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And just so you know, these are not necessarily the best films that I have seen, or even the ones I enjoy most: Simply the ones which I feel that most modern viewers would most likely enjoy or relate to.
They are in no particular order.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
What a realistic, gritty and captivating war film
Saving Private Ryan is a war film that introduces realistic war scenes very rarely seen in cinema, as well as raw emotion with the pain and horror that inevitably comes from fighting on the front. The opening 25-odd minutes of the film, which brutally depicts the Omaha beach landings, is probably my favourite, and in my opinion, most well-crafted segment ever. There's little surprise that that opening segment in the movie is one of the most talked-about and praised ever, since it's graphic violence, shaky camera movement and non-stop battle action really sucks you into D-Day, as if you were right there itself.
However, to downplay the rest of the film would be wrong. The search for Private James Ryan, and the experiences the group led by Captain John Miller, Tom Hanks' character, are fantastic to watch, and the other battles they need to slug they way through to get to him, and after that, are all extremely impressive too. Along the way, the themes of loyalty, courage and morality are brought to the fore during certain moments, adding more dimensions to this fantastically carved war film and making this a true classic. All the cast are excellent, but Tom Hanks is the one that really grabs the limelight, with his awesome portrayal of a principled and collected war Captain who must lead the men throughout different missions.
Spielberg is really at the top of his game here... why does this film have so many harsh critics? It might be highly glorifying the American military, but do you expect absolutely everything to be crammed into one film? This proves that this legendary director isn't limited to blockbusters, and can make extremely graphic scenes which enhance a story like this.
An absolute must see for everyone, it's already one of my all-time favourites.
This never gets old!
Disney has made many animated feature films, and there are still animated movies aplenty being made out there in modern times, but very few can eclipse the very first one of all, which is the story of a beautiful young princess called Snow White who is under the watch of the wicked Queen, who forces her as a maid in the house. This movie is now so highly rated and acclaimed that in 2007, the American Film Institute named this animated flick the 34th best American film of ALL TIME.
Even while watching it as a little kid, watching it again as a grown up teenager still brings back awesome memories, proving that the story, the characters and beautiful music is gripping and makes this a fascinating tale. Snow White herself is drawn so beautifully that you can't help but simply admire her, and the incredibly adorable voicing from Adriana Caselotti is a child's fascination. The Seven Dwarfs are very united and usually do things together- they live together, work together etc. But they are all different in personality and even in appearance. One example is Grumpy, who is for a while reluctant to accept Snow White and cold towards her, but is still one to play a part to rescue her from the Queen when danger arrives. They are the other backbone of the story, and are my personal favourite in this.
This one animated film has received a lot of praise and attention over the years, right up until now 3 quarters of a century later, because by 1937 standards this is just phenomenal. Kudos Walt Disney for having the far-sightedness and innovation to create this stupendous movie in color back then and making it fun and realistic. Even now, all children should watch this- perhaps even with their parents who may not mind it!
If you've got the chance to watch this- don't let it go
This isn't simply a childish,cheesy Disney animated tale, and most certainly it's not simply for kids- many adults and older teens love this movie too. It is a fantastic story about true love, courage and happiness, and deserves all the praise and critical acclaim that it's gotten.
It's about the story of two sisters, Elsa and Anna living in a fictional land of Arenelle, where their parents are the king and queen of the land. When they were little, Elsa, the older one, accidentally inflicted her own special powers onto her younger sister, harming her and almost threatening her life. Thus, it was decided that Elsa wear special gloves to prevent any damage, and even worse, lock herself in her massive room forever. The relationship between both of them is then sadly cut off. When the king and queen are tragically killed in a shipwreck, Elsa succeeds them as the heir to the throne, but during a party she reveals them to everyone, forcing her to leave. There, it is when her courageous and loving sister goes on a journey to find Elsa, and bring her back to Arenelle.
The music in general is catchy, and in terms of songs they have some real gems, including what is probably the most iconic movie song in the 21st century, "Let it Go". It will bring back great memories for those who remember "You've got a friend in me" and etc. This movie has romance, as you will see, but the themes go much deeper than that- it is discovering who truly cares for you, bravery, and what true love is. The dedication in Anna to find her sister is truly heartwarming, making you really fond of this character.
This is a great Disney feature- definitely worthy of competing with some of the classics in years gone by. After watching, you'll find that you are singing to yourself non-stop, and your heart touched by a heartwarming tale!
Taxi Driver (1976)
Surely Scorsese's finest.... this is how a movie should be made.
Taxi Driver is the story of Travis Bickle, a lonely man who is seeking company and happiness as he battles insomnia by working as a cab driver during the night shift. Travis witnesses the lawlessness and prostitution running rampant in a bustilng New York City, as he drives by the nighttime streets every day, and is annoyed, wanting to do something about it rather than let the situation be. He happens to meet a young child prostitute (Jodie Foster), and tries to help her rather than take advantage of her status as a prostitute.
