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The Big Lebowski
Back to the Future
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Terms of Endearment
The 40-Year Old Virgin
Good Will Hunting
The Dark Knight
The Naked Gun
Literally not a day goes by where I don't quote it
"Giddy-up." "You're an anti-dentite." "But I don't want to be a pirate!" "Who would turn down a junior mint?"
These are just a couple of lines that I've said in my daily life. There's hundreds of others. There's no doubt that Seinfeld has given us more memorable lines and scenes than any other show in history. Each episode can be watched over and over again because the lines are so hilarious and delivered so perfectly by the actors. Along with Friends, this is the most sensational casting in any television show. For a show about nothing, Seinfeld sure has contributed a lot to society. I mean, they invented the phrase "double-dipping" for crying out loud. Simply put, Seinfeld is fantastic, arguably the greatest television show of all time. Of the approximate 180 episodes, I'd say only a handful of them are "misses", while well over 150 of them are direct hits, smashing successes. If you haven't given Seinfeld a try, give it shot, and you'll see what you've been missing out on for the last several years.
Along with Seinfeld, the best show of all time!
As one of the most devoted Seinfeld fans in the world, I avoided Friends like the plague for years. Though I heard many people loved it, I felt as if I would be committing treason if I were to watch it. After all, "Friends" versus "Seinfeld" is a common debate when people are discussing the top sitcoms of all time. And I was firmly entrenched on the Seinfeld side. That is, until I actually watched an episode. I'm not sure exactly how it came about, but I eventually ended up watching a Friends episode. I hated to admit it, but it was quite funny. Ah, yes, I think I remember how it happened; TBS airs Friends immediately after the Seinfeld reruns I always watch, and I guess I just didn't end up changing the channel. Boy, I'm glad I didn't. After enjoying that first episode, I decided to watch it the next day. And the next. And the next. Then I started Tivoing every episode that aired (which is quite a few, something like five or six Friends episodes are on a day, it's kind of absurd) and watching them in bunches. About a week later, I was hooked. And about 150 episodes later, I'm making my way through them all and convinced that this deserves its place right alongside Seinfeld in the comedy pantheon. There are even certain aspects of Friends which are better than Seinfeld (as difficult as that is for me to admit). Whereas Seinfeld has the edge in each episode's rewatchability factor and quotability, Friends has characters and plot lines that we care about more. The six friends actually appear inseparable and more like our personal friends than the cast of Seinfeld. The cast is pitch perfect, just like Seinfeld's; you can't imagine any other actor in any of the main roles. So, while it may have taken me a couple more years than it took most people, I finally came around on Friends. If you're one of those who haven't, maybe it's because you were a devoted Seinfeld fan like me and couldn't bear to hear the two shows compared. Do yourself a favor; if you haven't watched Friends, give it a shot. I'm sure you'll be hooked in a week.
American Beauty (1999)
This film is marvelous
American Beauty is, in my opinion, one of the five best films I've ever seen. The plot seems so ordinary: a man stuck in a lifeless marriage experiences a midlife crisis and changes his lifestyle. What makes it so extraordinary then? First off, it's perfectly written. The screenplay finds an excellent balance between comedy and drama, and it's actually kind of creepy at some points (Kevin Spacey's character's obsession with Mena Suvari's goes pretty far). Just as important as the script is the acting and direction, both excellent as well. Kevin Spacey definitely earned his Academy Award as a man in despair who turns everything around.
American Beauty is probably the most thought-provoking movie I've ever seen. It's like a little window into your own life; it enables you to see things you may want to change about how you live or what you choose to do with your time. Each time I see it, I find myself thinking about it for days. How many movies can you say that for? But it's more than just thought-provoking; it's also hugely entertaining. The entire cast is great, and its well known that the cinematography is extraordinary. With American Beauty, you will not be seeing the ordinary film its plot outline may suggest. You'll be seeing one of the most inspiring, original, and important films ever made.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Thought-provoking and hilarious
If you don't think that Bill Murray is one of the funniest men on the planet, then you clearly haven't seen Groundhog Day. Murray owns the screen from beginning to end of this marvelous film, and I mean he owns it. Obviously the Academy Awards don't actually care about honoring great film, regardless of genre, because this is clearly one of the best films of 1993, the 1990's as a whole, and also of all time.
Murray plays Phil Connors, a cynical weatherman sent to cover the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania. His one-day trip turns into a never-ending cycle, as Phil gets caught in a time warp that causes him to relive the same day over and over again. Phil is stuck in Punxsatawney for a seemingly endless amount of time; each day, he wakes up in the same Bed and Breakfast and nobody else remembers a thing about all the days he's lived. We follow Phil through several emotional stages, ranging from confusion to terror to joy to despair and ultimately to real happiness.
