A Holiday List of Great Movies

Last night, my wife and I saw a wonderful movie “The Kite Runner” at the Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax.  What a great story about the love of an Afghani father for his son, and the need for that son to redeem himself with an act of courage by returning to his native land. 

OK, as you can tell, I love movies.  With the kids at home tonight, I have a chance to ruminate on my top ten favorites.  In no particular order, here goes:

1.  Chariots of Fire:  A great movie about faith through the eyes of two British track stars in post-WWI England.  One man’s faith in himself.  Another man’s faith in God.  Everyone remembers the musical score but the dialogue is unforgettable.  ”My arrogance, sir, extends exactly as far as my conscience demands.” 

2.  Rocky:  I’m going to double down on sports movies.  It’s been 30 years since I first saw this movie in the theater with my Dad.  And I still get choked up.  Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed fighting in Philly in 1976.  A moment in movie history.  “Ain’t gonna be no rematch.” 

3.  Swingers:  A young Vince Vaughan steals this movie which altered every young man’s vocabulary in 1997.  Watching this movie makes any man long for the bachelor life (at least for a moment).  “You’re money, baby!”  

4.  The Great Escape:  The true story of American and British POW’s that broke out of a German prison camp and escaped across Europe.  Yes, Steve McQueen is the quintessential free spirit. But so are James Garner and James Coburn.  Imagine being that cool and also winning a world war. 

5.  The Last of the Mohicans:  I love the vistas of upstate New York.  My wife loves the vistas of Daniel Day Lewis.  “This belt tells the story of my people …”  I’m waiting for the right moment in Richmond to give that speech. 

6.  Good Will Hunting:  For all the deserved heckling that Ben Affleck has taken for his acting career, he hit the right note in this understated movie about friendship and growing up in Southie.  And he and Matt Damon only had to be themselves.  “How about them apples?”

7.  Spinal Tap:  The most ironic (and most iconic) movie ever made.  I married Sharon in her hometown of Cleveland in 1996.  Want to guess how many members of my wedding party announced “Hello Cleveland” when they arrived in town?  Correct answer is all of them.  “Yes, but these go to eleven.”

8.  Animal House: The best movie ever made about college life, which makes it the best move about life.  At some point, we all fantasize about driving our own Deathmobile into the Homecoming parade.  “Do you mind if we dance with your dates?”

9.  Dr. Zhivago:  A great book, a great movie, a great story.  Something about Russia brings out the best in literature (“War and Peace”) and also in cinema (see above).  Put a log on the fire and watch it tonight.  “The Bolsheviks trust you?”  “The Bolsheviks trust nobody.”

10:  Boyz in the Hood:  The directorial debut for John Singleton who was only 23, the same age as F. Scott Fitzgerald when he wrote “This Side of Paradise.”  I’m surely the only person to make that comparison.  But this was a great, great movie.  “What up Dough?”

Honorable Mention:  The original “Ocean’s Eleven” with Dean, Frank and Sammy.  A movie about the importance of wearing nice clothes and having access to a martini at all times.  Ain’t love a kick in the head?

OK, there are no foreign films and not much art house stuff.  Make your own list!



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