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Added by mhthehammer on 7 Jan 2021 10:25

Best Picture Nominees (in Ten Sentences)

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To be honest, "My Left Foot" is without any doubt my favorite movie. The reason is because it changed my life and it spoke to me not just as a person with a disability, but a human who wanted to blend in socially and express his artist merit. The biopic is based on a memoir by Irish artist and writer Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), who suffered from cerebral palsy. The disorder has crippled his social skills and everything else in his body except his left foot. At first, everyone, apart from his mother (Brenda Fricker), made fun of him and treated him like the black sheep of Ireland. However, as soon as his artwork and his writing flourished, they respected him as a human being. As mentioned before, the reason why I relate to "My Left Foot" is that I lived through many of Christy’s experiences, whether getting private tutoring on the weekends, having temperamental outbursts, showcasing my artwork, attempting to form a romantic relationship and even contemplating suicide. In fact, it has gotten to a point where I thought I was reliving my past and sympathized with him and his quest for true love. In fact, most people with not just CP but with any disability can relate to Christy in some way. Some people may say it’s too long, others say it’s preachy, but, to me, no movie can faithfully capture the struggle of a disabled man than "My Left Foot." (5 Whiskey Bottles out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 4485 Average listal rating (3007 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8
As the first animated Best Picture nominee, "Beauty and the Beast" is about a cursed prince (Robbie Benson) trapped in an enchanted castle who must break his spell and regain his sense of humanity by earning Belle’s (Paige O’Hara) love. Meanwhile, the young woman’s romance isn’t shared by her provincial town as Gaston (Richard White) wants to kill the beast so he could marry her. When I was a kid, this was the movie I watched the most. I would pause the videotape in the prologue scene, take out a piece of paper, and hand draw every sun glare and stained glass shard in that scene. However, as an adult, I have grown to watch this movie more often, not just because of the story, but I fell in love with the designs of the beast’s castle, the seamless animation movements, the majestic transformation sequence, and other details I may have missed. To me, what made this movie so great is not just the beautiful animation and allusions to other Disney animated classics like "Snow White" and "Cinderella." Instead, "Beauty and the Beast" works because it perfectly balances between being faithful to the fairy tale and making modern interpretations of the timeless story. For instance, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise fleshed out Belle's arc and evolved her into a bookworm who desires for a life outside of her boring pedestrian village. On top of that, the broadway-style songs are catchy, done by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman and sung by giants like Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury. I could go on with the list of what’s excellent about "Beauty and the Beast," but instead I will say Disney has made a masterpiece once again. The special amount of love the animators put into glorifying every drawing, painted cel, and computer generated imagery makes the movie hard to top. (5 Pies and Puddings en Flambe out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 2330 Average listal rating (1578 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.2
"L.A. Confidential" is not just a case study on hate crime, drug smuggling and high class pornography. Instead, Curtis Hansen’s 1997 neo-noir classic carries a theme of fiction and imagery over truth and realism. Every character in the movie and the James Ellroy novel is either involved in an undercover conspiracy or under a disguise. Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), Buzz Meeks (Darrell Sandeen), Dick Stenzland (Graham Beckel), and Pierce Patchett (David Straithairn) are part of a heroin smuggling group run by Mickey Cohen (Paul Guilfoyle). While Smith and Meeks were the perpetrators of the Nite Owl Cafe shootings and yet arrested a trio of African-American rapists, Stenz and Patchett were part of Fleur de Lis, a private pornographic company founded by Patchett that fixes women to look like movie stars. Meanwhile, Stenz, one of the victims of the cafe shootings, killed Meeks over heroin behind his colleague’s backs and hid the body under Susan Lefferts’s mother’s (Gwenda Deacon) house. That is also no coincidence that Lefferts (Amber Smith), one that looks like Rita Hayworth and another victim in the Nite Owl, is one of Patchett’s prostitutes along with Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), the Veronica Lake look-alike. Furthermore, Detective Bud White (Russell Crowe) has an intimate relationship with Bracken behind every one’s backs while also garnishing information out of her. To add more corruption to the Los Angeles Police Department, Smith and his posse murder actor Matt Reynolds (Simon Baker Denny), Hush-Hush tabloid journalist Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito), and Hollywood narcotics detective Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) and blackmail White with photographs of Bracken’s private affair with Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) to keep him out of the way. So, it’s up to White and Exley to uncrack the conspiracy and restore justice in the LAPD crime circuit. (5 Blood-Stained Christmas Ties out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 6107 Average listal rating (4134 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
One of the most fiercely dratted sinnies of the 20th century, "A Clockwork Orange" vareets a raskazz about a oozhassny malchik delinquent Alexander deLarge (Malcolm McDowell) who becomes a plenny and partakes in the Ludovico Technique. The experiment, my brothers, has shifted him into a societal shkura, taking away his jeezny and chances of the old in-out-in-out and a bit of krovvy work and ultra-violence. Once the results go haywire, Alex attempts suicide and Minister Fredirick (Anthony Sharp), who krysied him earlier, offers an appypolly loggy for the experiment and thus, he’s “cured”. Honestly, my droogs, no sinny moodge could have govoreeted Mr. Anthony Burgess’s slovos better than Stanley Kubrick, even if Burgess’s rabbit had stunk of mersky American fabrication. Even with how faithful "A Clockwork Orange" was to the Angliski writer’s goloss, Kubrick snuffed away one vital, conventional chapter, which kovated into Alex’s path to maturity. Maybe excluding the 21st chapter in “A Clockwork Orange” biblio made the ending in the film more open to interpretation. The final line Alex skazats during the fantasy orgy suggests that he was sarky because the Minister presented him with Ludwig Van’s 9th, causing his nirvanic trance once again. However, at the bolnitsa, The Minister offers a rabbit for Alex as long as the moloko plus-drinking prestoopnik kot controls his britva-sharp rookers and pan-handle. In case my Nadsat langy wasn’t clear enough, oh my brethren, "A Clockwork Orange" was a tremendously horrorshow adaptation of an already ultra-violent biblio. (5 Blue Yarbles out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1659 Average listal rating (1143 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1
Wes Anderson’s first Academy Award-winning output "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a film you want to cuddle with, it’s so warm, witty, and magical. The author (Tom Wilkinson) narrates about his journey to the Alpine luxury suite the Grand Budapest and his encounter with himself (Jude Law) and the elderly melancholic owner Zero Moustafa (F Murray Abraham). When he was a boy in 1932, he (Tony Revolori) worked there as a bellhop for Monsieur Gustav (Ralph Fiennes) and conspired a caper of the painting “Boy with Apple,” a gift inherited to Gustav by Madame Desgoffe und Taxis (Tilda Swinton), from her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) who hired his bodyguard Jopling (Willem Dafoe) to annihilate them. During these events, Zero developed a relationship with Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), a pastry chef who served as his alibi and was the trigger of his later torment, her death. Wes Anderson is one of the biggest artists in the 21st Century, combining artificiality and French New Wave crisp with quirky eye candy and whimsical irony. Nowhere has his fussy world-building been so showcased as "The Grand Budapest Hotel," although "Moonrise Kingdom" is a better movie. Every single adult is built up as a person of higher power, yet their actions are that of children. While ironically, the teens and children are intellectually superior to adults and always find ways to fix messy problems and resolve conflict. On the subject of mise en scene, he crafts subplots and descriptions in the background like a war taking place in Zubrowka, police warrant descriptions, the Society of the Crossed Keys, and the Desgoffe und Taxis family tree. These elements are what make Wes Anderson a prolific modern filmmaker and films like "The Grand Budapest Hotel" so imaginative and wonderful. (5 L’air de Panache Bottles out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 2612 Average listal rating (1642 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.8
Mary Poppins (1964)
The film about the magical nanny (Julie Andrews) who improves the lifestyle of the dysfunctional Banks family with the use of music and adventure, "Mary Poppins" is one of the first Disney movies most children have seen over and over and cherished for the past fifty years. However, the adults can enjoy this movie as well either as a sociopolitical satire on greedy capitalism and liberal childlike hedonism or as a morality tale on letting out your inner child and happily embracing everything around you. For Walt Disney, "Mary Poppins," a story he promised his daughters he would adapt after the success of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," was a fight and a piece of disguised autobiography. The struggle began in 1938 when he granted permission from P.L. Travers to adapt her book into one of his features. At least 20 years later, he met with Travers and she immediately disapproved of all the changes done to the movie, including the cheery songs and the animation. That battle may have served as inspiration for the character of George Banks (David Tomlinson) as a stern banker who neglects Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber) and disapproves of Mary Poppins’s ideas. Bert (Dick Van Dyke), the omnipresent Cockney man of many jobs, could be seen as an allusion to Walt himself, the entertainment man who played to the child in everyone and had a huge respect for Poppins. In fact, the climactic confrontation between him and Mr. Banks could mirror Disney's final permission grant from Travers. Yet, only the powerful merriment of Mary, the cinematic magic conjured by the giant entertainment company from Burbank, can resolve the conflict. So, in the end, "Mary Poppins," the ultimate Disney masterpiece, is probably one of Walt’s most personal passion projects he has ever produced. (5 Hottentot Chimney Sweeps out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 4582 Average listal rating (3095 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 8
Jaws (1975)
