The awards season is officially here with Oscars nomination voting opening last Friday, the Golden Globes on tonight and the Critics Choice Awards taking place on Thursday. As always there’s plenty chatter and predictions about the front runner for Oscars Best Picture with Dunkirk, The Post, The Shape of Water and Get Out getting honorable mentions on many lists. So in the same spirit, here are six of my all time favourites.
The Lord of The Rings Trilogy (2001-2003): first off, comparing The Lord of The Rings to Harry Porter is like comparing Taylor Swift to Adele: no competition! But that’s a story for another day. I’ve watched this trilogy (counted as one movie) between 25th and 31st of December every year since 2011. The fact that Hobbits, the most friendly of creatures are the heroes of this grand tale is the draw for me. It’s a 9 hour long story of courage, despair and friendship splattered with rich back-stories and languages of Middle Earth and its several kingdoms, its breathtaking scenery and music, its complex creatures, alliances and battles. In all this, the contrast between the idyllic shire and ghastly Mordor set the tone for the ultimate epic fantasy
The Lion King (1994): this is not only my favorite Disney story but favourite animation period. It’s also Disney’s last great release before Pixar and DreamWorks came in the mix to end their monopoly. It’s the return of the prodigal sons meets Hamlet musical that takes place in the African Savannah with many infectious songs penned by Elton John the best of which are Hakuna Matata and Can You Feel the Love Tonight. It’s a colourful affair all around both literally and metaphorically, Scar is a striking villain and as you guessed there’s a moral at the end of it all. I’ve watched this one so many times I can recite some parts verbatim but I’m still amazed by its effect on me. Let’s hope next year’s CGI remake of this classic wont ruin it for our kids.
Armageddon (1998): though less scientifically accurate than Deep Impact which was released just two months prior, the characters of this sci-fi disaster prove to be more sincere. A bunch of misfits are sent to space to save the earth from a giant asteroid but the real story is the characters save the movie in a contrast of memorable moments. Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan and the oddball Russian cosmonaut are at their comical best and Ben Affleck aptly says goodbye to his girl (Liv Tyler) by singing Leaving On A Jet Plane before shooting into space. Then there’s so many things going wrong and Bruce Willis (talking out the side of his mouth for the millionth time) speaking to his crying daughter played by Liv Tyler moments before sacrificing his life and saving the world with Aerosmith’s sappy I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing playing in the background. Interestingly, the lead singer of Aerosmith is the real life father of Willis’ on screen daughter. Well what do you expect, it’s a Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer collaboration so there’s bound to be explosions with lots of special and emotional effects.
Scarface (1983): this is the quintessential rags-to-riches-to-death-of-the-soul story. As if Al Pacino hadn’t done enough to announce his arrival on the big stage with his iconic Godfather depictions, he cements his status with this portrayal of Tony Montana. Whereas his character was elitist and somewhat nonchalant in The Godfather 1 and 2, he’s more desperate and lights the up the screen with his cut-throat approach to life and everybody can identify with the underdog trying to survive and get his share of the American Dream but by the time Tony kills his best friend Manolo you can sense that Kanye was right when he said on his debut album that ‘the prettiest people, they do the ugliest things on the road to riches and diamond rings’. From ‘Say hello to my little friend’ to ‘My balls and my words are all I have’, the movie has a lot of quotable lines, it no wonder Scarface is a rapper’s favourite and also a rappers stage name.
Good Will Hunting (1997): probably the least well known movie on this list but perhaps the most personal and an absolute joy to watch. Of course the behind the scene and on screen bromance between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon is worth a mention but the real story is the interaction between Matt Damons character, a misguided genius with mathematical talent and an annoyingly smart mouth and a psychologist played by a sober Robin Williams who despite having his own uneasy past tries to help him achieve his potential by facing his past. The interactions reach a climax when challenged by the boy wonder, the psychologist goes into a lengthy dramatic monologue that weaves its way from Michaelangelo to women, war, love, loss and finally to identity. This emotional tirade is the reason I watch some movies just to consume the dialogue.
Gladiator (2000): Russell Crowe is a general in the Roman army who is loved by his men and treated like a son by the Emperor. Threatened by this association and eying the throne, the Emperors son kills his father and later murders the general’s family after he refuses to accept him as emperor. The general is enslaved and taken to Rome where he has to fight for his life as gladiator in the blood thirsty Colosseum. In an epic scene, he defies the odds by defeating several well armed opponents after which he throws a sword into the crowd and asks, “are you not entertained?” At this point if your answer is no then this movie is not for you. This is Russell Crowe at his best, angry and expendable accentuated by swords, greed, betrayal, revenge and blood. Gladiator an epic drama that lives up to its name and perhaps its Best Picture Oscar.
Pro: this outbreak is not as bad as the 1991 outbreak which had 13,154 recorded cases
Con: we are on track to match and beat that record if we do a superficial clean up and sweep the dirt under the rug
Pro: it has given the city a much needed face lift
Con: the facelift has come at the expense of thousands of traders and vendors and even thousands more of us who just want veggies and a good old T-shirt from salaula
Pro: It’s exposed the weakness in our public health system
Con: it took the death of over 40 people (and the closure of three outlets of our beloved Hungry Lion) for us to take this thing serious
Pro: it has made slay queens practice how to handle a broom before entering Lusaka CBD
Con: its shown that some elements in defence forces are guaranteed to take things to the extreme no matter how well meaning the task is
Pro: Zambian social media will be preoccupied by a serious topic even if its only for a while
Con: This discourse will soon be done and we’ll be back to our usual stuff; A slept with B, C slapped D
We’re marked and labeled
Scarred and tainted by the actions
Of those who came before us
Its in our blood to make bold mistakes
And disregard your wise counsel
Coz we have years to spend and luck to chase
Proudly basking in the folly of youth
How can you even judge us when you’re
Essentially looking in the mirror
We inscribe our union with incongruence
Coz our lives are just as imperfect
Nevertheless we wear these scars shamelessly
Giving our unrighteous souls something
To hold on to till our dying day