The Personal Top Ten

Top Ten

The Kitty Packard Pictorial is holding a contest charmingly titled:  “I Totally F***ing Love This Movie Blogathon “.  You will find the instructions for submissions about what should end up being a very entertaining three days of favorite movies.  They are only requesting one film, so Picnic At Hanging Rock is my official submission, but I’ve just gone whole hog with my favorite top ten movies with suggestions for similar films.

We all have “guilty pleasures” when it comes to motion pictures.  Some of them are among the classics while others are less well known but equally beloved.  These are the films you buy in each new format and still stop when clicking through channels for just a few minutes of familiar pleasure.  The top of my list always starts with Casablanca simply because I was born in the same city on the same day that it received the Oscar for Best Picture.  As birthday presents go, that one was a doozy.  Since it is such a classic for just about everyone, I’m not counting it among the Personal Top Ten

Picnic At Hanging Rock – This is the film that started my addiction with Australian film makers and my on going gripe about why aren’t they released in all formats because except for the ones that become major hits, show up on You Tube,  or star every actor stolen by Hollywood you don’t get to see them.  Picnic is a mystery so well done that many people believe it is a true story (The rock is real, the story is not – It’s just atmospheric and beautiful).  From there head for Walk About, Shame, Blessed, Rabbit Proof Fence, Red Dog, Erskineville Kings (It is a very long list) or just check out every movie to appear on the AFI (Now AACTA) lists of best films.

84 Charing Cross Road –  Anne Bancroft with Anthony Hopkins in the book lover’s ultimate movie.  Based on the book by Helen Hampf, it covers the 20 year correspondence between a New Yorker and her British book seller.  At some point you will sit down and make a list of every book mentioned.  Naturally this will lead to every Shakespeare play committed to film as well as anything that has ever won a BAFTA.

Torch Song Trilogy –   This brilliant film version of Harvey Fierstein’s Broadway play was discovered by accident simply because anything with Anne Bancroft (See above) must be watched at least once.  I came for Anne and stayed for Arnold played by Harvey in a role based on his life.  While the principal characters are gay, the story is about love, grief, commitment, and family.  As a follow-up, you can move on to Priscilla Queen of the Desert,  To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, and Milk.  Love stories are universal wherever found.

Same Time Next Year – Another play brought to the screen and found almost the same way.  This time the actress is Ellen Burstyn with Alan Alda meeting once a year for a love affair over 20 years interspersed with short films of history writ large and their personal crises as they age and change.  It also features one of my favorite movie themes:  The Last Time I Felt Like this.  For follow-up see Auntie Mame (original with Rosalind Russell) and The Goodbye Girl with Marsha Mason

Cry Freedom – This is the get serious about what you believe movie on the list.  Starring Denzel Washington as Stephen Biko and Kevin Klein as journalist Donald Woods.  Biko’s life and death is told in flashback and Woods tries to escape South Africa to get his story out to the world.  This will lead you to  Shawshank Redemption, Devil In A Blue Dress,  A Dry White Season, Cry The Beloved Country and Invictus among many others.

L. A. Story – Every single cliché about California hilariously written by and starring Steve Martin as he tries to woo and win a British newspaper reporter with the help of a very musical freeway sign.  – Follow up with Walk Like A Man,  Some Like It Hot, Four Weddings and a Funeral and for more Steve Martin:  Roxanne

Singin’ In The Rain – What hasn’t been written about almost everyone’s favorite musical about Hollywood.  Follow up with A Star Is Born and all of the wonderful “That’s Entertainment” MGM musicals

In The Heat of The Night – Another film from the “get serious” column with Sydney Poitier in one of his best roles bouncing off the equally brilliant Rod Steiger solving a murder mystery while dealing with entrenched prejudices.  Follow up with Mississippi Burning and Ghosts of Mississippi,

High Society – The musical version of The Philadelphia Story.  It doesn’t get much better than Louie Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, and Celeste Holm with the marital confusions of the wealthy singing and dancing to Cole Porter’s music.

Australia – I went in expecting Lawrence of Arabia and came out thinking Donovan’s Reef meets The Man From Snowy River isn’t bad.  Do not leave me alone in the same room with Baz Luhrman or he will get my Australia Rant:

There are close to two pages of glaring continuity and historical errors. The match move and CGI work in places is below film school expectations. In places the cuts and edits look like they were done with an ax. The inserted stock shots have different color levels. The script it derivative and repetitive. This film could have been great. The Drover is a wonderful iconic character. The history of the continent for the whole period between the end of WW I and the beginning of WW II is unbelievably rich. So why in the hell did Baz Luhrman come up with what is basically an entertaining bodice ripper. He had almost every Australian actor of any quality for the past 50 years and wasted them. I heard there were extreme weather conditions that messed with the filming and that as a result it was 20 million over budget. That could have caused a lot of the problems but still a real disappointment in a movie I actually like.

Having said that, this great cast manages to claw their way above a repetitive script, historical inaccuracies, and wall to wall clichés to deliver romantic heat and galloping adventure well worth watching over and over.


About Jamie

Retired Writer Editor - Loves Books, Musical Theater, politics for a good argument, genealogy, Scotland and owls
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5 Responses to The Personal Top Ten

  1. Travis says:

    There is no way I can cut down to just a single film. I could say Lord of the Rings, but which one? I could say any of a dozen musicals. I could say any of 10 comedies. I could say any of 20 westerns or war movies.


    • Jamie says:

      Oh drat! I didn’t do any of my favorite war and conflict films. Now I have to squeeze in Bridge On The River Kwai, Gallipoli, Sink The Bismarck, and Apocalypse Now.


  2. Jamie says:

    I picked Picnic At Hanging Rock for its mystery, atmospherics, love of Australian film makers, and my response to the restrictive constrictions of a girls school and society’s expectations.


  3. You’re going to think this is weird, but the only films from your faves list that I’ve seen are 84 Charing Cross Road, Cry Freedom, L A Story and Australia. For a movie person, there are tons and tons of films I haven’t seen yet. Picnic at Hanging Rock has always been on my to-be-watched list, as I’m an Australian film fan, too. Thanks for posting the trailer! I didn’t get as distressed over Australia as you did, but I found it to be a lesser Baz Luhrman film. Believe it or not, he may have intentionally left in all of the obvious film-y things like strange edit cuts, non-matching color levels, etc. His Red Curtain Trilogy calls attention to the fact that we’re watching a film, and he’s probably doing the same thing with Australia. Quentin Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez use similar style techniques in their work. However, I’m a big fan of Tarrantino and Rodriguez, and even a lesser Baz Lurhman film attracts me more than a regular Hollywood flick.


    • Jamie says:

      I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Australia (the movie). It is just one of those films where you know it could have been magnificent and as a result of the director’s choices just doesn’t measure up. I loved Moulin Rouge so expected so much more and it is the dashing of those expectations that gets to me every time I watch it.


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