My Top 101 Films Part 10 (of 10) (Finally!!!)

And we finally get to the end!  It only took a year or two.  Here's the running list of previous entries!

Stand by Me (1986)

The wild and coming-of-age adventures of four boys as they travel to discover a dead body is pure Americana.  It may seem a little morbid by today's standards and yet for many I grew up with this was a powerful and moving story--still is.  The childhood antics (debating who is better, Superman or Mighty Mouse) contrast with the flashbacks of a lost brother and disconnected parents and comes to a head when confronting the dead body and the older gang.  Filled with an impressive cast of people who have gone on to other fascinating projects and a great sound track, it's a great film to watch again and again.     
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Swing Kids (1993)

It's like a quasi-musical.  No really signing, but plenty of music and plenty of dancing.  This paired with Newsies and you have a early Christian Bale singing and dancing mini-marathon that is delightful.  Coupled with Newsies is and interesting dialogue because one offers a criticism of unbridled fascism and the other critiques unbridled capitalism (which is also present within Rent--ok, who's surprised by that pattern in my movie selections?).  But Swing Kids was the first film to introduce me to ideas about popular culture and it as a form of cultural resistance.  That is, the film fixates on how music was a focus point and means of resistance.  It's strange but I never entirely realized how much this film has in common in parts with Footloose--another film that I am fond of (though it did not make the list).  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Station Agent (2003)

DVD Cover - Station Agent
I implore you to watch this film.  If you watch Game of Thrones or just want to see an amazing performance by Peter Dinklage, this is an essential film.  He is amazing and when I first saw this film, I fell in love with Dinklage as an actor.  Though he speaks so very little, there is so much complexity in his body language and performance.  If you want to understand why he was chosen for Game of Thrones, it's worth looking at, but if you just want to see a powerful performance, you still need to see it.  The film focuses on three lost-souls.  The main character is a short person who inherits a station from his close and recently-departed friend.  There is also Patricia Clarkson who plays a mother who has lost her child, and Bobby Cannavale, a young guy operating a food truck whose father is sick.  The three make the oddest grouping possible, but it works so amazingly well.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


The Thing (1982)

DVD Cover - The Thing - Carpenter
I generally like John Carpenter's works, but I never really watched The Thing until I was an adult and teaching a horror course.  Then, it became one of my favorite horror films.  Since then, I have read and appreciated the novella it is based upon, John Campbell's Who Goes There.  So much of the drama and horror focuses on the idea of not knowing who is the alien or not.  A narrative clearly evocative of a communist regime, the film works in numerous ways to make views feel claustrophobic, distrustful of everyone, and anxious about what it might mean to not resolve the question of who goes there.  The film has some great features to it including point-of-view camera shots that prove frustrating to the viewer because you know there are things beyond your vision.  The sound track also proves to provide an oppressive and haunting heartbeat that lingers throughout the film--it almost makes one wonder if it is the film or their own heartbeat.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Trainspotting (1996)

DVD Cover - Trainspotting
Beyond the Scottish dialect and the mayhem that makes up the film, the film goes down in my own personal history for the first film that I watched that included a full frontal shot of a male.  I applaud Ewan McGregor (who does this again in another film years later) for this (and for Danny Boyle for including it).  I found this an impressive statement given how rare such shots are.  But the film itself is such a fascinating pastishe of the hardcore drug life and McGregor's character gives us the full tour from the highs to the lows.  In some of its more funky scenes, it reminds me a great deal of A Clockwork Orange--there is a hyperactivity about both films which seems present.  There is also moments that are genuinely strange and freaky--such as the baby on the ceiling scene (you'll have to see it to get it).  I believe there is going to be a sequel to this that will include most of the main actors and Danny Boyle as director as well.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Trollhunter (2010)

