Friday, February 5, 2010

My 20 Favorite Miramax Movies

I realize that everyone and his (blogging) brother in the movie blogiverse has done this entry. But, just like when I started this blog, it looks like am going to be stuck up at the front desk for a while. So I thought I might add my two cents (or 20-21 cents). One thing I found interesting/amazing as that the Weinstein's first movie on which they built their inevitable empire was the this low-budget slasher, The Burning (1981) .

Starring Jason Alexander!

Anyway, so Disney finally decided to stick a fork in Miramax. But they left a pretty rich cinematic legacy, of course. Here are my twenty favorites. (Warning: there's a lot of Tarantino on here. What can you do?)

20) Bob Roberts (1992)

Pretty amazing mockumentary about a folk-singing conservative. Check out the cameo by a young Jack Black!

19) Sex, Lies, and VIdeotape (1989)

Not only put Steven Soderbergh, and to an extent, indie filmmaking on the map. But is also one of about only three really good movies that Andie Macdowell managed to be involved in.

18) The Tall Guy (1989)

I remember first seeing this in high school and being caught offguard by just how nuts this movie is. Nuts in a very very good way. Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblum are pretty amazing here-particularly in that sex scene. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the party after the opening of the musical, and in particular as the camera pans around the room and catches the writers excitedly talking about what their next project should be.

17) Heavenly Creatures (1994)

In my opinion, still Peter Jackson's best movie.

16) Amelie (2001)

This movie, for all intents and purposes, should probably annoy me. But its so beautiful and, dare I say, cute in just the right way that it avoids being annoying. Its a hard line not to cross, but this movie manages it.

15) There Will Be Blood (2007)

Tough and beautiful look at capitalism run amok . With a powerhouse, for-the-ages turn by Daniel Day Lewis.

14) No Country For Old Men (2007)

Like I said before: "Javier Bardem plays a human Predator here, a force of nature that seems like it can't be stopped, can't be killed, and plays by its own very strict set of moral guidelines. He is chasing Josh Brolin around the Southwest, all for a suitcase full of cash that Brolin happened upon. While Tommy Lee Jones stands off to the side as the older man, who is being passed by by this newer, brutal world. It is absolutely amazing to me that the Coens can followup two goofy movies like Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers with this semi-surreal tension delivery system. Its really an amazing feat what they were able to do with Cormac McCarthy's sparse source material. And it should really be shown as example of why they are masters at their craft, both in writing and the actual filming/look of the film."

13) Good Will Hunting (1997)

A sentimental favorite to be sure. But for its flaws, there is a lot of good here. I wish Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would collaborate on another script soon. Ben could even direct.

12) Trainspotting (1996)

The one that put Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor on the map. (Although their Shallow Grave the year before was good too) This was like a second slap in the face from Miramax after the success of Pulp Fiction two years earlier. Its just a crazy tour de force trying to capture the life of a junkie. The opening sequence set to "Lust For Life" is amazing.

11) The Grifters (1990)

I know I just wrote about this one, so I will just reiterate: a crazy dark, crazy twisty little neo-noir with three con people all trying to pull one over on one another.

10) Clerks (1994)

Sure the acting and production are pretty amateurish but the magic is in the writing here. Even if the enterprise comes off as clunky at times, there was some real originality, at the time, to Kevin Smith's writing. Its only when he copied himself a thousand times it would start to wear a little thin. And also, how can you not root for a film that was done as this sort of guerilla effort, maxing out credit card and the like....the production has become sort of legendary. I dunno, it has stuck with me the most. Which seems odd, I know.

9) Reservoir Dogs (1992)

We all know now that Tarantino probably took a lot of this movie from some Japanese movie we had never heard of at the time. But when this came out and I saw it in high school, it went a long way towards making me into the film nerd I have "evolved" into today. I can safely say that is the case for a lot of people my age. Tarantino caught us by surprise, and made us all want learn about the cinema he had grown up on and would keep continuing to bring to the forefront.

8) Flirting With Disaster (1996)

My First introduction to David O. Russell. One of Ben Stiller's best movies. Actually everyone here is good. Richard Jenkins being another standout. An amazing little road trip comedy, as Ben Stiller has a personal crisis and sets out to find his birht parents.

7) Jackie Brown (1997)

I feel like this movie gets completely slept on when people are talking about Tarantino films. Although that seems to be changing. I remember it did take me sometime to get into this one, but when I finally did there were a lot of rich rewards to be had. One of many is the performances by Pam Grier and Robert Forster. And that opening title sequence is incredible.

6) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Amazing swashbuckling adventure. I feel like this is another one that doesn't get the respect I think it deserves.

5) Beautiful Girls (1996)

I am a sucker for movies where, especially good movies naturally, where people return to their old home towns. If done well, it can be amazing. And in this instance, I really think it is. It has a solid ensemble cast, and a lot of laughs. And "Sweet Caroline" and "Beth" and the Afghan Whigs covering Barry White. All up in frigid upstate New York.

4) Swingers (1996)

Yeah, I know this became as annoying as Borat with every dude on earth quoting it all the kind but still-it is REALLY quotable, even the not so obvious quotes. This launched Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and Doug Liman's careers. Also interesting because it captures it very specific place and time, but doesn't feel so much dated as much as just a snapshot of a certain moment.

3) Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)

Absolutely awesome revenge/thriller/action movie etc. from Tarantino. I am not sure why, whenever he puts out a movie people want to try and pigeonhole him. Just let him keep making amazing movies from the pop culture detritus thats floating around in his head. Why try to make him like other filmmakers?

2) City Of God (2002)

Amazing crime saga set in the favelas of Rio that came sort of out of nowhere and knocked me on the side of the head. It really is pretty breaktaking.

1) Pulp Fiction (1994)

This built on Reservoir Dogs, upping the ante and then some. If Reservoir Dogs knocked us for a loop in high school, this came along and finished the job. I mean it was everything, not only the clever dialogue and pop culture references (which made being talky cool once again-but only if its this clever and interesting- a little throwback to the French New Wave) to the mysteriousness of it, to the playing with chronology, to the pastiche/homage from gangster/crime movies that Tarantino loved and grew up on-what should have been a hopeless mishmash was turned into an amazing....well, thrill ride.I could go on. But I will say, Tarantino, with this movie, really did change the game.


  1. Good write-up, Kevin. We have to see "The Burning."

  2. how have i not seen half of these?!? good suggestions.

  3. GREAT list!! I love more than half of these films, while at least enjoying the others. Heavenly Creatures-- amazing movie and I'd agree with you, best PJ film! Trainspotting is my top five fav movies of all time. I just presented the song Temptation that is on that soundtrack to my oral presentation class-- Moby did a cover of the New Order song, so I was comparing the two.

    Beautiful Girls--- again, on my top five films of all time. I absolutely adore this film and could watch it a million times. I wish they would make a sequel.... you know, Marty all grown up and still fancies the handsome Will. They would fall in love and live happily ever after. :) A beautiful girl, is a wonderful thing. Love Michael Rappaport and all the music in this film too. I have a crush Timothy Hutton forever because of his role in this film! Sorry for the novel......

  4. Don't be, I love this movie and I don't think it gets nearly enough love. While I would be interested in a sequel, I like just sort of leaving the characters where they were. A sequel might ruin things. Plus, I would want the same director to capture that similar feel, and that would be impossible since he, Ted Demme, passed away. My one hope would be that Natalie Portman's character moved out of that small town.