Anyone who has met me probably managed to find out, I love the Nostalgia Critic. One of the acts on thatguywiththeglasses.com, this weekly Internet review host mocks bad movies from before 2000 – generally, movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s. There are jokes and swear words galore as he summarizes his movie of choice. But just as fun is when the host presents top 11 lists of his favorite villains, films, ect. (“Why top 11? Because I like to go one step beyond.”)
So, in the spirit of one of my favorite Internet sites, here’s my top 11 – my favorite movies (as of 2010).
My Top 11:
11. “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” – I have to add this to the end of the list as a tribute of sorts. This is the movie that contributed to who I became in more ways than I can even begin to recall. It inspired me to begin to write, and it introduced me to five wonderful friends (and through them, other people). But the movie itself really is worth checking out when you’re in the mood for a cuter story. It’s a very safe movie for children. But it makes the interesting point of telling a story about a mustang captured and separated from his herd without the animals talking. The main characters are horses, so while there’s dialogue, much of the story is told through body language and facial expressions. Believe me – these animators did a very good job. I still find scenes from this movie impressive, and hand drawing and animating a horse is no easy feat. This may not be a favorite for many people, but it certainly is special to me.
10. “The Wizard of Oz” – An older classic that today contributed to the making of my favorite musical and one of my favorite novels (“Wicked”). “The Wizard of Oz” is such a mainstream item that it’s very hard to go through a month without a reference to it of some sort. Dorothy’s adventure to make it home and the companions she picks up along the way has fascinated viewers and readers for decades now – and while it wasn’t an immediate hit when this film was released, today it has earned its classic stance. (But seriously, people: there is no munchkin hanging from the background. It’s a bird they released on set.)
9. “The Prince of Egypt” – A film that did very well when it was released but isn’t well recognized in retrospect. But honestly, I believe it should be. Even though the story focuses on Moses and mentions Christianity many times (so yes, I understand it’s a touchy subject), the story told is honestly an epic one of brothers who become enemies and of standing by what one believes is right – no matter how difficult the stance becomes to take. The animation is beautiful, the music is awe inspiring, and the voice acting is incredibly moving. Give this movie a chance – it’s well worth it.
8. “Dead Poet’s Society” – An earlier film with Robin Williams and Robert Sean Leonard, the movie follows Williams (who plays a teacher) and the impact he has on his students. The setting is a conservative, competitive private school in the late 1950s. Needless to say, there are clashes between students and parents, as well as with teachers. Trust me when I say that I find this story powerful and emotional, especially Sean Leonard’s character. The setting is also beautiful, which probably contributes to why a story about teenagers is such a wonderful experience. Give this underrated film a shot, and you, too, will probably be saying, “Carpe diem.”
7. “V For Vendetta”/”Inception” – A tie!
“V For Vendetta” – Yes, I tend to like serious movies much more than I do comedies. I fell in love with this action packed sci-fi story the moment it was released – it was emotional and political, perhaps more touchy at the time it was released in some ways than it would be today. But certainly I wouldn’t call it less meaningful. I personally find many dystopian type stories hold important messages and warnings, always. I went on to read the comic this film was based on, and found the comics even more complex. But in both cases, this movie makes the interesting point that its main character is, in fact, a terrorist. Who’s side will you be on? Give it a try and decide for yourself.
“Inception” – There isn’t much I feel comfortable saying, since this film is still relatively new (especially compared to my other choices). All I will say is – Nolan, you did it again. Everything was suburb.
6. “The Dark Knight” – I doubt this is a surprise, either. While I was never a Batman fan as a child (I certainly recognized the character and why people loved him, but the Batman series did not have a place in my household due to a parent’s dislike for him), Christopher Nolan’s movies changed my feelings towards this hero quickly. But where ‘Batman Begins’ was a very fun action flick, the sequel had me on the edge of my seat, questioning morals and ethics, and oh yes: terrified of Heath Ledger. I was very jumpy when I left my late night screening. I thought his performance was phenomenal. By now, I would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard something about this film, and all I can say is: it captures and puts me in awe every time.
5. “The Prestige” – Also a Christopher Nolan film (I’m not biased at all!), this movie fascinated me from day one. It tells the story about two competing magicians and how far they go to surpass the other and stay in business. Truthfully, I’ll say up front neither man (played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) is a good man, but neither is an outright villain. While this story is science fiction, the characters truly feel human and honest – and you as the viewer decide whom you agree with, what you’re comfortable with. The movie, though, is definitely like a magic trick. The first time through, you won’t really be looking. But once you know the secret? It becomes incredibly obvious. (Yes, I just semi-quoted the movie.) But the acting is suburb, the screenplay is very good, and I always found the visuals stunning. Give this movie a go. It shouldn’t disappoint.
4. “The Lord of the Rings” – Really, do I NEED to explain this? I love Tolkien’s novel(s), and I love Jackson’s screen adaptation. I love the acting, I adore the land it was filmed in. The effort put into this film astounds me. The tale is an epic adventure, and every character faces trials that are fascinating. I can always watch this trilogy and find and notice something new. Even the commentaries entertain me more than some other films. And honestly, as we go on ten years following their release, I can look back and say they left a lasting impression and gave my childhood a fantastic nostalgic trilogy.
3. “Freedom Writers” – By now you can tell I like a serious movie; I also like activism related stories given my own involvement in some organizations. I consider this one of the better-made serious, human-story films. Based on diaries kept by the real people involved, “Freedom Writers” explains how one teacher struggles to reach and teach her students – all of them from different backgrounds and gangs in the early ‘90s. This story will have you questioning the education system as well as how you look at people themselves. It’s inspiring, emotional, and just a fantastic and deep story about people from a time not that long ago.
2. “How To Train Your Dragon” – As much as I love serious films, I often adore younger audience/family films just as much – I truly believe that since they cannot sell with sex and violence, they tend to try to put a bit more effort into the story. And while this doesn’t always make the movie good, it certainly contributes a lot to the ones I adore.
Ironically, after this rant I remembered this film HAD battle scenes. Whoops?
Anyway, this one gets the number two spot because, FINALLY, we got to see decent looking dragons that weren’t flat out evil on the screen. This movie had me leaving the theater pouting because I couldn’t go out to find my own Toothless to train. The main character is adorable (never thought I would say that about a Viking), but the dragons steal the show. Just give this film a shot. It’s incredibly entertaining.
So wait: what could possibly top dragons and Vikings?
I’ll tell you.
1. Every Pixar film ever made.
Honestly, it’s impossible to pick a single favorite when it comes to Disney Pixar (which, honestly, I always consider it’s own separate department with talent surpassing ordinary Disney. Seriously, guys: quit making direct to DVD sequels. They’re no good). Every single film has something that makes me love it as much as the others. The very early films like “Toy Story” invoke pure nostalgia since I was a child when they were released, while later films like “Wall-E” bring both fantastic fun and an element of seriousness to the big screen. The very first ten minutes of “Up” never fail to make me misty eyed. All of the films, though, have the same things that make them classics to be: fantastic animation, wonderful casting and acting, and just flat out enjoyable stories. I’m especially looking forward to their 2012 epic tale “Brave.”
There’s my list of favorite movies. Agree, disagree – but be fair and give them each a viewing first.