Different people will evaluate differently a good movie. Some prefer a film with breathtaking photography; others are thrilled with outstanding special effects. I have a penchant for musicals, dramas and great stories, especially well-written, intriguing romances. I also love to watch a great actor’s performance. Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, Colin Firth, Bette Davis, Helen Mirren, are among my favourite actors. Considering all this, I award five stars to a movie which moves me, which completely engrosses me. Here is the list of my all-time favourites.
1. Romeo and Juliette
Fellini’s Romeo and Juliette is my favourite romantic movie. Following the dissection of Shakespeare’s classic in class, I first screened the movie in the school’s auditorium. After seeing the film half a dozen times since then, I still marvel at how the screenplay is remarkably faithful to the book. Verona could not have been better illustrated. I enjoyed everything: the costumes, the music and the intense performances of the actors. Is there a girl who did not dream about Romeo after seeing the movie? And who can forget Michael York’s performance?
2. Sense and Sensibility
This movie, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet is a real jewel. Jane Austin’s most romantic classic was magnificently adapted to the screen. Kate Winslet, as usual plays with passion and Emma Thompson’s character (Elinor) although subdued, is as intense. It takes a lot of talent to play a role with such nuances. Their unlike personalities make the movie interesting as we watch their different reactions at not having the men they yearn for. I especially enjoyed the plot leading to the climax where Elinor (Emma Thompson) finds out that Edward, the character played by Hugh Grant is not married. What a wonderful happy ending! I also enjoyed the scenes with Margaret, the youngest daughter. She added a touch a humor, freshness and lightness to the story.
3. The Way We Were
I was twelve years old when I first viewed this movie. I still see myself in the theater, admiring Barbara Streisand and dreaming about being in Robert Redford’s arms! This movie had all the ingredients for a great hit: beautiful songs, a wonderful love story and two talented actors.
4. Love Story
A poignant love story whose ending left almost everybody tearful. Apparently, even members of the royalty shed tears. Erich Segal’s book which doesn’t total more than 131 pages had also been a huge hit before it became a big-screen movie. When we think of it, there is nothing original about this story. People fall in love every day. Poor girl meet rich boy is also not a novelty subject. And death has separated young couples madly in love from the beginning of times. To me, what made this story unique was the humor, the tenderness and the dialogues. “Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry”, became a classical line. The scene when Jenny dies in Oliver’s arms could not have been more romantic and heart-breaking.
What a wonderful idea for a story! It is a different kind of police story which also makes us learn more about these fascinating persons, the Amish. However, what intrigued me the most in this movie is the romantic story. I love the way the desire was built between the main characters. I think many women were desiring John Book (Harrison Ford) as much as Rachel (Kelly McGillis)! They should make more movies like this one because it cannot be classified into one specific category. Those who enjoy suspense, action, police or love stories are well served with this film.
6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Yes, Harrison Ford again! He may not be the greatest actor, but this former Hollywood carpenter certainly knows how to pick great roles! This is my favorite action movie. There is not a boring moment in the film. When I first view the movie at a theater, I was so much taken in by the adventures and surprised by the denouements, that I constantly kicked my friend!
7. The Godfather I
There are different reasons why I appreciate this masterpiece. First of all, the actors’ performances. Who can forget the performance of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, etc? How about the rest of the cast? Their portrayals were impressive.Italian traditions are very well depicted. The wedding is my favourite scene. I loved the music, mainly the part when the Godfather dances with his daughter (Talia Shire). I also appreciated the scene when Michael (Al Pacino) confesses to his fiancée (Diane Keaton) that his family belongs to the Mafia. The way she stared at him for long minutes is memorable.
8. The Ten Commandments
A great biblical story told magnificently. The costumes, the settings were impeccable. As my brother once said, this movie is like bible study. It is incredible how much we learn about the Old Testament in this masterpiece. The parting of the Red Sea, the death of all the Egyptian soldiers, etc; the episodes are extraordinarily illustrated. Charlton Heston, John Derek and Yul Brymmer’s performance were great, but my favorite interpretation was the one offered by Anne Baxter. She was suave, forceful and convincing. In my opinion, she was an excellent actress who should have been seen much more often on the big screen after this epic.
9. Oliver Twist
This is another classic I first discovered in high school. Oliver Twist is, of course, the story of a young orphan’s experiences on the mean streets of 19th century London. I still have immense pleasure in watching it. The music, the songs and dances are entertaining. What a wonderful adaptation of Charles Dicken’s classic! We really feel the atmosphere of Victoria-era London. The cast of boys is well directed as well as the wonderful interpretation of Alex Guinness as master-thief Fagin. A movie I love to watch on a cold or rainy Saturday night!
10. A Room With A View
This is a story about a quiet passion in Victorian-era England. A young girl from a good family is kissed without her permission during a trip to Florence, Italy. She then resolves to marry someone else (Daniel Day-Lewis). I love this movie because of the story, the photography and the performance of the cast. Helena Bonham Carter excels in epoch movies. It also makes us ponder on our feelings, sincerity and integrity.
I could not complete this list without mentioning The Bear, by French cineaste Jean-Jacques Arnaud. This is the heart-warming story of an adult male bear who tries to avoid hunters, while protecting an orphan bear cub that follows him. The passage where the bear confronts the tracker remains one of my preferred scenes in movies.