Dateline Movies Countdown: The Magnificent Seven! (200 POSTS!)

Hooray! We have officially reached a total of two-hundred published posts! Since we are actually running out of ideas to put for momentous posts such as this one, we decided to list our Magnificent Seven, which was originally ten, but then we decided to keep it up to seven only, because it has since been in a motif of ours to make countdown posts that start from seven. For those who do not know about this certain list, the Magnificent Seven is an index that contains mine and Dad's favorite movies of all time. Honestly, this was a tough countdown to write, since there are a lot of good movies that me and Dad watched that we cannot list here. Oh, the struggles of being true movie buffs. And now, without any further interruption, here is Dateline Movies' own Magnificent Seven!

7. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most widely recognized directors in the industry, and as we have seen from his stellar filmography, he truly is an innovator in the art of cinema. Last year saw the release of his eighth film (Yes eighth, since both Kill Bill movies count as only a single flick for Mister Tarantino), The Hateful Eight, which is unfortunately overshadowed by Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I watched The Hateful Eight on cable television, and to be honest, it is not his finest work. But there is personally one film that truly showed-off Tarantino's sharp filmmaking skills, and that is none other than the crime-comedy movie Pulp Fiction. Lead by energetic performances from John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, and of course, the one and only Samuel L. Jackson, complete one of the most quotable sets of dialogue ever written in the history of the world, Pulp Fiction truly stood the test of time. The best scene arguably in the entire film is none other than the "Ezekiel 25:17 Monologue". In fact, I loved this scene so much that Ezekiel 25:17 has since been a life guide of sorts, to the point that I actually reenacted this scene during my audition for our school's theater group. I was not accepted by the way, in case anyone is wondering.



6. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

And speaking of Star Wars, me and Dad, including a Suicide Squad-mate of mine Gabe, and a lot of my other classmates, are huge fans of the saga. Last year's release of Episode VII might have reintroduced the series to modern audiences, but in the end, the story relied way too much on Episode IV: A New Hope. The one installment that really made Star Wars a bankable franchise, however, is no doubt Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Not only did it showed one of the most memorable plot twists of all time, specifically the revelation of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's actual father, it pushed the boundaries of storytelling by revealing our heroes partially defeated at the mercy of the Galactic Empire by the movie's climax. This movie is the most mature among all of the entries in the series (Although we can say that the darkest in the bunch is Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), and supported by an amazing score done by the legendary John Williams, as well as noteworthy performances from Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, the force is truly strong in this flick!

5. The Imitation Game (2014)

2014 was a pretty great year for movies. We saw George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road revive the nearly forgotten franchise back from the dead with anarchistic energy, and we saw Marvel release two noticeably different movies, with one being a spy thriller, and the other being a space comedy. I believe that this is the year when movies were at their finest, and about the other four movies in this countdown are proves that 2014 was a very great time for movies. Anyway, The Imitation Game, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch as real-life unsung World War Two hero Alan Turing, and Keira Knightley as Turing's confidant and former wife Joan Clarke, is not only a captivating look at the life of one of the most important geniuses' in the world life, but also an inspiring message that honors those who are persecuted for their ideals. Our robotics class teacher showed us this one time, and while at first, I did not enjoy the movie that much, it eventually grew on me, and thanks to that single moment in school, I have learned to appreciate this movie even more.


4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Of course, who would not love Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? These three movies have united both fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic tales of adventure, and moviegoers who are always on the hunt for an out-of-this-world theatrical experience alike, in a passionate and heartfelt celebration that has introduced modern audiences to the intriguing world of Middle-Earth. It really is difficult to determine which among of the three original movies is the greatest, namely because each one of the installments in the franchise (Except for The Hobbit Trilogy, because those were disappointing) has their own strengths. As such, me and Dad came to the conclusion that The Fellowship of the Ring should be added to this list. For starters, we reached this resolution based on the fact that The Fellowship of the Ring started it all. Without the first movie's awesome Battle in the Mines of Moria, or the death of Sean Bean's Boromir in Amon Hen, we would not have seen the epic Battle For Helm's Deep, or the Ents' Siege of Isengard in The Two Towers, or even the amazing Battle For Minas Tirith, and all of the three different and heart-wrenching endings in The Return of the King. Fueled by outstanding performances from one of the greatest ensembles assembled, groundbreaking battle choreography, and a flawless direction from Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings could never have reached its place in our hearts without The Fellowship of the Ring.

