30-Day Film Challenge: Favorite Film

The Cinema Sentries are taking part in the 30-Day Film Challenge during June. Join them.
  |   Comments

Citizen Kane (1941) by El Bicho

There are quite a number of films I love.  Many of which I could easily call my favorite on any given day, but if forced to pick one that demonstrates outstanding talent across the board and would be the most accessible, I have to go with Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which impresses me greatly every time I watch it. 

Inside a palatial estate, an old man dies alone in the middle of the night. A newsreel reveals him to be Charles Foster Kane, once powerful newspaper tycoon and heir to the third richest goldmine.  His amazing life is revealed over the course of a few minutes, but he still remains a mystery.  A reporter is sent to try find out who the man was and what his last word spoken "Rosebud" meant.

Welles surrounded himself with an amazing cast and crew. Cinematographer Gregg Toland was so instrumental in the film's brillance his credit has the rare honor of sharing the screen alongside Welles' mention as director.  Toland was innovative in his use of deep focus, and used every trick he could from such as low-angle shots, in-camera effects, and optical printers. Herman J. Mankiewicz co-wrote the script with Welles, though how much has long been in dispute.  They played with traditional narrative style and used flashbacks and multiple points-of-view to tell Kane's story. Joining Welles in front of the camera are Mercury Players, most notably Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead.

What makes the film more amazing is that it was almost never released. Kane was based on newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who tried to blackmail RKO and other Hollywood studios to keep the film from being released. Luckily, he failed and the world is a better place for it, especially if you've been fortunate enough to see it..

Predator (1987) by Amanda Salazar

I am a firm believer that your favorite film picks you. Under this criteria my favorite film has been the same since I was eight-years-old: Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This film chose me and I had no way of fighting it. This is a film that under any circumstance, at any time of day I can watch with the same excitement and enthusiasm as the first time, every time.  Arnold plays Dutch, an all-American soldier that heads a covert rescue team that has been called into Central America on a top-secret mission. When they get there, they realize they have been sent in under false pretenses and are being hunted by an extra-terrestrial head-hunter, dubbed the Predator.

I can remember the exact scene that hooked me and kept me pinned to my seat the first time that I saw it - when they search for Hawkins' body that is hanging in the trees. There is this beautiful panning shot that works its way up the foliage and shows a body hanging upside down, dripping in blood. Predator combines so many different genres, stereotypes, and cliches that it stays interesting, fun, and thrilling all at the same time. 

Ever since I was a little 8 year-old this has been my "go to" film that never lets me down. But a favorite film has to be more than just a great memory, it has to be meaningful, poignant, and even get a little emotional every time that you watch it and Predator is that for me. If you have never seen it or haven't watched this film in a couple of years, I hope that this inspires you to take another look; everything from the soundtrack, the cinematography, and the great one-liners are timeless. This is my favorite film because it  still encompasses everything that I enjoy about the movies: it is entertaining, satisfying, and downright awesome.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) by Dusty Somers

Asking me to pick a favorite film is like asking me to pick my favorite child. Not only is it a no-win situation, but there's also the very likely possibility that my favorite is among the many thousands of films I've never seen. Kind of like my children, since I don't have any yet.

But with this feature putting the metaphorical gun to my head, I'll go ahead and list Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 film La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc as my tentative favorite. Dreyer's telling of the heresy trial and final hours of Joan of Arc's life is a film of elemental force, shot almost entirely in bracing close-ups. Maria Falconetti, starring as Joan in her only major film role, doesn't allow for a single second of her screen time to be wasted. Intense doesn't even begin to describe it.

I'm perfectly satisfied naming La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc as my favorite film. I just reserve the right to change it without any notice.

Jaws (1975) by Shawn Bourdo

"It is as if God created the Devil and gave him . . . Jaws."

By far the easiest movie to pick for all of the 30 days.  I was 7.5 years old in the Summer of 1975 and I saw it through partially closed eyes and fingers in front of my face.  But through all of that - it stuck.  And in the 35 summers that have followed - I've rarely missed one without watching it once or twice.  As a grown man that devours movies - this one keeps me satisfied still.  It's everything I want in a film.  There's a suspenseful movie.  There's great acting - Shaw, Dreyfus, and Scheider.  There's a plot that plays on our most base fears - the unknown, the water, and sharks.  And as you watch it and grow older you realize it's about the fear of parenting.  It's about facing your demons.  It's about trying to control the uncontrollable.  The movie is simply my favorite - for what it meant to little me and to what it still means to me today.

What's yours?

Follow Us