Tag Archives: The Natural

My Current Top 15 Favorite Movies

I decided to lighten things up a bit… because I can! lol It’s been years since I’ve written anything talking about my “favorite” whatever. I’m going to spare you the “honor” of seeing those old articles; one is from 2014, and it was videos with me in them. The other two were in 2010 where I touched upon the topic of favorite sports movies and sci-fi movies.

I’ve had an interesting epiphany concerning favorite whatever. It’s hard to have a list of any topic be permanent when things are always changing and we’re always getting older. I’m sure a list of my favorite movies before I turned 18 would have been a much different list than what I’m presenting in my early 60’s (ouch!).

As a matter of fact, even this list has changed over the last 3 or 4 years. One of the movies on this list only came out months ago, and it’s already in my top 5. Because of that, I’ve realized that things like movie and music lists can change over time as long as we live long enough… though my music list would probably be inundated with songs from th3 70’s. 😀

Some of the movies on my list go back a long time; some are relatively new. I came up with a criteria for how I was going to determine my top 15. The top 4 are locked in; have been since the Harry Potter series ended in 2012. The rest have one major criteria, except for one. these are movies that I continue watching over and over. That’s a better list than a movie I saw once, loved, but almost never watch it again… if ever.

I’d love to see what your top movies are based on your criteria. These are mine:

Honorable Mention – Rocky Horror Picture Show

This could be considered cheating but it’s my blog. lol It’s just on the outside of my top 15 list because I’ve probably seen this movie more times than almost all the movies on this list. I first saw this movie during my sophomore year of college in the student union. I didn’t get it, but I was more upset because people were throwing things that I also didn’t understand. I was combing rice out of my hair for 3 or 4 days; my afro was rocking at the time.

However, a few years later I started going to this theater that decided to show this movie every Friday night at midnight. Most of the time I went with friends and sat in the back of the theater. I went for almost 2 years straight because not only did I love this movie, but you never knew what some of the people who came were going to do during it. Even though I haven’t watched this movie in about 4 or 5 years, I felt it deserved a spot.

15. New Jack City

This is one of the coolest movies I’ve ever seen. It was different than anything else I’d seen at the time, and even now it stands alone as a movie that was “cartoon” violent, nothing like Scarface, with the sou and hip hop music that I was craving on a weekly basis. It stars Wesley Snipes, Ice-T and Judd Nelson, along with a large contingent of black musical personalities of that generation. Adding to the irony is that Ice-T stars as a cop in this movie, released Cop Killer the year after with his group Body Count, and is now playing a detective on Law & Order SVU. lol

14. Blazing Saddles

This is one of the funniest movies of all time, even if it’s rated R. It was rated R for its subject matter; a lot of racist and stereotypes, but all used to deride those who think that way even today. We can thank Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor for doing this movie, which couldn’t be done today, no matter who wrote, directed or produced it. It was a product of its time, as the 70’s led some of us to believe race relations might get better. Unfortunately, there will never be another movie like this in my lifetime.

13. How To Train Your Dragon

What’s funny about this movie is that it knocked a previous animated movie out of my top ten when it came out, that movie being Happy Feet. This movie doesn’t come close to having the same type of music that made Happy Feet fun to watch, but it was funnier, more touching and had a better touch of morality that makes you feel both sad and good at the time time. And there’s a dragon in it; ’nuff said!

12. Sing

As good as Dragon was, it couldn’t overtake Sing. Sing has a lot of music I loved from an earlier time that the movie came out, and it reminded me of both the movie Fame from the late 70’s and what I saw in college as a music major. Also, the singers in the movie are actors, not professional singers, although they obviously have great talent. I could watch the final act of this movie every day.

11. Die Hard 2

The first movie in this series was pretty good, but I didn’t take to it like many other people did. This movie “talked” to me, maybe because unlike the first, it didn’t have to introduce Bruce Willis to us as a movie actor like the first one did (he was a TV star who’d put out a top 40 song before making the original). This movie had style, and from what I remember it was the first movie where you’d have what’s known as pregnant pauses, allowing the camera to zoom to the person who was about to say something profound. It has a rhythm that speaks to me; that’s the best I can offer.

10. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Back in 2019 I did a video where I ranked the 23 MCU movies from the lowest to the top of the list. I had this movie at #3 on that list because Avengers Endgame hadn’t been out all that long and it was still fresh in my mind. However, I find myself watching this one way more often than Endgame, and I stated that’s my main criteria. From a lot of reviews I’ve seen of this movie, it’s one of both the critics and movie goers favorite, and one of two Marvel movies ranked in the 90% range (Endgame is ranked higher). For me, it’s nearly a perfect movie from start to finish, and every time I watch it I get the same thrills as the first time.

