Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The 25 Best Movies of All Time Part 2

Thanks for joining me on my look at the 25 Best Movies of All Time. Here we go with Part 2.

10. The Big Lebowski
This is a comedy. Pure and simple. One of the funniest movies ever made. Taking plot from Raymond Chandler, the Coens excoriate Los Angeles and all those idiots infesting the city. Not a single character with redeeming features except for poor Donny. 

9. The Dark Knight
The score, that whining, off-putting violin noise when Heath Ledger is about to do something. That's the most gripping element of this movie. Yes, Ledger's performance is great, but it's Aaron Eckhardt and everybody else in the movie that carry this, carry this awesome paean to movies about cities, about the things we do to make it work in the city. I love this movie.

8. Chinatown
"My daughter! My sister! My daughter! My sister" - this is the most sinister and twisted of all noir. Taking the familial darkness only touched upon by previous noir, Towne and Polanski take this too far.

7. Goodfellas
Loud, jumbled, paranoid, violent, hilarious, and fast are all words I would use to describe this amazing work of art. Scorsese is my favourite director for a reason. All the little bits work together for a cohesive and unified whole. Remember the scene after the three wiseguys get rid of that idiot and then stop at Pesci's mom's house. That's Scorsese's mom and she improvised! That's amazing and perfectly captures what I love about this movie.

6. Fargo
Dark, complex, funny, satirical, and infinitely quotable. I watched this just recently, and I had forgotten some of the funny bits. I had also forgotten how fucking good Frances McDormand is in this. Her character, the moral centre, and possibly the smartest of all Coen characters, is just amazing. I could watch this again and again.

5. The Blues Brothers
I've probably seen this movie 20 times, and I still laugh at all the right places. I adore this movie: the music, the jokes, the car chases, the classic quotes. I wish they hadn't made a sequel.

4. The Empire Strikes Back
The best of the Star Wars movies, hands down. This has everything a Star Wars movie should have: lightsaber duel, Jedi mind tricks, Yoda, chases, laser battles, dogfights in space, and revelations. It's too bad that Return of the Jedi squanders almost all of my good will with fucking Ewoks.

3. The Departed
Absolute perfection. There are few cop movies so distilled, so focused and so tense as this movie. Only Scorsese could pull off a bravura cinematic performance with this movie. It helps that the entire cast is on their top game, from Leo to Matt Damon to Alec Baldwin to a scene-stealing Mark Wahlberg.

2. The Exorcist
The scariest movie of all time, and one of the most complex horror movies. This is a book and a film that has incredible depth and is rich in meaning and symbol. This movie is one I could happily teach, and would love to.

1. Aliens
The first Alien is good, but Aliens is better. It's scary, action-packed, I care about the characters, and it's more bad-ass than any other movie I've ever seen. Ellen Ripley stands as one of my favourite characters of all time. I prefer the theatrical version, if only because the prologue doesn't interrupt the tension of the first search of the area.

I'm aware my tastes aren't terribly pretentious or high-falutin'. I like what I like. If I did 50 Best Movies, then we'd see some more high-art examples like Jacques Tati or Kurosawa or Jean-Pierre Melville. But this is my list, today and yesterday, of what movies I like. Thanks for reading.

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