Skepsis' 100

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Give me all of your candy!
Great pick! Huge Murray fan, so you know I am digging it! Such a well made movie with brilliant acting on all spectrums. I want to go watch it again now!

I always think that it's a bit of a cheat to list 2 entries in 1 slot.
You're right, gandalf, it is a cheat. Despite that, I had to + rep it because one of them was Before Sunrise.
5-time MoFo Award winner.

So far in your top ten I've seen Back to the Future and Lost in Translation, both are alright movies. Lawrence of Arabia and Before sunrise/set look like films I'd enjoy though.
Yeah, there's no body mutilation in it

I've got Lost in Translation ready to watch, might do in the next few days if I can. Before Sunrise/Sunset I think I would also enjoy and will try and watch when I get round to watching more Linklater films, which I've been meaning to do for a while.

Thanks people. The rapid pace at which I'm putting these out might slow down a bit for the final five since I go back to Uni tomorrow and have a crapload of work to get through in about a month. I'll definitely post them though, don't want a repeat of last time.

5. American Beauty
Sam Mendes, 1999
Screenplay by Alan Ball
Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening & Thora Birch

"I feel like I've been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I'm just now waking up."

Plays out in an endless variety of potential ways: at once a scathing satire of the american dream and the shallowness of suburbia, a novel sexual and social fantasy, a family drama, a sharply witty comedy and comment on drugs, sexuality, mental health, and the dangers of consumerism and cheap vanity.

Not one - and I say this having general distaste for Thora Birch as an actress - of the actors gives a substandard performance. I only put the three stars at the top of my posts but I have to mention Chris Cooper, Allison Janney, Wes Bentley, Peter Gallagher and the brilliantly twisted Mena Suvari.

"Welcome to America's weirdest home videos."

Of course, I'm being unoriginal when I say that Kevin Spacey delivers easily one of the best performances of the 90s. He is darkly obsessed, he is funny, he is a ball of rage and he is absolutely riveting as Lester Burnham.

What really makes this film special to me, though, is the dark, morbidity that runs through its heart. Something about the juxtaposition between those opening lines and what we know from that, and Lester's emotional ascent lends the film a blackly comic atmosphere, something made only better by an excellent soundtrack and a sleek visual style.

These two scenes probably best capture what is so great about American Beauty, to me:

American Beauty is good, although it's been a while since I've seen it, I really enjoyed it and especially Spacey's performance, I probably need to watch it again actually.

Give me all of your candy!
I need to definitely revisit that. It has literally been years. I do remember it being really good, though. Great list

Well damn, this was already top priority viewing for me before I submit my 90s list to Harry Lime. Guess this is extra incentive
"Puns are the highest form of literature." -Alfred Hitchcock

I've not seen this since around it's release, but I really liked it. These days, mainstream art films, for want of a better phrase, are more common, but at the time this was quite the rarity.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Peter Jackson, 2003
Screenplay by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen & Viggo Mortensen

"Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?"

I really believe that this trilogy is the closest any film or series of films has gotten to manifesting the definition of that intangible idea known as "movie magic". There are countless other movies that have done one or two things superbly well; confined themselves to a concept or an aim - and all the better for it - that have become favourites of mine and, I'm sure, yours. But the Lord of the Rings series is the only one I've yet encountered that has everything yet doesn't try to do too much.

The majestic ensemble acting is the first thing that come to mind. In addition to the three "leads" listed up top, we have, and it's a long list:

Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Billy Boyd, Bernard Hill, Ian Holm, Dominic Monaghan, John Noble, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Brad Dourif and Miranda Otto...

...and there is not a single bad or even below-average showing. They are all consummate performances, however large or small, because they are all vitally important in creating this world.

"They had no honor in life. They have none now in death."

Visually, these films are among the most beautiful, the most brilliantly realised cinematic creations I have ever seen. Flawlessly shot and with magnificent art, set direction and costumes, again delivering a large part of what makes LOTR so engrossing and transporting. There's something wonderful about the look and feel of these films, mostly due, I think, to the meticulous attention to detail in how Middle Earth is presented to us on screen.

Finally, of course, these are films that leave very little behind thematically and in terms of story. There's so much that could be said here had I some more time, but suffice to say that I think it's absolutely miraculous that it manages to give the sufficient attention to each of its multitude of stories, that it covers so much ground thematically and emotionally, yet never feels overlong or even remotely boring or long-winded. Every battle scene is stirring and epic and each character's path brings stunning pathos.

There are an incredible amount of individual moments in Return of the King that are awe-inspiring on their own - Aaragorn, Legolas and Gimli's trip down the Paths of the Dead, Shelob's lair, the siege of Minas Tirith - it would be too difficult to name them all. The ending always gets me though. Some say it's dragged out but personally, I see a masterfully constructed finale that brings the experience to a close in superb fashion.

Give me all of your candy!
Still have not seen the full trilogy, I should probably do that, no?

Give me all of your candy!
All kidding aside, I plan on a marathon this weekend to finally watch them in sequence. I have only seen the first, and was not fully impressed until the last hour, and I must say I am excited to check it out now just thinking about it. I may start now! Great list, either way, kudos on American Beauty and Lost in Translation.