The beauty of being a movie-lover is that every day, at any moment, you can pop in a favorite film and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. Forget 3D advancements and Blu-rays – all that matters is the movie. On a computer screen or a projector, the wonders that we enjoy surpass size and volume; they latch onto our hearts and memories like timeless ticks.
Some films catch us at the perfect time. Whether it is the veritable naiveté of a child exploring new worlds or the mature mind of an adult looking for that next thought-provoking piece to spark some curiosity, films will always matter to the soul.
When I find myself at that unpredictable point in a day with nothing to do, I don’t look around for a book to read or a snack to eat. I stand up, walk over to my movie collection and decide the next two hours of my life. Almost always – especially when the choices overwhelm me – I resort to five golden movies – those that always win, no matter what.
The following are not necessarily my five favorite films of all time, but some of them are near the top of that list. Instead, these are the five films I could watch every single day, no matter the circumstance.
These are in no way an ultimatum. The list is simply my list. It is also in no order. I hope all of you will share your own ‘forever watchables’ in the comments section and explain why.
An unlikely movie on this list, The Prestige is not a household name like the others. It is truly the secret masterpiece of The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale find themselves in a rivalry that reaches deep into the supernatural. The film gives you something new with every viewing.
Sometimes the revelation of a plot twist can be amazing at first, only to fade away with time. The knowledge of the secret behind The Prestige‘s trick creates an endless ocean of repeatability. The nuances of the film reward the impassioned audience member with an unbelievable sense of doubt every time the “prestige” comes about.
Every character is pitch perfect to a point where even the most seasoned watcher of The Prestige can forget what he already knows. Those little details that emerge throughout the film are even more fascinating when you know the secret.
Nolan’s work is so focused and direct that it is easy to forget you are watching a movie that jumps around more than a Kris Kross concert. The plot would lose its direction if it was simply presented chronologically. Instead, it is constantly moving and always questioning the audience member’s confidence in their analysis.
My favorite film of all time is not instantly regarded as re-watchable. Gladiator is a serious film with a singular focus. Yet, the characters are so detailed and complex that each viewing somehow rewards you with a new journey. It truly deserved its Oscar for Best Picture.
Every scene is memorable – from the scruffy, opening battle to the epic showdown between Maximus and Commodus. Throughout the film, the scenes are elevated by a timeless score from Hans Zimmer. Arguably his best work, the score to Gladiator is as triumphant as it is mesmerizing.
But what sets Gladiator apart from so many like it is the full-circle story. Open-ended stories are becoming a staple in the film industry. Sequels are losing value – especially when they are greenlit prior to the original’s release. But the simple fact that Maximus dies gives the film its glory. His death is an honorable and complete one. It is a sacrifice essential to the arc of a nearly perfect story.
Gladiator is a tremendously personal film set on a grand scale. Every chance Ridley Scott had to make a sprawling CGI epic, he brought the camera in and focused on the characters that mattered within the film. Because of this focus and determination on all levels of production, Gladiator has become a frequent visitor to my DVD player.