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Asking a critic to name his favorite movie is a loaded question
One of the greatest movies of all time is the romantic thriller "Casablanca" (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. - photo by Chris Hicks
So, what's your favorite movie? Thats a question that has come up quite often since I wrote my first Deseret News movie review in 1978.

Yes, 1978. Ive been writing about movies now for nearly gulp 40 years.

But the answer is fluid. And theres no safe answer.

Lets face it, a response to a movie is a personal, subjective thing. No one critics included is right or wrong. Its just an opinion. Just like yours.

So in those early days, Id try to get out of it by making a joke: Just one? Thats like asking me to choose a favorite child. Then the questioner would ask me to name my favorite child.

Theres no getting out of it.

And what does that question really mean?

I used to interpret it this way: Name some good movies I can rent from my local video store. (Yes, there was such a thing back then.)

And in those early days, my response would be the standard movie-critic choices, the classics, the usual suspects: Casablanca, Its a Wonderful Life, Citizen Kane, Bringing Up Baby, anything starring the Marx Brothers or Fred Astaire, or directed by Alfred Hitchcock or Frank Capra.

And maybe Id throw in some lesser-known favorites: The Ox-Bow Incident or The Best Years of Our Lives. Or maybe some silent comedies, The General or City Lights.

Those are mostly from the 1920s, '30s and '40s which, in the late 1970s and early '80s, put them at a safe distance but not so far back as to seem ancient.

Unlike now.

I really do love all those movies, and you might think that no one would argue against them, even if they dont really care about them. After all, theyre classics. Just ask the American Film Institute.

But, of course, youd be wrong. Any title can start an argument.

Then, during the 1980s, I began coming up with movies that were more recent, from the 1960s and '70s: The Searchers, Singin in the Rain, Ben-Hur, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Strangelove, Jaws.

In the 90s, Id let in big-ticket films such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tootsie and Kramer vs. Kramer, and some of my smaller favorites, such as Tender Mercies, The Elephant Man and Moonstruck.

Then in the 2000s, a strange thing happened. People started asking about specific movies, and nine times out of 10, they were action-thrillers, which eventually evolved into nothing but superhero/comic book movies.

What did you think of Spider-Man? Did you like Iron Man"? How about Fantastic Four? Are you a fan of the X-Men movies?

Which is only natural since those movies began dominating the multiplexes.

It might also have something to do with my age: Hey, old guy, did you really like Guardians of the Galaxy?

Well, yes, I did.

I like many of those movies, recent superhero fatigue notwithstanding.

And Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man were especially appealing since each employed a terrific sense of humor. They werent afraid to be funny in a way that wasnt at all distracting from the action. If anything, the humor improved on a genre that often takes itself way too seriously.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, anyone?

So if youre thinking about asking that question and you dont want to hear about the good old black-and-whites or the era of Hollywood growing up or the last gasp of movies that everyone in the family could equally enjoy sure, lets talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Im fine with that.

In the meantime, while Im waiting for the Captain America: Civil War lines to dissipate, Im going to pop some popcorn, sit on the couch and enjoy something with Groucho, Harpo and Chico.

Or maybe North by Northwest havent seen that one in a while. Or perhaps The Manchurian Candidate from 1962. Or Field of Dreams. Or
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