July 26, 2005
I’m a movie fan and at risk of sounding vain, I consider myself very knowledgeable about cinema. I like the older movies because they were made when filmmaking was done out of love, and not so much for profit. True, there are a few classics I’ve never seen ("Citizen Kane", "The Razor’s Edge", "Bridge On The River Kwai") but I’m nonetheless qualified to make my own top 100 list. My list reflects my personal interests, which is to say, a lot of my choices will raise a few eyebrows.
Furthermore I will break my selections down by category with a pre-set number of entrants. This made it easier to compile the list.
For the record I have ruled out space films. I hate ‘em. I also dismissed foreign films (with one exception), and obviously I limnited the number of sci-fi films and westerns; thjough I did compile a list of black films that I think are relevant. With that in mind, I start with my ten favorite films—ranked in ascending order.
10. E.T.--The Extra-Terrestrial (Still the best family film ever made). 9. The Grapes of Wrath. (A tale of woe filmed in a style that captured the despair of that era). 8. The African Queen (My favorite Bogart film). 7.I’m Gonna Git U, Sucka. (In my book, the funniest comedy ever). 6.The Usual Suspects. (I learned about this movie standing in line at the grocery store. Everyone in the line became engaged in animated conversation. Afterward I went and saw the film it and the film lived up to the hype). 5. Sunset Boulevard. (From beginning to end a stylish, film). 4. Rebecca (As a big Hitchcock fan, I think this is his best). 3. Silence of the Lambs. (The greatest screen villain ever—Hannibal Lecter. ‘Nuff said). 2. Do The Right Thing. (The most important black film—captures the rage of the races like no other). And finally—1. Pulp Fiction. (This movie has it all—humor, action, some of the best dialogue ever written, guns, weird characters and star power, from director Quentin Tarantino to his stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Ving Rhames. I saw it four times during its first week in release).
Comedies (25): Take The Money and Run (Woody Allen); Airplane!; Animal House; Arthur (Dudley Moore at his funniest); The Ref (Try saying Denis Leary and ‘comic gem’ in the same sentence); Slums of Beverly Hills; Clerks (Some of the best comedy writing ever); Fear of A Black Hat (spoof of rap music); Dona Flora and Her Two Husbands (The lone foreign entry); Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure; The Naked Gun; Fast Times At Ridgemont High (A hilarious coming of Age Film. Sean Penn’s turn as stoner Jeff Spicoli is classically funny); Meet The Parents; Dragnet; Austin Powers Goldmember; Scary Movie; Murder By Death; Defending Your Life; Parenthood; Young Frankenstein. Now here are my five favorite comedies in ascending order: Mother (Albert Brooks—a must-see for any aspiring comedy writer); City Slickers (Billy Crystal and Babaloo Mandel show their genius with this one); Which Way Is Up? (Richard Pryor in multiple roles, including a lecherous preacher); Hollywood Shuffle (There’s a message in this madcap laughfest); and National Lampoon’s Vacation (Chevy Chase’s funniest film. Some might argue it was his last funny film).
