Monday, January 26, 2009

Argument Starter of the Week: My Favorite Movies Today

I'm just going to start by saying I'm sorry there is no Godfather or Citizen Kane in this list. Both are super movies, but they are not my favorite. So shut up about them, cinephiles.

I think I've written this list before, but I'm not going to look it up until I complete a new list. It will be interesting to see how it has morphed over the course of a couple of years.

Here are the runners up:

  • Groundhog Day (the best of Bill Murray)
  • The Terminator (naked Arnold. Duh.)
  • The Thin Man series (William Powell and Myrna Loy are the definitions of sophisticated, charming and witty. If you haven't seen them, then get with it.)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (Johnny Depp being sexy and funny simultaneously)
  • Zoolander (good for a baker's dozen of useful catch phrases)
  • Dracula (the one with Keanu Reeves - the best bad movie ever)
  • Ace Ventura Pet Detective (Dean became Ace Ventura for a good two years beginning when he was about ten)
  • Austin Powers: Man of Mystery (the first one - the best of Mike Myers, the best spoof of groovy late-60s/early-70s spy movies)
  • Anchorman (the best of Will Ferrell and the best riot amongst TV news crews ever filmed, and the best loving look at the phenomenon that was the 70s)
  • Young Frankenstein (one of the best of the late great Madeleine Kahn - see also The History of the World Part I)
  • Shakespeare in Love (Joseph Fiennes: the best male eyelashes on film.)
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin (A really sweet love story. Really.)
  • Trading Places (the best of Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy)
  • The Piano (the best of cinematography and naked middle-aged Harvey Keitel)
  • Star Wars (the original. A cultural touchstone.)
  • Ghost Busters (the funniest of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd together)
  • Fletch (the only movie that may have been better than the book)
  • Gone with the Wind (best overacting)
  • The Sound of Music (best soundtrack and best use of Nazis)
  • Juno (best mix of witty dialogue and pathos)
  • Saturday Night Fever (my first R rated movie! Very influential.)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (the best of Jack Nicholson, but if you have to choose between the movie and the book, go with the book)
  • Jaws (da-DUM da-DUM - doodley-DOOO)
  • Casablanca (um, its like a classic)
  • Pale Rider (best of Clint Eastwood)
  • Edward Scissorhands (best of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp team)
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Movie (um, I forgot to include this TV series in my top TV list.   It wouldn't have made the top eleven, but it surely would have made Honorable Mention.  I love the movie based on the series even more (don't get me started on the "Joel vs Mike" controversy).  I would explain the plot, but you wouldn't believe me. It's why the phrase "Normal VIEW" is so funny to me.)

11. Excalibur.  This was our favorite movie in college, so it keeps a place in the top eleven list, even though it would not, in a righteous world, belong in a top ten (or eleven) movies list.

10. Animal House. This was filmed at the University of Oregon in 1978. I arrived in 1980. Oh, the legends already in place. If this film does not appear on your top ten list, you did not attend the U of O in the late 70s or any time in the 80s. And its funny.

9. Some Like It Hot. Guys in drag. Marilyn Monroe playing a caricature of herself. Gangland slayings. Tony Curtis doing a dead-on Cary Grant impression. And a killer script.

8. A Fish Called Wanda. The best of Kevin Kline. Plus John Cleese and Michael Palin. But Kevin Kline as Otto - I still aspire to equal his driving skills. 

7. Caddyshack. Chevy Chase at his best. Rodney Dangerfield at his best. Bill Murray at his funniest. Ted Knight at his Ted Knightiest. This movie came out in 1980, the year I graduated high school. It was a tough bar for future comedies to hit.

6. This is Spinal Tap. The best of Christopher Guest. Who hasn't said at one point in their lives, "but this one goes to eleven"? Certainly no one at my house. David St. Hubbins. Nigel Tufel. Derek Smalls. Tiny Stonehenge. Midget Druids. It's got all the makings of funny.

5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It doesn't matter that the guy skipping along, making horsey noises with coconuts is there because they didn't have enough money for more horses. The point is, it's funny. And so is the phrase (in a French accent), "I fart in your general direction." And so is the word "nee." The best example of the word "silly" in film.

4. Amadeus. This movie is beautiful. And sounds beautiful. And the acting is okay too.

3. Blazing Saddles. The best of Mel Brooks. And so, so politically incorrect, it would be impossible to make today. But this movie brings out the genius in Harvey Korman, Madeleine Kahn, Gene Wilder, and Cleavon Little. A comedy classic. And not just for the farting scene.

2. Singin in the Rain. I used to watch this movie every year on my birthday. I have lapsed on this habit in the last few years, but I'm still amazed, every time I see this, at its agelessness. It manages to be dated and fresh at the same time. Really. It's a little miracle.

1. The Princess Bride. Talk about miracle! This movie has everything: a love story, a dashing swashbuckler, a giant, a genius, a wizard, a six-fingered man, a prince, a beautiful princess,an impressive clergyman with a speech impediment, screaming eels, revenge, Rodents of Unusual Size, and a young and perfect Cary Elwes. If I could only have one movie, it would be this one.

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