Movies (etc.) that we have absolutely loved, enough to not
only have watched many times, but bought! (Some more than
once, as gifts or when our copy went missing.) They are listed here
in no particular order.
Some of these aren't loved by as many as we think should:
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. A
beautifully-crafted gem. The DVD extras are just as enjoyable.
You cannot see this just once.
- Mystery Men.
It falls short of greatness, a bit; I'm not sure why and I'm sorry it
missed. But it's still quite enjoyable, and it grows on you
nonetheless. Looking up the Herkimer Battle Jitney online in fact is
what led me to the Unimog.
- Galaxy Quest.
Superb casting. If you ever were a, or knew any, Trekkies, this one's
for you. I particularly enjoyed Alan Rickman and Tony Shaloub, but
the rest are not far behind.
- Waiting for Guffman.
Small-town theater at its worst. Jill swears she knows "all those
people!" (Nearly as enjoyable are their other movies in the same
vein: Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, For
Your Consideration, and the
Ur-mockumentary: This is Spinal Tap.)
- What About Steve. It's not a romantic comedy,
get over it. It's quite fun/funny for exactly what it is.
- Blow Dry. The marketing in the US tried to make this
a romantic story about the young couple—that is so not
what it is, in fact they're the weakest part of the movie. Forget
Cook and Hartnett, see it because Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy are both
in it, why don't you?
- Raising Arizona. Cage and Hunter are perfect in
this. The poetic voice-over by Cage's redneck lowlife character
really makes the movie.
- O Brother, Where Art Thou. I didn't like Clooney until
this movie, he was fantastic in it. (As were the others.) Quirky and
fun, and the music is fabulous.
- A Fish Called Wanda. John Cleese and Michael Palin in
straight (well, semi-) roles? And Kevin Kline going over the top.
Wow. The ending got a little stupid, but up 'til that... (Its 'successor',
Fierce Creatures, is not nearly as good, but moderately
- The Princess Bride. I put this here for my wife's
sake, as it's one of her all-time favorites. I like it OK, but I was
cursed/blessed with having sought out, purchased (and this was
pre-online-shopping!), and read Goldman's book
long before they made a movie out of it (thank you Spider Robinson
for the glowing book review, and the Inigo Montoya excerpt), and think
the movie just doesn't do justice to the book. (It needed to be a lot
longer, and use real musicians. I also think some of the casting was
a bit off, though Patinkin was perfect, as were Crystal and Kane. I'd
be all for a better-done remake, but for the loss of these three
performances.) The movie is good, but the book is great.
- Drop Dead Gorgeous. Kirstie Ally plays a great
'stage mom', and how can you not like a total two-storey bad-clam
beauty queen hurlfest?
- The Maiden Heist. William H. Macy, Morgan
Freeman, and Christopher Walken? Oh yeah!
- Slings & Arrows. Paul Gross and Mark McKinney.
Not exactly a movie, but not quite a full episodic series either.
Mini-series? Regardless, extremely entertaining, and Jill
says it really captures theater life. My favorite moment might be the
mad pseudo-Germanic interpretation of Romeo & Juliette: in iron
cage costumes! Or not, there are so many to choose from. The slight
Canadian goofiness only adds to the charm.
- Little Shop of Horrors. Surprisingly well-done
musical remake of an unmemorable B movie. (Notable only for the
fact that it was Jack Nicholson's first role.) I'm not overly fond of
Rick Moranis, but he was the perfect nebbish and who knew that he
could sing? Steve Martin had a very tasty over-the-top supporting
role as a sadistic dentist, and it still boggles the mind that even at
his most manic he managed to be upstaged by Bill Murray's masochistic
dental patient! The voicing (Levi Stubbs) and puppetry of Audrey II
Beautifully put together, I can't think of a thing I'd change. A
Gaiman fan recommended this to us, and right from the
first we were captivated. A touching, pure fairy tale, yet told with
humor and style. (No room for a sequel, no action figures.) I
believe the changes to Gaiman's original story for the movie
adaptation are actually superior to the original, at least so far as
making a good movie is concerned. I can't recommend it enough, and as
many have said, I'll never look at Robert De Niro in quite the
same way again! I have no idea why this movie did not do better at
the box office, perhaps it was not correctly marketed. It has been
compared to The Princess Bride, and while the writing is
equally good I think it is a much better movie. (Comparing
books I think that The Princess Bride is much
better than Stardust.)
