Category: 5 Favorites

5 Favorites #141: Unsung Horror of the 21st Century

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Initially, I wanted to make this week’s article about my favorite horror films of the 21st Century so far. With Fall releasing this weekend and Bodies Bodies Bodies expanding wide, I felt it was the perfect time to tackle such a list. Then I put it together. Sixteen titles made the list and that’s a lot to narrow down to five. Rather than isolate it down to the same five I’ve talked about a lot in the past, I decided to pick five films that are seldom cited on such lists or which have been somewhat forgotten for myriad reasons. For the record, the eleven films that didn’t make the cut were: The Others (2001), Berberian Sound Studio (2013), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Get Out (2017), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Zombieland (2009), The Purge (2013), The Purge: Anarchy (2014), The Purge: Election Year (2016), Suspiria (2018), and Hereditary (2018). Now for this week’s five.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #140: Brad Pitt

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

It’s hard to believe the career Brad Pitt has had. Trading on his good lucks, his first breakthrough role came in Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise. He has a brief part in the film, but he made such an impression that his career took off afterwards. From there, his ascendant star led him through countless potential blockbusters and while he eventually settled into more dramatic roles, each new release was meant to be a potential box office sensation. This weekend, one of his more broadly appealing of late releases. Bullet Train isn’t going to be confused for Oscar bait, but Pitt gives his all to this Asian martial-arts-fueled, John Wick-style action film. Whether it’s a box office hit or not remains to be seen, but every indication points to yes. This week, we give Pitt his own article with five films that are essential to his filmography, all of which were successes with the first the only one that he wasn’t the reason for the film’s success.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #139: Jamil, Luna, Maron, McKinnon, Reeves

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This weekend, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart play the faithful dogs of two prominent DC superheroes. Johnson plays Superman’s heroic sidekick while Hart plays a pet that will become Batman’s Boxer. While these two are the stars of the film, I’ve tackled Hart before and Johnson’s filmography is bereft of terrific films, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle being the exception. As such, I look to their other co-stars in DC League of Super Pets film. The film is stacked with a lot of strong comedic talents, so when selecting the five actors I’d tackle this week, I went with ones that aren’t as often featured in movies that I could highlight full careers on. Keanu Reeves is the exception. Reeves voices Batman in the film. Kate McKinnon plays a hairless guinea pig, Diego Luna features as Green Lantern’s pet squirrel, Marc Meron plays archvillain Lex Luther, and Jameela Jamil voices wonder woman. The latter two are being highlighted in a terrific set of television series while the other three are recognized for their film work. Though Reeves and Luna might ostensibly have their own full articles one day, I suspect the others aren’t going to be able to fill their cinematic resumes sufficiently.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #138: Films About Alien Invasions

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Based on the trailers for Jordan Peele’s third film Nope, this seems to be a departure in terms of his previous styles. Get Out and Us were both horror films. This is science-fiction. While I could tackle the sci-fi topic again, I’m going to narrow my list down to films about aliens, since that’s what this film seems to be about. There are a lot of great films in that genre that I could tackle, but these are the five best. Before anyone asks: Yes, I considered the Star Wars franchise and no I didn’t pick anything from it. I also didn’t pick any Star Trek films, which I’m much more inclined to include. I wanted this to be more about alien invasions than just movies with aliens in them. Hence also why E.T. isn’t on the list.

Another batch of films I didn’t include are films about aliens arriving on earth, but not to colonize, but to communicate with. The four I thought of were Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1975), Contact (1997), District 9 (2009), and Arrival (2016). There were also two titles in particular that I wanted to include, but didn’t fit the theme of alien invasion: Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986). Other titles I considered, but did not include: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Independence Day (1996), The Fifth Element (1997), Men in Black (1997), Dark City (1998), Lilo & Stitch (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), Oblivion (2013), and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). Now to the final five

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #137: Brooks, Cera, Hounsou, Takei, Yeoh

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Although the movie looks like trash, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank has an impressive list of actors doing voice work. This week, I’m going to look at one film for each of five members of the cast: Mel Brooks, Michael Cera, Djimon Hounsou, George Takei, and Michelle Yeoh. Since I have done a film for Yeoh previously, I’m going to select another wonderful film for her selection.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #136: Christian Bale

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

One of a handful of Hollywood actors who subscribe to the Stanislavsky Method of acting, Christian Bale goes to the extremes of the Method, delving into the character and staying there for almost the entire project. Like Daniel Day-Lewis and others, this often elicits strong characters with a central identity. If that works for him, then so be it. As long as he doesn’t go to the depths that someone like Jared Leto does when inhabiting a vile role, his choices are copacetic in my book. Bale is also no stranger to box office draws. As the central character in the Dark Knight trilogy, he’s no stranger to the kind of role that would bring him lots of attention. He balances this out with plenty of smaller roles in smaller films, but that breadth of work helps make him one of the more dependable actors working today. This weekend, he plays the villain in Thor: Love and Thunder opposite Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. Here’s a look back at my five favorite films. Please note that while Batman Begins could have made it in over The Prestige, I felt sticking with a single character better than otherwise and considering how mediocre The Dark Knight Rises was, I didn’t want to include the entire trilogy as an example. Now, let’s take a look at the list.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #135: Ralph Fiennes

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This weekend, Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain star in an indie film about a tourist who inadvertently kills a local in the Middle East and must come to terms with his actions while the social mores of the region demand justice. While I’ve twice tackled Jessica Chastain as part of a group list, I haven’t yet highlighted the career of Ralph Fiennes. For many, their first experience with the British thespian was in Schindler’s List, though it was his third film and those who saw him in his first, Wuthering Heights, will probably remember him from there. However, his Oscar nomination for Steven Spielberg’s film set during the Holocaust may have set him on his current career trajectory, one that’s been filled with as many heroic performances as villainous ones. Let’s look at my five favorite films starring or featuring him.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #134: Movies About Music

