List by-Jarrett Leahy
Of all the sections I’ve created for this site, my Movie Hall of Fame is without a doubt the one I am most excited about. Like every film fan, I have certain films that stand head and shoulders above the rest, the films in my personal “private collection” that I revisit more often than I’d like to admit sometimes. I wanted a section where I could, even on just a small scale, honor and share my love and appreciation for these special cinematic works of art.
As mentioned in previous posts, because this is the first Hall of Fame class, I have selected 12 All-Time Favorites. Each class thereafter will be a maximum of 6 films. Trying to select ONLY twelve films was excruciatingly difficult. It pained me to leave certain films off, but I did find some solace in idea that they will be highlights of future Hall of Fame classes. The only real eligibility requirement I established was a 10 year wait after a film is released in theaters. This mean films from 2004 and back were eligible for selection. I was very conscientious about not having a list of just contemporary movies, so as part of my selection process, I decided to choose a favorite film from each decade in order for this first class to offer the widest representation of films (you will see in parentheses which voting slot each film fell under in order to be selected). Enough with the rules and regulations, let’s get to the Inductees…
Almost Famous (The Director’s Cut) (2000) Cameron Crowe-(All Time Favorite)-I love this film. I LOVE THIS FILM! Director Cameron Crowe spent his teenage years touring with some of the greatest rock bands of the 1970’s as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. Based on his many wild “on the road” experiences, Crowe created this semi-autobiographical story of a young rock fan who becomes a writer for Rolling Stone and goes on tour with Stillwater, “a mid-level band struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom.” I have watched Almost Famous countless times. It is a wonderful love letter to Rock ‘n Roll and there’s not an insincere scene in the entire film. If I was forced to only select one film for this inaugural class, Almost Famous would be the one. Did I mention I love this film?!
Before Sunset (2004) Richard Linklater-(1st Ballot HOFer)-There are SIX films from 2004 that are among my All-Time favorites and each has a legitimate chance of induction in future Hall of Fame classes. However, Before Sunset is the only one being honored as a First Ballot Hall of Fame film today. What director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have been able to create in their Before trilogy is one of the most uniquely original love stories ever put on film. Each installment, set nine years apart, gives us an almost voyeuristic peak into the world of Jesse and Celine. Though I love them all, if I had to choose, Before Sunset is my personal favorite of the three films. Because of my self-imposed ten year wait, Before Midnight, which was released last year, is not yet eligible for Hall of Fame inclusion. But I can all but guarantee if I’m still doing this in 2023, it will be most likely be a first ballot selection as well.
Lost in Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola-(2000’s Decade (00-04)-I may be bending the rules a bit by calling this film my 2000’s representative (since Almost Famous and Before Sunset would have claimed that slot before Lost in Translation), but it’s my Hall of Fame and this inaugural class would not be complete without Sofia Coppola’s sublime comedy. Filled with dry, subtle, incidental humor, Lost in Translation, the winner of the Best Original screenplay for 2003, remains the crowning jewel for both its stars, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned the TV volume to all the way up, desperately hoping to hear what Bob whispers to Charlotte in that final classic scene.
Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino-(1990’s Decade)-Can any film be more deserving of being the 1990’s representative than Pulp Fiction? Tarantino’s crime opus, and winner of the 1994 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, set the world of cinema on fire upon its initial release, inspiring a slew of copycats (which is ironic in that Quentin is also known for…borrowing ideas from his past favorites). Among the now dozens of iconic scenes, the uniquely opinionated conversations between Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) still crack me up every time.
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) Woody Allen-(1980’s Decade)-When it comes to Woody Allen and his extensive list of films over the last 50 years, I have come to the conclusion that rarely do you find movie fans who do not fall under one of two simple categories, those who love his work and those who loathe it. I obviously fall under the first category, and no Allen film has moved me more than Hannah and Her Sisters, the 1986 Oscar winner for Best Original screenplay. As the opening line to my review of the film states, in a decade chock-full of sugar coated popcorn sellers, Hannah and her Sisters is a breath of fresh air, proving that truly great films were still made during the 1980′s.