In the town of Amity, Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) encounters a barrage of spontaneous shark attacks and is on the urge of closing the beaches for people’s safety. He recruits Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Bartholomew Quint (Robert Shaw) to hunt down the undersea eating machine once and for all. Hearing everyone talk about how incredibly scary "Jaws" was and its impact on modern cinema, I was expecting a movie somewhat entertaining with a ton of shark attacks and witty dialogue. To my surprise, the film turned out to be one of the most thrilling films I have seen. Part of that may have been that the majority of "Jaws" focuses on character interactions, the harpoon-sharp script, top-notch performances from the trio leads, clever editing and Hitchcockian suspense. One particular moment, twenty minutes in, is the sign of a tremendous landmark of film editing. Martin is at the beach investigating the ocean for proof of shark attacks that occurred the other night. A transition where beachgoers walk by in the foreground happens between him at the beach and Alex (Jeffrey Voorhees) splashing on an inflatable raft over water. As dated as it looks now, the artistry and the precision of how Steven Spielberg wanted the extra to walk practically in front of the camera in one shot and do the same on another was groundbreaking at the time. Even though it inspired a sea-full of mediocre direct-to-DVD shark movies, "Jaws" will always be the definitive and ultimate one of the bunch. (5 Bad Hats out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1131 Average listal rating (737 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Here’s another film I saw in college, "The Full Monty," a comedy about Gaz (Robert Carlyle) and his quintet of former Sheffield steel factory workers Dave (Mark Addy), Gerald (Tom Wilkinson), Horse (Paul Barber), Guy (Hugo Speer), and Lomper (Steve Huison), who choose a career as Chippendale strippers while also on line for the unemployment office. Gaz, meanwhile, is fighting with his ex-wife Mandy (Emily Woof) for custody money for their son Nathan (William Snape). This movie is by far one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen in years. Part of why "The Full Monty" works is because we have six unemployed tossers, who have had personal and financial troubles, are aiming toward a new job that requires physical agility and nudity, for which they have zero qualifications on. They do trial rehearsals and they end up flinging coins while swinging jackets, smacking each other with belts, running up the wall and falling, and botching up the choreography. I love great mistake moments in movies because these unintentionally awkward moments show the movie’s humor via rawness and honesty. Adding that, there’s a ton of visual, verbal, and physical humor that establish the low class Northern English aesthetic. The best scene is where they are in the employment queue quietly dancing to “Hot Stuff” behind confused onlookers. As soon as they pelvic thrust the Donna Summer song, I can’t help but bust laughing. "The Full Monty" is a brilliant comedy that garnishes a full amount of cheeky laughs. (5 Garden Gnomes with Steel Bars out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1208 Average listal rating (775 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.4
Tootsie (1982)
"Tootsie" is one of those comedies you have to love, whether you laugh with it or feel empowered by its feminist drive. Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), a talented but difficult method actor in New York City decides to land a role in a soap opera “Southwest General,” under the persona of Dorothy Michaels. Soon, during his soaring popularity, he makes a friendship with one of the actresses in the show, Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange), while simultaneously producing a play written by his roommate Jeff Slater (Bill Murray) and trying to impress his student/girlfriend Sandy (Teri Garr), who’s worried sick for him. On top of "Tootsie" being the essence of the classic modern comedy, it’s also a fascinating study on a professional actor’s journey. Right from the start, Michael wants to play “different,” as he urges to play any part with no regard to age, or in this case sex. Struggling to find any career move in the city, he must go the extra mile to invent an identity, one that would make him the greatest actor alive. So, in order to be Dorothy Michaels, Michael Dorsey has to wander into new territories such as buying dresses, buying pantyhose, applying cosmetics, losing weight, teasing his wig, and finding the right fitting lingerie. However, earning a new persona or a new character also builds roadblocks, especially while landing on a new role on television. Sometimes, reality hits and interferes with his work, including Sandy impatiently waiting for a response to her phone calls, or someone like John Van Horn (George Gaynes) or Les Nichols (Charles Durning) could be serenading him or hitting on him. In the end, with all the effort and research built in, Michael has become a great actor and the film "Tootsie" has become one of the best comedies ever made. (5 Sitting Tomatoes out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 4945 Average listal rating (3311 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
When I was in high school, one of my first introductions to the quirky comedies of the 2000’s was "Little Miss Sunshine." In this road film, the Hoover family from Albuquerque have a dream or once had dreams that deteriorate during their trip to Redondo Beach. Richard (Greg Kinnear) wants to become a top-selling motivational life coach, but is turned down once his sales plummet. His wife Sheryl (Toni Collette) wants to live a better lifestyle, but is surrounded by her husband’s career impotence and her excessive workaholism. Their daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) wants to join a beauty pageant in California, but she loses thanks to her inappropriate dance of choice. Their son Dwayne (Paul Dano) wants to become an Air Force pilot, but breaks his Nietzschean vow of silence once he finds out he’s colorblind, therefore unqualified to fly. Sheryl’s brother Frank (Steve Carell) wants to reconnect with his boyfriend, but he got dumped, resulting in him losing his job as a Marcel Proust scholar and attempting suicide. Richard’s father Edwin (Alan Arkin) wants Olive to win the pageant so he can achieve some greatness in the family, but passes away due to a heroin overdose. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the dysfunctional lower class family win, lose or get expelled from beauty pageants. What counts is that the Hoovers relied on each other as a family whether others accept their talent or not. (5 Cherry Garcias out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1515 Average listal rating (973 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.4
Here is a film that is destined to be a Hollywood classic, "Sunset Boulevard," one that studies and satirizes the horrible mindset of a fallen star. Screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden), on the run from debt, stumbles upon a mansion in ruins owned by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an aging, reclusive actress living in riches with her butler/ first husband Max (Erich Von Stroheim). In between fulfilling Desmond’s delusions as a ghost writer, Joe pitches a real story with a script reader Betty (Nancy Olsen), who soon suspects his mysterious background. As stated before, this thriller, one disguised as a film noir, explores the disturbing psychosis of a Golden Age actress. At a time where Hollywood is constantly changing and plenty of stories are pitched, the movie steers into the dark side of that era, a world where the film stars of yesteryear neglect these changes and play “movie star” in their homes. Oddly enough, in the 1950’s, there were fallen gems that likely inspired Norma Desmond, ones who lost their careers in the 1930’s but later lost touch due to mental illness. For instance, Clara Bow, the ‘It Girl’ of the silent era, retired from show business and moved to Nevada where she became a rancher and developed a psychotic illness. Another icon, Mary Pickford, a once-acclaimed Canadian starlet of the past, turned into a recluse in her mansion and eventually succumbed to alcoholism after her decline. On the subject of the silent era, Billy Wilder casted real-life silent-movie celebrities like Buster Keaton as one of Norma’s bridge players, Cecil B. DeMille as himself directing a movie, and Erich Von Stroheim as the butler and director of Norma’s next big movie, the murder of Joe Gillis. By incorporating real artists of yesterday into "Sunset Boulevard," Mr. Wilder crafts a fantasy around himself about a recluse who builds a fantasy around herself. (5 Dead Chimps out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 3873 Average listal rating (2622 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.3
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Another Pixar animated feature enters the Best Picture nominees circle. This time, we have the third film of the Toy Story series, where we once again have Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the gang entering a new world. In "Toy Story 3," they are mistakenly transported to Sunnyside daycare center since their owner Andy is all grown up and going to college. It’s up to our favorite optimistic cowboy to escape the prison daycare and make it to Andy’s house before he moves away. Out of all the films in the Pixar library, "Toy Story 3" is probably the darkest, because the theme is about moving on toward adulthood. For many of the 90’s kids that grew up watching "Toy Story," myself included, this movie was a mystical elegy of nostalgic memories with old childhood toys. The heroes cherished by many get stashed away in the Goodwill donation box and shipped to other children. It tugs your heartstrings once your special action figure or stuffed toy slips away from your hands, but the only way to heal that bittersweetness is to treasure the memories and hope the best for the playthings. This especially compliments the ending scene where Andy gives Woody, Buzz, Jesse (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Slinky (Blake Clark), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), and Bullseye to Bonnie and he parts from them, having the toys start a new chapter. For that reason, "Toy Story 3" remains as not only one of the best threequels ever made, but one of the best films of 2010. (5 Totoro Dolls out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1856 Average listal rating (1282 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a Philadelphia man with bipolar disorder, moves from a mental hospital back to his parents Pat, Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver). To win back his ex-wife Nikki (Bree Bee), he meets a young widow Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who will offer his request, if he enters a dance competition with her. During their training session, they try to cope with each other’s problems and delve deeper into their relationships as they form a bond together. Watching this for the first time since 2013, I knew "Silver Linings Playbook" was one of those perfect romantic comedies. Pat and Tiffany make a fantastic, eccentric couple as they clearly care for each other, but are blinded by their disorders and personal hangups. Tiffany is in torment because her husband died, causing her to lose her job at the office and give up sexual affairs. Pat Jr suffers from a violent trauma after Nikki cheated on him and issued a restraining order against him, causing him to lose his job as a teacher. Meanwhile, Patrizio, who has OCD, is tugging them apart for his son to join in his gambling buddies over the Eagles NFL timeline in order to use the money to invest on a cheesesteak house. This makes it frustrating for both because Pat is trying to find his silver linings and heal his wound and Tiffany is helping him “read the signs” and snap him out of his woes. Touching, funny and intense, "Silver Linings Playbook" is easily one of the best films of 2012. (5 Mayonnaise Jars out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 3201 Average listal rating (2065 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.6
