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Matt Attempts A Top 10 List of Favorite Movies!

About 3 weeks ago, an email pal suggested I create a listing of my 10 favorite movies of all time. He suggested this because he knows how much I love movies and also because he knows how hard it is for me to make up my mind. I mean, what is the criteria for a top 10 listing of this type? Do I include some of my all time favorite bad movies like MOMMIE DEAREST or VALLEY OF THE DOLLS? I mean, we all know it isn’t easy to make films that straddle the line between genius and horrendous like those two films do! What about all of those musicals I love? I could create a top 10 listing for horror films alone! So, what I have done over the course of the last couple of weeks is to list out the names of movies that have had an impact on my world/life view — movies that matter to me! — movies that I can watch over and over again. It hasn’t been easy for me. At any rate, these are my top 10 favorite movies of all time. If you haven’t seen them, then I think you should! Oh, and there is no particular order to my list. I am just not able to break it down that far!

1. Nashville Robert Altman’s brilliant 1975 film feels like it was all improvised, but this is a very scripted look at American pop and political culture captured in the world of the country and western music industry. Watch out for Ronee Blakely’s nervous breakdown scene! Like the film, it is both comical and tragic.

2. The Wizard of Oz this is a perfect film. It can entertain any age and continues to do so 60 plus years after it was originally released. I do not care what you say — you know that those flying monkeys scare you. Go ahead, you can admit it! I also find it interesting that I always notice new things when I watch this film — and I have watched it a lot! I think it really is a magical film.

3. Manhattan Woody Allen’s 1979 film is the ultimate tribute to the ultimate city! Just the first 10 minutes of the film — a collection of breathtaking shots of the city to the music of Gershwin. Amazing. I feel that this is Woody Allen’s greatest moment as filmmaker. It also features one of Diane Keaton’s best performances. The cinematography is outstanding and, I think, the best that Gordon Willis has ever done.

4. Annie Hall This film helped me to create the fantasy that Woody Allen and Diane Keaton must be my real parents. I was convinced that I was their forgotten love child who desperately needed to be removed from Texas and returned to what had to be my natural surroundings. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this movie. ANNIE HALL played in my hometown of Beaumont, Texas for exactly 4 days. Is that not culturally sad or what?!?!?

5. Tommy Ken Russell’s film version of The Who classic. Like the original record by The Who captured the pop culture of the 1960’s and the Broadway play captured the pop culture of the late 80’s/early 90’s — Russell’s film perfectly captures the pop culture of the 1970’s. And, he captures it with folks like Elton John, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton and Roger Daltrey! I really think that MTV owes a great deal to this groundbreaking film. Plus, how can anyone resist watching Ann-Margret roll around in beans and soap bubbles!?!?! God, I love this movie and all of its excess!

6. All About Eve A perfect Hollywood movie about Broadway. This 1950 movie still packs a punch and manages to convey things to the audience without having the benefit of going R-rated. Brilliant screenplay. And the cast could never be better. However, I think this one belongs to Bette Davis and Thelma Ritter all the way. If you do not want to belt Anne Baxter by the second half of this film, you are not human! A must see!!!

7. Under the Sand Francois Ozon’s first serious film is a classic. I suspect that this will be one of those movies that film scholars study in the year’s to come. This film is not so much a story as it is a study of grief. Charlotte Rampling is brilliant in the lead role. This film is fascinating, scary, mysterious, sexy and very French.

8. The Piano Teacher From German born filmmaker, Michael Haneke, comes the story of a piano teacher’s downward spiral to insanity due to the sick sexual relationship she establishes with one of her students. This film can be read several ways. Is it a study of madness? The story of obsessive love gone too far? Or, is it a symbolic story of a country slowly caving into madness thanks to the re-birth of fascism and hatred? However, the viewer interprets, this is a powerful film. Isabelle Huppert gives the performance of her career. Warning — this is not a film for everyone.

9. Wild At Heart Who knew what to make of David Lynch’s 1990 film? While not as powerful as BLUE VELVET, as weird as ERASERHEAD or as seductive as MULHOLLAND DRIVE — this is my favorite David Lynch movie! Disturbing, funny, sexy and always surprising — this is a great movie. In addition, it is oddly American in style and form. This is the ultimate road movie —- and you never know where the road is going to lead! This film also contains one of my all time favorite film lines read with great bravado by Laura Dern who begs for some lovin’ from Nicholas Cage by letting him know that she is hotter than Georgia asphalt! This movie also proves that Grace Zabrinski may be the most terrifying woman in the world! If anyone understands the many references to THE WIZARD OF OZ — please let me know. And why isn’t this masterpiece on DVD yet????

10. OK, I am unable to restrict myself to 10 movies. There are just three more that I dearly love for various reasons and I simply must have them on my listing! A Star Is Born Barbra’s 1976 remake and the biggest moneymaker of her career is my favorite Barbra movie. Shut up! It just is! Also sharing the spot for my 10th favorite is
8 Femmes a silly and campy little musical staring some of the key French Cinematic Divas! A twisted little tribute to Vincente Minnelli and Douglas Sirk, I think this movie is just a lot of fun. Obviously, I love the work of Francois Ozon. The last film to share the spot for number ten is Valley of the Dolls staring the picture-perfect Barbara Perkins as Anne Welles, the stiff-acting style of Sharon Tate as Jennifer North and, of course, a pre-medicated Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara! The great thing about this movie is how very bad it really is — and how much fun it is to watch! You know you are watching a true gem when all of the female characters seem to be drag queens! How can anyone not love THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS! Be sure to watch out for the great Susan Hayward who, rumor has it, demanded to do her own singing. …As any viewer will painfully observe, she should have opted for the singing stand-in!

Well, that is my list. If I were forced to pick 10, well 12, movies to call my favorites – these would be my choices!

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July 6, 2004. Uncategorized.

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