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Insight Into Blockbuster Filmmaking

I found the above picture on Reddit today and it made me laugh. After all the fancy storyboards and pre-viz and careful planning, sometimes the best way to figure out how a stunt is going to go is to just use some miniatures and move them around with your hands. I mean, look at that! That there is Christopher Nolan, one of the biggest directors in the world, planning a stunt for The Dark Knight Rises, one of the biggest and most expensive movies yet made, wearing a suit and essentially playing with hot wheels.

It reminds me of the South Park episode, ‘Imaginationland’, where the military enlists help from filmmakers to get ideas for how to solve their dilemma. Michael Bay shows up and his ideas aren’t ideas at all. They’re basically just ideas for special effects and stunt sequences, and he describes them with all the “woosh”es and “bang”s and “blammo”s of a five year-old playing with his toys. That was sort of a knock against Bay, but when you think about it, what’s wrong with bring that into the process at least a little? It’s physical and uses the imagination, and combined with Nolan’s use of as many practical stunts as possible, it can make for some pretty thrilling cinema.

When we get into a discussion of our favourite films, it’s very easy for certain films to get lost in the shuffle. Depending on how we approach films we might tend to give higher consideration to more established classics, or newer films that are more fresh in our minds, or even more¬†eclectic¬†choices that will distinguish our lists from all the others out there. And then there’s the fact that we film nuts have just watched way too much; we’re bound to forget some films.

In putting together this Top 20 Essentials list I could have easily put in ten Pixar films and another ten Disney animated films. Over and done with. But that would defeat the purpose of such a list in my eyes. You see, I’m not merely offering up the 20 best films I’ve seen, I’m presenting a list with variety. When you look through my offerings you should be able to get a good idea of my taste for film.

In my last entry I had Apocalypse Now sitting next to Back to the Future and Vertigo. That alone is a pretty good representation of my taste, but all my choices were firmly entrenched in the “canon”. They are films that might not appear on every list, but they are all very common. Of those five films, only Close Encounters of the Third Kind seems to have become more commonly ignored in favour of other Spielberg films like E.T., Schindler’s List, Jaws, Raiders, Jurassic Park and even Saving Private Ryan. Still, it’s pretty established.

So in my #6-10 I am going to give you five films that, while not necessarily eclectic on their own, are definitely very personal and not very common in the lists I’ve seen.

Without further ado, the list! Click to see the list