Thursday, July 23, 2015

TOP 10 GREATEST MOVIE VILLAINS

Throughout cinema's history, one thing that carries a great story is conflict. There are many different forms that conflicts can take, but the most visceral and memorable conflicts are the ones between 2 people, or groups of people. Of course, we all want to route for the good guys. We may not come out and say it, but we all want the hero to win by the end of the film. The most obvious ones are the comic book movies. Most people who watch these comic book movies are rooting for the good guy to beat the bad guy.

Sometimes, however, you get movies where the good guys DON'T win. Sometimes, in very rare situations, you find yourself rooting for the bad guy. That is when you know that you have a great villain on your hands. I really appreciate it when the villain in the movie is always 3 steps ahead of the good guys. It brings a fearing sense of realism to the character, and it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I love that.

In today's day and age, we are starting to see a lot of posts talking about how great these bad guys are. Now, I think that we should always keep rooting for the good guys to win, but here's a list of the greatest villains ever written for the silver screen. 

10.) BIFF TANNEN



Biff Tannen, played by actor Thomas F. Wilson, is the lead protagonist in the blockbuster Back to the Future trilogy. He is one of those guys that I'm sure everyone who grew up in that time period(s?) recognized. It seemed as though no matter what Marty McFly did, he could never escape the bullying wrath of Biff Tannen and the rest of the Tannen family. He wasn't the smartest tool in the shed, but he always seemed to put himself in the right situation to ruin everything for Marty.

9.) HANS LANDA




This guy is a relatively newer villain that was created in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. His ruthless interrogation tactics as a Nazi officer sent chills down my spine. His sinister smile made me hate him even more. What made him the scariest was the fact that he was so smart. There was never a point in time (until the end) where he was not 10 steps ahead of the Basterds. I think that Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson should always do Tarantino films because I have never seen 2 actors who read his scripts as perfect as them. 

8.) MR. POTTER







Mr. Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore, is the main antagonist in the holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life. If you are like me, You have watched this movie every Christmas season with your family, and every year, I not only walk away with tears of joy, but also an ever-growing hatred for this man. As George Bailey puts it, he sits there and spins his little webs like a scurvy little spider. He makes it his personal vendetta to destroy all of the good that the Bailey family creates in the little town of Bedford Falls. There really is no redemptive quality to him. He is just a "warped, frustrated old man," which is why he has made this list. 

7.) NORMAN BATES


Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, is the psychotic serial killer that murders everyone who comes and visits the Bates Motel in the Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller Psycho. His calm and cool demeanor gives us a very unsettling feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Also, the fact that he dresses like his dead mother (who is still in his basement) and kills people is also very unsettling. I've only seen this movie once, and I think that is enough for me, thanks to Norman Bates. That is why he has made this list.

6.) NURSE RATCHED





Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, is the cold and manipulative antagonist in the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this film, and deservedly so. She gives a bad name to nurses everywhere. I think the reason for why she made this list is her deadpan delivery of her sentences. She would be so conniving and cruel, but she wouldn't change the level of her voice. She is a heartless and cold woman.

5.) MICHAEL MYERS




You can never look at a kitchen knife the same after seeing Michael Myers. He is the evil, psychotic murderer out to kill his entire family in the famous Halloween franchise. John Carpenter tried to create the series with a different story for each film, but people refused to watch it if Michael Myers was not in it. Now, I know that some people might prefer Freddy Krueger as their favorite slasher villain because of his humorous jokes, but there is nothing that raises the hairs more than the silent stalking of Michael. That signature theme music will always make me look over my shoulder, and that is why he has made my list.

4.) THE JOKER



Now, when it comes to The Joker on the silver screen, you have 2 (soon to be 3) clear options to choose from: Jack Nicholson's gangster version, or Heath Ledger's anarchist version. I figure, since there is a constant argument as to which Joker people prefer, I might as well go with both. The Joker is probably the most recognizable villain from any comic book series, Marvel or DC. He has no superpowers, which is why he is so fascinating. Whether you want to look at Jack's version as a Gotham City gangster or Ledger's psychotic anarchist, you get the sense that this could actually happen in the real world. That is why The Joker has made my list.

