My love of cinema has grown greatly over the past few years, and my journey through the medium has exposed me to such great works. However, this is a daunting task: noting five definitive favorites. Despite the pressure, I thought really hard about it. On top of ever-changing moods, nostalgia can play a part of how I choose favorites. Regardless of the possibility of this list changing in the future, I feel quite confident of these films.
5.) The Great Dictator
Charlie Chaplin talking on screen may be the most important thing he’s done in his career, especially given the circumstances during the film’s production and after its release. This stellar satire of one of the most notorious people in human history (Adolph Hitler) is still a riot almost 80 years after its release. That ending speech, despite being seen as preachy today by some, remains one of the most powerful words ever written. With no disrespect meant towards his silent classics, this is why I hold The Great Dictator as my favorite Chaplin film.
4.) No Country For Old Men
The Coen Bros. at their darkest, this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s western thriller novel is as modern as a neo-western can get, even if the actual western element is more of a subtle spice in the overall concoction. Javier Bardem’s performance as Anton Chigurh is so chilling yet overly analyzed that I can’t add anything new. Nevertheless, he is one of the best modern cinematic villains. Like how The Big Lebowski is arguably the brothers’ funniest film, No Country may be the most bleak they’ve gotten and honestly, I really fancy this side of them over others.
3.) The Iron Giant
You can call this the nostalgic pick of this list but I can’t think of any other film that stayed with me the most throughout my childhood. A very E.T.-inspired story with a big twist (literally and figuratively), this is such an impressive debut feature for Brad Bird. From directing episodes of The Simpsons to this, it’s one hell of a step forward, even if it was an unfortunate commercial flop. The top notch animation hits its mark but not as hard as the very emotional moments, especially a mature scene about the idea of death, which is rarely seen in family-oriented films these days. However, there’s only one other animated film that stands above this for me.
2.) Mind Game
This film was a revelation. Never before have I seen an animated feature so creative and wild yet at the same time life-affirming. This was my exposure to the great Masaaki Yuasa, who’s become one of my favorite animation directors not only in anime but in general. Right from the opening montage sequence, it gives the impression that this is going to be a rather eccentric film, but it soon amplifies into something unique. I can consider this as the anime equivalent to Yellow Submarine (a film Yuasa has noted as a stylistic influence) but with such a wider range of art direction. I am also very happy that GKIDS salvaged it and put out an American disc of it finally.
1.) Paris, Texas
My own personal contender for best drama ever filmed, Paris, Texas is such a humble picture that packs in so much emotional weight while also feeling laid back, a characteristic of director Wim Wenders’ style . Harry Dean Stanton’s performance as Travis is broken in the most genuine sense. Ry Cooder’s score has a soothing Southern ambiance. The late Robby Müller’s cinematography perfectly displays the richness of the Texas landscape. It’s quite amazing that a European film crew can capture Americana better than most American filmmakers. I do not see any film topping this anytime soon.
I’m very honored to be a part of this site and eager to see what the future holds.