Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And the Best Picture Goes to . . .

It is now time to move on to the best movies, drama category. This one gets tricky. Do I go for movies that were utterly fantastic but that I never, ever, ever want to watch again? Back in college, we did a double header of Dead Man Walking and Leaving Las Vegas. It was the most depressing night of my life, and made me want to both drink and kill myself, but damn, those were good movies. Do I choose style over substance and put Snow Falling on Cedars on the list, which I still remember as being the most beautifully shot movie I have ever seen. I wanted to crawl into that cinematography and live there forever. Do I stick to the official Oscar winner list, or veer off into Independent Spirit and BAFTA winners? How about movies that were perfect upon first viewing, but I know would fall apart upon repeat viewing such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception? Or do those two go into the best movie, sci-fi category? Does animation count? If so, then WALL-E deserves a spot on the list. Do I stick to made in America, or do I include foreign films? Decisions, decisions.

In the end, I picked movies that stuck with me, like a good stew, adding weight to my life. They may not be your choices, but they are mine.

(I will note that like most of my top comedic choices, my husband either hates these movies or has never seen them. How we have survived our entire marriage with only one television is a mystery to both of us.)

So, in no particular order, here are my top five movies, drama.

1. Heavenly Creatures. I still remember watching this for the first time. (Hi MJ!) It is visually stunning, emotionally upsetting, and features Kate Winslet’s debut performance on film. It is based on a true story about two teenage girls who formed an unusually strong attachment to each other and committed murder in order to keep from being separated. It sounds blah on paper, but in execution, it is fantastic. Trust me.

2. Schindler’s List. Obviously, this movie is just a tad depressing. A bit, really. Some of the scenes are almost painful to watch, they are so horrifying. However, the performances are all around stunning. Ralph Fiennes made being a sociopath look good. Plus, I think a large part of my love for this movie comes from Liam Neeson as Schindler. In every scene, he looms large, he cannot be ignored, even just sitting quietly, he is riveting.

3. The Godfather, Part II. This movie is better than Part I because of Fredo. Plus, there is no whiny Italian bride wasting any of my time. God, that woman was shrill. The second movie in the trilogy (which should have been the last), really gets you invested in past Vito and present Michael and shows that it really is all about who you can trust.

4. Goodfellas. The end all and be all of mob movies. If the Godfather is the epic tale of one family’s rise to prominence in the world of the mafia, Goodfellas is the down and dirty story of one guy in the mob. Sounds similar, but they couldn’t be more different. Joe Pesci manages to be horrifying and hilarious all in the same line reading, leading to some incredibly quotable lines of dialogue.

5. The Age of Innocence. I hemmed and hawed about this one, but I watched it practically on repeat and loved it every single time. If Joanne Woodward could narrate my life with the same dry wit and eye toward detail, I would be a very happy person indeed. In fact, I think it is the narration that sells it for me. It’s a simple story about repressed love in early New York society, which sounds tedious, but it actually quite torrid. No one gets nekkid and the ending is heart-breaking, but the actors sell it, even Winona Ryder.

So, once again, agree, disagree, just watch them at least once.

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