Back in the 1990’s, Miramax was on fire, especially in the international market when the studio distributed the most foreign language films. One giant example of this reputation comes from the Italian dramedy, "La Vita e Bella." In this film, Guido (Roberto Benigni), a Jewish waiter, falls in love with a genteel woman Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), who is arranged to be wed. After the two get married, Guido opens a bookstore and welcomes a new son Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini), not long before they get swept into the Holocaust. When I first saw this movie fifteen years ago, I loved it, but, seeing it today, "La Vita e Bella" meant more than I gave credit. Roberto Benigni’s father served in the Italian Army during World War II and served in Nazi labour after Italy sided with Allied Powers. He would tell stories about his experiences to his children in a humorous fashion to spare away the horrific details. Similarly, Guido uses his clownish charm to shield Giosue from the terror in the Holocaust, by pretending the Jews are part of a game. Using the knowledge his father used on him, Benigni incorporates humor and beauty as a defense mechanism in a film that takes place during Europe’s most terrible event. So, "La Vita e Bella" is as much a parable on a man’s regard for his family’s safety as it is Benigni's most personal film. (5 Emu Eggs out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 2768 Average listal rating (1699 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Citizen Kane (1941)
One of the greatest and most influential cinematic masterpieces of all time, "Citizen Kane" explores the mindset of a corrupt man who gains everything and loses everything. “News on the March” journalist Jerry Thompson (William Alland) is covering the death of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), America’s most famous newspaper tycoon, businessman and politician, specifically the meaning of his last words, ‘Rosebud’. Meanwhile, we explore Kane's childhood, years running the New York Inquirer, marriages with Emily Norton (Ruth Warrick) and Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), his stint producing a failed opera starring Susan, building the Xanadu mansion and his reclusiveness from society. It turns out ‘Rosebud’ is the name of Kane’s boyhood sled that he abandoned when he got adopted by Walter Thatcher (George Coulouris). By throwing away his sled in the snow, Kane has symbolically lost his only true love and thus his true happiness. Likewise, his childhood is also gone once his parents Mary (Agnes Moorhead) and Jim (Harry Shannon) sign away their cabin, allowing Mr. Thatcher to build a gold mine over their home in Colorado. So, he grows into a tyrannical fat cat who treats his subjects as caged animals and turns away those who stab him in the back. As Kane’s second wife argues, “What's the difference between giving me a bracelet or giving somebody else a hundred thousand dollars for a statue you're gonna keep crated up and you'll never even look at?” Susan’s quote is the testament to how greedy he has become and how his power has alienated everyone around him. So, in each failed marriage and every expensive statue in his castle, he himself is an unhappy animal trapped in a cage of corporate manipulation and riches. (5 Jigsaw Pieces out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 4713 Average listal rating (3077 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Taxi Driver (1976)
Let me be honest with you, "Taxi Driver" is my favorite Scorsese film because, unlike his future works, it gives us a series of uneasy answers. The movie follows a New York cab driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), who is suffering from depression and is slowly going insane. During his craze, he forms a failed relationship with Betsy (Cybil Shepherd), shapes his hair into a mohawk, encourages Iris (Jodie Foster) out of prostituting herself, and attempts to assassinate Senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris). Travis, a lonely war veteran who sees all of New York City as a disgusting pithole full of political corruption, filthy porn movie theaters and sex workers, is struggling to keep his sanity with such a mundane task. It could be possible that the taxi driver is a weak individual consumed with post-war trauma and uses his occupation to maintain his sanity. Maybe Travis thinks he’s a lost wandering angel who’s trying to clean up the mess and rescue Iris from her job, but he ends up causing anarchy and destruction. Maybe all the crime Travis committed didn’t happen and the whole psychotic episode happened in his head. Afterall, the ending implies that he died in Sport’s (Harvey Keitel) apartment at the same day as his assassination attempt and is granted a hero the next day. Yet, in the next scene, everything’s back to normal and Betsy is riding in Travis’s cab, despite her being disgusted with him earlier. However you interpret this movie or Martin Scorcese and Paul Schrader intended to tell this story, "Taxi Driver" is the director’s true masterpiece. (4 ½ Mohawks out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 5201 Average listal rating (3575 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.4
In his early years, Steven Spielberg wanted to direct a James Bond picture with permission from Ion Productions, but to no avail. Meanwhile, George Lucas pitched an idea for a Bond-esque action picture “The Adventures of Indiana Smith” before shifting focus on "Star Wars." So, years later, Spielberg and Lucas got together and gathered producer Frank Marshall and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to craft the Indiana Jones film series, starting with "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is assigned to search for the fabled Ark of the Covenant in the ancient city of Tanis near Cairo. With the help of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), he must retrieve the lost treasure before Belloq (Paul Freeman) and the other Nazis obtain its powers. I have to confess, as much I like the Star Wars franchise fine, I have a better affection toward the Indiana Jones series. I guess, I prefer the old fashioned action-adventure films with realistic stunts over science fiction explosions and lasers blasting Stormtroopers in outer space. Raiders of the Lost Ark has an attitude of the old-fashioned adventure serials, but makes modern twists like an awesome leading lady, brilliant special effects, and a kickass pomp soundtrack from John Williams. Adding to the fact that Ford performed a good chunk of the stunts himself, thousands of real and mechanical snakes were involved, and the injuries and difficulties happened onset makes the movie more exciting. In terms of riveting action adventure film franchises, you cannot find a greater example of this than Indiana Jones, especially with "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (4 ½ Melted Faces out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 5964 Average listal rating (4232 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 9.3
The first Stephen King film to be nominated for Best Picture, "The Shawshank Redemption" follows Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a former banker who spends half of his life in Shawshank Penitentiary because of a crime he didn’t commit, the murder of his wife. There, he befriends several inmates, including Red (Morgan Freeman), opens a prison library, attempts to resume his innocence, and expose Warden Sam Norton (Bob Gunton) for his taxation loopholes, all while trying to escape with a rock hammer and Rita Hayworth. After reading King’s short novella in Different Seasons, I consider "The Shawshank Redemption" to be one of the incredibly great adaptations of his work, if not the best one. What Frank Darabont does differently is expand King’s universe to evoke the movie’s theme. In the book, Brooks gets paroled and leaves the prison crying, the last time we see him. The film, however, takes a dark and direct turn, as we watch Brooks' life deteriorate during his parole and hang himself because life in Shawshank has taken the best from him. Also, in the book, Norton, the last of the four wardens mentioned, retires from his job after Andy escapes. In the film, Andy exposes the incriminating evidence to the police and convinces Norton to commit suicide instead of turning himself over. If Darabont only made a word-for-word adaptation of the story with no stone unturned, I don’t think the message of hope and desire for freedom would come off as effective cinematically. But regardless with how well the movie did justice to the story, "The Shawshank Redemption" is the epitome of great filmmaking. (4 ½ Alabaster Chess Pieces out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 2009 Average listal rating (1375 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Fugitive (1993)
Andrew Davis’s "The Fugitive," based on the 1960’s TV series, is a suspenseful action film, as well as a complicated but riveting mystery picture. In order to fit the pieces of the murder and the Provasic story together, I had to research what happened because I was distracted by the brilliant “close call” moments. Dr. Nichols (Jeroen Krabbé) invented Provasic, an illegal drug that would potentially cause liver damage. His best friend and colleague Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) discovers this FDA loophole, which causes Nichols to hire his one-armed bodyguard, Frederick Sykes (Andreas Katsulas), to murder him in order to prevent him from exposing his plans. Finding him not at home, Sykes instead kills Kimble’s wife Helen (Sela Ward), not long before Kimble finally shows up and assaults him, and the doctor is tried and sentenced to death row. On top of that, Nichols’ other colleague Dr. Alec Lentz (David Darlow) also finds out about the drug, but dies in a car collision caused by Sykes. Once the two doctors are out of the picture, Nichols will manipulate the liver testings, swapping damaged samples with fresh and healthy ones, and sell it to consumers at conventions in Chicago. Unfortunately, Kimble escaped from the prison bus, on the run from U.S. Marshall Lt. Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), and can only find evidence himself to reverse his prison sentence. Gerard, while still one step ahead of his fugitive, also ends up solving the murder and Nichol’s conspiracy and presuming Kimble innocent. While the mystery was a mess to figure out in the end, "The Fugitive" is a really fun film, and one of the best adaptations of a TV show. (4 ½ Big Dogs out of 5)
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People who added this item 1782 Average listal rating (1196 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.9
Life of Pi (2012)
