Wednesday, 2 November 2016

27 Favorite "Modern" Films

Besides being Burt Lancaster's 103th birthday, November 2, 2016 also marks my 27th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I thought it would be fun and interesting to share with you 27 of my favorite "modern" films. And by "modern" I mean films that have been released after 1980. Emily of The Flapper Dame has done a similar thing for her own birthday back in August and I, very shamefully, stole her idea. I hope you don't mind, Emily. Without further ado, here they are.

#1: The Breakfast Club (1985)
Directed by John Hughes | With Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy and Emilio Estevez

John Bender: Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.

The cast of The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club has got to be one of my top five favorite films of all time. I loved it so much the first time I watched it that I had to see it again the following day. But how could I not love it? First of all, the storyline is brilliant and John Hughes has written the most amazing screenplay. I can quote several bits from it by now. And second, the entire cast is absolutely phenomenal. I love them all, but my favorite is definitely Judd Nelson. I saw the film for the first time about six years ago, but I still have such a humongous crush on him. I have seen him in a few other films including the Brat Pack-related St. Elmo's Fire (1985) and Blue City (1986), which I also enjoyed but The Breakfast Club is without a doubt his best work. He is perfect as John Bender, who, by the way, happens to be my favorite movie character of all time.

#2: Top Gun (1986)
Directed by Tony Scott | With Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer

Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell: I feel the need the need for speed.

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun
After seeing Risky Business (1983) for the first time about two or three years ago, I developed a huge crush on Tom Cruise. Naturally, I then had to watch as many of his films as I possibly could. One of them was Top Gun, which I absolutely love. Granted, it is somewhat clichéd at times, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable film and I always find myself watching it every time it is on television. I have seen it probably about five times by now and I never get tired of it. I love the pairing of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis I think she might be one of my favorite of his leading ladies  and Anthony Edwards' wisecracks are a very nice addition to the overall product.

#3: Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Directed by Howard Deutch | With Eric Soltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson and Craig Sheffer

Keith Nelson: You look good wearing my future.

Mary Stuart Anderson and Eric Stoltz
I love this film so much! Like The Breakfast Club, it was magnificently written by the genius that was John Hughes and the cast is absolutely flawless, especially Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Soltz. Needless to say, I had a huge crush on him for weeks after watching Some Kind of Wonderful. He is just so cute and ginger and I love his voice. I know, I'm weird like that. Anyway, back to the film. I think you should definitely see Some Kind of Wonderful if you haven't already. It has a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, romance and the just the right amount of '80s-ness, if that makes any sense at all. In short, Some Kind of Wonderful really is some kind of a wonderful film. 

#4: Singles (1992)
Directed by Cameron Crowe | With Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick

Janet Livermore: Somewhere around 25, bizarre becomes immature.

Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon
I watched this film for the first time about six years ago, when I was a freshman at university. At the time, I was really into grunge music and one day, I found out that Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam — one of my favorite bands — all had small roles in a film called Singles. I had never heard of such a film, but after reading the synopsis, I became really interested in seeing it. So I did and I absolutely loved it. Honestly, it is such a brilliant film and it encapsulates everything that I love about the grunge music scene and the whole Generation X era. I also really liked seeing Eddie, Jeff and Stone in the film, especially because they were not there as Pearl Jam members, but as actual actors playing Matt Dillon's bandmates. Eric Stoltz also makes a brief appearance as a mime — yes, a mime — which I thought was quite cool.

#5: Schindler's List (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg | With Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley and Embeth Davidtz

Itzhak Stern: This list is an absolute good. The list... is life.

Poster for Schindler's List
History was always one of my favorite subjects at school. When I was in the 9th grade, we studied World War II and I became intensely fascinated by it. I watched every WWII-related film that I could find, every documentary... But for some reason, it took me 12 years to watch Schindler's List. I honestly don't know why that was. Maybe I was just waiting for the right moment when I had enough maturity to understand the film's subject matter and reflect on it properly. Either way, this is a film that I recommend everyone to watch. It will tear you to pieces and make you incredibly angry at mankind, but I promise it will be one of the finest films you will ever see.

