100 Incredible Films (Volume 9 ~ #s 20-11)
# 20 ~~~ The Usual Suspects (1995)
In case you got here late...go to the beginning!
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Welcome To My World. A world where movies don't have to suck all the time. A world where films could even be seen multiple times and you'd still get new things to enjoy about them.
I Saw It in the Theaters!
Winner of 2 Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Christopher McQuarrie and Kevin Spacey. Independent Spirit Awards honored McQuarrie but instead gave the best supporting actor award to the fearless performance of Benicio Del Toro who chose a muffled accent that will live on in film lore forever.
Let us not forget the real star though, and that my cinephilic friends is the character of Keyser Soze. A character who's backstory and reputation are all we know and yet his presence is palpable throughout the film. The only character that rivals Keyser Soze in reputation despite having no camera time whatsoever would be Harvey the rabbit whose Celtic ancestry as the Pooka was the key to his allure. Well, that and Jimmy Stewart's brilliance.
# 19 ~~~ Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Our very own commander-in-cheif George W actually won a Razzie Award for Worst Actor. This film was the very first indication that the truth was out there. Conservative republicans who had their doubts about the man couldn't help but go see it and the liberals were lining up. This documentary film showed us not only how the news was being used for straight up propaganda to spread misinformation but it showed us lots of things we weren't supposed to notice. Like all the American citizens being stranded at airports nationwide while Osama Bin Laden's family was being safely flown out of the country.
Ummmmm....What? Wait...what! WHY? Who authorized their escape?
Why wouldn't they be the first people interrogated? I could go on forever for awhile here but the questions raised in this film have never been answered by the administration nor have they been investigated by any other body of government. Checks and balances my ass!!!!!
Mr. Moore is the last true American Patriot!
# 18 ~~~ The Pianist (2002)
What a Movie!
You can learn a lot about yourself watching a war movie. Between Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Three Kings, Life Is Beautiful and The Thin Red Line, you can live vicariously through many different characters in many scenarios but none of those films moves me like the true story of The Pianist.
There is basically only one character from the midpoint on and we are all going through it with him. Adrien Brody took home the Oscar for playing a famous Polish pianist and we are all spellbound as he escapes certain death. Initially we are enthralled because we know that it is all a true story but the film stands up on it's own. A masterpiece from Roman Polanski who won an Oscar for Best Director as well even if he was forbidden to return to America and accept it.
# 17 ~~~ Dazed and Confused (1993)
I saw this in the theaters twice!
Every classic but non-cliched personality from 1970s high school is explored here. Writer / director Richard Linklater steps out of the shadow of Slacker to reveal an enormous talent for the cinematic sprawl of nostalgia as well as discovering young raw talent. See: Parker Posey, Nicky Katt, etc
# 16 ~~~ The Edge (1997)
David Mamet's Script is Amazing!
This film is so smart in it's simplicity and that allows us to settle into the beautiful landscape and absorb these characters. Alec Baldwin may be a lot of things, but he's not a bad actor. He's one of the most versatile and watching him going toe-to-toe with Sir Anthony Hopkins over the allure of a beauty like Elle MacPherson is primal. The whole film brings out the primal urges and fears in all of us. Nature, friendship, survival. I can't believe that most people think of this as that "bear movie" they never got around to seeing.
The author DAVID MAMET who is my favorite writer by the way also wrote:
- The Postman Always Rings Twice w/ Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange
- The Verdict w/ Paul Newman
- About Last Night... w/ Rob Lowe & Demi Moore
- The Untouchables w/ Kevin Costner & Sean Connery
- House of Games w/ Joe Mantegna & Ricky Jay
- We're No Angels w/ Robert DeNiro & Sean Penn
- Glengarry Glen Ross w/ Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris and Jack Lemmon
- Oleanna w/ William H. Macy
- American Buffalo w/ Dustin Hoffman & Dennis Franz
- Wag the Dog w/ DeNiro, Hoffman & Macy plus Denis Leary
and on and on and on.
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Springfield Springfield, it's a helluva town. The schoolyard's up and the shopping malls down!
# 15 ~~~ United 93 (2006)
I know what your thinking. "Here's a subject I have no interest in engaging for entertainment purposes." I thought the same thing. Or was it, "I smell propaganda anywhere near this subject and I'm gonna get pissed." I thought that too. THIS IS NOT THAT.
This film's greatest strength is that it allows us to understand what was going on that day. Just the facts in a minute-by-minute format that allows to see better into the minds of the military, police, media, and even the victims and the terrorists as well. This film is so captivating that you can't look away once you press play. Not for one of these minute. This film was made to honor the brave people aboard the flight who overcame their captors in order to save other Americans. The Special Features on the disc show us a meeting with one of the greiving families and the actor playing their lost loved one. It is the most surreal reality TV you can ever imagine. The fact that all the families got to see it first and endorse it on their own terms makes me feel good as well. If this can in any way help ease their suffering by honoring their loved ones, these people certainly deserve every comfort.
