Friday, February 4, 2011

My Film Favorites

      Just so you can more intricately understand my film sensibilities, I am formulating a uniquely personalized list. It will afford you a glimpse into my favorites across the vast universe of film. Please do not confuse this with any best of list, as these selections are born from personal and purely subjective impressions. If I were to construct a list of the best films/categories, it would significantly differ from this list. Such an undertaking would require much more reasoned and sophisticated thought. I will reserve that list for a time, far far away. 
      These categories are mostly generic, but I will elucidate on some of my choices. I do not want this to be a bland listing. Without further ado, let's jump right into it! (This list is subject to periodic updates as I add new categories).

My Favorites
  • Favorite Movie: Picking only one movie is an impossible decision to make, and constitutes journalistic dishonesty, but for the sanctity of this list, I will say The Godfather. The Godfather's zenith placement on my list is owed to the confluent forces of Coppola's flawless direction, impeccable and prescient casting choices, and rhythmically poetic pacing. His seminal film is an exceptional 10 out of 10, effusive embodiment of the kind of inspiring cinema that reaffirms my love for film. I also think the score is fantastic. It perfectly embellishes, and accentuates the tone of the film. The narrative is also beautifully adapted from Mario Puzo's book. Most importantly, The Godfather introduced me to the compelling gangster genre, which explains my adulation for Martin Scorsese. Finally, The Godfather helped me discover two of my favorite actors of all-time. Part one marked the sensational arrival of Al Pacino while the sequel gave us film fanatics, a legendary performer by the name of Robert De Niro—fittingly, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. For the sake of argument, let's just agree that Coppola and Brando made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

  • Favorite Director(s): Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, Darren Aronofsky, John Ford...don't make me choose. In order to give justice to my immense film appetite, I would have to construct a favorite director's list that consists of at least ten different names. After all, they are the custodians of cinema. I'll leave that list for a later date.

  • Favorite Actor(s): Because this list constricts me from picking multiple favorites, I will say Robert De Niro: The Godfather II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Casino, The Deer Hunter, Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables, Cape Fear, A Bronx Tale, etc., etc., get the point. His filmography is truly awe inspiring. I have not enjoyed his recent work on quite the same level that I admired his earlier work, but since I can only pick one, De Niro gets the nod.
  • Favorite Actress(es): Scarlett Johannson, Jennifer Connelly or Catherine Zeta-Jones. If forcibly pressed for a decision, I would probably say Catherina Zeta-Jones, although, this pick is a bit more tenuous than my other selections. It is born mostly out of lust. It is subject to change. If I were afforded the chance to solicit a bribe from one of these beautiful actresses, perhaps, in the vein of something seductively proposed, I'd be guilty of the same kind of unethical behavior that our politicians regrettably engage in daily. Consequently, my decision would reflect the terms of this salacious bribe (Of course, I am joking).
  • Favorite Score(s): I am not trying to purposely paint myself as a bandwagon picker, but I would have to go with The Godfather. Sorry Star Wars. 

  • Favorite Scene(s): Wow! This is not an easy choice. I am a big fan of the classic American Western. I am also a sucker for sentimentality. Thus, I will honor my late Stepfather and choose the tracking shot/closeup introduction of John Wayne's character, Ringo Kid, in Stagecoach. He would be proud of that choice. This is the role that made Wayne famous. I love how the camera tracks in on his face as he twirls and re-cocks his rifle, and shouts, "Hold it."—the backdrop of a vacant, enormous desert landscape fills the screen. This is an iconic example of beautiful cinematography. The first time I saw this movie, this image was indelibly burned into my mind.  
  • Favorite Scene/Line(s) Continued: Because I like to elaborate, I will highlight some of my other favorite scenes. In an effort to simplify things, I will narrow this list down to a specific category. I am a glutton for great speeches or monologues. Therefore, my extended list will spotlight my favorites from some of the best speeches and monologues given in film history. In no particular order: Marlon Brando's "I coulda been a contender" speech in On The Waterfront. Robert De Niro's "You talkin' to me?" scene in Taxi Driver. Robert Shaw's "Indianapolis Speech" in Jaws. Matt Damon's "Of course that's your contention" debate in Good Will Hunting. Bill Pullman's "In less than an hour" presidential speech in Independence Day—as I said before, I love sentimental, nostalgic moments. This film marked the very first time I ever freely ventured into a movie theater without a parent accompanying me. Morgan Freeman's "Get busy livin" closing monologue in The Shawshank Redemption. Samuel L. Jackson's "The path of the righteous man" speech in Pulp Fiction. And finally, Ray Liotta's "As far back as I can remember" opening monologue in Goodfellas.
 *Honorable Mention: Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson's  "Code Red" courtroom tirade in A Few Good Men.
  • Most Hated Film(s): I'll be brief. Twilight. 


  1. Great choices--Catherine Zeta-Jones is an interesting one! I can't help but love her, Zorro and Chicago were epic. Plus, she's just gorgeous.

    And I love the Twilight poster. If only. For the win!

  2. I totally expected something like this from you, dear Matty :)
    And don't think of Zeta Jones just as pretty actress, she is also an amazing thespian, an actress with a very rare charisma and profound expression. I personally value many of her performances as master pieces.

  3. I am absolutely with you on many of these choices. Catherine is brilliant as is Robert. I agree with your assessment of The Godfather's qualities, it's high on my list of gangster films, a genre I adore, as well as fave films in general.

