RT Picks Our All-Time Favorite Movies
For our 10th anniversary, the staff looks back on its most-beloved films.
Chosen by Jeff Giles, RT Staff
When I was a kid, in an effort to show me that being a smart aleck doesn't pay, my parents showed me Cool Hand Luke. It didn't have much of an impact on my smart mouth, but watching the movie did spark a lifelong hero-worship of Paul Newman for me -- and my unabashed fanboy love is most pronounced for 1994's Nobody's Fool, the Robert Benton-directed adaptation of Richard Russo's wonderful novel. Newman has made a career out of playing irascible losers, but his portrayal of absentee dad and off-the-books construction worker Donald "Sully" Sullivan is, for me, the best of them all. He's at the top of his game here, playing off a stellar cast that includes Jessica Tandy, Melanie Griffith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a toned-down Bruce Willis. Though the film wasn't a huge success at the box office, critics responded positively, and Newman, Benton and Russo clearly enjoyed working together; they went on to re-team for 1998's (admittedly inferior) Twilight, and Russo -- who won the Pulitzer for his 2001 novel Empire Falls -- is now working on a sequel to Nobody's Fool.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Chosen by Nick Hershey, RT Staff
For me, Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly sets the standard to which every other western must aspire (come to think of it, every crime drama, buddy movie, etc.). The third film in the Man With No Name Trilogy follows three gunslingers on a quest to find a fortune in buried gold, and what a ride it is. Unlike many earlier westerns which typically feature the standard fantasy face-off between good and evil, it's refreshing that Ugly's protagonists are all of dubious morals; with even the most honorable of the trio (Clint Eastwood as 'Blondie,' aka The Good) a habitual lawbreaker. The film is memorable on so many counts: the majestic landscape (Southern Spain making for a convincing Old American West), knockout performances (Eastwood, in perhaps his most famous role, Lee Van Cleef as the sinister hit man, and especially Eli Wallach, who as Tuco the outlaw injects a humor and charisma not seen in the earlier installments of the trilogy), tense gunfights (the final three-way standoff is a killer), all backed by Ennio Morricone's immortal score. What more needs to be said? I love this movie!
My Life to Live
Every bit of my favorite film sounds pretentious. Vivre
sa Vie (My Life to Live) is in black and white, it's French, at one
point the protagonist dialogues with a philosopher, I first saw it in a film
class. Seriously, answering this way is like huge film buff cliché, but like
most clichés it's super functional. I love this movie in about every way I can
love a thing -- though it's wrong to call such an animate film a "thing." Vivre
sa Vie is intelligent, poignant, reflexive, sexy, and now, as in 1962 when
it came out, tragically hip. The star, Anna Karina, is the most magnetic bad
actress in history! Karina's character Nana leaves her husband and child to
take middling stabs at an acting career but ends up a prostitute. The moments
when Nana comes slowly undone in the face of the camera (and perhaps because
of it) are awful: the sort of thing surgically accurate language can't ever
hope to wrap itself around. Vivre sa Vie's self-awareness is
revelatory; it never vies for our affections and it's unapologetically
imperfect. Implicitly, the film makes you part of Nana's undoing and her
undoing is somehow yours too. Ironic, since the film begins with the Montaigne
quote, "Loan yourself to others. Give yourself to yourself." See what I mean?