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Scene Picks Modern Movie Classics

Alexandra Kilpatrick, Jess Shaffer and Syzmon Ryzner | Thursday, October 2, 2008

Alexandra’s Picks:Titanic: A classic love story about the real-life tragedy of the 1912 sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, this movie is well-known as the highest-grossing film of all time. It propelled Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into superstardom and won eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. American Beauty: Set in modern American suburbs, the movie artistically shows the beauty in life by following the character of Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) who has a messy family life and a boring job. The drama dominated the 2000 Academy Awards, won Best Picture, and is best summed up through a final quote from Burnham: “I guess I could be really pissed off about what happened to me … but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world.” The Sixth Sense: M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological thriller is about a young boy, played by Haley Joel Osment troubled by the ability to see and talk to the deceased, and his child psychologist, portrayed by Bruce Willis. The movie has everything an award-winning thriller needs: Shyamalan as writer and director, the instant-classic line “I see dead people,” and a surprising twist ending. Fight Club: “The first rule of Fight Club is – you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is – you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” An adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel, this controversial black comedy has become a pop culture phenomenon. The movie stars Edward Norton as a nameless protagonist who becomes increasingly distressed with consumerism as a way of life until he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) who inspires him to create an underground fight club. A Beautiful Mind: The award-winning biographical film stars Russell Crowe as John Nash, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, and follows the difficulties of his early years at Princeton. The movie won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Lord of the Rings trilogy: Adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-volume book The Lord of the Rings, the epic trilogy is set in Middle-earth and chronicles the journey of Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship to destroy the Ring. The critically acclaimed films are three of the highest-grossing of all time and won 17 Academy Awards in total. Harry Potter series: Based on J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novels about an adolescent wizard, the films follow Harry Potter and his friends’ adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The sixth movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is set to be released in theaters July 17, 2009. Little Miss Sunshine: This unique American comedy-drama chronicles the journey of a dysfunctional family taking a road trip to the Little Miss Sunshine children’s beauty pageant. Viewers saw an unexpectedly serious performance from Steve Carell and an exceptional performance from young Abigail Breslin, the fourth youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. Juno: Starring Ellen Page as an independent-minded pregnant teenager, this hilariously quirky love story is best embodied by the line, “I know people are supposed to fall in love before they reproduce, but normalcy’s not really our style.” The low-budget independent film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to surpass all expectations by winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The Dark Knight: This Batman Begins sequel could easily be called one of the most anticipated movies of all time. After Heath Ledger’s death in January, fans of the actor looked forward to seeing one of his last performances amidst talk of a posthumous Academy Award for his performance as the Joker. Still in theaters after 11 weeks, the movie has earned more than a half-billion dollars in domestic revenue and is now the second highest grossing film of all time domestically, behind “Titanic.”

Jess’s Picks:Pirates of the Carribean: Providing the perfect blend of comedy, action, fantasy, and romance, this film took an old-school Disney ride and made it into a household favorite. Intended as a summer blockbuster, “Pirates” exceeded expectations and broke records. Though the consequential sequels were more than disappointing, Johnny Depp’s performance was enough to put this lengthy flick on the record books.

The Lord of the Rins Trilogy: It brought out the inner geek in all of us. Truly epic, the journey through Tolkein’s magical world lasted for over nine hours across the span of three films. With a huge cast, LOTR was a colossal and yet highly successful undertaking that will no doubt be remembered for years to come for its enthralling intensity.

Love Actually: This is arguably the best romantic comedy in years. The film follows several, entangled love stories all based in London. Pulling on heartstrings, this British film covers a wide spectrum of the highs and lows of love. Showing a lasting understanding of romance, this is not merely a chick flick but seems to speak to viewers everywhere with humor and heart.

Borat: Shockingly offensive. Shockingly wonderful. Shockingly hilarious. This comedy was a surprise hit that took America by storm. Following a Eastern European journalist through his cross country romp through the US, Borat left nothing off limits. Pushing comedy to the extreme, Borat is far from forgettable.

Little Miss Sunshine: Making extraordinary use of an ensemble cast, Little Miss Sunshine road-trips with a dysfunctional, new American family. With an offbeat indie vibe, Little Miss Sunshine allowed audiences to revel in delicious sarcasm and magnificently dynamic characters. These lovable losers somehow survive the obstacle course that is life, giving us all a bit more hope.

