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More favorite films
July 29, 2013 - Mike Donahey
A recent viewing of “Star Trek, Into the Darkness," prompted me to think about some of my all time favorite films. While “Darkness” was entertaining, it didn’t crack my all-time list. Below are just a few of my favorites alphabetically with year released and a brief commentary or description.
“Chariots of Fire" (1981) Not just a movie about runners. This British film tackles anti-Semitism, class distinctions and examines one man’s struggle to uphold tenets of his Christian faith against tough odds. Won four Oscars, including Best Picture. Vangelis’ dynamic score makes the film exemplary.
"Chinatown" (1974) Jack Nicholson gave one of his best performances ever in this classic. Set in pre-World War II Los Angeles, director Roman Polanski took viewers on a roller-coaster ride of corruption, intrigue, murder and mystery. Nicholson's work is complimented with similar efforts by Faye Dunaway and John Huston. Musical score perfectly captured the mood and Robert Towne's screenplay was a gem.
“High Plains Drifter” (1973) Not as well known as other Eastwood films, which is a shame. Eastwood directed and starred, playing a ghost-like drifter in town for revenge. He gets it and more.
"On the Waterfront" (1954) An American classic, with dynamic performances by Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger. Director Elia Kazan expertly portrayed the tough, bare-knuckle world of life on the docks with a no holds barred look at union tactics and violence. One of the American Film Institute's best 100 films.
“Sling Blade” (2006) Billy Bob Thornton directed, wrote and starred in this drama set in rural Arkansas. Thornton portrayed a mentally-impaired man who is released from a psychiatric hospital after years of confinement for a crime. Upon return to society, he befriends a boy, longing for his late father. Thornton won an Oscar for best screenplay and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Country recording artist Dwight Yoakam and late actors J.T. Walsh and John Ritter were joined by Robert Duvall and Lucas Black.
“The Aviator” (2004) Martin Scorsese's best film. An all-star cast headed by Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale, Cate Blanchett and Leonardo DiCaprio explore the angst of genius inventor and recluse Howard Hughes. Blanchett won Oscar for Best Actress. DiCaprio should have won an Oscar for portrayal of Hughes. He did win a Golden Globe for it though.
“The Wild Bunch” (1969) Director Sam Peckingpah's top of the shelf western. Extremely controversial when released due to violent content. However, contemporary viewers and critics wouldn't think twice about such scenes now. Aging outlaws come to terms with a changing west set against a bank heist goes bad. Ernest Borgnine, William Holden and Robert Ryan star.
Others: "Being There" "Fargo," "Ghost Writer" “Lincoln,” "Psycho" "Saving Private Ryan,” "The Departed," “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,” “The Godfather," "The Godfather, Part II” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”