3.) WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST




Even to this day, people are still frightened by the Wicked Witch of the West from the classic film The Wizard of Oz. If you have read other blogs that I have posted, then you know that I love this movie, and love to talk about it. The Wicked Witch of the West had to make my list, but I don't think a lot of people would disagree with me. The Wicked Witch is the essence of pure evil in the merry old land of Oz, and she would do anything in her power to destroy Dorothy and get those magical ruby slippers, even if she has to drug her with heroine (the poppies). 

2.) DARTH VADER



Of course Vader had to make my list. He is the main villain in Episodes 4, 5, and 6 of the epic Star Wars saga. Of course, he redeems himself when he kills the emperor in Return of the Jedi, but I don't think that quite makes up for slicing his own son's hand off, killing Obi-Wan Kenobi, and, oh yeah... BLOWING UP AN ENTIRE FREAKIN' PLANET! His sinister delivery, provided by the wonderful voice of James Earl Jones, has been imitated for years by children and adults everywhere. Any time you hear that signature symphonic march, you know he means business. Don't get on his bad side, because he will force choke you into submission. He is one bad dude.

1.) HANNIBAL LECTER



Never in my life have I ever seen a more compelling character than Dr. Hannibal Lecter. You know what's the funny thing about him? He's not even the bad guy in The Silence of the Lambs. But no one remembers Buffalo Bill because all people want to talk about is Hannibal. Sir Anthony Hopkins received the Academy Award for Best Actor, and he was only on screen for 16 MINUTES!!! That's how scary he is! His calm and collected demeanor and sinister smile will always haunt my dreams, but it makes me want to watch this movie over and over again. You wouldn't think by looking at him that he actually eats people. He is so smart and so calculating, he has been put on the very top of my list as the #1 Movie Villain.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • AGENT SMITH - The Matrix Trilogy
  • BILL THE BUTCHER - Gangs of New York
  • ANTON CHIGURH - No Country for Old Men
  • HANS GRUBER - Die Hard
  • THE SHARK - Jaws
  • JACK TORRENCE - The Shining
  • KEYSER SOZE - The Usual Suspects
  • AURIC GOLDFINGER - Goldfinger
  • KHAN - Star Trek Franchise
  • JIGSAW - Saw Franchise
  • EMPEROR PALPATINE - Star Wars Franchise
  • JOHN DOE - Se7en
  • OZYMANDIUS - Watchmen
  • LEX LUTHOR - Superman Franchise
  • FRANK COSTELLO - The Departed
  • GORDON GEKKO - Wall Street
  • SAURON - The Lord of the Rings
  • GOLLUM - The Lord of the Rings
  • LOTSO - Toy Story 3
  • MALEFICENT - Sleeping Beauty
  • CRUELA DE VIL - One-Hundred and One Dalmatians
  • SCAR - The Lion King
  • GASTON - Beauty and the Beast
  • VOLDEMORT - The Harry Potter Franchise
  • COL. TAVINGTON - The Patriot
  • KING EDWARD LONGSHANKS - Braveheart
  • SHOOTER MCGAVIN - Happy Gilmore
  • JAFAR - Aladdin
  • THE TERMINATOR
  • HAL 9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • ALEX DELARGE - A Clockwork Orange
  • MAGNETO - The X-Men Franchise
  • MEGATRON - The Transformers Franchise
  • PRESIDENT SNOW - The Hunger Games Franchise
  • COMMODUS - Gladiator
  • DET. ALONZO HARRIS - Training Day
  • TYLER DURDEN - Fight Club
  • REGINA GEORGE - Mean Girls
  • MIRANDA PRIESTLEY - The Devil Wears Prada
  • JUDGE DOOM - Who Framed Roger Rabbit?






