Monday, November 10, 2008

Favorite Films A-Z

Last week, Fletch over at Blog Cabins created a meme that has been spreading through the movie-loving blogosphere like an Angelina Jolie-Jennifer Aniston catfight rumor. I’ve been tagged to participate at least twice, by The Film Doctor and He Shot Cyrus. So, here we go …

The meme: List your favorite films alphabetically – picking one film for each letter of the alphabet. Simple, right? Until you start making decisions. To make it less maddening, some bloggers have tried to reduce the pool of available films, like Larry Aydlette at Welcome to L.A., who selected from noirs, thrillers and detective movies only.

Me? I approached it with a desert-island-list mentality. In other words, I wanted the films to be watchable more than classic (you know what I mean), and I wanted the collection of 26 films to cover the genres as much as possible. Thus, the movies had to be from my DVD collection, because otherwise they aren’t favorites.

Here’s how it played out:

All The President’s Men
Bull Durham
Die Hard
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Field Of Dreams
The Great Escape
Indian Summer
To Kill A Mockingbird
Lawrence Of Arabia
The Magnificent Seven
The New World
On The Waterfront
Quiz Show
Rear Window
Star Wars
The Thin Red Line
When We Were Kings
X (no entry)
Y (no entry)

I’m pleased with my list. It includes some of my all-time favorites (All The President’s Men, The Great Escape, On The Waterfront, Star Wars), two Hitchcocks (Rear Window and Vertigo), two Malicks (The New World and The Thin Red Line), a sports movie (Bull Durham), a Western (The Magnificent Seven), a noir (Chinatown), a super-hero movie (Unbreakable), a documentary (When We Were Kings), an epic (Lawrence Of Arabia), an action classic (Die Hard), a love story (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), a Steve Martin comedy with heart (Parenthood) and a mostly-unknown-movie-I-never-grow-tired-of-that-happens-to-include-Diane-Lane (Indian Summer). It’s a good list. I could stay quite happy on my desert island with that collection.

Painful omissions? Letter M was the hardest because it pitted my favorite Western with my favorite King of Cool (The Magnificent Seven) against The Muppet Movie, an overwhelming childhood favorite. Leaving out Kermit & Co feels wrong, but I decided I could live without The Muppet Movie so long as I had episodes of TV’s The Muppet Show, and the meme doesn’t exclude that. So that’s how I got around that one. Beyond that, it was most difficult to leave out those ‘little movies’ that aren’t all that great but that never fail to deliver. We all have ‘em. Beautiful Girls, Diner and Elf are three of mine. And while picking The Great Escape for G was a no-brainer, it was a punch to the gut to see The Godfather, The Graduate and Groundhog Day fall by the wayside.

Now, as part of the meme process, I’m supposed to tag at least five people to participate and keep this thing going. Instead, I’d like to encourage anyone and everyone to take part.

If you’re a blogger, fill out your list and link back to Blog Cabins. Cooler readers, leave your lists in the comments section below, as a link or as text.

Do it! Now! Especially you “lurkers” (regular readers but infrequent commenters) like Brew, T-mouse and others. You know who you are. Join in!


James Yates said...

Interesting list, especially the inclusion of "The New World." I haven't seen that one, but a friend of mine is a huge Malik fan, and he absolutely despised it.

The Film Doctor said...

Thought-provoking choices. Thanks for taking up the challenge. I also considered including Bull Durham and Chinatown on my list. Die Hard is great fun, and it holds up well, but I would've been hesitant to include it just because of its blockbuster status.

Joel Bocko said...

I've always kind of wanted to see Indian Summer, even though I have almost no idea what it's about. Good title, I guess.

Allison said...

American Beauty
Dirty Dancing
Garden State
In Her Shoes
Kangaroo Jack
Lost Boys
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Natural
Primal Fear
Quiz Show
Risky Business
True Romance
Vanilla Sky
Walk the Lone
You've Got Mail

Jason Bellamy said...

Jamie: Interesting. I'm not quite sure how a Malick fan couldn't like "The New World." Initially, my reaction was tempered slightly only because there are some familiar beats from "The Thin Red Line," which was my favorite Malick going in. At this point, however, I think "The New World" might be Malick's best film.

