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Posted on July 3, 2014 - by writerman
On Friday, April 25, I became a dad for the first time.
One of the things no one tells you about being a new dad (probably because it’s tremendously unimportant in the grand scheme of things) is that you can’t take a newborn baby to the movies. The thing is, I really love going to the movies. I love everything about it. The huge screen. The surround sound. The trailers. Sitting in a sea of strangers as we all watch the story together. Stuffing my face with popcorn and m&m’s.1 Going to the movies is one of my favorite things in life.
I don’t know if it’s The Grass is Always Greener Syndrome™, but it seems like a lot of high-quality popcorn flicks full of monsters, superheroes, dragons, witches, monkeys, undercover cops, next-door neighbors and even Tom Cruise are hitting the screens this summer. And because I won’t be back in a theatre until the meatball is a little bigger, here are my Top 10 movies that absolutely, positively need to be seen on the Big Screen.2
Go to the movies, people. Go.
10. Brazil (1985)
Terry Gilliam had to be on this list, because everything he does is meant to be seen on a 70-foot screen.
9. Spellbound (2002)
Not an obvious choice, but seeing this little documentary about the Scripps National Spelling Bee was one of the best in-theatre experiences I’ve ever had. Watching these kids try and spell words you’ve never even heard of was surprisingly gripping and had the entire audience on the edge of our seats and cheering for the winners (and losers) right up until the final minute.
8. Unforgiven (1992)
Sorry John Ford, but for me the Western that plays the best on the big screen is a bleak, unromantic take on the genre from Clint Eastwood. Props to unsung screenwriter David Webb Peoples , who not only wrote this fantastic movie, but also two sci-fi epics that almost made this list – Blade Runner and Twelve Monkeys.
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Once in a while you get blown away by a really smart, well-written movie, and it inspires you to race home to your desk and get to work on your latest script. Rarer still are the ones that make you want to go home and burn everything you’ve ever written, because none of it can ever measure up to the picture you just saw. Well played, Charlie Kaufman.
6. Fargo (1996)
The Coen brothers are best known for their little movies with big stories, but a few of their movies are fantastically cinematic. Oh Brother Where Art Thou is gorgeous to see and hear, but the way Fargo made the landscape and the weather into characters in the movie makes it their best big screen effort for me.
5. Alien (1979)
I love this movie for the performances and Ridley Scott’s vision of a broken-down filthy future, but that’s not why it needs to be seen on the big screen. The next time the Arclight or another cinema near you has a special screening of the original Alien, I dare you to sit in a dark theater and watch it again. It will scare the living shit out of you.
4. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The first Star Wars will always be my favorite, but waiting in line for Empire on opening weekend was probably the most excited I will ever be at a movie theater. And it did not disappoint. The effects, space battles and father and son moments blew my 8-year-old mind almost as much as this behind the scenes photo of Chewie and Leia is blowing yours right now.
3. Lord of the Rings: Part One (2001)
Come back with me, to a simpler time. A time before the interminable sequels and the neverending story of The Hobbit movies. A time when a wingnut director from New Zealand turned my favorite book ever into a really, really great adventure movie. About twenty minutes in, I turned to the person next to me and whispered excitedly, “This is so good!” #boromirforever
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
When I was in college in Vancouver, there was an old second-run theater downtown that used to play Indiana Jones marathons on slow nights. Three movies for the price of one! We used to go early to catch all of Raiders and the opening sequence of Temple of Doom. Then, we’d head out to grab something eat and get back in time to watch the end of the second movie and settle in for Last Crusade. Good times.
1. The Matrix (1999)
I did not expect to like this movie. All I remember about the ad campaign is hearing Johnny Utah say “Whoa” again and again. And yet, when the lights went down at the Capitol 6 and Trinity and the Wachowskis reinvented the fight scene, I was converted. Fifteen years later, it still holds up remarkably well. I know they play it on cable TV all the time now, but if you are watching bullet time at home, you’re doing it wrong.
- Seriously – my mother-in-law taught me this trick (she may have even invented it). Pour m&m’s into your popcorn bag and eat them together, in big handfuls. It will change your life. [↩]
- Fully aware that 2001 is missing from this list, but that’s only because I’m saving it for Top 10 Movies to Watch Stoned [↩]
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