By the way, can we please just take a moment to appreciate the genius that is Ralph Fiennes? I had never realized how brilliant an actor he is until I saw him in Schindler's List. His character is so disgusting and venomous and evil that you are actually terrified by him. If an actor, who is otherwise a very nice person, can make you scared of him just by acting, then I'd say he is a rather talented actor. I have never seen The Fugitive (1993) and I don't really intend to, to be honest but I'm dead sure that Tommy Lee Jones robbed Ralph Fiennes of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1994.
#6: Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis | With Tom Hanks, Sally Fields, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise

Forrest Gump: My momma always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump
What to say of Forrest Gump? There are not enough words in the world to describe how exceptional this film is. I read somewhere that Tom Hanks is the next James Stewart and I could not agree more. He is so incredibly talented and versatile. Honestly, the man can do everything! Fun fact: by winning Oscars for Best Actor for both Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks become the second male actor in history to win the award in two consecutive years. The first actor to do so was Spencer Tracy, who won for Captains Corageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938), which I actually haven't seen yet.

#7: Jerry Maguire (1996)
Directed by Cameron Crowe | With Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Jonathan Lipnicki

Jerry Maguire: I love you. You... you complete me.

Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger
Jerry Maguire was another film that I watched during my Tom Cruise marathon and I think it might actually be my personal favorite of his films, at least of the ones that I have seen so far. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but the man is a great actor. Give him the right role like Jerry Maguire or Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July (1989) or even Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988) and he can do magic. I think the character of Jerry Maguire fits him like a glove and I love his interaction with Renée Zellweger and the little kid who plays her son. Besides, that scene with him singing "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty is amazing. You know, now that I think of it, he always seems to sing in some way or the other in his films. He sang in Jerry Maguire, he sang in Top Gun, he sang in Cocktail (1988)... Oh, and I almost forgot, he made a musical! And he sang in that, too. Quite well, if you don't mind my adding. It's undeniable I am a Tom Cruise fan.

#8: Life is Beautiful [La vita è bella] (1997)
Directed by Roberto Benigni | With Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi and Giorgio Cantarini

Eliseo Orefice: Nothing is more necessary than the unnecessary.

Roberto Benigni, Giorgia Cantarini and Nicoletta Braschi
Just like Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful is, in my opinion, one those "must-see-before-you-die" films. It will warm your heart and shatter it to pieces at the same time. Roberto Benigni did not just make a film; he made a piece of art that should be treasured for always. It could have gone terribly wrong using such a controversial and delicate subject matter like the Holocaust for comedic purposes but it is so incredibly well made that the film comes across as a genuinely poignant and sincere and emotional story. The film was actually partially inspired by Benigni's own father, a soldier in the Italian Army who was sent to a Nazi labour camp when Italy switched to the Allied side in 1943. To avoid scaring his children, Mr. Benigni recounted his experiences humorously, finding that this helped him cope with the horrors he had gone through.
#9: Almost Famous (2000)
Directed by Cameron Crowe | With Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee and Frances McDormand

William Miller: So Russell... what do you love about music?
Russell Hammond: To begin with, everything.

Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous
I am aware that this is the third Cameron Crowe picture on this list, but as I said above, he is one of my favorite filmmakers. Almost Famous is my favorite of his films, one that I always have to watch whenever it is on television. Cameron Crowe not only directed it, but also wrote it based on his own experiences as a teenage rock journalist touring with rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Eagles. Also, he could not have picked a better cast to work with. Everyone is outstanding, but I have to highlight Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup. My favorite scene? Definitely the one when they all sing "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. I dare say that it is one of the greatest scenes in cinema history.

#10: American Psycho (2000)
Directed by Mary Harron | With Christian Bale, William Dafoe, Chloe Sëvigny and Jared Leto

Patrick Bateman: I like to dissect girls. Did you know I'm utterly insane?

