1. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Favorite performance: Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee
Favorite scene: Eowyn vs. the Witch King. It’s often so difficult to translate the emotional impact of a scene in a novel when adapting it to film. This scene does it perfectly.
Favorite line: Gandalf: Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Do not be so eager to deal out death in jugement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.
When did you laugh? At all of Merry and Pippin’s antics.
When did you cry? All over the place. But especially during the Gray Havens scene.
Miscellaneous: Howard Shore rules. The score for the trilogy was really an achievement, and I thought, as a musician and composer myself, that there were a lot of clever nuances in it that not everyone would notice—like that one of the prominent Orc themes is the same as the theme played when the Fellowship enters Lothlorien, but with a different tempo and completely different orchestration. Which means Shore knows his Tolkien history (that Orcs are really corrupted Elves).
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Favorite performance: How could I possibly choose? Both the leads—Morgan Freeman as Ellis “Red” Redding, and Tim Robbins as Andy DuFresne—are amazing.
Favorite scene: "The Marriage of Figaro/Duettino - Sull'Aria" playing over the prison PA system.
Favorite line: Andy: The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.
What made you laugh? Sorting library books—“Alexandre Dumb-ass” and putting the Count of Monte Cristo under “Educational.”
What made you cry? Red thinking about Andy after he leaves: “Some birds are not meant to be caged.”
Miscellaneous: The novella this is based on is wonderful, and I think the movie is one of the best book-to-film adaptations I’ve seen.
3. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Favorite performance: Judd Nelson as John Bender
Favorite scene: John sacrificing himself so that the others won’t get caught outside the library, with “Fire in the Twilight” playing in the background.
Favorite line: Brian: Well, in physics we... we talk about physics, the properties of physics.
John: So it's sorta social—demented and sad, but social. Right?
What made you laugh? Vernon getting caught with a toilet seat cover in his pants.
What made you cry? “When you grow up, your heart dies.”
Miscellaneous: I was just a wee one when this came out, and I remember trying to find excuses to go into my parents room while they were watching it late at night (“Mommy, look—I have a [four-day old] cut on my arm!”), because I was, of course, not normally allowed to watch R-rated movies back then. I didn’t get to see it in its entirety until I was in high school.
4. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Favorite performance: Russell Crowe as Officer Bud White
Favorite scene: White and Exley’s brawl, ending with them deciding to team up:
White: The Night Owl case made you. Do you want to tear all that down?
Exley: With a wrecking ball. You want to help me swing it?
Favorite line: Captain Smith: Have you a valediction, boy-o?
Vincennes: Rollo Tomasi.
What made you laugh? Vincennes’ dry humor.
What made you cry? The Mexican girl who fudged her story a bit because she didn’t think anyone would care that she had been raped if the rapists hadn’t also murdered “all those white people.” Bud and Lynn’s reconciliation, in the rain, after he had hit her.
Miscellaneous: This was the first R-rated movie I saw “unsupervised” at a movie theatre after I turned seventeen. Heh. I’m really showing my age with these.
5. The Sound of Music (1965)
Favorite performance: Julie Andrews as Maria; Eleanor Parker as the Baroness
Favorite scene: Maria and the Captain dancing at the party
Favorite line: The Baroness (I love this whole monologue, but especially this line): And somewhere out there is a girl who, I think, will never be a nun.
What made you laugh? Uncle Max’s quips
What made you cry? When the Captain spontaneously joins his children’s singing in the parlor. The reprise of “Edelweiss.”
Miscellaneous: I wrote a six-part a capella arrangement of the title song when I was in high school.
6. Parenthood (1989)
Favorite performance: There is not a single weak link in this great cast, but I think I like Diane Wiest as Helen Buckman the best.
Favorite scene: Oh, there’re so many! But I’m a sucker for the romantic stuff, so I’ll go with Nathan’s (Rick Moranis) serenade of his wife with “Close to You.”
Favorite line: Tod: You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.
What made you laugh? Cowboy Gil
What made you cry? Gary trying to call his dad: “No, his other son. Gary…Oh.”
Miscellaneous: For some inexplicable reason, my dad thinks this is a “chick flick” and refuses to watch it.
7. And the Band Played On (1993)
Favorite performance: Matthew Modine as Dr. Don Francis
Favorite scene: Dr. Francis going ballistic on the blood banks: “How many people have to die before it'll be cost effective for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won't annoy you until the amount of money you start losing on LAWSUITS makes it more PROFITABLE for you to save people than to kill them!”
Favorite line: The best line comes from real life: Roger Gail Lyon: This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape.
What made you laugh? The banter between Dr. Francis and Dr. Curran.
What made you cry? Um…every other scene. But especially the montage at the end to Elton John’s “Last Song.”
Miscellaneous: This movie is loosely based on the excellent non-fiction book of the same name by Randy Shilts.
8. Lady Jane (1986)
Favorite performance: Cary Elwes as Gilford Dudley.
Favorite scene: Smashing the glass goblets
Favorite line: Gilford: I sometimes wonder if you and all the great Reformers could really talk yourselves into believing that the question of the number and nature of the sacraments is really more important than whether those who receive them live or die. The brain is a brittle organ, Jane. The slightest pressure, and it breaks—if it isn’t wrapped up in a little heart.
What made you laugh? Jane’s exasperation at drunk!Gilford at their wedding feast; Gilford’s brother trying not to laugh when the priest says “soberly” in their wedding ceremony.
What made you cry? Gilford talking to his father in prison; Jane and Gilford’s last moments together; Jane giving Dr. Feckinham the real shilling before her beheading.
Miscellaneous: My enjoyment of the way this romance was built on the resolution of political and theological polarities between the two characters is probably part of the reason why I like the idea of Ron and Hermione coming to a compromise and working together on the House Elf issue as part of their courtship, and I hope we see something like that in Book 6/7.
9. The Princess Bride (1987)
Favorite performance: Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya
Favorite scene: Visiting Miracle Max
Favorite line: Vizzini: No more rhymes now, and I mean it. Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?
What made you laugh? Um…everything? OK, OK, I’ll say Vizzini’s death.
What made you cry? It’s not really a tearful kind of movie, is it? But I suppose I get a little misty-eyed when the grandpa says to his grandson, “As you wish.”
Miscellaneous: Before there was Captain Jack Sparrow, there was the Dread Pirate Roberts…Seriously, PotC reminded me a lot of this movie. And that is to its credit.
10. Glory (1989)
Favorite performance: Denzel Washington as Private Trip
Favorite scene: Singing spirituals the night before battle: “Oh my Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd.”
Favorite line: Rawlins: And who are you? So full of hate that you have to fight everybody, because you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain't dying. And dying's been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now, dying by the thousands, dying for you, fool.
What made you laugh? Trip’s sarcasm and quips
What made you cry? Col. Shaw noticing the whip-lash scars on Trip’s back; the ending, when the bodies are being thrown into a mass grave.
Miscellaneous: This is another movie with a great score, this time by
Wow. That took a really long time. But it was worth it. Must go watch some of these movies again, soon.