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

In recent years, biopics of music royalty have been all the craze. Films about Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and myriad others have been made in large numbers in the last few years. This weekend, another such film releases as Baz Luhrmann takes a look at the life story of Elvis Presley. While I haven’t seen nearly enough of the best biopics to make this list, I could really only list Amadeus and La Vie en Rose without scraping the bottom of the barrel. That said, I can expand the list to movies about music and easily create a list. Matter of fact, my list ended up being twice the size that I should have. As such, I took out some musicals: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Pink Floyd – The Wall, Dreamgirls, and the aforementioned La Vie en Rose. That left me with only six films. The one that lost out happens to be a film I covered recently, Victor/Victoria. Like Torch Song Trilogy, another film I considered, that film is less about music as a subject and more about music as a setting. The same could be true of Cabaret, which failed to make the list on the musical basis.

Five titles remain and those titles are below, three are biopics and two are biopic-adjacent, but are not films about real people, though they take place in and are about music in a broader sense. One of them is still classified as a musical, but considering it’s a musical biopic about music, I decided to include it even though I didn’t include the less “musical” La Vie en Rose. What’s also surprising is that this is my first list since the original few where I haven’t covered any of the five films previously.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #133: Vanessa Redgrave

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

There’s a very minor film releasing this week called The Lost Girls. Joely Richardson stars, but it’s her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, who also appears in the film, that I want to highlight this week. Redgrave had her first big screen role in 1958’s Behind the Mask, but it was her trio of 1966 performances that launched her star into the cinematic stratosphere. Apart from Morgan!, her other two appearances make my list this week as well as two titles from earlier in her career and a fifth from later.

A couple of honorable mentions: In Julia, her Oscar-winning role, she was the title character, but she was a supporting performer in the film. That 1977 film starred Jane Fonda, Jason Robards, Maximilian Schell, Hal Holbrook, and some small time actor in her screen debut named Meryl Streep. Then there’s Howards End, and many others. The last title I want to mention is Coriolanus. It isn’t a very good film, but Redgrave is sensational in it. Now, let’s tackle the five titles that made my final list.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #132: Dern, Goldblum, Howard, Neill, Treverrow

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Just like it’s predecessor, Jurassic World appears to be going out with three films in its series. Three of Jurassic Park‘s stars are making return appearances. One of the other big players (Richard Attenborough) has since passed, so this may well be the best we can hope for. Jurassic World: Dominion is an opportunity to look at the filmographies of four actors and the film’s director to see what the best they’ve produced has been. The fifth actor, and star, won’t be getting a mention this week, nor likely will get a mention anytime in the future. So let’s look at the best work by Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, and Colin Treverrow.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #131: John Malkovich

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Another in the long line of Bruce Willis’ final performances releases this weekend. One of his co-stars in White Elephant is the legendary John Malkovich. For such a good actor, it’s rather surprising that his filmography has a lot of mediocre films in it. However, there were just enough to put him at the center of this week’s five favorites article.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #130: Tom Cruise

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

A box office draw for three decades now, Tom Cruise has gotten a lot of flak for his cultish spiritual beliefs and his outlandish behavior, but he’s proven himself surprisingly adept not just at picking popular projects, but in selling himself to audiences with few hints of scandal. For a career as long as his, it’s truly impressive that he’s managed to remain at the top of the pecking order. After a four-year hiatus, Cruise is back on the big screen with a film that had been interrupted by COVID and rescheduled several times. This has given the filmmakers a chance to tinker with it to a point where it got a noteworthy standing ovation at the Cannes International Film Festival and early reviews have been largely positive, with many being ebullient.

Strangely, the last time he had a major blockbuster, this article series didn’t exist yet, so this is the first time I’ve had to look at his career. He’s not in the upper echelons of actors in terms of skill, but he’s managed to tone down his ego just enough to anchor some brilliant projects and, even in some of those, he’s played into his ego just enough to make the role work.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #129: Maggie Smith

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

With such a large cast, Downton Abbey: A New Era provides me with plenty of opportunities to select my five favorites this week. However, one opportunity can’t be ignored: Maggie Smith. Of all the cast members, she’s the only one with such an extensive film career that choosing five films wasn’t terribly difficult. She’s one of our finest actresses with two Oscars, one of which is for a film in this week’s list. The other one, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, is a terrific film with a wonderful performance, but I thought it might be more interesting to look at a different film from that year.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #128: The Cast and Crew of Firestarter

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

There aren’t a lot of great new releases and I previously covered Stephen King films, so to tackle Firestarter, it was something of a mixed bag. I had to pick up actors, the composer, and Stephen King as well…albeit with reluctance. The craftsmen didn’t have a lot to choose from and the director doesn’t either. Lead actor Zac Efron got the nod along with supporting actors Kurtwood Smith and Gloria Reuben. The composer was none other than John Carpenter, which is a rare treat as he seldom composes scores for films other than his own.

Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites #127: Cumberbatch, Ejiofor, Olsen, Stuhlbarg, Wong

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This week, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film releases, one of the few franchises that’s been pandemic-resistant and even then wasn’t entirely so in a couple of its outings last year. That said, kicking off blockbuster season is the second solo outing for Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). In celebration, I’m looking at the filmographies of five of the film’s stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elizabeth Olsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Benedict Wong. Below are the results.

Click here to continue reading this article