Not that this is a huge news flash to any of you, but on Thursday I once again had it confirmed that I have waaayyyy too much free time: I hit 10,000 rankings on Flickchart. That makes an average of 666.67 either-or rankings in the 15 days since Holly ensnared me in its binary goodness, which, in my half-assed defense, really isn't as bad as it sounds. As Josh, who's an even bigger movie nerd than I am, explains, when all you're asked to do is decide which of two movies is better, you can burn through a whole bunch of those pretty quickly, until it's 3 a.m. and you're staring at a screen with aching, bloodshot eyes and thinking to yourself, "OK, I know I'm supposed to think 'The Godfather Part II' is one of the greatest movies ever made, but did I really enjoy it any more than 'Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers'?"
So anyway, now that I've hit five figures it seems like I should have a pretty definitive list of my favorite flicks put together. Sure enough, looking at what Flickchart has determined are my favorites, I might put some of them in slightly different order, but all the movies that have truly taken my breath away and/or entertained the piss out of me are all right up there. So in honor of this momentous (or maybe just momentously obsessive-compulsive) achievement, this week's +5 is My Five Favorite Movies Of All Time As Determined By Flickchart:
5. The Usual Suspects
To describe this movie as "clever" is to give short shrift to the superb acting, the excellent use of music, the beautifully noir-ish look, and a whole bunch of other things . . . but be that as it may, Christopher McQuarrie would deserve a Nobel Prize (if they gave out Nobel Prizes for screenwriting) for coming up with this brilliantly convoluted plot. As it is, he had to settle for an Oscar, which makes for one of the few times my favorite screenplay from a given year actually won anything. (And on that note, here's the above "lineup" scene rendered in Legos.)
4. The Life of Brian
I may or may not be in the minority here, but I like it better than "Holy Grail" and consider it to be pretty much the funniest movie ever made. Organized religion is only one of the many things this Monty Python flick satirizes to within an inch of its life, and one simple exchange from the above clip ("Yes! We are all different!" "I'm not") sum up modern society about as succinctly as any seven words can. My mom got this movie for me when I was 13, not knowing anything about it, and was horrified by how blasphemous it was; today, tellingly, she loves it. And if we're going to hell for loving this movie, then so be it. (Another great scene: the "sermon on the mount." To me, the fact that these people are walking around ancient Israel talking in cockney accents is funny all by itself.)
3. Hotel Rwanda
I've already summed up my feelings on this powerful movie here, and my sister, as is typical, did a better job here, so I'll simply say that I haven't ever seen a movie based on real-life tragedy that did a better job of avoiding exploitative theatrics and cheap heartstring-pulling. Which is not to say that it avoids the visual horror of the 1994 Rwandan genocide -- there are some very gritty and harrowing moments, particularly Don Cheadle's nighttime van drive through the countryside -- but hardly anything about this movie comes off as overdone, gratuitous, or melodramatic. It's definitely not the kind of movie you'd sit down in front of for a fun evening with your girlfriend/boyfriend and a bowl of popcorn, but it's uplifting in its own way, and if you're anything like my sister and me it'll have you thinking and talking about it for a long time.
2. Children of Men
This isn't a happy-go-lucky sort of film either, but it's an incredible story, and one of the most visually arresting films I've ever seen, for reasons that go far beyond the unusually long takes described by the director in the above video clip. (Though on that note, I will say that it's nice to watch a movie whose action scenes aren't cross-cut every thousandth of a second like some kind of epilepsy-inducing music video.) The world of the (near) future envisioned by Alfonso Cuarón is bleak but incredibly well-detailed, and it's that level of detail (seconded by Josh, who knows a lot more than I do about this kind of stuff, here) that creates the film's sense of realism and thus a substantial measure of its overall power. I remember audibly uttering the word "wow" as the closing credits started to roll; you might, too.
And here's where Flickchart proves its unexpected worth, because if you'd asked me what my favorite movie was a few months ago, I'd have been most likely to say "Casablanca" or "Pulp Fiction." And not that both of those movies aren't great, but every time Flickchart asked me to compare something to this 1995 crime flick, "Heat" came out on top. It's one of those very rare (perhaps I'd even go so far as to say one-of-a-kind) action/crime movies that's so well-written it makes you care about literally every single character on the screen; it's got action scenes that are actually coherently shot (as a brilliant example, here's the epic shootout scene from about two-thirds of the way into the film); and the cinematography of L.A. and its environs is so gorgeous you find yourself wanting to crawl into your TV. After all that, the fact that it was the first move to finally put Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in the same scene together (above) just seems like gravy, but there it is. Clocks in at nearly three hours long but it could've gone twice that long and I would've been enthralled for every last minute. Yup, this is my favorite movie of all time, no doubt about it.
Rounding out the top 25, as of my 10,000th selection on Thursday evening:
6. From Russia With Love
7. Out of Sight
8. Grosse Pointe Blank
9. Fight Club
11. Defending Your Life
12. Three Kings
13. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
14. Monsters, Inc.
15. Knocked Up
16. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
19. Michael Clayton
20. North by Northwest
22. V for Vendetta
24. Batman Begins
25. The Incredibles
Nothing really out-and-out embarrassing in there, surprisingly. "Grosse Pointe Blank" might be a little high at #8, but, well, I think my affection for that movie was already obvious. Kind of surprised to see "Knocked Up" in the top 25, too, but I just really, really liked it, and it hasn't lost a thing after repeated viewings. (And before anybody asks, no, I haven't seen any of the "Lord of the Rings" movies, and the more people ask me "What?? You haven't seen any of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies?!?", the more it increases my resolve to see them out of a simple desire to be contrary, so don't bother.)
And now the Ten:
1. Van Halen, "Jump"
2. Beck, "Chemtrails"
3. M.I.A., "Paper Planes"
4. Oasis, "Fuckin' in the Bushes"
5. George Michael, "Freedom"
6. Underworld, "Juanita/Kiteless" (live)
7. Orbital, "Halcyon" (7" version)
8. Pixies, "Debaser"
9. Massive Attack, "Risingson"
10. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Take Five"
Your turn: Your five favorite movies, please (Flickchart-assisted or not), and/or your Random Tens, in the comments.