Second Best – My favorite Sophomore films: Part 2

If you missed part one, you can take a look at it here. Otherwise, let’s dive back into the list.

10. Glory (Dir. Ed Zwick)

Complain about using a white lead to tell a black story all you want, this movie works. And it’s not as if there aren’t any strong black characters in the movie. People forget Denzel won an Oscar for this. And you get Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman and Andre Braugher doing some of their best work. The war scenes are intense and rousing, and the film has an important message of brotherhood.

9. Braveheart (Dir. Mel Gibson)

Mel’s recent shenanigans do nothing to diminish my love of this movie. There’s some lovey-dovey crap at the beginning so the ladies will watch, and then it’s non-stop carnage throughout. I don’t think massive battle scenes have been done better or gorier. Epic filmmaking at its finest.

8. The Usual Suspects (Dir. Bryan Singer)

After making the low-budget Sundance hit Public Access, but before X-Men, Bryan Singer made this excellent and twisty crime thriller. It won two very hard-earned Oscars for its staggeringly structured screenplay and Kevin Spacey’s tricky supporting turn. The film holds up remarkably well even after you’ve learned all of its secrets.

7. Rushmore (Dir. Wes Anderson)

It’s hard to pick a favorite Wes Anderson film, but I’ve sat down and watched Rushmore so many times it’s the winner by default. In one film, Anderson revived Bill Murray’s career and launched Jason Schwartzman’s. It’s the perfect blend of Truffaut and Ashby while still being the distinct voice of a major talent.

6. Requiem for a Dream (Dir. Darren Aronofsky)

Some people find this hard-edged look at addiction difficult to stomach, and it’s tough to blame them. The film is dark and depressing. The ultimate feel-bad movie. But it’s also filmmaking at its finest. Ellen Burstyn deserves all the awards. The score has been reused in countless trailers and sizzle reels because it is that good. Maybe I’m a little desensitized, but I could watch this film again and again.

5. Memento (Dir. Christopher Nolan)

Despite my reservations about his latest film, I remain a whore for Nolan films. My devotion began with this reverse engineered neo-noir. A decade on and I’m still not sure what to believe other than this is a great movie. The backwards gimmick wouldn’t hold up if it wasn’t ingrained into the themes of identity and perception.

4. Boogie Nights (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

My favorite PTA film is a revolving door of Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and this. But at the end of the day, the film I can watch without hesitation is Boogie Nights. I love every character, every performance, and every inspired choice Anderson makes in the movie. Just take Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Scotty. He’s hilariously inept, but also kind of tragic. Anderson’s empathy for everyone maintains this wonderful balance for the entire film.

3. Trainspotting (Dir. Danny Boyle)

It’s a shotgun blast of kinetic filmmaking. Great cast, great soundtrack. Recalls my other two favorite anti-hero tales: Taxi Driver and A Clockwork Orange.

2. Alien (Dir. Ridley Scott)

30 years later and Ridley has yet to top this genre defining classic. If you haven’t seen it in awhile (or at all), give it another watch. It’s still scary and effective despite the regrettable Prometheus.

1. Pulp Fiction (Dir. Quentin Tarantino)

It’s hard to name a favorite Tarantino and I think Pulp Fiction is so universally accepted as great that people tend to forget just how great (I do believe that consensus would list Kill Bill as his best had it been released uncut). So many wannabes and pale imitations have dulled the memory of this wildly inventive masterpiece. So much of the film has permeated pop culture that many have forgotten where they heard that song first or that bit of dialogue. Well I’m not one to argue against perfection and you shouldn’t either.

What did I miss? Did I leave off one of your favorites?

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3 responses to “Second Best – My favorite Sophomore films: Part 2

  1. Jose Garcia Jr.

    Great list. Some of my all-time faves: Glory, Rushmore( I still say it’s Anderson’s best), Boogie Nights, Usual Suspects, Memento and Pulp Fiction. You could have a Sophomore Film festival with that line-up.

    I didn’t like Requeim because it was dark and depressing. But I still have that Connelly scene burned into my memory. You know which one!

  2. Thanks!

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