To continue from my last post, below, I introduce my Top 5 favorite movies and television programs.
Movies: The movies I enjoy divide themselves into the classics and the very contemporary, and my favorites reflect this divide. I admit that I’m not well-versed in the decades in between these two groups, and that’s something I hope to work on in the future.
1. Gone with the Wind (1939): A few months ago, I wrote about how I watched Gone with the Wind for the umpteenth time and almost struggled to enjoy it. The experience made me rethink about why I really enjoyed GWTW: its exploration of survival. A few weeks afterward, I had the opportunity to see GWTW on the big screen for the first time – and from then on, I knew that no film could ever take its place as my favorite movie of all time. I love that it’s grandiose but still manages to function as a character story.
2. Atonement (2007): I struggle to think of a more beautiful movie than Atonement. There’s a very vocal group of filmgoers who think Joe Wright overdirects his movies; I rather think that he has an excellent eye for shots and ear for sound that creates near perfection in every frame. Atonement is a sad but powerful story, and under Wright’s direction, it’s a thing of beauty.
3. The Women (1939): I included The Women as one of my Favorite Flawed Films, but in all honesty, it’s one of my favorite movies, period. Unlike my previous two picks, The Women is just plain fun. I’m hard-pressed to think of another movie that makes me laugh as much as this one. What I love about The Women is that it still reflects how certain groups of women would react, even though it was made more than seven decades ago.
4. Roman Holiday (1953): Along with GWTW, Roman Holiday is one of the classic movies I loved before I became a classic film nut. It’s an effortlessly charming movie that still manages to ground itself in realism with its ending. Add the charm of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, and you have a winning movie.
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): I honestly don’t know which Lord of the Rings movie is my favorite – but I just went with the grandest for this list. Epic is the word that best describes this movie, and I think that only Lawrence of Arabia could rival it in that respect. Its story pays off what has been building since Fellowship of the Ring – it’s emotionally moving and also contains some of the best battle scenes ever put on film.
Television Programs: My list of favorite TV shows can be quite fluid, which explains the presence of so many recent shows on the list. As I’ve noted before, I tend to gravitate towards network television for one reason or another, which explains why you don’t see the many much-lauded cable shows here.
1. Lost (2004-2010): Lost is the television program that showed me how great television could be. In all honesty, it’s the show that made me realize that television could be more than mindless entertainment – it could be complex, philosophical, and tell a ripping good story. Like Gone with the Wind, Lost tells an epic tale, but it’s really about the people involved. It’s hard not to feel strongly about each and every character in this sprawling show.
2. Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005): I have a soft spot for traditional family sitcoms, and Everybody Loves Raymond is certainly at the top of my list. I’ve seen every episode and will often reference events from favorites. What I love about Raymond is that, despite the caricatured characters, the family feels refreshingly real. The Barones have their quirks, but despite all this, they are first and foremost a tight-knit (perhaps too much so) family.
3. Downton Abbey (2010-): I’ve gone on about my love of Downton Abbey several times in this blog, so I’ll put it this way: Downton combines the best things about period dramas – the lords and ladies, the etiquette, the gowns, the accents, the class issues, the love triangles – and rolls them neatly into one digestable package. There are several dashes of complexity scattered about, but Downton is also the kind of wonderful, grandly melodramatic soap opera that exists merely to entertain. And I love it for that.
4. The Good Wife (2009-): The writers of The Good Wife have the firmest grip on what network television can and can’t do. There are a lot of shenanigans going on in The Good Wife – affairs, backstabbing, politics, scandals, and secrets aplenty – but the key to its success is balance. As I’ve written before, The Good Wife blends the best of the procedural (with the legal case of the week) and the serial (with the scandals and politics). It tackles big issues while still having intimate character moments. On top of that, it has a stellar cast and attracts some of the best guest stars around. It’s network TV at its finest, simply put.
5. Doctor Who (2005-): I had a difficult time choosing #5 because the Top 4 are quite a bit above other shows for me. I narrowed it down to three or four, and I ultimately went with Doctor Who because I realized that for such an uneven show, I really, really love it. I only include the new series because I’ve merely seen a handful of classic Who episodes. Under the hands of Steven Moffat, Doctor Who has become highly serialized, complex, and philosophical. You really can go anywhere and anywhen with Doctor Who. It’s a joyous ride that I love despite the odd bad episode here and there.