Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Do You Choose Just 10 Golden Globe Movies?

After the wild success of our first draft, America's Best Sports Cities, we decided to hold another one. Here's how it went down:

Kavanaugh: In order to take it away from sports for a bit (though I'm sure we'll get back to sports soon enough), here's my next draft idea: "10 Desert Island Movies."

The catch is we'll take five movies each from the Comedy/Music and Drama Golden Globe nominees. That's the only criteria I can think of. Re-watch value will be key, since you're stuck with these movies forever.

FranT: That sounds great! I agree that January has been a pretty sports-heavy month at How Blank. Before we get started, can you please tell me why the hell musicals and comedies are lumped together in the Golden Globe nominations?

Kavanaugh: Haha, yeah, I have no idea. According to the site, for purposes of the award, a musical is defined as "a comedy or drama where the songs are used in place of spoken dialogue to further the plot." Whatever. At least the inclusion of musicals makes The Lion King an eligible pick.

FranT: With the first pick, I'm taking my all-time favorite movie, Braveheart (Drama, 1995). Mel Gibson was an absolute beast at the height of his men-want-to-be-him/women-want-to-be-with-him powers. The movie is always on TNT, and it seems like every time you flip it on, there's a great scene. A little not-so-secret secret: almost every scene is unforgettable.

And the quotes ... William Wallace is probably the most articulate historical-yet-probably-pretty-fictional character in movie history. "Every man dies; not every man really lives." "Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse." "And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance..."

Okay, I better stop. When you throw in my Irish heritage and resultant disgust for British colonialism,* Braveheart is the top pick. Freedom!

*Should I use my next pick on In the Name of the Father? 

I'm assuming that many more dramas are going to come off the board at the beginning of this draft, and I'm excited for your pick. Whereas in the last draft I usually had an idea of your next selection, I have no idea in this one.  

Kavanaugh: My No. 2 overall pick is The Godfather (Drama, 1972). The sign of a great movie is that the more you think about it and look up YouTube clips, the more you want to clear your schedule and pop on the entire thing. That's what I want to do right now. 

It probably needs no introduction, but I'll give it a short one. Classic lines and scenes galore. The horse head and "make him an offer he can't refuse," "don't ever take sides against the family," and "look what they did to my boy."

But it's actually the characters and actors that make those scenes great:

Brando as Don Corleone -- One of the best actors playing a badass quickly losing his grip on the business, with that signature lisp.

Robert Duval as Tom Hagen -- One of the smartest dudes in the operation, but since he's not Italian, all he can be is "consigliere," and even that position is questioned by the Corleone brothers.

James Caan as Sonny -- The fiery, emotional brother.

Pacino as Michael -- Michael Corleone was the original villain who the audience got to witness "break bad." From the quiet, absentee brother in the beginning of the movie, to the famous ending scene when they start calling him "Godfather," it's a great transformation to watch as he puts his considerable smarts to use in Mafia dealings. Also kind of tragic in a way, seeing as how his father saw potential in him to be a lawyer or congressman, but he couldn't help but take over the dirty family business.

Diane Keaton as Kay Adams, Michael's Girlfriend -- His ability to lie right to her face at the end shows how far along he's come.

On top of all that, Mafia movies are awesome and will always be awesome.

FranT: Agreed. The Godfather is so iconic that it's inspired countless imitations and parodies. It also set the stage for future Mafia movies like Goodfellas and my next pick -- The Godfather: Part II (Drama, 1974). This was actually going to be my second selection regardless of your choice, but I apologize to the readers for the overlap.

I like the sequel better for a few reasons. I think it has more action, I have a man-crush on the young De Niro,* I love the Fredo subplot, and I can't get enough of the Little Italy scenes. When my eighth graders study immigration, I show the clip of the parade scene that climaxes when Vito kills Don Fanucci. My students usually make fun of the clip in the beginning ("Why do we have to watch 1920's movies?"), but when it's over they want to watch the entire film. Unfortunately, that would take about three weeks of class time, but I would love to do it before I retire.

*If you're scoring at home, that's two man-crushes for me in my first two picks. I'm batting 1.000!

I'm beginning to think life on a desert island wouldn't be too bad. I could wake up every morning and spear some breakfast fish, watch Braveheart, eat lunch, go for a jog, explore a little, make a raging fire, then turn in and watch The Godfather II under the stars.