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
American Psycho was the second Christian Bale film I ever saw the first was Empire of the Sun (1987) and I think it is my favorite. I'm not a particularly big fan of horror films, but this one is just brilliant and Christian Bale (my favorite actor) is flawless as the cuckoo-crazy psychopath Patrick Bateman. My favorite scene in the film actually involves one of his murders. After getting his co-worker Paul Allen (played by Jared Leto), whom he despises, drunk at a Christmas party, Bateman lures him back to his apartment. He plays "Hip to Be Square" by Huey Lewis and the News on the stereo, puts his rain coat on and then prances around explaining to Paul his opinion and interpretation of the song. He picks up an axe, says "Hey Paul," Paul turns around and Bateman hacks him down. Or does he? You'll understand what I mean once you watch the film.

#11: Pearl Harbor (2001)
Directed by Michael Bay | With Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Rafe McCawley: Not anxious to die, sir. Just anxious to matter.

Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor
This may come as a surprise to many of you, but Pearl Harbor is actually my number-one favorite film of all time. It has been so for many, many years. Is it clichéd? Sure. Is it historically inaccurate? Absolutely. But I love it in spite of all of that. I watched it several times throughout my teenage years and I continue to watch it now. It's one of those films that I can watch over and over and over again and never get tired of it. I know exactly what is going to happen at every twist and turn and still, every time I watch it, I find myself praying that Danny doesn't die at end (oops, spoilers!). Personally, I am a Rafe/Evelyn shipper, but I love Danny. That bit when Rafe says, "You can't die, Danny. You know why? Because you're going to be a father," and Danny responds, "No, Rafe, you are," gets me every time.

#12: Love Me If You Dare [Jeux d'enfants] (2003)
Directed by Yann Samuell | With Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard

Julian Janvier: A stupid game? Maybe so. But it was our game.

Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet
I'm not entirely sure, but I think Love Me If You Dare was the first French film I ever saw. At the time, I had just started to explore the world of German cinema and I became curious to watch other European movies. Since I was already a fan of Marion Cotillard from her American films, I thought I would start by watching some of her French films. I chose Love Me If You Dare because I read that she her co-star in the film, Guillaume Canet, were actually married in real life (although they were not a couple at the time they made the film) and wanted to see what they were like together. I honestly could not have picked a better film to introduce me to French cinema. If you haven't seen Love Me If You Dare, I strongly recommend you do. It's unlike any other love story you've ever seen, but it's also one of the best love stories you will ever see.
#13: The Notebook (2004)
Directed by Nick Cassavetes | With Ryan Gosling, Rachel MacAdams, James Garner and Gena Rowlands

Noah Calhoun: If you're a bird, I'm a bird.

Rachel MacAdams and Ryan Gosling
Speaking of love stories, The Notebook is another one of my favorites. I don't usually go for Nicholas Sparks films, but this one is I think is actually quite perfect. There's a verse from a sonnet by William Shakespeare that goes, "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds," and I think that is the best way describe the story of Noah and Allie in The Notebook. Nick Cassavetes could not have picked two better actors to play Noah and Allie. I really like Ryan Gosling and Rachel MacAdams as actors and together they just light up the screen. Their chemistry is amazing and they play off each other really, really well.

#14: Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke | With John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Victor Razuk and Heath Ledger

Skip Engblom: You gotta approach every day as if it's your last!

Poster for Lords of Dogtown
I don't really remember how I came across this film, but I am so glad I did. Like a few films that I have already mentioned, I can watch Lords of Dogtown over and over again and never get tired of it. I was so fascinated by the film the first time I watched it that for about a month afterwards I was completely obsessed by everything related to Dogtown, the Z-Boys and 1970s Los Angeles. By the way, if you haven't seen the film and you have no idea what I'm talking about, the Z-Boys were a group of skateboarders and Dogtown was the area of Venice Beach where they lived. In fact, one of the real Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta, actually wrote Lords of Dogtown, which is part of the reason why the film is so good. Honestly, you have to see it if you haven't already.

#15: Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Directed by Joe Wright | With Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Rosamund Pyke and Judi Dench

Elizabeth Bennett: Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I will end up an old maid.

Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen
What an amazing film this is. If I were to make a top 10 of my favorite films of all time, Pride & Prejudice would definitely be one of them. I love every single thing about it — most of all, that fine male specimen named Matthew MacFadyen. That man is something else. Not only is he incredibly talented, but he also has the most gorgeous smile and his voice... oh my goodness! I think he was made to play Mr. Darcy. The character did not exactly swept me off my feet in the book, but in the film, played by Matthew, I think he is just about the most amazingly charming man in the whole wide world. For as much as I love Laurence Olivier (he played Mr. Darcy in the 1940 adaptation of the novel), Matthew MacFadyen wins at being Mr. Darcy.
#16: Across the Universe (2007)
Directed by Julie Taymor | With Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood and Joe Anderson

JoJo: Music's the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.

Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess
Across the Universe was the film that made me discover The Beatles and for that it will always hold a very special place in my heart. It is such creative and visually stunning film and I love how the plot is completely centered on songs by The Beatles. Even the names of the characters were inspired by Beatles songs and lyrics. For instance, the two main characters, Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), were named after "Hey Jude" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," both of which they perform on the film. I had never heard of Jim Sturgess before, but I immediately fell in love with him and his voice. And actually, he kind of looks like a Beatle himself. In case you are wondering, my favorite songs from the film are "I've Just Seen a Face," "Revolution," "Across the Universe," "Hey Jude" and "All You Need Is Love."
#17: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino | With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger and Daniel Brühl

Lieutenant Aldo Raine: You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin'.

Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds
As far as I'm concerned, Inglourious Basterds is the best film of 2009. Quentin Tarantino is a genius every other day of the week, but he was particularly inspired when he made this film. The characters he created are all incredible, especially Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). I think the Academy messed up big time when they didn't nominate Brad Pitt for a Oscar for this film. The same thing goes for Melanie Laurent, who was amazing as Shosanna. I love the fact that Tarantino cast German actors to play the German characters and French actors to play the French characters. I think that made the film even better. Inglourious Basterds is a particularly special film to me because it introduced me to two actors that are now among my favorites: Michael Fassbender and Daniel Brühl. You see, I was a Michael Fassbender fan way before X-Men: First Class (2011) made him a star and everyone started talking about him. And I called him Fassy before calling him Fassy became a thing.

#18: Nowhere Boy (2009)
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson | With Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff

John Lennon: Why couldn't God make me Elvis?
Julia Lennon: 'Cause he was saving you for John Lennon!

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as John Lennon
Sometime after watching Across the Universe for the first time, I read a book called SHOUT!: The True Story of the Beatles by Phillip Norman, which made me even more fascinated by the Fab Four. I watched every interview of them that I could find and then I came across a film called Nowhere Boy, which is about the early beginnings of The Beatles in general, but of John Lennon in particular. I had no idea who Aaron Johnson was at the time, but I was completely mesmerized by his portrayal of John Lennon. I think he really understood what Lennon stood for and it's clear when you watch the film that he put his entire heart and soul into the role. Even though it is not an entirely accurate depiction of that happens the director admitted that herself Nowhere Boy is still an excellent film.

#19: The Social Network (2010)
Directed by David Fincher | With Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer

Eduardo Saverin: I was your friend your only friend.

Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg
If Inglourious Basterds if the best of 2009, then The Social Network is the best film of 2010. You can always count on David Fincher to deliver a good film, but this one genuinely exceeded my expectations. At first glance, The Social Network looks like a film about the creation of Facebook, just a bunch of college kids talking algorithms or some other computer language that you don't really understand. But actually, The Social Network is not a film about the creation of Facebook; Facebook is just a plot device, the background upon which the story is set. The Social Network is a film about two friends and how greed, ambition, money, power and betrayal ruined their friendship completely. I was over the moon when Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for this film, but terribly disappointed when Andrew Garfield was not. Another unforgivable snub by the Academy.

#20: Oh Boy! (2012)
Directed by Jan-Ole Gerster | With Tom Schilling, Marc Hosemann and Friederike Kempter

Niko Fischer: Do you know what it's like... to have the feeling that all the people around you are honestly kind of weird? But when you think it over, then it becomes clear that the problem is with yourself.

Tom Schilling as Niko Fischer in Oh Boy!
I first came across Tom Schilling in a German World War II miniseries called Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (2013), released internationally as Generation War. As I always do when I discover a new actor that I like, I immediately went and watch a few more of his works. One of them was Oh Boy!, which I have to say is one of the best films I have ever seen. There are no special effects, no fancy costumes, no gimmicks just a simple story about a day in the life of a law school dropout who is yearning for a cup of coffee that the world seems to be determined not to give it to him. I know it doesn't sound like a very good premise for a film, but trust me, Oh Boy! is an excellent film. The fact that it was shot in black and white makes it even more special.

