Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jay's 37 Favorite Movies of All Time

Movies are one of the most difficult things to rank.

How do you compare an action movie with a comedy? A historical documentary with science fiction? The answer, for me at least, is the emotional connection it created and the impact it had on your life at the time.

For example, I loved Superman I and II - not because of the superhero aspect (I never read the comics) - but for the story of a boy growing up different than others and how he copes. He could have been a track or football star - but he didn't. In the second movie he gives up all his powers for love, and that had impactful on me.

Of the 37 favorite movies, one was from the 70's (my favorite - Superman), 11 from the 80's, 18 from the 90's, 6 from the 2000's and only one from the 2010's. I am not a big fan of older movies and black and white is difficult for me to connect to for some reason (other than Schindler's List).

Some movies had lasting effects. For example, Top Gun has had an impact on my passion for cars and speed in general. Read more in My Car Story Blog.

Oddly enough, I think Pretty Woman made me very interested in business. I named my cat Austin Powers - oh, and yes, "Danger" is his middle name. Movies such as Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Forrest Gump, & National Lampoon's Vacation have become soundtracks to my life - with almost daily references to lines such as:

"Just a little buffing"

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is"

"If they are going to close a road, they will put up big signs"

Some movies were the perfect genre at the perfect time in my life - examples like Rocky, Top Gun, Terminator 2 and Back to the Future.

Anyway, enough talk, let's get to the list - in order - of the best movies of my life:


1. Superman (1978)



An alien orphan is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home's first and greatest superhero.

Director: Richard Donner
Writers: Jerry Siegel (creator), Joe Shuster (creator)
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman



2. Superman II (1980)



Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to marry Lois, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth.

Directors: Richard Lester, Richard Donner (uncredited)
Writers: Joe Shuster (character created by: Superman), Jerry Siegel (character created by: Superman)
Stars: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder



3. The Sixth Sense (1999)



A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette



4. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)



A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving with an obnoxious slob of a shower curtain ring salesman as his only companion.

Director: John Hughes
Writer: John Hughes
Stars: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins



5. August Rush (2007)



A drama with fairy tale elements, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents.

Director: Kirsten Sheridan
Writers: Nick Castle (screenplay), James V. Hart (screenplay)
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers



6. Forrest Gump (1994)



Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Winston Groom (novel), Eric Roth (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise



7. Schindler's List (1993)



In Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Thomas Keneally (book), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley



8. Pretty Woman (1990)



A man in a legal but hurtful business needs an escort for some social events, and hires a beautiful prostitute he meets... only to fall in love.

Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: J.F. Lawton
Stars: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander



9. Top Gun (1986)



As students at the Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young flyer learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

Director: Tony Scott
Writers: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Kelly McGillis



10. Fight Club (1999)



An insomniac office worker looking for a way to change his life crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker and they form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more...

Director: David Fincher
Writers: Chuck Palahniuk (novel), Jim Uhls (screenplay)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter



11. Titanic (1997)



A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, expecting to be married to a rich claimant by her mother, falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane



12. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)



A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney



13. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)



A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her ten-year-old son, John, from a more advanced cyborg, made out of liquid metal.

Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron, William Wisher Jr.
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong



14. The Skeleton Key (2005)



A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.

Director: Iain Softley
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Stars: Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant



15. The Usual Suspects (1995)



A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which begin when five criminals meet at a seemingly random police lineup.

Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri



16. Life Is Beautiful (1997)



A Jewish man has a wonderful romance with the help of his humour, but must use that same quality to protect his son in a Nazi concentration camp.

Director: Richard Donner
Writers: Jerry Siegel (creator), Joe Shuster (creator)
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman



17. The Green Mile (1999)



The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

Director: Frank Darabont
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Frank Darabont (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse



18. Rocky III (1982)



Rocky has been holding the title as the heavyweight champion until he is defeated by a brutal challenger, and now must regain his fighting spirit through a big rematch, trained by an unlikely ally: his old nemesis Apollo Creed.

Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young



19. Rocky IV (1985)



After iron man Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.

Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young



20. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)



The Griswold family's cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated.

Director: Harold Ramis
Writers: John Hughes (screenplay), John Hughes (short story "Vacation '58")
Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Imogene Coca



21. Back to the Future (1985)



A young man is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson



22. The Shining (1980)



A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Stanley Kubrick (screenplay)
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd



23. Good Will Hunting (1997)



Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Writers: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck



24. Dirty Dancing (1987)



Spending the summer in a holiday camp with her family, Frances "Baby" Houseman falls in love with the camp's dance instructor Johnny Castle.

