Winning Eleven: My Best Movies of All Time

Let’s start my trashing on this blog. And what subject -or, in this case- is more proper in my world, than movies? 11 seems appropriate, because 10 is too mainstream, 9 is too less, and 12 is an even number (I got my own system. Shut up.). As you scroll down, you will notice that I have several favorite things. Ensemble cast is one of them, and crime classics are the other. I also construct this list based on my all time favorite directors -although the films are not rated based on the directors’ rank; hence there are no two movies from the same director. Yet, some of worlds greatest directors -whom I also worship- didn’t make the cut, because of limited slots. Scorsese, the Coen Bros., W. Anderson, Linklater, Kazan. Maybe for another list. So to begin our long planned dumping, boys and girls…here is the list of “My Top 11 Movies of All Time”.

11. Wall-E (Stanton, 2008)

Probably the best animation ever -to date. Everybody was skeptical about the premise, especially about how the main character was a robot who doesn’t speak (much). But most significantly, everybody questions about what it would do to reach the standard of Ratatouille’s subtle brilliance. It’s auto-tuned  dialogues were repetitive, and limited. But it was far from predictable. Wall-E wasn’t only visually stunning, but story-wise, it was revolutionary. At least for me. Not only that paper thin material was blown up a million times bigger than it -theoretically- should be, but it has charm that stuck with you longer than a sexy perfume commercial. I discussed about its out of-this-world brilliant theme of global warming and technology ridden generation before, but after repeated viewing, I need to give credit more to Wall-E’s stellar comedy. What it lacks in talkies, it redeems in slapstick glories. I will always cherish that moment when Wall-E and M-O met for the first time. It was a classic Chaplin projected into a flawless Pixar. It’s been eight years since its release, and none have come close to the majestic that is Wall-E -and probably, none will in 5-10 years to come.

10. Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh, 2001)

Call me shallow, but you have to admit it: Ocean’s Eleven was brilliantly entertaining. It was one of the most fun I remembered about coming to the cinema, and it was 13 years ago! At first glance, of course the cast helps. Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Roberts: it’s a mega project with at least 100 million dollars return guarantee. But then you watched it. And it was far from ‘mega’.  It didn’t even come close to ‘super’. Eleven was ‘big’ at most, and that’s totally appropriate to describe the plot alone. The cast did not help in making the film some blockbuster or award winner. It was so much more than that. The all star ensemble is what molded, glued, and filled the whole picture into this all cool cult classic. They gave the lights brighter than Sin City, and dropped chips richer than the tables. Simply put, Eleven is just one of those movies that made you feel so fucking better when you step out of the cinema after you watched it. O-11 was so subtle, yet so beautiful. The colors of Vegas, the suits -oh God, the suits-, the quotable snarks (“Why do they always paint hallways that color?“), the crooning soundtrack, and that mind-blowing-yet-under-our-bloody-noses heist. Everything was just a well planned job, we were more than delighted to get conned.

9. 12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)

I’m just gonna shoot early here, by telling you that I’m no Lumet fan. Not a big fan at least. I know, Dog Day Afternoon and Network was fucking brilliant. But were they the best movies in their respective genres -at least, in my humble opinion? No. Yet, Lumet’s best work -which I believe, is everybody’s opinion-, is his theatrical debut. Compared to the bizarre chaos of DDA, or Network’s psychological complexion, 12 Angry Men is probably just a stroll in the park. What I -and everybody else- admire is simply the story and everything else that spreads from there. The twelve different and distinct characters, the growth of the tension at a flawless pace, and the seamless built up towards the climax. You got to have an obsessive eye for management, and a mountain of patience to do this. Lumet translated the play well into screen, giving it an extra dimension, and eventually made it very relatable and compelling -enough to keep us on our seats ’til the end.

8. OldBoy (CW. Park, 2003)

Seriously, why isn’t this film gets more recognition -far under the more popular romantic Korean drama series- is just perplexing. This is one of the most brilliantly made film of all time, with a twist that’s just so mind-blowing and, well, Korean. I can’t even start what I liked the most about this picture. Is it the overzealous but intense acting? Is it the surreal but compelling plot? Oh wait, I know. It’s that pace. That Goddamn misleading pace. How? Look, we’re being dragged on a rampage trip of vengeance only to be shot down in the head so heartlessly in that climax. simply because we thought we can read what this film was all about. But oh were we wrong. And oh such a beautiful mistake it was.

7. Se7en (Fincher, 1997)

I like detective stories. I ‘m a glutton for stories that’s following the process of gathering evidence, research, experiments and compiling them into a conclusion. That’s why CSI on their prideful days was my favorite TV series. But what I like more is a detective story with a twist. I love how all my greedy perceptions are picked up for 110 minutes and being blown into smithereens in the last ten of a movie. The premise in this one is already lusty enough for me: a serial killer, killing their victims according to the seven deadly sins. And that title makes you can’t help to unsloth and countdown until the last few killings -making it even more fascinatingly intense. A remarkable effort of storytelling indeed, sewing a wrathed up jigsaw puzzle that keeps you breathless up until the very last minute and piece. That’s also why there aren’t any better films about serial killers since Se7en. Envy yet?

6. Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick, 1964)

I know what you’re thinking. Of all the amazing movies that the great Stanley Kubrick have ever made, why did I choose this? There’s the quirky and insane Clockwork Orange, or the memorably creepy The Shining, or the artistically epic 2001 which are in the top of everybody’s list of best Kubricks. Yet, I chose the war satire that has Peter Sellers playing three characters. Sounds like a British comedy rip-off for the nuclear paranoid viewers. I liked it more because it delivered the message with the perfect wit and proven to be brilliantly so. And it was actually really funny -not something that Kubrick, the man of his rigid and obsessive persona famous for. It worked well for the era, it gave a good laugh on the topic, and it brought out one of Sellers’ best performance to date. Lastly, as all of Kubrick’s films, it’s just so lovely to watch.

5. The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)

I think it’s obvious why I chose this over Nolan’s other epics, nor over other comic book sensations. It’s better than Inception, The Prestige or Interstellar because it was more human -even if it was the only one based on a two dimensional comic book character. It was better than Superman because it was more real, better than Spider-Man 2 because it was unpredictable, better than The Avengers because it just simply doesn’t give a fuck. This film represents many things that most comic book films already touched, but went deeper: loss, sacrifice, trust, and the one I think nobody explored better, anarchy.  That last one -brought by the films messiah, The Joker- curls the characters into the extreme, transforming them into a version we always expected although through means that are too crunching. Nobody and no other set of characters jumping out of the pages of comic books are this memorable -and lovable- when put on film.

4. Magnolia (Anderson, 1999)

Why hasn’t Paul Thomas Anderson being recognized as much as his peers of the same generation? Like Tarantino, Fincher, Nolan, the Coens and the other Anderson (Wes)? Well because he’s doing films like this. Apart from how beautiful Magnolia is it’s still such a niche drama. To sum it up, PTA makes hard films -both to produce and to digest. Yet, PTA is not an easy auteur to start with. His stories are confusing and depressing. His shots are powerful and enticing. His moments are articulated and sexy. If films were paintings, PTA is an expressionist -albeit a brooding one. As for Magnolia, I think it showcased all of his lesser traits but came out flawlessly fascinating. Is it the stellar ensemble? Is it the Aimee Mann song? Is it the (somewhat) happy ending? Is it the frogs? I don’t really know. It’s just weirdly gorgeous. As to the question we asked earlier, I think I know why. Like the man we all wished him to be the reincarnation of -that’s Kubrick in case you’re wondering-, PTA is just too damn good for this generation.

3. Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954)

Again, why Rear Window over Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds or -so help me God- Psycho? One simple answer I can give you: I think it’s the most complete Hitchcockian in the simplest manner. The set was minimal but with a view of the world of possibilities. The hero was limited but his peeping fetish was boundless. The conflict was out of reach but completely peeled off -thanks to the hero’s fetish for snooping what was unreachable before. Simply put: Hitch amplified a tiny box into a world of fantastic thriller -just through one window and let the human nature loose. Vertigo was brilliant but disturbing, North was fun but a classic template, Birds was quirky but lacking realism, and Psycho? It was perfect, but a wee bit too crazy (you think?). Rear Window is all that, but very mundane -flawlessly feeding our curiosity (or inner perversion) for other people’s business, and cheekily (also magnificently) got away with it.

2. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

Ah, how could you ever make a list of the best movies ever made without including this. Some argue that the second part was better -which I actually agree. But this masterpiece started it all, and for so many good reasons. I for one, adore that this is more about family than gangsters and cops. How the brothers and their powerful father run the family, make amends, establish influence and retribute what are theirs. How they finish conflicts with the outside as well as cleaning things in the inside. How they do business while still being the man of the house. The Godfather was more educational than anything else, covering so many aspects in everyday’s lives, not just the hoodlum stuffs. In all its grandiose poetry and radiance about organized crime, this is one mafia saga that we keep dearly within. Simply because the closest ring of organization, family -the one we all have and can relate to-, always comes first.

1. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)

So we’re in the end -or top- of this list. I think for those of you who have known me for a while knows that this is more than a good film to me. This is a life-changer. Quentin introduced me to the other side of cinema that was totally new to me. It could be sliced into several pieces, then rearranged into any order he puts them. It could be comical but cold-blooded at the same time. It could have people talking about hamburgers and foot massages without losing a beat nor excitement. It could have tacky special effects but still gleaming in class. It could have songs from the 70s  that we’ve never heard of but stuck in our head even 20 years later. But what blew my mind the most was that it made me realize that films could be fun and good at the same time. Before this, movies were a source of entertainment. After PF, movies are a heartfelt dedication for anything the maker wants -in any way they please. It was true, honest, and slap-dab don’t give a damn. And just being technical, Pulp Fiction has every ingredient I love from a movie. Multiple plots? Check. Ensemble cast? Check. Crime story? Check. Awesome camerawork and editing? Check. Cool music? Check. Memorable quotes? Check. Check. Check. Hell, this film has gangsters, gay rape, and a twist competition, but all cohesively worked so damn well. It’s how QT sew that cluttered mess seamlessly that just incomprehensibly fascinating. I love this film so much, when I die, I want my casket to be lowered down while “Miserlou” is playing in the background. Everybody’s gonna wear black anyway, might as well up the ante.


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