Wednesday, 16 November 2011

CRAIG'S TOP 100 FILMS - 70-61

70#. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

Director: Victor FLEMING
Starring: Vivien LEIGH, Clark GABLE, Leslie HOWARD, Olivia DE HAVILLAND

WHY?: Probably one of THE great films AND one of THE great love stories of all time, yet it doesn't quite hit the heights I anticipated but nonetheless the 1939 epic about a Southern belle (Leigh) who seeks the love of the man of her dreams (Howard) yet finds herself not only seduced by the roguish Rhett Butler (Gable) but also having to protect her land during the American Civil War really did show why cinema was something to admire in anyone's lifetime. I do however embrace the film for the legacy it set from its colourful characters to the engaging story (if depressing with the amount of deaths in it) and the glorious production, it's a fabulous film all round. And yes it does contain some of the best quotes in film with the clip above indicating the first 'swear' word in film masterfully delivered by the devilish Gable though Leigh carries the picture throughout as her characters shows naivety yet determination for everything thrown at her.

BEST SCENE: Scarlett searching for the doctor to help Emily and coming across the bodies of hundreds, if not thousands of wounded soldiers. You know you're watching an epic film when so many extras spend a few minutes having to lie on the floor crying in pain but when it wins your film 9 Oscars, it's all worth it!

 69#. PHILADELPHIA (1993)

Director: Jonathan DEMME
Starring: Tom HANKS, Denzil WASHINGTON, Antonio BANDERAS

WHY?: Powerhouse performance from Hanks and Washington carry this brutal and depressing film which surprisingly didn't gain much award attention aside from Hanks's role as lawyer Andrew Beckett who is maliciously sacked from his job after contacting AIDS and seeks the help of a homophobic lawyer Joe Miller (Washington) to challenge his former employers in a massive lawsuit. The tone of the film is set in straight away through Bruce Springsteen's haunting song "The Streets of Philadelphia", making us realise that this isn't going to be easy to watch. However although the film is enough to send anyone over the edge (especially when we see Beckett's deteriorating health), we cheer on Miller who puts aside his prejudice in order to help a dying man get the justice he rightly deserves.

BEST MOMENT: The final 10 minutes consisting of Miller visiting Beckett in hospital after the lawsuit win, Beckett's family giving their final goodbyes and the funeral reception showing the home-movie at the end with Neil Young's song in the background, one scene you can't avoid shedding a tear to....

 68#. ALIENS (1986)

Director: James CAMERON
Starring: Sigourney WEAVER, Michael BIEHN, Bill PAXTON, Lance HENRICKSEN

WHY?: The film which secured James Cameron his status as a masterful director of the sci-fi genre with his superior Aliens sequel which gained as much love as the original from 1979 did. Female astronaut Ellen Ripley (Weaver) awakens many years after the trouble on the Nostromo to find herself travelling to the planet where the alien species descended from to assist a team of marines to confront the creatures head on. Despite having more fire-power, there are plenty more of the beasts hanging around. Weaver showed why she was the best heroine in film with a physical character who faces up to her responsibilities more in this film and even lends emotional compassion to it through Ripley's relationship with the young tearaway Newt. Plenty more aliens and machines also make this one of THE great sequels!

BEST MOMENT: The final showdown between Ripley and the Alien Queen beginning with her entrance in the mechanical robot followed by the bad-ass line "Get away from her you BITCH!", eventually leading to a ferocious battle in the bay dock. Out of the heroine and the villain, who do you think survives?


Director: Jonathan DEMME
Starring: Jodie FOSTER, Anthony HOPKINS, Ted LEVINE

WHY?: The second Demme film to make this section, the underrated director made one of the most memorable films of the 90's and also one of the first to win the Best Picture Oscar with an 18 rating. Fiesty detective Clarice Starling (Foster) takes on the horrid case of a psychotic serial killer (Levine) who has been kidnapping women and brutally killing them and seeks help from an imprisoned cannibal named Hannabal Lecter (Hopkins) who delves into her mind to try and uncover her personal life in exchange for clues in the case. Shocking and suspenseful, the film's story keeps the audience captivated despite its sickening moments though it is all down to the riveting chemistry between Foster and Hopkins that fascinates us, a classic example of a memorable hero and villain, terrific stuff!

BEST MOMENT: The initial fear that our favourite cannibal is dead when the cops and emergency services find him, his body being stored onto the ambulance and the gob-smacked moment where one of the emergency workers removes his 'mask' to cause mayhem....

 66#. ON THE WATERFRONT (2008)

Director: Elia KAZAN

WHY?: Helmed by a black-listed director, this acclaimed crime thriller provided one of Brando's best performances as the reclusive dock worker Terry Malloy whose association with an underworld gang leads to guilt when a young woman (Saint) looks for answers about the gang's involvement in her brother's death. His feelings for her soon develop and he faces the pressure of helping her uncover the truth which could mean ratting out his own employers. One of the first Oscar-winning films to feature a gritty theme, the corrupted world which Malloy lives in is clear from our perspective, with its dark setting and the sinister characters which control it. Brando gave film goers the meaning of method acting with a fiery role supported well by the likes of Saint and Cobb in a stellar cast.

BEST MOMENT: That car scene where Terry and his brother Charlie (Steiger) discuss about their fates with the bitterness of their relationship clear as Terry pours his heart out over the way his brother's corruption has ruined his life ("coulda been a contender"), one of the great conversation scenes in film.

 65#. THE BIRDS (1963)

Director: Alfred HITCHCOCK
Starring: Tippi HEDREN, Rod TAYLOR, Jessica TANDY

WHY?: Spooky is one word best describing one of Hitchcock's classics and makes us realise why birds are not always friendly creatures. Stalkish Melanie (Hedren) pursues handsome Mitch from the big city to a small seaside town and tries to acquaint herself with his overbearing mother (Tandy). But just when you think this sounds like a typical rom-com, one brief attack by a seagull leads to mass panic when more flying beasts start terrorising the town leaving our heroes to try and figure ways of survival. Suspense was always Hitchcock's middle name as he gives us a film that originally starts slow but once the birds arrive (the visual effects still as startling as they were back then), they cause mayhem and even for a film nearly 50 years old, it still freaks many people out to this very day....

BEST MOMENT: Quite tough to call, but the final shot of the film is simply terrifying to this day as the heroes slowly drive away from the house with the mass army of birds all perched around and cawing loudly, the screen turning to black and suggesting that those things aren't ready to leave just yet.....


Director: David YATES
Starring: Daniel RADCLIFFE, Rupert GRINT, Emma WATSON, Ralph FIENNES, Alan RICKMAN

WHY?: The most recent film on the list is the final chapter of one of the great film franchises of our time that ends on a high as the boy wizard Harry Potter (Radcliffe) and his friends face the daunting task of returning to Hogwarts to confront Lord Voldemort (Fiennes) one last time, and end up relying on the help of fellow students and teachers to settle the fate of the wizarding world once and for all. The money-making franchise comes to a bitter-sweet end as our heroes face their greatest challenge with Harry uncovering several revelations which explain certain events around the entire series. Plenty of action, emotion and some humourous one-liners keeps us entertained with nearly every character from the series figuring (and being on top form particularly Neville) in one action-packed finale.

BEST MOMENT: Harry uncovering the memories that Professor Snape (Rickman) is not such a bad person after all; the ever consistent Rickman puts a lot into Snape's humane side after its reveal, and surprising the audience by showing his secret care for Harry throughout the series. Emotional stuff being the perfect addition to a gripping finale.

63#. ROCKY (1976)

Director: John G. Avildsen
Starring: Sylvester STALLONE, Talia SHIRE, Burgess MEREDITH, Burt YOUNG, Carl WEATHERS

WHY?: This rags-to-riches story inspired the people of America who were suffering from post-Vietnam and Watergate in the mid-70s and acheived the impossible in winning the Best Picture Oscar from such a small production. Little known boxer Rocky Balboa (Stallone in his first film) struggles to earn a living from local fights but his fortunes change drastically when he gets the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight Heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Weathers). Despite fears about not winning the fight, Rocky becomes determined to go the distance as well as winning the heart of his beloved Adrian (Shire). Memorable this film is, as Stallone hit the big time supported well by other cast members but it's the thumping music and the bruising fights which keep us motivated as we cheer the Italian Stallion on.

BEST MOMENT: The training montage as Rocky (sporting his grey tracksuits) gets himself prepared across the city of Philadelphia to the boisterous theme tune of Gonna Fly Now before finishing the exercise by running up the stairs. Probably one of the most copied scenes in anything cultural whether it be TV or film.

 62#. A FISH CALLED WANDA (1987)

Director: Charles CRITCHTON
Starring: John CLEESE, Jamie LEE CURTIS, Kevin KLINE, Michael PALIN

WHY?: A tickling comic-caper from the late 80s which showed that John Cleese's comedy genius didn't just work in TV but on the big screen too. His bumbling lawyer Archie takes on the case of a criminal who has hidden a small diamond in a fish bowl, but it turns the man's wife Wanda (Curtis) and her secret lover Otto (a deranged yet hilarious Kline) are trying to take the diamond for themselves. However Wanda soon switches her attention to Archie and despite their different personalities, he soon realises that he leads a boring life and soon gets caught up in the whole episode with the diamond. Kline steals the film from everyone with such craziness and loopiness as he deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in a film which plays for laughs and shows the differences between British and American humour in roaring fashion.

BEST MOMENT: A great awkward scene in film though not for Archie as he strips naked in the luxury apartment whilst uttering Russian poetry only to be left embarrassed as the owners return from their trip with their children in attendance....

 61#. WALL-E (2008)

Director: Andrew STANTON
Starring: Ben BURTT, Sigourney WEAVER

WHY?: This cute and charming film reflects on the case of loneliness even for a machine in one of Pixar's best efforts. Lovable and hard-working robot WALL-E (voiced by sound-editor Ben Burtt) spends his days carrying objects around the deserted world that once was Earth but becomes isolated from being the only living thing there (aside from a cockroach). That all changes when a clean and pretty robot Eve turns up from space leading to WALL-E finding love but when she returns to her shop, he follows her and finds that the human race has now regrouped on a giant ship unaware of what Earth is. Colourful and full of adventure, the film does at times set the waterworks going but it does have laughs and looks visually stunning, and not since Beauty and the Beast had there been a more sweet looking couple in Disney film.

BEST MOMENT: Love and emotion come together in the scene where WALL-E's working progress is put to one side by his desire for someone to love when he watches the Only Takes A Moment song from the romantic musical Hello Dolly on his TV, awww


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