It has been a great cinematic journey with you all over these past 7 months. Presently I will be hanging my hat from more Check It Out! blog entries and begin focusing on my own personal projects. If you are interested further in my own reviews and work, check out my personal movie blog and website, Cinema Daydreams. You can find me on Twitter at @millinerman.
Today’s entry commemorates the Top 10 films that have both influenced me as a filmmaker and as a human being. These films I believe are some of the better films out there that both provide a great story, but more than that, give us a new perspective as human beings. I believe that there truly is a film out there for everyone. It is simply a matter of having an adventurous mind to discover what those films are. Everyone’s opinion may be different on the matter – and that’s the beauty of it! Here are mine. I hope you enjoy – and Check It Out!
The Iron Giant (1999)
What I believe to be one of the most soulful animated creations since Beauty and the Beast, Brad Bird’s helmed story of a boy befriending a 50-foot tall alien robot has what every family film would hope to have. Excitement, mystery, suspense & plenty of laughs – The Iron Giant continues to improve with age.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Houston, we have a problem. With these words crackling through NASA Mission Control, what follows is a thrilling story of survival, teamwork and perseverance. Directed & acted with steely resolve, this story of the American space exploration legacy is one of might, inspiration and hope for the potential for greatness in our human race.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
One of the best sequels to have ever been produced, this story proves that darker twists and turns can prove to be of great benefit in a character’s overall story arc. Boasting what is quite possibly the greatest story twist that cinema has ever given us, this is the 5th episode of what soon will be an ever-expanding space opera saga. It is a film whose sci-fi adventures have had no equal until this past year with Cuaron’s spell-binding Gravity.
My most recent film to make this list, it is included if nothing else for its exceptional economic use of filmmaking. Set in the swamplands of Arkansas, it is a beautifully told coming of age story, intermingled with a dark aura of the American Southern Drama. This is the kind of movie that will remind you of what power is contained in great cinematic storytelling.
The Tree of Life (2011)
I enjoy films that stir controversy. Whether or not I agree with the film’s philosophy, at least the story is told in a manner than makes you take a stand one way or the other. Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is a testament to that very fact. Gloriously filmed, and edited in seemingly such abstract ways, for first-time viewers it is often confounding. However, I believe this film will stand the test of time as one of the greater achievements in cinema history this side of the 21st Century. If you haven’t yet witnessed this journey into birth, life, death, creation, family and the universe – be prepared. It’s quite a ride.
Forrest Gump (1994)
I believe that a film’s greatness can often be determined by its re-watching value. Tom Hanks’ masterfully likable work as Forrest, along with director Robert Zemeckis’ sheer joy he portrays throughout the piece, it is little wonder why Forrest Gump is a film that is blessed to be both critically and audience acclaimed. See it once and you’ll see why.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Conceptually one of the most interesting (and bizarre) stories put to screen, Groundhog Day is very Dickensian in its portrayal of characters and story. There is no better Phil Connors than Bill Murray. And there is no better holiday to repeat over…and over…and over…than Groundhog Day. Recently I listened to Harold Ramis’ director’s commentary for this film in honor of his life’s work. Hearing how they pieced together this comedy was enlightening, and it reminded me just how difficult (and how rewarding) the production of quality stories can be. It’s well-worth a listen to.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
One of my favorite Steven Spielberg films, Raiders is a wonderful blend of grandiose classic filmmaking and 1980’s Spielberg sensibilities. Harrison Ford is pitch-perfect as Indiana Jones, and the adventure for the Lost Ark itself is intriguing & thought-provoking. And needless to say, you’ll be humming John Williams’ catchy theme song. Grab your fedora, tote the bullwhip, and get ready for the return of the great adventure.
One Ring to Bind Them. This film was the movie that convinced me to get into filmmaking. Epic in scope, and with well-formed character relationships, Fellowship of the Ring begins what is nothing less than an enormous achievement in film. Filmed at astoundingly beautiful locations in New Zealand, Peter Jackson’s take on JRR Tolkien’s novel is epic and engaging. It also contains what I believe to be the best prologue created for a film since PT Anderson’s Magnolia.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
My favorite film of all time – one I watch every time before making my own films. Yes, there are many films that are exceptional. But in my life’s experience, there has been no other film that validates the worth of a human soul as does this Frank Capra classic. Led by the ever-talented Jimmy Stewart, the story of the local-town hero George Bailey is a cinematic tale of struggle, triumph, pain & ultimately, joy. This was Frank Capra’s story of encouragement to the human race, that with a resounding YES! – everyone has worth, regardless of who they are. Guarded optimism has never been so clearly stated.