Groundhog Day is one of the most original comedies I've ever seen. The plot has been repeated on television shows several times since (and perhaps the idea had been filmed beforehand, I'm not sure), but never has it been as perfectly crafted as it is here. Groundhog Day is both funny and realistic, (as realistic as a time-warp movie can be) and Bill Murray is perfect in the lead role. Andie McDowell is also very good as Rita, Phil's co-worker and eventual love interest.
Groundhog Day is essentially a comedy, but it is also deeply thought-provoking, and makes you consider how you live your life. Phil starts out as a selfish, cynical man and slowly changes into a considerate, helpful individual who truly cares about others. As we watch him transform into a better person, we laugh a whole lot at the situations he gets into- but we hopefully emerge from it all like him, a changed man for the better. Groundhog Day is a brilliant piece of film-making and should be watched by everybody (preferably every Groundhog Day, which is February 2nd).
The Princess Bride (1987)
It doesn't get any better than this
The Princess Bride is one of a kind. The basic plot outline makes it sound like a fairy tale for children- a stableboy and a wealthy girl fall in love, the boy is kidnapped and presumed killed, only to return to save her from marrying an evil prince, blah, blah, blah. Please excuse me if I ruined the plot for you, but this movie is not about the plot. After all, it follows a formula seen a million times; what separates The Princess Bride from others like it is the way it goes about its business. The Princess Bride doesn't simply tell a nice story; it creates some of the most hilarious characters and scenes ever seen on the big screen.
Cary Elwes is the stableboy Westley, who falls for the beautiful Buttercup (that's right, Buttercup- played by Robin Wright Penn), but he is kidnapped by the Dread Pirate Roberts. She eventually gets engaged to the conniving Prince Humperdinck but never stops loving Westley. True love conquers all when Westley miraculously returns and defeats a swordsman, a giant, and a genius before re-teaming up with Buttercup.
The Princess Bride is, simply put, one of the funniest and most brilliant movies I've ever seen. Mandy Patinkin is utterly phenomenal as Inigo Montoya, a man who only wants to avenge his father's murder at the hands of a six-fingered man. Andre the Giant also has a hilarious turn as Fezzik, an enormous oaf whose heart is as big as his muscles.
You know how this movie is going to end before you even watch it (I won't spoil it for you in case you haven't figured it out). But the ending isn't what matters. It's the journey that gets you there that does. And what a journey it is. The Princess Bride has more memorable quotes and unforgettable scenes than perhaps any other movie ever made. After over fifteen viewings, I haven't even grown close to tiring of it. You've never seen a fairy tale quite like The Princess Bride; this film is a must-rent and should be a must-own. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Difficult to say exactly why... but this movie is FANTASTIC!
Fargo is not a straight up thriller. Nor is it a straight up comedy. It is not a drama, a romance, an action flick, or a story of redemption. What makes it so difficult to gauge is that it does not slip easily into one film genre or another. Perhaps that is why I see more threads about Fargo devoted to why this movie rocks or why it sucks than to any other movie. Some people go into it expecting a comedy and are disappointed. Others go in expecting a riveting thriller and also exit displeased. Those who go into this film simply expecting a great movie, however, will leave having watched one of the greatest pieces of art offered in the 1990's.
I generally (but not always) agree with Roger Ebert's reviews and never more so than with his recap of the Coen Brothers' first true masterpiece, Fargo. He says that the movie covered a variety of genres before ultimately emerging as one of the greatest films he'd ever seen. I would have to agree. After being encouraged by a friend to see this movie, I saw it not knowing exactly what to expect. I laughed, I was tense, I sat on the edge of my seat, and I finally ended up rooted to my seat, stunned, as the closing credits rolled. I have not seen The English Patient, the Best Picture winner of 1996, but I doubt it came close to Fargo in cinematic greatness. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me unlikely that any film of 1996 could have been more original and astounding than Fargo was.
The driving force behind this film is the script. It is at once funny and haunting, set up by a proclamation that the story is "based on true events" (not true). As these words appear at the start of the film, followed by the opening scene, you can already see that Fargo is not your run-of-the-mill flick; it is unique. The script is full of twists and turns; I will not spoil them here but suffice to say that a cop pulling over two attempted kidnappers turns a somewhat strange situation into absolute bedlam.
The "somewhat strange situation" is that Jerry Lundegard (William H. Macy in an Oscar nominated role) has paid to have his wife kidnapped by two lumbering criminals (Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi in his best role to date) in order to garner a large ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. Of course, this ludicrous plan goes horribly awry, and the policeman scene mentioned earlier sets off a chain of events that leads to numerous killings. Eventually, the heroine, Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand in an Oscar winning role), arrives on the scene to deduce what has happened.