FilmDr: I've watched "Die Hard" maybe twice in the past 10 years. But if you asked me to name my favorite blockbuster action movie, I'd answer "Die Hard" without hesitation. On those grounds, it belongs. But it's not like it rivals some of the other titles on there.

MovieMan: You know that cold winter day when you make yourself Top Ramen for lunch and it hits the spot? That's "Indian Summer." Other than a terrific Alan Arkin performance, there isn't much to point to. But it hits the spot. It just does.

Lists! I wanna see lists!

Jason Bellamy said...

Allison: Nice job. Good work on "Kangaroo Jack." How much of that movie did you see?

More importantly: "Quiz Show"! Man, fuck! That's my Q! I'm adding it now. Can't believe I missed that!

Allison said...

Seriously. I maybe saw five minutes. But, I had to. :)

Quiz Show is good enough to make the list, but not in my top 50 or anything.

Brew said...

JB - Good idea. Off the top of my head, here's my desert island list:

Apocalypse Now
Boogie Nights
Can't Buy Me Love
Days Of Heaven
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Friday The 13th Part 2
It's A Wonderful Life
Karate Kid
Lawrence Of Arabia
Major League
New World
On The Waterfront
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show
The Royal Tennenbaums
Shawshank Redemption
The Thin Red Line
V For Vendetta
Whitewater Summer
X-Files (the movie)
Young Natural Breasts 4

Jason Bellamy said...

OK. I asked for that. Good list, Brew. Mostly.

We all know the original "Young Natural Breasts" trilogy was much better than the ones after. I'd appreciate it if you'd take this seriously.

Unknown said...

Hey, Jason

Long time, first time...I appreciate the "Deserted Island Mentality" as well. It makes it more interesting...Anyhoo, here is my list (void of any of the "Young Natural Breast series"):

All the President's Men
Back to the Future
Can't Buy Me Love
Die Hard
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Field of Dreams, A Few Good Men
Godfather, The
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Lord of the Rings: Extended Version, The
North by Northwest
On the Waterfront
Quigley Down Under
Shawshank Redemption, The
Usual Suspects, The
Wizard of Oz, The
X-Men 2
Young Buns

Unknown said...

Oops, I had to "F" entries...Let's go with Field of Dreams.

Jason Bellamy said...

Brew and Brew's Friend Boe. On the same day. I'm in shock. Well done.

Richard Bellamy said...

Favorite Films A-Z

(Following the Cooler’s lead, I only include movies I have in my video collection because if I own it, it means I want to watch it again and again. Alas, I don’t own any movies beginning with the letters Q, W, or X.)

A is for The Alamo (John Wayne’s factually incorrect but passionate epic.)
B is for Ben-Hur (Sorry The Bridge on the River Kwai – the charot race!)
C is for Cloverfield (Monster-attacks-city: always one of my favorite genres)
D is for The Deer Hunter (Russian roulette!)
E is for Elephant (Columbine combines with minimalist realism.)
F is for The Four Feathers (Forget about Heath Ledger in the latest version; this 1939 British classic features stunning color and the memorable British square sequence.)
G is for The Great Escape (Just seeing the Cooler’s logo image is a thrill!)
H is for Heat (That bank job shootout always gets my heart pounding.)
I is for The Illusionist (Visually stunning – great acting, lighting, music.)
J is for Journey to the Center of the Earth (With James Mason – this visually striking adventure cheers me up anytime; “The three notches of Arne Saknussem!”
K is for Khartoum (King Kong is a close second; but I’m partial to movies about British imperialism in the 1800s.)
L is for Lawrence of Arabia (Of course.)
M is for The Magnificent Seven (The music, the action, and all those cool dudes.)
N is for The New World (To watch and listen is sublime.)
O is for Open Range (Best Western in the past ten years!)
P is for Planet of the Apes (The Statue of Liberty!)
R is for Restoration (Robert Downey, Jr. in the 1600s; sensual art direction and music.)
S is for The Searchers (My favorite Western.)
T is for Titanic (I love The Thin Red Line and There Will Be Blood – both powerful, visual epics, but I’ll have to go with Titanic for sheer watchability and fun!)
U is for Unforgiven (Clint’s best as a director.)
V is for Vertigo (Hitchcock, Stewart, Herrmann, and San Francisco.)
W is for War of the Worlds (Wells, Spielberg, and Cruise at their best!)
Z is for Zulu (Perhaps the best “big battle” movie ever made.)