Saturday, July 18, 2015

TOP 5 BEST MOVIES vs. TOP 5 FAVORITE MOVIES

Hey, everyone (and by everyone, I mean all 6 people that probably still check this thing.)

It has been quite a long time since I have posted a blog (August 9th, 2013, almost 2 years!) on this site. I feel that it is time to resurrect the ever-popular MIKE'S FAVORITE THINGS segment of the new and improved: Stealin' The Spotlight with the Real Mike Barry!

And, of course, this one will be all about something that I love, MOVIES!

So, over the years, people have often asked me what my favorite movie of all time is. It used to be a very simple answer for me. But, the more that I have thought about it, the more I have come to realize that it is not quite as simple as it used to be.

Now, those of you that know me are aware that I go and see quite a lot of movies. In fact, for the past 3 years, my wife and I (Oh yeah, did I mention I got married?!?!) have made it a point to go and see every single motion picture that is nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Of course, we don't limit ourselves to just those movies. We do go see other movies, but we do hold the films we go to see to a high standard. Every once in a while, we'll go slumming and see a movie that we know will be bad, but we just want to see it anyway because why the hell not, right?

I guess you can say that we are both movie snobs. I like to think of us more as movie enthusiasts.

But, there are certain movies out there that, despite what critics and moviegoers may say, make me want to watch over and over again. I know that some of them are not great movies. I know that. But for some reason, I find them to be awesome.

That's when I realized that there IS a difference between the best movie that you have ever seen, and your favorite movie of all time. They may coincide with one another, but they are 2 separate yet equally important opinions.

So, first I am going to post a movie that is on my list of Top 5 Greatest Movies That I Have Ever Seen, and then I'm going to follow it with a movie that is in the same spot on my Top 5 Favorite Movies Of All Time list. So here it goes:

GREATEST MOVIE #5: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST



For those of you that have never seen this movie, it is an adaptation of a novel by the same name written by Ken Kesey. The story is centered around a prison inmate by the name of Randall P. McMurphy whose sentence was commuted from a work labor prison to a mental hospital. Basically, he wanted to slide through his prison sentence without doing any hard labor, so he pretended to be mentally insane so they would move him to a place where he wouldn't have to do any work. He immediately starts trouble with the establishment, particularly with the manipulative and hard-hearted Nurse Ratched, and rallies the other inmates to rise against her and the rest of the hospital. The film was released in 1975. It was directed by Milos Forman, and was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, winning 5 of them, including Best Actor (Jack Nicholson, Best Supporting Actress (Louise Fletcher), and Best Picture.

Not only was I incredibly impressed with the acting performances in this movie (particularly by Jack Nicholson), but I was also moved by it's story. It's incredible to see how one man could get more out of those patients in just a few months than the nurses and doctors could in several years, just by treating them like they are normal human beings. I feel the best scenes in the movie are the scene where Mack is denied access to watch the World Series games, so he decides to pretend like he's watching it and gets all of the other patients involved, and the scene where they steal the school bus to on a fishing trip.

FAVORITE MOVIE #5: THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION



This film, based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption written by Stephen King, is all about the hard times of Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) while serving a prison sentence at the Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover, which we find out later he did not commit. The film was released in 1994, and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Morgan Freeman) and Best Picture.

Now, this movie might also be on a lot of people's greatest films of all time. It's not in my Top 5, but definitely in my Top 15. I absolutely love watching this movie. The reason why I love watching it so much is because for people who have never seen it before, the ending is AMAZING! It takes you completely by surprise (unless you read the novella). It's one of those movies that has reached marathon status on AMC. Now, some people may get sick of that after awhile, but I sit and watch it every time, and every time I always enjoy it. That's what it means to be a favorite movie, and not just the best movie.

GREATEST MOVIE #4: PULP FICTION



Now this film was also released in 1994, and it centers around 4 different tales of crime, violence, and redemption, and how they are all woven together in the gangster streets of Los Angeles, CA. The plot jumps around between these 4 stories, and does not go in chronological order. This brilliant film nabbed the Oscar for Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay, along with several acting nominations from its tour-de-force cast (John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman) and a Best Picture nom.

