It dawned on me this morning that if I’m going to be covering the Chicago International Film Festival starting next week, maybe I should give you some insight into my history with the pictures. I was actually much more interested in film than music throughout my teen years, absorbing as much as I could in the small town where I lived. It wasn’t until I went off to college that music became a much bigger part of my life as the internet and Napster brought everything right to your computer.
So, to bring you up to speed these are my ten favorite films of all-time. Hopefully it will provide some perspective on my coverage of the titles I get to see over the next couple weeks. Feel free to comment below with your own top ten and/or criticism/praise.
10. Pulp Fiction-This one started it all for me, really. I had seen a lot of the classics, but this was the first movie from the wave of auteurs (Tarantino, PTA, et al) who were coming on as I was starting to discover a lot of the same directors who influenced their work.
9. Casablanca-We had to watch this in an English class at my high school. Almost everyone either fell asleep or kept busy passing notes. I was riveted. It took a few days of class to get through the movie, and I couldn’t wait to sit down every day and start it up.
8. Network-I came to this one a bit late, having just seen it maybe 8 years ago for the first time. It’s strange that it feels even more relevant to today’s world than it did in the 70’s. Every performance is perfect, and it’s no wonder it won every award known to man.
7. Chinatown-I love everything about this movie. Polanski creates a perfect noir atmosphere in this detective story starring Jack Nicholson. A lot of ideas for this film show up in Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential and they’re brilliant in both.
6. Raging Bull-Scorsese is my favorite filmmaker, and Raging Bull is an absolute masterpiece of style and substance. The black and white photography is outstanding, De Niro and Pesci are incendiary, and the script is a brutal character study of a broken man.
5. Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back-Yeah.
4. The Godfather, pt II-The Godfather is a near perfect film, which is insane because The Godfather, Pt II is even BETTER! Al Pacino has been great in a ton of movies, but he’s never been better than his portrayal of Michael Corleone in this film. Coppola spent the 70’s making huge, sweeping epics and he’s revered now because they’re all so well done.
3. Back To The Future-Some people might think Back To The Future doesn’t belong in a list surrounded by some of these other films. Those people are wrong. Robert Zemeckis does the impossible with BTTF, he makes a time travel movie that doesn’t seem completely stupid. Add in the hilarious Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox’s winning personality and you get a movie so rewatchable I’m shocked I don’t have it on right now.
2. Vertigo-The films Hitchcock made with Jimmy Stewart are all universally great. Any one of them could make this list (and honestly, I almost added Rope at the end). After years of playing the sweet, charming guy in studio pictures, Stewart shows his range as he becomes unhinged in this psycho-sexual thriller.
1. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington-Any time I’m feeling down about the state of things in our country, I know that I can throw on Frank Capra’s patriotic “one-man-can-make-a-difference” movie and be optimistic again. Another Stewart-led title, with Claude Rains and Jean Arthur in great supporting roles.