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FYI: it was never supposed to be ranked. It was originally in vaguely chronological order except for some later additions at the bottom.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
A beautiful, gripping epic
This American classic is a true epic in every sense of the word, and for three hours and forty-five minutes, my attention was fixed on the screen. With its elaborate costumes and sets, complex script and character development, first-rate acting, beautiful music, and iconic imagery, the film does a great job of humanizing the Civil War on both a personal and grand scale. Scarlett O'Hara is a great lead character because, despite her numerous realistic flaws, she becomes a better, stronger person through her character-building struggles. Vivien Leigh is excellent and perfectly cast, as are all involved. There are also a number of memorable lines. Definitely a product of arguably the most glorious age of Hollywood film-making that all should see.
Ellen's Energy Adventure (1996)
Excellent, hilarious, and entertaining Disney attraction that should never be altered!
Ellen's Energy Adventure at the Universe of Energy attraction at Disney's Epcot is a thrilling and hilarious mix of live-action comedy film, computer-generated effects, audio-animatronic dinosaurs, and basic education for its audience. Everyone's favorite Ellen (proof alone that this should not be touched!) has never been better, with witty writing that accentuates her uniquely unassuming, stuttering personality a la Lucille Ball as herself, a "Jeopardy!" fan who falls asleep and has an "Energy Nightmare" in which she's competing against college roommate Dr. Judy ("Stupid Judy!" - Jamie Lee Curtis as a snob) - as well as Albert Einstein (ultimately "nowhere, relatively speaking") - in a game in which all the categories are about energy, not exactly her forte. So Ellen enlists the help of supposed New York neighbor Bill Nye the Science Guy (because no one locks their doors in NYC), who takes her back in time, to the dawn of the universe and the eventual creation of fossil fuels. Ultimately, Bill teaches Ellen about not just the various forms of energy and their pros and cons regarding practicality and environmental concerns, but also about brain power, "the one source of energy that will never run out." As you can see, the funny script is immensely quotable with cute one-liners galore. The stars (also including Alex Trebek) are well-assembled, the special computer-generated effects during the Big Bang sequence are still excellent, and the attraction seamlessly blends its film and ride aspects with a satirical, contemporary, and timeless approach to telling the story of the formation of the universe of energy. This is an example of 1990s Disney World Imagineering at its magical best. So if you ever travel to Orlando and visit Epcot without seeing this, then you're really missing out, "and you think about that next time."
The Making of Me (1989)
One of the more forgettable Disney World attractions - now gone
"The Making of Me" is a "Back to the Future"-style short film starring Martin Short that played in the Wonders of Life pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot in Orlando until the pavilion was recently taken down in a process of renovation. Short is both funny and appealingly believable as the protagonist/narrator, but unfortunately the small production was one of the more dated presentations at Disney up until its removal. For example, I don't think it would be spoiling anything to write that Short utters a line something to the effect that "every one of us is the result of...," to put it bluntly, sex (though the show more tastefully, admirably does so for family audiences). Of course, this is sadly dated because it does not account for artificial insemination and disregards adoption. Overall, the show is admirable but ultimately awkward for a Disney World attraction.
Body Wars (1989)
Dated Disney ride that's now gone
It's sad to see so many attractions at Walt Disney World be discarded and replaced, but this one was unfortunately dated in terms of special effects. However, it was a novel premise, perfect for Epcot, and in many ways a counterpoint to MGM's Star Tours ride based on "Star Wars." A pre-"Leaving Las Vegas" Elisabeth Shue appears in the film/ride, well cast as an explorer of the human body, though fewer would recognize her today. The ride was featured in the now-gutted Wonders of Life pavilion at Disney's Epcot in Orlando, which also housed "The Making of Me" film starring Martin Short and "Cranium Command." For its day it was very technologically advanced and fun.
