Whenever someone found out how much I love movies, they always asked me the same question. "What is your favorite movie?" For a long time, I didn't have an answer. Because I could promote any movie I watched as the best or the worst if I were in the proper mindset. Then I came to find the perfect means for determining my favorite movie. The criteria is really simple. Ask yourselves this, dear readers, what movie would you always be into watching, no matter what mood you're in? Depressed cause your lover left? Watch this movie to forget your sorrows. Happy cause you got that job promotion? Watch this movie to close out the celebrations. Angry cause some one cut you off? Watch this movie to calm you down. If you can think of ONE movie to fit all those scenarios and whichever others are coming across your mind right now, THAT is your favorite movie.
As a movie lover, it took me a long time to create this list. Some of you may be surprised at an entry or two on this list. But most will read this list and say... Of course, those are the ones he likes. They are so obvious! So, I now present to you my top ten favorite movies of all time. This is the mother lode for me. If an alien culture contacted me about movies, these would be the movies I would show them.
10) The Princess Bride
This is an interesting entry for me. Normally, I would scoff at what is essentially nothing more than a period piece chick flick, right? WRONG! What makes this movie is EVERYTHING ELSE in it. It was like the producers wanted to make an awesome fantasy film and needed a love story to tie the individual scenes together. From my personal favorite, Inigo Montoya and his 20+ year quest for revenge, to the little boy sick in bed making faces at the "kissing parts", The Princess Bride is nothing less than fantastic.
This movie is fantastic because the premise is completely absurd, but handled in the most realistic way possible. A guy suddenly get stuck in a time loop, reliving the same day over & over again. No explanation. No reason why. No "test of your soul" or whatever. It just happens. How would you deal? What would you do? Another reason I love this movie is because it's a premise that can't be copied without referencing the original. Seriously, ever since this movie was released, any type of medium dealing with a person repeating time is described as a "Groundhog Day" event. This movie is unique, intriguing, amazing, and just fundamentally awesome!
It's exceptionally rare for me to encounter a film so densely packed with so many different philosophical treatises, so tightly written that can still be described as fucking KICK ASS!! The movie blends computer theory, existential philosophy, and various theological treatises using kung fu, spaceships and robots. Watching this movie was life changing for me. I never thought in a million years a movie like this would EVER make it past the Hollywood executives. And I'm glad it did. (NOTE: This list is just single films, otherwise the whole trilogy would be in this slot.)
07) Live Free Or Die Hard
This is another entry that people would find surprising. After all, if you like a series it's usually the first in the series that's the best. Like the main protagonist of the series, John McClane, did for the action hero, this series bucks the trend by getting better with each successive movie. The reason I love this movie is simple: DH4 shows that despite how advanced we think we are, or how awesome our technology is, the greatest power we have is our spirit. The technobabble is just a distraction. Our will to live, to survive; our determination to NOT be beaten. THAT is what drives us. It might not win us friends, or give us an easy life, but it drives us to succeed and compels us to move forward. To always strive for what's just out of our reach, no matter how hard it tries to elude us. (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 4, 1, 3, then 2)
Here's another series that showcases the power of the human spirit. But that's just one of the things that makes this movie awesome. You take the example of the human spirit, mix in the struggle against the demons that are fueled by that same spirit, add in the question of what makes a being human, ethics of the usage of technology in war, and some philosophy of time travel. Blend in some action and you got a fantastic ride that you'll want to re-live over and over again. (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 2, 1, 4, then 3)
The thing about science fiction movies is that they tend to build upon each other which makes it very difficult to get original ideas. Serenity is an original view of the future. Most science fiction assumes a betterment of human society where everyone kind of levels out and people are always on equal footing. Serenity showed us that just because humanity reaches the stars, doesn't mean that we quell our social demons. That it's possible to advance technologically but still have no solutions for poverty, governments desire to control their citizen's thoughts, etc. Mash that up with some good old fashioned humor and some hell raisin' good times and you got something truly unique.
J.R.R. Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy. Period. Everything you know about elves, orcs, dwarves, trolls, etc. was collected and re-vamped by Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings series. Reading those books, assuming you don't get bogged down in the overwhelming details, you fall in love with the characters and through them the species they represent. For the first time ever, Hollywood has managed to create a decent representation of that world and from there accurately tell the story of Frodo and the other members of the Fellowship. And, they show how the fate of the greatest of societies hang on the actions of the individuals within those societies. This film showcases the strength of the bonds between people, human or not, and how those bonds allow us to overcome and endure what we think is unendurable. (NOTE: The whole series is awesome in order.)
Raiders introduced audiences to Indiana Jones, one of the unluckiest heroes in movie history. That he survived the first scenes of the film is a testament to not only his strength of will, but also to the depth of his knowledge. I think that's what got me into the Indiana Jones series. The fact that I was shown a hero that wasn't all about the action. Jones did the research, gained the knowledge he needed (and a lot more) and then used that knowledge to survive. Jones was a thinking man's hero. (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 1, 3, 2, then 4)
Star Wars borrows heavily from the trademarks of successful mythologies which, in turn, made the series into a wildly successful mythology. But out of the original trilogy, Return of The Jedi is my favorite because it took the typical payoff of the mythological story and grounded it in reality. Normally, the young upstart is trained by a old sage and then has the necessary power to defeat everything in his path. But in Jedi, that young upstart gets really good with his training, yet kind of like Icarus, bites off more than he can chew. And when he gets in trouble, who does he go to? His father. The same father who only moments before (in one of the GREATEST SPEECHES EVER!!) threatened to corrupt his own daughter's mind, now is the only salvation for his son. Coming from the fucked up family I have, I could most DEFINITELY relate! (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 6, 5, 4. Prequel Trilogy doesn't measure up.)
The best sci-fi stories always use the technology they create to showcase some hidden aspect of the human condition. The best feature film example of this is my number one favorite movie of all time: Back To The Future. Yes, you could call it a time-travel movie, but that's not what it's really about. The movie is about a teenager seeing his parents when they were teenagers and realizing how MUCH they have in common despite the different times they lived in. A powerful statement about family and understanding that could only be brought about in a sci-fi or fantasy framework. At the same time, the movie also showcases the strengths humanity gains from it's traditions (the storytelling of the mother, which provided a contextual guide for how things were supposed to go in the past), the power of the bond between mentor and student (the Doc & Marty), and how dangerous humanity can be to itself given the improper use of technology. All of that, rolled up into ONE movie liberally dosed with fantastic music, intense writing ("What did I TELL YOU? 88 MILES PER HOUR!!!") and awesome comedy. It's no wonder that no matter what mood I'm in, I'd always watch Back To The Future and why it's my number one movie of all time.
That's my list, dear readers, what's yours?