Tag Archives: Favorite Movies Ever

The Set of 400: #113 – My Favorite Impromtu Subway Stop

Today! Because I always hated this place –

Skyfall (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Daniel Craig (x3), Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes (x2), Albert Finney (x3), Rory Kinnear, Berenice Marlohe, Ola Rapace

Man, the Bond floodgates really opened here! For the third time in the last forty movies, we’ve got Ian Fleming all up in this piece. And unless I’m eyeballing the rest of the list incorrectly, we’ve got two Bonds still to come. Skyfall is my third favorite Bond movie? Really? Okay, I’ll take it. I wouldn’t have figured on this before, but as I said in #138 From Russia With Love (I think), my main enjoyment of the character is the very early films, and the very recent ones, and everything in between just blurs together. Even Moonraker.

Even as comically distinct as Moonraker is

In something that might only interest me, Skyfall also marked the end of one of the more interesting box office phenomenons ever. Across eight movies, covering 23 years, every James Bond movie outperformed the previous film in domestic gross. Come with me on this journey – starting in ’89 with License to Kill ($34.6 million) to GoldenEye ($106.4) to Tomorrow Never Dies ($125.3) to The World is Not Enough ($126.9) to Die Another Day ($160.9) to Casino Royale ($167.4) to Quantum of Solace ($168.3) to Skyfall, top of the heap at a whopping $304.3! I mean, there are a lot of narrow gains in there, but still, I don’t know of another film series that can claim anything like this. Fast and Furiouses three through seven all improved on each other, but that’s five movies in nine years. Not even close! Way to come along and screw the whole thing up, Spectre! Still the second highest grossing Bond film at $200 even, but come on!

We were all pulling for you, Spectre!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #114 – My Favorite Aspirational Milkman

Today! Because I know, we are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Directed by Norman Jewison

Starring Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh, Paul Michael Glazer, Ray Lovelock, Louis Zorich (x2), Paul Mann, Neva Small, Barry Dennen (x3), Roger Lloyd Pack

There are plenty of movies with music still to come, and a bunch of films that could be classified in some way as movie musicals, but as far as stage adaptations to the big screen, Fiddler on the Roof is my second favorite, apparently! How about that build up with little payoff? I would also contend that it is the best musical adaptation ever made, fully realizing the vast number of ’60s Best Picture winners this shoves behind it – your Sound of Music, Oliver!, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, etc.

Most stage adaptations – no matter how hard they try to update and rearrange them for film – still have a nearly unbreakable staginess to them. While this doesn’t bother me much with plays-to-screen, musicals are such a grander experience in general that they need to really open up and do dramatically different production and sound designs, to try and utilize the medium to support the unnaturalness of spontaneous songs. I’m not saying a bunch of other movies haven’t done this well – the staging of 2012’s Les Miserables is incredible, even if the movie just missed this list – but I genuinely can’t remember a movie that worked better in this regard than Fiddler.

And that’s with all the fourth wall breaking going on. On stage, it works fine – breaking the fourth wall is such a standard convention in theater that it’s not disconcerting. And, okay, strictly speaking that’s not what’s going on here either (he’s talking to God, but in the direction of the audience/camera, so…) but it could’ve been a disaster. However, Topol’s brilliant work as Tevye – commanding, charming, sympathetic, and yet massively flawed – gives the on-screen narration a peculiar authenticity, and helps immerse us into the early 1900s Russian village of Anatevka.

The Music Box in Chicago has taken to screening this movie on Christmas Day, which is a tradition I can get behind

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #115 – My Favorite Dystopia, Brought to You By Carl’s Jr.

Today! Because #1: We’ve got this guy Not Sure. #2: He’s got a higher IQ than any man alive and #3: He’s going to fix everything –

Idiocracy (2006)

Directed by Mike Judge (x2)

Starring Luke Wilson (x2), Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, David Herman (x3), Anthony Campos, Justin Long (x4), Stephen Root (x5), Thomas Haden Church (x2), Andrew Wilson (x2), Greg Pitts (x2), Kevin Klee, Brad ‘Scarface’ Jordan, Brendan Hill, Sara Rue

I wish I had been including it all along, because I’m curious where Idiocracy would rank in terms of box office on this list. #399, maybe? #307 The Return of Captain Invincible had virtually no release whatsoever, so that’s probably last, but this is damn close. Completely abandoned by Fox in its often delayed release, Idiocracy only ran on 130 screens for about two weeks, grossing $444,000 per the Mojo. Test screenings were apparently bad, plus they were nervous about the film taking shots at many existing brands – Starbucks, Fox News, Fuddruckers, Costco, and Carl’s Jr. most notably. Fox claimed they didn’t know how to market it – a claim also made seven years earlier when they managed to flop Judge’s other classic, Office Space. So Judge took his next film, Extract, to Miramax – where it also didn’t make money. Ah well!