The 10th Kingdom (2000)
This was a fun, charming, and adventurous miniseries with an all-star cast that was underrated - and not heavily watched - in 2000. Kimberly Williams was really appealing and beautiful in the lead role, and John Larroquette brought his comic skills and genial warmth to the character of her father. Their chemistry propelled the movie. The actors all bring their characters to life, and the special effects were really strong for the time and helped bring the fairy-tale story to life. The script was good because you genuinely didn't know what was going to happen or who was going to pop up next. Meanwhile, it satisfied some general viewer expectations of the family-fantasy genre. A feel-good viewing pleasure.
You just don't fit in
Before going any further, I have to admit that I only saw the first episode of this show. If I had the time, I might have considered watching it every week, if only to see how the season played out. However, it was very clear to me from the beginning that Martha Stewart's version of "The Apprentice" just doesn't "fit in." Martha Stewart made a career of being a happy homemaker, a domestic diva of the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Julia Child. It was only since her scandalous legal troubles and subsequent incarceration that her public image began to reflect the true roughness of her character. Sure, she was compelling for a while, and this entire series poses the interesting question of what it means to be a woman in business. Does she have to come off as cold and tough? Shouldn't she?
But the truth was, by the time Stewart came out of prison, her attempts for a public comeback, though certainly warranted, were never going to seize viewers' interest for very long. Perhaps a true comeback would have worked had she returned home peacefully and waited a year or so after her often mocked ankle bracelet was removed. Instead, she frantically dove into overkill with 2 series at once, the other being her syndicated daytime series Martha, much like her old show, but more mainstream, with famous guests like Bette Midler. Of course, even at her peak Stewart was never mainstream, so it's too much to ask that American audiences immediately accept her foray into reality TV. Maybe America wants Stewart to make a comeback on her own rather than be the basis for it.
The show was basically a tired retread of Trump's "Apprentice," which still holds my interest, depending on the tasks, the cast, and Trump's firing decisions (often controversial - likely for that reason). The letter bit was certainly not cliché but obnoxious in the least. The fact that Stewart never says, "You're fired!" - mentioned in the message board on this site - is particularly distressing. Producer Mark Burnett should be admired for dealing with Stewart's jail time honestly while trying to make her a hero, but the truth is that anyone watching can tell that she's basically trying to put on a show of being this nice businesswoman. Again never mainstream, Stewart lacks the agreeability and identifiability of Oprah Winfrey and the admirable, charismatic "toughness" of Donald Trump. Yes, this can be a gender-biased assessment of her character, but I mean it to be more about the nature of her business.
It comes as no shock that Stewart has been fired, but I wonder if they really always intended it to only last for one season?
Cinderella Man (2005)
Certainly good, but more standard than sweeping
With Ron Howard directing and Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti starring, Cinderella Man was sure to be a worthwhile cinematic experience, if only it hadn't been released in the unsuitable summer months of blockbuster fever. It didn't help that previous DreamWorks summer hit Seabiscuit starred a horse (and was more emotionally uplifting without being too violent or predictable), or that Cinderella Man was preceded by last year's Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby or the lackluster NBC reality series The Contender. But even when taken out of context, Cinderella Man is a fine, elaborately and accurately produced (if minimalistic) Depression-era boxing-pic love story that simply doesn't go where no great movie hasn't gone before.
Crowe, as always, gave a studied performance that reflected his involved physical and mental preparation, not to mention his accent! Zellweger, I thought, was the most underrated of the bunch because she really held her own opposite Crowe, stealing many of his scenes as the heart-tugging emotional core of the story. Giamatti's supporting perf should earn him his first (and overdue) Oscar nomination, since it was a fun, snarky kind of role infused with vigor and heart - great for a character actor. Otherwise, though, Ron Howard's direction might have made an already unoriginal subject matter more predictable. Still, it was, without a doubt, a good movie, if not a great one - a film that was well-made, if neither innovative nor emotionally sweeping.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
A modern classic, but not my cup of tea
Quentin Tarantino's bloody ode to Asian gangster movies is reverent, satirical, and engrossing - just not for the faint of heart. Interconnecting stories seem to say more about the heedless violence of crime than the doomed characters who are drawn down its path. John Travolta made a comeback with his role in this modern classic, but behold the power of Samuel L. Jackson in an essentially leading role and witness the dawn of sexy Uma Thurman, future star of Kill Bill (perhaps a more easily enjoyable film, given its tongue-in-cheek nature as a pure action flick). The best scene is Travolta's appropriately nostalgic dance with Thurman to "You Never Can Tell."
