Technically, it’s no longer this blog’s two-year anniversary, but I still felt like doing this list of the top ten movies/shows/plays about which I’ve blogged. Here are some disclaimers. If you’ve been following my blog and remember the other “list” posts, you can probably guess the first two.I have to keep including them because you never know which post will be the first someone reads. The third one is new.
These are the top ten movies, shows, etc. about which about I’ve blogged, not my top ten favorites ever. The list should still give you some idea of what I consider great though.
The items are listed in alphabetical order, not ranked in quality. I could probably say that a few of them are better than others, but for the most part, I regard them as equal in their different ways. Doing an alphabetical list was easier than a ranking.
When I say I’ve blogged about them, I mean that they were the specific subject of at least one post. I’m not including things I’ve just mentioned. For example, in my two-part series on Maleficent (2014), I mentioned that I’m an ardent fan of the 1959 Sleeping Beauty, but the series wasn’t about that, so I didn’t put it on this list.
Now the moment you’ve been waiting for…
As You Like It (2006)
Basically, all of Shakespeare’s comedies are about romance, but As You Like It is a particularly interesting exploration of it. It contrasts a couple, Touchstone and Audrey, whose relationship is totally based on sex with the man planning on dumping the woman as soon as he’s had his fun with her, a couple, Silvius and Phebe, whose relationship is built on poetic cliches and finally a couple, Orlando and Rosalind, whose rounded relationship encompasses the physical and the spiritual. Of course, to describe it that way makes it sound much more moralizing and censorious than it is. The play ends with all three couples, plus another, getting married and we’re supposed to be happy for all of them.
The 2006 movie captures both the magic and the humanity of this play while dealing with its narrative problems as gracefully as possible. It boasts great casting, great visuals and great music. (Actually, pretty much all of the movies on this list boast that as well as great writing. I’m going to have to be careful not to keep repeating that in this post, but I should be allowed to mention it with this first entry.) My opinion on this comfort film can best be summarized by the line, “I like this place and willingly would waste my time in it.”
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the legend of Cinderella. Having seen several movie adaptations of it, I can say that this, despite only having come out in the mid-2010s and not having nostalgia to lend it luster, is the best of them. For me, it has the perfect blend of being daringly traditional and non-revisionist while putting subtle new spins on the characters of Cinderella, her stepmother and her eventual husband, making them feel like real people. In general, I feel that the Disney company’s recent line of nostalgia bait, while pathetic in how endless it is, gets a worse rap from some critics than it deserves. But this is the only recent Disney remakes that I believe transcends the category of nostalgia bait.I’d argue it’s not a remake of the old, animated movie at all, just another adaptation of the fairy tale, except for the mice and the cat and the names of the stepsisters and the words, … Continue reading
Emma (1996)This is the one starring Gwyneth Paltrow, not Kate Beckinsale. It’s probably fairer to identify them by directors than actors, but if I did that, readers wouldn’t recognize their names.
Guys, are you turned off by the first three movies on this list being chick flicks? Well, this is one romantic comedy where the leading lady is wrong about everything, and her male love interest is always right. If the woman in your life insists on you watching a “girl movie” with her, why don’t you suggest this one?
Seriously, folks, if you ask me, this is the only movie based on a Jane Austen book that anyone really needs to watch.Well, OK, there’s also Love and Friendship (2016) and maybe Sense and Sensibility (1995.) As something of an introvert, I love that it caricatures people who are annoyingly friendly. But it also distinguishes between the annoying but genuinely friendly Miss Bates and Mrs. Elton whose annoying friendliness is calculated and phony. (The friendliness part, that is. Her annoyingness is quite natural and genuine.) Beneath its fluffy exterior, this movie provides a pretty scathing look at how nasty respectable people, like Mr. Elton and Emma herself, can be and shows that it’s not enough to go through the motions of charity while having a selfish heart.
Fantasia (1940)/Fantasia 2000 (which actually came out in 1999.)