With the high-grossing success of Avatar, 20th Century Fox wanted to recapture that 3D experience with "Life of Pi." Based on one of my favorite books, "Life of Pi" follows Piscine Molitor Patel (Suraj Sharma), also known as Pi, an Indian boy from Pondicherry who gets shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat. Beforehand, Pi practiced Hinduism, Islamism and Christianity and was teased by his schoolmates for not only having a silly name, but also for being named after a swimming pool. For the majority of the book and movie he is accompanied by Orange Juice the orangutan, a nasty hyena, an injured zebra and Richard Parker, a tiger who becomes Pi’s greatest fear and spirit animal. Yann Martel makes it explicitly clear in his novel that the theme in the book is about finding your inner self and that self-belief will help you survive. Martel went through the same predicament during his early career and wanted to write a story that would help him find guidance. Honestly, I don’t think Ang Lee could have been more of a perfect choice to replicate Martel’s poetry. The Taiwanese director truly predominates the beautiful oriental imagery of the plankton waters, the Hindi cosmic starlight from Krishna, and the carnivorous Edenic island run by meerkats. The visionary world crafted by Martel and Lee churns up Pi’s spirituality, strength, and wisdom as he goes on his quest. Oddly enough, it’s those elements that help him thrive, connect with the Bengal tiger and cast away into safety. (4 ½ 3D Flying Fish out of 5)
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People who added this item 8440 Average listal rating (6075 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.9
Pulp Fiction (1994)
There are many ways you can read Quentin Tarantino’s "Pulp Fiction," either as a quirky tribute to these grim and often violent novels or a story about redemptive values expressed in two different stories. One side, we see Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules White (Samuel L. Jackson), two partners in crime in cahoots with Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhimes), who retrieve the mysterious briefcase. Another side, Vincent’s date with Wallace’s wife Mia (Uma Thurman) ends disastrously once she experiences an overdose. Third side, contender Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) kills his own ally in the ring and pays the price when he confronts Marsellus, a Southern pawn shop owner, and a sex gimp. Fourth, Vincent and Jules accidentally kill Marvin (Phil LaMarr) and seek help from Winston Wolf (Harvey Kietel) to clean everything up. Finally, the whole series is bookended with a coffee shop robbery from Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer). Aside from the hard-boiled dialogue and 50’s and 70’s nostalgia littered in every scene, the structure of "Pulp Fiction" is organized in a strange order. As the characters are introduced, they are shown to be involved in a gang of sorts in San Fernando Valley. As the story progresses, they are seen as angelic figures who commit wrongdoings and must take action to reverse their sins. While lengthy and weird, "Pulp Fiction" is a daring movie full of wit, charm, and plenty of tongue and cheek humor. (4 ½ Royales with Cheese out of 5)
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People who added this item 5386 Average listal rating (3711 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.6
After the critical praise of "The Shawshank Redemption," Frank Darabont was hired by Warner Brothers again to adapt another Stephen King prison thriller. This one, titled "The Green Mile," was based on King’s six-novel miniseries about the horrific events that take place in Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death row. There, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) meets a new fish John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), who despite being convicted for murder is more childish and gentle than dangerous. In fact, as the two gradually bond, Coffey has Christ-like healing powers, which make him the opportunity to cure Paul’s urinary tract infection, Mr. Jingles the mouse’s resurrection, and a brain tumor from Warden Moores’ (James Cromwell) wife (Patricia Clarkson). When I was younger, "The Green Mile" was one of my favorite movies of all time because, unlike "Shawshank," it was more action-packed. While some of that spark still holds up like the gruesome executions from Old Sparky, Duncan’s performance, and that tear-jerking ending, I have one issue with the film. Paul Edgecomb might be the least interesting character in this movie. Unlike Brutal (David Morse), Percy (Doug Hutchison), Wild Bill (Sam Rockwell) and other prisoners who have distinct personalities, Edgecomb is a blank slate, the one-shell leader who runs everything orderly, whispers his lines, and asks expository questions. I guess Tom Hanks intended to make him more like the everyman in the prison guard world, but he leaves little impression on me as King's main character. While it didn’t hold up as well as it did ten years ago, "The Green Mile" is one powerful emotional roller coaster. (4 ½ Dry Sponges out of 5)
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People who added this item 2747 Average listal rating (1724 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2
Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from "There Will Be Blood" is probably one of the most horrible deadbeat dads in cinema. The middle-aged oil tycoon from early 20th Century California adopted H.W., after one of his oil rig men, the real father, is killed inside a wormhole. Ten years later, Daniel parades him around as a “family man” and enforces child labor for profit. Once his son becomes deaf from a rig explosion at Sunday Ranch, Daniel puts him aside in favor of checking on his black nectar, showing his true colors. H.W. retaliates Daniel’s charade, once his “brother” Henry (Kevin J. O’Connor) enters the picture, and is sent to an obedience school where he can be kept quiet. When he reunites with H.W, the wide shot implies that Daniel deceives his people, by fraudulent devotion, a scene that happens after the parent experienced a baptism at Eli Sunday’s (Paul Dano) church for more oil land purchase. However, his true colors emerge once H.W. grows up, marries Mary Sunday and asks Daniel for partnership in his own independent oil company. The drunken millionaire chews him out, mocking his deafness, and reveals his past exploitive intent and backstory. It is evident in this scene and throughout "There Will Be Blood" that Daniel favored shrill capitalism over his own bloodline. That statement says something for a man who worships oil as a second blood of Christ and declares himself as “the third revelation.” (4 ½ Milkshakes out of 5)
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"Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" is considered to be one of the funniest political satires of all time. The obvious question is, how do you make a topic as cold and horrific as Cold War nuclear annihilation funny? Commander Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) at Burpelson Air Base orders a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union with the reluctant aid of RAF Colonel Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers). Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, US President Merkin Muffley (Sellers) tries to diffuse the situation with Ambassador Alexei Sadeski (Peter Bull), but is disrupted by General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) and scientist/ex-Nazi Dr. Strangelove (Sellers) with threats of retaliation and the doomsday machine. Unfortunately, all this commotion causes Major Kong (Slim Pickens) and his Air Force pilots at a B-52 to drop the bomb over Russian territory. Yet, all of this happened because of Ripper’s insane conspiracy that the Soviets will steal America’s precious bodily fluids. That may be why "Dr. Strangelove" gets that reputation as a comedic masterpiece because it proves that even one nutball could cause a deadly domino effect. On top of that, the sexual innuendos and imagery are littered all over the movie, like the “fluids” line, the phallic shaped bombs, the Playboy magazines in the cockpit, the intromission between two jets, and the massive retaliation described as “going all the way.” With all the wargy going on, it all boils down to a wargasm caused by mushroom clouds. Furthermore, "Dr. Strangelove" boils down to a brilliant piece of warnography disguised with tongue-in-cheek humor. (4 ½ Pie Fights out of 5)
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People who added this item 1368 Average listal rating (785 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1
Barry Lyndon (1975)
In the early 1970’s, Stanley Kubrick was struggling to get his Napoleon Bonaparte biopic off the ground. After the controversial film "A Clockwork Orange," he would regather his resources and direct "Barry Lyndon," a historical epic about the grim rise and fall of 18th Century aristocracy. Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) is an Irish peasant who becomes a scapegoat from a duel with Captain John Quin (Leonard Rossiter) and soon drafted in the British and Prussian Armies during the Seven Years War. After the war ends, he becomes a servant to the itinerant gambler Chevalier de Balibari (Patrick Magee), who is accused of espionage by the Prussian government. One night, feeling his riches are a sham, courts the melancholy Countess of Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), marries her and produces Bryan. During said wealthy marriage, Barry violently abuses Lord Bullingdon (Leon Vitali), Barry’s jealous stepson, Bryan dies from falling off a horse, Lady Lyndon attempts suicide, Barry loses his riches, Lord Bullingdon challenges to a duel, Barry gets his leg amputated, and he neglects the family forever. On top of the brilliant costumes, natural lighting, and impeccable production design, "Barry Lyndon" could also be a possible commentary on the rise and fall of high-profile celebrities. Using Ryan O’Neal as an example, the man became an A-lister after Love Story was released in the 1970’s, engaged in public affairs with other celebrity women despite his marriages, and was a terrible parent. Also like his titular character, O’Neal let fame get the better of him so much that his career and financial success took a drastic nosedive and became estranged from his family. Even though he never achieved his dream project, Kubrick made something not only ahead of its time, but visually compelling and beautifully shot. (4 ½ Flintlocks out of 5)
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People who added this item 353 Average listal rating (253 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
The Irishman (2019)
You know how Martin Scorsese’s movies allude to Catholic ideology as a gimmick to enforce sympathy on his anti-heroes? Well, his Netflix entry "The Irishman" proves to be the best one throughout his filmmaking career. Under the alternate title “I Hear You Paint Houses,” the film is about Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a truck driver and hitman who may have been responsible for the assassination of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and had ties with the Bufalino mafia family, led by Russell (Joe Pesci). Like most Scorsese films, "The Irishman" is about a protagonist's journey into the horrible crime syndicate. But, what makes this movie stand out is that it is told like a four-hour long confession. Frank Sheeran tells his story to the audience in a retirement community about how his “house painting job” has impacted very little. His acts of covering the murder over his families’ eyes left him in exile permanently. On top of that, his friends and colleagues die in prison, leaving him in complete solitude in the nursing home with a priest who can only reward him with forgiveness. With nowhere else to turn, he can only open the door to his room, hoping that one day he will merit the same gift from his family. Even though the plot is almost identical to "Goodfellas" and there have been other movies about Jimmy Hoffa, "The Irishman" proves to be more meaningful because the payoff is much stronger. (4 ½ Beer-Streamed Footlongs out of 5)