- A Knight's Tale.
Perhaps surprisingly, Heath Ledger's performance was not what
I most liked about this, nor his leading lady's. I loved the creative
use of anachronism, including the choice of music, and the supporting
roles such as Paul Bettany's performance as Chaucer, along with
Fraser, Addy, and Tudyk. Fun!
- Firefly. Oh the tragedy that was the undeserved
early cancellation of this series. I loved the quirky combination of
USA and China, high-tech and Wild West that was this vision of the
future. Writing, casting, etc., all brilliant. Whedon knows what he
is doing, all right. Unlike with most stupid network abortions of
promising children, Whedon was able to swing the making of the
consolation prize movie Serenity, which does help tie up
the loose ends. See it after the series.
- Dollhouse. Another Whedon gem. Don't abandon it
early, you need to get into the first season about halfway before the
ruling network loosened the formulaic reins enough that the series
really starts to shine. Darkly. It's not about the 'dolls' and
their adventures, it's about all of us.
- Mary and Max.
A quirky and totally charming treatment of Asperger's Syndrome, in
claymation. It packs a punch.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Also quite charming, though not so emotionally intense as the above.
I truly enjoyed George Clooney's voice work, which sort of surprised
- Going Postal.
I'm not a huge fan of Terry Pratchett's books, they're a bit too silly
without enough counterbalance of wit for my taste, but as a movie this
was really quite good. (To be fair, I haven't yet read this
particular book.) The somber tone of the cinematography and acting
balances the silliness nicely.
- Lucky Numbers. Dark (and dorky) comedy, there's just
something about this movie that I really liked, and the casting was
brilliant. Travolta did an excellent job, and I really liked Michael
Moore and Bill Pullman in this, though their roles were small. There
were quite a few other big names in here, too.
- Sherlock. Brilliant. The best modernized Holmes
treatment, ever. The casting, acting, writing, directing, and editing
are unsurpassed, I can't imagine how it could be in any way done
better. Cumberbatch's treatment is even better than Jeremy Brett's
classic treatment, and Freeman's Watson is the best ever, as his
character is not just a boob or a foil but rather a useful and
indispensable, if not quite equal, partner. I do not know that I
would really call this underappreciated, but it deserves all
the appreciation that there is.
- Lars and the Real Girl.
This is a beautiful little film. It's funny, and touching, and
serious. Casting is perfect; Lars is a sweetheart, Margo is adorable.
Brother and wife, and the doctor: all wonderful performances. You end
up caring for all of the characters, even Bianca, who isn't as wooden
as you might think! (This movie is sort of the exact opposite
of Mannequin, and vastly better!) The only
complaints about it seem to be centered on its unbelievability. No,
I don't suppose that any real town, no matter how small, would
act that kindly under the circumstances. But I'd sure like to believe
that one could. This doesn't change my opinion of the film in the
- Swing Vote.
This is the controversial 2000 USA presidential election taken to a
farcical extreme. I think it's very well done, Kevin Costner does an
excellent job playing Bud, a doofus slacker (who nonetheless manages
to be somewhat appealing at the same time) thrown headfirst into a
situation that is completely beyond him. The real gem of this movie
is daughter Molly, played by Madeline Carroll. Utterly charming. I
think we'll be seeing a lot more of her. These two characters clearly
love each other, yet are having a hard time relating; they
are very different people, but family still. The rest of the
all-star cast is having fun, playing their assigned roles with relish.
Some have criticized the uncomfortable scene with the ex-wife, but I
think it really helps explain how Bud and Molly came to be where they
are in their lives. (Mare Winningham did a fabulous job here.) The
driving scenes have also been criticized, but I think the critics just
don't understand very small town (i.e. rural) America. I
didn't find them objectionable in the least, or even all that
unrealistic. In spite of the heavily political theme the movie
manages to be non-partisan: unlike most of Hollywood's heavy-handed
propaganda this movie manages to show that there is validity to more
than one side of weighty issues; the movie is not about these
issues, and that is unambiguous. Neither is the movie about who wins,
and so I found the ending to be particularly delicious. This movie
makes you care, makes you want to do better in your political life.
