My Ten Favorite Movies

Movies are the best thing. I love movies. I watch one when I’m bored. I watch one when I’m sad. I watch one when I’m in a good mood. I watch one when hungover. I’m always in the mood to watch a movie. There is a movie about everything, and you can experience every emotion through watching movies, which is the best way to avoid doing that in real life. I plan to make a whole bunch of different movie lists, (Best Food Movies, Best Drinking Movies, Best Movies about Millennials etc.) So I figured I’d start with my ten favorite movies.  Here is the list of my favorites, followed by a short blurb about them, and what I think is the best scene and best line. I encourage you to share yours using #MillenialFriday As always, I hope you enjoy. Probably spoilers below.

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1.    Good Will Hunting

This is hands down my favorite movie. It’s so good. It is the perfect Boston movie and so much more than that. I will write too long about the best things in this movie. You can watch it in any mood because there are different things you can take from this movie. It is a movie about friendship. It is a movie about expectation. It is a movie about the unknowingness that comes with being in love. It is so goddamn good. It gave us dramatic Robin Williams. It launched the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. I love this movie.

I’m not even going to explain the plot because everyone should see this movie. It’s heavy and there are scenes about a kid going through therapy. It’s light-hearted and there are scenes where a kid who only wants to impress a girl tries to make her laugh. One friend is willing to give up seeing his best friend if it means his friend is going to have a better life. There is the famous scene in the Harvard bar where Will Hunting (Matt Damon) talks circles around a “Michael Bolton clone” to back up his friend. And that scene ultimately ends with the with them running into that guy later in the night to deliver the iconic line, “Do you like apples? I got her numbah! How do you like them apples!” And the scene where Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) explains what it is like to really be in love. Please just watch this movie if you haven’t seen it. It is very important to me.

Best Scene: When Skylar (Minnie Driver) finally meets Will’s friends in the bar. It is a funny scene because she tells a funny story, and Chuckie (Ben Affleck) also tells a funny story. But the best part is the faces on all of the friends as Skylar is talking. They keep looking at each other in disbelief. They can’t believe their buddy is dating such a cool, funny, pretty girl. They got down the look you give your friends when one guy brings around a girl, and you can tell he doesn’t want to fuck it up. This scene is that done perfectly.

 Best Line: “Look, you’re my best friend so don’t take this the wrong way… 20 years if you’re still living here, coming to my house to watch the Patriots game, still working construction I’ll fucking kill you. That’s not a threat. That’s a fact. I’ll fucking kill you.”

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2.    Goodfellas

Goodfellas is the best gangster movie ever made. Full stop. But what abou..? Nope. It’s Goodfellas. It is also Martin Scorsese’s best movie, and with a resume like Scorsese’s that holds weight when you’re at the top. This movie is funny, it’s suspenseful, it’s action packed, it’s over the top, and it’s subtle. It’s a near perfect film. Ray Liotta gives us a career performance, and we have one of the greatest gangster actors of all time in Robert DeNiro. Joe Pesci doesn’t get better than when he’s playing a fast talking wise guy. The characters are bad guys and the whole time you are rooting for them. They are dear friends and you’re worried about what they will do to one another.

Best Scene: The dinner at Pesci’s mom’s house. (Played by Scorsese’s actual mother.) The scene is very funny in a very subtle way. They only showed up to get a shovel to bury a body, but the caretaking Italian mother makes them a full meal in the middle of night, with the dead body still in the car in the driveway.

Best Line: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

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3.    Zodiac

The Zodiac Killer is arguably the most notorious unsolved serial killer in American history. This movie documents, not only the murders, but also the writing of the book Zodiac by Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) I don’t do horror movies, but this is a thriller as good as they come. There are crime scenes so vivid with detail, and scenes in a San Francisco newsroom that are beautifully shot. This movie is all parts David Fincher, and it is so well done. A fantastic cast lead by Gyllenhaal also includes Robert Downey Jr. as San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Paul Avery, and Mark Ruffalo as Bay Area super-cop Dave Toschi.

The movie is great because, separate from finding out who committed these unsolvable crimes, we also watch this case take hold of a man’s life. Graysmith’s life begins to fall apart as he chases lead after lead, getting nowhere. It’s America’s most infamous unsolved mystery, and you get to watch it unravel inside three hours. Suspense builds when they close in on suspects only to have them proven innocent through handwriting of fingerprints. The genius of Zodiac is right when there is a break in the case, right when you think Graysmith is off to find evidence from a trusted confidant, the movie builds its most suspenseful scene right where you thought it would be safe to let your guard down.

Best Scene: Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo in the diner, where Gyllenhaal shows his findings to the detective. This is the first time it seems like we have a likely suspect, and the first time law enforcement hears out a man who has been driven mad by this case. You can see the urgency in Gyllenhaal’s delivery. He knows he discovered something, and he can’t tell the detective fast enough. But he’s had enough doors closed in his face to dial it back and tell the narrative of the story he has uncovered. It’s a great retelling of the murder’s themselves and a great moment for the characters in the movie.

