My Top 10 Favorite Films of All Time
by Chuck Carte, PCSH
Films are the magical portals to other realities that transport us to far off lands of mystery, intrigue, romance, and magic. Film has the ability to show us worlds and realities that we ourselves would like to be a part of. They often times show us realities that we would be afraid to be a part of and, more often than not, introduce us to characters that we would both love and hate to know, or even become.
I am a film buff in every sense of the phrase and am so because I enjoy the sense of escapism film represents. I am an avid reader for the same reason. Now, that is not to say that I just enjoy film for the story aspect alone. I also enjoy the ways in which films are made; the visual component. In college, I studied film from all angles. Being an actor, writer, and director, I see film in very different shades and, cannot watch most films anymore. Sometimes they are just too predictable for me or just too bland. Once you have studied film, it takes a lot to impress you. A director, writer, or actor has to be on their game quite a bit for me to enjoy a film solidly and completely.
The films that make up my list are films that impressed me in some way. Some on this list impress me with their story while others impress me with the sense of story and portrayal they carry. I will preface this list with one thing and one thing only; these are probably not the greatest films ever made. They are just my favorite.
#10 The Evil Dead
I love the Evil Dead films for the reason most people do. It is a low budget horror film that changed the genre. The film is unconventional, tells a story in a unique way, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The first film is a proper B horror film. There is blood, gore, and genuine suspense. Its also a little cheesy in some ways but, that’s ok because, in the sequel, the film acknowledges its faults and continues on with a brand new version of the story, cool special effects, and lots of laughs.
Perhaps what I like about it most is the fact that the second film found a way to make horror funny. The first film was funny by accident, the second one seemingly by design. That and the fact that Bruce Campbell is one bad dude.
#9 The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski is perhaps one of the greatest comedies ever written. This is a fact that I will defend if need be. The Big Lebowski, or Grand Lebowski as it is referred to in some circles, blends deep characterization with comedy and a catchy story.
By all accounts, the story is preposterous. A stoner without a job gets into mysterious shenanigans with his bowling buddies and another man who has the same name. Is this what would happen if suddenly someone came after Chuck Norris and suddenly though he and I were the same/ In any other way, this story might not have been as interesting and entertaining as it was with the Cohen brothers at the helm.
The Cohen brothers took this story, added the right actors, an iconic soundtrack, and proper philosophical undercurrents to make The Big Lebowski an instant classic. Jeff Bridges as The Dude has become an iconic character for both his actions and his mentality as it is represented in the film.
Within the film, you feel bad for the easy going dude. You excuse the fact that he is a drug user and an unemployed wreck and sympathize with him as he becomes victimized by the Nihilists, the plotting of the other Lebowski, and the incidents with Jackie Treehorn. The Dude seems real to the audience because he seems like someone we could be, or want to be.
# 8: Vertigo
Number 8 is Alfred Hitchcock’s underrated masterpiece is one of the most visually striking films of its time and stands as being one of the most mysterious films I have ever seen. The general plot alone is spectacular in nature due to the maze of narrative twists and turns.
Jimmy Stewart is brilliant in this classic as is Kim Novack. Novack is rivals Stewart’s performance in that she is able to portray two characters who are really one and essentially hold all of the cards for the entire film.
Good film is synonymous with Hitchcock’s name and films like Vertigo remind us of his skill as a director and his prowess as a writer.
#7 Fight Club
The entire premise of Fight Club is a one shot deal. Once you have seen the film, the big reveal loses its edge. It is everything else about David Fincher”s representation of the Palahnuik novel is what makes this the type of film that you find yourself watching over and over again.
The story is enough to make me want to rewatch it but and the fact that I pick up something different about it every time I watch makes it even better. I do not normally like Brad Pitt but found myself really enjoying his portrayal of Durden and wanted to see more done with the character in much the way the novel did. This is a film that is timeless and has incredible rewatch value if you are a hardcore film fan.
#6 Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit has to be one of the finest films made about the Southern legend culture. Most people I know give me flack about this film but, I still like it.
For me, Jackie Gleason makes the movie. That isn’t to diminish the contributions of Burt Reyonalds but to say that there is a reason Smokey gets top billing.
The overall plot of the film is very loose and isn’t that spectacular but, here again, what really makes the film is Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff. I mean, who else cusses and acts like an obsessed southern sheriff better than Jackie? The answer is no one.
I am a huge Star Wars nerd(which will more than likely be evident later) but, I have to apreciate what was done with this film. Mel Brooks made a career about making fun of films and trends and, for the most part, did very well. With Spaceballs, he hit it out of the park.