And I still have eight more picks!

Kavanaugh: Nice one. It makes sense that both of us would have a Godfather in the top 10. With my fourth overall pick, I'm changing directions and taking The Hangover (Comedy/Musical, 2009). This draft of nominees is actually a little starved for comedies (No Old School? No Caddyshack??), and The Hangover stands out. I'm going to need some good ones in my 10-movie rotation.

So that's the rationale for making the pick this early. The movie itself should be self-explanatory. It's our generation's Animal House, but it's almost better in that everyone can relate to a good bachelor party weekend (or simply a good hangover), whereas Animal House and Old School have specific college contexts.

The two stories in the movie (trying to find a lost friend, and trying to piece together the night) make a hilarious story structure, featuring great characters like Ken Jeong, Mike Tyson, and Eddie ("Oh, my God, they shot Eddie!"). Sorry, but "guys get drunk, hilarity ensues" is good enough for me, and I'm just thankful it was good enough for the Hollywood Foreign Press as well so I can bring it with me to the Island. Might make me kind of depressed that being on said island would therefore make it impossible for me to ever attend another bachelor party, but that's not a hypothetical I'd like to explore.

Also, Zach Galifinakis's Alan will go down as one of the classic comedy characters from this time. He inspired a generation of morons to make jokes about their friends being a "wolfpack." Not at the table, Carlos!

FranT: The Hangover is a good flick to give you some laughs when you have the desert island blues.

I'm going to take us back to the Drama category, because the movies on that list are so much better. With the fifth overall pick, I'll select "Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife." I'm taking Gladiator (Drama, 2000) so I can watch Maximus have his vengeance over and over again. 

Aside from the creepy brother-sister subplot, Gladiator will bring me hours of entertainment on the Island. Strength and honor.

Added bonus: Russell Crowe gives me a third man-crush in as many draft picks.

Kavanaugh: Damn! Part of the strategy early in this type of draft has to be to scoop up the flicks that you want and that you suspect the other guy wants too. I wanted Maximus on my roster.

I'm staying in Southie for my third movie, sixth overall, and going with Good Will Hunting (Drama, 1997). I've had this conversation with people before: It's hard to put your finger on why exactly it's so good, but it just is. I guess it's just a compelling premise, even though the "story" itself is pretty basic. Young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are awesome in it, as are Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgard. There's also something about the tone, the music, and the way it all flows that is remarkable, something director Gus Van Sant is often lauded for.

It's a little cooler when you live in the same neighborhood where half the movie takes place (though that Southie is far different than today's version), and there's always the classic lines: "How do you like them apples?," "I gotta go see about a girl," and "In 20 years, if you're still here, I'll kill you."

So we are three movies each, you with three dramas and me with two dramas and one comedy.

FranT: I feel the same way about Good Will Hunting that you felt about Gladiator; my previous pick was pretty much a toss-up between those two. I like Good Will Hunting because even though it's a drama, it has a bunch of funny scenes too.

With my fourth pick, I'm going to take another drama with a bit of comedy -- Goodfellas (Drama, 1990). In addition to all the classic tense scenes (The Lufthansa Heist and ensuing Eric Clapton montage, Tommy getting whacked, Henry running for his life), there is also some hilarity. Most of that's delivered by Joe Pesci's Tommy, one of the all-time great curse-word artists in cinema history. 

I'd probably be pissed when I was famished on the Island and had to watch scene after scene of lasagna and ziti, but I'm going to grab another Mafia classic. I'm really scooping up some of my re-watchable favorites here, but I also have only one more Drama selection left.

Kavanaugh: I feel like organized crime/gangster/Mafia movies should be a category all its own, because we've selected a few of them and there are still several on the board, along with a bunch that never got nominated.

For the eighth overall pick, I'm staying in MA and taking The Fighter (Drama, 2010). It's not held in the same regard as some of the other classics on this list. Maybe it just needs time, but I already know I want to watch it over and over again. Christian Bale won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as he transformed into skinny drug addict Dicky Ecklund. It's one of those underdog stories you can't help but root for, even if you've seen it already and know the outcome.

It's also pretty funny for a drama, especially when the mother is involved, or when Dicky is running from her in the crack den.

