My 10 Favorite Feature Films
I am a movie guy — watch them, write them, read about them, and study them — so when I was asked recently for a list of my favorite movies it took awhile for me to sift through the memory bank and Ouija board my list. Shared below is a ten-way tie for first place.
The Full Monty (1997). This British ensemble comedy about a group of down-on-their-luck blue-collar grinders who decide to become strippers for one special night is loud-out-loud brilliant.
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1981). This little comedy is one of the most entertaining films I have ever had the joy of loving from the first minute to the last. Clever, well made, and inspiringly unique, who would have thought an offbeat Aussie filmmaker (Jamie Uys) could make such a hilarious film about Africa?
Casablanca (1943). A perfect film assembled by an interlocking collection of perfect components and performances.
Jaws (1975). I am a fisherman who fished for giant sharks and caught an 11-foot hammerhead off a Florida pier. I would have loved to been on the boat. Having twice fished with Captain Frank Mundus off of Montauk Point, NY — the crazy captain generally assumed to be the inspiration for Captain Quint — I can vouch that the stretch between fact and fable is sometimes less than we think.
The Dead Zone (1983). Christopher Walken’s brilliant portrayal of a Stephen King character blessed and cursed with the ability to read a person’s future through touch carries this adaptation from start to finish.
Duel. In 1971, fledgling director Steven Spielberg (then 24) made his first feature film — a nail-biting, low budget drama about a guy (Dennis Weaver) minding his own business who’s suddenly road-raged by a mystery trucker — and I have been a fan ever since.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1947). I cry every Christmas, for all the right reasons. I have been all around the world and can say with confidence that there is a whole lot of George Bailey in every single one of us.
Million Dollar Baby (2004). Boxing is a wonderful canvas for films about the human element, and Clint Eastwood’s work with Oscar winner Hilary Swank lifted her into the rarified air of earned membership into the two-time Best Actress club.
Rocky (1976). Sly Stallone created a billion dollar industry out of a pug who couldn’t duck; and we will always love him for it.
The Birds (1963). Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock shot this classic horror film on location in sleepy Bodega Bay north of San Francisco, and decades later the town looks the same, this masterpiece about the day nature’s winged creatures took angry command of the skies remains riveting cinema, and keeps the unrivaled king of suspense a household name among filmgoers worldwide.
There you have it, ten for today. If you have seen them all, congratulations! If not, I hope you get to finish check them off the list soon. Good films stand the test of time and these ten will, as shall classic Golden Era comedies like W. C. Fields’ If I Had A Million, Buster Keaton’s The General, and Charlie Chaplin’s entire body of work.
Films are a great way to escape the chaos of the moment. Dive in and enjoy one today.
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