Amy cheats on the top-ten-movies meme

Geof, I'm answering your meme, but I'm cheating in doing so. The request:

  1. list your top ten favorite films (in no particular order).
  2. if you're tagged, you've got to post and tag 3-5 other people.
  3. give a tag back (some link love) to the one who tagged you in your post (Geof)
  4. give a hat tip (HT) to Dan, whoever he is

I'm cheating because, technically, I'm not listing ten separate films.

Standalone movies

Princess and the Warrior (Der Krieger und die Kaiserin)

I like Tom Tykwer's work, period, and seriously considered just listing his name instead of picking a particular film. This much quieter movie brought echoes of his breakthrough, Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt), since he used the same lead actress and same city (Wuppertal), but everything else is different. I have a deep love of movies that explore the idea of forgiveness and redemption, and this movie strikes squarely in that territory. Mostly quiet, thoughtful, and occasionally understated to the point of being muted, it startles through the occasional application of 'action' scenes that are unexpected and central to the plot. I revisit this movie every few years and find different things to love each time, but a constant is the fabulous, evocative, over-the-top scene on the bridge; a scene without words that shows without telling and I hope is never duplicated.

Pride and Prejudice (BBC version)

The miniseries really should be treated as a six-hour movie. It's a tart, definitive adaptation of a book that's well-loved for its wit. Much credit goes to the lead actress, who does much to embody the type of female character Austen loved best: an intelligent, perceptive woman who is willing to speak for herself. It's my comfort food whenever I'm at home, sick, on the couch.

City of God (Cidade de Deus)

If you've never seen the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, prepare for an introduction you won't forget. The opening shot of City of God is one of the most memorable opening shots I've ever seen (even Robert Altman would be proud), and it tells me that Fernando Meirelles has quite a filmmaking future ahead of him. (See the quiet, sure hand he later had with The Constant Gardener to see if you agree.) Gripping plot, made even more fascinating knowing that the cast and crew was in constant danger during this on-location shoot. The entire movie explains how the first shot came in to being. A worthy ride, even for non-Portuguese speakers.


A recent entry, and one I'm hesitant to include because I've only seen it once, but oh, that once. Adapted from Marjane Satrapi's comic books about growing up as an Iranian girl amidst the revolution, the movie does one simple thing: brings her whimsical, black-and-white style to life. The voice of this movie is so strong; strong-willed, mouthy, perceptive Marji grows from outspoken child to thoughtful adult as she realizes a painful truth: just because you love a place doesn't mean you can live in it. Not just feminist, not just political, not just coming-of-age. Just a wonderful movie, thoughtful and funny and wise, made better and sadder for the fact that it really happened.

Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin)

Slow, sad, thoughtful. Shot mostly in black-and-white, and deservingly so. A lost, solemn Berlin is haunted by omnipresent angels who watch, watch everything, but never experience and never connect. The shots of the angels standing quietly in the library are some of my all-time favorite movie scenes. The movie thinks quietly on the difference between observation and experience (something I struggle with) and considers the idea that with love, anything is possible.

The cheating: series and combinations

The Up series (Seven Up!, 14 Up, 21 Up, etc.)

This series should be seen together, though 42 Up! can probably stand alone. This is amazing filmmaking. If this list only inspires you to see one thing, see this series -- please. The premise is simple and universal: twenty children were interviewed at age seven. Every seven years, these same children have been revisited and re-interviewed. What has emerged has been a complicated, moving portrait of life itself. The most recent instance is 49 Up. They've grown up. They've held opinions, then reversed them. Loved. Married. Had children. Divorced. Retired. Changed countries. Almost nothing is the same -- time, place, opinions, appearance -- and yet there is something timeless and eternal about seeing this progression on-screen. Extraordinary.

Films written by Charlie Kaufman

Not a director, not a filmmaker; Charlie Kaufman is the rarest of beings in Hollywood: a person whose writing brings people to theaters. His movies are as notable for an absence of a specific voice or viewpoint as they are for a studious willingness to break any and all movie conventions. No one goes to a Charlie Kaufman film to see reality; they go to see that unique, indefinable strangeness that marks his est work. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Adaptation. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Being John Malkovich. See what I mean?

Honorable Mentions (or, Points for Participation)

I keep coming back to Lost in Translation and The Red Violin, but I'm not sure if either really should be on this list yet. Ask me again in another year or two.

Now be opinionated

I'd be curious to see responses from any of these people:

  • Jeff - Just because we share a netflix queue doesn't mean we share tastes
  • Jake - the opinions of a man who spends his working hours in a movie theatre
  • Asai - her movie experience is vastly different from mine
  • Adam - I think our movie taste is more divergent than our music taste
  • Misty - I know Stephen's taste is often similar to mine, but I don't know hers.
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