My Top Ten Natalie Portman Movies

Happy 37th Birthday (tomorrow!) to Natalie Portman.

I’ve always liked Portman but probably wouldn’t think to include her in a list of favorite actresses. And after doing this list, I see she’s really not been in any favorite films of mine. I mean, even number one on my list isn’t exactly one that I love. That’s a shame. She’s a very good actress – she just seems to not be in many movies that are my type of thing.

As always, I’ve ranked these according to how much I like the movie instead of by Portman’s performance. Here are My Top Ten Natalie Portman Movies (counting down & including all I’ve seen):

The Rest I’ve Seen:

17. No Strings Attached
16. Jackie
15. Cold Mountain
14. Where The Heart Is
13. Anywhere But Here
12. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
11. Garden State

Top Ten:

10. Closer

9. Beautiful Girls

8. Annihilation

7. Mars Attacks!

6. Black Swan

5. The Thor Movies

4. V For Vendetta

3. The Star Wars Prequels (Well, they kind of suck but I’m being nice since it’s Star Wars)

2. Heat

1. Leon

Some I’ve Not Seen:

Zoolander, The Darjeeling Limited, My Blueberry Nights, The Other Boelyn Girl, Brothers, I’m Still Here, Your Highness, Knight Of Cups, Jane Got A Gun, Song To Song

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My Top Ten Robert De Niro Movies

Happy Birthday to Robert De Niro, who turns 74 today.

I was thinking I may not be able to do this list as I may struggle to find ten De Niro movies that I’ve seen. Ha! I’ve seen 29! How did that happen?! Sheesh – he’s been in loads of films. Took me ages just to type out the biggest ones I’ve seen & not seen.

I like De Niro but I’m not gonna pretend he’d make a top ten list of my favorite actors. Of the two, though, I’ve always preferred him to Al Pacino (I’ve only seen 14 of his movies).

As always, I’ll include a list at the end of some of the biggest De Niro movies I’ve not seen. And there are truly some biggies! As for Taxi Driver, it’s a bit like Rocky was for me until I finally watched it all the way through this year for my Blind Spot thingy: I’ve probably seen most of Taxi Driver from seeing bits & pieces over the years but can’t really include it on this list until I fully watch it properly.

I do want to see Once Upon A Time In America & The Untouchables (Maybe I’ll make them Blind Spot 2018 choices!). I have no desire to see Casino as it sounds too violent for my wussy self. And I have a feeling I may get yelled at for Raging Bull not making my Top Ten… 😉

So, of what I’ve managed to see so far, here are My Top Ten Robert De Niro Movies (ranked by movie, not performance):

**List Updated 22/08/17 to add The Untouchables 

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

27. The Fan
26. Cape Fear
25. Great Expectations
24. Red Lights
23. Shark Tale
22. Arthur And The Invisibles
21. Angel Heart
20. Hide And Seek
19. Limitless
18. Cop Land
17. Sleepers
16. American Hustle
15. Backdraft
14. Silver Linings Playbook
13. Meet The Parents & Meet The Fockers
12. Analyze This & Analyze That
11. Raging Bull

Top Ten:

TIE: 10. Ronin & The King Of Comedy

9. Stardust

8. Brazil

7. Awakenings

6. Heat

5. The Deer Hunter

4. Jackie Brown

3. The Untouchables

2. Goodfellas

1. The Godfather: Part II

Need To Re-Watch/Fully Watch:
Taxi Driver, Midnight Run

Not Seen:
Mean Streets, New York, New York, Once Upon A Time In America, Falling In Love, The Mission, We’re No Angels, Stanley & Iris, Mad Dog & Glory, This Boy’s Life, A Bronx Tale, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Casino, Marvin’s Room, Wag The Dog, Flawless, The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Men Of Honor, 15 Minutes, The Score, The Good Shepherd, Machete, Little Fockers, The Family, Last Vegas, The Intern, Joy, Dirty Grandpa

My Top Ten Al Pacino Movies

Happy Birthday to Al Pacino, who turns 77 today.

He’s a bit overrated, right? Ha! Just trying to get your attention. 😉 To be fair, though, Pacino has never been a favorite actor of mine. I can see why guys like him as he’s been in so many (admittedly good) gangster films. He’s the Steven Seagal of good “guy” movies instead of shit “guy” movies. Right?? For the most part, I think Pacino has lucked out in being in some very big films. I think he’s great in the Godfather films but otherwise is too over the top sometimes. And he’s been in some real stinkers! As has Robert De Niro, of course. Of the two, though, I’d have to say I prefer De Niro.

