#2 Greatest Movie of All Time

We would like to extend our sincerest apologies that we did not provide the #2 Greatest Movies of All Time last week! To offer up an excuse…we moved! Still in LA, but just to a different part. We are mostly settled in now, so let’s continue on! What is this list? This has been a countdown of the Top 10 Movies of all time led by our powerful braintrust. Did you miss any others on the list? Check them out here– #3#4#5#6#7#8#9, and #10. Let’s check out #2!

Kai – “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”

The Empire Strikes Back was the first Star Wars movie I ever watched. I was at home (maybe 6 years old?), but I distinctly remember being scared of the lightsaber fight between Luke and Darth Vader. Since then, I’ve watched it many times (including a couple in the theater). The Empire Strikes Back is sci-fi action done right. It has a grand action, space battles, emotional rescues, mystical religions, and climactic confrontations. ESB took the broad strokes painting that was A New Hope and fills them in with an immense amount of detail about the world, while actually telling a more compelling story.

The best part of The Empire Strikes Back is that it ends in a dark place. The final scene is one of quiet contemplation in the face of grave setbacks for the heroes. Not many movies can execute such a subtle conclusion without viewer revolt, but The Empire Strikes Back nails it. If you have any interest in sci-fi and haven’t seen this classic, go watch it now. Its innovation has been fully consumed by other movies, but this epic is one of the shoulders all modern sci-fi cinema stands on.

Andrew – “Star Wars”

 If I had to pick, I’d say Return of the Jedi, Force Awakens or Revenge of the Sith is my favorite.

Sophie – “It’s Complicated” (2009)

Jane’s life is a dream: she owns a successful bakery, has a beautiful garden, lovely adult children and it’s directed by Nancy Meyer’s, so–of course–she has a dream kitchen. But among all the beauty, she finds herself in a tangled mess, having an affair with her ex-husband. Meryl Streep is as lovely as ever and Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, and John Krasinski are all funny, lovable and charming. This movie is so easy to enjoy and I love to watch it again and again.

Po – “Zorba”

This movie. Man, Anthony Quinn plays the title character, and I’ll tell you, to at least be half as full of life as Zorba should be everyone’s goal. If you’re ever in doubt of why life and all it’s struggles and successes is worth living, or rather, loving, you should do yourself a favor and watch Zorba. It’s an oldie, and forever a personal favorite.

Randy – “The Deer Hunter”

All aspects come together in this compelling, heart breaking 1978 picture – cinematography, performances, script, directing, score, even the art direction is wonderful. What happens to a tight-knit group of friends in a Pennsylvania steel town when the men go to war in Vietnam is affecting in so many ways. John Cazale died of bone cancer after the film wrapped. Michael Cimino never directed another movie that was even close to the power of The Deer Hunter. Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken & John Savage were at the beginning of their careers here and it’s a joy to watch their talents emerge. George Dzundza gives life to his touching, gregarious character. You can see Chris Walken’s dance background in the Russian wedding sequence but it’s his shattering performance during the Vietnam Russian roulette scenes that he won the Best Supporting Acting Oscar for. De Niro gives the film its backbone as the leader of the men. Meryl Streep gives us her heart.

Scott – “Inception”

Something that truly changes the way that one thinks are few and far between. Nolan’s “Inception” induces you to reevaluate perception, reality, and feelings. This movie has the best parts of “The Matrix,” “12 Monkeys,” and the “Ocean” movies all rolled into one piece, and adding surreal elements all its own. I was strongly in the camp that when movies or TV shows turned out to be dream sequences that it was such a cop-out. “Inception” changed that. Regardless of how an emotional response or change of thinking is induced should be irrelevant; this movie showed me that. The entire premise of the movie is about invading people’s brains where they subconsciously store information and gently reshaping it. The ends do sometimes justify the means, as the main characters perform heists on someone from inside their own brains.

Each world the main characters enter is part the person’s subconscious, part a programmed experience to access the right part of the person’s brain. This leads to amazing worlds where skyscrapers are turned on their side or entire cities are left destroyed on a nondescript beach; even the word “awe” is lacking. Nolan uses his amazing cast to bring character to these worlds; DiCaprio is amazing, Hardy is badass, Marion Cotillard is creepy as all get out, and Ellen Page acts as the audience, the new person learning the ropes. If there is not someone in this cast you love you don’t love the right actors. And I forgot Micheal Cain, everyone loves him.

Surreal, thought-inducing, powerful, and enthralling I cannot praise this movie enough. And you owe yourself to see it or watch it again with the idea that this movie is trying to perform inception on every watcher of this movie. (Brummmmmmm(that was trying to be the inception noise))

Hungry – “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)

Over the past few months and through the rest of the list, you might have come to understand that movies have earned their way onto my list through stories and soundtracks because those two aspects have significant impacts on me.

Growing up, I didn’t look at pictures of bodybuilders and say, “I want to go to the gym and train to become big like him.” I felt that way about fighters and warriors, but Conan was unique because he brought that massive physique and new way of fighting with a strong willpower that pushed him to move forward like a train. It wasn’t the same as Jean Claude Van Damme’s kicks and Jet Li’s amazing counters… it was the equivalent of a mountain pushing against the wind or the sea.

Basil Poledouris’ soundtrack remains to be one of my favorite ever and the one which I consider, possibly, the most epic. While I keep the whole soundtrack on my phone, Anvil of Crom and Battle of the Mound are two of my top training tracks. I think about Conan’s suffering on the wheel of pain and channel that into my training.

You can tell that many people on this countdown favor sci-fi, but I definitely favor high fantasy and you won’t find a tale of high fantasy that I love more than that of Conan. While the sequel was nowhere near as impactful, I’ve ready countless Conan stories through books and comics and it has only strengthened my bond to a character that truly fears nothing. As they say in what is most likely my most quotable movie of all time… “do you want to live forever?”

Fit – “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite series of all time, books and movies. The impact it had on me was incredible and it holds so much meaning for me. I know this isn’t a series countdown, but the entire series of The Lord of the Rings is what makes The Fellowship of the Ring stand out to me. It holds a brief time of peace and innocence in the very beginning and provides a stark refresher of reality that this is what they will lose if they don’t complete their quest. The stakes are high and the audience knows it: Peter Jackson did a wonderful job of threading the story from innocence to burden. This movie has heart. 

This soundtrack could be one of my favorites of all time. I love it so much I had “Concerning Hobbits” be my walk-down-the-aisle song for our wedding. It’s filled with peace, happiness, and joy. The characters developed in this film is also paramount, it’s a coming-into-your-own film where the characters start down their paths of who they were always meant to be. With Aragorn passionately played by Viggo Mortensen struggling to face his destiny of becoming a high king to Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) turning away from silly gardener to become Frodo’s lifesaver and most important companion. 

This story isn’t all gravity: there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments mostly provided by bumbling hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd). The writing drawn from J.R.R. Tolkien is beautifully woven into the movie and stays with you forever. Speaking of beautifully woven, the costumes in this piece are out-of-this-world. I remember watching the behind-the-scenes (yes, I’m that person) and the actors describing the intricate costume design and feeling in awe. The action and fight scenes are badass and also this movie (and series) was shot in New Zealand. ‘Nuff said. 

This movie is so meaningful to me. A band of heroes (some unlikely) facing the darkness that will consume the world if they don’t succeed. It scared me, thrilled me, and captured my heart.

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Those are some incredible movies. From sci-fi to fantasy to rom-coms, they all look great. Have you seen any of them? Would any of them make your Top 10 Movie List? Please comment and tell us! Next week is our last of the series…#1! Stay tuned and, as always, stay hungry and fit!

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