Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Favorite Movies

I am a big movie buff!

Though my favorite genres are fantasy adventure, horror and science fiction under the backdrop of romance, I can adjust my appetite in films depending on the plot and concept, comedy, animated and mainstream drama also delight me. 

There are three technical merits I often look in a film to satisfy my cravings: screenplay, cinematography and production design.

In the span of two decades, I'd already watched more than 100 movies, some are boring and annoying  (I wondered why they made it into a motion picture in the first place) others are really good and worth recommending. 

Although there are really beautiful movies out there which have been consistently included in the list of Greatest Movies of all time surveys by several critics and institutions worldwide, I cannot list them down here because I have not watch them yet thus cannot share the experience, so I will stick to the movies I already watched :-D

Here are my favorite 20 films I am proud to recommend, it's very worthy of your time, try to catch them on DVD and see if I hit the button of your fascination too :-D

1. TITANIC

Genre: Epic Romance

Description: Retells the story of the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic in 1912 when it hits iceberg shortly after midnight near the Irish sea. In the splendor of the floating city that is Titanic, Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt-Bucater, who came from different background, meet and fall in love.

Why I like it? The story itself is moving but the best part of the movie is the eternal love between Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose Dewitt-Bucater (Kate Winslet) that transcends death. You've got to believe that somewhere in this world there's still someone out there who is ready to slay a dragon for you, so to speak.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
Director: James Cameron
First Released: 1997

Claim to fame: Won 11 out of 14 Oscar nominations tying with Ben Hur as the most nominated film  of all time at the Academy Awards. It went on to become the highest grossing film of all time until 2010 when it was toppled by another James Cameron film, Avatar. Listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 Greatest Films in 100 Years.

2. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Description: Story of tracing down a mysterious serial killer at loose. The FBI believes the only way to track down this killer is to interrogate another serial killer who is in prison, Hannibal Lecter. They send a young FBI trainee, Clarice Sterling, to do the mission.

Why I like it? Well, I was able to read the book first (authored by Thomas Harris) before watching the movie so I'm kinda familiar with the story. It's one of the most interesting and beautifully-made suspense films in recent memory.

Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Jonathan Demme
First Released: 1991

Claim to fame: One of the highest grossing horror films in 1990s and the third film to win all the major categories in Oscar Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Writing. American Film Institute listed it as one of the 100 Greatest Films in 100 Years.

3. THE GREEN MILE

Genre: Drama

Description:
Highly emotional film.  The scene begins in the present time at the nursing home in Louisiana. Paul Edgecomb breaks into tears while watching a movie, Top Hat, and recalls his encounter with a death row inmate, John Coffe, when he was still a young correction officer assigned in the death row cell of Cold Mountain Penitentiary in 1935. 

Why I like it? Well, I cried a bucket of tears while watching this film. Very emotional, touching and gripping, it will tear your heart away. The film certifies that in our society injustices and unfairness are most often experienced by defenseless and downtrodden individuals.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan
Director: Frank Darabont
First Released: 1999

Claim to fame: Based on the book written by Stephen King, Green Mile. The movie earned four Oscar Nominations in 2000. EMPIRE listed it as one of the Greatest Films of all time

4. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Genre: Drama

Description: Retells the story of a banker, Andre Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and how he became an inmate at Shawshank Redemption Penitentiary and befriended Red Redding.

Why I like it? The story itself is monumental and told in a very simple, yet stunning way enough to stir emotions, rich with so many self-pondering thoughts and lessons in life, I adored the film's beautiful screenplay.

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
Director: Frank Darabont
First Released: 1994

Claim to fame: Based on the book "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" written by Stephen King. It earned 7 nominations at Oscar Awards in 1995. Listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 Greatest Films in 100 Years.

5. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Description: The story is set in the 18th century Qing Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. It is a timeless story of love, devotion, miracles and belief of the presence of the spirits in the ancient world. The disappearance of a magical sword triggers the breathtaking quest for the treasure.

Why I like it? Amidst all the subplots, quest to fulfill, revenge, duty, pain, flying and floating powers of the people of ancient China, there's this beautiful story of romance between two warriors who are consumed by revenge, pain and duty unable to find time to love each other, but genuine love lingers on even after death. 

Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi
Director: Ang Lee
First Released: 2000

Claim to fame: Earned 11 nominations in the 2001 Oscar Awards and won 4 including Best in Cinematography. EMPIRE listed it as one of the Greatest Films of all time

6. BRAVEHEART

Genre: Epic Historical

Description: Set in the13th Century when the English KingEdward I called the Longshanks, invaded and conquered Scotland after the death of a Scottish King who has no direct heir to the throne. William Wallace headed the rebellion against the English monarch. He made alliance with Robert the Bruce the rightful Scottish heir but Bruce's father made peace with the English King and had him Wallace turned over to the  English and publicly executed.

Why I like it? The story has something to do with my fascination -- the British history, British monarchy and everything about Scotland :-) Beautiful plot and screenplay.

