Frank's Faves: Movies I haven't yet seen

Frank's Faves: Movies I haven't yet seen

"And it feels like the first time, like it never did before ... Feels like the first time, like it never will again, never again. " — Mick Jones

I got some interesting feedback to my column a couple weeks ago in which I listed my favorite Veterans Day movies and wrapped it up with a bonus fave: "Best Veterans Day movie I've yet to see." I picked "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) for that honor and committed to watching it that Sunday instead of the Bears-Packers game (which I did, by the way — skipped football all weekend and watched that Academy Award-winning postwar drama for the first time — only on Monday instead of Sunday.)

The day after that column published, I got an email from Rantoul Press Editor Dave Hinton, promising me I would enjoy "Best Years" (He was right!) and calling it "one of those movies that I wish I could watch for the first time, which might be another good category for your column, or a category of 'Movies I've always wanted to see but never got around to it.'"

Hmmm. An interesting idea ... which I actually broached myself a couple years ago when ticking off the seven greatest football movies I'd never seen. So, there is precedent here, but also an inherent problem. How do I know which of such movies are my faves without ever having seen them — yet?

In my case, it's kind of a multi-step process. First, I look over lists that others consider the greatest movies ever — such as the American Film Institute and even the Academy of Motion Pictures. Next, I scan those lists for widely admired films that I haven't seen, and then, I whittle down that list to those films that I've actually always wanted to see, but for whatever reason, never have. Last, but not least, I fill out my list with pictures strongly recommended to me over the years by friends and acquaintances. And that, of course, brings me to:


— "Schindler's List" (1993). Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-winning World War II-era drama received a lot of attention when it came out, mostly positive, for spotlighting a little-known hero of the Holocaust. And yet, the title German businessman's courage and strength of character (portrayed by Liam Neeson) in defense of his Jewish workers only puts this would-be viewer to shame. Not that I don't greatly admire Schindler, or Spielberg in telling his story for that matter. It's just that the only excuse I have for not having seen this film — even when it aired commercial-free on network TV — is reluctance to immerse myself in its depressing subject matter. Sometimes, one has to be in the right frame of mind for such somber entertainment. And thus far, for me, it hasn't happened yet. But it will.

— "The Notebook" (2004). There's no particular order to this list, so don't think this tearjerker starring Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling is the movie I second-most yearn to see. On the other hand, it has always been highly recommended — especially to someone who has experienced the onset of dementia in a loved one — as well as for one of the best movie kisses ever. It simply appears here on my yet-to-see list because I've thus far missed it for the same reason as the previous fave — I've yet to find myself in the right mood to watch an otherwise excellent movie I know will bring me down. But having accidentally caught the ending of it recently on a late-night movie channel, I think I'm just about ready ...

— "Stagecoach" (1939). Yeah, can you believe it? A fan of American Westerns who hasn't see John Wayne's breakthrough role as the Ringo Kid in director John Ford's classic? Me neither. Not that I'm a huge fan of the Duke, but this one's enough of a classic to ensure it's the fave most likely to fall off this list first.

— "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962). If you can believe I've never seen "Stagecoach," I suppose you won't be too surprised to learn I haven't seen this classic horse opera either, starring James Stewart, Lee Marvin and, of course, Wayne. Consider it the second-most likely film to lose its qualifying status on this list soon.

— "The Wild Bunch" (1969). William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates are aging outlaws on one last hard ride in director Sam Peckinpah's controversial yet influential epic of slow-motion violence. Not sure I have a conscious reason for not having seen this earlier, other than it's about bad guys struggling to exist in the vanishing Old West of the early 1900s, but that didn't stop me from loving the same premise in "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid." Of course, that film was funny ...

— "The Paper" (1994). This movie from director Ron Howard is one of three starring Michael Keaton that make my list, but I swear — that's just coincidence. I've always wanted to see this movie for a more obvious reason: It's about the daily newspaper business — and as IMDb tells me, "depicts a hectic 24 hours in a newspaper editor's professional and personal life." You can see how that might be of interest.

— "Spotlight" (2015). Another movie about the newspaper biz starring Michael Keaton, but this one makes my list for its ripped-from-the-headlines story of the Boston Globe's investigation into the massive child-abuse scandal and cover-up within the local Catholic archdiocese (and its best picture Oscar doesn't hurt).

— "Birdman" (2014). Another Oscar-winner for best picture, but this time, Michael Keaton is precisely the reason I want to see it. Having given us arguably (and surprisingly!) the best Batman performance to date, Keaton literally goes out on a ledge to play a washed-up actor who once played a superhero and is trying to revive his career.

— "Love Actually" (2003). Yeah, this is a Hugh Grant rom-com set in London, so it's also, admittedly, the longest shot for losing its place on this list any time soon. On the other hand, a couple friends and co-workers have for years emphatically endorsed it for inclusion on previous faves lists — from best Christmastime movies to favorite Alan Rickman roles — and its brilliant ensemble cast boosts its appeal. Like the holiday itself, its time is coming.

— "Million Dollar Baby" (2004). This best picture winner also bestowed Oscar gold on actress Hilary Swank, director Clint Eastwood and supporting actor Morgan Freeman, all personal faves. But it suffers from the most common reason for any film, no matter how good, to make this list — the oft-fatal spoiler. It's an all-too-frequent pitfall in my line of work, but I read one review too many that gave away one plot development too many to make for enjoyable first-time viewing. But don't worry: I won't do the same to you. After all, I hear it's a really good flick ...

Topics (1):Film