- The Baxter.
The story arc reads a bit like a cliche-ridden Hollywood
boy-meets-girl(s) bit of fluff, but that's not how it comes across at
all. Every character in it, even the ones that you would
conventionally 'hate', are genuinely likeable. It's really quite a
refreshing change, and fun, and well worth seeking out. Michelle
Williams' slow-motion bed-slide-hide was magnificent. There's even a
tasty cameo role by Peter Dinklage as a wedding planner, which is how
I came across this movie to begin with.
Needs No Help From Us
These movies are popular, and deservedly so. We just want it
on the record that we like them too!
- The Incredibles. Top-quality vocal casting, writing,
editing, and genre music. (The animation, top-notch when released, has
naturally been surpassed, but that doesn't matter. Rocky &
Bullwinkle had some of the worst animation ever seen,
yet it is still quite enjoyable, and one of my favorites.)
- How to Train Your Dragon. A close second to the above.
The wry snarkiness is quite entertaining, and the youth-oriented story
does not (for a change) make the adults out to be idiots.
Does anybody else think that Toothless is a cross between a cat and
- Love, Actually. Once you get past the ludicrousness of
Hugh Grant as GB's Prime Minister everything else will knock your
socks off. (The many subplots mean you don't have to suffer through
too much HG.) Alan Rickman not as a bad guy, nor even grumpy?
Refreshing! The Liam Neeson subplot is particularly poignant, and
we love how all the subplots tie together at the end.
- Fight Club. One of the best mind f***s out there.
This is the movie that convinced me that Pitt might be somebody to
watch after all. And Edward Norton was fantastic. (I loved Norton
and Carter's divvying up of the support groups. Sometimes it's the
- The Nightmare Before Christmas. Danny Elfman and Tim
Burton, how can you go wrong? We watch this annually, and love the
- A Christmas Story. Darren McGavin was perfect, as
was the bubbly voice-over by the author. The movie's a sleeper, but
it really sticks with you; it deserves to win a Major Award. We watch
- Dr. Strangelove. "Yes, mein Führer!"
I love this movie, its wit, its satire, its noir character;
I could go on forever. Peter Sellers at his (nearly) best. (Beaten
only by Chance the gardener, in Being There.)
- Marvel's The Avengers. On paper nearly the same
movie as something like Rise of the Silver Surfer. (A
bunch of disparate superheroes facing an inimical foe.)
But not the same movie at all, and what a
difference! How to start? Well, how about the writing, the
directing, and the casting! This is a marvellous (ahem!) movie.
Plenty of action, but with some depth to the characters and a fair
amount of humor thrown in. Just what I would expect from Joss Whedon.
(My favorite moment is probably where the Hulk showed Loki just what
he thought of him. But there are plenty of others.) The best part
is that it didn't devolve into drek partway through, as
Transformers did, which was surprisingly good through
about the first half. That's rare, in my experience, and worth
- Duck Dynasty. These are my people! The most redneck
fun you can have and stay legal. I don't know why I like this so
much. I just do. Makes me happy, happy, happy.
- Archer. Sure it's rude, crude, and socially
unacceptable. It also has brilliant comic timing. I really like the
pen-and-ink character of the animation, and the eclectic/anachronistic
technology. Voice casting is superb, continuity is excellent. These
dysfunctional boobs ought to be dead in a week, yet somehow they
manage to muddle through. A testimonial to the adage "It's better to
be lucky than to be good?" Except that they're not all that
lucky, and sporadically are good (at what they're doing), at
least when it counts. (In a moral sense they ain't good at all,
pretty much ever!) Fabulous writing... Another one where I don't
quite know why I like it so much. I just do.
So many movies are oh-so-predictable. These movies are the
ones that surprised me, usually at the end. (Not that I'm trying to
be clever and guess or anything, I'm trying to watch movies as their
creators intended them to be seen; you get the most enjoyment out of
them that way.) These are not necessarily the greatest movies of all
time (though they're not far down, usually), but they will
make you want to watch them again once you know what is going on.
