This monday, on my first day at the site, /Film reader Jean Morel asked: “Who the F is Jack Giroux?” But my question is: “Who are you, Mr. Jean Morel?” Rather than explain who I am or provide you with a background profile, I thought it’d be best to let my taste in movies do the talking. After the jump, read about my favorite movies of all time.
Writing a list of one’s favorite movies for any given year is already a challenge. Most film fans are stumped by the question they always get from family or friends, “So, tell me, what’s your favorite movie?” My answer changes almost on a daily basis. If I had to write this list next week, it would be different. As of right now, though, this is what my all time favorite movies are:
15. The Prestige
Christopher Nolan‘s most rewarding movie to revisit. So much of the film is about craftsmanship. The way Nolan structures his films isn’t dissimilar to how these characters approach their craft. Sometimes knowing how a trick works is disappointing, but the unmasking of the trick in The Prestige is heartbreaking. The Prestige is easily Nolan’s most emotional film. The filmmaker has often explored obsession in his work, and in this instance, that obsession destroys these characters. Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are willing to die for their craft, letting their work define them, not their wives, friends, or children. Thematically, this is Nolan’s most dense picture.
14. Barton Fink
Basically two hours of Joel and Ethan Coen torturing a sell-out writer. Barton (John Turturro) has to learn the hard way that he is not a “man of the people,” as he always hilariously claims. There’s no other movie that makes me laugh harder than Barton Fink. When Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) mutters, “Heil hitler,” it gets me every time. It’s a movie about Hollywood, Nazism, and a whole a lot more. Barton Fink isn’t the only masterpiece the Coen Brothers have directed, but it’s certainly my favorite of theirs.
Perhaps not on the same level as Carnal Knowledge or The Graduate, but it’s a movie I’ve always felt defensive of. It’s a brutally honest film about relationships, which clearly turned some people off back in 2004 when Mike Nichols’ picture was released. Nichols was still turning out quality work towards the tail end of his career, and it was exciting to see him go back to a subject matter he explored in Carnal Knowledge, Heartburn, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? in the 21st century. Nichols didn’t lose his touch as a filmmaker, as proven by the honest brutality of Closer.
12. The Hit
Stephen Frears should make more crime film, as both The Hit and The Grifters are his most accomplished movies. In both cases, he humanized criminals without giving them a soft side or that “one last job” they gotta do. Frears told stories about real criminals, and in the case of this film, a killer. There have been many movies made about hitmen having to confront death themselves, but The Hit portrays that journey with great wit, unexpected turns, and a fantastic ending. Christopher Nolan has actually cited Fears’ picture as a favorite of his, and you can see its influence in his own crime movies.
11. The Verdict
Paul Newman’s smile represents everything right with movies. I can’t think of another actor with that much charm and charisma. Playing Frank Galvin, Newman delivers a quietly haunting and moving performance as the ambulance-chasing lawyer. This isn’t my favorite Paul Newman film, but Sydney Lumet’s drama contains my favorite piece of acting from the actor. While most “best long takes” lists focus on an action-oriented sequences, there’s a long, observant take of Galvin slowly breaking down, realizing he’s made a mistake. Newman’s performance in this scene is shot from a distance, but it’s an up close and personal moment.
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