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fine fifteen, part 4

So, I bet the suspense is killing each and every one of you, thus this blog post shall end the excruciating wait.

Before I make the big reveal, however, I wanted to give you fifteen movies that almost made it (some were very close indeed), but in the end, and for whatever individual reason, didn't make it into the final list. The Almost Fine Fifteen, in no particular order, are as follows.

1. Iron Man
2. Ushpizin
3. The Truman Show
4. Unbreakable
5. Defendor
6. The Dark Knight
7. The Other Guys
8. Garden State
9. Unleashed
10. Minority Report
11. Se7en
12. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
13. Signs
14. I, Robot
15. Gladiator

And now, without further delay, I give you the Top Three.

  1. This particular slot initially flopped back and forth between two movies before I ultimately - and quickly - decided Batman: Mask of the Phantasm could not be left out. What? Yes, that's right. While The Dark Knight is an epic movie that purely and simply blows Tim Burton's Batman duo - as well as all the other wannabes - clear out of the water ten thousand times (I mean, seriously, no Batman movie counts anymore next to Christopher Nolan's - they're all groveling rubbish), Mask of the Phantasm is the Batman I grew up knowing. No Batman fan will deny the veracity, voracity and nostalgia of the Animated Series. The title of this particular movie refers to more than the quest to identify the Phantasm before his killing spree has ended, but in fact alludes to the masks of Wayne/Batman and the phantasms from his life in general. Released between Burton's Batman Returns and the first of Schumacher's tragedies, Batman Forever, Mask of the Phantasm pits the Dark Knight against not only his deadliest and darkest rival, but also against his past. The story explores Bruce Wayne's relationship to women as well as to his alter ego, ultimately making him choose which will be his mask. At the same time as this identity-crisis, he must attempt to discover who is behind the mask of the mysterious new villain as well as what mask his beloved, who has suddenly come back to Gotham, is now wearing. Although Andrea Beaumont was created for this movie alone (but the Phantasm is loosely based on a villain that appeared in the comics), the film accurately confronts themes familiar from the comics. And the Joker is even more creepy than the twenty-minute TV episodes allowed, portraying him as the anarchist sociopath he is from the comics - something Nolan and Ledger captured brilliantly albeit much more darkly. This movie depicts Batman, along with his inner (Wayne vs Batman) and outer (villains, love, friendship, etc.) struggles, as they truly are. When I think of Batman, this one still is the first that comes to mind.

  2. The very first time I watched Inception in theatres, I knew it was going to be my new love - I was more than merely intrigued, I was smitten. Then I watched it again in theatres and my breath was taken away. By the time I watched it in IMAX, I was thoroughly enamoured. This movie is brilliant; Christopher Nolan is a master storyteller, and with this one he is definitely on top of his game. Inception, of course, fits right in with the reality-exploring themes I gravitate towards, and the film does so in a magnificent, sensational and profound way. Its explorations of love and the memories built therein were at times reminiscent of C S Lewis' book, A Grief Observed. Its examinations of cognition and the presence of ideas was rather interesting, and at times the investigations bordered on the metaphysical, alluding in some ways to the notion people are much more than merely chemical brain functions. The film alludes also to psychological motifs of internal motivation as well as questions our perceptions of not only ourselves but also the surrounding world. Inception creates a very believable universe where people can enter each others dreams (developed, of course, by the U.S. military), raising whole new ethical dilemmas while simultaneously (greatly) emphasising the importance of one's thoughts and brain activities. This is one epic and thought-provoking movie, leaving the viewer awe-struck and pondering (did he wake up? how much was all in a dream? does it matter in the end? can he really ever be free? etc.). Simply brilliant.

  3. Okay, let's be honest. Everybody knows that this spot is unswervingly held by the 1999 massive hit, The Matrix. I still remember my first time watching this in Grant Park's theatre, coming out nearly speechless, wanting desperately to see it again (and subsequently buying the DVD years before we had anything to play it on). A few years ago, The Matrix was named the most influential movie of the last 25 years and it's hard to deny this to be true. Not only did this film alter our expectations of action movies and the way we talk about movies, it blew everyone away with its technological innovation. It not only had plenty of action sequences and sci-fi underpinnings, but it also had metaphysical (philosophical/theological) undertones to an impressive degree. Hailed as the modern-day telling of the Gospel, The Matrix has so much theological content that there are piles of books devoted to it. The story explores our identities within our perceived worlds, teetering on the theological notion of bondage to sin insofar as 'sin' is the system we are all trapped by, knowingly or not. As we journey with Thomas Anderson through his struggle to find out who he is, we discover the world is dramatically different than we can see from our little corner of the universe - that is, there is a huge story going on that none of us are aware of, yet all of us are affected by. The Matrix looks inquisitively at issues such as destiny/fate while at the same time entertaining us with excellently choreographed martial arts; it questions perception, true strength, and self-identity while slowing down time so we can watch Neo dodge bullets; it makes us ponder at what reality actually is and what our freedom truly looks like while thrilling us with chases and fights. The Matrix has so much packed within its 136 minutes it would take much longer than these 300 words to truly unpack and describe everything I love about it. Suffice it to say I could watch this film at any time of day and love every single minute of it (come over at 3AM, and while I'd be groggy and possibly initially frustrated at the sleep-interruption, I would ultimately sit down and watch this with you). It is for me number one - and I can't foresee any movie ever taking its place. Seriously. Ever.

And there you have it! Are you amazed? Are you disappointed? Let me know in the comments section.
I hope you've enjoyed my Fine Fifteen countdown.

[posted by ericjordan at 1958 hrs]
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