Thursday, June 18

The Friday Not-So-Random Ten+5(+20) has its list of desert-island films.

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.

1. Heat
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
10. Trainspotting
11. Defending Your Life
12. Three Kings
13. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
14. Monsters, Inc.
15. Knocked Up
16. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
17. Big
18. Wolf
19. Michael Clayton
20. North by Northwest
21. Friday
22. V for Vendetta
23. Pleasantville
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.


Reed said...

I'll go to my grave thinking that I'm the only person besides Roger Ebert that thought Usual Suspects was a big, stupid sham, but I've grown enough to accept that nobody agrees with me.

Flickchart was fun through about 700 rankings. Then I decided it was just taking too long and I already knew my top 5 really well, so what was the point? Plus, there were some weird inaccuracies like having A Fish Called Wanda #8 and Jackass: the Movie #34. I didn't have the patience to work all of those out. My all-time top five:
1) Chinatown
2) The Big Lebowksi
3) 2001: A Space Odyssey
4) Pulp Fiction
5) Dr. Strangelove

1. Black Sabbath, "Iron Man"
2. Albert Collins, "Frosty"
3. The Who, "Pure and Easy"
4. Sly & The Family Stone, "Luv N' Haight"
5. Koufax, "Work Will Never End"
6. Wolf Parade, "Shine a Light"
7. Therapy & Fatal, "Come and Die"
8. Marvin Gaye, "Heavy Love Affair"
9. Crooked Fingers, "Twilight Creeps"
10. Rival Schools, "Used for Glue"

oreo said...

I actually created a top 100 long ago...and I knew my top 5 well before flickchart. Not to say that it wasn't fun, and it just didn't tell me anything new.

Top 5:
1. Cinema Paradiso
2. Casablanca
3. Mulholland Drive
4. Amelie
5. The Princess Bride

TKAthens said...

1) Return of the King Extended
2) Fellowship of the Ring Extended
3) Two Towers Extended
4) Return of the King Theatrical
5) Fellowship Theatrical
6) Two Towers Theatrical
7) ROTK DVD Extras
8) Fellowship DVD Extras
9) Two Towers DVD Extras
10)ROTK Trailer

Don't ask to stay at our house during football season or you will more than likely be chained to a couch and have your first Lord of the Rings viewing "Clockwork" style.

TKAthens said...

Oh and "nothing out and out embarrassing"? WOLF?! And "Batman Begins" over "Dark Knight"?! Dude. "Begins" had Katie Holmes in it...widely considered to be the greatest travesty to acting since Merlin Olsen stirring turn as "Butler" in "Mitchell".

Unknown said...

1) Pulp Fiction
2) Lawrence of Arabia
3) American Beauty
4) Jaws
5) Casablanca


Did you like the ending in "Children of Men" when they go through that tunnel and it resembles a birth canal? I thought that was great symbolism.

Universal Remonster said...

You've got three in your top 25 that are in mine; Trainspotting, Grosse Point Blank, and Three Kings.

Being a "film guy", though, this list isn't too bad in my opinion. My top 5 -

1) Ghostbusters
2) Casablanca
3) The Great Escape
4) Alien
5) The Graduate

Scott said...

I am "only" 3300 rankings into my downwards spiral to complete insanity (which will end with me locked in a strait jacket in a padded room, rocking back and forth whispering "Kill Bill II or Pulp Fiction, that's impossible!" over and over again...but here's my current top 10, which I actually don't expect to change that much:

10) Empire Strikes Back
9) A Simple Plan
8) Fight Club
7) Saving Private Ryan
6) Swingers
5) The Godfather Part II
4) Pulp Fiction
3) Kill Bill Vol I
2) The Godfather
1) Kill Bill Vol II

Nathan Chase said...

Here's my Flickchart

DAve said...

If it matters, Doug, I personally like Batman Begins more than Dark Knight.

My Top 5, in no particular order:

1. The Graduate
2a and 2b: The Godfather I and II
3. The Silence Of The Lambs
4. Animal House
5. Trainspotting

DAve said...

And number 6 is "Se7en".

Also up there on my list that have been mentioned by others:

1. Jaws
2. Fight Club
3. Pulp Fiction
4. Heat
5. The Empire Strikes Back

Holly said...

I'm not sure which delights me more -- that you took to this obsession so readily, or that you completely outpaced me in rankings, nerd.

Flickchart sayeth:

1. The Adventures of Robin Hood ('38)
2. Notorious ('46)
3. Star Wars
4. Once Upon A Time in Mexico
5. LOTR: ROTK (this is a little high. Good Night And Good Luck should go here, and at any rate I'd rank TTT above ROTK, but I'm "only" 3300 rankings in, so what do I know, right?)

Josh M. said...

Yeah, Tim: Wolf?

No, Tim: I too prefer Batman Begins over Dark Knight.

