Samuel Goodrich, Staff Writer
My review for “10 Cloverfield Lane” was published in the Spectrum section of The Commonwealth Times March 21, 2016. I had written reviews and made video reviews for the past five years or so, but I had never seen my name or my work in print before. I knew I wanted to be a professional film critic, but this moment cemented that as my singular dream.
On Dec. 8, 2018, I will graduate from VCU, and Dec. 14 I will complete my classes and end my time with the CT. These have been an incredible three years, and I want to thank everyone at the CT for supporting my weird obsession. I also want to thank Landon, Jon and anyone else who wants to review movies — you’re continuing a legacy of film writing that I hope will get people to think more in-depth about movies.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has ever read one of my reviews. I hope I have done more than recommend movies to you. I hope I’ve encouraged you to stop and think about how a movie made you feel. Your opinion on a movie, and art in general, is what makes film criticism fun. It’s the diversity of ideas and perspectives that makes art worth discussing and creating.
Anyway, here are some of my favorite movies of all time.
- “Blade Runner 2049” (2017)
One of my fondest memories writing for the CT was the weekend I saw “Blade Runner 2049” in theaters twice. At once a creative take on classic cyberpunk themes of identity and humanity, while also a meta commentary on the nature of sequels and expectations, Denis Villeneuve crafted a film that is just as gorgeous and impactful to watch as it is to think about.
- “Brazil” (1985)
The best way to describe Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi fever dream is as if Monty Python adapted Orwell’s “1984.” “Brazil” is an outrageously hilarious and stylistic film that meshes fantastical dream sequences with equally ridiculous office politics. It’s a satire of modern life that — just like the novel it’s ripping from — feels terrifyingly relevant.
- “Ed Wood” (1994)
Few films have captured the creative process like Tim Burton’s black-and-white biopic “Ed Wood.” Following the man considered the worst director of all time, Burton’s film is a passionate, entertaining look at a man who, despite having not a single talented bone in his body, still had the drive and love of cinema to make movies. It’s a film to laugh at, but also to celebrate a man who could never be kicked down.
- “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)
Edgar Wright’s zombie-romance-comedy is not only one of the funniest movies ever made, it’s also one of the most rewatchable. Wright cemented his now-iconic fast-paced editing and clever writing that allows the audience to discover new jokes every time they rewatch it. As my go-to comfort film, I’m still finding new jokes and references years later.
- “Spirited Away” (2001)
I’ve been emotional during many films, but few make me tear up just by hearing the soundtrack like Hayao Miyazaki’s classic. “Spirited Away” is an animated masterpiece that taps into the imagination to realize a beautiful and creative world of Japanese demons and monsters. It’s a gorgeously animated fairy tale that dazzles with its details and powerful score.
- “Raising Arizona” (1987)
Growing up, my mom loved to show me movies from when she was younger, especially ones made by the Coen Brothers. “Raising Arizona” is a classic in our household, and it’s not difficult to see why. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter are sympathetic and irrationally goofy, the southern setting is endlessly charming and the humor is hilarious insanity at its best.
- “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)
The word “epic” lost its meaning a long time ago, but there are still a few things in this world that fit that description, including “Lawrence of Arabia.” Running at three hours and 47 minutes, director David Lean takes an in-depth look at real life enigma T.E. Lawrence, played spectacularly by Peter O’Toole. Mixed with the breathtaking cinematography are small, quiet and personal moments that make this epic into more than just a vapid spectacle.
- “All That Jazz” (1979)
Bob Fosse’s musical drama is the most unique — and for me, heartbreaking — within its genre. Mixing elements of Fosse’s real life with the film’s fictional Joe Gideon, “All That Jazz” becomes a disco-themed therapy session where existential issues are worked out through hallucinatory dance-numbers.
- “Call Me by Your Name” (2017)
If I have any regrets from my time at the CT, it’s seeing Luca Guadagnino’s beautiful romance the night after my top 10 movies of 2017 list was published. A slow-paced, detailed and intimate film, “Call Me by Your Name” captures young, heart-wrenching love and the lethargic atmosphere of summer.
- “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)
I was 13 years old when I saw Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, and I believe this film changed my life. I always liked movies, but I had never been so impressed and obsessed with a movie like I was with “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” It’s a visual feast for the eyes, full of hilarious comedy, endearing characters, great music and a video game aesthetic that speaks to me. The film may not be as deep or emotional as the graphic novels, but it has remained one of my favorite movies for eight years.
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