This film is very close to making my Top 5 Favorite Movies, as well. I love this movie. I used to be able to quote most of it, but I haven't seen it since my movies got stolen from me when I was in college. I also am a huge fan of Quentin. He may be an arrogant S.O.B., but he sure knows how to make great movies, this being the best one, in my opinion. What I admire most about his movies is that they are original. So many movies and story plots are so unoriginal, but he, even to this day, makes tells such unique and amazing stories. I will watch any movie that he makes. I haven't seen them all, but I've seen most of them.

FAVORITE MOVIE #4: FORREST GUMP



Of all the films that came out in 1994, this movie walked away with the Best Picture win, and rightfully so. We all know the story by now of old Forrest Gump. It is the fictitious story of a man who, through blissful ignorance and purity, winds up getting mixed up in some of the most iconic historical moments of the second half of the 20th century. It is also the story of his never-ending love and devotion to his beloved Jenny, and how he will stop at nothing to make sure that she is happy. The filmnot only won Best Picture that year, but also gave Tom Hanks his 2nd Academy Award win for Best Actor, making him one of only 2 male actors to win the award back-to-back years. Some might even say that it is Hank's crowning achievement.

I have been watching this movie for as long as I can remember. Not only has Forrest Gump become such an iconic movie character in my household, it has also provided my family with many laughs and tears over the years. It is one of those movies, for me, that can should be considered timeless. Some people say that it is dated because of all of the historical references that are made. But I think that since they will always be in our history books, people will still know about them, and hopefully they will continually watch this movie as I do.

GREATEST MOVIE #3: JAWS



This movie gave many generations nightmares about swimming in the oceans around Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. Based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, It is about one town's nightmarish encounter with a Great White Shark off the coast of Massachusetts and the 3 men attempting to end that nightmare. It is arguably considered to be one of the most influential films of all time, destroying the box office records of it's time. For anyone who is scared to go swimming in the ocean, this film is probably not for you.

Now, this film is also on my Favorite List as well, which you will see in just a moment. My dad used to show me this movie when I was a kid, and ever since then I have always been leery of swimming at the beach. It used to scare the crap out of me. But when I grew older, I started to appreciate the story of it so much more. What puts it on my list of Greatest Movies is the fact that this movie had such a cultural impact on our society. It not only was the basis for so many more shark-related horror films to come, but it also was a major reason for the Great White Shark population to drop in the 70's and 80's. IT LITERALLY ALMOST COMPLETELY WIPED OUT AN ENTIRE SPECIES. That's how impactful this movie was. Also, John Williams created one of the most terrifying scores in movie history as the sweet cherry on top.

FAVORITE MOVIE #3: JAWS



Like I said, I told you that this movie would make this list as well. I have seen this movie so many times in my life. There's really only one other movie that I have seen more, and it is the at the top of this list. I have seen it so many times, I even created the rules for the drinking game to this movie. Not only is it full of quotes, but it was also filmed in my home state of Massachusetts, which is just an added bonus. So yeah, it is also one of my favorites.

GREATEST MOVIE #2: ROCKY



Now, I am not referring to the rest of the movies in the 6-part (soon to be 7 part) saga. Only the original movie could make my list of Greatest Films I Have Ever Seen. Released in 1976, our country's bicentennial, it is the Cinderella story of one man from Philadelphia who gets the chance to change the course of his life with one opportunity to show the world that he has what it takes to be a champion boxer. Apollo Creed gives him the chance of a lifetime to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship in his home city. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and also snagged some nominations for a few of it's performers (Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young).

