No, this isn’t a penultimate list, but I had the idea to expand on an earlier blog. So, in no particular order…
1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Why? Oh, I’ve only seen it three times in the past week. I sat and watched all of it last weekend, then it was on back-to-back again Saturday night. This is by far my favorite out of the franchise and simply because it’s the most different from the others. It’s dark, it’s the most gory, and it has Kate Capshaw’s blood-curdling scream. The violence was so extreme by 1984 standards, the PG-13 rating was created in its wake; I was 8 and I wasn’t scared. Oh yeah and Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) is the best kid ever to star alongside Harrison Ford. For uber nerds, chronologically, this story takes place BEFORE Raiders of the Lost Ark. And who doesn’t love the campy Busby Berkeley “Anything Goes” opening number? I’m sold every time!
2. True Grit: And make that the original 1969 version starring John Wayne is his only Oscar-winning performance as Rooster Cogburn. I have nothing against the Coen brothers’ remake, it’s really good and it stays in line with the book, but the original movie is more fun, yet gritty (pun!) at the same time. You add Kim Darby’s bowl cut and Glen Campbell’s smart ass, and you’ve got an instant classic worth watching.
3. Napoleon Dynamite: Dangit! It’s one of the most quotable movies I’ve ever seen and one of the most honest depictions of misfits in high school. Who knew a very low budget indie film made for $400,000 would go on to gross nearly $50 million. It’s an instant cult classic. As I’m sitting on my couch I’m looking at my Napoleon Dynamite fleece blanket. I still laugh as hard as I did the first time every time I watch it. Plus it spawned an animated sitcom that aired earlier this year on FOX, and it wasn’t bad.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird: I just saw a fascinating bio of author Harper Lee a few weeks ago, it’s hard to believe her only novel would translate into a beloved classic. I can relate to Scout. She’s a tomboy, she doesn’t like to wear dresses, she fights with the boys, yet she’s sensitive. Although the movie and the novel have a heavy social message, the characters are curious to watch and the black and white cinematography is perfect.
5. Pretty in Pink: I didn’t see this movie until way after 1986, and I’m glad I was converted. It’s the first DVD I ever received as a gift. I think it’s the best out of the John Hughes “Molly Ringwald is my muse” films. Again, it focuses on the microcosm of social groups in high school, the geeks/freaks vs. the rich snobs. When a snob, Blaine (Andrew McCarthy) asks out a freak Andie (Ringwald), they don’t exactly change the landscape of their surroundings which is how the story should be. Sure, Andie and Blaine reunite at the prom, but did they stay together? We’ll never know. Obviously, the most remembered character is Jon Cryer as Phillip “Duckie” Dale; the geeky hipster loser who longs for Andie. Damn, he had good taste in music. And Annie Potts is in it! Bonus!
6. JFK: I swear, this not turning into a list of my favorite movies. This one is an interesting choice, because it’s over 3 hours long, but I could watch it over and over. I think I have to watch it because I’m always searching for more things I missed, more clues as to who really assassinated Kennedy. The cast is incredible anchored by Kevin Costner.
7. Annie: It’s fun when you find a movie that brings back so many memories. It came out when I was in 1st grade and I carried an Annie lunchbox and book bag to school. At a slumber party at a friend’s house down the street, we acted out scenes from the orphanage, and I think a fight broke over who was going to play Miss Hannigan. No, I was not involved. Ah, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, pure comedic genius, though I had no idea Burnett grew up in a family of alcoholics. Ooh, another memory, when I got my first tape player/recorder, of course I had the Annie soundtrack and I wore it out! My sister was barely 2 then, but I have a recording of where she is singing “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”. Who knew I would be more into Motley Crue two years later.
8. Fargo: To be fair, I could include more than just one Coen brothers entry on this list. O Brother, Where Art Thou? was on a few weeks ago, yep, I watched a little bit. And just the other night, I watched the first film they ever made, Blood Simple, which is very out there, which all of their movies are in one way or another. What’s great about the Coens, they do black comedy better than anyone. There are fall-down funny moments in Fargo-thank God for Steve Buscemi– yet you always remember the main story of extortion, kidnapping, and some pretty brutal violence (hello, wood chipper!) And Frances McDormand aka Mrs. Joel Cohen is brilliant as expectant mother and police chief Marge Gunderson (Oscar winner!). Yah!
9. Flash Gordon: There were many bad movies in the early 80’s, but some pale in comparison to the Dino DeLaurentiis 1980 camp fest posing as a sci-fi flick. I think one reason this movie has stayed popular is the Queen soundtrack. I’ve had all of it on my iPod from day one and it still gets me. It’s sad, because Flash Gordon was once a popular comic strip, TV serial that recurred as a TV series in the 50’s, and two updated TV series, one animated, and one live action series produced for the SciFi channel. I would say it’s probably time to put old Flash to bed, but I can’t stop watching that damn movie!