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People who added this item 4009 Average listal rating (2645 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8
The Exorcist (1973)
Based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, who also penned the screenplay, actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) discovers a demonic possession around her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) and attempts to rescue her by hiring Father Karras (Jason Miller) and Father Marrin (Max von Sydow) to extract the spirit out of the 12-year-old girl. At first, Chris sent Regan to a number of neurosurgeons and psychiatrists, but they suggested she reach the one priest in Washington DC who’s lost his faith. Part of what made "The Exorcist" one of the scariest films of all time is not the jumpscares, the flashing faces of Pazuzu or the demonic makeup on Linda Blair. Instead, William Friedkin’s film uses sound to evoke suspense and horror. Mixing the scary 1970’s medical technology with realistic child-like screams and the various animal calls for the demonic sounds craft an unsettling atmosphere. Not to mention, Mercedes McCambridge as Pazuzu’s crackly genderly undefinable voice mixed with archival sounds of Karras’s mother and even ones from a man also adds to the unnatural aspect of the demon. To add more the discomforting horrific tone of The Exorcist, Friedkin set up visual effects without consulting the actors to earn a genuine reaction on set. While this old-fashioned Hollywood technique would never be acceptable today and Blair and Burstyn suffered back injuries onset, it creates higher emotional stakes for them and makes the film all the more thrilling. Sadly, that authenticity to sound would and could never be replicated, especially with all the ripoff films circling around in the direct-to-video market. Then again, maybe it shouldn’t because the only horror film to get sound right is "The Exorcist." (4 ½ Pea Soups out of 5)
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People who added this item 1286 Average listal rating (971 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.5
Whiplash (2014)
I have a story to tell, when I took film classes I had an unpleasant encounter with a teacher who was extremely direct, explosive, and will let you know your projects were terrible. I bring this up because the similar event happened in Damian Chazelle’s "Whiplash," a film about inspiring jazz band drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) and his uneasy experience with his brutal tutor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Likewise, the film, based on his own short, was loosely based on Chazelle’s experience in a competitive jazz group in his high school as well as his struggle to pitch "La La Land." Like "Black Swan," it’s about an artist in New York who wants to create something bigger than himself, but he must make sacrifices and face challenges to achieve that great success. Andrew’s challenges include his girlfriend Nicole (Melissa Benoist), his moderately successful father Jim (Paul Reiser) and another student who Fletcher intends to replace. On top of that, Andrew takes the physical and emotional abuse from his music mentor and must rationally grow from these experiences in order to grow into professionalism and perfection. As such, because of his mental torment, he crescendos into madness, resulting in him breaking up with Melissa, badmouthing his family, getting injured in a car collision, fighting his mentor, and getting himself expelled from Shaffer. To add more salt to his obsession in perfection, a former student committed suicide on behalf of Fletcher’s excessive impact. So, in a way, Andrew must have taught himself to continue his passion and face his biggest obstacle. Although uneasy to watch all the way, "Whiplash" is quite a harrowing film. (4 ½ Raisinets out of 5)
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People who added this item 4563 Average listal rating (2984 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Black Swan (2010)
Darren Aronofsky is one of the most bold and prolific filmmakers in modern cinema, dealing with obsessively disturbed characters whose desires take dark turns. In this case, "Black Swan," he depicts a young ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) who wants the parts of Odette and Odile in “Swan Lake” and goes to extreme lengths to earn them. In fact, she wants the main parts so much that she starts to crescendo into madness and experience a collage of hallucinations and transformations. She envisions sprouting black feathers, doubles of herself walking by, her legs bending backwards, and stabbing her double (i.e. herself) during the ballet performance. In some aspects, Aronofsky seems to repeat the same themes from "Requiem for a Dream," except Nina’s weakness isn’t addiction and delusion, but instead competition and fear of mediocrity. Once Lily (Mila Kunis) enters the picture, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) seems to favor her over Nina because of Lily’s elaborate lusty grace. Behind the scenes, Nina’s mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) is sheltering her away from her success in case her daughter’s big steps were to lead to her failure. Nina’s biggest obstacles overwhelm her and eventually cost her life, but they also help push herself into the role of the Swan Queen and give the performance of a lifetime. In real life, some of the most successful artists and actors, especially in New York City, make dire sacrifices to accomplish the best in their craft. "Black Swan" distorts this philosophy with melodramatic, disturbing, and psychological proportions, thus creating another one of Aronofsky’s best films. (4 ½ Webbed Toes out of 5)
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Peter Jackson’s films may have ranged from mystical to over-the-top to downright silly, but the series that turned him into a Hollywood staple name was The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The first film, "The Fellowship of the Ring," introduces us to Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) who is asked by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) to make a lifelong quest to destroy The One Ring of Sauron, the most powerful ring of the twelve rings. They recruit with Elrond (Hugo Weaving), the other Fellowship members Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Boromir (Sean Bean), and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Maiden Arwen (Liv Tyler), and Queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) to travel to Mordor and complete their quest. Jackson’s first foray into fantasy-adventure is probably the most magnificent out of all his films. The New Zealand director has delved into fantasy before to a small extent with "Heavenly Creatures," but his version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved books is where he glows with the genre. "The Fellowship of the Ring" is also where his knowledge of visual effects has exceeded expectations. His biggest challenge was to find the various practical illusions to make the tiny Hobbits seem real. It is all accomplished with forced perspective, building small scale replicas of the set, hiring dwarf doubles, and filming composite shots on a blue screen. With all the visual effects taking place, this culminated into one of the most triumphant technical achievements of the 21st Century. Ultimately, combined with the terrific cast of characters and an intriguing story, "The Fellowship of the Ring" is a mystical start of an epic cinematic journey. (4 ½ Honey Cakes out of 5)
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People who added this item 3655 Average listal rating (2404 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8
I'll admit, it has been an extraordinary hot minute since I have seen "The Wizard of Oz," but it’s still a wonderful film even while witnessing it as an adult. Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is a young girl from a farm in Kansas who gets whisked away by a tornado and lands on the land of Oz. There, she comes across colorful characters like Glinda the Good Witch (Billie Burke), the brainless Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Woodsman (Jack Haley), the Cowardly Lion (Bart Lahr), a town full of Munchkins, and the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton). She and her newfound fantasy friends must fight the witch and visit The Wizard at Emerald City (Frank Morgan) to take her back home. According to many scholars and historians, this film and the books by L. Frank Baum allude to the American Dream and the people of lower social class desire to achieve it in the late 1890’s. The scarecrow resembles the American farmers and their crop discontent prior to the 20th Century. The tin man is a metaphor of American industry workers on the stepping stone to the highest steel-making country. The cowardly lion might be a satire on William Jennings Bryan, a Democrat politician who lost the 1896 presidential election to William McKinley. Finally, Dorothy is the sweetness or goodness in the heart of the common lower-class American. However, according to most families and children who have seen it for the first time, "The Wizard of Oz" is a timeless classic that has memorable songs, colorful characters and imaginative production design. (4 ½ Jitterbugs out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 404 Average listal rating (254 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8
"Fiddler on the Roof" may be one of my favorite Broadway musicals ever made, probably in my top five. So, naturally with Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s show this popular in the 1960’s, a film version would be just as great. In the small town of Anatevka, Tevye (Chaim Topol) is a milkman who takes strong pride in Jewish tradition and wants to keep it balanced for his family. His daughters on the other hand, Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris), Hodel (Michele Marsh), and Chava (Neva Small) dream of an environment bigger than they’re used to and want to marry based on love rather than whoever Yente the matchmaker (Molly Picon) suggests. Tzeitel hooks up with Motel the tailor (Leonard Frey), then Hodel links with Perchik (Paul Michael Glaser) and Chava elopes with Fyedka (Raymond Lovelock), all defying Tevye’s orders. At first, he agrees for the sake of love for them, but as soon as Marxist ideas are spread, the constable raids Anatevka, and everyone evacuates the town, he loses hope, faith, and even Chava. What I love about this movie is that it starts with pure bliss and gradually descends into dreary melancholy. However, unlike "The Sound of Music" where the dramatic moments happen suddenly with very little hints in the beginning, "Fiddler’s" drama is foreshadowed even before the first song and the motifs of conflicting ideology occur throughout the stage show. As Tevye points out, “Every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck,” showing the audience that one day their tradition will be unbalanced, fall to the ground and turn the world upside down. However, even after his life is tarnished by religious injustice and prosecution, Tevye still has one small sliver of hope that tradition will always be with him. (4 ½ Sewing Machines out of 5)
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People who added this item 2156 Average listal rating (1378 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2
Raging Bull (1980)