Travis is portrayed perfectly by that man, Robert De Niro- you can sense the inner frustration in him, and the sheer desire to be somebody. he is a lonely man, but a lonely man with a mission- as well as some mental problems. And my word, Scorsese has got it totally right with his direction. He created an environment which smacked of lawlessness through the eyes of this man, and the situations that bring him to what he does eventually.
There is some violence in the film ( I can't ruin the story though!), but none of it will be particularly scary for those over 15. Rather, it's an impeccable story told in an exquisite manner, with some morals behind the tale. Highly recommended for everyone- a truly awesome vigilante movie.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Funny, full of profanity, overall fairly good.... though not quite Scorsese's greatest
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, a wall street broker who eventually rose to high prominence over there, and lived a very immoral life full of drugs, hot young women and money laundering. He is portrayed well by DiCaprio in this film.
This movie is quite funny, with many humorous moments/dialogues that happen, and it does give you a true insight into the life of Jordan Belfort- being a chick magnet, cheating money out of others despite his jaw-dropping wealth, his unhealthy obsession with alcohol and drugs etc. It also shows how and why he got to this stage, and the consequences of it.
The film is 3 hours long, so it is quite lengthy, but it doesn't become boring as Scorsese can keep the story going by revealing more of his indiscretions and what happens to him. The funny moments do urge you to continue watching the show, and I'm sure the profanity is bound to attract attention from viewers. Its very extortionate amount of non child-friendly content, with the moral ambiguity, constant swearing (broke the record for the most number of F-bombs in a Hollywood motion picture), use of drugs, nude scenes etc. may become distasteful for some watchers, and can make the movie a bit vague at times, but if you are certain you can handle it, by all means watch it- it's not a waste of 3 hours. I must stress, if you're any younger than me (i'm 15) avoid it for now.
It isn't the greatest movie ever, and Scorsese has done better, but it's an interesting tale of a man working on the world's biggest financial district, his fascinating yet intensely dislikable attitude, and his influence on his friends (such as Donny, played by Jonah Hill), told in a darkly humorous way.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Some top-drawer acting in a meaningful movie
The best part about Dallas Buyers Club are the truly fantastic performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, making themselves so real as their characters. The film itself is not perfect... it goes slightly sleezy at certain moments, I'll be honest, but the film has a very important message: That people with HIV/AIDS must be cared for and can never be discriminated against, and that bigotry is never a good thing.
McConaughey may never give a performance as outstanding as this in his entire career- he was Ron Woodroof (who by the way really did exist), as a stereotypical redneck, who lives hard, by drinking, swearing, even taking drugs- and unexpectedly receives HIV/AIDS. He refuses to accept the fact, thinking only homosexuals would ever have them, but realises that he does eventually. He then tries to think of a way to get drugs from across the border in Mexico, but that would be illegal according to the law, as these drugs to treat AIDS were not ready yet.
Along the way of his treatment, he meets Rayon, a transsexual woman, who he is initially hostile to, but slowly forms a friendship with him. This character is portrayed by arguably an even more incredible performance, by Jared Leto. The persona, character and behaviour is very truthfully played out by Leto, leading you to sometimes sympathise with Rayon. These two actors truly shone in this film.
Not the most perfect film, but still worth two hours of your time watching I would say. Above all, the topic it deals with is serious and real.
Powerful, meaningful and underrated Eastwood film
Invictus did not get nominated for Best Picture or Best Director at the Academy Awards that year, only getting nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, but in my opinion it deserved much more than that- I was very gripped by the movie and its plot. What's more, most of it, if not all of it I presume, is based on true facts. This is based on Nelson Mandela, having been released from prison a few years back and being elected president of the country, slowly urging the nation to support its largely hated national rugby team ( due to their white supremacist policy) as they represent their country in the 1995 rugby world cup, hosted in their country.
The film, for me, shows the process of having to change the mindset of a nation, especially of the blacks, and how this tournament helped to unite the country, even if many people doubted it at first. The way the final of that Rugby World Cup, between the South Africans and New Zealand, is filmed is utterly exquisite, and really manages to rouse attention.
Freeman and Damon execute their roles with excellence- The legendary actor with the iconic voice performs really well as the great leader of SA, imitating that demeanour and personality with almost perfection. Damon is also great as a mighty rugby warrior, Francois Pienaar, who as the leader of the team meets with Mandela at times, and tries to make his team-mates more aware of the very sentimental political sentiments around them. Overall, Invictus is a powerful film adressing the evil of Apartheid and racial stereotypes- and how sport can surprisingly make a difference.
Black Swan (2010)
Powerful, enthralling, flawless piece by Aronofsky
With all due respect due to the King's Speech, that film did not deserve to trump this utter masterpiece by Darren Aronofsky to Best Picture that year- a film that is up there with Alfred Hitchcock's best. The plot is very well thought of, and is not your typical fairy-tale or fantasy story- it's a very real movie which many of us can relate to, in terms of dealing with the pressure in your career and the possibility of you cracking up under the pressure.
