My top five favorite movies of all time

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

So last week, Eric Moore wrote a column listing his 10 best movies of all time and he asked Madison and I to do the same. So here’s mine.

I’ve included a couple of black and white movies because there are a couple of those I genuinely loved, and I’m not just including them to be pretentious and say, “Hey! Look at me, I’m a smart art guy who likes black and white movies!”

That part’s just a bonus.

Here’s my honorable mentions:

Seven Samurai

It hurt my weeaboo heart to take this one off of my top 10 to make room for "Mask of the Phantasm."

I checked out “Seven Samurai” from the local library before I moved to Hot Springs because I was broke and couldn’t go see a modern movie. But “Seven Samurai” sucked me in more than most modern blockbusters I’d seen. Part of that is because of my love for samurai and the lack of samurai movies that aren’t anime or horrible whitewashed remakes.

The premise isn’t super complicated, but pulls you into the characters and culture divided along the lines of class.

Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers

The best “Halloween” movie, in my opinion. The original two had their charms (and the third movie gives us a great example of an artist trying and failing with an experiment), but “Halloween 5” marked the moment that the franchise reached its peak. We finally saw human moments from Michael Myers and an odd fatherly interaction with Myers and Dr. Loomis. The previous movies seemed to be building to this climax.

And the movies after it were just “eh.”

Scream and Scream 3

The main reason these two movies aren’t in the top 10 is because I didn’t have the heart to choose just one, although I think “Scream 3” might be slightly better than “Scream.”

The original “Scream” did something that I love to see: deconstructed a genre by pointing out the absurdities of frequently-used tropes. At the same time, it also reconstructed that same genre of horror movies by introducing a fresh perspective.

And “Scream 3” was just plain good, introducing an emotional angle late in the climax that I won’t spoil, but I just love that sort of thing.

Patient J

In all likelihood, you have absolutely no idea what this movie is. That’s because it’s a 30-minute fan-made Batman film released at no profit on the internet. A production group called Bat in the Sun created this movie, at a cost of about $30,000, or so I’ve heard, and a genius by the name of Aaron Schoenke directed it.

This movie centers around a rogue psychiatrist interviewing The Joker himself in the basement of Arkham Asylum. The guy who played The Joker, Paul Matthew Miller, portrays this character better than anyone I have ever seen. He’s better than Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, even Mark Hamill. And the movie gives us a psychological thriller, throwing us deep into the Joker’s lunacy in a way that no other Batman movie ever has.

The only reason this movie isn’t in the top 10 is because I’ve already got two Batman movies that I can’t bear to bump down.

Now here are my real picks.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Do I need more than one Batman movie in my top 10?

Yes.

“Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” is probably the best Batman movie ever made, although people write it off because it’s animated. It stays true to the comics and characters in a way that other movies just can’t manage, and it thrills us from the very opening scenes with the music score, which lets us know up front exactly how epic this movie is going to be.

“Mask of the Phantasm” is a detective movie, another thing we don’t see from any other Batman movie. At least not to this degree. Although I maintain Miller is the best Joker, Mark Hamill is still incredible as the Clown Prince of Crime’s voice, and this movie made me really see, for the first time, how frighteningly crazy The Joker is.

The Dark Knight

This movie completely blew me away. I’m not one of those comic-book purists who hate any deviations, such as The Joker wearing makeup rather than having chemically bleached skin.

Every actor who plays The Joker does it a little differently, and it always works (although some might argue the opposite about Jared Leto). The Joker is just such a versatile character and he’s changed so much, even in the comics.

Ledger was the only Joker so far who was actually funny in some scenes, but no less frightening. Especially when he told his second back story. You realize, at this moment, the twisted nature of this character and Michael Caine’s speech about the jewell thief perfectly sums up just who, and what, The Joker is.

This movie was so great I didn’t much mind Christian Bale’s stupid growly voice. But when the came to decide which of these movies went to the number one spot, I had to give it to “Phantasm.” That movie was completely flawless and, because of Christian Bale, the same can not be said about “The Dark Knight.”

Dumb and Dumber

One of the few all-time great comedies. This movie knew when to be subtle and when to be over the top; when to build to the punchline and when to let you have it with both barrels. Comedy is probably the hardest genre to do well and “Dumb and Dumber” gave us one of the best comedy movies of all time.

Braveheart

This was my favorite for a long time. It’s the “Titanic” of testosterone-feuled man films and it still manages to give us feels. The battles are epic (if senseless) and the movie provides moments that are still referenced in pop culture, over 20 years later.

“But they will never take our freedom!”

Rashomon

Same situation as “Seven Samurai,” I was broke and checked this movie out from the library.

The greatness of this movie comes from it’s story-style. After a horrible crime, three men start talking about it from what they’ve heard, which was presented from three points of view.

This might sound familiar if you’ve seen “Hero,” staring Jet Lee. That’s because Rashomon is one of those iconic films that inspire imitators.

It gets you involved in the characters, depresses you with commentary on the human condition and then hits you with a whammy just when you think you can’t take anymore.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

I hate that I have to put the date on the end of that, now. Go away, Michael Bay! Don’t come back another day!

The 1990 TMNT is the only “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie. It blew kids away, not because of explosions or awesomeness, but because the movie was handled in a mature way. TMNT was a real movie, not a two-hour distraction. It had story, characters and an involving plot, and I miss animatronics and makeup art. CGI looks great, but you’re still very aware that these CGI creations do not exist. With these guys in their suits, you knew you could reach out and touch them if you were there.

Crash

The movie with Sandra Bullock, not that weird fetish movie.

Crash is a masterful peace of storytelling, weaving so many different stories together seamlessly. In addition to that, it explores race and discrimination issues in a way that most movies just would never dare.

The Empire Strikes Back

I hate the prequels and sequels so much that I almost bumped this down to honorable mention. People say that the later stuff can’t take away from the original, but I’m at the point where I have to make an active decision to focus on “The Empire Strikes Back” for what it is rather than what the sequels and prequels have done to the franchise. But at the end of the day, that “I am your father” moment is just too much. This bad boy stays on the top ten.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

For some reason, the horrible sequels didn’t sour me on “Judgment day”. I think it’s because they’re so horrible, even worse than the “Star Wars” sequels, that I just don’t picture them as being in the same franchise.

But this movie did everything that a sequel is supposed to do (although rarely does.) It took its new budget and used all of those extra resources to support imagination and acting rather than replace them.

The Karate Kid Part III

I loved the first three movies of this franchise and it was hard for me to pick just one. I went with three because this is “The Karate Kid” fully realized. It gives us moments of shock and desperation not seen in the other movies, even in the second movie where that guy was trying to kill Daniel. And it sets up Ralph Magio as a hero taking on impossible odds with this duo of evil karate senseis.

****

I’ve noticed there were a lot of sequels in that list. It’s not because I just like sequels, totally the opposite. It’s because these sequels don’t sacrifice the things that made the original movies great and they don’t stop trying to offer us something new.

Take a note, modern directors. This is how it’s done.

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