Jake LaMotta, the Raging Bull, is not just a wild boar, he’s also a bad egg with a rotten yolk in the middle. In Martin Scorsese's biopic "Raging Bull," the former middleweight champion (Robert De Niro) goes on a path from his boxing career, to owning a nightclub in Miami, to losing everything due to his gluttony and greed. Much like Charles Foster Kane, he treats everyone around him, including his brother and manager Joey (Joe Pesci) and his second wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty), as objects, and gains pride in his own self-worth. Even when he’s trying to make amends with his loved ones, Jake is still a fat pig with a heart like an ape. Yet, Scorsese builds a window for the audience to find pathos in Jake as he retires his winning title, unsuccessfully sells the jewels from his belt, and is sent to jail for introducing a teenage bar patron to other men. In terms of his career, Jake constantly aims for the prize to only make himself a god among all contenders. LaMotta’s love and passion for boxing is incorporated with excerpts from operas like “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Silvano,” and “Guglielmo Ratcliff,” to give a nirvanic trance or existential enlightenment. Also, the explosive fight with Joey to the fight in the arena shows he’s just as much a monster on the ring as he is at home. At the end, Jake laments about his shattered dreams in front of the mirror, quoting the line from On The Waterfront to support his loss. So, with all the fragmented relationships, his larger-than-life shrewdness, or his passion for boxing, you get a difficult, yet another compelling entry into Marty’s masterpiece library. (4 ½ Overcooked Steaks out of 5)
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People who added this item 1872 Average listal rating (1115 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.3
Once upon a time, every freshmen including myself was assigned to read Harper Lee's “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a book that depicted Southern racial prejudice and maturity from a child’s point of view. Naturally, because her only full-length book was a major hit, it was turned into a film in 1962 by Richard Mulligan. The story is about Scout (Mary Bedham), a young daughter of poor lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in the town of Maycomb, Alabama. Meanwhile, Atticus is assigned to defend Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man accused of beating and raping Mayella (Collin Wilcox), the daughter of Bob Ewell (James Anderson). All the while, Scout and her brother Jem (Philip Alford) and her friend Dill (John Megna) play games and make up stories about a reclusive man named Boo Radley (Robert Duvall). One main lesson in the book and film is never understand someone else unless you fill in their shoes. Scout, being a roguish young girl who previously picked up wild ideas about who Boo Radley is, sees him rescue Jem from being attacked by Bob, they share powerful stares and she walks her back to the Radley house, having known him as a person. The other lesson in "To Kill a Mockingbird" is to fight for others or yourself even if you lose. After Atticus makes his fabulous speech about abandoning racial prejudice and supporting equality, everyone in court, including the jury, dismiss his claim and plead Tom guilty, thus killing the mockingbird. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the cornerstone of great cinema as well as a well-done adaptation of an even better novel. (4 ½ Pocket Watches out of 5)
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People who added this item 1493 Average listal rating (852 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Capote (2006)
Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is gathering resources to publish his latest novel “In Cold Blood,” a non-fictionalized account on the Clutter Family murders in Kansas. His main inspiration comes from his interviews with the murder suspects Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.), and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), under permission from Detective Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) and accompanied by his best friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener). During his research, Capote develops a friendship with Perry and even tries to find a lawyer to defend his case before execution. Let me address the elephant in the room, Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the best versatile actors of all time, and his performance as Truman Capote exceeds beyond description. Whether through his anecdotes in a party or sharing a tragic backstory, the way he blends the New York author’s vocal articulation and mannerisms with raw emotion embodies the film as a whole. You really feel the dedication and the care that Truman puts out for his work and the people around him, especially Perry. He accomplishes “In Cold Blood,” his biggest career-breakout yet he must sacrifice self-acceptance in the end once he says goodbye to someone he may have betrayed. Bennett Miller’s directing is fascinating as well, combining the handheld camera with fragmented French New Wave editing and cold desaturated color scheme. This stylistic decision could possibly give a melancholic, if not raw, quality to Miller’s biopic. Poetic, brooding and witty, "Capote" explores the most sensational period in Truman Capote’s life, one that requires moral surrender and morale decay. (4 ½ Banana Baby Food Jars out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 281 Average listal rating (171 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Another Best Picture nominee around Henry II, "The Lion in Winter" explores the English king (Peter O’Toole) and his dynamic dilemma with his imprisoned wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), and his sons: Richard I (Anthony Hopkins), Geoffrey (John Castle), and John (Nigel Terry). All three sons quarrel over wanting the throne during Christmas and their father is in the middle of a tug of war between choosing his oldest son Richard or his personal favorite John. Also roped in is King Philip (Timothy Dalton) who wants to weave Alais (Jane Merrow), his sister, into Henry’s inheritance, while conspiring with the sons to craft war on England. Much like "Becket," "The Lion in Winter" is about power struggle and betrayal from the perspective of the royal family. However, this film feels almost like a rewrite of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” also a play about an elderly king choosing an heir, being backstabbed by his three children and accompanied by a partner who taunts him for his foolishness. In fact, there’s a line in the beginning where Henry compares himself to the legendary titular character. He says that the two are similar figures, except Lear divided his kingdom into three for his daughters. Also unlike Lear, Henry locks Richard, Geoffrey and John up in a wine cell and attempts to kill them, but fails, waking up from his violent trance and realizing that he’s not the vibrant monarch we was before. Lear, on the other hand, died holding Cordelia’s body after her execution, while Goneril and Regan met their makers after poisoning and suicide, having redemption swept away and leaving only grief to live with. Even though "Becket" works best on a story level, "The Lion in Winter" is an emotional powerhouse and pure quintessential cinema. (4 ½ Porks on Treetops out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 4734 Average listal rating (3095 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
After dropping out from college in her twenties, Sofia Coppola spent her time alone in a hotel in Japan unsure of what to do with her life, trying to balance her career in fashion, photography, and filmmaking. Thus, her crisis served as an inspiration for a sweet, funny, and harrowing feature "Lost in Translation." Here, Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are two alienated Americans living in a Park Hyatt hotel in Tokyo. The two eventually meet and form an unlikely bond while pulling each other out of the darkness and finding a connection in each other. Of course, Bob and Charlotte are two depressed strangers secluded in a strange land and sheltered by their drab lives of marriage. Bob is a middle-aged actor whose career has taken a nosedive, is resorted to appearing in Suntory whiskey commercials and flashy interviews and is taking a vacation from his marriage to find himself during his midlife crisis. Also, being an American, he is removed from the Japanese environment because he can seldom interpret the language spoken there and comprehend the city’s flashy design. Charlotte, on the other hand, is a Yale graduate dragged in by her husband John (Giovanni Ribisi) and questions about her future inside her hotel room while he’s away. So, she resorts to exploring the rest of Japan and listening to self-help CDs as her only methods of escapism and quests for her inner self. Therefore, Bob and Charlotte prove to be a true match and one of the great modern film couples of the 21st Century. (4 ½ Black Toes out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1946 Average listal rating (1138 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
The Hours (2003)
Based on a novel by Michael Cunningham, "The Hours" covers the theme of depression and suicide within three stories set in different eras. One story, in 1920’s England, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), in the midst of writing “Mrs. Dalloway,” struggles with depression and envies her sister Vanessa Bell’s (Miranda Richardson) seemingly perfect life. Another story, in the 1950’s Los Angeles, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is suffering through an unhappy marriage with Dan (John C. Reilly) while bearing her unborn child and their son Richie (Jack Rovello) is worried about her. Final story, in present day New York, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), her lover Sally Lester (Allison Janney), and her daughter Julia (Claire Danes) are throwing a party for the now-grown up Richie (Ed Harris), who is stricken with depression and HIV. Aside from the movie being centered on the invisible web between characters, "The Hours" seems to be about the three trying to impress people while confining their emotional turmoil. Both Virginia, Laura and Richard are stuck in an unhappy lifestyle, but stay alive just to impress their loved ones. Ultimately, they also must choose whether to stay trapped in their horrible mental psychosis or leave their old homes and live under a brand new light. Unfortunately, Richard and Virginia commit suicide, still burden by fear of the hours that will occur after they die, while Laura abandons her family and “chooses life.” That was the decision after she gave birth and confessed at the end, yet it is the same decision that enforces the moral of "The Hours." You can either be cooped up in your miserable environment to please someone else, or you can start a new life and make yourself happy. (4 ½ Fake Noses out of 5)
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People who added this item 441 Average listal rating (230 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
All That Jazz (1979)