Director: Emile Ardolino
Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Stars: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach



25. Austin Powers (1997)



A 1960s hipster secret agent is brought out of cryofreeze to oppose his greatest enemy in the 1990s, where his social attitudes are glaringly out of place.

DDirector: Jay Roach
Writer: Mike Myers
Stars: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York



26. Se7en (1995)



Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

Director: David Fincher
Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey



27. Stand by Me (1986)



After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.

Director: Rob Reiner
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Raynold Gideon (screenplay)
Stars: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman



28. The Matrix (1999)



A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Directors: Andy Wachowski (as The Wachowski Brothers) , Lana Wachowski (as The Wachowski Brothers)
Writers: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss



29. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)



Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont
Writers: Stephen King (short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption"), Frank Darabont (screenplay)
Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton



30. Star Trek (2009)



The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg



31. Ghost (1990)



After being killed during a botched mugging, a man's love for his partner enables him to remain on earth as a ghost.

Director: Jerry Zucker
Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin
Stars: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg



32. Braveheart (1995)



When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist.

Director: Mel Gibson
Writer: Randall Wallace
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan



33. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial(1982)



A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Stars: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote



34. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)



A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

DDirectors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Writers: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Vikas Swarup (novel)
Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla



35. Juno (2007)



Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Diablo Cody
Stars: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner



36. The Notebook (2004)



A poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They soon are separated by their social differences.

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writers: Jeremy Leven (screenplay), Jan Sardi (adaptation)
Stars: Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Rachel McAdams



37. 12 Years a Slave (2013)



In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Director: Steve McQueen
Writers: John Ridley (screenplay), Solomon Northup (based on "Twelve Years a Slave" by)
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender



So there they are - Jay's top movies of all time. I will come back and update this as new movies earn their spot on this list.

Good watching!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Memories of Christmas - 44 years and counting!

Christmas is a very special time for me.

I was looking over some old photos today and thought I would create a visual memory of Christmas past. Whether traveling to see family, or going to Disney or Hawaii, or simply staying home - the season is packed with memories of family and friends.

So here are 44 years of Christmas memories, in reverse order:


2016 - Cali's First Christmas in New York




2015 - Family in New York, days before Cali is born!




2014 - Brooklyn's First Christmas in New York



2013 - Christmas in Myrtle Beach



2012 - Christmas in New York



2011 - Christmas in New York



2010 - Christmas in Chicago



2009 - Christmas in North Carolina



2008 - Christmas on Sunshine Coast, B.C.



2007 - Christmas at Disney World



2006 - Christmas in Markham, Ontario



2005 - Christmas in Markham, Ontario



2004 - Christmas in Markham, Ontario



2003 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



2002 - Christmas at Disney World



2001 - Christmas in Newmarket, Ontario



2000 - Christmas in Newmarket, Ontario



1999 - Mila's First Christmas in Winnipeg, Manitoba



1998 - Christmas in Winnipeg, Manitoba



1997 - Danica's First Christmas in Winnipeg, Manitoba



1996 - Christmas in Winnipeg, Manitoba



1995 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1994 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1993 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1992 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1991 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1990 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1989 - Christmas in Hawaii



1988 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1987 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1986 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1985 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1984 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1983 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1982 - Christmas in Calgary, Alberta



1981 - Christmas in St. Albert, Alberta



1980 - Christmas with Oreo in St. Albert, Alberta



1979 - Christmas with crazy dad in St. Albert, Alberta



1978 - Christmas in St. Albert, Alberta



1977 - Christmas with Grandma Dona in Shuswap, B.C.



1976 - Christmas with Grandpa Bob in Shuswap, B.C.



1975 - Christmas in St. Albert, Alberta



1974 - Christmas in St. Albert, Alberta



1973 - Christmas with Tracey in Virden, Manitoba



1972 - Christmas in Edmonton, Alberta




Christmas is also about music. Perhaps you have read my blog on my favorite songs.


Here are my favorite Christmas songs - in order. You can also listen to them all together in this YouTube playlist.


1. Christmas Time - Bryan Adams




2. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders



3. So This Is Christmas - John Lennon



4. Little Drummer Boy - Pentatonix



5. O Holy Night - Josh Grobin



6. Mary's Boy Child - Boney M



7. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid - The new version rocks!



8. Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Pentatonix



9. Silent Night - Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire



10. The First Noel - Carrie Underwood



11. O Come All Ye Faithful - Josh Grobin



I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas & Holiday season and may all of your hopes
and dreams be fulfilled!