I swear that I have never seen a film such carefully and detailedly told. There are many harrowing plots that I have seen, but even in that case, while they did grab my attention, I doubt a director has spent so much time getting each camera angle, each movement and each sound mixing right, to paint the picture out so beautifully.This is not one of those horror films with ghosts, or haunted houses- nothing so typical. This all relates to the psychological side of Nina, the main characters, how some things that happen to her make this talented but yet so fragile young lady break down and hallucinate.
Natalie Portman truly does deliver the performance of her life- she doesn't actually speak much, but her face expressions and body language tell the character's mood and emotions so real and brilliantly. She does look like a ballerina on the verge of something truly dangerous. Mila Kunis is also really good as Nina's seductive rival dancer, Lily.
This is a movie that you can feel, even as part of the audience in front of the cinema screening/television/computer- the atmosphere is not merely limited to on-screen. This is a tale that slowly captures your attention, due to Aronofsky's precise story-telling ability, and leaves you genuinely feeling for Nina. I highly recommend you watch this movie- if you are able to take a more dark and frightening genre, that is. This movie should have won Best picture and Best director at the Oscars that year. A truly, truly well-made picture.
Life of Pi (2012)
Majestic, breath-taking and strongly captivating
Life of Pi really is Ang Lee's crowning film, and may be when he stops altogether. The film, based on the novel by Yann Martel. This movie easily does the book justice, and would make Martel proud.
I won't be able to tell you the plot at all, since I presume it is pretty much the same as in the novel, and many different twists which will ultimately leave the audience having to decide for themselves. It is not just the story which is captivating though- the cinematography is beyond beautiful, and the visual effects in the film are very high-quality, which is enough to leave you mesmerised. The animals in this film are really incredible too- Richard Parker, the tiger, despite having somewhat of a selfish nature, he still touches with the audience very well with the role this ferocious animal plays.
This film is not what some fierce critics have named it- one-dimensional. The special effects are probably the highlight of the film, but for me it covers a lot of topics, such as human integrity, religion, human nature etc. which genuinely makes you ponder for a while.
Probably one of the best films in the last 10 years, which is very worth watching if you like a bit of everything.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Extremely enjoyable movie
Silver Linings Playbook is a film directed by David O' Russell, and the cast contains Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker.
To give a quick introduction to the whole plot, the film is about a man and a young lady, who both struggle with mental illnesses which have negatively impacted their lives one way or another, and causes symptoms such as abnormal mood swings, over-reactive etc. Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) has been just released from the mental hospital, after supposedly assaulting a man who was caught cheating on Pat's wife. His mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver) takes him back home to the care of his parents, Dolores and Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) Despite being cheated on, Pat is most determined to win back his wife, Nikki and live with her again- the problem is she has put a restraining order on him. Meanwhile, he meets a widow named Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), who is battling depression, after her husband's death caused her to sleep around with many other men in her workplace.
The thing I really like about this film is the complexity of this plot, as it is not entirely about these two main characters, Tiffany and Pat. Pat's family are passionate supporters of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Pat. Sr has somewhat strange superstitions regarding them, such as believing for them to win, Pat must always watch the game. Pat Junior and Senior, as father and son, have a love-hate relationship, fueled by Pat's violent mood swings and his father's more fiery nature. The Solitano family (or at least the men in the house) has a thing about the Eagles, being die-hard fans, and Pat has a personal motto called "Excelsior" the official sign of New York State. Also, Tiffany and Pat, with both of their mental illnesses, also have a love-hate friendship, which slowly grows stronger throughout the movie while experiencing arguments.
The cast performed very well: Jennifer Lawrence gives a display of such conviction and emotion as Tiffany Maxwell, who struggles with her sexual desires while being prone to the odd loss of temper. It was a performance worthy of an Academy Award, which her efforts earned her for Best Leading Actress. Bradley Cooper, as the main protagonist, portrays Pat brilliantly, displaying both his crazy side and sweet side as he strives to be a better, new person. The supporting cast are good too: Robert De Niro, as Pat's father, who plays a character who can be irritable and even stubborn, but ultimately cares a lot about his son's well being. Jacki Weaver plays Pat's mother, who is not that prominent, but still gives a convincing and subtle performance, where her facial expressions and body language can reflect her care for Pat, but also consternation at his situation and mood swings. Chris Tucker gives an enthusiastic performance as pat's good friend, who was also with him in the mental hospital.
It is not a flawless film- IMO the ending is a fair bit unrealistic, with a strong touch of a fairytale ending- but if it happened in reality it would totally backfire for the long term. You'll have to watch the movie to find out why though. a light-hearted, captivating and meaningful romantic comedy, enhanced by amazing cast performance and David O'Russell's tasteful directing.