Sunday, 30 October 2011

CRAIG'S TOP 100 FILMS - 100-91

100#. WITNESS (1985)

Director: Peter WEIR
Starring: Harrison FORD, Kelly MCGILLIS

WHY?: Kicking off this list is one of the 80's most acclaimed films which proved that Ford could act solidly (gaining an Oscar nod in the process) as John Book; the honest detective trying to help an Amish boy who witnesses two corrupt cops kill a man. However when the bad cops find out about his involvement, Book flees with the boy and his mother Rachel (McGillis) back to their Amish community where he learns about their traditions. A well-shot with the Amish community represented well here.

BEST SCENE: John and Rachel's romantic scene inside the garage with Wonderful World playing in the background. A classic example of romantic tension brought together by a beautifully used song.


Director: Ang LEE

WHY?: Ang Lee's heartbreaking film about two cowboys who embark on a risky affair in the wrong time period of American culture, courted controversy upon its release, mostly from homophobic critics. However it earned mass support from more intelligent critics and audiences; mostly down to the admirable story and powerhouse performances from Ledger and Gyllenhall who both proved they weren't just pretty faces. Even though it was wrongfully denied the Best Picture Oscar in 2006, it still represented a changing time for homosexuals who were starting to be treated more equally in modern day society!

BEST MOMENT: The devastating showdown between Ennis and Jack towards the film's ending, hating each other for covering up their affair especially from their own families, ultimately leading on to the next couple of scenes which reveal a tragic conclusion for the male couple.

 98#. MY LEFT FOOT (1989)

Director: Jim SHERIDAN
Starring: Daniel DAY-LEWIS, Brenda FRICKER, Ray MCNALLY

WHY?: A heart-rendering biopic about the Irish writer Christy Brown (Day-Lewis) who struggled to overcome Cerebral Palsy, won the hearts of many including me with a story of hope and a struggle to overcome a dreadful disease but yet finding the courage to make a person of oneself. Of course we see Christy achieve greatness but also heartbreak as you do with a biopic. Day-Lewis won his first Oscar for such a challenging and physical role with Fricker also winning a Supporting gong for her subtle but long-suffering mother who gives her all to help her son.

BEST MOMENT: The scene in the video clip produces a devastating yet joyous moment for the Brown family especially for Christy's mother as he manages to write 'MOTHER' on the family carpet with his foot. A scene that delivers with not a dry eye in the house!

 97#. MUNICH (2005)

Director: Steven SPIELBERG
Starring: Eric BANA, Daniel CRAIG, Geoffrey RUSH

WHY?: One of the toughest films I had to watch but nonetheless, an underrated effort for the legendary Spielberg with his harsh but intelligent thriller about a team of assassins sent across the world to track down the Palestinians terrorists who slaughtered a group of Jewish athletes in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Everything about it is clinical with Bana giving a subdued performance as Avner and certainly it isn't any surprise that Spielberg does enjoy making serious films after blockbusters. By the end, it leaves you deflated but still wowed by the viciousness of its story hence the lack of a happy ending....

BEST MOMENT: The combined scene of Avner having sex with his wife while thinking about the victims of the Massacre who realise that they won't survive and the cruel fate that they suffer, with John Williams's haunting music making the scene more emotionally charged.

 96#. FORREST GUMP (1994)

Director: Robert ZEMECKIS
Starring: Tom HANKS, Robin WRIGHT, Gary SINISE, Sally FIELD

WHY?: One of the popular films of the 90s though not 100% loved by me though the support for it is understandable. Zemekis's flowing story of an idiotic man who finds himself in bizarre and historical situations such as playing American football, fighting in the Vietnam War, and meeting Kennedy and Nixon all for the love of childhood sweetheart Jenny (Wright), made audiences laugh and cry with its epic approach. But I do like it, there are several classic moments (Run Forrest Run!) and a cracking soundtrack that become more the reason why it still remains hugely admired by many today.

