Picking my twelve favorite movies has become a challenge as I’ve gotten older, because staying awake for an entire movie has become a challenge. Usually, whatever I rent on a Friday night is background for my snoring by the time the opening credits are done.
Movies in theaters fare a little better, but I find I forget them pretty quickly. The main challenge with age is, I simply do not have the time to watch movies multiple times any more. That makes it pretty hard for new ones to get onto the list.
As a result, my list of favorite movies looks pretty similar to what it looked like a few years when I was last invited to participate in such an endeavor. That was in the pre-blog days, so Stephen McCarthy compiled the results by hand.
So here we go!
A BRONX TALE
This excellent film opens with the sounds of romance in the Bronx (“Marie! Get in the f*&king car!”). There are a few violent scenes, but mostly the story is about a boy who is drawn to the local gangster against the wishes of his bus-driver father.
All the important life lessons are in this film: how to pick your spouse (“if she doesn’t unlock your door by the time you get around the car, dump her”), what to do when a quasi-friend stiffs you (“for twenty bucks, he’s out of your life-you got off cheap”).
The names of the mobsters are excellent. Frankie Coffee Cake (named because his face looks like a Drake’s Coffee Cake), Jo Jo The Whale (you didn’t walk with Jo Jo, you walked among him), Leo The Mush (everything he touches turns to mush).
DeNiro shines on screen and behind the camera in his directorial debut.
The original, that spawned four sequels and a television series that ran for six years. Violent, with sword fights, loud rock music from Queen, and a showdown between immortal enemies Christopher Lambert and Clancy Brown. Oh, and Sean Connery is in it as well.
I’d skip the sequels. The TV series had some good episodes, though.
Come on! I’m from Philadelphia!
It was either this make this list or have one of the movies where Todd Rundgren did the soundtrack on there. I guess I could swap this out for “Dumb And Dumber.”
Besides, it’s a great film. Stallone has spent almost thirty-five years trying to make another great one. He should have left well enough alone and quit while he was ahead.
There’s a couple of scenes in this one that I still love after thirty years.
One is when Paul Dooley and Dennis Christopher are walking through the college, and Paul Dooley is talking about how after he and his coworkers raised the buildings, they felt like they did not belong.
The other is when Paul Dooley announces that there will be another mouth to feed.
This was a low budget film that everyone should own a copy of.
HEAVEN CAN WAIT
In this one, the Rams beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl!
Sadly, they did not in 1979. This movie had to tide me over until they did win one at the dawn of the new millennium.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY
If I had to count the three films individually, they'd all have to make the list. Id select something else. Having read the trilogy umpteen times as a yewt, I find it impossible not to think of this trilogy as one piece.
I was pretty apprehensive about seeing these at first, as I carried my own films in my head from the repeated readings . Peter Jackson really did the books justice.
Even in the silly movies that preceded “The Crow,” you could see that Brandon Lee was going to be something special. His death was very tragic.
“The Crow” was a pretty good film, considering it was adapted from a comic book (in the days when that was actually unusual). It is a dark and violent tale of revenge, but it worked.
THE SEVENTH SEAL
There’s a scene in this Bergman film where Death comes for a woodsman who tries to bargain for his life.
“But my contracts?”
A classic film.
Arnold did not need to speak to be menacing in this movie.
It was unanimously panned when it was released, but when the sequel made gazillions, the reviews of this first film were mysteriously all rewritten with a bunch of stars.
When it came to 1980’s action films, Arnold surrounded himself with people who knew what they were doing and put out the best product.
Another DeNiro film makes my list, with Ed Harris and Kathy Baker. There were a plethora of Vietnam-vet films in the late seventies through the eighties. For my money, this was the best of the bunch.
My favorite scene is where DeNiro tells Kathy Baker about how he found religion.
This film did not make much of a splash, but was quite good.
James Woods in a rare role that I liked him in. Bruce Dern plays a corrupt businessman and Louis Gossett Jr. plays an aging boxer fighting for a cash prize against ten men in one day.
I dare you not to stand up and cheer at the end of this movie!
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL
This was my favorite of the John Hughes’ wave of “wrong side of the tracks” romances, and I can’t tell you why. Certainly “The Breakfast Club” was a better film, but there was something about this one.
I think it was the father and son scene over the son withdrawing his college savings and blowing it on a pair of earrings. My father and I had a similar argument, but I blew the money on mint copies of the out-of-print Nazz lp’s and some other rare albums..
And to complete my baker’s dozen, here's film number thirteen.
This one, THE LEGEND OF 1900, was recommended to me by Stephen McCarthy.
There’s a scene where the main character participates in a piano duel. If only to watch this scene, you should rent or buy the film.
"Sin City" and "Pulp Fiction" were seriously considered. I've only seen "The A-Team" once...otherwise it might just have made the cut!