Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Top Ten Favorite Movies

I've seen and reviewed many many films, but what are my favorites of all time? It was hard to pick from so many, but here are my top ten favorite movies.

10. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid - 1969 
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Why I love this film: Besides being one of the best westerns ever filmed, this telling of the Butch and Sundance "Hole in the Wall" gang who robbed both trains and banks also has a terrific blend of adventure, suspense, action, humor, and of course the appeal of the two main characters. Newman and Redford have such great chemistry and it shows on screen.

9. West Side Story - 1961
Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, Rita Moreno, Simon Oakland
Why I love this film: Adapted from Shakespeare's love tragedy Romeo and Juliet, this story is centered on Puerto Rican Maria, who falls in love with an American named Tony but are forbidden to be together because of their differences in society, and the two rival gangs of New York City, The Sharks and The Jets. The musical numbers by the legendary Leonard Bernstein are fantastic, and that's why it is one of my favorite musicals ever made.

8. Young Frankenstein - 1974
Starring: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars
Why I love this film: Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, the descendant of the mad scientist Victor Frankenstein wants nothing to do with his grandfather's work. However after the death of his great grandfather, Frederick inherits his castle in Transylvania where he is drawn to how he recreated life. A parody of one of the most famous monsters in horror, this film by the incomparable Mel Brooks never ceases to make me laugh out loud every time I see it.

7. Amadeus -1984
Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Jeffrey Jones, Elizabeth Berridge, Christine Ebersole
Why I love this film: Although it's the story of the life of one of the greatest composers who ever lived, Amadeus is about Mozart's rival composer, Antonio Salieri, who both envies and hates him for being the most famous composer in Vienna, and after attempting suicide he blames himself for Mozart's death. Everything about this film is great; the acting, the writing, the costumes, the sets and of course the music is the cherry on top.

6. Sunset Boulevard - 1950
Starring: Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Nancy Olsen, Erich von Stroheim, Cecil B. DeMille
Why I love this film: Swanson plays Norma Desmond, the aging silent film queen that Hollywood has long since forgotten about to perfection; with the help of an unsuccessful writer to help finish her script, Norma plans to return to the silver screen. I love the dark noirish feel of this film, in addition to the moments of black comedy.

5. Rebel Without a Cause - 1955
Starring: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Corey Allen, Dennis Hopper
Why I love this film: The film that defined teenage rebellion, Jim Stark is the new kid in town who is misunderstood by his parents, pressured by the local bullies, arrested for drunkenness and becomes friends with classmates Judy and Plato, who also have a difficult family life. What makes this film so memorable are the three lead performances; and their longing for acceptance and friendship.

4. It's a Wonderful Life - 1946
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers, Thomas Mitchell
Why I love this film: Good friend and family man George Bailey is in a terrible dilemma and is so desperate that he considers suicide, until a man claiming to be his guardian angel saves him and shows him what life would be like if he never existed. What makes it so poignant is the fact that George has touched many lives, and in seeing that George realizes his own self-worth.

3. Psycho - 1960
Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, John Gavin, Simon Oakland
Why I love this film: It's Hitchcock, need I say more? A young woman is in her own private trap when she meets loner hotel owner Norman Bates, whose also in a trap because of his confined mother. After she goes missing, her sister and boyfriend try to find out what happened to her. The buildup of suspense in this film is still as brilliant today, as only the master of suspense could do. And of course Bernard Herrmann's famous score of screeching violins can't be beat.

2. Immortal Beloved - 1994
Starring: Gary Oldman, Jeroen Krabbe, Isabella Rossellini, Valeria Golino, Johanna ter Steege
Why I love this film: After Beethoven's death, his secretary Anton Schindler sets out to find the identity of Ludwig's secret lover, known only as the "Immortal Beloved", that is to inherit all his music. The atmosphere of the film and wonderful acting from such a talented cast, particularly Gary Oldman as Beethoven makes this so special; the lavish locales and scenes, all being set to Beethoven's best symphonies is truly unforgettable.

1. The Dark Knight - 2008
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Why I love this movie: The vigilante known as The Batman has a new villain to fight; The Joker, who lives for anarchy and chaos, not to obtain wealth or power but just because he has so much fun doing it. Along with the new District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman battles to take him down, while the Joker tries to bring them down to his level. Along with the remarkable performance of the Heath Ledger, one of the most terrifying portrayals of the Joker, the action is like being on one wildly fun and exhilarating roller-coaster ride.

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