Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 20 Movies (20-16)

Okay...time to defend my choices I guess.  I didn't spend a lot of time in the last post explaining what criteria there were because honestly I hadn't given it much thought why I chose what I did.  I went from my gut.  I easily rattled off my top 5 movies and then just went from there.  I mostly chose movies that have some sort of cultural or personal significance to me or that trigger a strong emotional response in me.  More than anything I want my movies to make me feel something.

#20 - Mr. Holland's Opus

Even though I think Richard Dreyfus overacts his way through most of this movie like he is wont to do, it doesn't lessen its emotional impact.  Teaching kids is not my career, but it is a huge part of who I am and what I do.  When I work with the show choirs from Urbandale High School I want to put a quality ensemble on the stage, but more than that I want to connect with the kids in the group on a personal level.  I want them to consider me a leader of their group, but also a friend that they can confide in or call up when they need advice or have good news to tell me.

***Spoiler alert***

If you haven't seen Mr. Holland's Opus you should skip to #19 now.   At the end of the movie when Mr. Holland is leaving the school for the final time I already have a lump in my throat at the thought that he'll never get to teach kids again.  Then he walks into that jam-packed auditorium and sees all of the lives he has touched gathered in one place and it just overwhelms me every time.  The first time I saw it I wept like a baby.  That's a good movie...

#19 - Wall-E

I love all of the Pixar movies, but I think Wall-E is a masterpiece.  The storytellers and animators were able to make me actually care about a love story between two robots in a post-apocalyptic future that condemns consumerism and disregard for the environment.  The incorporation of scenes from Hello Dolly were brilliant and I love that Wall-E is an homage to silent film stars like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.  If you haven't seen it, remedy that today.

#18 - The Sixth Sense

I think history has probably proved that M. Night Shyamalan is a mediocre director at best who owes any success he has had to Hitchcock, but his first big screen effort was just the right mixture of horror and suspense.  Friends who are much smarter than I figured out the twist.  I did not, but honestly Bruce Willis is not the character I care about in that movie.  I still love the moment in the car with Haley Joel Osment and one of my favorite actresses, Toni Collette, when he makes a believer out of her by relaying a message from his long dead grandmother. Chills...the spooky kind yes, but more importantly the kind you get when you witness real human emotion portrayed honestly (even if it is in regard to paranormal phenomenon).

#17 - Little Miss Sunshine

It's merely a coincidence that the next movie on my list also stars Toni Collette, but she is just one of the outstanding members of this ensemble cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, and Steve Carrell.  This was also the movie that introduced Abigail Breslin to the majority of Americans.  My favorite character in this movie, however, isn't even human.  The VW van they drive to the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant in California is an integral and hilarious part of the storyline.  This movie is funny, touching, raunchy, offensive, and heartbreaking all in one.

#16 - O Brother, Where Art Thou? 

This is my favorite of the Coen brothers movies.  I love all of them I've seen except maybe The Hudsucker Proxy, but using depression era Mississippi as a backdrop to a modern day version of Homer's The Odyssey is ingenious.  George Clooney is note perfect as the loquacious protagonist, Everett T. McGill. His bravado and obsession with keeping his hair in pomade is just one of the little idiosyncrasies that make this movie so fun to watch over and over.  I catch some little nuance every time I watch it.  An example of the kind of humor that lands this movie on my list is when Everett is told by a shop owner that both his favorite pomade and the part they need to repair their car will take two weeks to arrive.  Everett's reply? "Well ain't this place a geographical oddity...two weeks from everywhere."

And then there is the soundtrack of classic old timey songs.  This CD was in the disc changer in my car for years and I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent my share of time belting out the Soggy Bottom Boys' hit "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrows" at the top of my lungs while stuck in traffic.

15-11 coming up in the next few days if I can find time to write it up.  What are your thoughts? Do you love or hate any of these movies?

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