Tuesday, May 26, 2020

My Top Movies: 71-80

My Top Movie List – Day 3.  Here are the films from 71-80.

71. Blazing Saddles:  Mel Brooks turned farts, boobs and a horse punch into a classic comedy that still leaves us laughing at just the thought of it. I’m not a big fan of comedies, as this list will show, but this is genius that appeals to the eighth grader in all of us.

72. The Deer Hunter:  What happens to a group of Pennsylvania steel town boys who get sent off to Vietnam? The best movie made about the Vietnam experience. The Russian Roulette scene still sends shivers.

73. . Taxi: Robert DiNiro’s portrayal of troubled taxi driver Travis Bickle is one of the most memorable performances ever on film. But his performance is not alone. Jody Foster plays a 12-year-old prostitute and Harvey Keitel is her pimp. Martin Scorsese captured the dark side of the darkest times in New York City in a film that builds to a shattering conclusion. “You talkin’ to me?”

74. The Decedents:  This film probably doesn’t make many people’s Top 100, but it is a beautifully crafted film centered around a perfect performance by George Clooney. As his wife lies dying from a boating accident, he deals the discovery that she was having an affair and planning a divorce. He also faces the choice about selling a pristine undeveloped area on a Hawaiian island held in a family trust over which he has control.

75. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: A disturbing movie set in a mental institution ward under the unsympathetic rule of Nurse Ratchet. Jack Nicolson shines in one of his best performances, surrounded by wonderful supporting roles, including Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratchet.

76. Nebraska:  Another movie that may not be on most (if any) lists. Nebraska is a 2013 bitter-sweet, and sometimes laugh-out-loud movie centered around Bruce Dern’s Oscar-worthy performance as an old man seeking to get to Nebraska to cash in a winning lottery ticket. It is a story about the value of family, dysfunctional as it may be. Filmed in black and white, the cinematography is nothing short of spectacular, catching the bleakness of the great American plains in the time between harvest and planting.

77. Sound of Music:  Mountain setting. Great music. A wannabe nun and a bunch of kids. Oh, and Nazis. ‘Nuff said.

78. The Princess Bride: I’m sure Hollywood moneymen looked askance when Rob Reiner described the fairytale movie he planned to make. But the result was pure genius that has survived more than 30 years with its charm and creativity intact – and I’m sure it will keep its charm for another 30 years or more. Like Wizard of Oz, it is timeless.  

79. Sunset Boulevard:  Gloria Swanson is unforgettable as Norma Desmond in this movie about an aging, self-consumed silent picture star who wants to revive silent pictures. William Holden is the narrator through whose eyes we see the madness of lost glory. And of course, there’s that body in the pool that opens and closes the movie. “ I am big! It's the pictures that got small.”

80. Slumdog Millionaire:  A surprise breakout from Bollywood, this 2008 film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Ultimately, it is a love story – the love of two brothers and a young girl they befriend. It is told through flashbacks as a lowly chia wallah Jamal Malik (played by Dev Patel) plays on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”  It is romantic, sweet, violent and of course, being Bollywood, filled with magical Indian music.

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