Mark said...

Another great topic, and great lists. Mostly. You can tell a lot about people. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," Allison? WTF? I'm rethinking everything.

This format forces some tough choices. Here are mine (a little heavy on DeNiro, maybe):

Annie Hall
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
The Deer Hunter
Easy Rider
The Godfather
It's a Wonderful Life
Kangaroo Jack (just in case Allison's right about everything after all, although I haven't seen even the first few minutes. My backup pick: The King of Comedy)
Lawrence of Arabia
North by Northwest
On the Waterfront
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show
Raging Bull
Singin' in the Rain
Taxi Driver
The Wizard of Oz
X, Malcolm (a cheat, I know, but I'm thinking of the poster)
Y [no entry; can't pull the trigger on You've Got Mail or Young Natural Breasts]

Mark said...

Wait. For Y:

Y tu Mama Tambien

Also, I meant to offer a number movie

2001: A Space Odyssey

LiteralDan said...

I think it'd be easier to pick 26 films than one for each letter of the alphabet. I'm not sure I could bear the frustration.

Allison said...

WTF? I love that movie. I should have gone with Memento, but I thought my list was already dark enough. I kind of want to do it again. Some that got left off: Boiler Room, A Few Good Men, Sideways, Boogie Nights, Rounders, Reservoir Dogs, Heathers, American History X...

LiteralDan! Hi! And, yes, I sat with a blank blinking cursor for quite some time while doing this.

Mark said...

Is it too late to make two more amendments?

literaldan nudged me, over at M&M, to realize that I'd like to sub out "North by Northwest," which is good for sure but more of a classic than a DID. I'd like to go with "No Country for Old Men" instead, which I could watch again and again.

Also, as much as I like "Heat," upon reflection my H choice is "A History of Violence." One of my faves, plus it pares down the DeNiro a bit.

Unknown said...

I think this is the kind of list that could change on a weekly basis. Still fun, though.

Joshua said...

A fun little exercise, I have to admit.

A-Au Hasard Balthazar [Bresson]
B-Blue Velvet {Lynch]
C-Citizen Kane [Welles]
D-The Departed [Scorsese]
E-Elevator to the Gallows [Malle]
F-A Fistful of Dollars [Leone]
G-The Great McGinty [Sturges]
H-Heat [Mann]
I-In A Lonely Place [Ray]
J-Jaws [Spielberg]
K-Key Largo [Huston]
L-L.A. Confidential [Hanson]
M-Mona Lisa [Jordan]
N-Network [Lumet]
O-Out of the Past [Tourneur]
P-The Proposition [Hillcoat]
Q-The Quiet Man [Ford]
R-Ran [Kurosawa]
S-Seven Samurai [Kurosawa]
T-Taxi Driver [Scorsese]
U-Unforgiven [Eastwood]
V-Vivre Sa Vie [Godard]
W-Wild Strawberries [Bergman]
X-X [Lee]
Y-Yojimbo [Kurosawa]
Z-Zotz! [Castle]

Jason Bellamy said...

Thanks all for the lists (sorry I was slow on getting to comments today).

Even though Mark subbed it out, I'm pleasantly surprised by the almost across-the-board love for "Heat." Is it me, or does that movie's greatness only increase over time, as action dramas get goofier instead of grittier?

Boe: Was "Quigley Down Under" directed by the same guy who did "Young Buns"?

Joshua: You've been able to work "The Great McGinty" into three posts in one week. Good for you!

Allison: Rock us with a second list. We've got time.

Mark: Since I had Malick covered with "The Thin Red Line," I nearly went with "No Country For Old Men." Good call. Glad to see it somewhere.

By the way, Brew is the leader in the clubhouse with three Malicks. Er, maybe four. I think Malick did "Young Natural Breasts 4" under a pseudonym.

Anonymous said...

