Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Top Twelve

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After exhausting theoretical Oscar categories, I’ll be featuring a “top twelve” list for the rest of 2012 each Thursday, with a variety of themes. Please leave suggestions for future focuses in the comments!

With “Looper” recently released and “Cloud Atlas” coming out this weekend, it feels appropriate to take a crazy trip through time and rank the top twelve trippy sci-fi and time travel movies. Here’s my list – chime in with your favorites in the comments!

#12: Southland Tales Director Richard Kelly’s follow-up to number four on this list makes the grade because of just how spectacularly messy it is, featuring a handful of SNL alums, cars having sex, and impossible contradictions that just don’t make any sense at all. It’s a train wreck of magnificent proportions.

#11: The Jacket This dark thriller is most notable for the manner in which its main character travels to the future, trapped in a drawer in a psychiatric ward, hopeless to do anything but fight to figure out how to escape his bleak situation and change his fate.

#10: The Adjustment Bureau This captivating drama is a less intense version of #6, with an aspiring politician fighting to find a woman in a universe controlled by those obsessed with order. This love story is greatly enhanced by the workings of its fantastical world.

#9: The Butterfly Effect This film’s quality is often downplayed by the casting of Ashton Kutcher in the lead role. A closer look reveals that this immensely dark movie effectively and enthrallingly examines the dangers of messing with time and its links to memory.

#8: Brazil This 1985 cult classic from Terry Gilliam, who also directed #2 on this list, is the ultimate dystopian experience, presenting a wild universe where aesthetic conceptions have been warped and the government has taken on a disturbingly efficient system of justice.

#7: The Terminator The first and second films in this series are superb, but it’s the first one that really digs into the space-time continuum. The notion that John Connor sent his best friend back in time knowing that he would become his father is incredible to comprehend, and it’s almost as awesome as Ah-nuld himself.

#6: Dark City This 1998 head trip takes place in a world which aliens control and which changes constantly according to their whims. Rufus Sewell’s energetic free spirit is an appropriate wild centerpiece for this fascinating film.

#5: The Fountain Darren Aronofsky created a marvelous story that spanned three time periods with different characters played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in each one, visually astonishing and even more awe-inspiring to dissect and understand.

#4: Donnie Darko This 2001 Jake Gyllenhaal starrer takes a unique approach to time travel, with an evil bunny and one determined teenager drawn in by the inexplicable events around him and the acts he himself is committing.

#3: Back to the Future II The first film is considered to be the best, but it’s the second one that truly digs into the concept of time travel to more than one year, as Marty memorably receives a letter given to the post office seventy years older and encounters a frightening alternate present.

#2: 12 Monkeys This 1995 drama is most brilliant in the way that it reveals the complexities of its complicated time jumps, with excellent performances from a muted Bruce Willis and a maniacal (and Oscar-nominated) Brad Pitt in this superb, eerie exploration of time travel.

#1: Inception This recent film should be more familiar than most on this list, yet it earns its top spot due to the carefully-plotted details that make up its multiple dream levels. It may not be time travel, but this is one mesmerizing depiction of how imagined worlds can affect reality.

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