DISCLAIMER: Joel's 'Top 50 Films Of All Time' is a subjective list. This list can change at any time and is not set in concrete. As Joel watches films on a weekly basis, this list is a living organism. This current incarnation of the list is also only as of the time of creating it. Thank you for reading and enjoy! (I do expect some backlash from my decisions.)
On this list, you will find instances where more than one film is listed. This is because either there was a tie or the films somehow tie in with each other and make one selection in my mind. At each occurance, I will do my best to explain the reasoning behind my decision.
# 25: 'True Romance'
I keep debating about putting this film higher up on the list, but I've settled here and I think it'll stay here. The reason for my second guessing myself, is that this is kind of the first film that made me truly fall in love with film. The story goes a little something like this: I went to the video store with my buddy Josh. It was 1993 and I very rarely watched movies. He directed me towards the box for 'True Romance'. It looked interesting, but I had no idea who all of the people were that were listed on the box. I had never heard of the director, nor did I even care who directed it.... let alone who wrote it. We took it home and watched it. I fell in love from the time the credits began to roll. Every name that came up on the screen was burned into my brain and they have remained there ever since. This was the changing point in my life, granted, it would still be a couple of years before I took the BIG leap into film, but this got my swimming in a slightly deeper end of the pool. If you haven't seen this film, let me break down the people involved: director - Tony Scott (brother of Ridley Scott and director of 'Days of Thunder', 'Man on Fire', 'Domino' and 'The Last Boy Scout' just to name a few), writer - Quentin Tarantino (if you don't know who he is, are you sure you're reaing the right blog....?), original music by - Hans Zimmer and starred: Christan Slater, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Saul Rubinek, Michael Rappaport, James Gandolfini, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Maria Patillo, Kevin Corrigan and none other than Patricia Arquette. She is, because of this film, my all time favorite actress and I still love her today. How can you beat all of this talent in one place? To be honest, it's hard to do if not impossible to do. Have you stopped reading this to go and watch 'True Romance' yet?
The plot revolves around a comic shop worker who hooks up with a new call girl and their attempts to sell a hell of a lot of cocaine that they got from her former pimp.... on accident. They're being hunted and the whole time are fostering a brand new relationship and marriage. It all ends in a HUGE climax of a Mexican stand off. It's HUGE. This film hits every single pressure point on the body and never misses a beat. 5 stars isn't really enough to give this film, it's just an amazing example of what a perfect storm looks like. Again, I don't know why this ends up here on the list, but it does and it may have something to do with the fact that I want to keep it grounded. If I push it too high, then my expectations will be raised for everytime I see it and I don't want to ever dislike this film.... for any reason. I only hope that this review didn't set an expectation that can never be reached. This is, after all, just a film. It started a lot of careers for people, it furthered the careers for others and it allowed a new writer to get his voice heard so that he could soon start making his own films. (Although, 'Reservoir Dogs' had already been released.) Anyway, I highly recommend that you see this film if you never have before. Seriously. (And deep down, if you want, you can think of this as my #1 pick.... because in a way, it just might be that film.)
# 24: 'The Shining' (1980)
I'm not 100% sure when my love affair with Jack Nicholson as an actor, had started.... but he was and still is at the top of my list as my favorite actor. 'The Shining' is just one of his many amazing examples of why he's Hollywood royalty. Not too mention, during the 70's and even the early 80's, Jack was in prime form. When you take those factors and tie them in with the direction of Stanley Kurbick, you get this film.... a masterpiece of cinema. It's ilke watching a piece of artwork come to life. Stanley shows us all how to paint a picture with celluloid and lenses. You can easily tell in the first 15 minutes of the film what you're going to expect for the remaining time watching it. Now, the film isn't a super duper barn burner. It is very methodically paced and you have to be willing to spend your time focused on what you're seeing. It isn't one body hitting the floor after another or gunfire every 10 minutes, this film is one that builds up to its climax. It's a worthwhile ending if you can spend the time invested in the beginning. Something else you should know, this film is a departure from the original book by Stephen King. He made his version of it years later, in 1997, with Steven Weber.... a version I haven't yet seen. To be honest, I'm not really sure that I want to see it. The only thing that draws me to this version is that Stephen King, himself, if in the movie and it was filmed at The Stanley Hotel in Colorado.... where the original book had been written.
