la confidential

5. L.A. Confidential

A handful of Curtis Hanson’s films (8 Mile, Wonder Boys) have been about the power of words, and the director never had better words to work with than when he directed L.A. Confidential. The James Ellroy adaptation is of my favorite movies to watch around Christmas time. The film explore dark subject matter during the most wonderful time of the year. L.A. Confidential is just one of those movies that fires on all cylinders. I’m not someone who’s bothered by what does or doesn’t win at the Academy Awards, but the fact that Hanson’s film lost Best Picture to Titanic will always make me cringe a little.


4. Raiders of the Lost Ark

This is probably the movie I’ve seen the most times in my life. Not until, maybe, the 50th viewing did I spot a minor plot hole – and I didn’t care at all. Raiders of the Lost Ark represents the kind of blockbuster I want. We hardly ever see films with its spirit and tone anymore. If I ever have a rough day, Raiders is one of the movies I’ll throw on as a pick-me-up. Steven Spielberg’s eye for spectacle, character, and comedy has never been sharper.

almost famous

3. Almost Famous

Few movies have depicted passion the way Almost Famous does. The scene where Sapphire (Fairuza Balk) explains to Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) what it truly means to be a fan, to love a record or band so much it hurts, couldn’t be more spot on. It’s probably Cameron Crowe’s greatest piece of writing, which, of course, is saying a lot. There are some days where I could just watch this movie on a loop, whether we’re talking the theatrical cut or the bootleg version. This is one of the great hangout movies. Whenever revisiting the film, it always feels like checking in on old friends.


2. Terms of Endearment

A part of me hopes I never meet James L. Brooks. Not because people say you should never meet your idols, but because I think I would just end up shouting at him for a few hours about my love of Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, and As Good as It Gets. In the case of Terms of Endearment, it defines “tearjerker.” Brooks has always had the power to make the smallest of gestures take on a greater significance. When Jack Nicholson’s character finally takes on some responsibility, by simply telling a kid he can use his pool anytime, it’s a seemingly minor but life-changing moment. Brooks knows how to craft these wonderfully small touches that make his films so real and human.

truman show

1. The Truman Show

As was the case with California Split, it was difficult choosing one movie to include from this filmmaker. I wish got more movies from Peter Weir these days, but when we do, at least we usually end up with something special. I have to go with The Truman Show, though, because Truman Burbank is my all-time favorite character. Both Witness and The Truman Show prove a protagonist doesn’t always need to be flawed, that there’s nothing wrong with a movie about an all-around great guy. It’s obvious why people across the globe would watch Truman on a daily basis.

By end of the film, when the character should be jaded and angry, he holds onto his optimism, which is what made him special in the first place. It’s such a moving character and story. I don’t think I could even begin to count how many times I’ve seen Weir’s bittersweet comedy.

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