Harmless, but ineptly written
Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) wrote and directed this interesting update of the classic '60s series. In the show-within-a-show format, Will Ferrell plays a washed-out actor looking for the perfect unknown to cast opposite him in the role of Samantha Stephens in a new TV version of Bewitched. Of course, he picks real-life witch Isabel (Nicole Kidman); comic episodes and inevitable romance ensue. Kidman is well cast in the role Elizabeth Montgomery brought to life with her class, charm, and intelligence; unfortunately, the complex setup belies dumbed-down and flimsy character development, and Ferrell's brand of humor in particular is out of frame. Michael Caine and especially Shirley MacLaine are underused, but the true standout performance is from Broadway vet Kristin Chenowith, who plays Isabel's daffy, spastic neighbor.
The Terminal (2004)
One of the worst endings in film
I'm sorry to fans of this movie, but I, like many critics, was sorely disappointed with the final product. Given the renowned talents of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, this should have been a big hit and a smart film. Unfortunately for the audience, it is neither.
The premise is striking, if seemingly implausible: A foreigner who lost his passport literally becomes trapped in an American airport. The set design is fantastic, as each room is instilled with its own unique feel, so that the audience, like Tom Hanks's central character, can begin to identify with the airport as his new (if hopefully temporary) "home." In addition, the character development is strong, and Hanks, who has previously proved he can pull off just about anything on screen, is delightfully colorful and out of character. There are a few good supporting turns, and, at worst, the movie always maintains a hint of the discovery potential in the airport, a simultaneously inviting and intimidating barrier to a new world.
However, the film suffers from a plodding pace and a lack of unity that can bring together the several pleasant but meaningless subplots. The script tries not to be cursory in its character development, but its touches are never quite successful in engaging the audience's interest as well as their sympathy. Particularly, Catherine Zeta-Jones is, as always, an energetic star, but here she is relegated to essentially a supporting role and should have entered the storyline sooner and stayed with it longer. Even her general enthusiasm can't make up for the slower scenes, and Zeta-Jones, though on par with an old-school glamor/movie icon in everything that she does, frankly seems a little miscast here as the wronged wife to be pitied. Her chemistry with Hanks isn't strong enough, either.
But the most appalling aspect of this otherwise skillfully made movie was its throwaway finale, perhaps the WORST film ending I have seen (at least since "The Stepford Wives"). It's not a totally implausible ending, as in that aforementioned movie, but it's just as distasteful and disappointing. Hanks, after being green-lit to finally go home to his war-ridden country, decides to venture out into New York City to get the autograph of his dead father's favorite jazz legend (forgive me, I'm hazy on the details, but it's not like this ploy makes the dramatic tension of the rest of the movie seem worthwhile anyway, nor does it do much for character development). Catherine Zeta-Jones, who, when we last saw her, apparently feigned complacency with her boyfriend so as not to prevent Hanks from flying home as soon as possible, doesn't even return in the final scene! WHAT A COPOUT!!! Give the audience what they want! Granted, a perfect Hollywood ending might've seemed a little too predictable, even for Spielberg, but this film was billed as a light romantic comedy (released in the summer, for Pete's sake!), and it is neither very funny nor ever moving enough to qualify as pure drama. There is nothing worse in a borderline movie than a bad ending that lasts longest in the audience's collective memory. This production is at times enjoyable and never offensive, but its wrap-up is a complete washout that the filmmakers never should have approved.