Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best of the Year: 1980

My Picks of the Year
(in alphabetical order)
One of the first, and best, of the laugh-a-minute comedies from the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team, Airplane! can be seen over and over again and still get dozens of big laughs out of you. A spoof of the popular 70’s disaster movies, Airplane! features a great cast of dramatic actors, including Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges, who deliver their one-liners with perfect comedic timing. One of the funniest films of all time and, surely, I’ve never been more serious.

The Empire Strikes Back
Here it is, the heart of the Star Wars legacy. By far and large, the best of the series. There is so much to savor here. Luke in training with Yoda at Dagobah. Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Darth's revelation that he is Luke's father. It's emotional, it's soaring, it's a beautifully rendered soap opera in space. George Lucas handed the directorial reins to Irvin Kershner -- was he the key to the film's overwhelming success? Who knows? What we do know is that The Empire Strikes Back is nothing short of visionary.

The Gods Must Be Crazy
This international smash hit comedy starring a Bushman named N!Xau and a famously discarded coke bottle touched audiences worldwide with its elegant universal comic appeal, sweet love story and all around hilarious camaraderie. The coke bottle in question confounds everyone at the Bushman’s tribe; they have no idea what it is and yet have managed find many day-to-day uses for it. After some time, the tribe members start to fight one another for it, and the Bushman finally realizes that the bottle must be returned to the Gods that left it for them. There is so much more to it, and The Gods Must Be Crazy is quite a dazzling discovery.

The Shining
Stanley Kubrick polarized fans of Stephen King’s classic novel with this slow-moving, claustrophobic, character-building thriller about a writer who terrorizes his family after being holed up in a mansion for months on end. Jack Nicholson owns this movie; his layered, detailed performance as a writer who becomes unhinged is both hilarious and horrifying to watch. Kubrick establishes the mood of the film so effectively that the suspense eventually becomes unbearable. The Shining is a classic of its genre.

Honorary Mention
Dressed to Kill; Superman II; Used Cars

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