29. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
It would be pretentious to share this list and ignore comedies. How can I pretend they have not impacted me? I've seen this one hundreds of times with my family it seems, and it may be one of our greatest bonds actually. It gave us many inside jokes and provided much of the comedic lingo for the supper table and beyond. Furthermore, it managed what comedies normally don’t—it had a well-told and touching story. It was subtle rather than preachy, but it drove home that juxtaposition of the classes in a human way that I have always carried with me. Imagine if every homeless person got paired up with a high-flying executive for one crazy road trip. I’m not sure what would be better about that: the comedic value or what it might change about our society. Anyway, for me this film is legendary.
28. The Sound of Music (1965)
Another family classic. I’d be lying if I didn’t put this on my list. It was one of the first movies I remember being allowed to stay up late for, and usually around Christmas time, so the nostalgia is priceless. And it is a great film, no doubt about it. I think it introduced me early on to the concept of righteous civic disobedience, which likely prepared me somewhat for what some of my family would do when I was in grade 8. I must confess that growing up I would have denied loving this movie, but once I was a bit more secure in my "manhood", or whatever, I freely admitted it as one of my all time favs. I hate musicals, generally, but love every song in this one. Maybe it even gave me a love of music, I don’t know. The guys ended up singing one of the songs from this soundtrack at my wedding reception (as a joke). Made 10 years before I was born, the Sound of Music is a part of me in many ways.
27. Twelve Angry Men (1957 or 97)
I don’t know. This one has always had a soft spot in my heart. I love how they all want to convict the easy target and get home but one guy gets them to turn around and see the truth. This movie has sort of become the visual narrative in my head that expresses a maxim I try to live by: Choose to assume the best of people, rather than the worst. Sure, you end up looking naive and you get utterly disappointed fairly often, but it is better to be disappointed than perpetually judgmental and pessimistic. I love both versions of this film. The old one is probably the better one, but Jack Lemmon is awesome in the "Tony Danza" version. It has long been a secret dream of mine to be an actor in a stage performance of this story. Maybe when I'm 62.
26. Signs (2002)
This film has always been one of my favorites but wasn’t on my list until today. It was a last minute replacement of "Crash", which I’ve dropped from my list completely. I mean, I loved Crash at the time, but I wondered if it had the staying power to be in the 32. I watched Signs last night and realized that it does and is more deserving. It is an amazing film on so many levels. M Night is truly a genius. But that’s not why it is on my list. The thing that gets me is the Mel Gibson character, Graham Hess, who is totally angry at God. The dialogue he has with his brother midway through the film is priceless. One that maybe only pastors and priests would understand. And then when he yells at God and it proves to be the turning point in his faith—wow. So powerful. And then his brother, played by the wonderful Joaquin Phoenix, challenges him at the end in no uncertain terms to keep the faith—it is just so gripping. I can’t begin to say what that story-line alone means to me. And that is on top of the other amazing storylines in this movie. I should really have it in my top 10. Again, maybe when I'm 62.