The original movie is one of the best movies that I have ever seen. I mean, Stallone has done some really horrible flicks over the years, and they have unfortunately defined his career, but I will always remember him as Rocky Balboa. Let me put it this way: Philadelphia built a statue to Rocky Balboa which stood on the top of those famous steps for years... A friggin' statue! To a made up character! You know, Joe Frazier, former World Heavyweight champion, is from Philadelphia! But still, this movie is a movie that has inspired me over many years, especially during my athletic high school years playing football. That signature theme song will always play in my heart.

FAVORITE MOVIE #2: THE WIZARD OF OZ



This movie has proven to be a timeless classic. It was released in 1939 as an adaptation of the L. Frank Baum story. I'm not going to explain the plot to you because you should know it by now, or at least have a general sense of what it is about. It was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, and only won in the music categories because, unfortunately, another timeless classic, Gone with the Wind, came out that same year and won Best Picture. It launched Judy Garland's career, and is one of the most iconic movies of all time.

I'm not afraid to admit it: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS MOVIE! It has been a staple in my family home for as long as I can remember. Not only have I seen this movie, but I have also been able to live out my dream of playing The Cowardly Lion in a production of the staged musical back in 2011. It holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I saw it in 3D when it was re-released a couple of years ago, and it is remarkable to see how well it still holds up, even in today's modern age. If I ever have kids, this will be one of the very first movies that they will see because I never want the magic of this movie to fade.

AND FINALLY...

GREATEST MOVIE #1: THE GODFATHER



Talk about iconic. This is arguably considered to be the greatest movie ever made in a lot of critic's eyes. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo, it tells the story of Michael Corleone, a man who never wanted the life that his father, Vito, and his brothers had of being in one of the most powerful mafia families on the east coast of the US. Due to some circumstances, Michael gets brought into the mob world when his father was attacked by another rival family. Before he knew it, Michael would end up rising to power and taking over the family business. The film came out in 1973, and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning only three, including Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Picture.

The first time I saw this movie, it took me many years to watch it again. That wasn't because I didn't like it, and it wasn't because it scared me, or anything like that. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I loved the movie so much that I was afraid to watch it too much. I was afraid that I would get sick of the movie if I watched it too many times. I didn't want to ruin this movie. I have really only seen the movie in its entirety about 3 times. In my mind, this is the greatest movie that I will ever see. I have never seen a more perfectly made movie in my lifetime, and probably never will in the future. From the acting, to the cinematography, to the story itself, it will always be the greatest movie of all time, in my mind.

FAVORITE MOVIE #1: INDEPENDENCE DAY



This film, directed by Roland Emmerich, was released in 1996. For those of you that have yet to watch this movie, the plot is about a worldwide alien invasion on the weekend of July 4th, Independence Day. That's it. That's all you need to know. Simple as that. It stars Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, Harry Connick, Jr., Harvey Fierstein, and aliens. It didn't win any of the more notable Academy Awards, but it did win for Best Visual Effects, obviously. If you haven't seen it yet, please do.

Now, a lot of you are probably thinking that this is coming out of left field compared to the rest of my lists. But, those of you that know me well know that couldn't be farther from the truth. You can go ahead and make fun of me all you want for my love of this movie. Go ahead. I will never change my mind. My feelings for this movie go beyond love. Love just doesn't cut it. I know this movie, basically, line for line. Every time this movie is on television, I will watch it, regardless of what my plans are for that day. I have also created the perfect drinking game to this movie, and have played that game more than any other. I have seen this movie more times than any other movie. I really wish that they had this movie on HBO because I wouldn't mind if they showed it 400 times in a row. I would watch it each and every time. I don't care. So go ahead with your comments. I can take it. They do not bother me at this point.

... AND SCENE!

So, there you have it, folks. My first blog post in 2 years. Hopefully, I can have more opportunities to write more blogs and keep it updated for you all. If you would like to share your opinions of this list, or if you would like to post your own Top 5's, please do so. I look forward to reading what you put down.

Just remember, at the end of the day, this is just one man's opinion. Don't take this as FACT or that I'm telling you that what you think is wrong. That's what makes this country, and this world, so great!
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