Looks like I am going to get ripped on here, because I am a popcorn movie lover, but oh well, what do I care. Here goes:

A- Aliens- Hicks is still one of my all time favorite movie characters
B- Batman Begins - Huge Batman fan.
C- Coming to America- "Your royal penis is clean" classic
D- Die Hard- Tough choice over The Dark Knight, but John McClane rocks.
E- The Empire Strikes Back- The best of the greatest trilogy of all time.
G- Ghostbusters- Bill Murray at his best.
H- Hollywood Homicide- I am going to get ripped on for this one, but I love it anyway.
I- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade- I hope by now you have noticed the Ford love.
J- Jaws- Still watch it every time it is on TNT.
K- Knights Tale- Another fun popcorn movie. Will get ripped for this one as well.
L- Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
M- Maverick- Poker before it was cool.
N- The Natural
O- Open Range- Greatest gun shootout ever. Especially if you have surround sound in your home, and Duvall is just amazing.
P- The Princess Bride- "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father prepare to die." Favorite movie quote of all time.
Q- Quigley Down Under- only because I could not come up with anything else.
R- Raiders of the last Ark- Is this cheating for not putting Indiana Jones in front? I think it was originally released under just this name. Stupid George Lucas.
S- Star Wars- Nuff said.
T- Tommy Boy- Don't care what anybody else says about this one, it makes me laugh every time.
U- Unforgiven- Classic Eastwood.
V- I got nothing here
W- Walking Tall- Another stupid popcorn movie, I warned you.
X- X-men 2- again be default
Y- Young Guns- Loved this movie as a kid.
Z- Zoolander- Again, stupid, but it makes me laugh.

My hardest two letters were D, Die Hard vs The Dark Knight, and surprisingly S. I have like 5 S movies I love. Also, Brew I know you are a huge Shawshank fan but I was surprised not to see Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, even though I am not sure that last one counts. Anyway, there you go everyone, let the bashing begin.

PS. Jason, I would like to point out that not one of my movies has Will Smith in it. Pretty impressive I thought.

Jason Bellamy said...

T-mouse: You needn't worry about getting ripped. Allison took that bullet when she named "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Also, you used "Raiders" as you should have. Not a cheat.

Also, your comment on "Maverick" got me thinking:

Mark, as The Cooler's favorite cards expert, could I coax you into writing a post on poker in the movies? (Just make sure it includes "The Cincinnati Kid")

Anonymous said...

Great posts everyone, what a fun read and a fun activity.
Here is my list. Only one tie but some of these were very hard tradeoffs:

The Devil Wears Prada
The English Patient
Field of Dreams
The Hours
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Lives of Others/Love Actually (tie)
Nobody Knows
Out of Africa
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Quiet Man
Sleepless in Seattle
The Third Man
A Very Long Engagement
White Christmas
X (none)
Y Tu Mama Tambien

Mark said...

I love this thread.

T-Mouse: Cool, unpretentious list, and I totally agree about the great quote from Princess Bride. That movie holds up incredibly well.

Jason: I accept your challenge on the poker movies. I'll have to give it some thought this time so I don't come back twice after I've posted to amend my picks.

Brew said...

JB - Although I'm probably in the minority here, I find Malick to be so multi-layered that I get something new out of it every time I watch one of his films.

Kev - The omission of SPR was a tough one, but I've never come out of a movie feeling the way I did the first time I saw Shawshank.

Richard Bellamy said...

t-mouse - Glad to see you matched my O for Open Range. Love that shootout. The sound is incredible. The best part is that initial shock of Costner shooting the gunslinger in head up the point at which the bad rancher makes his sleazy escape through the house. Then all the cat-and-mouse games in the alleys are also suspenseful. But all of this would just be noise if Costner and Duvall had not created such well-developed characters to care about once the shooting starts.

Anonymous said...

Hokahey. I meant to comment on your inclusion of Open Range. It was great to see that somebody else appreciated this movie. Costner and Duvall were perfect,play off of each other so well. Duvall has so many great lines in this movie. The sound was great as well. I remember jumping in my seat when Costner first fires the shotgun in the bar. Just Great.

BobH said...

Don't understand the lack of X entrants.

Xanadu, anyone?