RT Picks Our All-Time Favorite Movies
For our 10th anniversary, the staff looks back on its most-beloved films.
Chosen by Stephen Wang, RT Founder
The Graduate continues to be my sentimental favorite movie. It has the off-kilter "cynical romanticism" that breathes through so many cool filmmakers today, but mostly it's just a really fun, wacky, and brilliant film. It also helps that the movie is partially set in Berkeley, the birthplace of Rotten Tomatoes. Many good films try to draw inspiration from The Graduate (Garden State, Rushmore, Lost in Translation, Punch Drunk Love) but the film still feels more chaotic and touching than all of the rest despite being a generation ago made.
Chosen by Joe Utichi, UK Editor
Empire Records is not my favorite film, but it's the film I most commonly cite when asked to put something atop my list. It's a devilishly difficult question to answer because the question itself is so preposterous. How do you choose between A Clockwork Orange and The Godfather? Or Zoolander and Pan's Labyrinth? Empire Records, for me, demonstrates the impossibility of this decision and the importance of time and context in making the choice. It's not my favourite movie -- I don't even believe it's one of the best movies of all time -- but I wouldn't be quite the same without it. When I first saw Empire Records -- on video at the age of 14 -- it spoke to me and it represented who I was at that time. It's a feeling I relive any time one of the songs from the soundtrack chances its way to the front of the shuffle playlist on my iPod, or when I decide to put on the DVD. But most importantly it's one of many, many films -- probably more than 50, maybe as many as 100 -- that have influenced my path from obnoxious infant to intolerable adult. Others include those aforementioned strange bedfellows, along with The Matrix, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, WALL-E, Full Metal Jacket, High Fidelity, Kill Bill, Apocalypse Now, Dogma, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Annie Hall. I don't suppose many of those have been mentioned in the same sentence before, and I doubt I'd list them all in a ranking of the BEST films of all time, but they're all essential in the tapestry of movie-watching that makes me who I am. Or perhaps I should just leave quietly...
I saw Rushmore at the right times: once before my teenage years, once during, and once as I was leaving them, and each time the movie transformed me. I wanted to smoke cigarettes and play rock music to every girl I met incredibly loudly. It made me want to wear blazers, shoot guns and buy dynamite, and build aquariums for everyone I loved. It made me want to be a writer.
Soon, my friends and all the smart girls moved away to crenellated colleges where they'd learn about John Berger and take psychotropic mindbombs. Bored, I watched Rushmore the third time. There, I realized its coda was the most bittersweet, tender scene ever laid to film. It's where Miss Cross takes Max's hand for a dance to the Faces' "Ooh La La," a slow-motion fade of two friends alert of their past, optimistic about the future, surrounded by sparklers and the people who have made their story beautiful. Moments like these tap into the invisible effect of movies. Specifically, I now believed I knew how to succeed when the world draws the curtains on our adolescent dreams. I still do.
but art will never die.