So far as parodies go, Spaceballs had it all. Most parodies today don’t focus on the stories. They just pull sight gag after sight gag. Spaceballs has lots of sight gags but also parodues the story and does so in a way that mirrors the actual story of Star Wars. We find ourselves on a distant planet in the future(or past) with these larger than life characters doing larger than life things. It has everything a science fiction movie should have: lasers, robots, space ships, and it even manages to be funny. Genuinely funny. Star Wars was such a cultural movement and has inspired so much, the jump to Spaceballs only seems natural. Matter of fact, I dare say that Spaceballs stands on its own now and is separate of the title of spoof or parody.
#4 Star Wars
Star Wars started a cultural movement and spawned fandom that in some ways exceeds all other fandom. No other franchise in entertainment did what this film did. Not only did it redefine the genre, it created what we deem now as the nerd.
Prior to Star Wars, the Nerd was something with a caculator and glasses. Now the nerd is something to be. Nerdism has become pop culture.
Star Wars also caused an evolution in film in general. The special effects used were cutting edge as were the costumes and epic props. Nerdom met commercialism with Star Wars.
The films also made science fiction mainstream. With its appeal to a variety of demographics, Star Wars touched just about everyone and continues to touch people today.
I also want to make a distinction here. Star Wars is great. The first three films released, IV-VI, with The Empire Strikes Back being my favorite of the franchise. I discount the newer films for reasons I won’t go into here and do, to some extent, hate the recent updates to the classic films but stand firm in thinking they are still awesome.
#3 Hot Fuzz
I want to qualify this one first. I love both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz equally. These are two simply original films who have, in different ways, made me love British films. The first thing I really loved about these films is their sense of realism. They take the heroes out of the equation and show me what I would do in either situation. I can see me going to a bar in the middle of the apocolypse or being a determined, yet crazy cop.
Another reason why I like these two films is the writing. The writing is witty and funny, at about a joke a minute, while also being serious and action packed. The reason I like movies like this is that they are closer to life. In the event of a zombie outbreak, I feel that Shaun of the Dead acurately portrays the reaction society would have. Many of the lines from both films are highly quotable and funny.
I love Hot Fuzz for what it does within the confines of a small town. I currently live in a small town that is very much like the one where Hot Fuzz is set and, the weird thing is, they have the same mentality and regard for outsider logic as the town elders have. I identify with Simon Pegg’s character Nicholas for that reason. Overall, I love these two films because they make me laugh every time I watch them without fail. If they’re on TV, I rearrange my day accordingly.
Ghostbusters is a lifelong passion of mine. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be one so bad that I strapped a hose to my arm and went off in search of paranormal baddies. I have been fortunate in being able to become one with The Carolina Ghostbusters but, my love of this film does not end with that fantasy being fulfilled.I love comedies, as I am sure this list has more or less proved. I also love science fiction. Ghostbusters is both, plain and simple however; nothing is simple about Ghostbusters.Not only is it an exceptional comedy but, it is also a deep film in many ways. Ghostbusters is the story of everyman. They are just every day guys trying to make a living. Instead of becoming exterminators or something brash, they hunt and bust ghosts. Everything that they do is relatable to us in some way or another.On top of all of that, the gadgets are awesome. Whether you are a fan of the proton packs, the car, the slime blower, the trap, or the PKE meter, Ghostbusters has you covered… often times in slime. Save some for Egon.
#1 The Shawshank Redemption
I asked a lot of people what their favorite movie was and got this as a response. A lot.
It is my favorite film and has been since I first saw it. It is one of the deepest films I have ever seen and stands to be funny at times. Overall, it is an exceptional story that touches people in many different ways and connects with them unlike any film.
This film, if you haven’t seen it, is a prison drama. A man, Andy Dufrane, is wrongly convicted of a crime. In the joint, he meets Red, the character played by Morgan Freeman. In prison, the two become best friends. More importantly, you become best friends with them as well. It is one of the rare films where you feel like you are a character; like you are one of the inmates at Shawshank. You genuinely feel like you are a prisoner there and their lives intertwine with yours. You become so emotionally invested in the characters and the story that you forget that it isn’t real.
The story telling used in this film is the finest I have ever seen. The blend of action on the backdrop of Morgan Freeman’s narration is epic and awe inspiring within itself. I have seen this film many times, often twice in a row without breaks. I love it and share deep feelings for it and the characters within it. I reccomend it to anyone… everyone.
#11: The Blues Brothers
#12: The Birdcage
#14: Good Morning Vietnam
#15: Pulp Fiction