Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Favorite Films Of My Lifetime: 1982

A question I've gotten asked as a film guy a lot throughout my life (and I'm sure folks who aren't try the same thing) is "What are your (10) favorite films of all time?"  Seems a simple and fair question on its surface, but to me its an incredibly complex one to someone who has engulfed themselves in film for just about their whole life.  Just 10?  I'm going to forget something or have a hard time choosing between many.  I love film.  Movies are my love and passion in life.  They've kinda been one of the most important aspects of my life and personality.  I've been on this Earth for 31 years and there have been thousands of movies released in my lifetime.  I've found myself loving many of them.  But, a bigger picture, movies have been around for over 100 years now.  Think of how many have been made from then to now.  And you want to crack that down to just 10-20...even 100 seems like you're going to be leaving off a lot.  I just don't think its fair to dwindle it down to that number.  Plus every year brings even more great films to add to history.

January is my birthday month (the 20th) and I'll be 32.  In sort of a celebration and a desire to share more about myself with my film life, I came up with an interesting approach to help kind of answer "What are you favorite films of all time". I just did my Top 10 of you kinda know where I fell "in the moment" for the year that just passed.  There's 31 days this month and 31 years of my life to cover with "favorite" films.  I've decided to go back and each day, list my 6 favorite films from each year I've been alive.  5 is such a nice easy typical round number to use, so I'm gonna step over that by one and do the unusual 6.  I'm sure there will be difficult years and some where I kind of have stretch it.  But, I figured this would be fun to do, and I'd love to have you play along and list yours as well.  Whenever your birthday hits or if you can start with this first year, then begin now.  List them in the comments.

Today we begin with 1982, the year I was born and a summer that in retrospect has been considered "legendary".  I say retrospect because, while people claim its amazing now, the films which add to that weren't considered such critically or financially upon arrival.  

Here were the films nominated for 'Best Picture' in 1982:

WINNER - Ghandi
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
The Verdict

I'd like to reveal at this point, that to this day, I have still never seen Ghandi (I have seen the trailer for Ghandi II though!).  Crazy right?  And now, my 6 favorite films from the year I was born, in glorious alphabetical order

Blade Runner

This is an incredible movie.  When I first saw it at a young age I just didn't really get it.  But, I didn't give up, and this film honestly becomes better and more interesting each time you view it.  My good friend John Rocha once said to me that he gets something new out of this movie every time he watches it.  And he's right.  Blade Runner was carefully thought out and crafted and its one that took a little time for even itself to figure out.  Upon its theatrical release it had a voice over that Harrison Ford mailed that was later removed for home video release, improving the film.  At the time, audiences and critics weren't quite ready for this tale of what it means to be human.  Not only is the film rich in its character and philosophy its also got incredibly impressive visuals that kick the shit out of any CGI landscape today. While the film tanked at the box office, its influence has been huge on the landscape of film, especially in modern times.  If I wanted to torture myself and craft a Top 10, I would imagine this would make the cut in the Top 5 of said 10.


This was like the film full of male "up and comers" for the 1980s.  The film follows the lives of a group of old friends coming together as one is preparing for marriage.  They face the tribulations, challenges and troubles with transitioning from their youth to adulthood.  I didn't see this film until college, but Barry Levinson's directorial debut really struck a cord with me I found a bit of me relating to some things.  It also felt like an honest look at the struggles of entering adulthood.  I really enjoyed his take on displaying how this close knit group of high school friends were all in a different place and in different avenues in life, but were still able to stick together no matter how thin the bond had grown.  I also loved that they had this spot where it all came together too.  This movie is also notable for introducing me to gravy & fries which they always order when they go to the diner.

E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial

A childhood film that still holds up tremendously as an adult.  Folks of a around my age have this one ingrained in the brain.  This movie also made me fear people in hazmat suits for the longest time.  Their entrance in the movie and E.T.'s sickly state made me uncomfortable and pretty scared as a kid.  I really didn't like getting through that part whenever I'd watch when I was young.  I really enjoy too, how Spielberg is able to meld in elements of pure suspense/horror in with this family-friendly tale.  It doesn't hold back and allows it to play just as haunting for an adult as it is a child.  Its surprising and comforting that this film was never sequelized and has not yet been remade.  

First Blood

As the years have gone by, this film became somewhat of a surprise and "best kept secret" to those watching it for the first time post-late 80s.  Its not all the film a novice would be expect on their inaugural viewing of it.  What most people are expecting from this one is actually what Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III are, which is nothing of what this film is.  First Blood is more drama, suspense and survival than what the series became.  You'll actually find this movie to be a compelling character story and you'll "get" what all the hub bub is about.  This was Stallone's first "comeback" film and probably the best of which.  I don't know where the bright idea was to sequelize it or take it in the direction they did came from is kind of a head scratcher.  But, Sly loves his characters and the second film was some crazy fun, so I'll take it.  But, just know that First Blood is completely a thing of its own.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

The Star Trek franchise will never top this film, and that's quite ok.  I love this tale of a captain in a time of facing middle age, the second half of his life and learning that you cannot cheat death.  Shatner is at his finest and Ricardo Montalban gives one of the greatest camp performances of all time.  This is ultimately a submarine movie with starships as it plays on wits of two intelligent men.  This film also has balls and isn't afraid to use them.  It has an incredibly gut wrenching finale that would even get the biggest Trek doubter a little emotional.  While the first Star Trek movie was a beautiful looking film, it was ultimately kind of a yawner and in slight denial of its crew members' place in life.  This more specific mano-y-mano approach was what felt like the more rewarding pickup years after the 3 seasons of television and set the series for the right course.

John Carpenter's The Thing

This is one of John Carpenter's masterpieces for a myriad of reasons.  Most recognized, is the films visual effects.  I think modern movies still have trouble getting effects as good as this movie.  The Thing is also a great mystery film that will have you still guessing and debating long after the credits have finished rolling.  This year marks 32 years since this films end credits finished rolling and we are STILL talking about it.  I think its ultimately to a film's testament when it keeps your mind going after its finished.  I love the ambiguity of McCready and Childs sitting by the fire, hopeless and laughing over a drink.  Was one of them the thing?  Was neither?  I love that the film makes people go back and look for clues and try and craft theories out about it ("Look, you can't see Childs breath!").  Its fascinating and thank you John Carpenter for never coming out and telling us what it is (take that secret to your grave, sir).

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