Now that we are down to the top three, I wanted to take a little bit more space to look at each of them.
3. The Color Purple (1985, Steven Spielberg)
Here is the second Spielberg movie on the list and for good reason. There are some that do not think he belongs in the ranks with Scorsese, Coppola, etc. but they are simply dead wrong. It was this film that proved it. When he made this movie, he stepped away from the realm of fantasy and into a real environment with real people having real problems yet his touch is still there. Obviously, Alice Walker's book gives a great outline but the movie takes the letter outline of the book and fleshes it out for us to see. Instead of making a fast paced adventure or other worldly fantasy, Spielberg has slowed down to take the time to study each character, feel each emotion, and see the beauty of this story.
Whoopi Goldberg made her film debut in The Color Purple and it is still her best performance (though I am also partial to Jumpin Jack Flash.) What she does with Celie is simply amazing. She handles every bit of the character's arc from the mousy early Celie that must do the cooking and cleaning for a house that doesn't give a shit about her, to the actualized woman making her way on her own and finally to the woman who is introduced to her own children for the first time - this part always makes me cry. And that smile is just perfect for the role. Then of course, there is Danny Glover. Picture perfect, especially the scene with him at the table when Celie finally decides to leave him. His love for Shug Avery, his loathing of Celie and his eventual turn of goodness that gets Celie's children back for her - all told, a well rounded turn.
As for the supporting roles, this movie is full of great performances. Margaret Avery as Shug - what a great entrance and that line, "You sho is ugly!" Brilliant. Adolph Caeser as Glover's father. Lawrence Fishburne and Rae Dawn Chong in small but good roles. All of them are great, but none of then hold a candle to Oprah Winfrey's Sofia. From her early scenes bossing Harpo around, to the sad middle when she's been thrown in jail, beat up and made to work for Miss Millie and finally back again when she breaks out of her torpor and starts giving orders again, "Yes sir, Miss Sofia back! Things are gonna change around here..." She almost steals the movie and makes you wonder why she hasn't done more work on film. She obviously has a bit of talent for it.
This is just the acting. The cinematography is fantastic, the art direction is perfect, the make-up and aging is flawless and the score is phenomenal. My favorite points in the movie are any time singing is going on, especially "Miss Celie's Blues" and when Shug confronts her father while the church choir is singing "God's Trying to Tell You Something." There ain't much better than that...no sir. The movie is simply an adventure in emotions - every major character goes through some change and we the audience can see the process that took them there. The movie was nominated for 11 Oscar nominations and won none of them, a travesty to be sure. If you have not seen this film, watch it. If you have not read the book, read it. Both are worth your while.
I shall return soon with numbers two and one. 25 through 4 can be found here. That is all.