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Movies Page --> Dramas  

Miracle

I have to admit to my bias, as I was a humble lad of 14 when the 1980 Olympic hockey team upset the Russians, and it was one of the most vivid memories of my sports-watching life. So when Disney made this movie in 2004, I wanted to like it going in. That being said, it is one heckuva movie -- great story, great acting, and great hockey action. Kurt Russell does a remarkable portrayal of Herb Brooks (up to and including the accent), and the cast of players are phenomenal, both as actors and as players. Watch the Eruzione goal against the Russians, and think of how close the action is to the real thing.  It's almost eerie. Finally, I double dog dare you not to cry at the ending. "Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!" I watched this on an airplane once and the entire cabin applauded when we (yes, I still say "we") beat the Russians. Now *that's* a movie.

Do you believe in miracles?  Yes!!!
Apollo 13

This movie is remembered for supplying one of the most famous movie quotes of all time ("Houston, we have a problem.")  But it is so much more than that. Ron Howard directs a stellar cast that tells a great story of an amazing couple of days during the Apollo 13 mission.  Tom Hanks is great, as usual, Ed Harris is superb, and too many other outstanding actors to mention. But to me, the best part is the ending. Not to spoil anything, but when they make it, you see the 'chute open, Tom Hanks says "Houston, it's good to see you again," and the music comes up ... well, I'm reachin' for the hankies.  Just a tremendous finish to an unbelievably well-done movie.

Gladiator

Unbelievably well-done movie. From the opening battle scene to the many gladiator fighting scenes, this movie grabbed you from the get-go and kept you entertained throughout. Russell Crowe was fantastic as Maximus, the General who became a slave who became a gladiator (who writes this stuff?). Great quotes from the beginning "At my signal, Unleash Hell," and "What we do in life ... echoes through eternity" get the testosterone going, and the battle scenes are really well done. Throw in an excellent soundtrack, and you've got yourself one helluva movie.

My name is Gladiator...
Earn this. Saving Private Ryan

Speaking of realism? Check please.  The opening scene of this movie -- the D-Day invasion of Normandy -- was said to be so intense and realistic that some battle veterans could not watch it. It's definitely the most intense 10 minutes of film that I've ever seen. Some people said that the movie went downhill after that (hey, kind of like the Nazis!), but I disagree. I think it was an excellent film from beginning to end, and the cast was just fantastic. Tom Hanks is the finest actor of his generation, and that's all I have to say about that.

 

Braveheart

This one stands out as one of my all-time favorites because, well, it's got just about everything -- great music, realistic battle scenes, and a very moving ending. Mel Gibson -- before he got all kookie -- plays William Wallace, a hero of Scotand's fight for independence, and also directed this instant classic, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. See it not, and all of you will die here today. Sure it takes some liberties with the history, but it's a movie, not a documentary.

 

Do it not, and all of you will die here today...

It's not personal ... it's just business.

The Godfather Series

The only movie -- and sequel -- to both win Oscars, Francis Ford Coppolla's Godfather Series is a cinematic masterpiece. How many great lines have come from these movies?  "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." "It's not personal ... it's just business." "I knew it as you, Fredo. I knew it was you."  "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse."  One loses count. Sensational performances by too many actors to mention. Sure, the third installment was a pale comparison to the first two -- I still can't follow that plot -- but the first two were just incredible.

 

Goodfellas

Sticking with our 'wise guys' theme for a moment, this one from director Martin Scorsese is also a classic. Ray Liotta delivers a great performance as Henry Hill, teaming up nicely with Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and many other fabulous actors in an instant classic. Pesci is just incredible in this. "I amuse you how?" And when you watch it again after the Sopranos, it's fun noticing that Michael Imperioli is Spider before he became Chrisopher Moltisanti. Scorsese uses violence, drama, and music all brilliantly intertwined to create a great movie that is enjoyable again and again.

 

Give 'em hell, 54th!

Glory

Another underrated movie. Directed by Ed Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman (he's in everything, isn't he?), and Cary Elwes, this Civil War movie has one of the most emotional endings of all time. "Give 'em hell, 54th!" Great music, and a fantastic performance by Denzel.

Jaws

From a pure cinematic standpoint, this might be the finest movie ever made. I think it gets overlooked because it is considered a "fright" film by some people, but it has everything. It changed the swimming habits of an entire generation. Unbelievable performances by too many actors to mention, and perhaps the finest directorial performance of Steven Spielberg's career (sorry Schindler's List). I have this movie on DVD, but it's one of those that I have to watch every time I come across it while channel surfing. Because I'm only listing favorites here, I won't bring up the sequels. 2 was ok, but Jaws 4, the Revenge? Mario van Peebles, "It's a shark, mon!" Puh-leeze. Talk about milking a franchise.

Uh boys, I think he's back for his noon feeding...

A bunch of sounds from Jaws

Come out to the coast, have a few laughs...

Die Hard, Die Hard II

These two movies marked the rare occurrence of the sequel being just as good, if not better, than the original. Both of them had tons of great action sequences, and some snappy dialogue from Bruce Willis. I wasn't as crazy about 3 and 4, but they were not in the same class as the first two.

Glengarry, Glen Ross

Third prize is your fired. This underrated movie featured one of the finest performances I've ever seen. It was by Jack Lemmon as Shelley "The Machine" Levene, and he absolutely stole this movie. Also featuring Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, and Kevin Spacey. If you like shoot 'em up car chases, move along, there's nothing to see here. But if you like a great, dialogue-driven movie, there are few better.

Second prize is a set of steak knives...
Really, I LIVE in Queens. What, you got a team a monkeys workin' on this?