Starring: Mel Gibson
Director: Mel Gibson
First Release: 1995

Claim to fame: Garnered 10 Oscar Nominations and won 5 including Best picture and Best director for Mel Gibson. EMPIRE listed it as one of the Greatest Films of all time

7. FORREST GUMP

Genre: Romantic-Comedy

Description: Forrest Gump is depicted as a young, naive country boy who does comical thing and who seems oblivious from life's complexities including falling in love. 

Why I like it? Forrest Gump is hilarious and comical and a good breather from other serious films. It shows the refreshing side of living in a quiet countryside. The story is very relaxing and funny.

Starring: Tom Hanks
Director: Robert Zemeckis
First Release: 1994

Claim to fame: It earned 13 nominations at Oscar Awards and won 8 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. This movie gave Tom Hanks his back to back Best Actor win at the Oscars. The most memorable line from the film which survives until now is this: "Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you get". Listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 Greatest Films in 100 Years.

8. THE CUTTING EDGE

Genre: Romantic-Comedy

Description: The story revolves around Kate Moseley (Moira Kelley) and Doug Dorsey (D.B Sweeney). Kate, a rich girl and spoiled brat, trains to compete in the Winter Olympics as a figure ice skater. Doug is also an Olympian in the hockey team, but during the formal Olympic game, he was forced to retire when he suffered from an eye injury. Later, they find themselves competing in the Olympics as a pair.

Why I like it? Well, the romance between Kate and Doug is super cute it makes you fall in love all over again, the magic of innocence never stops! Very simple and yet splendid and dreamy :-)

Starring: D.B Sweeney and Moira Kelley
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
First Release: 1992

Claim to fame: It was a huge hit in the early 1990s many people love the feel-good plot because it was so sweet, romantic and relaxing. 

9. LORD OF THE RINGS, THE RETURN OF THE KINGS

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Description: The final installment of the Lord of the Rings triology. Frodo and Sam finally reached the Mount Doom and destroyed the Ring restoring peace and harmony in the Middle Earth. The Hobbits returned to Shire. Bilbo Baggins and Frodo left Shire and travelled with Gandalf to the Undying Lands.

Why I like it? Its Cinematic value. The Lord of the Rings story itself is spellbinding, very captivating, no dull moment.

Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen
Director: Peter Jackson
First Released: 2003

Claim to fame:  Based on the second and third volumes of J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the only fantasy film that won Best Picture award at the Oscars and the only film in cinema history that won all its nominations. Nominated in 11 categories and won it all. It tied with Ben-Hur and Titanic for the largest number of awards won at the Oscars.  One of the Greatest Films listed by EMPIRE

10. THE MISSION

Genre: Historial, Drama, Religious

Description: Tackles a religious theme. Retelling the story of the Jesuit Missionaries that enter the South American jungle to Christianize the Guarani tribe. The territory, which borders Argentina and Paraguay, had been disputed by Portugal and Spain. When the village was attacked by Portuguese and Spanish forces, the missionaries defended the Guaranis and died fighting for their mission.

Why I like it? After watching this film, I had so many realizations in my life, understanding better the core of my Catholic faith. Very beautiful film indeed. It was in this film that I saw the spectacular and breathtaking Iguazu Falls in Paraguay. Terrific Cinematography.

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Robert Deniro, Liam Neeson
Directed by: Roland Joffe
First Released: 1986 (I watched this film in 2011 in DVD)

Claim to fame: Vatican Palace declared it as one of the most beautiful religious films of all time. It garnered 7 nominations in the 1987 Oscar Awards and won Best Cinematography. Number one in the Church's Times Best Religious Films List.

ROUNDING MY FAVORITE 20 FILMS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

11. Forbidden Kingdom (2008) Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Directed by Rob Minkoff
Starring: Jacky Chan and Jet Li

12. Face Off (1997) Genre: Action
 Directed by John Woo
Starring: Nicholas Cage and John Travolta

13. A View to a Kill-James Bond 007 (1989) Genre: Spy, Action
Directed by John Glen
Starring: Roger Moore

14. Entrapment (1999) Genre: Action
Directed by Jon Amiel
Starring: Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones

15. The Mummy Returns (2002) Genre: Horror, Fantasy Adventure
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring:Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz

16. Schindler's List (1993) Genre: Drama, Historical
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Liam Neeson

17. Scream (1996) Genre: Horror, Suspense
Directed by: Wez Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell

18. The First Knight (1995) Genre: Drama, Historical
Directed by: Jerry Zucker
Starring: Richard Gere, Sean Connery, Julia Ormond

19. Shanghai Knights (2003) Genre: Action, Comedy
Directed by: David Dobkin
Starring: Jacky Chan, Owen Wilson

20. Ghost (1990) Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Directed by: Jerry Zucker
Starring: Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze

The Greatest Films that consistently topped the list of almost all institutes and surveys are the following (I'm still looking for a DVD copy of each of these films)

1. Citizen Kane (1941)
2. Ben-Hur (1959)
3. Casablanca (1942)
4. Gone with the Wind (1939)
5. Raging Bull (1980)
6. All About Eve (1950)
7. Vertigo (1958)
8. The Godfather (1972)
9. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
11. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
12. Psycho (1960)
13. Star Wars (1977)
14. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
15. The Graduate (1967)

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