back to me!” -Shinji Ikari, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance