Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Top 30 Favorite Movies



    Well, this officially marks my first full year of having this site up and posting reviews, so for the occasion I’m going to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, posting a list of my all time favorite movies. With all the movies I like it’s hard to just select a small few, so I’m going to go with 30. What really makes this challenging is that your feelings for a movie can change every time you watch it. So I’ve constructed this list out of the films that personally mean the most to me, these are the films that I never get tired of watching, and even got me interested in other franchises. Of cores, a lot of these movies I saw at a young age, had a huge impact at the time and still remain just as great. I’ll try and make the comments short and simple because I’ve talked about many before and I plan to talk about others latter. Now, I’m not saying these are the greatest and most important movies ever made, these are simply the films that get better with repeated viewings and have stood the test of time for me. Now sense your feelings on a film can change anytime, I’m not arranging these movies in any proper order, it’s simply me listing my favorites, and I don't even have an official favorite movie of all time, every movie on this list is my favorite. And here they are, Mr. Movie’s top 30 favorite movies.   

30. The Sandlot (1993)


Let’s get this started off right, with the most purely nostalgic movie ever made. Now I’m not much of a sports guy and baseball has always been my least favorite, but this is one sports movie that’s not about the sport, and doesn’t rely on old sports movie clichés. It’s about the innocents of youth, and a coming of age adventure. Watching this film is like looking through a window to the past and it allows you to reflect on a time when you and your friends would play games, get into trouble and go on your own little adventures that the adults are completely oblivious too. There’s so many funny and charming things happening over the cores of one summer vacation, and it’s so easy for me to relate to the lead character Scott Smalls. Moving into a new neighborhood full of strangers, then gradually making the best friends you’ve ever had, hanging out, doing all kinds of crazy stuff, and working together to help each other through personal problems. Then then finally, your an adult looking at old photos of that wonderful time you had with your pals. It’s such a genuinely sweet and wholesome film with lots of excitement, laughs, quotable lines of dialog, memorable scenes and I just feel so touched by it every time. 

29. Aliens (1986)


At first it just seems like a traditional fun monster movie with people trapped on an Alien planet populated with terrifying monsters, but it feels like a much smarter film. The characters are all great, and you never want to see any of them get killed. These are people that you really latch onto, and the space marines themselves are so cool with all kinds of fascinating futuristic technology, weapons and vehicles. Sigourney Weaver gives her usual great performance that’s natural and full of nerves energy, and she proved once and for all that woman can kick as much ass as any leading action star. The atmosphere is great, it can get really intense and suspenseful, lots of thrilling action scenes, awesome visuals and terrific characters help make this B monster movie an A+ masterpiece.   

28. National Lampoons Vacation (1983)


I personally love comedy, and one of the funniest predicaments to center a film on is a road trip from Hell. Everyone has had a vacation when nothing goes as planned, things only get worse and the film playfully spoofs the whole concept with lots of great jokes and unexpected circumstances. But the big highlight is Chevy Chase as the overly confident dad that wants nothing more than to treat his family to a good time. Seeing him switching around from a completely loving and happy dad to a completely insane moron is such a fun treat, and it’s something that the actor just nails perfectly. Overall, it’s a miserable trip for the family, but an extremely entertaining comedy for the audience.  

27. The Jungle Book (1994)


Before I had even heard of the classic 1967 animated "Jungle Book" from Disney, I had first grown up with the 1994 live action film directed by Stephen Sommers. So many family films today are polluted with bad jokes, non-stop pop cultural references, silly effects and just too much of an effort to knee jerk a reaction out of someone. But this film has such a genuine and subtle feel to it, like it isn’t trying to be impressive, it just naturally is. I love the jungle setting, the music is great, the characters are fantastic and I especially love all the different animals that they got to perform on screen. Family adventure films today just seem to use so much CG and overblown action scenes, but this film carries itself very well with its nicely written story, believable performance, emotional moments, all the real locations in India, impressive sets, and it’s whole genuine feel. It’s a film I loved as a kid, and to this day I still hold it as a treasured little gem in my collection. 

26. The Dark Knight (2008)


Hands down, the greatest of the Batman movies and one of the all time best comic book adapted films of all time. It's not just another good superhero movie, this is a great movie that just happens to be a superhero movie. This was smart, full of great structure and depth into the characters, it’s a rich and brooding crime drama and it’s strung together with ideas and subjects regarding anarchy, peace, terrorism, morality and so much strong righting, that every time I watch it, I discover something new to think about, or raise an eyebrow over. There’s also plenty of thrilling action and conflicts going on to keep it very engaging, you’re not even paying attention to the long run time. Every time it ends, I’m left with chills. 

25. Clash of the Titans (1981)


It’s the classic old school adventure flick, capturing my imagination, and putting me into a fantasy world with classic mythical heroes, creatures and legends that come to life. There’s so many awesome locations, sets, costumes and the stop-motion monsters by Ray Harryhausen are so much fun to watch. Seeing famous creatures like Medusa and the Kraken were big spectacles to view at a young age, and it got me interested in Greek mythology, which quickly became a favorite subject of mine. It’s simply a timeless tongue in cheek epic that for me personally, goes above average B movies. 

24. Avatar (2009)


It says a lot for such a recent film to make my top 30 favorite movies, but “Avatar” was a true spectacle that I’m going to cherish for years to come. This was a film that took old ideas, well known concepts and created something completely new and original in the process. That’s how classics like “Star Wars” and "Indiana Jones" came to be, it doesn't matter if the thought behind the story is old, it’s how you portray it differently and give it new life, which this certainly did. Never before have I been so transported to an alien world with so many imaginative creatures, locations, ideas and cultural backgrounds. It’s like it takes a life of its own and fully allows you to just escape from yours in the process. The action is very exciting, and the visual effects are some of the most technically amazing I’ve ever experienced. There’s also just enough believable drama, and emotion that goes into everything else and fully allows you to care about this world and it's characters. It’s just an amazing achievement on every level and has the right to be labeled as a modern day classic. 

23. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)


This may not be the greatest comedy ever made, but it’s very special for me because it's the movie that made me love comedies. It was my first time experiencing the joy of laughing hard at something completely ridicules, and that’s what makes comedies so great. You don’t take them seriously, you just have fun with them. Jim Carry’s performance as Ace Ventura is just fantastic, he’s the most talented over the top, silly actor ever and this is the film that simply captures his charming, goofy antics perfectly. There’s even a decent mystery plot to be weaved in with all the silliness. Overall, it’s the simple joy, and talent of this crazy actor that make it such a joy to watch.   

22. Spider-Man 2 (2004)


Yet another superhero squeal that completely out shines the original. here’s lots of power house action scenes, solid performances and one of the all time greatest movie villains ever who’s both menacing and complex. But what really makes this film stand out is it’s message about what it means to be a hero. The story goes a lot deeper showing how a once everyday person can live his life as a hero, and there’s far more attention dedicated to the people, as apposed to a person that just happen to have powers. The films message is so genuine that it can apply to everyday people that just do their jobs. Best of all is how none of it comes out in preaching, it’s all very subtle and emotionally stirring. It’s everything that you would want in a superhero film and “Spider-Man 2” delivers 100%.     

21. Jurassic Park (1993)


Dinosaurs will always be awesome, and this film features some of the most life-like looking Dinosaurs you’ll ever see, along with some thrilling action scenes, and moments of sheer terror, but the true brilliance of this film is how it puts better things before all these awesome elements, things like a good story, genuine characters, real world issues and a rich warning of those in power who are blind to the fact that there not in control. This makes “Jurassic Park” better than just another, fun monster movie, it’s in many respects a great movie in its own right.   

20. The Mask of Zorro (1998)


At a time when summer Blockbusters relied on nothing but big special effects, and big explosions, this little gem came along to remind audiences that the best action adventure films use practical set’s, stunts and well choreographed sword fights. While it’s an absolute thrill to watch Zorro in action, this movie never forgets to tell a gripping story, revolving around justice, romance, revenge, and nobility. Unlike any other action adventure, this movie just puts a smile on my face. Not only is it a great story, it’s also told with style, charm, hummer, drama, a sense of honor and very charismatic performances from the cast, including the dashing Antonio Banderas, the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones and the humble Anthony Hopkins.  

19. Moulin Rouge! (2001)


Like many movies on my list "Moulin Rouge" is a film that takes old ideas, clichés and even old songs and dose something completely new and original with them. It’s films like this that prove old ideas can still feel new and genuine again, the music (while used before) has never been this breathtaking, the romance (while old and used several times before) is very wholesome and holds your attention, especially with Nicole Kidman in what has to be one of her best, and emotionally stirring performance. The cinematography and set designs are true spectacles to behold, every frame has some kind of image or metaphor of something symbolic and for anyone else who loves big, stylish, over the top, musical experiences, this is the film I’d recommend above all else. 

18. The Mummy (1999) 


I often think of this movie as the perfect, turn you’re your brain off, and have fun with a care free Saturday matinee movie. I know it’s a typical, cliché, B monster film, but it does its job so well. This was of cores back in the day when Brendan Fraser was a fun action star, also Rachel Weisz is just so loveable as a clumsy yet intelligent and beautiful Egyptologist, plus the mummy will always stand as one of my favorite movie villains ever. The visuals are stunning and the music by Jerry Gold Smith is one of the greatest achievements of his carrier. Most importantly, this is the film that introduced me to the excitement of a good thriller, and allowed me to branch out and see other scary and exciting films like Poltergeist (1982) and Halloween (1978). This movie seems to have everything, Sci-Fi, comedy, horror, action, romance and adventure, all rolled into one awesome motion picture experience and for lack of better words, the enjoyment never dies. 

17. Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)


This is my favorite of Disney’s traditional, hand drawn animated movies. It's the one that feels the most epic and out of the box, almost like a regular golden age classic. Everything is brought up on a grand scale and feels like a genuine period piece, which can even carry a slightly religious tone at times. It has a terrific cast of characters that are all so richly brought to life with their interactions and development that I actually begin to forget it’s an animated movie. It’s also a far more sophisticated than average children’s film, with some really dark elements and some rather legitimate drama. Everything is beautifully animated, and the music is among the greatest that Disney has ever provided. With all of its strong visuals, powerful character moments, breathtaking music, dark themes, fascinating artistic style and uplifting message of tolerance, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is just a wonderful animated Disney movie! 

16. Total Recall (1990)


Now here's a relentlessly fast past Sci-Fi, action adventure with lots of shootouts and chases. But on top of all of that, there’s a really great story at hand that gets you to think. It’s a big mystery story, and it takes watching it a few times to really understand everything that’s going on. There’s lots of sharp twists, and a better then average performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's simply a fun movie, with just enough smart material thrown in. The formula would be duplicated in other films like “Minority Report” and the Jason Bourn Trilogy, which were all great but they never reached the same sensational height of “Total Recall”, defiantly worth a watch.  

15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)


Chamber of Secrets is the reason that I became a fan of the Harry Potter series in the first place. It's a franchise that I’ve treasured for years and it’s this second installment that always stood out as the strongest to me. It’s always exciting to see young kids go on adventures, and having their castle become a dwelling place for an ancient monster really made things more exciting. It constantly held my attention, we always learn something new that advanced the lore of the Harry Potter universe, while giving us one exciting sequence after the next, and further developing this great cast of characters. It’s a thrilling, dark, mystery story that wrapped itself up so solidly in the end and always leaves me with a triumphant feeling. 

14. The Avengers (2012)


Marvel has always been the best company to deliver superhero movies, and this certainly was a novelty to have so many of their best hero's share a movie together. Naturally, it has no shortage of big spectacles to behold, but it’s also a very competent film, finding that perfect balance between big, entertaining action scenes and subtle character depth. It lives up to its hype and stands as solid entertainment.     

13. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)


When this movie first came out, it was a ground breaking mix of live action and animation, The blend of the two is completely seamless, and the animation doesn't just look great, but they also cast shadows, movie real objects, leave prints in dust, and the timing between the live action and animation interactions are perfectly matched together as if their actually there with the real actors. The performances are all fantastic, Bob Hoskins is great as the broken down Eddie Valiant and Christopher Lloyd is sensational as the terrifying villain Judge Doom. It combines childhood innocents and enjoyment with a story that’s surprisingly well constructed, touching and very original. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a film that ages masterfully because it’s simply the key essential film that both kids and adults will love.   

12. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

It’s such a perfect mix between epic warfare and a journey into a magical world. The characters, effects, cinematography, locations and especially the musical score are all so grand and stirring, and everything presented in the film ranges from soft and wholesome, to epic and powerful. It’s a compelling story with big emotions, big events, genuinely good morals and a big, larger than life climax that leaves me with chills. It carries a little something for everyone, merging a fairy tale setting with biblical references, and a classic adventure. The end result is one of the most magical, and best feel good movies ever made.

11. The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad! (1988)


It’s relentlessly funny and full of non-stop joke's, one after the next. This is definitely a comedy that gets better every time you watch it, because you notice something new every time, there are jokes in the background, the foreground and the plot manages to stay consistently strong. They never ware out their welcome, just when you thought you got to the funniest part of the film something else happens that’s even funnier. Finally, I honestly think this was the greatest performance of Leslie Nielsen’s carrier, he is just so brilliant, lively and manages to pull off a convincing yet hilarious performance all at the same time. With competent writing, fast past hummer, and a fantastic performance from one of my favorite actors, “The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad!” still stands as one of the greatest comedies that the genre has to offer.
10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)


Simply one of the greatest Sci-Fi - action movies ever made, the CG is jaw dropping, and the battles are absolutely sensational, but what really makes this such a masterpiece is the story arch. Every character begins some ware and goes through a change, that's what takes this action landmark to the next level, the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters. Arnold delivers the best performance of his career, and the ending is one of the most moving, and powerful to end a big Sci-Fi spectacle. It’s action packed, beautifully crafted, and delivers a solemn message that we can use to make the future better. 

9. Star Wars 6: Return of the Jedi (1983)


I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone had a film from the original Star Wars trilogy amongst their favorite movies, and for me, Return of the Jedi will always stand as the best. It’s the perfect conclusion to a great string of movies and a rare third installment that’s superior to its predecessors. Not only is it a very entertaining Sci-Fi adventure, with amazing battles both on land and in space, but this is the one with the most heart, and conflict. It’s the father/ son relation that makes this film so much more powerful and memorable then the first two. Neither Luke nor Vader are turning away from what they view is right but beneath it all, they just want to be a family again. The final battle between the two carries so much emotion that it goes beyond a thrilling fight between good and evil. Return of the Jedi is a thrilling Sci-Fi adventure with great characters, lots of action and plenty of stirring human emotion at the center.   

8. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)


I’m a huge fan of “Star Trek The Next Generation”, I love the TV series and the films that followed but if I had to choose just one to place amongst my favorite movies, it would have to be “Star Trek First Contact”. This is where my whole fan base for the series started and it was actually one of the first movies I saw in the theater. Everything about it is just so awesome, the score by Jerry Goldsmith is so beautiful that it gives me chills every time I hear it. The action is great, the effects are very impressive and I love how nicely they blend in with these awesome looking sets. The atmosphere is really strong, and it’s also a very engaging story as we see the captain constantly struggle with his own internal battle of vengeance or making the right chooses. There’s plenty of strong sub stories to keep your attention, along with fantastic characters that are all brought to life so well by this very talented cast of characters. Overall, this is the film that fans and non-Star Trek fans alike can enjoy. 

7. Wayne’s World (1992)


Yet another great Comedy that just gets funnier every time you watch it. Its chalk full of memorable catch phrases, fun music, pop culture jokes and the characters themselves are so enduring. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey have such great individual personalities, and they make for such a terrific, comedic buddy team. The rest of the cast do their jobs very well, and the story is so perfectly simple, yet it stands out as one of the most beautifully constructed comedies of all time. 

6. The Matrix (1999)


This will always stand as the greatest masterpiece of action and Sci-Fi. The CG effects were ground breaking for the time and the action is just as thrilling as ever. But it’s how the story combines so many classic elements of folklore, mythology, Philosophy, Biblical references, Hong Kong fights, romance and a brilliant re-telling of “Plato’s Allegory of the Cave” that make it such a treasured gem. The premise was very original for me at the time, even though it’s actually a very old idea but that’s what makes this movie so great. “The Matrix” is the perfect example of how to take many classic and old ideas and craft something entirely original out of it.  

