Dave’s Top 5 Movies!!

by Dave Kang

I love list-making. I love pitting things against one another and evaluating which one is better. It also helps organize my opinions and makes clear where I stand. I also love movies, which is why I helped start a movie podcast. Not only are movies just plain entertaining, but it’s also fun to talk about the themes and emotions that are put on display. It’s fascinating how each viewer can take something different from watching the same movie. So here is something that combines two things I love. A person’s top 5 movies list reveals a lot about who that person is. Just like if the Wolf of Wall Street is someone’s favorite movie, it is a clear red flag and we should not associate with that person at all. Here are my top 5! There are some spoilers I think. You have been warned.

5. Ratatouille

I first watched Ratatouille by Brad Bird with my uncle when it first came out in theaters. Other than the catchy soundtrack of Le Festin by Camille, the deeper meanings of the movie went completely over my head at first, but it left with me a dream of becoming a chef. I didn’t return to this film until later in high school, where I was captivated by the themes of ambition and what it means to be an artist, even though I wasn’t really interested in movies at the time. Also, the monologue by Anton Ego is just cinema gold.

I love this movie because the plot isn’t simplistic like other Pixar films. A lot of them are oriented around basic goals like “finding Nemo” or returning Boo to her home. Ratatouille isn’t like that. If the goal was for Remi to cook, then the movie could have elongated Remi’s journey to Paris and ended when he fixed the soup. If the goal was for Remi to be a chef, then the movie could have ended with Remi and Linguini partnering up. But this movie doesn’t do that. It goes further and explores the depths of each character as they go through life together. Truly not every animated film is great but a remarkable animated film can come from anywhere!

4. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and to Love the Bomb

The title is an awkward mouthful but is fitting for this delightfully awkward and hilarious movie. Dr. Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick is a satire of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. From the beginning, the tone of the movie and its dry humor is established with planes refueling mid-flight, which is made to look like they were “doing the deed” to the song Try a Little Tenderness by Laurie Johnson. Making something that requires so much skill and precision into a raunchy joke shows how this movie will blatantly make fun of the people in the government. The movie explores what seems to be the constant possibility of nuclear annihilation due to human stupidity.

Peter Sellers is absolutely amazing playing three different characters: Captain Mandrake, the President, and Dr. Strangelove. This movie contains deeper reflections on consumerism, conspiracy theories, and blind obedience called “patriotism”. A criticism of this movie is that the ending is too bleak and there isn’t a satisfying resolution, but I think the impeding doom present in this movie is perfect. It doesn’t sugarcoat the implication of nuclear weapons and makes a timeless and accurate observation that our current world leaders are more similar to the characters in this movie than we think. I would fight anyone in the War Room for this movie.

3. Parasite

I remember watching the Oscars in 2019 when this movie won Best Picture. The only other time I have yelled that loudly was when the Dodgers were playing in the World Series. Parasite by Bong Joon Ho is truly a masterpiece. The exciting and captivating heist in the first half of the film and then the tone shift into the thriller were done so smoothly and seamlessly. Even the scenes that on paper were bleak and depressing were told in such a playful and humorous way. This movie is so entertaining from beginning to end, even if you just want to turn your brain off and enjoy the ride.

But there are so many layers underneath this plot. This movie talks about class in a capitalistic society. The title describes perfectly how the poor families deceived the rich family into hiring them and ultimately being their main source of income. But an opposite argument can be made as well. The rich family can be seen as the parasite in how they subsist on the labor of the poor people around them. The clearest example is the rich na├»ve wife. She can’t cook, clean, or do any of the housekeeping duties herself because she has always lived with housekeepers doing everything for her. She is a parasite living on the labor of the housekeepers, drivers, and tutors that she hires. With every rewatch, there is an even deeper meaning in every little detail. This movie is so metaphorical.

2. There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson is a masterpiece. I watched this for the first time during my sophomore year of college for a Film and Philosophy class and I instantly loved it. That being said, it is not an easy watch. I think I have rewatched this movie so many times, which has caused me to find some parts of the movie absolutely hilarious, like the last scene or when Daniel Day-Lewis’s character confronts the people from Union Oil. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance is like none other and he truly did deserve that Oscar. He plays the character so nuanced that every time I watch his performance my view on Daniel Plainview changes from watch to watch. Paul Dano is also amazing playing Eli Sunday.

It’s exhilarating watching those two going head to head being a metaphor for Industry vs Religion, the 19th Century vs the 20th Century, and Oil vs. the Church. Even though I have watched this so many times, I am on the edge of my seat as I see the ruthless Daniel Plainview just obliterating his competition and anyone that might tell him what to do. As long as people are competitive, there will always be a Daniel Plainview in every generation. This movie is also incredibly quotable. I find myself saying “I have a competition in me” at random times in my day and the final milkshake scene is just oh so iconic. I don’t think I’ll ever be finished talking about this movie!

Honorable Mentions

Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki

Simply beautiful

The Godfather Part 2 by Francis Ford Coppola

Part 2 makes a better offer

Belfast by Kenneth Branagh

This movie is so heartfelt

Iron Man by Jon Favreau

Iconic

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

I initially hesitated to put this movie as my number one after my first watch just because it is new, and I didn’t know how my feelings would change after rewatching it. But it’s safe to say, after watching it 3 more times, Everything Everywhere All At Once by the Daniels is perfect. Sure there are some plot holes when getting into the multiversal travel, but the theme of finding meaning through love and kindness makes me forget that they are even there. Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis are absolutely amazing. The force that Ke and Stephanie bring is so entertaining, thought-provoking, convincing, and heartfelt. Michelle Yeoh is an absolute force on the screen. She is in like 99% of the film and there is not a moment when she lets up. The sheer chaos this movie brings is overwhelming yet organized. Through all the different universes, bright flashing lights, loud music, intense effects, along with the jumping from one universe to the other, there wasn’t a time when I was confused.

EEAAO has made me cry each time I’ve watched it. From Waymond bringing Evelyn the divorce papers in the beginning, to when Evelyn talks to Joy, to when Waymond says the absolute tear-jerker “So, even though you have broken my heart yet again, I wanted to say, in another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.”, to when Evelyn tells Joy “Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you.” This movie is about how if everything seems meaningless and nothing is going your way, it’s those you love and care for that infuse your life with meaning. Every time I watch this movie, I want to call everyone I love and tell them how much they mean to me. (Editor’s note: Dave has never called me after watching this movie.) Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here and rewatch this movie.

So that was my top 5! I hope there were no red flags, although There Will Be Blood at number two might be one. Up to you to decide!

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