FranT: The Fighter was on my preliminary list, too. I think the eighth pick might have been a bit high, but I'd cannibalize you if we were on the same island, so I wouldn't be subjected to your opinion of what we should watch anyways.

With my fifth pick, I'm finally taking a comedy, one of the only comedies on this list that actually makes me laugh. Can I get some cross-dressing? Can I get some Robin Williams? Can I get some pre-Bond Brosnan? Can I get some pre-Matilda Mara Wilson?

I'm grabbing Mrs. Doubtfire (Comedy/Musical, 1993), one of the few comedies about which my mother and I truly agree. The best parts of the movie happen apart from actual plot movement. I love all the scenes with the horny bus driver, the lecherous boss, and Daniel's brother and his partner. I also belly-laugh at the old lady's vendetta against Brosnan's character Stuart. "Your Mercedes?" "It was a run-by fruiting...Loser."

Bonus Clip: If watched correctly, Mrs. Doubtfire could also double as a horror film on the Island:

Kavanaugh: "I don't do well with the boys ... cuz I used to be one!" Mrs. Doubtfire will definitely be a fan favorite when we put it to a vote.

This is a good time to mention: how are none of the Christian Bale Batman movies on the Drama List? I'd take any one of them to watch over and over again. Anyway, of the ones available, I'll take Gangs of New York (Drama, 2002). You've got your own man-crushes in Scorcese flicks. Well, mine is Leo, and Daniel Day-Lewis "technically" being the greatest actor of this generation doesn't hurt either, creating a classic character in Bill the Butcher during a fascinating time in history.

We're halfway home, and we've taken four dramas and one comedy each. It feels like a long process, but by the end of it, I bet we both feel like there are still plenty of good flicks on the table.

FranT: Gangs is a good choice, and Leo is a great man-crush.

With my sixth pick, I'm using my final drama on Saving Private Ryan (Drama, 1998). Some of my comedies and musicals are probably off your radar so they'll be available later, but I knew you'd probably be gunning* for this one soon. I love this movie for the D-Day footage, the camaraderie of the soldiers, and the brilliant acting of Tom Hanks. Barry Pepper is the man as the sniper, and Tom Sizemore is a badass.

Also, it will be cool to have "Shaving Ryan's Privates" jokes to tell myself after I lose my mind on the Island.

As I play out the rest of my life in a faraway place, I'll always have Saving Private Ryan to remind me about the men who fought so that we could have a great life back in the good old
U.S. of A.

Kavanaugh: Saving Private Ryan is my ultimate "sin to have not yet seen it" movie. I know, I know, I'm working on it.

With my 12th overall pick, I'm taking Almost Famous (Comedy/Musical, 2000). Anyone who likes classic rock loves this one about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, seen through the eyes of the innocent (at least at the start) William Miller. It's an adventure that any guy who likes good music, writing, and Kate Hudson would've loved to have -- and that, I think, is what makes it so appealing to guys, even though it's not a conventional guy movie. Also, great performances by Billy Crudup and Jason Lee, who should've had more cool roles over the years.

FranT: Based on your description of Almost Famous, I guess it's a sin that I haven't seen it yet.

With my seventh pick, 13th overall, I'm snatching There's Something About Mary (Comedy/Musical, 1998). Of the Farrelly Brothers movies, I'd actually choose Me, Myself & Irene and Dumb and Dumber (DUH!) over this pick, but neither of those films was a Golden Globe nominee. Still, Mary will give me plenty of giggles on the Island. There are a bunch of hilarious scenes (Zipper, anyone?), there are some entertaining creeps, and Warren is one of the classic offensive characters in movie history.

Kavanaugh: I missed Mary! Not saying I would've picked it before now, but I legitimately didn't see it there. Good find.

Anyway -- I'm taking another brilliant Robin Williams turn with Aladdin (Comedy/Musical, 1992). The genie cracks me up even though I know every joke that's coming ("You can't elope, but helloooo honey dew!"). On top of the genie and hot cartoon Jasmine, the songs are pretty unreal ("Still, I think he's rather tasty!"). I was nervous about committing one of my five comedies to a cartoon, but I'm leaning towards a few "out there" comedies later in the draft, so I think Aladdin will help me balance that list out.

