What I’ve Seen:
The Empire Strikes Back
Clash of the Titans
Raiders of the Lost Arc
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Secret of NIMH
The Meaning of Life
Return of the Jedi
This is Spinal Tap
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Streets of Fire
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The Best of What I’ve Seen
5. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (top 100)—I know that a lot of people, especially movie critics, think this weakest of the original trilogy, and I agree. That said, I don’t think that it is weak in absolute terms, not at all. The final installment is still a highly entertaining, very satisfying movie even if it doesn’t quite reach the lofty perch of its two older siblings. The ending wraps up the saga well, and the final shot of Anakin with Yoda and Obi-Wan has a lot more meaning after seeing the prequel trilogy. And the Ewoks weren’t that bad.
4. This is Spinal Tap (top 100)—The extraordinarily successful debut (or at least populization) of the ‘mockumentary’, Spinal Tap is correctly remembered as one of the single funniest movies ever made. The fact that the music is genuinely good and we actually somehow come to care for these vapid characters is really just icing. This movie launched Christopher Guest’s career, and while he has yet to make a movie as good as his first, I certainly hope that he keeps trying.
3. Amadeus (top 100)—Factual issues aside, Amadeus is a compelling look at one of history’s most famous artists. Tom Hulce does a wonderful job as the immature but transcendentally talented composer, and the movie as a whole is a fantastic example of a genre that I’m going to invent right now: the tragidramedy. It’s a little too consistently serious for a tragicomedy, but is also too fun to just be a tragedy or drama. Regardless, it’s a great film.
2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (top 100)—The consensus pick for the best entry in the most popular movie series of all time, Empire hits just the right note of darkness in its space operatic bombast. It is the origin of one of cinema’s most iconic characters (Yoda), and most famous line (something about a father). Empire is everything that people love about Star Wars.
1. Raiders of the Lost Arc (top 100)—If I had to choose one movie that best exemplified why it is that people watch movies, this would probably be it. It’s just a fun movie, with exactly the right mix of all the old Hollywood staples: action, adventure, humor, romance, Nazis, and snakes. (Why did it have to be snakes?) While it isn’t my favorite movie of all time, or even in the top ten, I think that if humans were forced to leave Earth and we could take only one movie with us, this is the one we should choose.
What I Haven’t Seen:
Blues Brothers, Raging Bull, The Cannonball Run, Stripes, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Sophie’s Choice, 48 Hours, Porky’s, The Outsiders, Beverly Hills Cop, The Karate Kid, Once Upon a Time in America, The Shining, Das Boot, The Evil Dead, The Fox and the Hound, History of the World: Part 1, Time Bandits, Stop Making Sense, The Natural.
Interesting mix of pop culture touchstones and 'prestige' pieces here. The early 80s was the start of generation X's domination of pop culture, which probably explains why there are so many more well-known movies from this half-decade then any five year period time in the 70s. It'll probably get worse before it gets better for me, but we'll see next installment if I've been more thorough.