'The Shining' follows Jack Torrance's life as he takes his wife and son to live at The Overlook hotel over the winter months. He is the onsite caretaker and it's only him and his family that live there. It's a huge hotel and there had been a tragedy with the previous caretaker, he had killed his entire family. Soon, Jack begins to change and his family becomes afraid and we become a wittness to the demise of one man's sanity and his descent into another life. It's a chilling film that only gives up certain details as you need to be made aware of them. There is a lot of times during this film that you're not sure what's real and what isn't. There are obvious ghosts and paranormal activity, but is it just in Jack's mind? And why is it that his son is psychically linked with the former tennants and with the man that he met that takes care of the hotel during the regular seasons? This is my favorite Kubrick film and one of my top 5 Jack Nicholson films. It has all the ear marks of an amazing ghost story and serial killer tale. There are so many good things going for this film that it bleeds over into the special features for this film as well. What I'm saying is, that if you watch this film.... you should make time to watch the extra stuff too. It's worth your time. This film is a 5 star homerun and has an often copied template for modern horror. If you have the time and the focus, this is one film that you need to add to your mental film library, soon. Why? Because "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." End of sentence.
# 23: 'Hobo With A Shotgun'
I know I've made it no secret that this film was in my 'Top 50' list, I've already written a review for it and rather than bore you with more praise.... you can read the original post here: http://amomentarylapsewithjoel.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-thoughts-on-hobo-with-shotgun.html . 5 stars, brillant film.
# 22: 'Dumb and Dumber'/ 'Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy'
(the poster is for 'Dumb and Dumber'.... the trailer below is for 'Anchoman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy'....)
I can't say enough good things about both of these films. I've been a fan of 'Dumb and Dumber' since the first time I saw it. I watched it several times in a row the first time I rented it. 'Anchorman' wasn't quite the same story. I was a later fan of Will Ferrell than most. It also took a couple of viewings to really get into this film. However, I'm now a HUGE fan of 'Anchorman' and I have watched it more times then I can count. I love it. Both of these films are so damn good that you can enjoy them by yourself or with friends. That, to me, is a great sign that a comedy is a success. I know that these two films are popular choices and there isn't anything wrong with that, is there? Just because a film is popular, doesn't make it a bad film. I mean, it's popular for a reason, right?
'Dumb and Dumber' follows the cross country trip of Harry and Lloyd as they attempt to return a briefcase full of money to a woman in Colorado. 'Anchorman' is about a news team in the 70's, who are forced to take on a female co-anchor. Fairly basic plots for both.... but there is SO much more to these films than the synopsis's would suggest. Not only have the actors gone on to do bigger and better things, but the directors and writers as well. Most of them had some sort of career ahead of time, but these are the ones that they'll put at the top of their resumes. I feel that 5 stars is well earned for each film and I am proud that they're both a part of my DVD library. As a matter of fact, I just watched them both a few nights ago due to this list. LOL.... I love it and so should you.
# 21: 'The Exorcist'
I don't know what I can say about 'The Exorcist' that hasn't already been said before. It is always near the top of every list ever made by horror lovers for the scariest film of all time. I can honestly say that I have a hard time watching this film, even now.... it scares the crap out of me. I tried reading the book once and it gave me massive headaches. I had to stop reading it. The film doesn't have that effect, but it still freaks me out. Linda Blair turns in an amazing performance that she has never topped and she was just a kid at the time. It's such a simple concept for a film, but William Friedkin masterfully pulls all of the strings of our childhood fears in such a way that this film has stood the test of time and trials. It's also spawned several prequels and sequels, but none of them have ever matched the original. As a matter of fact, if I was to make a 'Worst 50 Films of All Time' list.... 'The Exorcist 2: The Heretic' would probably be at #1. Ugh.
The story here is about Regan MacNeil, a 12 year old little girl who ends up being possessed by a demon after fooling around with a oujia board and a thing calling itself, Captain Howdy. A priest is eventually called in to try and remove the entity from Regan. The priest is joined by another, younger, priest and they determine who the evil is and fight with it for the little girls life. This film has so many distubring things going on within its 122 minute run time. Some of it implied, some of it not. As if it wasn't scary enough, they re-releaesed the film as "The Version You've Never Seen". It included new footage, including a 'spider walk' down the stairs by Regan. Rarely does added footage enhance a film, see 'Star Wars', but in this case.... I think it does. It made a scarier film, even scarier and has now left us with two versions of one amazing film. This film is probably always going to be #1 on my list of 'Scariest Films Of All Time', but it'll have to settle for #21 on this list.