FranT: As I wrote in my
post about poor male charactersAladdin completely outkicked his coverage with Jasmine and had a weird taste in friends (a monkey and a genie).

I see your cartoon, and I raise you a better cartoon. For my eighth pick, The Lion King (Comedy/Musical, 1994) edges out Toy Story and Finding Nemo. "Hakuna Matata" and "Circle of Life" were two of the
best Disney songs ever, and the plot was entertainingly dark. Think about it: The uncle kills the dad, then the nephew has to come back and kill the uncle. Good stuff from Disney.

Kavanaugh: Yeah, I always liked how there was a little Shakespeare parallel in The Lion King.

For my 16th overall pick, I'll take Airplane! (Comedy/Musical, 1980). I'm a sucker for the slapstick and pun stuff, and this movie basically wrote the book on that. There's the great "I guess I picked the wrong day to quit drinking" sequence, and, of course, the over-quoted "Surely you can't be serious." But there's not one bad scene, and I could watch it over and over. You forget how good it is without 
a refresher since it's kinda old, and Leslie Nielsen is a master.

FranT: And it's got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his second best on-screen role ever, after his appearance on Jeopardy.

With my penultimate pick, I'm taking the ultimate re-watchable movie, Home Alone (Comedy/Musical, 1990). Along with Mrs. Doubtfire, this is the second movie I've taken that was directed by Chris Columbus, who I don't know anything about.

Home Alone was on a couple weeks ago, well after the Christmas season, and I still flipped it on. If I don't get tired of it every holiday season, I never will. The only downside of the movie is the PG rating, so we don't get to hear Joe Pesci cursing. I'm really glad I took Goodfellas now.

Kavanaugh: Where does Kareem's cameo in D2: The Mighty Ducks rank, when he's discussing the "Air Bombay Loafer" with Gordon Bombay?

I'm going with another Coppola film for the 18th overall pick, only this time it's Francis's daughter Sophia with Lost in Translation (Comedy/Musical, 2003). It's kinda weird, but it's also funny in the stuff that gets -- as the film suggests -- lost in translation, and also just in anything Bill Murray does. Plus, who doesn't love a vulnerable, despondent and
famously-underwear-clad Scarlett Johansson? The only thing better than this movie's opening scene is its closing one, which soon became a classic for obscuring what the two characters say to each other, so all you can do is wonder. I'll have plenty of time to develop theories about that on the Island.

So there are my "comedies." One drama will round out this list after your last comedy.

FranT: Okay pick, but only because most of Bill Murray's best movies weren't nominated for Golden Globes. You mentioned Caddyshack, but what about Groundhog Day and Stripes?

Anyways, my last pick is only a comedy insofar as the soundtrack can be sung in a variety of funny ways. In order to have a bunch of great music on the Island, I'm taking The Sound of Music (Comedy/Musical, 1965) with my last selection. There are many late weekend nights during which I end up butchering tunes from this film. If there is any way to find alcoholic bevies after I get stranded, I'll absolutely belt out "So Long, Farewell," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "Maria," "Do-Re-Mi," and -- in moments of longing -- "Edelweiss."

I'm pretty happy with my movie haul. Take your last licks, buddy.

Kavanaugh: I thought it would be nice to save my last drama pick for the last overall pick, but it's actually terrible because I am so torn. I'm going to trust the replay value based on me always watching some of it when it's on. I'll take A Few Good Men (Drama, 1992). People always quote the "I want the truth/You can't handle the truth" dialogue, but the real beauty is Nicholson's speech right before that with "Deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties..." Colonel Jessup became a symbol of guys willing to make unpopular, err ... extreme decisions with utilitarian justification.

If you made it this far, you read the justifications for all 20 films. Here are the 10 movies each of us will take to the Island forever:

FranT: Braveheart, The Godfather: Part II, Gladiator, Goodfellas, Mrs. Doubtfire, Saving Private Ryan, There's Something About Mary, The Lion King, Home Alone, The Sound of Music

Kavanaugh: The Godfather, The Hangover, Good Will Hunting, The Fighter, Gangs of New York, Almost Famous, Aladdin, Airplane!, Lost in Translation, A Few Good Men

Be sure to vote in our upcoming polls on the right side of the page. As always, thanks for reading!