Daniel’s Top 10 Favorite Films

After over a year developing, designing, and writing for this site, it has occurred to me, fellow reader, that I have rarely given that much of a vantage of my personal taste of film. Sure, I’ve commented on performance art and have opinions on ‘films you should see’, but I don’t think I’ve ever let you all at least be aware of what my personal tastes are. So, dear reader, I am finally divulging my personal top 10 films as of today (2/11/16). Keep in mind, my top 10 film list is continually changing with the influx of new films. I also have what I call the “5 Year Rule” regarding my top 10 list, meaning a movie MUST be at least 5-years-old before consideration into my top 10. This is aimed with the intent of being sure the film is not being added impulsively or due to nostalgia. Therefore, movies such as Captain Phillips, Gravity, and Birdman are currently ineligible for incorporation into this list.

Nonetheless, below are my top 10 favorite films:

1. American Beauty (1999)American BeautyThis will forever be my all-time favorite film. American Beauty was the film that caused me to fall in love with cinema and realize the capacity of what film can offer audiences. I was 13-years-old when I sneaked into the theater to see this since my mother wouldn’t let me see it, and I’ll never forget that it was the first time in my life that I remained in my seat and sat through the closing credits. I was in awe. American Beauty is filmmaking perfection and I personally think everyone needs to see this film at least once. It is the perfect satire about suburbia and domesticated life.

2. Magnolia (1999)
MagnoliaMagnolia, too, changed my world. This film I, too, sneaked into a theater to see and I was astonished by the artistic brilliance that is writer/director P.T. Anderson. Magnolia has forever left me with the vantage that a single day can forever change someone’s entire world. Furthermore, I will argue Magnolia incited my passion of studying society, which led to my first BA in Sociology. Bluntly put, a film does have the ability to ignite a passion someone wasn’t even aware they had.

3. Short Cuts (1993)
Short Cuts
Now that we’ve established I have a passion for societal studies, it then should be of no surprise that my top 10 list would involve a film from Robert Altman, who was known for films that focused on societal relations. In my opinion, Short Cuts is Altman’s best work, which focuses on 22 different characters in Los Angeles over the span of 5 days. The film is eye-opening and reveals much about the underside of humanity, mostly done in a satirical way. The film is an extraordinary commentary about society, maybe more so than some are willing to admit.

4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf
It’s blunt, it’s forceful, sometimes it’s even uncomfortable, but it’s cinematic gold. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf possesses one of the greatest scripts of all time from the extraordinary Edward Albee (who is one of my personal idols). Albee’s script, which he beautifully adapted from his Broadway version, is the epitome of a daring script that defied the ‘normative’ conventions of marriage. I admire the film for its ballsy in-your-face attitude, but I especially admire this film for it to still captivate and be hilarious nearly 50 years after it was released into theaters. Added to that, this film has the most flawless acting I’ve ever seen in a film.

 5. The Fugitive (1993)
The Fugitive
I remember seeing this film in theaters when I was 7-years-old and even as a kid I was completely wowed by the incredible craft of this film. The Fugitive still has the capacity to excitement me, move me, and thrill me years later as an adult. In fact, whenever I am bored and have nothing to do, typically I will grab this film and give it another watch. It never gets old.

6. Working Girl (1988)
Working Girl
This is my feel-good movie and it never fails me whenever I am in need of a pick-me-up. The film is everything I believe in about life: We as individuals have the ability to be something in this world and it isn’t going to be handed to us. Sometimes we have to fight to be noticed and not be stepped on, and when we succeed, the journey was worth the reward. Working Girl never fails to make me smile, laugh, and root for Melanie Griffith’s Tess McGill.

7. All About Eve (1950)
All About Eve
All About Eve is evidence of two things: 1. Old films still have the capacity to wow contemporary audiences, and, 2. It is very best from the Golden Age of Hollywood. All About Eve is the very definition of a flawless film. Its acting is astonishing. Its plot still has relevancy with today’s obsession with popularity and fame. Its directing and writing should be considered mandatory study for those aspiring to become filmmakers and script writers. Lastly, All About Eve provides one of cinema’s greatest exposes about an institution that publicly is extraordinary, but privately is cutthroat and manipulative.

8. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Bridge on the River Kwai
Bridge on the River Kwai may be slightly aged, but its impact still has great punch to it. The film is an odyssey, both physical and mental, showing the impact that war has on individuals and how they react differently to it. Most notable is the leading performance from Alec Guinness, who gave the performance everything he had, and as a result, I would argue it is the best performance from a male actor I’ve ever seen in a movie. That is an argument I’ve been making since I first saw this film when I was 15-years-old and I’ve been unwavering about that.

9. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Murder on the Orient Express
Again, filmmaking perfection; this time from another one of my favorite directors, Sidney Lumet. The film is a beacon of how a movie should be made: Sharp, detail-oriented direction, a stellar cast, all of whom are given a moment to shine, a witty script that keeps the audience guessing and manages humor throughout, and stunning set designs and costumes that highlight the era. I’d argue if this film had not been made the same year as The Godfather, Part 2 it would have won Best Picture at the Oscars. Despite that, the film is the penultimate of murder-mystery films and no film has ever been able to match Murder on the Orient Express, which is half the reason why this film is still admired and beloved by contemporary moviegoers.

10. As Good as it Gets (1997)
As Good as it Gets
This addition to my list may come across as random, but I assure you, it isn’t. It actually fits within my canon quite nicely. What I particularly love about As Good as it Gets that it is a story about a difficult individual (who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder) having to literally change his entire world when he realizes he is in love. The film is hilarious due to this, but there are also moments of difficulty as well. The film is about overcoming mental hurdles in order to be happy, which the film beautifully touches upon. Also, I believe love is difficult, Love is fleeting, difficult to hold onto, sometimes painful to endure, yet we always go back to it and ask for more. We cannot help ourselves but want more love, especially after we have tasted it, and that is what As Good as it Gets represents to me: Love being forever and always wanting it, even when we are set in our ways.

I do hope those of you who have read this feature have enjoyed getting to know me more through my personal favorite films. Also dear reader, always many thanks for giving my site and features the time for your reading pleasure. Always many thanks.

– Daniel

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