55 – Sunshine Cleaning:
Anyone who has ever had to hear me go on about this movie will probably roll their eyes when they see that I’ve finally done a review of it. This is actually a pretty recent addition to the list. We’re talking it getting added while I was on the hiatus over the summer. I can’t remember what I bumped in favour of it, so I guess it wasn’t anything special. To me, a great film always used to have to be big. It had to be epic. It had to be everywhere. It had to wow you with anything big – whether it be an explosive blockbuster like The Avengers or a dramatic tragedy like Atonement. When I saw this, I learned a new definition of great. Greatness can sneak up on you and floor you without even realising it. Greatness can stay with you for days after you’ve initially experienced it. Greatness can hit you without having to do a single big thing.
Believe me, no one’s more surprised than I am that I’m saying such things towards a movie that’s about a god damn cleaning service.
56 – 50/50:
So confusingly enough, I did not put this movie at the number 50 position – although it would have made for a nice pun. You’ll notice that I opened with a joke, since we’ve got a very serious topic to talk about with regards to this movie. The Big C, the disease that shall not be named, the subject that’s incredibly uncomfortable to talk about. I’m not going to explain what cancer is, because we don’t need to. It’s that convenient of a dramatic device that TV and film have told us everything we need to know about the disease – and we recently got an Emmy winning five season show about a sufferer. It can be seriously overused as a cheap attempt to pull at the audience’s heartstrings – especially using a child with the disease. So to me, the best stories revolving around cancer are the ones that have some grain of truth to them. The Fault In Our Stars was primarily based on a girl that the author knew. So John Green knew what he was talking about. This movie likewise was written by a man who had the disease and lived to tell the tale – so he dramatized parts of his own life to form the screenplay. And since his best friend is Seth Rogen, there was little trouble in bringing it to the silver screen. The result is the fantastic 50/50.
57 – Stardust:Just the other day, I went to myself ‘Matthew Vaughn is awesome, isn’t he?’ – and ain’t that the truth? Mr Vaughn originally started out as a producer – and he’s the man responsible for hits like Snatch, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Mean Machine – before making a big impact with his directorial debut Layer Cake. Matthew Vaughn is one of those directors who isn’t afraid to drift towards films that aren’t ‘Academy friendly’. His filmography includes the brilliant superhero deconstruction Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class, which helped redeem the X-Men on the silver screen. If you’ve got Matthew Vaughn behind the director’s chair, you can count on having a film that’s a lot of fun to watch and also has a lot of depth to it. So when Disney inevitably give Aladdin a live-action remake, we know who they should turn to. One other thing that Matthew Vaughn is known for is his outside-the-box casting choices. I mean, no one would have thought of James McAvoy to play Charles Xavier – and now look at how excellently he played it. Chloe Moretz wasn’t the first child star you’d think of to play Hit-Girl, and it ended up making her a household name. The film here also features a few of those – and they are every bit as awesome as one should come to expect in a Matthew Vaughn film.
58 – The Spectacular Now:
Ah, the good old coming-of-age story. Who doesn’t love one of those? Every generation seems to have one. 80s kids had Stand By Me, 90s had The Sandlot and for 2000s kids it was possibly Bridge To Terabithia. It might be just me, but I find that a coming-of-age movie is a good way to find the potential stars of tomorrow. After all, the protagonist is usually a child or teenager – and often played by an unknown. In the case of this movie, that was exactly the case. Both Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley rocketed to mainstream success shortly after this was released, due to both of them starring in the Divergent adaptations. A good coming-of-age story knows how to make an audience empathise with a teenager. The teen years are a dark part of all our lives – and once they’re over, we try our very best to forget them. But a story that can remind us of how hard it was to be a teenager is always a winner in my book.
So we arrive at the second of our four honorary picks on my list. The actual Number 59 is the Disney classic The Parent Trap – which you can read my original review of here. With these honorary picks, I divide them into two sets. Both Mindhunters and this film today were good concepts that could have been much more solid with a few changes here and there. I can watch both and still feel as though they have some merit to them in places. Mindhunters in particular had a couple of really good touches – and it’s a shame that the rest of the film wasn’t as good. Jupiter Ascending is one of those films that’s…well I still feel like ‘so bad it’s good’ isn’t quite the proper expression to use. When I say that, I think of something like The Room or Showgirls – which are just fascinating to watch because of how awfully they’re made. Jupiter Ascending is not bad enough to qualify for that – since the whole film is actually pretty well made. When I watch Jupiter Ascending, what I mostly think of is potential – some of it tapped into, some of it barely touched and some of it completely missed. Shall we waste no more time?
60 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
As we have a) returned to Disney and b) come to the first film in the Disney Renaissance, I feel as if I need to explain the backstory yet again. Well, there’s a different bit of backstory. Disney had been riding on a collective high with the four dynamic hits that were The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Even the flop of The Rescuers Down Under in 1990 couldn’t derail their momentum. Although the little kids probably didn’t realise it, Disney were finally dislodged from their pedestal with Pocahontas. While the rest of the films released in the 90s did well, they never quite enjoyed a mega-hit like those of the ‘Fearsome Foursome’ until Tangled was released. But of course, that doesn’t mean the films released in between didn’t have any merit at all. This one in particular I remember not liking as much when I was younger. But around the time I turned fourteen, I rediscovered it – and realised it was one of the most underrated Disney films in existence. You’d be shocked that this is the only Disney film to get a Razzie Award – because from my experience, defenders of this movie outnumber the critics.
61 – The Birds:
Remember how y’all might find it odd that it was my mother who recommended the raunchy sex comedy Heartbreakers to me? Well one year before that, I was recommended a famous horror film about birds attacking humans. Same source. But in all seriousness, I can look back on the year I turned thirteen as a very fond time. That was when my love of films and filmmaking really took off. It was then that I was first introduced to many of the classics – Alien, Jaws, Psycho, Halloween and of course The Birds. I first became aware of this one from reading a Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelisation of all things; Sabrina gets sent back in time to 1940s Hollywood and ends up with a job on an Alfred Hitchcock set. It’s the set of Spellbound, not The Birds, but the idea of a horror film about birds sounded very intriguing. I had it hyped up for me for ages and didn’t get to see it until it happened to be on TV (this being the days before video-on-demand and good quality pirating). Ten years removed from that viewing and it’s still one of my favourite horror films. Interestingly enough, despite being terrified of dogs and spiders, this one has not made me fear birds in the slightest.