Fargo never lets up for a second. It draws you in from the first scene and yanks you from side to side during its 98 minute running time. The dialogue is pitch perfect, as the Coen Brothers capture their native North Dakotan dialect to a tee, and the script flows seamlessly from one scene to the next. The movie is entertaining from the start but really hits its stride when Marge enters the scene. Three great actors- McDormand, Macy, and Buscemi- are all truly at the top of their form in this film.
Fargo is unlike any movie around. It is a comedy, but it is also a thriller. It is an action movie, but it is also a slow-paced, methodical movie. It rolls a bunch of genres into one. If you asked ten people to describe the movie in one word, you'd almost certainly get ten different responses. Actually, maybe that's not true. They may simply respond with the word "Fantastic".
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The Best Movie not in the IMDb Top 250- one of the best ever made
If you've seen the movie Paycheck, you would not assume that Ben Affleck has brilliant writing talent in him. He apparently does and, along with childhood pal Matt Damon, in Good Will Hunting, he has penned a nearly perfect script. Good Will Hunting will make you laugh and make you cry. It will make you angry and sad and happy and excited all at once. It makes you root for its protagonist one moment and then hate him for being so stubborn the next. In short, it is one of the most powerful screenplays ever written.
Besides the writing, it is also perfectly acted. Ben Affleck is fantastic as Will Hunting's best friend and deserved an Oscar nomination simply for the scene in which he tells Will that he wishes Will would one day simply not be at his house. While Affleck is great in a relatively small role, however, it is Damon and Robin Williams who steal the show as the titular character and his psychologist, respectively. Damon's Will Hunting is just about the smartest man in the world, a man who can solve the most difficult calculus problem in his head and can read a book in a matter of minutes. Despite his genius, he is deeply emotionally troubled, due to his upbringing on the rough streets of Boston. Williams won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of the only man who was able to get under Will's skin.
The movie, as stated above, makes you feel a wide span of emotions. Will is such a complex character that we cannot ever fully understand what makes him tick. Sometimes, we feel like he is growing emotionally, and sometimes we just can't grasp why he is being so stubborn and immature. The movie flows beautifully from one scene to the next and only seems to get better as it progresses. Also, it stands up wonderfully upon multiple viewings.
Good Will Hunting was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1997 but only came away with two wins, Robin Williams for Best Supporting Actor and Damon and Affleck for Best Original Screenplay. I have seen all five films nominated for Best Picture that year, and this film is far and away the best of them. Titanic is a very good movie and certainly groundbreaking in terms of visual effects, but it comes nowhere close to making the emotional impact that this film makes. Also, Matt Damon was absolutely robbed of an Oscar for Best Actor by Jack Nicholson (As Good as it Gets).
Simply put, Good Will Hunting is one of the best films of the 1990's and one of my personal favorites of all time. I have handed out only 20 ratings of perfect 10's on IMDb out of over 600 films that I've rated. Good Will Hunting earned this coveted rating by combining a phenomenal screenplay with superb direction and impeccable acting. This film is truly one not to miss.
Knocked Up (2007)
The Apatow Team does it again
The 40 Year Old Virgin was one of my favorite comedies of all time, so naturally I had high hopes for Seth Rogen's debut as a leading actor. I walked out of the theater highly satisfied the first time I saw Knocked Up and went a second time in theaters, only to find that I enjoyed it even more. Much like The 40 Year Old Virgin, I found the movie very funny the first time I saw it, but it has only gotten funnier each time I have seen it. The first time I saw The 40 Year Old Virgin, I thought it hilarious, but not the funniest movie I'd ever seen. About 20 viewings later, I now think it might be. A similar thing happened to Knocked Up. When it made its run on HBO, I started watching pieces of it every time it came on and have probably seen the majority of it about eight or nine times by now. It now holds a special place in my heart next to The 40 Year Old Virgin as a rare comedy that manages to combine outrageously hilarious situations with real life characters.
Seth Rogen plays Ben Stone, a stoner slacker whose idea of a good time is smoking out of his bong and playing ping pong with his roommates. He is unemployed; his only money source is from a lawsuit over a guy who ran over his foot years ago, and his only "job" is preparing a website which tells you when your favorite actresses appear nude in movies. He is happy just drifting about in life until a one night stand with a beautiful stranger named Alison (Katherine Heigl) throws a wrench into his life. Alison is a rising employee for E!, but her life is thrown off track when her drunken night with Ben results in a pregnancy. The ensuing romance between the two consists of the bulk of the movie. The romance between the two is both believable and hilarious; the movie never gets mushy, as many romantic comedies do, and manages to find the same balance as in The 40 Year Old Virgin between vulgarity and hilarity.