Like I said before, 2014 was a pretty decent year movie-wise, and the succeeding four entries in our countdown were released on this specific year. In the age when superhero movies, adaptations of other famous literary works, and big-budget blockbusters are the norm, and most small-scale original productions were more-or-less things of the past (Well, not really, that comment was meant to be hyperbolic), one independent feature dared to satirize the modern era of filmmaking. An existential film that focuses on Michael Keaton's washed-up Hollywood actor turned Broadway director Riggan Thompson's relentless pursuit to be relevant again, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a slightly slow movie, but in the end, it is a moving, thought-provoking look at what happens when one falls from grace. It is heartbreaking, it is dark, it is at some points funny, it is a very poignant tragic masterpiece! Accompanied by never before seen single-shot cinematography, a catchy drum soundtrack, and a line of powerhouse performances from the film's cast, specifically that of Michael Keaton's, Birdman is a must-watch for everyone with an artistic taste for movies! Sure, me and Dad are huge comicbook fans, but let us face it, they do tend to "play safe" in terms of storytelling.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Superhero movies do tend to follow a formula again and again, as we said before, and it is rare to find a good superhero flick that explores the characters outside of their usual skintight costumes. Marvel Studios is no exception, as a few of their installments such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange and Thor: The Dark World, have been noted for being cliched and lacking in overall impact. In Captain America's case, it is a completely different story. Initially starting with an above-average origin story, done in the style of a World War Two period piece, Captain America has since ditched the usual over-the-top heroics, and instead made way for thrilling political commentary and old-school CGI-less action in his second outing, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not only did it affect the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's storylines, The Winter Soldier also managed to explore much more mature themes in an awesome fashion, all the while perfectly blending elements of a typical superhero movie and a normal political thriller, resulting in a fascinating look at how society has evolved in beliefs in the limits of security and technology. A concept that terrifyingly reflects our world today. Guardians of the Galaxy was also released this year, and while that was a very fun movie, The Winter Soldier was no doubt a suspenseful rollercoaster. Now that I thought about it, I am starting to think that I might have given Captain America: Civil War too high of a score. Yeah, it was great, but The Winter Soldier was better in terms of stakes.


Again, there are a lot of movies out there, that we have not been able to include all of our favorite movies on this single list. As such, here are a few...

Honorable Mentions:

RoboCop (1987) - This one was a favorite of mine and Mom's. When I was younger, I simply watched it for the gory gimmicks that was featured prominently in this movie. Now that I am older, I was able to see that RoboCop is more than just a silly action movie with a cyborg as its protagonist. This was a smart satire on commercialism, and the film pokes fun at it with awesome action that you can only see in a handful of movies!

Die Hard (1988) - A Christmas classic, I used to watch Die Hard a bunch of times when I was younger, and up to this day, it has remained, in our eyes, a staple for other Die Hard wannabees to come. Bruce Willis is in his prime here, as he quips his way through a hostage situation orchestrated by the late Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber, all the while shooting down international terrorists with bleeding feet!

Metropolis (2001) - This one is an underrated gem. While my classmates talked about Naruto or any other famous anime during recess back when I was a Fifth Grader, I would often watch Metropolis, which, despite having a similar title and an almost the same premise, has no relation to Fritz Lang's classic. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of science-fiction, and the theme of robot self-awareness is a fun concept. This beautifully animated and thematically powerful movie tackles themes of identity and discrimination, in a tale of suspense and mystery!