Best Line: “I’m not the Zodiac Killer, and if I was I wouldn’t tell you.”

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4.    Rear Window

Outside of Psycho this may be Hitchcock’s greatest film. This is the story of an injured photojournalist harmlessly spying on his neighbors until he thinks he witnesses a murder and must prove it to the police. Most of the movie takes place just off a balcony, by a character confined to a wheelchair. They did so much with so little. It’s the tale of everyman turned crime caper. Many millennials may be familiar with our generation’s take on the plot, staring fellow millennial, Shia LaBeouf, Disturbia. I highly encourage you to go watch the original, starring chivalry incarnate, Jimmy Stewart, and literal royalty Grace Kelly.

Best Scene: It’s got to be the climax of the movie. They finally venture over to the suspect’s apartment to finally seal his guilt or innocence. There is so much suspense and really builds throughout.

Best Line: Grace Kelly introducing herself. “Lisa. Carol. Freemont.”

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5.    Rocky

First, boxing is just badass. But really, this is the underdog story put on the silver screen. I love Rocky. I think it’s a weird DeLaney thing. My brother loves Rocky. My cousins love Rocky. My uncles love Rocky. Every trip to upstate New York for a family reunion wasn’t complete until we watched and quoted Rocky. The story of how this movie got made is amazing. Sylvester Stallone could have sold this script for so much money, but instead he took the minimal amount so he could star in it. After that, he went on to be the biggest movie star of the late 70’s – early 80’s, as well as get him a Best Actor and Best Screenplay nomination. His belief in himself made the guy a household name. If you are lacking in motivation, watch any Rocky movie and go do the damn thing. Hit a workout, apply for a job, face a fear, I don’t know! Stallone had all the makings of a movie star and it’s great to watch them unfold in front of your eyes. This movie kicked off a string of six more that all have added movie techniques we now see across the industry as well as show Stallone’s range. The later Rocky’s invented the movie workout montage, and the most recent Creed shows Stallone truly act in a role where his body couldn’t do the talking, earning him another Oscar nomination.

Best Scene:  The later Rocky movies the montage can be better than the fight, but in the original, the best scene is fight night in the ring. This is even before he gets his yellow and black “Italian Stallion” branded trunks. My man is out there in the red and whites! This is Balboa v. Creed. David v. Goliath. The contender taking on the champ with an entire city on his back. I love Rocky so much, and come on, how good of a boxer is Apollo Creed?!?!

Best Line: “I gotta lotta heart, but I don’t gotta locker do I, Mick?”

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6.    Forgetting Sarah Marshall

This is maybe my favorite comedy of all time. This movie is so, so, so funny and so, so, so re-watchable. Every time I put it on, I catch a new joke I somehow missed in my dozens of viewings. After a promising career showed signs of stalling, Jason Segel wrote an amazing, hilarious movie to put him back in the spotlight and back on the map. He is fantastic in this.  He’s charming, vulnerable, angry, defeated, and hopeful. Not only does Jason Segel give us a star making performance we get these role players that are so true to the actor and serve the plot, it’s crazy.

Kristen Bell is as good as she is now known to consistently be. You start this movie thinking she’s the rich girl and cold and dumped our protagonist. The movie goes on to reveal she also had her struggles in the relationship and brings weight to the relationship we’ve already watched fall apart. Russell Brand plays British rock-douche with a heart of gold, Aldous Snow, which spawned his own film. And I can’t saw this enough, Bill Hader is probably only in three or four scenes but he steals them. He plays friend-supporting friend going through a breakup beautifully. He’s friend’s with the heartbroken so he feels for them, he lends his ear, but at the end of the day they are still friends so he doesn’t stop making jokes. He’s incredible. If we are going with most laughs with minimal screen time, you have to throw Paul Rudd’s name in the ring. It’s a hilarious movie.

Best Scene: Peter (Jason Segel) debuting his Dracula musical by singing “Dracula’s Lament” in the tiki bar. It’s bad enough to hijack a bar by singing an original at a bar. Now imagine it’s a song from a musical. Now imagine that musical is about Dracula. Now imagine, in that bar there is a girl who you have been trying so hard to impress and be cool, but you have to sing this thing you wrote about this weird thing you like.

Best Line: “Dating Sarah is not like dating Liz. Sarah is better than Liz!”

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7.    Ratatouille

As the only animated movie on this list, this is obviously my favorite animated movie. In the preface, I mentioned maybe making a “Best Food Movies”, list and this would certainly be close to the top. This movie so artistically dives into the world of Fine French Cooking, through the eyes of the most unlikely of fans, a rat. Pixar often has deeper meanings within their movies, none that I have felt so close to than Ratatouille. Don’t let where you come from hold back from where you would like to be. People from all walks of life are capable of achieving greatness. You shouldn’t judge a person, or their talents, based on their background, including yourself.

