Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Favorite Films BEFORE My Lifetime: 1981

Sorry about the whole "My 2014" articles not panning out.  Life just wasn't giving me to the time to put forth the effort.  

Last year, during my birthday month I did a series called "Favorite Films Of My Lifetime" which was a lot of fun and people seemed to enjoy and play along with.  So, this time around, I decided I'd follow it up with a prequel, going backward, doing the films that came out before I was born during the whole month of January.  We're going 1981 on down to 1951 and listing my 6 favorite movies from each year.  Backwards instead of forward.  In the comments, Facebook or Twitter feel free to play along and list your 6 favorite films from each year.  

Everybody ready to do this again?  Good!  Here we go.  First the Academy Award nominees and winner for Best Picture in 1981.  Yes, Raiders Of The Lost Ark was that awesome it got nominated for Best Picture.

WINNER - Chariots Of Fire
Atlantic City
On Golden Pond
Raiders Of The Lost Ark

This was a super tough year.  Not only were there so many damn slasher films that I loved in this year (Friday the 13th Part 2, My Bloody Valentine, The Prowler, Happy Birthday To Me), but there were many cult films or early films from known directors that didn't make the cut either (Thief, Gallipoli).  But as always, I go with what films I've watched with more frequency and have stuck with me and impacted me over the longest period.

Blow Out

If you can't tell from the background wallpaper on this site over the years and now the banner image...I kinda dig this movie quite a bit.  This little thriller is both my favorite Brian De Palma film and John Travolta performance (Saturday Night Fever is a close second).  Its a terrific little Hitchock-like thriller (I mean, duh, its De Palma) featuring a foley artist that happens to record the audio of a political assassination.  John Lithgow turns in a creepy and terrifying performance as a loony assassin.  I had never heard of this one til around when Pulp Fiction came out and Quentin Tarantino was raving about it when talking of Travolta.  Thanks for the recommendation, QT!

Escape From New York

My 2nd favorite John Carpenter film.  Its a sort of post apocalyptic B-movie masterpiece.  Kurt Russell reinvented himself with the satirical role of Snake Plissken and he's to this day one of the greatest anti-heroes ever.  Myself, Jim Dietz and Aaaron Neuwrith dropped some commentary awesomeness with this one last year and you should definitely check it out HERE.  We have plenty to say on this film.  

The Evil Dead

I know when it comes to this series, everyone's favorite is the 2nd one, but my heart has always belonged to the original.  When I first saw it I was at a perfect age and this thing managed to scare the living shit out of me.  Growing up, I've found a fondness to some of the more campyness to the film, but I think the effects in the film still manage to hold up as they really gross me out (That cream corn oozing from the sleeves at the end makes me not want cream corn ever).  I did a retrospective on this one a couple years back and you can find a full (passionate) article I wrote on the original film and the whole series to the right.

 The Road Warrior
aka Mad Max 2

Still one of the greatest action spectacles of all time.  I love the approach of the film being just sort of a one off story from Max's many journeys in the post apocalyptic wasteland.  While I enjoy the original quite a bit, this is one of the cases where the sequel easily trumps the original.  The stunt work and practical effects in this film are still breathtaking and aw inspiring today.  This is the film that stands as one of them that vehicular chase scenes should want to match.  Knowing how to frame shots and choreograph shots goes for a lot more than just shaking the hell out of the camera in the post production room.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Well, duh this was making the list.  This was the next progressive step in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg bringing their childhood favorites to life or "making movies we'd want to see".  Spielberg had always wanted to do a James Bond film and negotiations with the Broccoli's always resulted in them hesitant to pull the trigger on him.  So, he and George just decided to make their own.  The "American James Bond", where they had their love of adventure movie serials updated and fully realized in a big budget blockbuster cinema form.  Just imagine how different history might be, and the MASSIVELY impactful movies that wouldn't exist had Spielberg done a Bond film and George Lucas obtained rights to make a Flash Gordon movie?  See, you don't need to remake already good properties, just use it as inspiration for your own.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, we all know how awesome this movie is.

Superman II

This isn't as epic or grand as the first movie, but as a superhero/comic book film, it really delivers the goods quite well.  Its also the film that started the whole "giving up being a superhero" storyline that has been done over and over again in comic book hero sequels.  This one features the iconic Kryptonians, giving Superman some equals to do some big battles with.  The Metropolis downtown battle is still really awesome.  The film also features some solid humor.  I prefer the Donner cut of the film, but I still think the original theatrical edition is still fun and enjoyable.  I wrote about this and the rest of the cinematic adventures of Superman in more detail, which you can find by clicking the link on the right.

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