#6. Wreck-It Ralph:
I worked at a Walmart a few summers ago in the electronics department. For our selection of movies to show on the TV, we had this, Avengers, and something else that I am completely blanking on. Whatever it was, we grew tired of it and Avengers really quick and played it non-stop for about 5 weeks. Now, I worked 40 hours a week at this time, so you can assume I “watched” this movie approximately 15-20 times per week. Yes, by the end of the summer I had the entire movie memorized. Almost 3 years later, I have mostly forgotten the lines and can simply just enjoy the movie for what it’s worth–a wonderful, colorful, and highly enjoyable animated film that focuses on arcade games. It is so innovative that a sequel better be coming out soon or it is just simply a missed opportunity. It also had far more heart and emotions than Brave (which beat it for Best Animated film.) While it is nowhere close to The Lego Movie, it is still a great movie.
#7. X-Men: Days of Future Past:
DOFP is one of those movies where its perfectly fine in its own right: it has great acting, awesome moments (like the Quicksilver scene) and it is just pure fun. But for those who are major fans of the X-Men series (both originals and the prequel), there is so much to be rewarded for watching them (and it basically apologizes and fixes the wrongs of The Last Stand). Considering DOFP combines two different casts of characters, it takes a lot to remember all of the relationships and ties. Regardless of whether or not you love the series, the time-traveling aspect is always one that will confuse viewers (as in any movie that features the hypothetical theory that is constantly changing). As we move towards what is probably the final film in the series, Apocalypse, the timeline goes back to the past and more characters are brought in. It’s sure to be a bloated movie, so let’s hope they can pull it off like DOFP.
#8, 9, 10 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
There are some movies that have a special place in your heart, that you can come back to and fall in love with it again, discover something new, find a new connection, feel a new emotion. Lord of the Rings are those movies for me. I have seen them countless times (the Extended Editions, obviously) and never tire of them. Just this past weekend, a group of friends and I sat down and watched all three. It was, as always, a magical adventure. Close to 12 hours of movies, and for me there is never a dull moment.
It really is a testament to Peter Jackson’s filmmaking that for 12 hours you can be glued to the screen and feel a wide spectrum of emotions from laughter to bittersweet tears. It is also a painful reminder that these were the dying gasp of the “Epic” films of the past. Movies like Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, Patton, all of the great films that span longer than 3 hours are simply unfeasible anymore. Nobody is willing to sit in the theater for most movies anymore, let alone one that takes out a good portion of your day. Even Tarantino’s latest, The Hateful Eight, has a three-hour cut with an intermission. After LOTRs there were some copy-cats, like Eragon (which I’m still hoping gets some sort of remake,) and they just did not fair well. Even The Hobbit failed because it was bogged down by special-effects and superfluous storytelling. So when you watch LOTRs anymore, you have to remember that it was the last great epic of filmmaking. That isn’t to say they won’t make a comeback, but with the way today’s audiences are, that style of filmmaking is just too much for most. Nowadays the only place you can get this grand, sweeping structure is through Television shows like Game of Thrones.
#11. Jurassic World
The movie that could have either been a complete mess or a superb masterpiece ended up being somewhere in the middle for me. It is by all means a great movie. It services fans, introduces the franchise to new audiences, but it still feels too closely related to Jurassic Park in structure to be its own movie. There are some exceptional moments that teeter between goofy and exhilarating, and some of the characters are a little odd, but it still entertains. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard make for a fun duo, as both of them are now rising stars. Its planned sequel has the opportunity to really go for something completely original instead of wandering through a park trying to survive with a bunch of hungry dinosaurs, so let’s hope there is something a little more interesting.
#12. Die Hard:
The best Christmas movie of all time is not It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story–it’s Die Hard. Bruce Willis, in his signature role, owns the movie with crass humor, classic lines, and (literally) killer skills. Oh, and how could we forget about Alan Rickman as the villain? I mean Snape is great and all, but Hans is something special, especially with his menacing accent. Die Hard also spawned some great sequels, and some not so great. John McClane is, and will always be, one of the best action heroes of all time, and this is where it all began. There’s a reason why Bruce Willis became a star after this movie, and why there have been 4 sequels. Go watch it if you haven’t seen it, it is the Holiday Season after all.
#13. The End of the Tour:
One of the top 5 favorite movies from this past summer, The End of the Tour is a bittersweet story about loneliness and friendship. David Lipsky, a writer from the Rolling Stone interviews author David Foster Wallace after the release of his new book, Infinite Jest. The two are very different, but also remarkably similar, and we come to know them through a constant conversation. Through ups and downs the two grow, accept, resent, and appreciate one another. Jason Siegel gives a career-changing performance as the author, and Jesse Eisenberg offers a great turn as well, but Siegel really steals the show and deserves a lot of recognition for his role. There is hardly any excitement here, and it requires a certain degree of patience–but it is wholly rewarding when the end comes and you think back at all of the meaningful conversations and people you’ve had in your life. Do yourself a favor and track this one down–it may not be up for any awards, but it is definitely one of the best of the year.