DVD Cover - Troll Hunter
If you are looking for another great Scandanavian horror film on this list (the first being the Swedish Let The Right One In), then Trollhunter is you rnext option.  This film follows a group of documentarians as they stumble upon real trolls and a whole network for trollhunters wardens who are meant to keep them frome ever being made known to the public.  Lots of great scenery is coupled with tense and terse moments throughout the film in the Norweigan woodlands as the characters continue to record their own demise.  It is largely invocative of The Blair Witch Project in its execution but still feels it has something unique to offer.  The trolls--which are largely kept in the dark--do make several direct appearances and the films makes them reasonably troll-like without feeling entirely ridiculous.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Unbreakable (2000)

Back in the day, when M. Night Shyamalan made some interesting movies--until we all realized that his gimmick was to keep everyone in suspense and confusion until the last ten minutes of the film when he unlocked it all.  Regardless of the fact that this is how he has done nearly every movie, I still have an appreciated of Unbreakable as a modern-day (and mayhaps post-modern) telling of a superhero story.  I also like that there is not entirely an origin story--dead parents, magic-bestowing elder, power-granting rays from a moonrock, etc--but rather the story focuses on the character's discovery of his powers, more so than why he must fight crime (we get this by proxy--protecting his family, but it's not so explicit).  The final reveal of the villain proves to be just the start of the journey and in some ways, one could argue takes away from the development because the villain appears to be just a villain for villain's sake--not necessarily as full formed as the hero.  Regardless, it proves one of the better narratives about a superhero coming into his own.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


United States of Leland (2003)

DVD Cover - United States of Leland
For all those Ryan Gosling fans, all I can say is that I saw him first--in this film and you really should too.  Like the above mentioned Station Agent, this was a film I saw early on that secured my respect and interest in all things Ryan Gosling.  His role in this film is fascinating and his acting is amazing.  He plays the titular, Leland who has killed his girlfriend's little brother without reason.  He is now in juvenile detention and everyone wants to know why he did it.  Other performances are strong in this film, but it's Gosling who commands every scene he is through his poise and body language.  The desire to get inside of his head drives everyone--even the viewer to keep eyes focused on a young man who is clearly intelligent and sensitive but has committed a most-heinous act. 
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Watchmen (2009)

DVD Cover - Watchmen
For some, I may have lost all disrespect, but as I've said before in this blog, I'm a fan of adaptation and I do not expect tit for tat.  I'm curious in the ways a narrative will evolve in another medium and I rather like what they did with Watchmen.  I think to fully appreciate it, it's probably useful to rely on all three elements of Watchmen--the film itself, The Tale of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood, as these films provide the full richness that is the original comic, Watchmen.  I found the adaptation with its use of music, updated technology, and chosen actors to be rather well chosen.  I think for many people, the film doesn't feel as powerful as the comic, but again, that often has to do with two things.  One is that they have already read the comic and using it as a comparision.  The other is that Watchmen is a powerful narrative, but we have to remember it was written in the 1980s and has been influential enough in our narratives that many of its core ideas are already mainstream ideas in television and film.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Whale Rider (2002)

This proves both a beautiful and heart-warming film.  Set in New Zealand and focused on a Maori tribe as it reconciles an aging chief and no apparent male heir.  The protagonist, Paikea Apiran (Pai), is the grand-daughter but the grandfather refuses to believe that  a woman could lead the tribe.  What follows is Pai's constant challenges to show she is worthy while her grandfather grows increasingly angry and distant.  The contrast between the adorable and stubborn Pai is met with an equally adorable and stubborn grandfather.  The film's power lay in the clear love between these characters and their refusual to accept each other in their ways.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


Wizard of Oz (1939)

It feels quite right to end with this one.  The Wizard of Oz is still a favorite of mine in all its technicolor glory.  As fantasy films go, it still holds up decades later.  And to those who hate remakes, you should know that Wizard of Oz is indeed a remake.  But the film is just a fantastic trip to another world and of course, down memory lane since it's one of the earliest films (besides Star Wars) that I can remember watching regularly when growing up.  Despite the hokey outfits--today I imagine they would all be CGI characters--the film and its atmosphere works and easily transports the view to Oz and all its majesty.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.


So that's all 101 films...finally!  What are some of your favorite films and why?  Post them in the comments!

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