The world was not ready for this movie

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #116 – My Favorite Bottle of Suds

Today! Because I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook –

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Starring Morgan Freeman (x3), Tim Robbins (x3), Bob Gunton (x4), Clancy Brown (x2), William Sadler (x2), James Whitmore, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston (x2), David Proval, Brian Libby

How great a year for movies was 1994? It was so great that The Shawshank Redemption – by popular acclaim the greatest movie ever made, if IMDB ratings are to be believed – is my sixth favorite movie from that year. Sixth! ’94 was so great that even though it was plenty revered in its day, there was no hint whatsoever of it actually winning Best Picture. Hell, it didn’t really win anything – only nominated for Screenplay and Actor for Freeman at the Golden Globes, it then picked up a slew of Oscar nominations, including Picture, Screenplay, Actor (Freeman again), Cinematography, Sound, Film Editing, Score – and lost every single one. It was named one of the ten best movies of the year by the National Board of Review, and did enter the National Film Registry in 2015, so that’s something, but for a movie that to a man everyone agrees is beyond words great, is basically perfect, it had the huge misfortune of being released in one of the the four or five best movie years ever. Hard luck, Shawshank!

You ain’t nuthin’, Corleones!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #117 – My Favorite Pomade

Today! Because we’re in a tight spot –

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x4)

Starring George Clooney (x4), John Turturro (x3), Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman (x5), Charles Durning (x3), Stephen Root (x4), Michael Badalucco (x3), Chris Thomas King, Daniel von Bargen (x3), Ray McKinnon, Frank Collison, Lee Weaver, Wayne Duvall, Ed Gale

When I first saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? in theaters, I was not overly impressed. In my Epinions.com review from that time (R.I.P. Epinions!), I believe I titled the post “The Acme of Foolishness,” taking a line directly from the film, because I thought I was one cute motherfucker. Whereas I normally quickly and whole-heartedly embrace Coen films, this one just didn’t work for me. Initially.

However, one thing I did glom onto right quick was the soundtrack – probably the lasting memory most people have of this movie, if they ever bothered to see it. So popular was T. Bone Burnett’s compilation/re-imagining of that sweet old timey music (#1 on the Billboard chart! 8x Platinum!), that it stayed in the public consciousness far longer than the film remained in theaters (It did gross $45 million – decent by Coen standards). And as you’ve likely gathered from what’s come before on this list, music/musicals register pretty high with this guy, so incessant listening to this CD kept me thinking and reevaluating this movie until finally I learned to like it, then madly love it. Epinions Joe got it way wrong!

And I don’t think Clooney has ever been properly credited for his dancing

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #118 – My Favorite Dutch Mirror Interrogation

Today! Because you’re a malfunctioning $30 million weapon. You’re a total goddamn catastrophe –

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Directed by Doug Liman

Starring Matt Damon (x6), Franka Potente (x2), Chris Cooper (x2), Brian Cox (x7), Clive Owen, Julia Stiles (x3), Walton Goggins, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gabriel Mann (x2)

That’s right, folks – all three Bourne films are on the list, and none cracked the top 100! Weird, right? First Toy Story, and now this travesty? Well, it wasn’t always this way. Without consulting past lists – I’m saving that for some unspecified time in the future of this countdown – I know at least two of the Bournes typically would crack the 100 – that was the entire size of the list in the past, you’ll remember. So what happened here? My guess is that as these movies tend to blend together for me, differentiating became harder and so they merged into this portion of the list – they all appear here between #118 and #195 – and could not push forward as a group or individually. As you’ll see when you finally get to the top 100 – starting day after Tax Day! Get your shit in order! – it’s comprised in near equal parts with gigantic films familiar to every living soul on the planet and an assortment of cult movies and/or downright disregarded household classics I’ve overcome my shame of admitting how much I enjoy them.

No matter how many times eight-year-old Joe watched it, Masters of the Universe wasn’t making the list, however

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #119 – My Favorite Attic Home Movies

Today! Because I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery –

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Starring Chevy Chase (x3), Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid (x3), Juliette Lewis (x3), Johnny Galecki, Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall (x3), Doris Roberts, John Randolph, William Hickey (x3), Mae Questel, Miriam Flynn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (x2), Nicholas Guest, Brian Doyle-Murray (x4), Sam McMurray, Alexander Folk, Cody Burger, Ellen Latzen, Nicolette Scorsese

The funniest Christmas movie ever made, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation also falls into that oft-mentioned scenario where I think of its predecessors as being prequels. In other cases like this, it usually plays out that the sequel is so vastly superior to the original movie that I can’t help but think of the films this way. Here though, the issue is more that I’ve seen (and I actively see) Christmas Vacation way more than Vacation or European Vacation. The original Vacation is still a really funny movie, and without it some little bits in Christmas probably wouldn’t work as well – some, like the car getting such major air, are straight retread jokes – but I’m going to estimate that I’ve seen Christmas Vacation three or four dozen times in my life, whereas I’ve probably sat and watched Vacation once in the last two decades.

It also has one of the most perfect last lines in movie history

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies