With Thanksgiving here and Christmas just around the corner, it’s a time for everyone to throw away their cares and worries and remember how much we all have to be thankful for.
With my position as a film critic, that definitely applies to this field. Listed below are some of my favorite films and the reasons why I love them. It’s time to revisit them again or for the first time.
1. “Titanic”: From the beginning, everything heard about this film made it seem like it was going to share a similar fate to the real-life luxury liner it was based on. Nothing could’ve been further from the truth. James Cameron’s 1997 epic romance swept the hearts of moviegoers all over the world, eventually becoming the biggest box-office success in history until it was eclipsed by Cameron’s own “Avatar.” Thanks to captivating performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and the epic-scale filmmaking, this is film truly astonishes time and time again like no other. It remains the most memorable cinematic experience of my life.
2. “Star Wars”: What list would be complete without this one? Set a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas’ 1977 space opera wowed audiences like no other movie before it. With its combination of memorable characters and groundbreaking special effects, “Star Wars” ushered in an era of sci-fi movies that has certainly inspired generations of filmmakers and filmgoers in a way no other film has. Let’s just hope the Force is with J.J. Abrams this December.
3. “The Dark Knight”: Unquestionably, the greatest superhero movie ever made. Director Christopher Nolan’s gritty take on Batman revitalized the story with the incredible “Batman Begins.” But this sequel took the series and genre itself to new and unexpected heights. Anchored largely by a mesmerizing performance from the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, this sequel proved that superhero films could be taken seriously and reach beyond their target audience.
4. “The Wizard of Oz”: A true childhood favorite of mine and millions of others. It still remains one of the most magical films of all time. Following the adventures of a Kansas girl through the Land of Oz, this 1939 film was initially a flop. But time has certainly been good to it 76 years later. Featuring lovable characters and unforgettable songs, “The Wizard of Oz” remains a landmark in film that has been both unparalleled and unsurpassed like no other film before it.
5. “The Matrix”: What is the Matrix? In 1999, we all found out and to quote a line from Keanu Reeves: “Whoa.” Like “Star Wars” before it, “The Matrix” combined kung fu, philosophy, science fiction and religion, and put them all together in package that at once is smart, visually stunning, and stays with you long after the film is over.
Now quickly here a few honorable mentions:
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy: Peter Jackson turned J.R.R. Tolkein’s epic trilogy into one of the most remarkable cinematic achievements ever. It’s just a shame “The Hobbit” wasn’t this good.
“Mary Poppins”: Without a doubt, Walt Disney’s crowning live-action masterpiece. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are charming and funny in a film that is super... well, you know.
“Jurassic Park”: Steven Spielberg set a benchmark for amazing special effects with this 1993 classic. Even though I thought “Jurassic World” was fun, it still pales in comparison to this T-Rex of wonderment.
“Forrest Gump”: Tom Hanks’ finest hour as an actor. No wonder he picked up his second Oscar for this role. Teaming with director Robert Zemeckis, this winner for Best Picture and Best Director still remains a ‘90s favorite and like Forrest’s love for chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
“The Shawshank Redemption”: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman bring Stephen King’s prison drama to life with their unforgettable performances in one of the most moving and inspiring films ever made. The ending alone will continue to bring tears.
With that list, I hope I’ve made you thankful for some of these films that have stood the test of time. Which films are you most thankful for? Perhaps you can make time during this busy holiday season and sit down with family and friends and revisit these truly classic films.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.