# 14 ~~~ [tie] Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999)
P.T. Anderson Double Feature
These two films are very different even if all the same actors are in them. One is the amazing 70's Cali-Porn Disco-Epic about Dirk Diggler, who boy wonder-schlong. The performances by Heather Graham, Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C Reilly and others made this the greatest ensemble work in American cinema during the 1990s with it's only rival being Robert Altman's ode to Hollywood The Player. I'm not sure that Heather Graham will ever be known as anything other than "Roller Girl" despite her performances in Drugstore Cowboy and Six Degrees of Seperation. Sometimes you get the role and sometimes the role gets you. Ask Mark Hamill.
This ode to the amazing songs by singer/songwriter Aimee Mann is pure self-indulgence by P.T. but I don't care. He made a piece of art that stands on it's own despite falling frogs of the apocolypse. You remember Aimee Mann, don't you? The girl who sang "Voices Carry" in the 80s "One-Hit Wonder" 'Til Tuesday and then played a toeless nihilist in The Big Lebowski. Her solo career went largely praised by critics and ignored by the mainstream media (MTV).
This film is one long video payback!
Tom Cruise's best work BY FAAAAAAR!
# 13 ~~~ The Addiction (1995)
This film is about Kathy Conklin, a doctoral student in philosphy at NYU who is dragged violently off the street and bitten by a vampire. The vampire Casanova (Sciorra) is an atypical vampire in that she gives Kathy a chance to save herself by simply saying "go away" like she means it. However when she fails to speak up she is given a vampire's 'kiss' and Casanova leaves her alive.
Unsure what new reality awaits her, Kathy tries to go about her normal life until the craving begins. Now, rapidly descending deep into her addiction, Kathy tails a possible victim who turns out to be Peina (Walken), an old vampire who invites Kathy to his loft. Peina tells Kathy that he himself has been 'fasting' for four years and has learned to live without blood through the strength of his will. Peina tries to advise Kathy to carry on living as a vampire without having to give in to the addiction. It's no use. Suffering from the pangs of her addiction, Kathy attempts to slit her own wrist, but you can't kill what's already dead.
THIS FILM IS NOT AVAILABLE IN AMERICA ON DVD so....if you wanna make a lifelong friend in me, send me a copy please.
PO Box 668601 Pompano Beach, FL 33066
# 12 ~~~ Stand By Me (1986)
Yes, the direction by Rob Reiner is very good and the adaptation of Stephen King's short story was also spot on. Yes, the music and landscape are beautiful and yes, Richard Dreyfuss' narration is an added treat. The raw and unique personalities of Keifer Sutherland and Corey Feldman are also on display, but you know what I'm getting to and it ain't about Wil Wheaton. This is the film in which we lament the lost youth of the characters and the lost future of it's magnetic star.....the awe inspiring River Phoenix.
# 11 ~~~ Hoop Dreams (1994)
How can one even describe the amount of genius! This documentary is about two up-and-coming basketball players and it was filmed over the course of 5 years. How did they find these two and how did they know these were the right kids to spend 5 years with? No idea, but they did it. You can't really see a better documentary than this. Only rivals in greatness. No one could have ever documented this much great stuff and gotten ignored, could they?? Oh wait! Flashback! Hoop Dreams was tauted as a possible contender for BEST PICTURE despite it's documenary status and 3 hour runtime. However when the nominees were announced, Hoop Dreams was not even nominated for BEST DOC and that was a travesty. The people who can vote for this category was revised the following year as a tribute to this ghastly oversight.
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Great Films That Were Left Off!
The List So Far...
