My top-five favorite films of all time, for no other reason than I am a nerd and I like to make top five lists.
5. Wonder Boys:
It's Michael Douglas's portrayal of the world weary, mildly amused, and reverse-writer's-blocked Grady Tripp that keeps me coming back to this movie. I think it's his best performance by far. I've always been attracted to the existential crisis; be it triggered by mid-life or some other stimulus, and everyone in this movie is in crisis. To one extent or another, they all seem to get that life is a very dry joke--without the guarantee of a punchline--that is being played on them; It's encouraging to see how they all muddle through.
This movie gives me hope that people can sustain a sense of meaning into later life.
4. The Princess Bride:
'You killed my father, prepare to die'
'Have fun storming the castle!'
'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'
'Anybody want a peanut?'
If you've seen this movie, I don't have to explain its awesomeness to you. It's the best movie to watch when you're in bed with the flu, and it's also a film that you are obligated by all that is right and good to show to your kids while they are still young.
3. Melinda & Melinda:
I’ve always wanted to write an essay about Woody Allen’s films, but I can’t, because I wouldn’t be able to avoid gushing. He’s a genius. He’s the great moralist of our time, and the modern heir to Shakespeare. See? I’m gushing. It’s unattractive.
While Annie Hall is widely considered the Woody Allen film, I think Melinda & Melinda best captures his mature philosophy. It's also really funny, and has one of the best closing scenes of any movie ever.
2. The Big Chill:
I was 12 years old when Jurassic Park came out. I had just read the book in one excited evening about a week or so before, and was totally psyched to see the movie. The movie was pretty good, even though there were some major deviations that were important an inexcusable to my 12 year old mind. One of the things that most impressed me about the whole affair was Jeff Goldblum's performance as Ian Malcolm. I thought he was really cool. He was brilliant, mischievous; you got the sense that he always felt like he was getting away with something (that is actually a trait that runs through a lot of Goldblum's performances). I decided Goldblum was my favorite actor, and set about watching all of his movies. I liked the way he...uh...enunciated. I actually intentionally mimicked his style of talking, consciously trying to adopt his conversational tics. I was pretty successful at this, and still possess trace elements of Goldblum in my day to day speech.
I got around to The Big Chill in my early twenties. I was working at a book store, and starting college. I was already married and had a young son. I was still a kid, but life--and the choices I had made--were working hard to change that. I guess that's probably why the movie resonated with me so much. Another brilliant Goldblum performance helped, but there was also that theme of grown people coming to grips with the fact that the world had at least as much (if not more) to say about the order of things than their particular utopian fancies did. It's a movie about rigid reeds learning to be flexible reeds, so as not to snap in the current of the stream. I should also mention, the music in this movie is phenomenal.
1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
This movie is wonderful. I could watch it over and over. It mixes sentimentality and comedy in perfect measures. Every performance is perfect. The final scene still makes me cry. Whenever I need a boost, or just want to unwind, this is one of the first places I go.
So that's my list. I'd love to see yours.