This question as posed to the six actors on the panel doesn't actually apply to me; I am not a professional actor, because I do not have the patience to make the sacrifices that it takes to make a living as a professional artist. And yet, I find the question compelling, because I think all of us have seen films that have had profound influences on our lives and helped to shape who we are (and if not films, then books or plays or some kind of art form). I still feel the inexplicable need to categorize films, but I'll never be able to compile a "best of" list because "best" is such a vague, subjective term, open to such wide interpretation that it becomes almost meaningless. Also, they keep making more movies, so a ranked list would have to be continually updated, which would be exhausting.
But I can, and I have, compiled a list of ten films that are memorable and meaningful to me, and have had some kind of strong impact on my life, or that have come to represent something important in my life. Rather than trying to rank them, I will organize them in order of when I first viewed them (approximately), starting with the earliest:
- The Elephant Man--first viewed partially circa 1985, first viewed completely in 1998
- The Sound of Music--first viewed circa 1990
- Beauty and the Beast--first viewed in 1991
- The Princess Bride--first viewed circa 1992
- Fried Green Tomatoes--first viewed circa 1993
- The Shawshank Redemption--first viewed in 1998
- Life is Beautiful--first viewed in 1999
- the original Pirates of the Caribbean--first viewed in 2003
- Brokeback Mountain--first viewed in 2006
- Pan's Labyrinth--first viewed in 2007
For now I'll just present the list and hopefully, as I have time, I'll post some commentary on each one, except for Brokeback Mountain because I've already discussed it exhaustively. I'd also like to make an honorable mention of the original Star Wars trilogy; I would have included it, but then it would have been a list of 12 movies, and I specifically wanted 10.
In fact, there are many movies that I could mention honorably, but if I did that I might as well make a whole new list (or add to the one I have). But there is on other film I want to give an honorable mention to: The Wrong Guy, an obscure Canadian film that was never released in theaters in the United States (or, as I understand it, at all), but happens to be the funniest film I have EVER seen in my life. Its humor comes from the fact that it takes just about every movie cliché ever and turns it on its head. My singing its praises probably won't make much difference, but if enough people were to seek it out on video, it might get its long-deferred theatrical release, so I just want to light my little candle in its favor, on the off-chance that it might start a flame.