"All That Jazz" follows Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), a director and choreographer who’s struggling to simultaneously direct the Broadway musical “NY/LA” and the comedy film “The Stand Up.” He suffers from a cardiac arrest and is supported by his ex-wife Audrey (Leland Palmer), his teenage daughter Michelle (Erzsébet Földi), and his current girlfriend Katie Jagger (Ann Reinking). Meanwhile, in purgatory, Joe talks with the angel of death (Jessica Lange) about everything that has happened in his life and considers joining her. On top of the phantasmic sets and costumes, the impeccable metric editing, and the sublime choreography, Bob Fosse’s final musical film was based on his stressful experience directing the film Lenny and the Broadway musical ‘Chicago,’ hence the title "All That Jazz." Furthermore, most of the events in the film were based on either his personal loved ones, colleagues or his past experiences. Audrey, Angelique and Katie were based on Gwen Verdon, Joan McCracken and Ann Reinking, the directors’ third ex-wife, second late ex-wife, and partner at the time. Cliff Gorman, who played Lenny Bruce on Broadway and ironically was turned down for Fosse’s "Lenny" in favor of Dustin Hoffman, plays a Lenny Bruce-type comedian in the film-within-a-film. Joe’s childhood, told in flashbacks, reflects on Fosse’s youth training to dance and working professionally on stage and in variety shows. Finally, Joe’s obsession with death and time at the hospital is based on Fosse’s concern that at any moment he may lose his battle to cardiovascular problems. A visually dazzling spectacle about life, death and all that jazz, "All That Jazz" is Bob Fosse’s true masterpiece. (4 ½ Seltzer Water Glasses out of 5)
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People who added this item 3798 Average listal rating (2355 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.4
Francis Ford Coppola’s war masterpiece "Apocalypse Now" is one of those movies that is about an experience, the journey into the mindset of a post-traumatic Vietnam soldier. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is hired to travel to Cambodia and kill Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has reportedly gone insane. Willard along with his crew Lance (Sam Bottoms), Chef (Frederic Forrest), Phillips (Albert Hall) and Clean (Laurence Fishbourne) hop on a patrol boat and head across the river and, on their way, encounter a duo of Playboy models, a surf-loving, napalm-smelling Lieutenant Kilgore (Robert Duvall), and a photojournalist (Dennis Hopper), who warns Willard of the horrors that Kurtz has in store. As this journey progresses, you’re witnessing a posse of errand boys sent by grocery clerks crescendo into madness. That same madness is the horror and mortal terror of the Vietnam War in which they have befriended. Willard, in particular, is constrained to the war so much that he fears doing disservice to the US Army would be suicidal, so he kills Kurtz, completing his mission. Oddly enough, Francis Ford Coppola himself experienced the insanity while filming Apocalypse Now witnessing the horror of everything going wrong during production. As documented in Hearts of Darkness, Coppola suffered from a mental breakdown because of a variety of delays, including a typhoon that destroyed most of the sets, Martin Sheen’s mid-production heart attack, Marlon Brando gaining weight, and all of them causing the film to go weeks behind schedule and the budget to balloon massively. On top of that, four editors assembled together the messy footage in post-production for two years. So, in a way both Coppola and Willard have met the faces of horror, the post-traumatic impact of war and the film "Apocalypse Now," and made friends with them. (4 ½ Heads in Spikes out of 5)
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People who added this item 2931 Average listal rating (1890 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.6
Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 13 was the seventh mission for NASA’s space program in which Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) attempted to land on the moon. However, the mission went haywire when the shuttle’s oxygen module failed two days after launching, so the team looped around the moon and returned back on Earth. Twenty-five years later, Ron Howard and the executives of Universal and Imagine Entertainment adapted the real-life events into a space drama called "Apollo 13." While I could linger on the historical inaccuracies and the fictional mechanical inputs invented for the movie. However, I’m going to address the theme of superstitions because, afterall, "Apollo 13," a film about one of NASA’s most famous aborted lunar missions that happens to bear the unlucky number, has to carry such a motif. One of the first omens before launching came from the case of the German measles from Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise), one who originally was part of Lovell’s trio before Swigert replaced him. The rest of the astronauts, being the least superstitious bunch, can’t help but laugh about the unlucky number, in fact they probably saw the replacement as mere coincidence. The most superstitious moreover is Marilyn (Kathleen Quinlan), Jim’s wife, who fears her husband may die in outer space and her first omen is that she lost her wedding ring in the shower. Yet, it’s those superstitions that induce the stakes and obstacles that Lovell and his men must face in order to survive and land back on Earth. What "Apollo 13" ends up being is a great space drama as well as Ron Howard’s best film. (4 ½ Moonrocks out of 5)
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People who added this item 331 Average listal rating (222 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s first feature set outside of America, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a London fashion designer for his sister Cyril’s (Lesley Manville) haute couture house. During his day off, he meets a cafe waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps) and hires her to become one of his muses, and eventually his wife. "Phantom Thread," channeling the visual aroma of Merchant Ivory films and the uneasy conversations of "Eyes Wide Shut," tackles the themes of relationships, love, and marriage, using two polar opposites, an orderly tyrant and a quiet, demure woman who must work each other off to strengthen that bond. Reynolds takes control of his lifestyle and everything else around him, while Alma tames him by poisoning his tea and breakfast and caring for him in bed. The muse sees her husband as a child and must snap him out of his toxic masculine manner in order to sew her invisible thread to him. For this story, Anderson balances the cold and creamy color palette and the simplistic piano-based music cues from Jonny Greenwood with the smooth Kubrickian camerawork and warm color splashes. Also, he carries the similar character and thematic structures from his previous films. The plot of an unstable loner glued to his family who falls in love with a quiet soul mirrors that from "Punch-Drunk Love." The subtheme of that same character consumed by power and authority echoes "There Will Be Blood" and "The Master." "Phantom Thread" is yet another great film from one of the most oddly witty and audacious directors. (4 ½ Welsh Rarebits out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 3375 Average listal rating (2262 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Fargo (1996)
Joel and Ethan Coen are two of the most iconic filmmakers of all time, crafting original content within every year and mixing oddball humor with grim violence. Nowhere has their talent been exposed to the mainstream more than their sixth feature, "Fargo." Set in Brainerd, Minnesota, "Fargo" follows a struggling car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) who hires Gaear (Peter Stormare) and Carl (Steve Buscemi) to kidnap his wife Jean (Kristin Rudrud) and extract ransom money from his father-in-law and boss Wade (Harve Presnell). Upon hearing the crime being committed, Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) goes on the investigation, discovers Jerry’s scheme, and arrests him and Gaear, with Carl dead. Taking notes from The Discarded Image, every Coen Brothers script has a motif of comedy via repetition. "Fargo," for instance, has a variety of visual and aural gags that balance the duo's strange cinematic language. First, the visual, aural and visaural gags occur from Brainerd’s strong pride in folk culture, hence the tacky Paul Bunyan imagery and the Norwegian influence, including the opening theme song by Carter Burwell, the colorful knit sweaters, and Gaear’s strong accent. Second, Kershner’s Principle is layered throughout the movie, including where Jerry talks to an angry customer about the car’s truecoat which doesn’t fascinate the buyer the slightest, yet Jerry keeps offering the truecoat nonetheless. Third and finally, the Uncertainty Principle, a method which a word or phrase is repeated so often to the point of having meaning, occurs when the characters in "Fargo" utter, “Yah'' and “Ya betcha!” from everyday conversation to during a police interrogation. The dry wit in "Fargo" combined with a brilliant script, brooding camerawork, and quirky violent imagery is part of the Coens' bizarre yet fascinating universe. (4 ½ Arby’s Cravings out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1981 Average listal rating (1347 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
True Grit (2010)
The 1969 film "True Grit" starring John Wayne was a fun callback to the old-fashioned Hollywood westerns. However, the 2010 version of Charles Portis’s novel by Joel and Ethan Coen manages to be the far superior film. After witnessing the death of her father, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires the eye patch-wielding bounty hunter Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Labeouf (Matt Damon) to hunt down the killer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Meanwhile, Chaney is one of the men behind a gang led by Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper), who is wanted for killing a U.S. Senate. Out of all the films in The Coen Brothers resume, this Western has to be the most commercially successful and the most accessible. Unlike "No Country for Old Men" or the 1969 predecessor, "True Grit" is a callback to the old Revisionist Westerns like "McCabe and Mrs. Miller." Also, while the Coens mix in some of their quirky trademark humor while still staying true to the source material, the ending serves as its saving grace and overpowers the John Wayne film. In the 1969 film, Rooster captures Chaney and the gang, Mattie earns her revenge, and Rooster rides into the distance for further adventures. In the 2010 film, twenty years pass as Mattie’s arm is amputated from the rattlesnake bite, Rooster dies, and her revenge fix has fulfilled very little, leaving her as a lonely, bitter stick-in-the-mud. With that said, while the original is great Western, the Coens’ version of "True Grit" leaves a larger impact. (4 ½ Bear Hides out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 3385 Average listal rating (2094 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.5
The Aviator (2004)
Howard Hughes was one of the most powerful, if not eccentric, actors, producers, directors, playboys and plane engineers in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Naturally, Hughes has been the subject of multiple films, whether as a supporting character, a fictional character inspired by him, or the subject of a biopic directed by Martin Scorsese. What makes this one, "The Aviator," so fascinating and stand out from the others is that it follows Hughes’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and path to reclusiveness. One of the first signs of his behavior is his extreme perfectionist cinematic eye, no matter the financial consequences. In the making of Hell’s Angels, he wanted to do reshoots of the climactic biplane sequence because the clouds in the test screening looked phony, causing an overinflation of the film’s budget. Another sign of his OCD is his outrageously specific descriptions, whether ordering a bottle of milk with the cap on or ten medium-sized chocolate chip cookies with no chips near the rim. The final symbol of his condition is his tendency to keep everything clean and symmetrical. Several episodes, such as the peas on his steak plate being scattered, Katharine Hepburn’s (Cate Blanchett) dog jumping in front of him, putting saran wrap on the plane’s steering wheel, finding uneven seams on bolted metal sheets and finding blood on the prime rib, showcase this extreme level of orderly perfection. So, with all the behavioral side effects from the larger-than-life Hollywood personality represented, Martin Scorsese put together a great biopic about mental illness. (4 ½ Hercules Planes out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 3477 Average listal rating (2295 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
