Saturday, February 26, 2011

Top 5 Lists

I have a running competition with an old friend to see who's list of Top 5 lists are actually the biggest.  We each easily top 20 or so favorites in our top fives. So, in no random order...


1. Beauty & The Beast (1993, Disney) - This one has topped my list since the day I saw it. The artistry, innovation, storyline and music are wonderful. They form a cohesive story with a heroine we can root for and the ultimate wounded hero. Plus, all the underlying adult humor really cracks me up. One memorable line comes when Lumiere and Cogsworth are counseling the Beast on how to win Belle's heart long enough to break the curse: "Well, there's the usual things... flowers, chocolates ... promises you don't intend to keep."

2. Braveheart (1995, Icon Entertainment) - This movie captivated me with its rich detail to history (however fractured and fictionalized, but they made it SEEM like the gospel truth) and the double love story of William Wallace. In my opinion, the writers pulled off an amazing feat by creating this unique love triangle. William and Murron were the perfect pair - in love, defiant, willing to (and did) die for each other. His entire war campaign was for love of a woman, not Scotland (okay, only peripherally). So, this great love spurred a man to war how in the world could we root for him and a different woman? Quite easily, as it turns out. His affair with Princess Isabelle is both sensual and satisfactory.

3. Gigi (1958, MGM) -  Gigi, a young girl learning about love is swept off her feet by the older, suave family friend Gaston. Again, the heart of the movie is a love story surrounded by fantastic music, gorgeous scenery  and Maurice Chevalier. Eva Gabor also had a small part as Gaston's mistress Liane and she was wonderful. I never tire of watching this movie, it really is a feel good for me.

4. Star Wars (1977, LucasFilms/20th Century Fox) - Only Star Wars in my mind, none of that episode IV: A New Hope crap. The best hero's journey ever put on film. There are so many things I love about Star Wars, it is nearly impossible to pick out just a few, but I'll give it a try. I was 7 when the movie came out and I was in a blond-loving phase, so Luke Skywalker was my dream guy. My mom loved Han Solo (I admit, I switched allegiances when I grew up). But even now, I realize that Luke's heartfelt anguish and sense of helplessness, then growth, is what attracted me. Sure, he was whiny in the beginning, but he turned out pretty good in the end. I also liked Leia's character - she was a strong woman with definite goals and no one, not even Darth Vader, was going to stop her. And, of course, light sabers. The look, the hold, the sound. Every kid in the nation was ran around holding a vacuum cleaner hose making the light saber noise after that movie.

5. Jaws (1975, Universal Studios) -The movie that changed an ocean-loving nation forever.  Spielberg took some of our most basic fears (the dark, the boogeyman, the unknown) and created a masterpiece of terror. Right down to John Williams' shiver-inducing soundtrack. Martin Brody, Amity's sea-fearing Sheriff, is not prepared to face a great white shark using his beach as a snacking ground. His personal growth through the movie helps offer a human side to the terror. Helps us empathize as a viewer. The ancillary characters of Quint and Hooper are perfectly played as well. I know my family is not the only one to have ever used the "We're gonna need a bigger boat," line, but the scene I enjoy the most is the scar swapping one between the three. Such an odd bit of normality before the climactic ending.

Other movies in my Top 5: The Princess Bride (As you wish!), The Replacements with Keanu Reeves, Aladdin from Disney, Singin' in the Rain,   Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,  Star Trek (The 2009 reboot); Pure Country with George Strait, I could go on, but you get the idea.

MUSIC (Albums)

1. Phantom of the Opera, The Original London Cast Recording. Favorite. EVER. I listen to this soundtrack for every book I write. It's like a switch that helps flip my muse into ready-to-write mode. I have worn out two sets of discs. Thank goodness for the advent of mp3 players. It was the first thing I loaded onto my new iPod Nano.

2. Rockferry by Duffy. Duffy is a young singer from England who has a raspy voice which reminds of throwbacks to the early 60s. Her songs on this album are catchy, poignant and insightful. Very bluesy, very awesome. Warwick Avenue is fantastic.

3. Rock and Roll Jesus by Kid Rock. It's raw, rocking, danceable and just plain fun. I listen to it all the time. Some of my favorite tracks are very naughty (So Hott, Sugar) and in no way ever kid-friendly. But every time I listen to it, it puts me in a good mood.

4. The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50s Masters by Elvis Presley. I grew up listening to Elvis. I love his soulful voice, the way he digs down past every barrier he has and lets every emotion leech into his music. When he sings, it's with such a sense of vulnerability and depth which makes me appreciate it even more. Though it doesn't appear on this album, American Trilogy is probably my favorite song that he does. Or Peace in the Valley. Or Kentucky Rain. Shoot, just can't choose one.

5. Use Your Illusion I & II by Guns n' Roses. Their self-titled album was good as was Appetite for Destruction and GNR Lies,  But this double album is filled with myriad sounds, rhythms and styles that it's as addictive for me as chocolate. November Rain is genius. Swelling and soulful, poignant and pointed. Unbelievably entrancing. The video ain't half-bad either. Mr. Brownstone, though the subject matter is typical for Axl and Company, also rocks out. Ah, I miss the old GNR. <sigh>

Others in my top 5 favorites: Grease I AND 2 soundtracks, Back To Basics by Christina Aguilera, 25 All Time Doo Wop Hits by various artists, Riverdance soundtrack, ...Oops, I did it Again by Britney Spears, Golden Road by Keith Urban, The Four Seasons from Vivaldi...

1. On Friendship: A friend will help you move, but a real friend will help you move the body. Anonymous
2. On Success: "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success” Napoleon Hill
3. On Humor: “Where humor is concerned there are no standards - no one can say what is good or bad, although you can be sure that everyone will”: John Kenneth Galbraith
4. On Children: Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble - Dennis Fakes
5. On God: What we are is God's gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.  ~Eleanor Powell

Other quotes: Shoot for the moon, even if you fail, you'll still land among the stars - Brian Littrell; The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams - Eleanor Roosevelt; Don't stifle, you can do anything you want - Christiane Payton (my mom!); If you obey all the rules, you miss the fun - Katherine Hepburn; Be happy. It's one way of being wise - Sidonie Gabrielle

There you have the randomness of my brain. It amuses me to see the vast difference in taste I have. But being predictable is boring, don't you think?

Happy Random Day,
Jennifer August


  1. Jennifer, I am amazed our faves are so similar since you're a hundred years or so younger than I am. The one I didn't like is "Jaws." I didn't even like that part of the ride at Universal Studios.

  2. No Grease? I'm surprised.

  3. I have a lot of the same favories as well. In fact I have so many it would be hard to just pick five. Interesting post, Jennifer.