9. Armageddon

I was a big Bruce Willis fan, so I saw this movie the day it came out. It was the 2nd apocalypse movie that year, the other being Deep Impact, and though I liked Deep Impact I loved Armageddon. This movie had personality in the face of imminent danger, and it almost made me cry near the end with Willis’ character tells his daughter that he had to break his promise to make it back home. The only real gripe people had about this movie is that in their minds it wasn’t realistic, and scientifically it wasn’t close to Deep Impact. My reaction to that was how close to reality is Alien, Star Wars or Wizard Of Oz? It’s fun to watch over and over; what’s more important than that?

8. Wonder Woman

Here’s a shocking truth; I’d never seen the Wonder Woman TV show, even though I knew who Linda Carter was (who didn’t! lol). However, when I saw her character in the Batman v Superman movie I had a feeling I was going to like her. I knew nothing about her back story either, as I’d never seen any Wonder Woman comics. Still, I was compelled to see this movie the day it opened, and I bought the blu ray the day it came out. I just finished watching this movie again two weeks ago; one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen is when she’s running across the battlefield blocking bullets and projectiles, and stands behind her shield while a gatling gun is trying to take her down. It’s a fantastic movie, she’s a fantastic character, and it was about time we got to see a female super hero like her.

7. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan

I’m a major Star Trek fan, even if I haven’t seen any of the latest Star Trek TV productions since I don’t have the Paramount streaming service. I loved the first movie because it was Star Trek, and brought back my favorite characters, but the second movie was the best of all Star Trek movies before and after. It was pure genius bringing back a major villain from the TV show, and the story was well written.

The death of Spock was a major blow (if you think this is a spoiler that’s your fault; you’ve had 40 years to watch it!), and because we didn’t have internet back then, we had no idea Spock was coming back until we saw the title of the 3rd movie. This is another movie that tried making me cry… curse you guys!

6. Avengers: Infinity War

When I ranked the 23 MCU movies, this was at the top of my list… and still is. I loved Endgame, but the truth is that anyone interested in the MCU movies knew what was going to happen in the follow up movie, whereas we had no clue how this one was going to end. We’d also had a fallout and separation of the major characters after the events of Captain America: Civil War, so we had no idea how that was going to flesh out.

Thanos… shiver! lol We were teased about his coming for many years, and I have to admit that I didn’t understand the infinity stones part of the movies, so I had all those questions answered in this one. The other major reason it makes my list and Endgame doesn’t is because I’ll watch this entire movie over and over, whereas I only watch the last hour of Endgame when the big fight begins.

5. Encanto

This movie came out about six months ago, but I didn’t know it existed until some time in February, where a lot of my Facebook friends said I had to see it. I watched it on Disney Plus, fell in love with it immediately, and I watched it over and over until I could buy the blu ray, and I still watch it over and over. A true test of the love I have for it is also watching reaction videos about it on YouTube. The music’s great and it touches my heart… it had to be a good movie to knock Infinity War out of my top five.

Although there’s a more popular song from this movie, this one’s my favorite; pay attention to the donkeys lol:

Still, it couldn’t move up any higher. My top 4 seems to be solid…

4. Muppet Movie

The thing this movie had over all the others is that I was a major fan of the TV show when the movie came out. I’d been watching Kermit the Frog since I discovered Sesame Street when I was 13 years old (yeah, I was older, but I was living in Maine and we didn’t see most PBS shows until later while we were there), as he was my favorite character on the show.

You might find this corny, but it still makes me laugh after more than 40 years:

So many gags and lines that still make me laugh today, so much original music that not only do I still love but still know all the lyrics to, and a true G-rated movie that stands the test of time. It’s too bad that lines like “gone with the Schwinn” will go over the heads of most people means that this movie probably won’t translate well with young audiences now, but it makes me glad to be a boomer. 🙂

3. Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows 2

I’ve written 4 articles about Harry Potter on this blog over the years, twice on my business blog and 4 videos on the books and movies. I read all the books and watch all the movies at least 3 times a year. When I need a quick go to piece of Harry Potter content, this is the movie I pull up. It’s possible that it’s my favorite movie because it brought the end to the Harry Potter franchise (yeah, Fantastic Beasts is still around and I like the movies, but it’s not the same) and all the characters we’d gotten to see and know better over the course of 10 years. True, the books are superior, but you can’t fit a 500 page book into a 2 1/2 hour movie. 🙂 One final thing; how many movies have you enjoyed where it took only one word to seal the deal on how much you loved the series (Always… that’s the word…)

By the way, Snape’s still a bad guy, though loyal. This is a great scene in the movie, but it didn’t totally go this way in the books. We can have that argument at another time. 🙂

2. The Natural

Baseball isn’t as big as it was in 1984, but this movie was and still is a classic. There are techniques used in this movie that I’m not sure were in many other movies, but it was otherworldly at the time and they’re still impressive. It’s not just a sports movie; it’s a mystery, it’s magical, it’s stylish and it’s got a lot of heart. It’s the best movie Robert Redford’s ever made, it was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, was filmed in Buffalo NY (about 2 1/2 hours from where I live) and I know someone who was in the movie. lol Even if you’re not crazy about baseball, I recommend you see this one.