The Usual Suspects

Speaking of Kevin Spacey, he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Verbal Kint (for one) in this one, which is a little slow to get going but ends with a flourish. I think it's a must-rent from the local video store. Then tell me you're not afraid of Keyser Soze.

Shawshank Redemption

It's easy to classify this one as a "prison" movie, but it was so much more than that. It had a great story of a man's fight (Tim Robbins) to keep hope alive and find his freedom. His friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman) is the centerpiece of the movie, and the pair (as well as the rest of the cast) weave an incredibly uplifting story. The fact that it's written by Stephen King show the writer's flexibility (and I'm not just saying that because he's a Red Sox fan).

Hope

Luke, I am your father...

Star Wars

This whole series (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) was simply awesome. So many great characters, a great storyline, unbelievable music, and of course, great special effects. They simply have it all. Now I'm getting to re-live the whole thing through my kids, who are just crazy about the 'prequel' series. The only problem is, the kids have a different number system. When I say "the first Star Wars," I mean the one where Luke Skywalker blows up the first Death Star at the end. "No Dad, the first Star Wars is 'Phantom Menace,'" I am reminded. Oh well, all six of them are just fantastic.

Men in Black

This movie snuck up on me, to be honest. I missed it in the theatres, but when I finally saw it, I loved it! Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were sensational together, and the story was great. Vincent D'Nofrio was also superb. Sure, it was all pretty unbelievable and a little campy, but that was the idea. Just a great movie.

You know the difference between you and me? I make this look GOOD.

Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?

Field of Dreams

If you build it, he will come. Ease his pain. Go the distance. Totally cornball, but if you just "go with it," it is one of the best movies of all time. A tremendous baseball movie, but also a very sweet, sappy tale of a man's redemption and his blind faith in the seemingly impossible. Kevin Costner is simply great in this movie, and James Earl Jones is excellent as well. Tell me you don't tear up at the end when he says "Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?"  Be honest.

Hoosiers

In my humble opinion, the best sports movie of all time. Most sports movies are so cheesy, as the underdog defeats the big, bad, mean guys in the end, but this one is actually based on a true story. Anyone that can watch this movie and not be inspired should check with their cardiologist. Gene Hackman delivers a powerful performance as Coach Norman Dale, who takes over a small 1A high school in Indiana, and leads the team to the state championship (and in Indiana, there's no such thing as divisions, they play the big schools). Tell me you don't get inspired as Jimmy Chitwood hits the winning shot in one of the best closing sequences ever put on film. Some of the basketball scenes were a little suspect, but overall it was just fantastic.

I can make it...
A great day, comrades...

Hunt for Red October

For my money, the finest movie featuring a Scotsman playing a Russian sub captain ever made.  But that's just me. Seriously, this movie kicks you-know-what, mostly because of the compelling storyline -- based on one of Tom Clancy's best novels -- as well as a superstar cast. Alec Baldwin stars as the original (and still the best) Jack Ryan, the above-mentioned Scotsman -- Sean Connery -- stars as Captain Ramius, Sam Neill is fantastic as Connery's No. 2 sub dude, and James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn, and Richard Jordan round out just a fantastic cast.

Quiz Show

Robert Redford directed this very smart and well-done movie about the quiz-show scandals of the 1950s.  It's very well-written, interesting, and features some fantastic acting performances.  Rob Morrow is great as the lead congressional investigator in the case, but Ralph Fiennes (pronounce that name how you will) is simply incredible as Charles Van Doren.  You don't know whether to cheer for the guy, feel sorry for him, or throw stuff at the screen.  There is one scene in particular, where Charles Van Doren finally tells his father (played by the extremely well-cast Paul Scofield) the awful truth, that is the highlight of the film for me ("Your name is my name!")  Great stuff!

 

I'd like to take the last part first...

The Untouchables

Kevin Costner takes a turn as crime-fighter Elliott Ness in Prohibition-Era Chicago in this intelligent drama, taking on Al Capone, brilliantly played by Robert DeNiro. Sean Connery gives one of the finest performances of his career as the good cop in a sea of police corruption, helping Ness. But DeNiro is so damn good in this, you almost root for Capone -- until you see some of the evil stuff he does. Andy Garcia, in his big-picture debut, is also great as "George Stone." Brilliant cinematography, great music, and a compelling story combine to make this a thrilling ride.

Blood Diamond

Just an incredibly moving and powerful film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou about conflict diamonds and how they find their way out of Africa.  DiCaprio delivers, I think, the finest performance of his career, and that's saying something. Just his accent alone is enough to win me over. Not the nicest character, but he turns out well in the end. Throw in some great writing, a powerful soundtrack, and some of the best damn cinematography I've seen in a while, and you've got yourself one heckuva film.

 

 

Deja V

Great performance by Denzel Washington as a New Orleans ATF agent investigating a terrorist bombing. Using some newfangled secret government technology, Denzel and his buddies try to solve the case, but you have to see this one to believe it.  Very high production value, and a great story, although some of the technical stuff is pretty laughable.  If you can check any science knowledge you gained after the 4th grade at the door, it's an enjoyable ride.

 

Fallen

Staying with our Denzel theme for a second, this was an under-rated movie from 1998 with a great cast, and an equally great story line.  Denzel plays a Philadelphia cop battling more than he knows (although he figures it out in the end). John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, and even a pre-Sopranos James Gandolfini join him on the force, but will they be enough to deal with Azazel? Just a tremendous flick.

 

Well, those are my favorites. Do you agree, or disagree? Email me your thoughts, because I love to discuss movies, or submit your own picks.

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