The Year in Five Favorite Films

by | December 28, 2012 | Comments

People love making lists, and filmmakers are no different. Each year we talk to a host of different people as part of our enduring Five Favorite Films feature, in which — stay with us on this one — we ask the talent to pick their all-time five favorite films. Or, as the case may be, the ones that they’re currently into, have inspired their latest project, or just randomly tumble from their minds and into the ether in an unchecked stream of consciousness. Here then, we thought we’d have a quick look back at some of the stats and highlights of 2012…

Number of “people” we interviewed this year: 46. As is the way, we covered everyone from acclaimed directors to the hottest young actors to comedians, singing legends, mixed martial arts stars and wrongly-convicted victims of the judicial process. Next year: Craft services, fluffers and inanimate carbon rods weigh in with their movie picks. Number of those that were actually beer-drinking stuffed bears: One. That’d be Ted, eponymous star of Seth MacFarlane’s comedy hit. And we’re fairly sure he wasn’t sober. Unusually, he didn’t select any of Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy for his list, but anyone — man or beast — who picks Road House is alright by us.

Most popular film selected: Sorry kids, but The Godfather remains the enduring champ in this category. Besides the fact that it’s, you know, a masterpiece of American cinema, it’s also beloved by both directors and actors across multiple generations. They just keep picking it. Not far behind, however, were Coppola’s The Godfather, Part II (no surprises there), Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude, the Archers’ A Matter of Life and Death, Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others. Gentlemen Broncos also received some much-overdue love, but Rotten Tomatoes editors’ picks were, sadly, disqualified from inclusion.

Most popular vintner: Francis Ford Coppola (8 votes) takes the honor on the strength of the first two Godfather films, though he only received one vote elsewhere (for Dracula). His pinot noir is a tasty drop, by the way. Most popular directors not actively engaged in wine production: Stanley Kubrick and Hal Ashby (6 votes apiece) were picked across a distinct variety of their films (Ashby, in particular, got more mentions than any other director), followed by the peerless Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (5 votes), some dudes called Steven Spielberg (4 votes), Martin Scorsese (4 votes), and Woody Allen (4 votes) and the eccentric Danish ruffian Nicolas Winding Refn (also 4 votes).

Most popular decade for movie picks: Either memories are short or we’re basking in a New Golden Age of Visionary Cinema (cough), because the 2000s and those ever-beloved 1970s were tied for the most votes in this category — each scored 45 nods. The ’90s were next with 40 votes, followed by the ’80s (32 votes) and the ’60s (26 votes). Once again, Edison and the Lumière brothers were robbed. The oldest movie on anyone’s list: Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, from 1921, which was picked by Tony Bennett. The most recent: 2011’s Oscar-nominated Bullhead, released here in 2012 and chosen by Charlie Hunnam.

Best explanation for a choice: Ladies, if you’ve got your sights set on dating Daniel Radcliffe, you’d best be a fan of Jason and the Argonauts. “Within the first six months of a relationship of any girl that I’m with, I have to make her watch that film — and if she doesn’t react the way I’d like, then that’s kind of a deal-breaker. If you don’t like Harryhausen’s stop-motion then you are not going to be in my life.” We’re right there with you on that one, Harry. Most useful piece of advice given: No drugs available? Pop some Mary Poppins, says cheerful British character actor Timothy Spall. “If you haven’t got any illegal drugs, put that on and you’ll be alright.” So that’s what “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is all about, then.

The year’s boldest selection: You have to salute Megan Fox, who wasn’t afraid to tempt the gods of movie snobbery by repping for not just one, but all three of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. The list with the most noticeable absence of The Shawshank Redemption: We were wondering whether West Memphis Three member Damien Echols, who spent 18 years in the slammer on a false murder rap, would name the 1994 tale of hard-won emancipation among his faves. He didn’t, but he did tell us just how much they did play IMDb’s Greatest Movie Ever while he was in prison. Ouch. Wait, no love for Star Wars this year? Sorry George, not this time around. But we did chat with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi writer — and super-informed cinephile — Lawrence Kasdan, who shared some of his memories working with Lucas and co. And Ewan McGregor answered the phone for his interview in an Obi-wan Kenobi voice. True story.

Best themed list: Filmmaker-actor Mark Duplass dropped in to promote his latest movie with a very tastefully-curated sibling-themed list, which included You Can Count on Me, Say Anything… and Adaptation. Then, his brother Jay rolled by a couple of weeks later and impressed everyone by including Dumb and Dumber — only one of the greatest comedies of all time — as part of his five faves list. Now that’s good taste, sir. Award for Consistency: That would go to director Joe Dante, who we polled in 2010 and again this year. Three of his picks (Once Upon a Time in the West, Touch of Evil and The Bride of Frankenstein) were identical — despite two years between lists. Well played, Joe. Not that we were trying to catch you out or anything.

Most diverse list: Anna Kendrick, whose tastes ran from Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light to not-Ingmar-Bergman’s Wet Hot American Summer. As a fan of broad American comedies himself, the great Swedish auteur would surely have approved. Most entertaining ramble: Kathleen Turner, bless, while clearly a stranger to making movie lists, soldiered on toward an extraordinarily random selection — which not only included one of her own movies, but is likely the only place (this side of hell) that you’ll see Shrek and Ken Russell side-by-side. She did it all in that voice, too. Most liberal definition of “five” favorite films: Elizabeth Banks decided she’d flout the system by selecting “Any Barbra Streisand Musical — and Flashdance” as her last pick. She won’t be asked back. (We’re kidding, Elizabeth, we really like you.)

The “I’d like to thank my director” pick: This is why Jennifer Lawrence is such a savvy young star. The Hunger Games actress gave a big shout out to I Heart Huckabees in her list, which was directed by… her Silver Linings Playbook helmer David O. Russell. You guys should totally hang out and stuff: Speaking of The Hunger Games, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson had more in common than just being co-stars: Both picked Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke in their fives, while Hutcherson also named Harrelson’s own White Men Can’t Jump. “I think he’s got good taste,” Woody conferred. But we’re not worried about these two at all, honestly: Who knew that Kramer vs. Kramer was the turbulent Oscar-winning divorce workout that brings people together? It was in John Krasinski’s five faves a couple of years back, and this year his gal Emily Blunt also picked the movie for her all-time list. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Best list by the offspring of a former Genesis drummer: We’re going to have to go with Mirror Mirror star Lily Collins on this one; though her pick of dad’s tunes might not be the one you’d have expected. Most violent list from a Wes Anderson cast member: At all of 12 years old, erstwhile Penzance island Eagle Scout Jared Gilman is already hardening his tender mind with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Kick-Ass and Drive (oh how the kids love Drive). Then again, Anderson himself selected A Clockwork Orange, so perhaps his sets aren’t as peacefully picturesque as one might imagine…The James Cameron Award for Achievement in the Field of Brevity: Come on down, Tony Bennett, who dispatched his five favorites in a blisteringly efficient 28 words. That’s how you stay smooth, folks.

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