This is the coolest shot in the movie; it’s how the movie ends:

1. Independence Day

This is my favorite movie, but it’s possibly there because of September 11, 2001. When that happened I spent 3 days glued to the TV, switching channels constantly trying to find out more updated news. On the third day I knew I needed something to help ground me again, and all I could think about was this movie and the speech the president made before the battle against the aliens:

That alone is enough to make it my favorite movie, but there’s so much more to enjoy. Will Smith was great in this movie, along with Jeff Goldblum. It’s the last good movie Randy Quaid was in before he went goofy. And it had aliens… and we beat them… as I said about dragons, ’nuff said!

There we are; 15 movies. I should have known this would turn out long, and it’s not even written well. This could have been 5,000 words; let’s be glad it’s less than 2,500. 😉 Your turn; share your favorites!
 

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My Top 20 Sports Movies Of All Time

Three weeks ago I wrote a post titled 100 Greatest Sports Movies?, where I took a look at the top 10 of someone else’s list of sports movies and had some commentary on them. At that time I said I was going to have my own top list of my favorite sports movies because, well, I just felt left out of that other list.

When you put together a list like this, you have to take certain things into concern. First, you have to select movies that you’ll watch more than once; I’ve done that for every movie on this list except one, and I’ll explain that one. Second, it has to have some kind of meaning for you. And third,… well, third is that you just had to enjoy it, whether it was important or not. For instance, I’ll tell you early on that the first 3 Rocky movies are on this list, but you’ll be stunned at the order I put them in and, after putting my list together, I even surprised myself that the first Rocky movie isn’t the highest rated one for me.

Does this movie lean American; oh yes, yes it does. No soccer, no Olympic sports, though there is one movie here that’s not quite a sports movie, yet it portrays something that was supposed to be a sport so I’m including it.

Without further ado, let’s get this debate on!

20. Rollerball – Rollerball isn’t really a sports, but it was supposed to portray a futuristic version of roller derby, which some still don’t think is a sport. I’m talking about the original version here, with James Caan, and this was just great movie making that was compelling for a nonexistent sport. They don’t put this one on all that often, but if I’m ever lucky enough to catch it I watch it every time.

19. Bad News Bears – This was a movie I could identify with because I was young at the time it came out, though older than most of these kids. It was funny as sin, about baseball, and starred Walter Mathieu and Tatum O’Neil.

18. North Dallas Forty – Folks missed the reality of this movie, thinking of it mainly as a comedy. Some thought it was loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys, and that could be somewhat true, but it was really an indictment of what professional football is really about. If any of you read Tim Green’s book The Dark Side of the Game, you’ll realize just how true that movie was to reality.

17. Fear Strikes Out – While most people thought the crowning glory for Anthony Perkins was his performance in Psycho, I went a different direction and thought his portrayal of Jimmy Piersall, a baseball player with immense talent who had a mental breakdown because of the pressure put on him by his father, was some of the best acting I’d ever seen.

16. The Longest Yard – Forget the Adam Sandler version of this movie and look for the Burt Reynolds performance instead. This movie came out of nowhere and instantly became one of my favorite movies. It’s about a former professional football player who was thrown out of the game for accepting gambling money to throw games, ends up in prison for stealing a car, creates a prison football team to play against the guards, then has his integrity tested again for a chance to earn himself some favors. It’s gritty and sexy and way before its time.

15. Ali – Man, who know Will Smith could pull this off? His performance garnered him an Oscar nomination, and many people saw a side of Muhammad Ali that they may never have known existed. But there’s a surprise on this list; wait for it.

14. Space Jam – Okay, it’s Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, but it’s still basketball and, well, it’s Michael Jordan AND Bugs Bunny!

13. Rocky – This movie was great, gritty, realistic, and no one saw it becoming as popular as it did. It was based on a true story that many people didn’t recognize, that being the life of Chuck Wepner, who had a shot at fighting Muhammad Ali for the championship. That a movie this great ended up at #13 on my list, as much as I enjoyed it, means that the movies ahead of it must mean something more to me.

12. The Hustler – This movie starred Paul Newman and a different Jackie Gleason that people didn’t recognize had this kind of talent at the time. It received 9 Oscar nominations, and for a movie about two pool sharks going at each other, that’s just phenomenal. It was also strange that Jackie Gleason’s character was based on and named after the real Minnesota Fats, who used to be on TV all the time back in the day doing all these trick shots.