The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola-(1970’s Decade)-While Almost Famous is my favorite film, if you were to ask me which movie do I feel is the greatest, without hesitation my answer would simply be Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. What can I say about the Best Picture winner of 1972 that hasn’t already been said? The Godfather contains the finest actors of an entire generation giving some of their best work in a powerful and entertaining story that never disappoints.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick-(1960’s Decade)– According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of an odyssey is-1: A long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune. 2: an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is all of those and more. Some find 2001 to be too slow or quiet, but I, like its many of its adoring fans, simply believe it to be the finest example of the science fiction genre to date.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) Otto Preminger-(1950’s Decade)-I expect some may disagree with my choosing Otto Preminger’s whip smart courtroom drama over the likes of 12 Angry Men, All About Eve or Sunset Blvd., but my love for Anatomy only grows with each viewing. Anatomy of a Murder tells the story of a defense attorney who agrees to represent an Army Lieutenant who is on trial for murdering his wife’s alleged attacker. This film is biting, tense, and cynically funny with amazing performances from all involved; to watch Jimmy Stewart and George C. Scott go back and forth during the courtroom scenes leaves me in sheer cinematic ecstasy.
Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz-(1940’s Decade)-The Best Picture winner for 1943, the legend of Casablanca has grown so large that some now take this enduring film for granted. When I came up with the short list of possible 1940’s films for inclusion, it quickly became quite clear that no film came close to matching the passion or emotional power of Casablanca, with its iconographic images of Bogie and Bergman, the haunting melodies of As Times Go By, and the countless number of classic lines that have now joined the lexicon of everyday language.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) Victor Fleming-(Pre-1940’s)-With so many historical films to choose from, selecting a film for this Pre-1940’s category was an extremely difficult decision. But despite having to pass on Chaplin’s many influential efforts, I just could not leave Oz off this inaugural class. Every time I watch The Wizard of Oz I find myself in awe of MGM and their ability to create such a vibrant and technically brilliant film in 1939. My favorite moment in the film is still Dorothy’s landing in Munchkin land and that magical transition from black & white to color. Rarely does a year goes by where I don’t find myself visiting this iconic film at least once.
The Godfather Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola-(Wild Card #1)-Rarely does a sequel live up to the greatness the original film. However, The Godfather Part II, the Academy award winner for Best Picture of 1974, is one of the rare exceptions to this rule. In this continuation of the Corleone crime family saga, I love Coppola’s decision to intertwine the two stories of Michael and Vito’s rise in power and the contrasting effects this had on their family. Part II is the only film in my movie world that has a legitimate case to overthrow The Godfather as the Greatest Film of All Time and there was no question in my mind about its inclusion in this first Hall of Fame class.
Before Sunrise (1995) Richard Linklater-(Wild Card #2)-Since I’ve already gushed over Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, please allow me to give a quick synopsis of Before Sunrise for the few that have yet to experience the romantic wonders of these films. Two young people meet on a train heading for Vienna and strike up a conversation. Jesse, an American, is flying back to the States the following day out of Vienna and plans to just wander around the city until morning because he can’t afford a hotel room. Celine, a French college student, is on her way back to Paris after visiting her grandmother in Budapest. Smitten during their chance encounter, Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train and explore Vienna with him until he has to catch his flight. Simply put, these films are so personally beloved that I couldn’t have Sunset on this list without Sunrise.
Well that’s it, my Hall of Fame Class of 2014, twelve films with a combined seventy Academy Award nominations including eight Best Picture nominees, winning a total of twenty one Academy awards including three Best Pictures. If you haven’t had the chance to see any of these films, I hope you take the time to seek them out, and then come back and let me know what you thought of them. I’d also love to hear what you think of my first Hall of Fame class. Feel free to leave any comments you may have, or a list of films that would be in your personal Movie Hall of Fame. My hope is for this to be an annual event on my little site, so be sure to keep an eye out for the 2015 class next year during Oscar season.