  4. @ M. Hufstader

    Thanks! Catherine is beautiful and talented. Her performances always stick out to me. I really liked her in Entrapment.

    Haha the twilight poster was a nice final touch. I found it from a google image search.

    @ Dezmond

    It was a matter of time, right?! And you are accurate in your assessment of Mrs. Jones. She is a fine actress. Her beauty is what mostly draws my eyes to her, but I do not discount her talent. Her work really dominated the early 2000's.

  5. @ Melissa

    Awesome! I love like-minded opinions. It was a tough decision. As a history-of-film kind of person, I could have easily went with Brando or Bogart. But my love for film coincided with my discovery of De Niro and Godfather. Therefore, I had to be faithfully honest to this fact.

    Gangster films are glorious. In fact, I am writing one of my own. It is sort of a new age, contemporary take on the genre. I love exploration. Taking on this screenplay is an opportunity, where I can sincerely delve into an original idea. Let's just say it's a work in progress.

  6. Very interesting choices, Matty. I'm of similar opinion.

    "The path of the righteous man" from Pulp Fiction, is indeed, a classic.

    I've never seen Twilight, so can't comment on that. Perhaps I won't bother... :)

  7. That is wonderful news you are writing a screenplay. And that it's a gangster film. I think the genre is spectacular and I believe that you will add something truly unique to it. I wish you all the best and much success with it.

    Road to Perdition is one of my all time favorite gangster films. Some of it was filmed near me here on Chicago's South Side. I've had brunch in the Florence Hotel in the Pullman neighborhood which is just west of me.

  8. Maybe that's why it's "The Godfather" of films. Great selection Matt!

    Are you also intending to shoot the script you're currently working on with a production crew? I could learn a pointer or two from you since I'm also interested in filmmaking.

  9. @ Melissa Bradley

    #@%#@%@ Yes. Just a heads up, Matty, if you intend to write a gangster script (and congrats on that! And gods speed, my friend, I've been banging my head against the wall with a gangster script for over a bit over a year now. More power to the writer in you), definitely check out Road to Perdition. It's a little old timesy but...the characters. The drama. The atmosphere. If you like Godfather and Scorsese, I certainly recommend it, it has a similar feel. And now I will stop spamming you. ;)

  10. Such a great list, mine would have been similar. I would've only put in a few more directors and probably a few more actresses =]

    Loving the most hated movie!

  11. @ Wendy

    Thanks! Per the norm for Tarantino, Pulp Fiction is full of witty dialogue. Samuel L. Jackson was a perfect delivery vehicle for it. And, lol, Twilight is not worth your time.

    @ Melissa

    Thanks for the support! Much obliged! I have been working on it for a few months. I'm constantly wrestling with new ideas for character development and various plot points. Once I settle on a coherent and robust direction, I'm confident I will bang it out fairly quickly.

    And I too, love Road to Perdition. That's pretty cool that it was filmed in your neck of the woods! I admire Paul Newman and Tom Hanks is a spectacular performer. Not to mention, Jude Law and Daniel Craig. What an awesome ensemble cast! Michael Sullivan is one of my favorite gangster characters of all-time!

  12. @ J-Son

    Nicely said! And I'm glad to hear your interested in filmmaking!

    Yes, my intention is ultimately to go full throttle in the production process, but presently, that is a little premature. Once I have a worthy and filmable script in front of me that I can actively market, then I can be more open. When I tread that path, I will surely provide you with pointers, and give you insights into my experience. After all, that is partly what this blog is about—sharing experiences and fostering discussion.

    @ M. Hufstader

    Thanks for the heads up! Yeah, Road To Perdition definitely carries the ilk of a Scorsese movie. Perhaps, that is why I love it so much?!

    And I wish you good luck in your screenwriting endeavors. You definitely have a uniquely engaging grasp of cinema-worthy ideas, so just keep at it. If Andy Dufresne can hack away and chisel through a cell block wall over the course of two decades using only a miniaturized rock hammer, then we can definitely endure the initial trials of any screenwriting enterprise.

    @ Doo

    Thanks buddy! Yeah everybody here seems to be in universal agreement that Twilight is an EPIC Fail.

    I will definitely update this list in the future, and you will see a more diverse array of filmmakers—directors, actors, films, etc.

  13. I agree with you, picking just one film is an impossible decision, saying that i couldn't pick a favourite director or cinematographer either, i have so many favourite inspirations it would have to be a favourite group, not a single person.
    But great run down anyway!

  14. Lewis, it was very tough. I wanted to give a snapshot of my film tastes. My film interests are incredibly diverse, but these choices represent some of the more personally impactful examples of movies that I adore and appreciate.

    And thanks!

  15. Matty your choices are great esxpecially Godfarther Part 2 and Robert De Niro, love that dude especially in Heat actually. I can never choose who I like better, De Niro or Pacino. Though I like Zeta Jones, my fave is Sandra Bullock, obsessed with her.

  16. @ Dempsey

    Thanks for the nod of approval. Glad you're a fan of Godfather I & II. I accidently forget to include Heat among my favorite De Niro films, but it is certainly among them. One of the best heist films ever, as well as some legendary action sequences.

    I hear ya about Pacino and De Niro. Sometimes, I am torn between which one I prefer. They're early work is sensational. Lately, I've become less enamored with some of their choices. But their acting credentials are undeniably great.

    Sandra Bullock is sexy and talented. I loved her in Speed. Good choice!