Friday, July 29, 2011

Ten Films You Must See Before You Die.....

Taking a break from the debt crisis and other concerns, I want to give you my list of top ten American films. In future posts, I'll list my top ten foreign films, top-ten documentaries, top ten TV shows, and top ten TV mini-series (thank-you HBO). Finally, I'll reveal my top-ten Christian films (you might be surprised).

Living here in Paducah, KY., if you ask the average Christian for their all-time favorite movie, you'll get a response of either "The Passion" or "Left Behind." Don't get me wrong. I loved "The Passion" and it's on my top ten Christian list. But there are some "secular" films which entertain as well as speak to us prophetically, revealing the fact that we are created in God's image. I'm taking a chance that some may think me less than spiritual, and may even start praying for my soul. That's the risk I'm willing to take so that you can be exposed to these OUTSTANDING films!!

Growing up, I was raised on movies, going to Saturday matinees and watching 2 movies, several cartoons and a Three Stooges comedy, all for the price of a quarter. What a deal! I frequented student film festivals at UCLA and USC. What can I say...I unapologetically love films. As a pastor, I used films as illustrations in my sermons. I believe that many film illustrations can be very  powerful and effectively drive home the point of a sermon.

Here is my current list of top ten favorite films of all time, with synopsis (courtesy of Netflix). If you haven't seen any one of these, I hope you'll try to find them at Netflix, iTunes, your local rental store or in some cases, your local library. Let me know what you think, or if I've overlooked your all-time favorite film.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)--Oscar-winning film from best-selling novel.
Southern comforts abound in this big-screen adaptation of Harper Lee's novel as lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in an Oscar-winning role) defends an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges but ends up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice. Meanwhile, with help from a friend (John Megna), Finch's children, Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham), set their sights on making contact with a reclusive neighbor (Robert Duvall). This is a chance to see a young Robert Duvall in his film debut.

Toy Story 3 (2010)--In this installment of the Pixar animated franchise, toy cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), his astronaut pal, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and their friends cope with their owner's departure for college -- and their new home in a day-care center. Joan Cusack, John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton and Ned Beatty also lend their voices to this delightful sequel that earned a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

The Hurt Locker (2008)--Tense film. Puts you there in Iraq with a bomb squad. 
Kathryn Bigelow directs this gripping drama (winner of the Best Picture Oscar) following one of the U.S. Army's elite EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) teams operating in the ferocious war zone of Iraq. As the squad identifies and dismantles improvised explosive devices and other bombs, they must also contend with the frayed nerves and internal conflicts that arise from living in constant peril. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse and Guy Pearce star.

Crash (2005)--This film deals with race and bigotry as well as the disconnection and loneliness in our daily lives. The movie symbolizes L.A. as less of a melting pot and more of a cultural collision; how we are so desperate for some kind of connection that we would even crash into someone just to make contact with another human being. Sandra Bullock is excellent as a pampered, stuck-up Hollywood wife who comes to the realization that she has no real friends. No one really cares about her except her Mexican housekeeper.

Tensions erupt when the tangled lives of a Brentwood housewife, her district attorney husband, a Persian shopkeeper, two cops, a pair of carjackers and a Korean couple converge over a 36-hour period in the diverse metropolis of post-9/11 Los Angeles. Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard co-star in this Oscar-winning Best Picture from writer-director Paul Haggis. 

Walk the Line (2005) --A biopic about a real music legend. 
This critically acclaimed film distills country singer Johnny Cash's (Joaquin Phoenix, in an Academy Award-nominated role) transformation from man to icon -- from his hardscrabble days on an Arkansas farm to his time inside Memphis's Sun Studios, where he finally found a voice for his talents. Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for her portrayal of Cash's beloved wife, June, alongside co-stars Robert Patrick and Shelby Lynne.

Shane (1953)--Amid stunning vistas, this Oscar-winning Western from director George Stevens follows reformed gunslinger Shane (Alan Ladd), whose determination to avoid a fight is tested when greedy cattle barons threaten the community of homesteaders he's joined. Jack Palance plays Shane's unabashedly evil nemesis, and the film's enigmatic ending -- after Shane realizes he's become a disruptive force in the family that's taken him in -- is a cinema classic.

The Pianist (2002) --Famed Polish concert pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody, in an Oscar-winning role) struggles to survive the onslaught of Nazi tyranny during World War II in this Roman Polanski-directed drama based on Szpilman's memoirs. In spite of his well-known musical talents, Szpilman spends several years holed up in Warsaw, barely alive and subsisting on scraps, until grace comes in the form of a second chance -- at music, at freedom and at life.

Rear Window (1954) This is a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you saw the contemporary film, Disturbia, with Shia LeBouf, it's good but can't compare with this original. Also, this film was shot on a Hollywood sound stage and Hitchcock effectively creates the feel of NYC in the midst of a heat wave. 
As his broken leg heals, wheelchair-bound L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) becomes absorbed with the parade of life outside his window and soon fixates on a mysterious man whose behavior has Jefferies convinced a murder has taken place. Meanwhile, other windows reveal the daily lives of a dancer, a lonely woman, a composer, a dog and more. Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey co-star in this Alfred Hitchcock-helmed classic.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)  I could easily have chosen "Platoon" or "Apocalypse Now" or "Patton" but this is my selection for memorable military films which give us insight into the horror of war. These films serve as a reminder that we should not forget the sacrifice paid by so many for the sake of our freedom.
As U.S. troops storm the beaches of Normandy, three brothers lie dead on the battlefield, with a fourth trapped behind enemy lines. Ranger captain Tom Hanks and seven men are tasked with penetrating German-held territory and bringing the boy home. Steven Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski paint a harrowing picture of the price of war and heroism -- one that netted them Oscars for Best Director and Best Cinematography, respectively.

Schindler's List (1993) Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a greedy German factory owner made rich by exploiting cheap Jewish labor. But as World War II unfolds, he becomes an unlikely humanitarian, spending his entire fortune to help save 1,100 Jews from Auschwitz. Co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Steven Spielberg's holocaust epic won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and is an unforgettable testament to the possibility of human goodness.

1 comment:

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