BEST MOMENT: An emotional scene for me, Forrest and Jenny's wedding near the film's end, where we know it'll end in tragedy for Forrest but there is something good to come out of it. Lt. Dan turns up and he can walk again!
 95#. THE STING (1973)

Director: George ROY HILL
Starring: Robert REDFORD, Paul NEWMAN, Robert SHAW

WHY?: One of the underrated Best Picture Oscar winners provided me with a stylish and entertaining film with two huge stars in Newman and Redford as the con-artists who join forces to pull off a major con trick on vicious crime boss Robert Shaw. After the success of Butch Cassidy, the reunion of the new stars along with director George Roy Hill proved that their first collaboration together wasn't a fluke as The Sting has good humour, clever editing and plenty of twists and turns all surrounded by a well-executed production design showing what America was like in the 20s.

BEST MOMENT: The final scene initially leaves us shocked when Hooker and Gondoroff both end up dead during the raid. But after the two bad guys leave the scene, the audience themselves feel stumped, when both heroes end up alive having got the FBI involved to add a fruitful twist which provides sweet revenge on their victim.

 94#. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)

Director: Quentin TARANTINO
Starring: Harvey KIETEL, Steve BUSCEMI, Michael MADSEN, Tim ROTH

WHY?: Tarantino's first mainstream film shocked many upon release in 1992 with its violent approach but it was spearheaded well by an impressive cast and scorching dialogue with plenty to talk about (even Madonna gets slagged off here!). Seven men take part in a robbery which goes wrong and sees those who survive try to hide out in a warehouse but find themselves paranoiac and keen to find out who ratted them out. A web of intrigue and mystery is unearthed later in the film, and by the end, we are left breathless by the frantic final few minutes of a film which deserves to be longer than 90 mins.

BEST MOMENT: One of those recognisable film scenes with a classic use of music to make it even better as Madsen's Mr Blonde decides to use brutal force to torture a police officer with Stealer's Wheel's "Stuck In The Middle With You" playing in the background. No hard of 'earing for him then?

 93#. THE BLIND SIDE (2009)

Director: John Lee HANCOCK
Starring: Sandra BULLOCK, Tim MCGRAW, Quinton AARON, Kathy BATES

WHY?: Probably one of the most-hated films to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars yet in my opinion, a sweet and uplifting true-life family drama. Bullock gave a career-best role as the brass Memphis housewife who takes pity on a giant African-American teenager, bringing him into her family home and eventually adopting him before giving advice on him becoming an American footballer. Sure it has its shabby moments but there is no denying that it is a real crowd-pleaser which I have no problem with placing on this list (yes even above Gump and Reservoir!).

BEST MOMENT: A guilty-pleasure scene that may be cringe-worthy to some but not to me, when Leigh Ann confronts the ghetto goons who tease her about Michael but her threat of using a gun proves that you don't want mess with this housewife!

 92#. THIS IS ENGLAND (2006)

Director: Shane MEADOWS
Starring: Thomas TURGOOSE, Joe GILGUN, Stephen GRAHAM

WHY?: It seems that British films nowadays are gritty which is probably all down to director Shane Meadows's harsh and brutal depiction of racially-motivated England in the 80s. Youngster Turgoose gives a brilliant debut role as the troubled boy who spends time with a gang of skinheads who aren't nasty only for former member Combo (the superb Graham) to come out of prison and vow to start a racist battle with society to drive other races out of England. It appals us sometimes and maybe the odd laugh here and then, but it really did show a time where England was in suffering with many bitter people finding various reasons to be angry, Sean and Combo being no exception.

BEST MOMENT: One of the more memorable speeches in my film viewing career as Combo delivers his grim verdict on why England is in decline to the rest of the gang pulling no punches about why the country has to change, almost similar to society today!
 91#. CRASH (2004)

Director: Paul HAGGIS

WHY?: It may be the most controversial film to win Best Picture, but there's no denying the brutal and raw setting the film sets out as a group of people in Los Angeles struggle to overcome their racial and prejudice attitudes, some of them with shocking consequences. Haggis deserves admirable credit for his hard work in writing and directing the film with the superb cast, notably Dillon, giving ferocious performances with a story that isn't likeable for some as many characters are emotionally shallow *cough* Sandra Bullock's character* cough* but it does have powerful moments which make it slightly understanding why it pipped Brokeback Mountain to the Oscar. 

BEST MOMENT: A proper heart-in-your-mouth moment when Daniel is confronted by the store owner who is threatening him with a gun, it then goes off just as Daniel's daughter jumps into her daddy's arms to protect him. We almost cry with sorrow but immediately when she turns out to be alive, we cheer with great relief!


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