5. The Toy Story Trilogy (1996 - 2009)

     It’s hard to select a favorite installment from some of my most beloved film series and in regard to the “Toy Story” movies, there was simply no way I could choose one over the other, all three are solid 5 out of 5 star movies. They will always stand as some of the greatest family films of all time for me, and they perfectly capture all the charms and nostalgia of our youths. These films do an amazing job combining laughs with legitimate drama and the balance is always so perfectly in place. The characters are all very lovable, colorful and genuine that they practically leap off the screen. There’s actually a touch of humanity to these characters that some human characters in other films lack, and it’s that bit of believability mixed with all the charms and impressive visual effects that make these films so timeless. I’ve held a special place for these films for the longest time, and in return can share them with a new young generation ahead. Every installment has the power to make you laugh, cry and just warm your heart with repeated viewings.       

4. Spaceballs (1987)


In all honesty, it’s not the flat out funniest movie ever made but it is still pretty damn funny, and it easily stands as one of my favorite comedy's of all time. Rather than being one big joke on “Star Wars”, there’s actual a lot of charm that comes from everything presented in this film. The characters are memorable, the visual jokes are a complete riot, and it’s the perfect blend of my two favorite categories, Sci-Fi and comedy. But for me, the biggest joy of this film comes from the villains. There’s nothing funnier than a group of powerful and dominate villains that are absolute losers. The movie just does a great job parodying “Star Wars”, while not re-creating scenes from those films with a silly twist, instead it creates something original that’s wild and fun with a little “Star Wars” references and gags along the way. It’s still just as funny today and the characters make it even more fun to keep coming back for more. All in all, it’s an absolute joy from beginning to end.    

3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) 


My favorite of the Indiana Jones trilogy by far. This isn’t just a treasure hunt for fortune and glory, but an epic quest to find one of the most holly artifacts in history and protect it from an army of evil. It’s also about a broken family coming closer together through a series of obstacles. Harrison Forde and Sean Connery act off each other perfectly and it makes for one of the most convincing father son relationships I’ve ever seen on film. The movie balances incredible action with a great sense of humor, there are some great plot twists and through all the problems Indiana and his father go through, they achieve the greatest treasure of all, enlightenment. It’s simply one of the greatest adventure movies all time.  
2. X-Men (2000)


This is the movie that changed the way I would view comic book adapted films, it’s from here that I became a fan of Marvel, an even bigger X-Men fan than I already was, and it was also one of the first big special effects filled, action flicks I’d ever experienced. I especially love how perfect all the characters were brought to life by this very well rounded cast. The film also gives us the time to really get attached to the characters through some genuinely emotional moments, like Wolverine and Rogue on the train. There’s also a very sharp narrative focus and issues that go beyond your usual defeat villain routine. The subject of prejudice and excepting what makes you different has been done in other films but for a super hero movie, it was just so welcome. It made me realize just how smart a comic book adapted movie can be, that they don’t need to just be for simple entertainment, you can still get across a relatively strong subject matter and it paved the way for other great comic book adapted films like “Spider-Man 2” and “The Dark Knight”. 

 1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)


Let’s face it, this is still the classic family fairytale that we all grew up with, and to this day, it still remains a must see for both young and old. As far as I can think back, "The Wizard of Oz" was one of the very first movies I ever saw in my life time, and it just feels like timeless motion picture. It was there at the beginning, it'll be there till the end, and always stand as one of my all time favorite movies. Everything about it just puts me is a good mood, and I love the characters. Dorothy is such an innocent youth, and the remaining characters are all just so lovable, representing some kind of virtue, like knowledge, courage and compaction. The wicked witch is just as awesome as ever, with her unforgettable image and menacing personality. But in all honesty, it’s just a spectacle to look at. The painted backgrounds have so much charm and the set designs are absolutely beautiful. Combine that with a very rich story, and it remains a timeless gem that’s just as great for every new generation.
              The End      


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