The Best of Brian De Palma

Growing up, I think even prior to adolescence, I had seen a handful of Brian De Palma pictures, the likes of The Untouchables, Scarface and Mission: Impossible - you know, the ones that actually made a box office profit for him. I was a De Palma admirer for sure but it wasn't until high school, when I first came across Dressed to Kill (I believe it was on the Flix network), that I completely fell head over heels for the filmmaker.

My jaw was nearly on the floor throughout most of that 1980 picture, in particular during the museum scene, which remains one of my all-time favorite sequences captured on film. The combo of De Palma's mastery of the Steadicam, Pino Donaggio's incredible score and of course Angie Dickinson's pitch-prfect performance, left me shaken. Not long after seeing Dressed to Kill, I quickly tracked down Blow Out, Body Double and Raising Cain, all of which I adored, and then the likes of Femme Fatale, Obsession and Sisters, among others. While not every De Palma picture left me floored, I was certainly never bored for a second.

De Palma remains one of my very favorite filmmakers - and I shall never give up hope that he lands that big screen comeback hit that catapults him back on to the industry's A-list of directors. So, in honor of his birthday today, here's a rundown of my top 10 favorite De Palma films (so sorry, Femme Fatale and Sisters)...

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10. Body Double (1984)

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9. The Fury (1978)

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8. Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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7. Scarface (1983)

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6. Raising Cain (1992)

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5. Carlito's Way (1993)

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4. Dressed to Kill (1980)

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3. Obsession (1976)

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2. Carrie (1976)

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1. Blow Out (1981)

The Best of Woody Allen

It was not until sometime in high school that I sat down and finally watched a Woody Allen picture. (Turner Classic Movies had for years already been a staple of my TV-watching schedule but never, for whatever inexplicable reason, did I happen to catch an Allen film there.) That first Allen film happened to be his 1993 release, Manhattan Murder Mystery, which brilliantly paired him back with Diane Keaton - for the first time since 1979's Manhattan. I did not expect to laugh myself so silly and I still, having since then seen nearly every single Allen film, consider Manhattan Murder Mystery among his funniest and most underappreciated pictures.

Over the years, I did play a ton of catch-up on the Allen filmography and, at this point, three of his films grace my list of the top 50 films of all-time - Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors. It's a trio of pictures I absolutely must watch at least once a year.

So, in honor of his birthday today, I am delighted to present this list of my 10 favorite films of one of my all-time favorite filmmakers...

10. Annie Hall (1977)

9. Another Woman (1988)

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8. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

7. Husbands and Wives (1992)

6. Interiors (1978)

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5. September (1987)

4. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

3. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

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2. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

1. Manhattan (1979)

The Best of Martin Scorsese

From the moment I first sat down and watched Goodfellas, sometime in my early teens, I was completely mesmerized by the filmmaking of Martin Scorsese. Sure, I had seen Cape Fear beforehand, and that was heaps of fun, but his 1990 picture captivated my attention in a way few films had ever done. For some time, in fact, I considered Goodfellas my favorite picture ever. Then, a few years down the road, I saw Casino, which somehow managed to leave me even more awe-struck.

Over the years to follow, I would catch up on every Scorsese film, from the supremely underrated (After Hours and New York, New York) to the slightly overpraised (sorry, Raging Bull) and, sans the rare exception (like the sleep-inducing The Color of Money), not a moment left me underwhelmed. Scorsese is one of the finest, most compelling directors of not only the past half-century but truly all-time.

So, in honor of his birthday today, I am delighted to present this list of my 10 favorite Scorsese pictures, from the very, very good to the spectacularly awesome. And boy does it pain me to leave The King of Comedy off...

10. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

9. The Departed (2006)

8. Shutter Island (2010)

7. Cape Fear (1991)

6. After Hours (1985)

5. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

4. Taxi Driver (1976)

3. New York, New York (1977)

2. Goodfellas (1990)

1. Casino (1995)

The Best of Tom Hanks

As a child of the '90s, it always seemed to me that the three most dominating forces of the big screen were Julia Roberts and the two Toms - Cruise and Hanks. I remember my parents owned at least a dozen VHS copies of their collective films - Pretty Woman, A Few Good Men, Big and so on. Whenever my mom had Entertainment Tonight on, it was all but a forgone conclusion that at least one of the three would make an appearance.

The thing is, I had never much cared for Roberts or Cruise, though I have these days come around to quite admiring the latter. I absolutely loved Hanks, however - I wore the hell out of that Big video, and very much enjoyed the likes of A League of Their Own, The Money Pit, Bachelor Party and his Meg Ryan films. Later, I of course got around to Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan and I thought he was flat-out fantastic in the recent Captain Phillips.

So, in honor of Hanks' 60th birthday today, here is my list of what I consider the Oscar-winner's 10 greatest performances (to date)...

10. The Bonfire of the Vanities (as Sherman McCoy)

9. The Green Mile (as Paul Edgecomb)

8. Cast Away (as Chuck Noland)

7. Forrest Gump (as Forrest Gump)

6. A League of Their Own (as Jimmy Dugan)

5. Road to Perdition (as Michael Sullivan)

4. Saving Private Ryan (as Captain John H. Miller)

3. Philadelphia (as Andrew Beckett)

2. Captain Phillips (as Captain Richard Phillips)

1. Big (as Josh Baskin)

The Best of Katharine Hepburn

Growing up, I was homeschooled for nearly four years on account of illness. During that time, I watched an indescribable amount of television, some of it not so enlightening but a lot of it quite good - the best, undoubtedly, being Turner Classic Movies. TCM introduced me to hundreds of classic pictures, including the likes of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The African Queen and The Lion in Winter. From whatever was the first Katharine Hepburn film I watched (I think it may have been Desk Set, which admittedly isn't exactly one of her greatest), I took an instant and strong liking to her screen presence and, in no time, she emerged one of my very favorite actresses, which remains the case today.

So, in honor of her 109th birthday today, I present this list of my 10 favorite Hepburn performances...

10. Undercurrent (as Ann Hamilton)

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9. A Woman Rebels (as Pamela Thistlewaite)

8. Mary of Scotland (as Mary Stuart)

7. The Rainmaker (as Lizzie Curry)

6. Woman of the Year (as Tess Harding)

5. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (as Christina Drayton)

4. Long Day's Journey Into Night (as Mary Tyrone)

3. The Lion in Winter (as Eleanor of Aquitaine)

2. Summertime (as Jane Hudson)

1. A Delicate Balance (as Agnes)