Yeah, These Aren't So Bad
Top Favorite Movies (2018 Edition)
A while ago I wrote up my list of Top 10 Favorite Movies, a list of mostly sci-fi and superhero movies with a few surprises. The thing is, a number of entries on that list now feel really dated, especially in light of what's happened in recent years. The whole top three is pretty well ejected from my list at this point because:
- American Beauty: Kevin Spacey is apparently a massive creep. Apparently there were articles about this before the #MeToo movement took off, but I missed them somehow. Knowing now what I do about Spacey, though, it's really hard to go back into American Beauty and enjoy the film at all. He also ruined another movie I liked (that might have moved up into my Top 10), The Usual Suspects, so that's a double "screw you" to Spacey. Good job there, dick.
- Fight Club: This isn't the fault of the stars or people behind the camera. I haven't heard anything back about Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, or David Fincher. I mean, sure, Norton is apparently a dick on set, but he's a dick to everyone, not specific people or in sexual ways (that I've read of, anyway). But when I go back and watch this movie now, all I see are the entitled incels online. It's a movie about aimless dudes trying to find meaning in their lives by beating the shit out of each other, and I used to be able to see that as a metaphor for 90s American and blah blah blah. Now, though: incels. Gender isn't even mentioned in the movie (beyond all the fighters being dudes), but I still see it. So while Fight Club is still finely crafted, I can't stand the characters.
- The Matrix: And this one isn't the fault of the stars. Hell, from what I hear Keanu Reeves is the absolute best person to work with. No, the fault for this rests on The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revisited. Those two movies ruin the pure awesomeness of the first movie with meandering plots that detract from the great place Neo was in by the end of the first Matrix. Every time I watched the first film, I felt the oppressive awfulness of the later films, and it's just gotten to a point now when as much as I enjoy the first film, it's very qualified. It's sad too because without the later films, the first film is a complete hero's story. It really didn't need sequels.
Since the entire top of my list has been ejected, that allows me to full re-evaluate my list and decide just what I want on there. A few of the items are the same, but I'm swapping out some titles for other ones I've (re)discovered:
1) Star Trek (2009)
I will admit that I probably enjoy this film more than most Star Trek fans do. I know it's not as cerebral as "classic Trek", and I do love me the older movies (of those, Star Trek VI is my undisputed fave). But when I want to watch a propulsive sci-fi film with good action, humor, and character, I end up glancing over at Star Trek 2009 and popping it in. It's like comfort food, really, and I haven't yet tired of it.
2) Road to Perdition
This movie is gorgeous. I've heard that it strays a great deal from the source comic of the same name (which I haven't read), but for great, beautifully crafted, gorgeously filmed, period piece set in and around gangland 1920s, it's hard to find better. Really, just for the cinematography alone, this movie is an absolute winner (and, thankfully, I can point to it now as my go to for film style since I'm probably never watching American Beauty again).
3) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
We just covered this movie recently, but suffice it to say that this movie is just an absolute treat for the eyes. A funny, propulsive, Gen-X comedy about aimless adults having to find meaning in their life... and then STREET FIGHTS. It's awesome.
4) Spider-Man: Homecoming
You might note that while the first Avengers flick was on my previous list, it doesn't show up at all this time around. While I still very much enjoy Avengers, I like other MCU films more at this point. My current go-to is the recent Spider-Man flick (which I've already talked about at great length). I enjoyed the Raimi Spider-flicks of yore, but I feel like this one builds upon those older movies while using the new connections to the MCU to great effect. Just a well put-together superhero movie all around.
5) The Dark Knight
Previously my list had Batman Begins. However, as I noted in my in-depth discussion of that film and it's sequel, The Dark Knight, while Begins is the better Batman flick, TDK is a better movie over all. Most of that is attributable to Heath Ledger who gives an absolute tour-de-force performance in that movie. When I go to watch the movies I inevitably start with TDK before going back to the first movie.
All these years later, this low-budget time-travel flick is just as mind-bendingly weird as ever. This is serious head-trip of a movie, a deep, twisty, hard-to-follow but still awesomely good flick all around. It's hard to find a time travel movie that handles the subject better.
7) The Frighteners
This is another movie where I may be in the minority about my love for the movie. A Michael J. Fox starrer about a dude that can see ghosts (and uses them to pull elaborate cons), it quickly becomes a supernatural thriller with scares and gore and comedy. Made by Peter Jackson before he went on to do The Lord of the Rings this is, for me, still the best movie he's done (I like LotR, but man those movies get pretty draggy in places).
It might seem weird for me to not only list this movie on my Top 10, but to skip over either of the Escape From flicks this film so clearly apes. Essentially Escape from Space, Lockout finds a government agent with questionable morals sent to a space-prison orbiting the Earth to save the U.S. President's daughter. It has a sly, sarcastic wit, good action, and a pretty lithe plot. And, let's face it, while Kurt Russel is great in the Escape From movies, the films in general haven't aged well.
9) Stranger than Fiction
Still a great go to when I want something utterly strange with a bit of heart. It's not really a mind-screw movie, but Stranger than Fiction does have a weird sensibility that will keep you guessing what's really going on for the first act of the film. Plus, this is still the only Will Farrell movie I like.
10) The King's Speech
I have a deep, strange love for period pieces. I will watch a lot of the mini-series that come out, especially the ones about British royals. However, while I might like some of those shows better, this is a movie list so The King's Speech takes the final slot. While it might not been the most historically accurate movie (especially if you read up about these events after seeing the film), it's a superbly acted drama, carried quite ably by Colin Firth. If he's not already considered a British treasure, they really need to get on that.