10) The only yearly family tradition on my list, I start with Planes, Trains & Automobiles. This movie is the definition of Murphy’s Law in movie form. In short, everything that could go wrong does. John Hughes was never better. And that soundtrack is certainly… Interesting. In my self-imposed rule of not spoiling good movies, I will say this: If you want a good movie to watch with the family this Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong.
9) While this is a top ten, there are technically more than ten movies on this list. Case in point: The Back to the Future trilogy. These movies must be taken as a trilogy. It all tells one story as the first two films each end on a cliffhanger. The first film is superior to the other two, certainly, but each film attempts a different genre. Of sorts. Period ‘50s piece, utopian future sci-fi (combined with a retreat back to the ‘50s,) and a Western. And that amazing score. If it needed to be said, this trilogy did not predict 2015 very well, especially those stupid non-hovering hover boards. If only the Cubs won the World Series last year…
8) There are many movie adaptations. Most, in fact almost all, are not better than the source material. But not so here. Watchmen, specifically the Ultimate cut. I made the smart decision to read the graphic novel in full except for the ending before I saw the film in theaters (interestingly enough, I just ran out of time.) That ended up being the right approach. Because the original ending was just weird and made no sense. I’m sure there was a message about the military industrial complex as it applied to the Cold War, but considering America won the Cold War less than a decade after the comic book series was originally published, well, yeah. The minor changes made other than the ending worked in the movie’s favor. And one’s enjoyment of the film was certainly aided by having read most of the graphic novel. Especially the opening montage. Great soundtrack, too, taken mostly from song lyrics that were put between chapters in the original graphic novel.
7) I love Quentin Tarantino as a filmmaker. And for that one time he played an Elvis impersonator on The Golden Girls. Yeah, that’s a thing that happened. Everyone has their favorite Tarantino movie. Mine is Kill Bill: Volume 1. This movie is almost non-stop action. And there’s even an anime flashback for some (awesome) reason. I did not like the second film as much and felt the thing that was going to happen as per the title was telegraphed badly and not done in the best way. The fight scenes in the first one are crazy incredible. Some of the best in any movie ever. Vonage also clearly stole the idea for their jingle from this movie.
6) Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. What can I say? This movie is damn funny. And better than any Bond movie. Because you don’t need to get the Bond references to love it. I was like eight when I first saw this, and I do not believe I had seen a single Bond by that point. And I laughed my ass off. The sequels are not as good, but that’s to be expected. Expecting them to would be like saying the Naked Gun sequels were gonna measure up to the original. (They all got a “Weird Al” Yankovic cameo, though, so that’s something.)
5) I hate to do this again, but I had to: The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises. I really couldn’t figure out which one I liked more. I definitely didn’t enjoy the first one in this trilogy as much as these two. But I love the two different kinds of evil we got. Chaotic evil vs. strategic evil. If you haven’t seen either of these films, what are you doing? (This same point stands for all the movies on this list, but how haven’t you?) If I say any more, I feel like I’ll spoil details I’d rather not. So… Moving on.
4) I am a sucker for “nerds conquer the popular kids” stories. Oddly enough, there are very few good ones that take place in high school. As I was in high school when I first saw this masterpiece, it spoke to me. Hit me where I lived. Right in the feels. Napoleon Dynamite is a glorious film with a ridiculous number of quotable lines. That may have singlehandedly put many Hot Topic executives’ kids through college. Most of the actors in this movie were either unknown or little known character actors. The biggest “star” of this movie was Diedrich Bader, also known as the redneck construction worker neighbor from Office Space. And, now, oddly enough, Batman. Huh.
3) You couldn’t ask for a more perfect adaptation of the source material in The Princess Bride. Just be glad this movie didn’t get made immediately when it was planned. Because Fezzik could have been played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Praise Jesus that didn’t happen. Cary Elwes wrote a good book about how this glorious cult film got made and its effect on people that is obviously titled “As You Wish” that I recommend any fan of the film pick up and read.
2) A true coming of age movie. In that, I truly knew I was considered an adult by my parents when they finally let me watch every scene in this movie. Animal House. There exists no better comedy than this truly incredible piece of cinema. And who knew that of all the unknowns that made up this film’s cast, the barely seen Kevin Bacon would become the biggest? Well, Flounder got to be Fan Boy on Freakazoid!, so there’s that.
1) Since I already spoiled this one in my last article… Well… Dirty Harry. That’s all that needs to be said. But… Do you feel lucky?