When asked what they want to be when they grow up, most children respond with astronaut or ballerina, yet when I was asked this question at the tender age of twelve I said, "A writer and director of scary movies."
Not exactly what my mother and father wanted to hear.
Needless to say, I am not a film director. What I am is a storyteller. A writer. As a writer, I spend hours of every day creating and imagining. When I'm not in my office, I am either curled up with a book or sprawled out with Netflix & my DVR. Passion breeds passion. Creativity breeds creativity. Some people may call it a lazy hobby, sitting in front of the boob-tube for a few hours (or whole Sunday if you're binging... #guilty), but I find the art of film to be brilliant inspiration.
It should come as no surprise that being a contributing writer for Moviepilot is an absolute blast since it combines my love for both writing and films. I was stoked this morning to see that Sparsh Bajaj had posted a writing challenge up in our forum. The Pick-A-Flick Challenge urges us to answer 5 simple questions on which movie titles have left a mark on us.
Undoubtedly, this is a near-impossible feat, since there are no clear-cut choices, but I will attempt to dredge through my crowded mind for some personal favorites.
1. Best Moment
Everyone said the best dialogue category would be the hardest, but I think best moment was. There are so many great movies with so many great moments that it was almost impossible to decide. I thought about the first time I watched Pulp Fiction and learned about Quarter Pounders in France or the classic ease of Gene Kelly singin' in the rain. But if I had to choose I would go back to my childhood to the first time I watched Wes Craven's Scream. The opening scene, 13 terrifying minutes of Drew Barrymore in peril, is still one that resonates with me today, twenty years later. Not only did it have all of the classic elements of horror (references to other horror films, morbid humor, surprise, & violence), but it made a bold move by killing its biggest star right out of the gates. It was Craven's way of letting the audience know that anything could happen. And who could forget when the camera panned out to show Barrymore's gutted body hanging from a tree? Epic.
2. Best Plot/Story
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Bryan Singer's film The Usual Suspects centers around five criminals who are brought together in a seemingly random police lineup and the events that led up to a gruesome gun fight. The movie boasts a brilliant ensemble cast and leaves you shocked and amazed with its final big plot twist. Garnering two Academy Awards, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Kevin Spacey), The Usual Suspects is a classic for both mystery and action film fans, and left me wondering, " Who is Keyser Soze?"
3. Best Dialogue
One of the harder categories, dialogue is seemingly the essence of a movie (unless you're referring to The Revenant). In any case, my film for best dialogue would have to be Mike Nichols' Closer, starring Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Jude Law, & Natalie Portman. Based on the stage-play by Patrick Marber, the movie follows two couples as their relationships become entangled in deceit and disloyalty. Why did I choose Closer? Well, I look at it this way... Everything revolves around love. Wars are started, art is created, and nature destroyed all because of it. Everything we do is for love. The pursuit of love, the loss of love, the reward of love... The dialogue in Closer is a realistic, honest display of love in the twenty-first century & what it does to us. The scene I posted below (between Clive Owen & Julia Roberts) is one of my favorites: I felt like a fly on the wall the first time I watched this. I believe great dialogue should make you feel that way.
4. Most Intelligent Flick
I bounced back & forth over which film to nominate and what I found interesting was that Christopher Nolan's name kept surfacing. As a huge fan of Nolan, I love how his films illicit a mysterious level of contemplation from me. The Prestige and Inception kept me thinking about magicians and illusion or alternate realities, for weeks after I left the theater. Yet, it was 2014's Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey & Anne Hathaway, that has resonated in my mind and continues to keep me baffled, even today. Nolan's story centers around a team of explorers who travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to save humanity. The logistics of time and space still allude me, but each time I watch Interstellar I feel like I am that much closer to the answer.
5. Best Movie
Another recent film, Alejandro G. Inarritu's Birdman is, beyond debate, my choice for best movie. When I first saw the trailer I was skeptical. What was this about? It looks weird & Michael Keaton looks old. Hmm... Then, I watched it. Then, I watched it again and again and again. It has been an extremely long time since I watched a film back-to-back. Every time I watched it, I found something new in each scene, something I had missed before, and every joke became funnier. Keaton shines as Riggan, a washed-up Hollywood actor, who attempts to make a comeback on Broadway. The cinematography and fluid camera-work is innovative, the writing is superb, and the cast (Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis) brilliantly talented. It came as no surprise that Birdman won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015. And if you haven't seen it... Well, I have nothing to say to you.