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Springtime for Moviegoings

Well, the first big summer movie is in theaters, and that must mean that spring is over in Hollywood. Now that I’ve been doing this for a few years, the seasons are starting to settle into certain trends for my movie-watching habits.

Summer has its big-budget blockbusters. Fall is Oscar alley. Large portions of Spring, however, are a dead zone . . . so that is when I play catch-up with last year’s must-see movies that I didn’t get to see then. Some are on re-release in the theater, or show up in a film festival, or have simply emerged on DVD for easy access from Netflix or the library.

Anyway, the best 10 movies I’ve seen since January:

Children of Men

Pan’s Labyrinth

American Beauty

Scent of a Woman

Babel

28 Days Later

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Chariots of Fire

The Queen

Little Children

Babel is still my pick for Best Picture. Truly an amazing film. Now that I’ve seen all 5 nominees, I have to say that The Departed is by far the most shallow among them. It did not deserve to win. Speaking of which, despite all of the positive buzz, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Queen. It seemed like it would be terribly dull, but it wasn’t. Such fantastic performances . . . it is rare for a movie to capture and hold an overwhelming sense of quiet dignity. It is an amazing experience.

Meanwhile, I seem to have a thing for stories of quiet desperation in quiet suburbia. I am referring, of course, to American Beauty and Little Children. I probably should have watched the former years ago . . . when I finally got around to it in February I wound up watching it 3 times. I wanted to write about it, but words failed me and I got too busy. I’ll just have to wait until I get around to it again during the course of my “Best Picture winners” project.

I saw Little Children very recently as part of the Kilgore Film Festival, and I was sorely tempted to go watch it again the very next night. It came in to the library on DVD last week, and I took it home. I really want to see it again, but things are very busy just at present and I may content myself with a few special features instead (a luxury I rarely indulge in).

The odd-man-out on this list is, of course, 28 Days Later. Randy brought it over back at the beginning of March, and it was at least partially responsible for my present “zombie phase.” I’ll be discussing that in more detail in a few weeks, but for now suffice to say that 28 Days Later was excellent and quite unlike anything I’d ever seen before. A great watch on several levels that I couldn’t bear to cut out when it came time to choose the top ten.

As for the rest of the list, I have discussed most of them in detail elsewhere. Top-notch films, every one.

Honorable Mention:

A Face in the Crowd

Boy, you won’t see Andy Griffith like this anywhere else. A memorable screen-debut for both Griffith and Lee Remick, with supporting work from Walter Matthau and others. This is like the “good” version of All the King’s Men.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

All Quiet on the Western Front

Both of these are best picture winners based on books about World Wars and the senselessness of it all. Both are monumental accomplishments for their time which hold up very well despite the passing of decades.

The Inside Man

Why, oh why, didn’t I go see this fun, smart thriller instead of the execrable Lucky Number Slevin last year? A stellar cast put to work on a great script with plenty of unforeseeable twists and turns to elicit gasps and applause from an appreciative audience. Cracking stuff.

This Film is Not Yet Rated

This exposé may be flawed, but the MPAA had it coming nonetheless. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I goggled . . . Way to stick it to The Man and keep him honest.

Reign Over Me

It wasn’t perfect, but it touched me and impressed me with its sensitivity and humor.

Hard Candy

Wow, what a wild ride this is. A fourteen-year old girl goes home with a man who may or may not be a sexual predator and turns the tables, taking him hostage to deal out some vigilante justice. But as the two play mind games with each other, it becomes apparent that things may not be what they seem.

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~ by Jared on May 5, 2007.

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