We were just sitting around the family room today talking about movies, and my daughters were asking about my favorite movies. I’ve got several favorites, so I figured I’d write them out and rank them.
1. Apollo 13 (1995) Ron Howard – Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Senise, Ed Harris. I’m a big fan of Hanks and Harris, and love Howard movies. I’ve always been fascinated by space exploration and activities at NASA. This is a great movie about a real event. It’s packed with drama and excitement. I get goose bumps every time I watch it, and the capsule comes out of radio silence after re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. This is a great story that united the world.
2. The Blues Brothers (1980) John Landis – John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd. This was my all time favorite until Apollo 13 came along. I suppose I like this one a lot because it’s got cool music, and I first saw it early on in my late teens when I was still figuring out who I am. “We’re so glad to see so many of you lovely people here tonight, and we would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois’ law enforcement community…” This one’s got a lot of great one liners. “a lot of space in this mall…the new Oldsmobiles are in early this year.” This is also a favorite of Bill Wellman, a good friend of mine. I had a lot of fun back around 1995 when I made a video for him of the top 10 lines from this movie. That was before computers could do it, so it took me 5 hours to make about 3 minutes of video.
3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Frank Darabont – Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton. This movie’s got a great story, and Morgan Freeman’s performance made the movie for me. I love the narration and the life lessons. “…that’s the beauty of music, they can’t get that. Haven’t you ever felt that way about music? There are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone; there’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. It’s yours.”
4. A Few Good Men (1992) Rob Reiner – Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, Christopher Guest, Noah Wyle, Cuba Gooding Jr. Alright, why this movie? Check out that cast! Holy crap. It was the cast that first drew me to want to see it. Though in 1992, a few of these folks were not known yet (Wyle, Gooding). Nicholson made this movie for me. His monologue on the witness stand is very powerful..you can’t handle the truth! Though the scene just following that, where he leaves the courtroom, is somewhat lame. But this movie has a great story, and is a good military movie.
5. Stripes (1981) Ivan Reitman – Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, P.J. Soles, Sean Young, John Candy, Judge Reinhold. This is another one of those movies that I first saw many years ago, and it’s just stuck with me. This one’s got a lot of great one-liners (“convicted? never convicted”) and I just can’t resist that goofy look on Bill Murray’s face.
6. Wall Street (1987) Oliver Stone – Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Martin Sheen, James Karen, John C. McGinley. I love Michael Douglas in this one. I was first drawn to this movie back when I was in my twenties, and I was rising in the corporate world. I even wore my hair slicked back with gel. This has got a lot of great scenes, and having Martin Sheen playing Charlie Sheen’s father was quite interesting.
7. The American President (1995) Rob Reiner – Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, Richard Dreyfuss. This is a heartwarming movie of a single guy trying to make it as president. Reiner is a great director, and in this movie, he really captured the majesty of the White House and the presidency. I liked how Michael Douglas as president, showed is own passion for American history. Another great pefrmance by Martin Sheen. I don’t usually care for Annette Bening much, but she’s great in this one.
8. The Phantom of the Opera (1994) Joel Schumacher – Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver. The cast is usually a major draw for me for a particular movie, but in this case, it did nothing for me. Actually, this cast has a bunch of no names. But my love for this story goes back to the 1980s when my wife and I first saw Phantom at the Shubert Theatre in Century City (Los Angeles), which has since been torn down. Actually, my friend Bill Wellman lent me the soundtrack CD first. As with many folks, I immediately fell in love with the music, it was quite a treat to finally see the musical. When I heard they were working on a movie, I was a bit skeptical. But then I found out that Andrew Lloyd Weber was involved in the project, and that eased my skepticism. This movie is a fantastic re-creation of the original broadway musical, with all the music you’d expect, and with an open scene sequence that is new, but added to the story quite well. Butler produces a rich and powerful sound as the Phantom, and Rossum sings quite elegantly as Christine. If you like broadway music, you’ll love this movie.
9. The Passion of the Christ (2004) Mel Gibson – James Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Christo Jivkov, Francesco De Vito, Monica Bellucci. Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re quite aware of all the controversy surrounding this movie. But, bickering aside, I loved this movie. I’ve generally enjoyed religious movies over the years, including many stories of Jesus’ life. But this one is by far the most powerful. Another example of a movie whose cast contributed nothing to my original interest, I liked Caviezel as Jesus. This movie is quite graphic, but it succeeds in driving home the brutal sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
10. Hoosiers (1986) David Anspaugh – Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper. This is a great sports movie, based on a true story. The plot is simple, small time team makes it big. There’s a lot of basketball action, so you have to enjoy watching the games to like this one. I found it interesting to learn that one of the actors was actually on a college basketball team at the time of filming, and since the NCAA doesn’t allow it’s players to be payed for playing basketball, he was fined and suspended for it. This is definitely a movie where you know the outcome before watching it, but seeing the story unfold is worth it.
11. The Firm (1993) Sydney Pollack – Tom Cruise, Jeane Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Gary Busey, Wilford Brimley. Another great Tom Cruise movie, and another where I can enjoy the performance of Ed Harris. Gene Hackman is great as a bad guy. And the story of corruption and murder in a law firm is very compelling.
Okay, so I listed 11 movies. It’s difficult to put these in order, but those are my favorite (unless I forgot something). Hmmm.