I would rank Knocked Up just slightly below The 40 Year Old Virgin on the Apatow scale of greatness. Both movies have the rare quality of standing up after multiple viewings; in fact, both films only seem to get funnier the more times you watch them. This is due to a great script and great comedic timing by the actors, which enables you to quote the movie endlessly to your friends long after its over. Rarely has a day gone by in the last few years in which I have not quoted either Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, or Superbad. Unlike most R rated comedies of recent years, Knocked Up isn't only appealing to teenage boys. This movie is funny to everybody, regardless of age or gender. While the humor is somewhat vulgar at times, it is there for a purpose besides simply being a series of sight gags. You really grow to care about the characters of Ben and Alison and their developing relationship. You'll also laugh along with them a whole lot.
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
Gets funnier every time
From a purely objective standpoint, The 40 Year Old Virgin is probably not one of the greatest films ever made. It is not epic like The Godfather, revolutionary like Citizen Kane, or even a new type of comedy like Airplane! was. From my subjective standpoint, though, The 40 Year Old Virgin is one of the best movies around. The reason is plain and simple; the movie's goal is to make you laugh hard and often and to sympathize with the main character, and perhaps no other movie so perfectly achieves the goals they set out as this one does.
Steve Carell is Andy Stitzer, one of the nicest men around, but a man so hapless with woman that he once kicked a woman in the nose while she was licking his toes. When his co- workers find out that he is a virgin, they begin an epic quest to get him laid. The first half of the movie is pretty much Andy going through a series of hilarious and humiliating failures; the second half focuses on a blossoming romance between him and Trish (Catherine Keener). As their relationship progresses, Andy's fear grows; he knows he will eventually have to tell Trish about his sexual history (or lack thereof).
The 40 Year Old Virgin is raunchy and ridiculous, but not in a pure gross-out way. It's not just a movie for foul-mouthed teenage boys; my mom loves this movie. The reason that this movie is loved by so many people is that it's not just a series of pointless gags. The scenes and characters are important; Carell plays Andy so innocently that we feel so sorry for him, even as we laugh at his misfortunes. We're rooting him on just as hard as his co-workers are. The rare combination of hilarity and realism is what separates The 40 Year Old Virgin from your standard run-of-the-mill comedy.
Besides the two excellent leads, the supporting cast is fantastic as well. Standard Judd Apatow players Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Leslie Mann are all hilarious as his two friends and potential hook-up partner, respectively. Of particular greatness is Jane Lynch (Best in Show) as Paula, Andy's boss who is willing to help him out with his little problem.
The 40 Year Old Virgin is already a classic, a comedy that pushed the envelope and got away with everything. While some people might think that once the romance between Andy and Trish starts, the movie will die down and get sappy, they are sorely mistaken. The movie is hilarious from beginning to end, including an epic song to close things out with a bang. The 40 Year Old Virgin is funny to all people, regardless of age, gender, or maturity. Give this one a shot if you haven't seen it; it's great the first time and just gets better upon multiple viewings.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Perfectly written. Perfectly directed. Perfectly cast. Perfectly acted. Perfect
I have seen The Shawshank Redemption twice now, the second time being about a week ago. After the first time I saw it, I gave it a perfect 10 rating on IMDb, something I do very rarely (I've given out 20 ratings of 10 out of the 600+ movies I've rated). However, after just one viewing, I felt so impacted by this film that it immediately rocketed near the top of my favorite movie list. After a second viewing, I feel even more amazed by it than I was the first time I saw it.
The movie captures your interest in the first scene and unfolds new plot points and character developments slowly at first and then more rapidly as the movie goes on. The movie runs about 130 minutes long, but it never gets boring. While it is admittedly slow paced, this only serves into its greatness. It allows the viewer to get to know the characters of Andy and Red and sympathize with them; along the way, we also get to know and grow attached to the other prisoners trapped inside Shawshank. The movie flows perfectly from one scene to the next, never feeling forced or losing your interest. The movie is mostly dialogue driven, but there are some violent scenes which help convey the brutality of prison life.
Finally, the final 30 minutes are perhaps the most satisfying in any movie. I do not want to spoil the ending for those who have never seen it, but suffice to say, the final act of the movie leaves you floored. Both times that I saw it, I was rooted to my seat long after the credits rolled, just thinking about the brilliance of the ending and the entire movie as a whole. Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction are both great movies, highly entertaining. I particularly love Pulp Fiction; however, it is a travesty that The Shawshank Redemption did not win Best Picture. It was certainly the best film of the year in my opinion, arguably the best film of the decade, and perhaps one of the finest movies ever made. The even bigger tragedy, though, is that while Morgan Freeman earned an Oscar nomination for his great performance, Tim Robbins' turn as Andy Dufresne went without a nomination. Robbins carries the film, and his performance is truly one of the greatest I have ever seen.
The bottom line is that The Shawshank Redmption is a perfect movie. It takes you in from the opening scene and doesn't let you go until long after it comes to a tremendous close. Along the way, it will make you think, fear, wonder, and feel a number of other emotions. If you have not seen this movie, waste no time; go rent it today and see why this is the highest ranked film on IMDb.