Horror and Thrillers (20): The Birds; Of Unknown Origin; Saw; The Sixth Sense; Jaws; Identity; Duel; Rosemary’s Baby; A Nightmare On Elm Street; Night of the Living Dead; Dial ‘M’ For Murder; Scream; Race With The Devil; Carrie; the original version of The Texas Chainsaw Masssacre. And now for my favorite films of these genres: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (The original, that is. Pretty scary stuff for my then-nine year old mind); Phantasm (This is the first movie that actually had me jumping all over the place); The Exorcist (Face it, this was some creepy s---); The Omen (The slo-mo decapitation scene is priceless); and number one—Psycho (Hitchcock’s shower scene is arguably the best directed and edited scene in cinematic history);
DRAMA (30) —The Untouchables; Memento; The Godfather II; American Beauty; Goodfellas; Fargo; All About Eve; Mask; Full Metal Jacket; Saving Private Ryan; Stalag 17; Once Upon A Time In America; The Shawshank Redemption; Treasure of the Sierra Madre; The Blackboard Jungle; Casablanca; Play Misty For Me; Gone With The Wind; Glengarry Glenn Ross; The Ten Commandments. Now for my Top Ten dramas: Mildred Pierce (Love run amok. Joan Crawford plays a desperate mother who will do anything to protect her unappreciative daughter); Key Largo (Bogie, Bacall and Edward G. It doesn’t get much better than this); The Dirty Dozen (Superstars galore with superstar performances—especially Lee Marvin); The Bad Seed (Nature Vs. Nurture argument centers around a bad @$$ little girl); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Jack Nicholson’s strongest performance); Cry Freedom (Denzel’s best work. Should have copped an Oscar); The Great Escape (An all-star cast and beautiful cinematography); Leaving Las Vegas (Nicolas Cage plays one of he most tragic movie subjects ever—a man determined to drink himself to death); The Prince of Tides (Nolte and Streisand have great chemistry and Nolte is at the top of his game); and The Godfather I (Coppola got both the original and the sequel right—a rarity)
Children's films (5): The Wizard of Oz (The definition of ‘A timeless classic’); Shrek (Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers—‘nuff said); The Adventures of Milo and Otis (One of Dudley Moore’s unsung works, as the narrator of this tale about a wayward cat and dog); The Sandlot (Brought back a lot of memories for me); Home Alone (Never met a kid that didn’t like this one).
Black Cinema (10): Superfly; Get On The Bus; St. Louis Blues; Coming to America; Claudine; Black Caesar (The soundtrack makes this film even better); The Mack (Everyone in the hood knows about this movie); Cooley High (The penultimate black coming of age film); Boyz ‘N The Hood (This film tells it like it is); The Great White Hope (Jack Johnson: The role James Earl Jones was born to play).
HONORABLE MENTION: Spellbound (A Hitchcock vehicle); Very Bad Things (Peter Berg); Enemy At The Gates (I liked the special effects and game of cat and mouse between Ed Harris and Jude Law); The Game (Sean Penn in another great performance); Gattaca (Panned by critics, I liked it); The Nutty Professor The Player (A Robert Altman gem); (Both the original Jerry Lewis version and the Eddie Murphy Vehicle); Shakespeare In Love (I usually don’t care for period pieces, but Gwyneth Paltrow was great and Dame Judy Dench stole the show); Better Off Dead (Whatever happened to Savage Steve Holland?); Donnie Brasco (Depp and Pacino were great); Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino wrote this--need I say more?) The Big Sleep (Bogie and bacall); Who Framed Roger rabbit (Very hard to exclude this one); This Is Spinal Tap (Sorry, fellas...).
Ten Movies that were overhyped or flat-out bunk: The Blair Witch Project; There's Something About Mary (People talked this one up so much, that thoughh I found it funny, it was impossible to live up to the hype); Purple Rain (All Prince and the Time. The acting in this film is wooden, which says a lot about the cast members--who were playing themselves!); Forrest Gump; Rocky; Swrodfish (Halle's going topless was overrated); Urban Menace (The worst movie I've ever seen); Godfather III (Sophia Coppola ain't Cher. Her father should have known she was overmatched); Ali (I saw the real Ali. Though Will Smith's acting was superb, the script sucked); See No Evil, Hear No Evil (For Pryor and Gene Wilder to go out like this is a cinematic tragedy).
About the author: Timothy Stelly is the 46-year old author of "Tempest In The Stone" and the soon to be released, "The Malice of Cain". His third novel, "Darker Than Blue" is under consideration for publication. Mr. Stelly currently resides in Pittsburg, California with his three youngest children Dante, Kimberly and Lawrence. Excerpts from The first two books and the first two chapters of his anthology, "Frankenigga--And Other Urban Tales" can be viewed at:
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