Finally, we have a Best Picture nominee by David Fincher that feels like his own film. In his first biopic, Fincher covers the life of Mark Zuckerburg (Jesse Eisenberg), a Harvard student turned Facebook founder who builds an army of friends and enemies. In "The Social Network," Zuckerberg is getting sued by the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer) and Divya Narenda (Max Mingella) for plagiarizing their idea of a website that allows interaction with Harvard students and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for taking credit for founding Facebook. Meanwhile, the film flashes back to his troubled relationship with Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), him and Eduardo creating the site, their partnership with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), Eduardo freezing his business account, Eduardo’s break-up with Christy (Brenda Song) and, ultimately, Mark losing all his friends. Already, Fincher’s notes are played in "The Social Network," with technology being the key plot device, the grungy dark color palettes, and use of visual effects to duplicate Armie Hammer. The Sean Parker subplot is reminiscent of a Faustian deal like in Fight Club. Moreover, what makes this film stand out is Fincher’s collaboration with Aaron Sorkin's bullet-speed rhetoric. Of course, Sorkin is known for the distinct trope in his work called “walking and talking,” in which two individuals momentarily exchange dialogue while casually strolling in between sets. Fincher shares the same kinetic momentum, except, instead of the “walk and talk”, he uses his own visual style, rapidfire edits in between composed shots. With two of the best cinematic minds that think alike, "The Social Network" becomes a story about betrayal, friendship, and search for redemption. (4 ½ Green Darts out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 5976 Average listal rating (4058 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.6
Set during D-Day, "Saving Private Ryan" involves an order given to Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) to search for Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) and inform the death of his three other brothers. He, along with Technical Sergeant Horvath (Tom Sizemore), Privates First Class Richard Reiben (Edward Burns) and Adrian Caparzo (Vin Diesel), Privates Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg) and Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper), T/4 medic Irwin Wade (Giovanni Ribisi) and T/5 interpreter Timothy Upham (Jeremy Davies), must travel to Ramelle and survive from German enemy fire. Aside from it being one of the best war films ever made, "Saving Private Ryan" is one of the most definitive Steven Spielberg films. The director has depicted World War II on film in the past, including "1941" and "Empire of the Sun," but this one is where he tackles one of the greatest events of American military history on an epic scale. He does so by increasing the level of brutal hyper-realistic meat grinder violence, using handheld camera movements to evoke a documentary style, and incorporating jarring sound cues that range from ghostly near-deaf white noise to muted bullet sounds crashing through running ocean water. Spielberg also dedicates his love for airplanes, as seen on "Always" and the Indiana Jones series, as here it serves as a deus ex machina for our soldiers to escape Europe and return home. On top of that, he uses extreme dolly zooms up toward the eyes to allow the audience to experience the horror of the Battle of Normandy. This could be showcased at the beginning when James Ryan looks at Miller’s grave in the present day or when Miller witnesses the massive body count on the French coast shoreline. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Steven Spielberg movie without the maestro of music John Williams, who uses an American trumpet fanfare and Boston Symphony Orchestra choir, particularly for the end title number “Hymn of the Fallen,” to fit with the film’s warm and pensive tone. While brutal and difficult to conceive of in terms of the violence, "Saving Private Ryan" is one of the quintessential examples of a Steven Spielberg film. (4 ½ Jars of French Soil out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1079 Average listal rating (700 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Remember in "All Quiet on the Western Front" when I mentioned post-traumatic stress disorder and its impact on war films? "Born on the Fourth of July" is the 1980’s take on that disorder, this time under a biopic about war veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovic. Based on his memoir of the same name, "Born on the Fourth of July" follows Kovic (Tom Cruise) and his path to his career, from fighting in the Vietnam War, to family drama, to living in exile in Mexico, to delivering his speech at the Democratic National Convention in New York. Like I said, this movie tackles PTSD, but Oliver Stone, also a Vietnam veteran, wanted to tackle Kovic’s morality and post-war crisis. Kovic killed one of the soldiers, Wilson, on his own side and reported it to his superior, only to have that claim denied. On top of that, he damaged his legs during battle, permanently costing his ability to walk like decent human beings. Still tormented by what happened, he sinks into deep depression, throws a drunken fit and shouts war protests, causing his parents to kick him out. His reunion with Donna (Kyra Sedgwick) and trip to Mexico with Charlie (Willem Dafoe) don’t help him much because all he’s doing is running away from his problems and brawling with bar patrons and hookers. It isn’t until he travels to Wilson’s home in Texas that Kovic decides to face the dilemma himself and confess the murder to the Wilson family. As painful as the experience is, Stone guides you through his psychological turmoil and shows the grim voice of serving for your country, a theme similarly explored in "Platoon." (4 ½ Catheters out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 1866 Average listal rating (1289 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Gravity (2013)
In one of the most suspenseful science fiction films of 2013, "Gravity" follows American astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who encounter a destruction of their space shuttle. Ryan, the only survivor of the astronomical cataclysm, must survive in outer space and land back on Earth. Of course, while some could argue about the symbolism of rebirth and regrowth, the story isn’t the film’s strongest point, unlike "Apollo 13" or "2001: A Space Odyssey." Instead, "Gravity" exists to give us a thrilling experience of what happens when you’re stranded alone in outer space. While the movie has some of the best sound design, cinematography and visual effects out of any outer space film I have seen, "Gravity" is also one of those hyper-realistic survival movies that were extremely popular, along with "Life of Pi" and "127 Hours." In fact, this movie has the similar aesthetic to those online escape room games, except replace the puzzles, convoluted passwords and cryptic codes with capsule hatches, zero gravity, and a collage of complicated buttons in Russian, all of them in the best way. On top of that, you have flying debris hitting the ISS, parachute ropes that could tangle your leg, and the oxygen supply in your suit goes haywire so you’d have to breathe your own air. Finally, a good chunk of the movie was shot in glorious long takes, inner stitched with match cuts, much like most Alfonso Cuaron films. Except here, he and cameraman Emmanuel Lubezki experiment that trademark to utmost extremity, digitally switching quickly from wide shot to spinning shot to extreme close-up to POV shot, giving the similar adrenaline rush you’d get on a roller coaster. These elements are what make "Gravity" a great science fiction staple and a very well-made film. (4 ½ Marvin the Martian Figurines out of 5)
mhthehammer's rating:
People who added this item 395 Average listal rating (205 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
Nashville (1975)
Robert Altman strikes again with his magnum opus "Nashville," a film that glorifies and parodies Tennessee culture, music industry, and human behavior. During the presidential election of Hal Philips Walker and the celebration of the United States bicentennial, several stories fly around and land on one character and another. The capital of Tennessee is the home of country music legends like Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakely), Connie White (Karen Black), Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson), and the trio Tom (Keith Carridine), Bill (Allan F. Nichols) and Mary (Christina Raines), as well as inspired musicians like Tommy Brown (Timothy Brown) and Winifred (Barbara Harris) and not-so-talented like Sueleen Gay (Gwen Welles). Nashville is also home of the Christian and gospel community where figures like Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin), Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn), and Lady Pearl (Barbara Baxley) seek guidance or elevate spiritualism. Yet in Nashville, families come together whether it concerns Martha (Shelley Duvall) and her aunt, Barnett (Allen Garfield) and his wife Barbara, Star (Bert Ramsen) and Winifred, Bud (Dave Peel) and his father Haven, Linnea and her husband Del (Ned Beatty). However, in Nashville, there are people who have a passion for firearms, whether it’s Sergeant Glenn Kelly (Scott Glenn), who may have used one to defend his country, or Kenny Fraiser (David Hayward), who disguises his weapon inside a violin case as a vice for the country. At Nashville, you can explore around and hope to meet a celebrity, like BBC Radio interviewer Opal (Geraldine Chaplin). In Nashville, you may even meet a mute mysterious biker (Jeff Goldblum) on his man-trike shaving himself in a school bus parking lot. Of course, in "Nashville," Robert Altman will incorporate an entire album of catchy original songs written and performed by the cast. Only in "Nashville" can you find an ensemble of quirky characters roped in one of the director’s triumphant masterpieces. (4 ½ Harlequin Turtles out of 5)
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A while ago I did a Best Picture winners review list. However, I wanted to branch out and review the nominees to complete the whole retrospective. Plus, some of them were in some instinct better than the winners. As for the last countdown, I will be giving a short summary of each and rate them out of 5.

Keep in mind that this list is completely 100% opinion based, so don't take my thoughts so seriously if you don't agree with what you read. This is my take on all of the Best Picture nominees.

(P.S. Stay tuned for more reviews on this list. There will be at least four hundred entries.)

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