Monday, October 5, 2009
My Top Ten Movies of All Time
Raging Bull (1980)
Directed by: Martin Scorcese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty
Oscars (winners in bold): 8 Nominations (2 wins) - Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound
Ranking on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie List (2007): 4
Review: This movie represents yet another step along the way to my respect and admiration for Scorcese as one of the best directors of all time.
This movie details the tragic life of former champion boxer Jake "the bull" LaMotta. Like most of Scorcese's movies this is one that is contained to the characters as the set pieces and the rest of the scenery doesn't matter all that much. The film centers around LaMotta and his inability to trust those that are close to him in his life. He is constantly second guessing himself and goes into huge fits of rage and jealousy concerning his wife.The movie follows how this rage takes over the boxer's life and leaves him sullen and alone in the end.
This may very well be Scorcese's finest achievement in all his career. Beautifully shot in black and white this is definitely the finest work of everyone involved. De Niro won the second oscar of his career for his performance of LaMotta, and although Pesci didn't win for this one, it is no doubt his best performance. This is a prime example of how Scorcese has the uncanny ability to extract every drop of acting prowess from his actors. Seriously, I was blown away by this movie.
Occaisionally a movie will come along in which I will get completely drawn in and the rest of the world will cease to exist for 2 hours and this was one of those movies. The performances were pitch perfect and De Niro completely disappearing into one of the greatest roles of all time, everything was just top notch. How this movie did not win best picture I will never know, nor will I know how Pesci went without getting his Oscar here (which the Academy made up for 10 years later in Goodfellas).
Perhaps this movies greatness comes from Scorcese fighting his own demons in his life and that seeping through to on screen. Perhaps the same can be said for De Niro. Perhaps being shot in black and white as an allegory for how simple people try to make life before they realize there is a ton of gray makes this movie great. Most likely it is all of the above.
Why this made the list:
As I mentioned above, this movie just had me captivated from beginning to end. All the performances could not have been better. This is one of those movies that makes you think there is nobody else that could have done it besides the one's that did it, that's when you know it is great.
Scorcese's movies are so personal it is really quite amazing. He does not choose to get bogged down in the details as some directors can, he focuses on the story and the characters. Never is that trait more apparent than in this movie. The characters are so fiercely drawn and these flawed characters are portrayed, not in a manner in which we feel sorry or sympathize, but in that we can relate because they are human and they are just trying to do what is best for themselves. Flaws get in the way but in the end nobody in this movie is a bad person, they just wrestle with the same problems we all do, but on a different scale. This greatness is why this movie makes the list.