The Incredibles (2004) - Another childhood favorite, The Incredibles was one of those rare times when an animated movie geared towards youngsters managed to tackle adult themes. It was a fun and playful take on the superhero genre, much like how the graphic novel Watchmen depicted a world of capes and masks in a modern context. It had great vocal performances from Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee and again Samuel L. Jackson, a thoroughly entertaining story, and a family-friendly atmosphere that children will love, and the grown-ups will appreciate. Speaking of which, I cannot wait for the sequel. 

The Dark Knight (2008) - Christopher Nolan is a visual genius, and his collaborative works with his equally brilliant screenwriter brother Jonathan Nolan make for a mind-boggling and thrilling experience. The director is at his best with the second follow-up to his The Dark Knight Trilogy... The Dark Knight. It was a complex and a compelling crime-fiction mixed with traditional superhero antiques, and from beginning to end, The Dark Knight managed to tackle the themes of terrorism or corruption in a gritty manner. Heath Ledger embraced the role of The Joker wholeheartedly, and his posthumous Oscar victory is one honor that he deserves. With tightly choreographed fights, a spectacular story, and stellar performances from its ensemble, The Dark Knight is by far one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.

Watchmen (2009) - Arguably director Zack Snyder's greatest work so far, Watchmen is a painfully slow and tediously lengthy adaptation of Alan Moore's celebrated masterwork, and its clearly explicit content will definitely make some viewers slightly uncomfortable. However, look beyond its flaws and you get a bleak look into the thought-provoking mythology of the Watchmen universe. Watch the movie for its wonderful visual style and great performances from Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Billy Crudup and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and stay for the suspenseful plot.

500 Days of Summer (2009) - I just watched this little flick last week after I asked a good friend of mine named Jaisen for a copy. Fresh-off of our third quarterly examinations, I decided to watch both Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, and 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, so as to relieve myself of stress. If I were to choose between any of the two romantic films that I have watched on that day, I would choose 500 Days of Summer. Do not get me wrong, the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a wonderful tale of heartache and love, but there is something about 500 Days of Summer that appeals to me. I am not sure if it is either the down-to-Earth approach to the topic of failed relationships, or the captivating performances from its two main leads, all I can say is that 500 Days of Summer is an honest and heartwarming film.

Inception (2010) - Back when my little mind was much more keen on the explosive action and the colorful graphics of a feature, and less enticed on the underlying themes that surround the film, I actually once thought of Inception as a confusing piece of cinema that has no plot whatsoever. After watching it a second time around, I have since learned that my initial assumptions are incorrect, as Inception, with an amazing cast that composes of Leonardo Dicaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Cain, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and Dileep Rao, brilliantly made fight sequences, energetically inspired scores by the master composer Hans Zimmer, and a heist storyline fused with elements of science-fiction, Inception is a mind-bending visual treat.

With that, we now come to our overall favorite film of all time, which is...

1. Whiplash (2014)

What can we say about Whiplash that has not been said already by others who love the movie as much as we do. Also, you might have expected this one, as we mention this certain flick over and over again. It is a small-scale, musical, coming-of-age story that features the typical elements that can be found in other tragic tales, with the usual mentor-student formula that we have seen in other movies. We have the overambitious protagonist in the form of Miles Teller's Andrew Neiman, and the wise yet bizarre teacher in J.K. Simmons' Terrence Fletcher. And despite not having much of the explosive grandeur that we come to know in much movies, or the thematic complexity that most noteworthy flicks show, Whiplash kept things really simple, making for a surprisingly effective, heart-pounding breath of fresh air! What it lacks in eye-popping visual spectacles, it more than makes up compelling characters and straightforward, yet resoundingly tense, story!

And that concludes our latest countdown. Be sure to check-out our other upcoming posts, which will be live very soon! Also, since it is the Christmas Season, we might as well spread some holiday cheer through our blog. While we are planning to make a Christmas-centric post, we decided to share with you, our dear readers out there some cover version of a handful of songs featured in the classic claymation feature, "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Yeah, I know it is not Halloween, but hey, it is a Halloween movie mixed with a Christmas theme. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies, and have a Merry Christmas to you all! May all of us, including those who are experiencing various trials and tribulations in their lives, find comfort and joy this season, for 'tis the season to be jolly!


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