11. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
IMDB rating: 8.8
Awards: 5 Oscar Awards
The Story: In a mental institution for what it seems chronically disturbed patients, the appearance of R. P. McMurphy changes the life of all hospital inmates and staff. The troubled felon, who pleaded insanity to escape harsher punishment from the law arrives in a place where human degradation and totalitarianism are represented by the dreadful Nurse Ratched. A series of events take place only to end up in a tragic conclusion.
Why is it on the list: Because no one could have played McMurphy like Jack Nicholson did. Because, back in the day, it was a masterpiece of screenplay, directing and acting that was so disturbing, so breathtaking, it made everybody shiver. Because it tells a never ending story about man against system and about man fighting for freedom in a way that is both optimistic and pessimistic in the same time. Because it was one of those book adaptations that you don’t have many things to reproach to.
Quintessential quote: “What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin’? Well you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average asshole out walkin’ around on the streets and that’s it.” (McMurphy)
12. The Deer Hunter
IMDB rating: 8.2
Awards: 5 Oscar Awards
The Story: Three friends join the Army to fight the Vietnam war, and after some time spent enduring the horror of this unimaginable nightmare, they end up in a prison camp from where they desperately try to escape, only to get separated again.
Why is it on the list: Because even if this is an old movie and a lot other of Vietnam war movies have been made over the years, this one still remains one of the most representative and emotionally powerful of them all. It goes deep into exploring the human psyche, relationships and attitude in the face of the inevitable. The movie is still mentioned by film lovers as one of the best ever made, even if many of them make part of a generation that knows the Vietnam horror only from movies and books. It touched people in so many ways and it made it unforgettable.
Quintessential quote: “A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that but they don’t listen.” (Michael)
13. Secondhand Lions
IMDB rating: 7.4
Awards: 5 Nominations
The Story: A young boy is left by his rather libertine and irresponsible mother in the care of his two rather solitary, grumpy and unfriendly uncles who own a property in the middle of nowhere America and have a special way of understanding the concept of education.
Why is it on the list: Because even if this movie was quite underrated, it is a monument of what acting really means. Two titans like Michael Caine and Robert Duvall didn’t need no special effects, no CGI, not even spectacular landscapes in order to tell a deep and moving story about love, family, friendship, loyalty and growing up like a man. The deep humanitarian message of the movie, which you get between to hard laughs and a tear is that the human spirit cannot be broken unless people let it break, that being young is an attitude and not an age and that a man can grow and become a man even in the wild if he is taught the proper lesson. Free will, freedom and living your life at the maximum are the real characters of this movie. One of the few comedies that make one laugh, cry and decide to change his life the next day.
Quintessential quote: “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.” (Hub)
14. 12 Angry Men
IMDB rating: 8.9
Awards: 3 Oscar Nominations
The Story: Twelve people have to decide if one young man gets convicted for murder. The 11 jurors, initially eager to get things over with and reach a quick “guilty” verdict, face the stubbornness of the twelfth one, convinced they should analyze the matters deeply and not rush to a conclusion.
Why is it on the list: Because no matter how old this movie is, it still makes us shiver by the emotional and intellectual substance and depth it displays. Because this may be one of the best court movies ever made, even if since then, we’ve seen another dozen. Because it is that type of special movie that takes place in one room and makes true art only from dialogue and impeccable acting. Because it sends a powerful message that things are not usually how they seem to be and sometimes it takes only one man’s convictions to change a system, and even history.
Quintessential quote: “It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we’re just gambling on probabilities – we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don’t know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s sure.” (Juror #8)
15. Forrest Gump
IMDB rating: 8.7
Awards: 6 Oscar Awards
The Story: Forrest Gump is an innocent, less than intelligent simple man, who sits on a bench one day, reminiscing his life and extraordinary events he accidentally or intentionally took part of, while having his mind, even after all these years, set up on his childhood sweetheart, Jenny.
Why is it on the list: Because this is a movie that touched and still touches a lot of people by sending simple, fundamental messages that are immortal: life, just like a loose feather in the wind, can take us everywhere. And love can be found in the most unpredictable places to the most unpredictable people. Because it prefigured Tom Hanks incredible acting talent and because it will always be a call back to innocence and fundamental principles. It was the movie of a generation and it still is an icon of brilliant cinematography.
Quintessential quote: “Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.” (Forrest Gump)