So once a month, I’ll do a Top 5 post and talk about my favorite (blank). Movies, books, fall fashions. Whatever I’m feeling at the time. I thought I’d start with my top 5 favorite films. Read, watch, enjoy!
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
People often give me looks when I claim this as my favorite film. It’s not often ranked with the classic bests such as “The Godfather” or “Citizen Kane” but it did win 11 Oscars in 2003 which tied for the most with Titanic and Ben-Hur. So there’s that. Regardless of awards, it’s the way that Peter Jackson and his team approached this project that sets it apart in my mind. It wouldn’t be fair for me to give an analysis of The Lord of the Rings without first crediting Tolkien for his brilliance. No amount of words could express the depth of creativity and passion that he had for his writing. The languages, textbooks and literature he created is so precisely constructed that sometimes I’d rather study Middle Earth than the Industrial Revolution. I could script an entire blog about Tolkien but I’ll simply go as far as saying that this movie’s success began with him. Two things in particular stand out as to why this film reigns supreme. The first is a line that Peter spoke on the first day of principal photography. He said, “My friends. Let us pretend that we’re excavating an ancient civilization and we’re the first people to shoot there”. I love that. He took Tolkien’s attention to detail and instilled in his team a passion to strive for meticulous excellence in everything from the monsters to the chain mail. (Yes, they made all the chain mail by hand). It’s what makes the Lord of the Rings so real, believable and enticing. It’s not just a magical land. No, Middle Earth resides in New Zealand and you can visit. The second part of this movie’s success lies in how much Peter incorporated his fans. With 22 hours of behind the scenes and an active social media presence, every person following felt connected to this project from day one. It’s like those of us who grew up with Harry Potter. We aged with him and struggled with him. Similarly, the amount of stories I know from Peter’s set makes me feel like I was actually present. Those are just two reasons why this trilogy has a special place in my heart. Let’s not forget about the incredible actors, the hardworking crew at WETA and the remarkable lighting and camera teams that played a huge role in making Middle Earth a reality.
THE COURT JESTER
I’ve met maybe five people who have heard of this movie. Made in 1955 and starring Danny Kaye, The Court Jester blends one of the most creative stories with some sidesplitting humor. Much of the comedy must be credited to Danny and his antics. His timing, delivery and reactions are essentially perfect. It incorporates aspects from almost every genre including romance, action, suspense, comedy, horror and even a little musical. It doesn’t cross into crude humor and any age could enjoy it. The story itself is masterful. I’ve tried to explain the plot but I always give up about 10 minutes in because I keep backtracking. The myriad of story lines that perfectly intersect blows my mind every time i watch it and gives the situational humor immensely more weight. If you haven’t seen this movie — check it out. It will put a smile on your face.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
I have a personal connection to this film that puts it in a special place for me. My senior year of high school I was blessed to play the role of Atticus in our capstone production — one of my life’s highlights. Regardless, this film, starring Gregory Peck, is a paradigm for storytellers from now until the end of time. It’s power lies in it’s historical setting during a dark time of American history. The most poignant stories derive from truth — something to which the audience can directly relate. Beyond the historical significance, the fact that the story is told from the perspective of a child gives a fresh take on that time in history. Kids ask questions. They’re naive and curious. As a modern audience, so are we when it comes to an event in the past like civil rights. It asks the moral questions that we all wonder and follows the characters as they struggle to find their answer. This redemptive story asks us to reconsider that which we assume and to take a moment to consider the perspective of others. The depth of teachability that this film offers makes it a shoe in for my top 5.
500 DAYS OF SUMMER
This hilarious and sad yet truthful tale, takes chick flicks to a new level. Often people watch movies to escape the real world and to live vicariously through perfect character constructs. This feature takes those desires and forces us back to reality. Romance, in one way or another, is a huge part of everyone’s life. There are so many nuances and emotions that flow through this film that everyone has some ground for personal connection. There’s a scene where we see, side by side, Tom’s expectation versus the reality. On the surface, it’s a shot at romantic films in general where the guy and girl reconcile and the falling action slips into place. But on a deeper level, do any of our relationships happen exactly like we expect them to? In fact, I think the whole film comments on the dangers of carrying expectations into a relationship and how quickly they don’t add up. Even though it doesn’t end up as Tom wanted, the silver lining at the finale reminds us that even when our world crumbles around us, our life isn’t over. There’s always Autumn. I thank the filmmakers for forcing us to think about our own lives rather than allowing us to constantly escape to something else.
ROAD TO PERDITION
I don’t have a ton to say about this piece other than it’s just eye candy. Conrad Hall’s cinematography is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Ever. A most well deserved Oscar. Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law and Daniel Craig, this coming of age tale follows Michael Sullivan, who has denounced his life as a hit man and goes on the run with his son — robbing banks and staying alive. The production design and acting is spot on and oh…did I mention the cinematography? A wonderful piece and another shoe in for my top 5.
I recommend all of these films and as always, feel free to agree or disagree. Leave a comment and let me know what your top 5 are!