I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of movie than I should but: one of the premier NBA players right now was a kid from Cameroon. A Puerto Rican immigrant who lived in Washington Heights wrote Hamilton. Hamilton! I mean, look at Hamilton himself! What I’m saying is talent lies in people from places you wouldn’t expect. I know it seems like, especially lately, that the top stays on top, small voices aren’t heard, part of that is true, and all of that is hard. But this movie, and life, are about the undeniable skill and artistry found in the cracks where just enough light can get through.

Best Scene: When Remy realizes he can control Linguini by pulling on his hair. They both have a realization on their face that brings them both relief. Linguini knows that now he can appear to be able to cook and Remy know he can know kick without threat of the head chef trying to kill him. It sets up the rest of the movie of the two working in tandem.

Best Line: “You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits, because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook – but only the fearless can be great.”

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8.    Inglorious Bastards

Quentin Tarantino’s film about World War II is one of the more creative takes on the war ever depicted in film history. The bulk of the film follow a vengeful band of Jewish American G.I.s with one goal in mind, killing Nazi’s. They are headed by the charismatic and wonderfully Southern, Lt. Aldo Raine, portrayed by fellow Missourian Brad Pitt. The Bastards, as they are come to be known, devise a plan to bring Hitler’s reign, and all of WWII to an end in, how poetic, a movie theatre. This came at a time where Pitt played several Nazi killing American’s in The War to End All Wars, but Aldo Raine is certainly, his most captivating. That being said, Pitt’s performance is not the most captivating thing about this film.

The opening scene is one of the most gripping I have ever witnessed 90% of it is in French. This scene introduces Col. Hans Landa, played by Christoph Waltz, who is on the shortlist for greatest villain in movie history. There is a charm that Waltz brings to Landa that has never been seen before in a villain. He has a kind, menacing smile. He is well spoken, long-winded, and evil. There are characteristics rarely put together that make up Waltz’s character that make him unforgettable. The movie, while mostly in English, easily switches between French and German, when appropriate. And as every good WWII, there is plenty of action to keep even the shortest of attention spans, fully invested.

Best Scene: There is a ton of action in this war film, but the best scene is also one of the best opening scenes in all of film. The farm on the French countryside and out introduction to Hans Landa is the best scene in this film.

Best Line: (re: which of the Bastards can speak Italian) “Like I said, third best. Just keep your fuckin’ mouth shut. In fact, why don’t you start practicing, right now!”

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9.    Almost Famous

This movie is every kid’s dream. William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is in high school and gets to go on tour with a rock n’ roll band and write about his time for Rolling Stone Magazine. Everything about this movie is so perfectly 70’s. The big hair and terrible facial hair of the members of the band, Stillwater. Frances McDormand perfectly plays the role of overbearing mother who swears rock music is the devil. The late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the perfectly named rock writer, Lester Bangs.

The acting is great. The music is outstanding. We are watching how the relationships of a rock band can fall apart when they are catapulted to success. Rifts form between life long friends; a youthful, sheltered kid opens himself up to what the world has to offer him. All of this culminates in a turbulence filled plane ride, as the band stares death in the face, they come to grips with what their lives have become and announce to each other everything they’ve been holding back. Oh yeah, and there is a love story arc too. It’s a great movie with even better music. Check it out.


Best Scene: After a long night of drug abusing, and an even longer road ahead to the next gig, the band sits on the bus in regret and exhaustion. Slowly one by one they start singing “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John until the house bus is shouting the chorus and have finally come together for what feels like the first time on this tour. This is also the greatest depiction of on screen actors singing in a movie ever.

Best Line: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone when you’re uncool.”

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10. That Thing You Do!

Another music movie to close, and this one is a real humdinger. This movie is Tom Hank’s directorial debut, yet somehow a large portion of the population has not seen this movie. This movie follows the rise and fall of a one-hit wonder band in the early 60’s. Think The Beatles, with the guitars hanging about the waist, suits, bangs, the whole thing. The Wonder’s, although spelled and commonly mispronounced The Oneders, tour America playing their smash hit “That Thing You Do!” The songwriter and lead singer, Jimmy, can’t wait to return to the studio to record more of his songs. Guy Patterson, the late addition drummer, is just along for the ride excited to play music in front of people again. Tom Hanks plays record exec, Mr. White, who funds and flourishes the band’s skyrocket to stardom. Guy, for instance, quickly goes from small time appliance salesman in Erie, PA, to the drummer for Cap’n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters seemingly overnight. It is a story of fame and how it can corrupt those without the proper motivations. All with the backing soundtrack of the catchiest song ever written.

Best Scene: Where we see Guy Patterson’s drumming chops for the first time. He puts on Del Paxton and plays/fills along with the record seamlessly. It’s the best onscreen drumming until Whiplash.

 Best Line: “It is very important that you do not stink today.”

 

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