Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The T&C 100 - 90-100

Inspired by the AFI list and all the dialogue around it, I present the Tosy and Cosh 100 - Tosy and Cosh's 100 favorite movies. Please note carefully - these are not what I consider the "best" films ever. Nor are they the best of the films I've seen. They are my favorites. There are films even within the list that I'd rank differently if going just by quality. But in terms of my favorites, these are them.

100. As Good As It Gets (1997)
I know there's a lot of hate out there for this film, and Helen Hunt's Oscar for it, but I found it charming, funny, and engaging - three qualities I appreciate in a film. I thought Nicholson did a good job of portraying some of what that kind of disorder might entail (if not in the documentary sense pf "realism") and that the love story between him and the Hunt character was handled deftly - that is, never overdramatized. One gets the feeling at the end that these two probably won't really make it as a couple, and that that's OK - an ending not many big Hollywood romantic comedies can countenance.
Favorite moment--The Greg Kinnear character's epiphany, as he sketched the very fetching naked Helen Hunt.

99. Dead Again (1991)
This tightly constructed, very fun, very deliberately old-fashioned thriller starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson seems to be mostly forgotten these days, and that's a shame. It's a nicely twisty, robustly acted thriller whose final twist is as good as many of the more-commented-on twists of more recent vintage.
Favorite moment--The revelation of the twist at the end, which is handled very cleanly.

98. Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Gene Wilder's performance here is one of my all-time favorite performances. He gets the tone, of off-kilter surreality and genuine heart, just right, by very deliberately being very, very stingy with the heart. And Hey! It's a musical! With some wonderfully sticky novelty melodies for the Oompa-Loompas and a great ballad in "Pure Imagination."
Favorite moment--Wilder's play acting at a physical handicap in when we first meet him. When he executed the somersault I always give out a little cheer.

97. Batman (1989)
As much as I love Batman Begins, it hasn't stayed with me enough (yet) to crack the list. And while there are pieces of the 1989 film I'll never love (the Prince stuff, the lack of a coherent plot), it has enough wonderful stuff (the set design, Michael Keaton's and Jack Nicholson's performances) to make up for it.
Favorite moment--It's cliched, but that first appearance of Batman. They nailed it.

96. Tootsie (1982)
Perhaps my favorite talking-head moment of the AFI special was of Dustin Hoffman remembering how much he learned by playing an unattractive woman, and how much it forced him to realize how he, as a man, had dismissed so many potentially wonderful women because they were unattractive. Honesty like that is rarely forthcoming from a Hollywood star. As for the film, it holds up so well because Hoffman's central performance is so committed and lived in, and never treated less-than honestly, and because the supporting cast is so good around the edges. I mean, if you think back - Dabney Coleman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Bil Murray, Charles Durning, Geena Davis - was anyone not excellent in this movie?
Favorite moment--Dorothy's improvised reveal at the end. Hoffman plays the improvised part of it so well--you really believe he is making it all up off the cuff.

95. Parenthood (1989)
I just saw this again the other night, and was reminded of what a great job it did of being very, very funny and emotionally honest about the dynamics of being a parent and being part of a family. Which is not an easy mix to nail. (This relatively real and honest dynamic is with the exception of the dynamic between the Rick Moranis and Harley Kozak characters and their precocious genius daughter, which feels, in relation to the rest of the film, very forced and exaggerated.) And Jason Robards puts in one of my all-time favorite performances as the family's patriarch.
Favorite moment--Jason Robards' short scene with his character's young grandson, whose black sheep father is abandoning him. Watch the way Robards answers the kids questions:
Kid: My Daddy said he is going away.
JR: Yep.
Kid: Is he coming back?
JR: No.
JR: Would you like to stay here with us?
Kid: (Nods enthusiastically)
JR: Good.

94. Ghostbusters (1984)
Still the best sci-fi/comedy, not that that's saying that much. But the chemistry between Murray, Ramis, and Ackroyd is a joy.
Favorite moment: The first confrontation with a ghost in the ballroom. The three comedians really do a good job of playing the absurdity of it all with an appropriately skewed straight face.

93. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Broderick has really never been better (I say that as someone who did not see The Producers on Broadway, however). The movie's such a canny blend of absurdism and more traditional teen-aged highjinks. It shouldn't work, but it does.
Favorite moment--Ferris' introductions to the audience at the beginning. Establishes the tone and lead right from the top.

92. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Probably not as deep as I thought it was at thirteen, but still a very well-written, well-constructed film. Given the near-unity of scene, this could almost be a play. I like that Hughes didn't feel the need to whitewash his characters too much - they are arrogant, jerky, selfish, immature, and assholes. They are teens.
Favorite moment--The sadistic battle between the principal (vice principal?) and Judd Nelson character. ("I own you.")

91. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Morgan Freeman is divine, Hilary Swank is wholly convincing, and Clint Eastwood is as steady a center as comes. I know this officially makes me a philistine, but why Raging Bull is "great," and this "melodramatic," I simply do not understand.
Favorite moment--The look on Swank's character's face during her first fight.

90. Philadelphia (1993)
The film that made a world stand up and say "Oh! Tom Hanks can act!"I always liked that the real arc in the film is the Denzel Washington character's. And for all of the film's obviousness in being Hollywood's first big-budget AIDS film, it never shies away from the disease's reality. But it does shy away in showing any real love between the Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas characters, which will always be a serious mark against it.
Favorite moment: The last scene, scored to that gorgeous eulogy of a Neil Young song, "Philadelphia."

Until Whenever


Roger Owen Green said...

I'm one of THOSE: hated As Good As It Gets, esp. Jack, although Kinnear I rather liked. But your other choices that I've seen are good, especially Ghostbusters!

Tosy And Cosh said...

From what I've read, in the original the Skeet Ulrich character (the guy who models for Kinnear and beats him) was more prominent. I wonder if that would have made the movie better (more balanced, the Kinnear story more equal to the Jack-Hunt story).

SamuraiFrog said...

Great list! I can't wait to see the rest. I'm especially pleased to see Dead Again on here, which seems to be beyond a cult movie now and downright obscure. One of my favorites.

Tosy And Cosh said...

samurai-Pretty sure I saw that one with the wife, in a teenaged date. Ah, youth.