These movies aren't about the twist, but are unpredictable
and thus more enjoyable than the usual fare. (Unpredictable in a good
way that ties together in the end, not just randomness.)
- The Usual Suspects
- Fight Club
- The Sixth Sense
- The Crying Game
- Total Recall (1990)
...whom we love, and a little bit of why.
- Alan Rickman. I was blown away by him in Die Hard,
and have been impressed by his work ever since. Such a tragedy that
he has passed.
- Bill Nighy. Loved him in Love, Actually, and in the
other things I've seen him in.
- Anthony Hopkins. What's to say? The man is good. Try the Chianti...
- Julia Roberts. A Pretty Woman then, and now.
Beautiful, fun, and an excellent actress. She has a girl-next-door
aura that I find very appealing. (She has a particularly fun rant
against her 'sister' in America's Sweethearts that I
just can't forget. [The rest of that movie, meh.])
- Sandra Bullock. I saw her in Speed, thought she was
beautiful and oh-so-sexy, and probably wouldn't last in the business.
(OK, the cheesy role in a poor movie didn't help!) I am so
happy to have been proven wrong. She just keeps getting better and
- Johnny Depp. I'd seen him in a thing or two and didn't think much
one way or the other, and then I saw Fear and Loathing in Las
Vegas. Wow. I don't much like the story, or the movie for
that matter, but he absolutely nailed the Hunter S. Thompson
character. This guy has got chops, no doubt about that. I haven't
liked everything he's done, but you cannot argue that he
didn't nail whatever he set out to do.
- Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn't really like Titanic, but
see him in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The
Aviator, Catch Me If You Can and even The
Quick and the Dead and tell me this guy doesn't have some
serious acting chops.
- Heath Ledger. I'd seen him in a thing or two (A Knight's
Tale, and The Brothers Grimm) and thought he was
OK. Then I saw The Dark Knight... Wow, that was
creepy. It is such a tragedy that he died young, he would have borne
watching as his career progressed.
- George Clooney. Didn't think too much of him until I saw O
Brother, Where Art Thou, but that and Fantastic Mr. Fox
have made me think twice.
- Brad Pitt. 'Mr. Pretty Boy' was not on this list
until Fight Club. He may bear some watching after all.
- Helena Bonham Carter. My favorites roles of hers are
in Fight Club and Alice in Wonderland.
- Christopher Walken. Pulp Fiction, Suicide
Kings, Click, Brainstorm,
The Dead Zone.
- John Lithgow. Shrek, The Adventures of
Buckaroo Bonzai (a terrible movie, but with some memorable
moments), The World According to Garp.
- Daryl Hannah. If all you can think of are Splash
and Roxanne, try her in Blade Runner or even
more so in Kill Bill. She's got chops.
- Samuel L. Jackson. Pulp Fiction, A Time To
Kill, Changing Lanes. (The latter of which has
even made me have to think twice about Ben Affleck, which I still
- John Cusack. Grosse Pointe Blank, and pretty much
everything else I've seen him in.
- Peter Dinklage. Game of Thrones. I had heard of his
role in this series, though I don't think I'd seen him in anything
else. Then he appeared on Saturday Night Live, in a
Drunk Uncle sketch. (I don't much care for Drunk
Uncle, I don't think it's well done, or even funny.
Drunk Dinklage, on the other hand...) "You know
what I think..." Wow, in one sentence he stole the show.
The man has talent, and more than enough presence to belie his small
stature. I've since seen some of Thrones, which I'm not
all that fond of. It's worth watching anyway, just for him. I'm
looking forward to seeing him in more roles. I've seen him in
Knights of Badassdom, that was fun. (And filmed
locally!) He was truly stellar in The Station Agent,
which I highly recommend! He had a tasty cameo appearance
in The Baxter.
These movies (and shows) are his current favorites. (The commentary
- V for Vendetta. An interesting twist that the
'terrorist' is the good guy.
- Black Adder. A well-made comedy.
- Big Bang Theory. A bunch of funny geeks.
- Galaxy Quest. The best comedy in the galaxy.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas. Gotta love Tim Burton!
- Dr. Strangelove. Confusing Cold War.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Mystery Men. (See above.) "Who are these Mystery
Men?" "That's it, the Super Dudes!"
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