Five Favorite Films

Deadpool, Life Writers Rhett Rheese & Paul Wernick's Five Favorite Films

The Pair of Blockbuster Writers Discuss Shakespeare in Love, Mel Brooks' Groceries, and Movies that Make Them Cry.

by | March 24, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, co-writers of Deadpool and Zombieland, seem to be inseparable, having met in high school in Paradise Valley, AZ and reconnected in Los Angeles. But after writing a film that brought in $783,112,979 worldwide and became the top R-rated release of all time, who can blame them? Heck, we couldn’t even separate them to ask them about their Five Favorite Films ahead of the release of their latest joint effort, Life. With that in mind, we have a two-for-one today, starting with Reese’s list and followed by Wernick’s. Would it surprise you to find not one superhero flick? See the full lists below:

Rhett Reese’s Five Favorite Films

Vertigo (1958) 94%

Number five, Vertigo. I had to go with one old movie. It’s a movie about obsession. I think it probably captures obsession better than any other movie before or since that I’ve seen. It’s got incredible rewatchability. I think — of all the movie’s I’ve ever watched — it’s the movie that gives me goosebumps most frequently from start to finish. If you could describe a movie as being funny or scary, funny is supposed to provoke laughter and scary is supposed to provoke your heart to race. That movie is just the right amount of goosebumps. It is the movie that produces goosebumps and that’s the reason I love it and I’ve watched it many, many times. It’s gorgeous, too — in San Francisco — and there are other reasons, but it’s just so wonderfully creepy and cool.

The score of Vertigo, too, is so phenomenal — Bernard Herrman. It’s very, very memorable, and it gets to the point where, even after I’ve seen the movie, I’m humming the score. Anyway, that’s my number five.

Shakespeare in Love (1998) 92%

Shakespeare in Love is my next one. It holds up so great. I’ve seen it about 15 times. All these movies are movies that I watch a bunch, and that’s my ultimate test is can I watch them over and over. Shakespeare in Love totally holds up. It is a phenomenal metaphor for Hollywood. That’s what I love about it. It’s probably the best movie about Hollywood ever made, even though it’s not about Hollywood because it’s about writing and financiers and actors, and it just rings so true. And it’s also a movie that I don’t think… I can’t speak for you [to Wernick], but I could never have written it because it very much feels of its time, and I think that’s a particular voice. Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard did it, and it’s just a particular voice that would be incredibly hard to ape, I think.

It has probably my favorite shot of all time about love, where it’s just a push in on Joseph Fiennes as he’s looking at Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s a push in on both of them, and just the look on his face and her as the object of his love; it gets me every time.

Then, of course, it’s got all that Shakespeare weaved in — Romeo and Juliet, actual lines from the play. There’s a segment right in the middle of the movie where they just do Romeo and Juliet for a montage for about five minutes straight, and it’s showing all these different things, but the words are all Shakespeare, and I love it. I just love it.

Once (2006) 97%

Okay. I’m going to Once, which is a little Irish musical made by John Carney. It’s got the best music ever. So many movies look at extraordinary circumstances and it just looks at the most ordinary circumstances. There are no bad guys. There are no dramatic turns. There are no big twists. Nobody dies. Nobody gets sick. It’s just simple. It’s about two people who meet and really start to fall for each other, but it can’t work at that moment, and they pass like ships in the night. It makes me cry.

20 minutes in, it makes you cry.

The father, who you would think would be wagging his finger at his son, saying, “Don’t do this creative pursuit,” is instead really supportive. Everyone is good in it, and it’s so heartwarming, and then the final shot. The music, it is the best. “Falling Slowly” is my favorite song, essentially. [Wernick points out it was played at Reese’s wedding.]

Yeah, and then the final shot, to me, I think it’s maybe my favorite final shot in cinema, with maybe one exception which we’re going to get to in a movie or two, but in any case, the final shot is so wonderfully heartbreaking. It will stand the test of time. It is a great movie.

Yeah, it really is. I remember my friend told me, “Come see this with me. I’m not telling you what it is.”

That’s awesome, not knowing anything. That was basically me, too. I saw these great reviews. I went in the middle of the day. I came out to the parking garage and I was crying in the parking garage after having seen it. I remember calling my parents. I said, “I don’t care what you do. In the next day or so, get to see it.”

Manhattan (1979) 94%

Number two for me is Manhattan, Woody Allen. It’s so real-life. Again, not about any extraordinary things. It’s really true to life and true to psychology. It’s funny. It takes me to Manhattan, which I love New York City. Woody had to be on the list and, for me, he comes in at number two. Also one of the great endings in history. The score, George Gershwin … It’s amazing.

Field of Dreams (1989) 88%

Okay, we’ve gotten to number one for me. I know you’re not going in order. Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner — my favorite movie. I’ve watched it, again, about 15 or 20 times. The final shot, also perfect, maybe even better than Once. The helicopter up in the sky with them throwing the baseball. To me, it’s perfect. It is a perfect movie, and it also contains the single best moment of love on screen of all time — I’m getting emotional talking about it — which is when he says, “Am I crazy to build a baseball field in the backyard? Do you think I’m crazy?” And his wife says, “Yeah, but I also think that if you really, really think that you should do it, then you should do it.” It’s like if you really, really want to do it, you should do it. But then ultimately, the end is the best father-son — “Dad, do you want to have a catch?” I hardly can talk about it. Kind of the reason I became a screenwriter. I love it that much.


Paul Wernick’s Five Favorite Films

Blazing Saddles (1974) 89%

I’m in no particular order, but I will go Blazing Saddles, which was the first R-Rated movie that I ever saw. We had it on VHS. It was our first VHS new. Me and my brothers — my two brothers — we watched it probably a hundred times and loved it. Mel Brooks is a hero of ours, and Rhett actually ran into him at the grocery store. Like, went up to him.

He was buying his own groceries?

Yeah. Just recently, too.

Again, we could recite and did recite every line of that movie from start to finish. If you got me and my brothers in this room right now, we could probably act out the whole movie. Poorly we would act it out, but we’d know every line.

That’s a movie that — guaranteed — never gets made today. Never in a million years does someone green light that movie.

Jerry Maguire (1996) 84%

Jerry Maguire is number two for me. Again, not in any particular order. I just recently showed it to my two kids, and it was such a treat to experience it through them for the first time. I love Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is my all time favorite actor. We’re desperate to work with him. Cuba is so good, and it’s so emotional. I found myself crying in front of my children while we watched the movie again. It’s such an emotional love story. It’s a love story between Tom and Cuba, and obviously between Renee and Tom. Arizona Cardinals are our home, so again, great, great movie. It feels real. It feels like it’s a snapshot into their lives. Again, that’s why I’m so emotional watching it. Oh, I love it so much.


Reservoir Dogs (1992) 90%

Okay. Reservoir Dogs. Just straight structure alone is brilliant. Just so good, and violent, and character, and loved it.

About a Boy (2002) 93%

About a Boy. It’s so good and so touching and, again, heartbreaking and relatable, and awesome.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91%

I would say Shawshank, of course. Again, a classic. The best.

It’s so perfect. It’s like, come on guys. How does this even happen? Great source material, but the movie —

Oh, it’s so good.

It rarely works that well.

Life opens on Friday, Mar. 24, 2017 in wide release.

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