Well, Pacino has a lot of fans even if I’m not really one of them. And, okay, he’s been in some great films. Better than those Steven Seagal ones, anyway! Here are My Top Ten Al Pacino Movies:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

14. Gigli (yikes)
13. Dick Tracy
12. Sea Of Love
11. The Insider (probably deserves to be higher but I can’t remember much of it now)

Top Ten:

10. Insomnia

9. Frankie And Johnny

8. The Devil’s Advocate

7. Dog Day Afternoon

6. Scent Of A Woman

5. Carlito’s Way

4. Donnie Brasco

3. Scarface

2. Heat

1. The Godfather I & II

Some I’ve Not Seen:
The Panic In Needle Park, Serpico, Glengarry Glen Ross, Any Given Sunday, S1m0ne, The Godfather III

Heat (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 guest review, we have the Scottish (Scottish accents are the BEST!) Mark of the brilliant Marked Movies site. Mark has awesome hair (although he apparently no longer has that hairdo in his pic here) and has boat drinks (I still have no idea what that means) and writes wonderful movie reviews. He also has GREAT taste in movies (as in, we seem to like a lot of the same types of films and I have really cool taste). Well, he likes Raging Bull a hell of a lot more than I did… Anyway – he’s a popular blogger that everyone wants to have a drink with so check out his site if, for some odd reason, you haven’t already.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now onto Mark for his thoughts on the movie Heat, IMDB rank 119 out of 250…

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Director: Michael Mann.
Screenplay: Michael Mann.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Kevin Gage, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Danny Trejo, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, Henry Rollins, Tone Loc, Jeremy Piven, Xander Berkeley, Martin Ferrero, Bud Cort.

When this was released in 1995, most people believed it to be an original idea. It wasn’t. It was actually a more fleshed out and elborate version of Michael Mann’s 80′s TV movie “L.A. Takedown“. He obviously didn’t have the budget or the actors, to realise his vision at this time, so with a second chance, Mann grabs it with both hands and both of the best actors in the business.

Professional and precise thief Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) lives by a strict code and doesn’t take chances. He has a tight-knit crew that takedown big jobs for big money but he ends up drawing the attention of determined and obsessive robbery/homicide cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). The two of them have more in common than one might think and as their worlds draw closer, they are led to an inevitable confrontation.

At it’s core, “Heat” can be viewed as an old fashioned cops-and-robbers tale but it’s done with such vastness and great attention to detail that it rises above most, if not all, of the genre. It not only focuses on the the lives of the two main characters – at opposite ends of the moral scale – but it pays attention to the city and environment in which they operate. What almost overshadowed the storyline, was the anticipation of seeing DeNiro and Pacino share the screen for the first time (They were both in “The Godfather part II” but never had any scenes together). Comparisons between their acting styles will obviously be made and without focusing too much on their different approaches, I found DeNiro’s more subtle, calculating delivery far more convincing than Pacino’s tendency to overact with random, explosive outbursts, bellowing at everyone he meets. There, I said it. However, the film is far more than just these two great actors. It’s a multi-layered character study and the supporting roles, particularly Sizemore and Kilmer (in a role originally intended for Keanu Reeves) are given a substantial amount of work and the female parts of Venora, Brenneman and Judd play a massive part in shaping the leads also. We are given a glimpse into their home lives and the struggle they all face in maintaining a ‘normal’ life – when it goes against their nature. The actors are all given roles to work with, allowing us to identify and care about them. It’s because of this, that when the action is delivered, it’s edge of your seat stuff. There are three great ‘Getaway’ scenes from movies that I found particularly powerful; Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” had Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze (on foot) running through suburban houses and backyards; The opening of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” had Ryan Gosling (in a car) careening and speeding through a darkened urban jungle and this… the major characters (with weapons) shooting it out through a busy congested Los Angeles street. As much as this isn’t just about the two leads, it’s not just about the action either. It’s more about the city itself and it’s inhabitants. The refined dialogue allows these inhabitants to come alive and Mann’s meticulous, hypnotic direction and ethereal choice of music breathes life into the city as well.

An exciting and methodical piece of work from a highly accomplished cast and director. A near masterpiece of modern cinema.

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Mark Walker

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