Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sight and Sound Movie List: The Manning

Having read all the wonderful contributions thus far, I've decided to throw my hat in the ring. It also may have something to do with being informed by Evan that "the list is life".

My current thesis is that everyone actually has two movies lists. The first being their actual favorite movies, and the second being the movies they claim are their favorites in order to seem more interesting. I'll start with the second.

(Editor's Note: Guilty as charged. He's probably right.)

"The Wine List" (in no particular order)

1. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962).

I’m glad I waited to see this on the (very) big screen at the AFI in Silver Spring. This is the quintessential “epic” film: panoramic, lengthy, and breathtakingly beautiful. David Lean was a ridiculously talented director, also responsible for Dr. Zhivago (1965) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). I almost put the latter on this list simply for the amazing performance by Alec Guinness.

2. High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)

John Wayne said this was the most Un-American film he’d ever seen. It’s a Western that forgoes nearly all of that genre’s tropes about heroism, action and adventure in favor of a sober examination of duty, community and cowardice. Fun fact: Gary Cooper (the star) later sold out Zinnemann to the Joseph McCarthy and the HUAC.

3. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)

The brutality of the early Franco regime serves as the backdrop for this riveting tale of dark fantasy. At turns beautiful and gruesome, this film grabbed me by the brain in a very primal way.

4. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

Mickey Rourke gives an amazing performance as a lonely, battered and broken hero. I cried a lot whilst sitting next to Der Schreiber.

5. Hable con Ella (Pedro Almodovar, 2002)

Okay, so this movie is really weird. And I probably enjoyed it more than I would have otherwise because I first saw it while living in Madrid in 2003. That being said, it’s an amazing example of a director crafting some extremely sympathetic characters.

6. City of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2002)

Just go watch it.

7. Nueve Reinas (Fabian Bielinsky, 2000)

This Argentine movie about two con-men straddles the line between wine and beer. I’ll defer to Roger Ebert on why it’s great: “Nine Queens is a con within a con within a con. There comes a time when we think we’ve come to the bottom, and then the floor gets pulled out again.”

"The Beer List" (in a particular order)

1. The Big Lebowski (Coen Brothers, 1998)

I can recite the whole thing from memory. I’ve won a costume contest by dressing as Walter Sobchak. There’s no way I can put anything else at the top of the beer list.

2. Star Wars (Lucas, 1977-1983)

La Menichelli being legitimately interested in watching these 3 movies with me was a significant moment in our relationship.

3. Field of Dreams (Robinson, 1989)

Ray. People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn into your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door, as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say, “It’s only twenty dollars per person.”

And they’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their short sleeves on a perfect afternoon. And find they have reserved seats somewhere along the baselines where they sat when they were children. And cheer their heroes.

And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick; they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray.

The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America is ruled by it like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

4. Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)

Ridley Scott is amazing. Over 20 years later and this film still holds up as one of the greatest works of science fiction in film.

5. Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993)

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.

6. The Hunt for Red October (McTiernan, 1990)

Let them sing.

7. Ronin (Frankenheimer, 1998)

One of my favorite DeNiro movies, and hands down the best car chases from any film ever.

Click Here for The Treff/Liang's List
Click Here for Il Barone's List
Click here for The Hicks's Epic List of the Awesomely Bad
Click here for Der Gronowski's List
Click here for The Hicks's List
Click here for La Kozak's List
Click here for Die Grimes's List
Click here for Richard Nixon's List
Click here for The McBee's List
Click here for Der Koosh's List


  1. Note: Youtube links selected by ET, not JM

  2. I like that someone put a baseball(/father-son) movie on the list. I thought about putting Ken Burns' Baseball my list, but I think 10 hours is really not acceptable on a "movie" list even if it does have 2 hours of really great film making.