100) Romeo Is Bleeding (1993 - Gary Oldman, Lena Olin, Annabella Sciorra)
99) Victory (1981 - Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele, Max Von Sydow)
98) Bad Boys (1983 - Sean Penn, Esai Morales, Ally Sheedy)
97) Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993 - Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne, Joan Allen)
96) The Last House On The Left (1972 - Wes Craven's Debut)
95) Citizen Ruth (1996 - Laura Dern, Swoozie Kurtz)
94) This Boy's Life (1993 - Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Ellen Barkin)
93) Three Kings (1999 - George Clooney, Mark Walhberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze)
92) Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989 - James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher)
91) Kalifornia (1993 - Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny, Michelle Forbes)
90) 2 Days in the Valley (1996 - Charlize Theron, Eric Stoltz, Danny Aiello, Glenne Headley, Teri Hatcher, Jeff Daniels)
89) Lean On Me (1989 - Morgan Freeman, Robert Guillaume)
88) Hard Eight (1996 - Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow)
87) Devil in a Blue Dress (1995 - Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Jennifer Beals)
86) V for Vendetta (2005 - Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving)
85) Freeway (1996 - Reese Witherspoon, Keifer Sutherland, Brittany Murphy)
84) Cop Land (1997 - Sylvester Stallone, Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta)
83) Red Dawn (1984 - Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen)
82) The Warriors (1979 - Street Gang Classic by Walter Hill)
81) Run Lola Run (1998 - Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu)
80) The United States of Leland (2003 - Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey)
79) Bound (1996 - Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Pantoliano)
78) American Psycho (2000 - Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon)
77) The Basketball Diaries (1995 - Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Lorraine Bracco)
76) Alpha Dog (2006 - Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis)
75) Empire of the Sun (1987 - Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Joe Pantoliano)
74) My Bodyguard (1980 - Chris Makepeace, Adam Baldwin, Matt Dillon, Martin Mull)
73) To Die For (1995 - Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck)
72) Hustle & Flow (2005 - Terrance Howard, Taraji P. Henson, DJ Qualls, Anthony Anderson)
71) Logan's Run (1976 - Michael York, Jenny Agutter)
70) Children of Men (2006 - Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine)
69) Barfly (1987 - Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Frank Stallone)
68) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004 - Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood)
67) The Outsiders (1983 - Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Love, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane)
66) Cube (1997 - David Hewlett, Andrew Miller)
65) The Conversation (1974 - Gene Hackman, John Cazale)
64) The Secret of NIMH (1982 - Animated feat. Dom DeLouise)
63) In The Name of the Father (1993 - Daniel Day-Louis, Emma Thompson, Pete Postlethwaite, Tom Wilkinson)
62) Falling Down (1993 - Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall)
61) Igby Goes Down (2002 - Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Ryan Phillippe, Susan Sarandon, Amanda Peet, Jeff Goldblum)
60) New Jack City (1991 - Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Bill Nunn, Chris Rock, Judd Nelson)
59) Memento (2000 - Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano)
58) Wall Street (1987 - Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas, John C. McGinley)
57) The Wicker Man (1973 - Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee)
56) The Fifth Element (1997 - Bruce Willis, Iam Holm, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Gary Oldman & Tiny Lister)
55) The Last Seduction (1994 - Linda Fiorentino, Bill Pullman, Peter Berg)
54) Hotel Rwanda (2004 - Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo & Nick Nolte)
53) Das Experiment (2001 - Moritz Beibtreu)
52) One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975 - Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher)
51) A Bronx Tale (1993 - Robert DeNiro, Chazz Palmintieri, Lillo Brancato)
50) L.A. Confidential (1997 - Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell)
49) Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samarai (1999 - Forrest Whitaker)
48) Prelude To A Kiss (1992 - Alec Baldwin, Meg Ryan, Ned Beatty, Stanley Tucci)
47) Full Metal Jacket (1987 - Matthew Modine, Vincent D'onofrio)
46) Notes On A Scandal (2006 - Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett)
45) Drugstore Cowboy (1989 - Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Le Gros, Heather Graham)
44) Stranger Than Fiction (2006 - Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah, Dustin Hoffman)
43) Fresh (1994 - Sean Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito)
42) Slacker (1991 - Richard Linklater)
41) Lost In Translation (2003 - Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray)
40) Trainspotting (1996 - Ewen McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle)
39) Secretary (2002 - Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader)
38) El Mariachi (1992 - Robert Rodriguez' debut, a/k/a the original "Desperado")
37) Dog Day Afternoon (1975 - Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning)
36) [tie] A Scanner Darkly (2006 - Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson) Waking Life (2001)
35) The Devil's Rejects (2005 - Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, William Forsythe)
34) Pi (1998 - Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis)
33) Eight Men Out (1988 - John Cusack, David Straithairn, Charlie Sheen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Lerner)
32) Kids (1995 - Leo Fitzpatrick, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson)
31) Big Night (1996 - Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver, Iam Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Liev Schreiber)
30) I ♥ Huckabees (2004 - Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Naomi Watts, Jude Law, Isabella Huppert)
29) Short Cuts (1993 - Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Madeleine Stowe, Frances McDormand, Jack Lemmon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Matthew Modine)
28) Primer (2004 - Shane Carruth, David Sullivan)
27) Network (1976 - Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, William Holden)
26) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 - Chris Sarandon / Danny Elfman, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Reubens)
25) Six Degrees of Separation (1993 - Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland, Will Smith, Anthony Michael Hall)
24) Kolya (1996 - Zdenek Sverák)
23) City of God (2002 - Alexandre Rodrigues)
22) Brazil (1985 - Jonathan Pryce, Robert DeNiro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Jim Broadbent)
21) Hoosiers (1986 - Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey)
20) The Usual Suspects (1993 - Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite)
19) Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004 - Michael Moore, George W. Bush)
18) The Pianist (2002 - Adrien Brody)
17) Dazed and Confused (1993 - Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Jason London, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams)
16) The Edge (1997 - Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Harold Perrineau, Elle MacPherson, Bart the Bear)
15) United 93 (2006)
14) Boogie Nights (1997 - Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, Ricky Jay) Magnolia (1999 - Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly)
13) The Addiction (1993 - Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, Kathryn Erbe, Paul Calderon)
12) Stand By Me (1986 - River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Keifer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss)
11) Hoop Dreams (1994)
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