Josh M. said...

Holy crap dude, you have over twice the amount of rankings I do - and I did it for hours.

My top 10 remains the same:

1. Die Hard
2. Jaws
3. The Right Stuff
4. Boogie Nights
5. Goodfellas
6. Midnight Run
7. Shakespeare in Love
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
9. The Great Escape
10. Aliens

TKAthens said...

Cah'mon Holly - TTT over ROTK? Even though its still an incredible movie - the Eowyn/Arwen/Aragorn stuff is 30 minutes of straight up fast-forwarding.

And who knew there was this contrarian uprising in support of Batman Begins? Come clean...are you guys just saying that to sound cool? Come join us in the mainstream - the water's fine!

SpartanDan said...

Not on Flickchart (and I'm not sure I've seen enough movies for it to give me enough comparisons that would work), but movies that would definitely be up there:

Lord of the Rings (all of them, though The Two Towers just barely wins out over Return of the King, mostly because the way they portrayed Denethor pisses me off - he's supposed to be only half-mad)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Dark Knight
Return of the Jedi
Office Space
The Princess Bride
Dr. Strangelove

1. Weird Al Yankovic, "Everything You Know Is Wrong"
2. Stone Sour, "30/30 150"
3. Saliva, "Here With You"
4. OK Go, "Oh Lately It's So Quiet"
5. Godsmack, "Running Blind"
6. Metallica, "Disposable Heroes"
7. Extreme, "Hole Hearted"
8. AC/DC, "You Shook Me All Night Long"
9. Disturbed, "Forgiven"
10. Barenaked Ladies, "Alternative Girlfriend"

Holly said...

Helm's Deep > Minas Tirith, forever and ever, amen. And you want to talk 30 extra minutes, let's talk about the nineteen endings in ROTK. (Which is not to say it's not still in my top 20. What am I, a savage?)

Josh M. said...

Balboa-Lang II > Helm's Deep > Minas Tirith (whatever the fuck that is)

TKAthens said...

Josh, enough with your quixotic quest to make the Rocky franchise somehow relevant in post-1982 America.

And Holly, if you would like a copy of my position paper entitled "Why each 'ending' was vital to the conclusion of Peter Jackson's 10 hour opus" (delivered to a panel including my wife, our cat, and a reluctant vagrant on my side porch at last year's family LOTR-a-thon), I would be happy to oblige. Each copy is delivered with complimentary hobbit ears and one of the last remaining shreds of my dignity.

RedCrake said...

I could give the list of films I want people to think are my favorite, but I might as well be honest once today so here's the real list:

5) With Honors
4) High Fidelity
3) Mean Streets
2) Blue Velvet
1) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Thats right, my top 5 includes a movie starring Brendan Fraser and Patrick Dempsey, a lesser John Cusack work, a Scorsese masterpiece, a David Lynch mindfuck, and a Will Ferrell movie.

Oh well, the heart wants what it wants.

Allen said...

I am less than a thousand rankings in, but at some point I said: "hm, I haven't seen a John Wayne movie on here yet." And then I saw the search feature, and looked for "The Searchers", no results, and then searched for "John Wayne," no results. I have to question any so called movie site that doesn't bother to include John Wayne...

MisterWindex said...

Re: Life of Brian from your mom at 13. I had a very similar experience. When I was about the same age, I convinced my mom to buy me Life of Brian. She had no idea of plot or purpose and gave it to me on Easter.

NCT said...

About 1300 comparisons in, and even though I really thought I was doing a good job of resisting Important Film Syndrome, it appears perhaps I am not.

1. Gone With the Wind
2. Donnie Darko
3. Silence of the Lambs
4. Taxi Driver
5. The Usual Suspects

GWTW ought to be high, but not #1. Taxi Driver ought to be pretty high, but not Top 5. Missing from the Top 5, for sure, are Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Adaptation, and any one or more of Ordinary People/American Beauty/The Ice Storm/Brokeback Mountain.

The randoms:
1. Dreams So Real, "Victim"
2. ABBA, "Chiquitita"
3. The Beatles, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
4. The Beatles, "Good Night"
5. Nirvana, "All Apologies"
6. R.E.M., "Laughing"
7. Tori Amos, "Purple People"
8. Depeche Mode, "World In My Eyes"
9. Cowboy Junkies, "200 More Miles"
10. Dreams So Real, "Rough Night in Jericho"

smblues said...

Flickchart is certainly interesting, and I am looking forward to what my list will look like at 10K, but for now at 2200:

1. Life Aquatic
2. Syriana
3. Holy Grail
4. Bottle Rocket
5. Iron Man
6. Uncle Buck
7. Silence of the Lambs
8. There Will Be Blood
9. The Godfather
10. The Cable Guy

Only real problems I have with that list is Iron Man and TWBB are way too high, though I imagine another 8,000 rankings should sort iy out.