OK, so this is actually a top 11 list, not a top 10 list. As I wrote in my blog posts about them, I feel like the strengths and weaknesses of these two “animated concerts” balance each other out. While there are some great moments of joy and humor in the first Fantasia, most notably in the Pastoral Symphony segment and the Dance of the Hours, they’re not as effective as the ones in second one. And while Fantasia 2000 has some great dark moments, mainly the depiction of a jobless man’s plight in the Rhapsody in Blue segment and the antagonist in the Firebird Suite, they’re not to be compared to those in the original. In a way, I can recommend Fantasia 2000 to more viewers since it’s less often boring, but on the other hand, I kind of admire Fantasia (1940) for daring to be boring and it does something for the few to whom it appeals that more crowd-pleasing movies don’t. If only the two films could be combined into one, they’d be one of my favorites. Still, as they are, both feature beautiful animation and music and provide an interesting opportunity for the talented Disney animators to do something outside the narrative norms of Disney.
Little Dorrit (2008)
I was a trifle unsure about including this miniseries since, as I wrote in my post about it, it has quite a few structural problems, probably more than anything else on this list has. But its virtues are just so great! It features some of Charles Dickens’s most scathing satire against high society and, despite its melancholy tone, some of his most hilarious supporting characters. The romance between Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam is also arguably one of Dickens’s best.Though some would say that’s less of an achievement. Or maybe it just comes across as the best due to the lead actors’ performances. I know I wrote that every item on this top ten list features consistently great casting, so I wasn’t going to keep mentioning it, but I can’t resist gushing about this miniseries’ cast. Everyone embodies their roles so well. It might be the best cast for any Dickens adaptation I’ve seen, and I’ve seen many great ones. A messy masterpiece this may be, but a masterpiece, nonetheless.
Les Misérables (2012)
Like the Fantasia movies, this is an item on the list that I can’t recommend to everyone, not without some caveats first. Many viewers are turned off by its cinematography and its casting, as well as various other things which don’t or barely bother yours truly.It also happens to be highest rated movie on this list at PG-13, though I’d argue some of the television stuff has PG-13 content. Well, those viewers can make their own top ten lists and, in some cases, doubtless have done so. I am in awe of the epic emotional powerhouse that is this movie and while my opinion may not be uncontroversial, I’m not alone in it either. As I wrote before, if I were to sum up this movie in one word, it would be, powerful. A powerful story, powerful acting, a powerful soundtrack, powerful visuals and powerful themes.
Victor Hugo’s original story, while it has plenty of cinematic elements, is also notoriously complex and difficult to do justice to in one movie.More than one film concludes with the death of the main antagonist and the union of the young lovers, ignoring all the major drama afterwards. The 1985 stage musical already did a great job of simplifying the plot to make it accessible for casual viewers while still including many of the best scenes and giving most of the characters a chance to shine even if it didn’t give all of them as much depth as in the book. But if you ask me, everything from the original source material that the 2012 movie reinstates and everything it does that’s different from either makes an already amazing adaptation even more brilliant. Again, I am in awe.
Nicholas Nickleby (2002)I’ve referred to this movie in the past as The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby since that’s what I remembered from the opening credits, but according to the internet, the shorter … Continue reading
If all the movie adaptations of Charles Dickens books were trapped in a burning building, rescuing this one would be my first priority. It’s classy yet unpretentious and it’s accessible to modern audiences without pandering to them.As I’ve gathered that Netflix’s recent take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion does. Perhaps this was easy since so many of the elements that Dickens included in the source material still attracts people centuries later. Only the most pretentious viewers, who insist on moral ambiguity and challenge, fail to enjoy cheering for an underdog hero against a hissable villain.
I admit I may be biased in this one’s favor. I first saw it when I was around 19 and it was inspiring to have a story about someone my age standing up for his convictions, beating up bullies and saving their helpless victims. Of course, there are probably lots of stories about 19-year-old heroes doing those things. Who can say why this one specifically appealed to me? But it did and continues to do so.Maybe it’s appropriate that one of the two Dickens adaptations on this list features one his best archetypally masculine heroes and the other features one of his best archetypally feminine … Continue reading
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
I’d always admired this movie somewhat, but in recent years, I’ve been drawn back to it more and more until I imagine I would include it on a list of my favorite movies period, not just that this blog has covered.Maybe not a top ten list but it could make a top twenty or even a top fifteen. I think it works on a number of levels, as spectacle, as character study.I know I wrote that the only really interesting characters in it were the protagonist and the main antagonist and I’ll stand by that (though, come to think of it, the old Pharoah (voiced by … Continue reading It even manages a sense of real religious awe, not something you’d expect from Dreamworks animation. Ostensibly, an affirmation of mankind’s desire for freedom, it also works as a cautionary story about human hubris. And at a time when personal bonds are often broken by conflicting political and religious convictions, its reimagining of the relationship between Moses and Pharoah is very relatable.
