Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top 100 Movies of the Last 25 Years (1984-2009): Part 5

60. Rain Man - Despite winning four Academy Awards in 1989, Rain Man still falls into the love/hate category, even today. Well in case there was any confusion, I fit on the love side. Dustin Hoffman gives the performance of a lifetime, as the unknown son of a rich yuppie who receives most of his fortune, then sees himself wisked away by his older brother (Tom Cruise), who is looking to capture what he feels is his rightful money. While it can sometimes be pat, Hoffman's endearing performance and Levinson's supple script make for excellent entertainment.

59. Pretty Woman - Before she went all serious on us in Erin Brocovich, Julia Roberts was America's Sweetheart, and this quirky little romance between a hooker and an upper-class businessman was the crowning achievement of that well-earned title. What could have been a class-less, taudry movie about hookers, turns quickly into an endearing, warm romantic comedy that capitalizes on conventions, and makes a fun, and romantic story that captured the hearts of Americans, including all the hookers with hearts of gold.

58. The Color Purple - Steven Spielberg, in his early days at least, was a sci-fi master, creating some of the best movies in that genre we had ever seen. But in 1985, he broke from that form and tackled one of the most serious, deep American novels of 20th century. What could have been a complete disaster turned into one of the most poignant and moving films of the last quarter century. It was nominated for 11 Oscars, and in a cruel twist of fate, lost every single one of them. But no one will ever forget the incredible performances from Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, or Oprah, nor will they forget the power of this beautiful film.

57. The Hurt Locker - I know what you're saying....weren't you not exactly this film's biggest fan? True as it may be, I cannot deny the power, grittiness, and lasting impression that Kathryn Bigelow's little gem had on me, and apparently the Academy. What The Hurt Locker perfectly captured the grittiness, harshness, and reality of our current oversea endeavors. More importantly, it finally gave the world a reason to honor the brilliant, yet underground and underseen career of the great Kathryn Bigelow, and if that isn't worth a spot on this countdown, then I don't know what is.

56. Children of Men- This post-apocalyptic thriller that came out in the best year for movies in the last 8 or so, 2006, would have been in the top ten spots had there been ten nominees. This dark fantasy world not only boasted great performances, but it gave us all a message to take home. Really Children of Men is just one of the many fantasy movies that teleports us to a made-up world, yet gives us lessons on our lives that can be taken back with us to reality. Not to mention that the story of the one pregnant woman who must be transported to save mankind in the year 2027 is totally awesome.

55. Dead Man Walking - This is the story that all of us face everytime we turn on CNN. We see that a brutal murder has occured, and the first you want to do is see the bastard fry. Then you start to here that person's story. Then suddenly you are torn between feeling sorry for the person, and feeling sorry for the victim and their families. Dead Man Walking perfectly captured this struggle, and featured some incredible performances from Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Featuring a surprising excellent direction from Tim Robbins, Dead Man Walking turned out to be objective, yet moving.

54. Office Space - When this film first hit theatres it was a huge bomb, and went away without a peep. But like all great underdogs, it came roaring back as huge cult hit, and is not a pop culture phenomenon (as i sit here typing in my Bill Lumbergh t-shirt), and has become one of the most popular and well-received films of the last 25 years. It was quirky, featured some great performances, and more importantly expressed what every individual who has ever worked through the monotamous grind of office work, always wanted to say, and do, and that is an achievement.

53. No Country for Old Men - In 2007 The Coen Bros. once again proved that they could create excellent art. But instead of having a comedy, or even a dramedy, they went straight to their most serious, dark film to date. When a case full of money is taken from a drug deal gone wrong, an infamous cat and mouse chase begins, with the frightening Anton on the prowl. Between the mood that they created, matched perfectly with a Hitchcockian style, and the best silent scenes ever written, combined with endearing performances, especially the bruding Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men have us all at the edge of our seats. If only we could figure out what actually happened....guess that is the magic of suspense.

52. The Lion King - In my senior English class in highschool, we had to discuss the artistic merit of Hamlet based on an academic argument between T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis. In mine, I took it a step furhter and argued that a particular remake of that classic story was more of a work of art than Shakespeare's original, that movie was The Lion King. With vivid animation, classic music from the great Elton John, and a variety of capable voice performances, The Lion King perfectly capped Disney's animated comeback, and set the bar for films to come.

51. Godsford Park - While it is no Nashville, Robert Altman's quirky British murder-mystery remains one of the best entries into his incredible arsenal, and continues his incredible string of ensemble-based movies, that no one has quite been able to match since (although many have tried). Had some great actors like Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, and Michael Gambon, as well as the best script of the last decade, and an endearing director whose memory still lives on.

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