Chicago: 1920’s criminal queens never sounded so good. Taking a stage classic to the cinema, Hollywood stars showed their musical and dancing talents. Darkly cynical and strikingly visual, Chicago is not your grandma’s musical. It updated an old-fashioned musical and brought it into modernity with class and charisma.

Pan’s Labirynth: Shifting between disturbingly twisted fairytale and the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, this award winner from the Mexican Cinema challenged viewers’ morality. Hitting on universally challenging moral themes, Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fairytale for a modern generation.

The Departed: It’s a classical game of cops versus mafia. But this film is a roller coaster, set in Boston, of unpredictable twists and turns. Packed with an all-star cast, this intense drama will definitely stay in the mind of future viewers.

Gladiator: This film is largely responsible for Russell Crowe’s colossal ego. Still, this film details the dramatic life of a Roman Gladiator with the throes of romance, the pains of loss, political intrigue, and the illustrious glory that comes from kicking butt gladiator style. It promises to be shown in high school history classes for years to come because of its classical quality.

Pride and Prejudice: Finally, cinema was able to capture a faithful adaptation of Jane Austen’s memorable heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. With beautiful, British scenery and a delightfully committed cast, this period piece found a place in the hearts of literary lovers and film goers alike.

Syzmon’s Picks:American Beauty: Kevin Spacey is brilliant in this ode to self-discovery and American family values. With seemingly strange plot points viewers can be turned off to this film at first, but after convincing character growth and development the message of the film will stay with the viewer long after the credits.

The Dark Knight: The most recent film on this list takes the conventional superhero film and ups the antee. With brilliant performances by the three leads (Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, and the mind-blowing Heath Ledger) we experience the story of a city on the brink of collapse. A masked vigilante, a mad man who thrives off destruction, and a passionate district attorney weave together a captivating crime drama which will most likely be remembered this award season and long afterwards.

The Shawshank Redemption: Based on a novel by Stephen King, “The Shawshank Redemption” tells the story of a state penitentiary and the brutal regimen the men in the prison must live by. The tag line “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free” is probably the best summation of all this film manages to accomplish within its run time.

The Usual Suspects: This crime thriller with a compelling narration causes the viewer to ask many questions, but it entertains throughout. Told through the eyes of Verbal Kint, the viewers are led on mission filled with twists by a man who has been described as the devil, the dangerous Keyser Söze

The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King: Though it is only a third of the trilogy, ROTK is where everything truly comes together for the viewers. With infinitely epic battle sequences and a musical score that ranks amongst the best, this film trilogy impacted the cinema landscape during our lives. Boasting 11 academy awards, this film caused both fans and critics alike to find something to love in this fantastical narrative.

WALL-E: Another recently-released film, it gives viewers a childrens’ cartoon with the depth and social commentary that few other films achieve. Perhaps the greatest filmic achievement thus far for the team at Pixar, it tells the story of the last remaining robot on earth. The film manages to run for a full 30 minutes without any dialogue, intriguing and captivating audiences with simple visuals and a charming little robot.

The Departed: A crowd favorite, this film has an all-star cast, Martin Scorsese, and Notre Dame references. With two separate, simultaneous stories, a series of twists, and a significant amount of double agents, “The Departed” departed with four Academy Awards and gave Scorsese his first directorial Oscar win.

Requiem for a Dream: Darren Aronofsky’s second film is about drug addiction in many of its forms, and the prices that are ultimately paid. The story is merciless to its characters, and as the seasons slip into winter so do the characters slide into the comfort of their addictions until the shocking conclusion leaves the viewer shaken and perturbed. A combination of stylistic camera work, clever film editing and a string-filled score, “Requiem for a Dream” is artistic and unforgettable.

Forrest Gump: A charming story about a man with physical and mental challenges who makes history wherever he goes. Be it Vietnam, the desegregation of the University of Alabama, or the playing of ping-pong with the communist Chinese, Forrest is a loveable character wand lives by the motto that “stupid is as stupid does.”

Pulp Fiction: Director Quentin Tarantino filled “Pulp Fiction” with quick dialogue and non-linear story telling, and it helped kick start the careers of many of its actors. With a significant amount of violence, a barefooted dance scene, and humor in the most bizarre situations, Tarantino scored major success with both critics and fans alike.