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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Pick Six- Tom Hanks


Pick Six- Tom Hanks

With this week’s release of Cloud Atlas, we figured it would be a good time to do a Pick Six for the great Tom Hanks. I was excited about this particular project, because unlike Tim Burton, I have loved Tom Hanks and the movies he was in for about as long as I can remember. I’m also fascinated by the man himself. I was delighted to learn, for instance, that he collects typewriters. Picking my top six Tom Hanks wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be – the hardest part, in the end, was deciding what films wouldn't make the final cut. Here are my top six favorite (favorite, not “best” or most Oscar toting) Tom Hanks movies.

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis, Rated: PG-13, 143 minutes

It should illuminate the love I have for Tom Hanks that the number six movie I have on my list is Cast Away. This movie has been one of my favorites since the very first time I was transported by it in theaters. In a funny twist of fate, I first saw Cast Away while living in Bakersfield, California. For those with lackluster memories or those who have not yet seen the film, there’s a scene where a porter-potty door washes up on the beach of Tom Hanks’ private island. As incentive for those who are not catching on, let’s just say the audience started cheering at this scene. Tom Hanks is marvelous in this film, being the sole character on the screen for the vast majority of the running time. His portrayal of a man stranded on an island is unforgettable, and the story is such that by the time the movie ends we’re crying over a volleyball.

Directed by: Nora Ephron, Rated: PG, 105 minutes

Sleepless in Seattle was a film that I avoided for far too long. I’d heard a few times that the film was “weird,” and disagreeably so. As a result, I didn't see it until I was 22, sitting alone in my college apartment. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the blanket, but regardless, this movie made me cry and laugh in equal turn. Tom Hanks plays a man haunted by the loss of his wife with remarkable dexterity, all the while keeping his trademark humor. The collision of American cities in the background give this film a remarkable flavor, blending bits of Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and even the top of the Empire Building. Touching, funny, Sleepless in Seattle is my second favorite romance film, right after Casablanca.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg, Rated: R, 169 minutes

Saving Private Ryan is the war movie that redefined war movies. The attack on Normandy beach single-handedly readjusted the lens on World War II in a way that, really, was never undone. Gone are the days of simple good versus bad, of John Wayne clutching a Thompson Submachine gun. Gone are the days of slow motion derring do (indeed, movies like Behind Enemy Lines, while still cool end up feeling forced). Saving Private Ryan focuses on a rescue operation aimed at saving a certain Private Ryan, whose other brothers were killed in the war. The pursuit reveals to us an excruciatingly personal look at World War II, with Tom Hanks as the uncomfortable and believable leader of the outfit. If there was ever a person unfamiliar with the genre of “war movie” this is the one I would tell them to start with.

Directed by: Mike Nichols, Rated: R, 102 minutes

Between the brilliant dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin, top notch acting put forward by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks, and the incredibly pertinent subject matter, Charlie Wilson's War is a must see film. This is the true story about a United States Congressman, Charlie Wilson, who coordinated an undercover war against the communists through the Afghans. Especially given the current situation in the Middle East, films like Charlie Wilson’s War make essential viewing, not only for people who want to be thoroughly entertained, but for people who are curious about how we ended up where we currently are.

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis, Rated: PG-13, 142 minutes

Clocking in at number two is Forrest Gump, that wonderful biography of 1960‘s America as seen through the eyes of Forrest, one of the most unforgettable characters to come across the screen...well, ever. This movie is like five different movies in one, each helmed by Tom Hanks in arguably his best dramatic role since his portrayal of Andrew Beckett in the 1993 film Philadelphia. One scene in particular, wherein Forrest learns of an unexpected addition to his family, Hanks absolutely floors me with his ability to use his face to express emotions. Profoundly moving, funny and important, Forrest Gump is one of my all time favorite movies, and earns its place as number two on my list.

Directed by: John Lasseter, Rated: G, 81 minutes 

At long last, we arrive at my very favorite Tom Hanks movie. Toy Story is the kind of film that, honestly, I don’t even know what to say when I talk about it. I love Toy Story. I love how it brings people together. The Toy Story Trilogy is, quite literally, a chronological record of my childhood. I was one of the kids that for the longest time would stay awake late into the night hoping to see my toys come to life. They never did (not while I was looking, anyway) but it was because of Toy Story that I still, to this day, have a Woody doll that sits on a shelf over the kitchen sink. I think it’s indicative that people from my generation don’t judge me for this fact, but instead understand why I've still got a Woody doll. In fact, most of them have Woody or Buzz or Jesse dolls of their own. I love Toy Story.

Honorable Mentions:

Philadelphia: This is a great film. Tom Hanks (in particular) put on his best performance. I couldn't bring myself to put this on my top six because...well, I just didn't like the movie that much. I think the message (especially for when they released it) is important, but the movie left me not as impressed as I wanted to be. So cry foul, but this one didn't break in. Even though Tom Hanks was incredible in it.

Catch Me if You Can: I love this movie. A lot. But I don’t love it more than Cast Away, which was at the bottom of the Pick Six.

Apollo 13: This one suffered from Catch Me if You Can Syndrome. Loved it, loved it, loved it. But not more than Cast Away. And not more than anything above Cast Away on the list.

The Green Mile: Based on a Stephen King story, this was another one of the movies that I had to wince as I kept it off the list. In the end, I love this movie, but had to keep it off the final collection.

Nick's Pick Six for Tom Hanks: (no order)
Catch Me if You Can
Saving Private Ryan
Toy Story
Forrest Gump
Road to Perdition

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At October 27, 2012 at 10:46 AM , Anonymous Courtney said...

Tom Hanks is brilliant. He kills me every time I watch Forrest Gump...any scene...any line. His performance in that is possibly the best I've ever seen by an actor of that decade, or ever. Maybe that's a bold statement, but he carries that movie with every scene, statement and facial expression.

At October 27, 2012 at 10:59 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Hey Courtney,

I totally agree with you. I think his portrayal of Forrest in this movie is top notch. The scene where Jenny tells him about Jr. obliterates me and awes me every time I see it. So glad someone agrees... :)

At October 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM , Anonymous Thomas said...

I really like that you included Charlie Wilson's war. I think that movie is vastly underrated. The only change I'd make would be to include Apollo 13 over Castaway.

At October 28, 2012 at 3:25 PM , Anonymous Courtney said...

The scene where he's talking to Jenny in the end of the movie (after he buried her under their tree) kills me every time. Cannot. Handle.

At October 28, 2012 at 3:54 PM , Blogger Ries said...

Hey Thomas,

Apollo 13, Catch Me if You Can and Castaway all fought for that last spot. It was a gruesome struggle, but in the end I chose Castaway for the simple reason that it made me weep over a volleyball...

At October 28, 2012 at 3:54 PM , Blogger Ries said...

Me too...can't do it. A tissue box is a prerequisite for watching Forrest Gump.

At October 31, 2012 at 8:28 PM , Blogger Susan Reep said...

The point of the port-a-potty comment - the door to the potty said Bakersfield! We had a part in Castaway, we Bakersfieldians. I believe we may have cheered in the theater when that scene played. Small excitements here.

At November 1, 2012 at 10:04 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Susan, I know that I definitely cheered. Fun trivia - did you know that in Hitchcock's Psycho, Janet Leigh swaps out her car for a new one in - you guessed it - Bakersfield? Who knew we were so famous! Also, in The Cell, the victim is being held prisoner in Bakersfield. It's everywhere! Thanks for commenting! ;)


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