1986: Hoosiers (David Anspaugh)
My most uncharacteristic choice in this entire countdown, and probably the least impressive artistically. But when it comes to sports movies (and sports were pretty much my life for the first eighteen years), this is the one that moves me the most.
I don't want to psychoanalyze myself here, but when Jimmy Chitwood says, "There's one other thing: I play, coach stays, he goes, I go", it brings me to tears every time. It's one of the screen's greatest moments of someone standing up for the underdog, the unconventional, the person who has dared to go against the grain.
I've always been physically slight, and as an independent filmmaker, you certainly spend a good deal of time as the underdog. We're all trying to beat the machine on some level, and this is one of those movies that always restores my faith a bit.
It's a pretty good-looking movie with a couple of solid performances from Hackman and Hershey. But more important, it's a movie. I love the art film; in fact, it's my favorite kind of movie. But there's also a time and place where I just want to turn off my brain and be moved. When it comes to those kinds of experiences, this one does the trick as well as any.
Other contenders for 1986: Maybe my favorite year in all of cinema, and yet I still have some things to see. These include: Juzo Itami's Tampopo, Edward Yang's The Terrorizer, Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa, John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China, Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married, James Ivory's A Room with a View, Hal Ashby's 8 Million Ways to Die, Pedro Almodovar's Law of Desire, Alain Resnais' Melo, and Stephen Frears' Song of Experience. I really like Oliver Stone's Salvador, Leos Carax's Bad Blood, Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law, Michael Mann's Manhunter, and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It. I love Ross McElwee's Sherman's March, Abel Ferrara's Crime Story pilot, Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice, and David Lynch's Blue Velvet. And my closest runner-up is Eric Rohmer's Le rayon vert.
11/29/10 I watched Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married. A strange outing for sure. But there are a few wonderful performances, including Cage and Barry Miller. And John Barry's music combines to provide a few depthful, thoughtful moments. But all in all, Coppola can't bring it all together to achieve maximum resonance.
4/28/11 I watched Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa. I've always been a bit lukewarm on Jordan, and this one's no different. I find his work often a little broad, and at times lacking some formal discipline. But Hoskins is really strong here, and the milieu often feels fresh and interesting. Just all in all, not more than a decent experience.
6/26/11 I watched James Ivory's A Room with a View. Classy and elegant, and quite beautiful to look at. But the restrained emotions never really bust all the way out, leaving the whole thing feeling a bit hemmed in. I also at times doubted whether Sands or Bonham-Carter fully had the chops for these roles.