#21: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Directed by David O. Russell | With Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro and Jacki Weaver

Tiffany Maxwell: Humanity is just nasty and there's no silver lining.

David O. Russell hit the jackpot when he decided to pair Bradley Cooper and Jennifer in Lawrence in this film. They have the most amazing chemistry. I wouldn't mind one bit if he made films only with them. The three of them together equals pure gold.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence

#22: Free Fall [Freier Fall] (2013)
Directed by Stephen Lacant | With Hanno Koffler, Max Riemelt and Katharina Schüttler

Kay Engel: What's your problem? Nothing but "me! me! me!" Huh? Me! But what about me, Marc? What about me? Don't you get it? I love you.

Hanno Koffler and Max Riemelt in Free Fall
I saw Max Riemelt for the first time in a film called Before the Fall (2004), which I watched because Tom Schilling was in it. I thought Max was great in it, but apparently not enough to make me want to watch more of his films. But then I came across a Netflix show called Sense8 which is a phenomenal, by the way and I realized that the actor playing Wolfgang (my favorite character on the show) was the blonde kid from Before the Fall. It was at that point that I decided to look for other films that he had done and I discovered Free Fall, which became one of my top 10 favorite films of all time. Honestly, there are not enough words to describe how much I love this film. Great part of the reason why I love it so much is because of Max and Hanno Koffler, who are both brilliant actors and have amazing chemistry. The director of Free Fall has confirmed that there is going to be a sequel and I am already counting the days until it is released.

#23: Her (2013)
Directed by Spike Jonze | With Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde

Amy: I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It's a crazy thing to do. It's kind of a like a form of socially acceptable insanity.

I have to admit that I never gave two cents about Joaquin Phoenix, but that all changed after I watched Her. This is another film that I just don't have words to describe how good it is.

Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore in Her

#24: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Directed by Martin Scorsese | With Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Jonah Hill

Jordan Belfort: The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.

Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
You can never go wrong with Martin Scorsese — the same way that you can never go wrong with Leonardo DiCaprio. And when the two come together, then it's just magic. Add Margot Robbie and Jonah Hill into the mixture and you have an outstanding film. I praised the high Gods above when the Academy FINALLY gave Leo the Oscar, but if I'm completely honest, I think they gave him the Oscar for the wrong film. He should have won The Wolf of Wall Street and not for The Revenant, even though he was phenomenal in The Revenant. Actually, he should have won years ago for The Aviator (2004), but that's a whole different story.

#25: The Normal Heart (2014)
Directed by Ryan Murphy | With Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons and Jonathan Groff

Felix Turner: Men do not naturally not love. They learn not to.

Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer in The Normal Heart
Mark Ruffalo has been one my favorite actors ever since I saw him in Just Like Heaven (2005); I've been in love with Matt Bomer ever since I saw him in White Collar (2009-2014); and I've been likewise in love with Jonathan Groff ever since I saw him in Taking Woodstock (2009). Naturally, I was extremely excited when I found that they all were going to be in same film together. And what I film! Honestly, The Normal Heart is just... I don't even have words to describe how amazing it is. You'll have to watch it for yourself, which I strongly recommend you do.

#26: The Theory of Everything (2014)
Directed by James Marsh | With Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox and David Thewlis

Stephen Hawking: While there's life, there is hope.

If Inglourious Basterds is the best film of 2009 and The Social Network the best films of 2010, then I dare say that The Theory of Everything is the best film of 2014. 

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne

#27: Brooklyn (2015)
Directed by John Crowley | With Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent

Tony Fiorello: Home is home.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I think Brooklyn is the best film of 2015.
Emory Cohen and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

And there you have it — 27 of my favorite "modern" films. There were a thousand more films that I could have named, but these 27 are truly my absolute favorites. Were you surprised by my choices? Did I name any of your favorites? Did I interest you in any of these films?

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