The Storyteller (1987-1989)
In the course of nine episodes, this show managed to include every trope you’d want to see represented in a collection of European folktales. A beautiful maiden whose father accidently promises her in marriage to an ugly monster. A wandering soldier who is magically rewarded for charity to a beggar. A sister who must take a vow of silence to save her brothers who have transformed into birds. The youngest of three sons who, in part because of his kindness to animals, succeeds in a mission where his brothers have failed. The belle of a royal ball who is secretly a grimy scullery maid. All this and more. While capturing the feel of a fairy tale, this series also gives the impression of psychological depth with little details, such as the princess in The Three Ravens missing her deceased mother whenever she’s happy, and its unique writing style gives it a personality all its own.
You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)
Of all the underrated Peanuts specials about which I’ve written this is my favorite.OK, that’s not true. I probably prefer There’s No Time For Love, Charlie Brown, but I don’t have much to say about it beyond that it’s hilarious, so this works better. It’s a great comedic look at the election process or at least the election process in the USA. With some very skewed polls, over-the-top campaign promises that can’t possibly be kept, questionable attempts to make a candidate look “homey,” a radio call in show with meandering callers who hem and hawNo shame. If I were to call in to a show like that, I’d get tongue tied too. and a campaign manager who is exasperated by her candidate’s insistence on bringing up his controversial religious beliefs, this will always be relevant. So will its message that candidates may mean well but you shouldn’t rely on them to fix everything wrong with the world-especially if they still suck their thumbs and carry security blankets.
Well, there you have it. One Shakespeare movie. One Jane Austen adaptation. Two Charles Dickens adaptations. One Peanuts cartoon. One movie and one TV series adapted from fairy tales. Two epic musicals. At least, two romantic comedies. One animated short and three animated movies, two of which are made up of shorts. I hesitate to say that’s the perfect representation of my tastes, but it does give you some idea of my interests and what you can expect from The Adaptation Station.com.
|I have to keep including them because you never know which post will be the first someone reads.
|I’d argue it’s not a remake of the old, animated movie at all, just another adaptation of the fairy tale, except for the mice and the cat and the names of the stepsisters and the words, bibbiddi bobbiddi boo-OK, fine, it’s a remake! A really great remake.
|This is the one starring Gwyneth Paltrow, not Kate Beckinsale. It’s probably fairer to identify them by directors than actors, but if I did that, readers wouldn’t recognize their names.
|Well, OK, there’s also Love and Friendship (2016) and maybe Sense and Sensibility (1995.)
|Though some would say that’s less of an achievement.
|It also happens to be highest rated movie on this list at PG-13, though I’d argue some of the television stuff has PG-13 content.
|More than one film concludes with the death of the main antagonist and the union of the young lovers, ignoring all the major drama afterwards.
|I’ve referred to this movie in the past as The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby since that’s what I remembered from the opening credits, but according to the internet, the shorter title seems to be correct.
|As I’ve gathered that Netflix’s recent take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion does.
|Maybe it’s appropriate that one of the two Dickens adaptations on this list features one his best archetypally masculine heroes and the other features one of his best archetypally feminine heroines. But that’s a bit of an oversimplification of the characters. Nicholas Nickleby is very nurturing towards the disabled Smike, one of the victims he defends, and Little Dorrit rescues other characters in her own way by tending to them when they’re ill and taking care of them.
|Maybe not a top ten list but it could make a top twenty or even a top fifteen.
|I know I wrote that the only really interesting characters in it were the protagonist and the main antagonist and I’ll stand by that (though, come to think of it, the old Pharoah (voiced by Patrick Stewart) is a remarkably rounded character considering the little screen time he has) but, well, those two characters are really interesting.
|OK, that’s not true. I probably prefer There’s No Time For Love, Charlie Brown, but I don’t have much to say about it beyond that it’s hilarious, so this works better.
|No shame. If I were to call in to a show like that, I’d get tongue tied too.