I have been writing this blog for over ten years now, and I have resisted putting up a list of my favorite films for that whole time. As the Borg say "Resistance is Futile!"
This year I am marking another year in my sixth decade of life. I did several birthday posts in the past and enjoyed them immensely. The last two years my heart has just not been into it. This year however, I am trying to push my way back into normalcy, but I don't have the energy to generate 63 things for a list. So what I am going to do is a ten day countdown of my favorite films.
Every year when I have posted a top ten list, I always point out that it is a combination of quality and subjective enjoyment that creates that list. Those are the guiding principles here as well. I will not claim that these are the ten greatest movies ever made, although I know several of them would be deserving of a spot on such a list. Instead, these are my ten favorite films as it stands at the moment. In a month, I could reconsider or remember something that I have tragically left off the list, but for this moment here is how they rank.
This should be the biggest non-surprise of the list. I have never made a secret of my love for this movie, and if you look at the masthead for this site, you will see how clear that affection is.
Jaws changed the motion picture industry. It turned Summer into Blockbuster time, it lead the charge to wide releases of films on their opening day, and viral marketing could not have been better. This was a movie that everyone was talking about and everyone was seeing. I did not see it with my late wife the first time either of us saw it, but I know it had a big impact on her. For the summer and Fall of 1975, she seriously thought about oceanography as a college major because of this movie. I was never entranced in that way, instead I was absorbed in how the film was being marketed. Toys, t-shirts, lunchboxes, games, and of course, the theme that has universally become a harbinger of sharks everywhere. This soundtrack was mimicked by other films for decades. The title instrumental theme made the Billboard top 40.
One of the greatest instances of professional jealousy was demonstrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when the Film was nominated for Best Picture, but the young genius responsible for it was snubbed. This movie works because of the choices that Spielberg made and the solutions to problems that he employed. He got fantastic performances out of his lead actors and the main character is only seen occasionally, and it still dominates the movie.
This may be the film I have seen start to finish, the most in my life. Every Independence Day there is a screening that this house indulges in, and there are three or four additional viewings a year, it has been that way for almost thirty years. When you do the math, that is a lot of fish.
Modern film technology would destroy this film. Half the suspense comes from not seeing the creature, which would be rendered by CGI in today's world and it would show up on screen every five minutes. Many people classify this as a horror film. It certainly has horror elements but it is really an adventure film, a political story, a family drama, and a human tragedy with a heroes journey. The film also does something that is incredibly rare. It turns out to be better than it's source material.
This is Steven Spielberg's masterpiece and one of the greatest cinema achievements of the last 100 years.