11. Brian’s Song – This is the movie on the list that I’ve never been able to really watch ever again after the first time, yet it affected me so much that it had to be on my list. This was the first movie that almost made me cry when I was a kid, the true story of both the friendship between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, the first time a black and white football player ever shared the same room, and of course Piccolo’s losing battle with cancer. Man, there was a lot of guy crying in that movie; I just won’t go there again, and I almost feel like crying writing about it, which shows how powerful a story it was. Man, was that really more than 30 years ago?

10. The Jackie Robinson Story – This was an important movie and an enjoyable one as well, but no one would ever say it was well acted. That’s because Jackie Robinson played himself, and as the guy who integrated the major leagues, that was a pretty great accomplishment. It was about a real as it could be for its time; if they’d put the language and abuse that he really had to deal with… well, there isn’t a theater in the country that would have shown it back in the day.

9. A League Of Their Own – “There’s no crying in baseball!” Who doesn’t know that line that lives in the United States? After all, it’s “only” the 54th rated line ever in movie history. Women baseball players during World War II, and they were talented as well. This was based on a true story, and I watched this movie over and over. That neither Geena Davis or Lori Petty were nominated for Oscars from this movie was a travesty.

8. Million Dollar Baby – This movie got, and won, lots of Oscars. I wasn’t ever going to watch this movie because, well, I just wasn’t interested. Then one evening I did sit down and watch it, and it’s great. Women boxing was just the subtext to the entire thing, as it’s mainly about an old boxing manager who gets a shot at redemption. I never saw the ending coming, and truthfully, to this date I’ll only watch the movie up until the time she gets injured; those of you who’ve seen it knows what happens, and those of you who don’t… you need to see this movie.

7. Rocky II – Here’s the second Rocky movie, and it was great theater. It wasn’t as gritty as the first one, since this time around he got real money to clean it up some. But it was a very compelling movie, and I like how they highlighted the angst of Apollo Creed trying to deal with the fact that he just couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t beat a club fighter the first time around. That Sly Stallone would share the stage that way with another actor was one of the best things he could have ever done.

6. The Greatest – Here’s the surprise; Ali playing Ali and doing the same things Will Smith did in the second movie first. Both movies were based on Ali’s autobiography called, what else, The Greatest. I will say that this version left out some of the, well, naughty things that Ali did, but otherwise it was a truthful representation of his book. And Ali really wasn’t all that bad, as this clip shows.

5. Pride of the Yankees – You’ve all heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease; this was the movie about Lou Gehrig. Gary Cooper was the perfect every man actor, and I just can’t think of anyone else who could have played this role and made it believable from that era. From what I hear, Lou Gehrig really was as nice as this movie portrayed him to be, and of all things, the movie has Babe Ruth in it as well. Talk about movies that almost made me cry; add this one to the list. But I can watch this one over and over and do okay with it, maybe because it doesn’t linger as much on his illness as Brian’s Song did.

4. The Great White Hope – Did I ever mention that there are a lot of people who think I look like James Earl Jones? I’m missing it, but this movie is one that was so controversial when it came out that it didn’t play in many parts of the country. It started out as a show in NYC, where you can do anything, and it’s the story of Jack Johnson, who just might be the best heavyweight fighter in history, a black man with a white wife who decided to throw things in the face of white America as opposed to trying to be a good example. It got him thrown in jail, probably throwing a fight, and in the end the first millionaire boxer left this earth penniless and ended the opportunity for black fighters to compete for a championship for almost 30 years.

3. Rocky III – Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking; why is this movie rated by me so high. Because it entertained me more than you could imagine. It introduced Mr. T to us, and is had some of the best lines that I still use to this day. No, it wasn’t great theater like the first two, but it was cut well, very entertaining, and introduced a lot of the world to Hulk Hogan. It outgrossed both of the previous Rocky movies at the theaters, was considered one of the best movies of 1982, and taught us all the line “I pity the fool.”

2. Raging Bull – What’s this, 3 boxing movies in a row? Hey, that’s just how it goes. And this one was the king of them all, about Jake LaMotta, a bad guy who, for some reason, was very compelling to the public. He had 5 fights with Sugar Ray Robinson and won one of them to become the middleweight champion of the world. This movie was shot in black and white, and Robert DeNiro, who won the Oscar for his performance, had to gain and lose significant weight for the role during the movie; that just rarely ever happens, even now. It also really introduced Joe Pesci to us; man, I love his movies!

1. The Natural – As I said in the first post, this is my favorite sports movie of all time, and is in my top 5 movies of all time as well. It’s a beautifully shot movie of old baseball. It was nominated for 4 Oscars, including the score by Randy Newman. Robert Redford didn’t get a nomination, which is a travesty if you ask me. At this stage it’s considered one of the most beloved movies of all time, earning a 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yeah, they changed the ending from the book; they better had!


 

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