Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: John Travolta

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we decided to take a look at one of the less prominent actors in this weekend's film "Savages", John Travolta. Travolta has no doubt had a long and illustrious career, but there's also little doubt that he hasn't been on quite the same plane as in years past. He got his start in television, and was quite popular in the early 1970's for such - his presence in "Welcome Back, Cotter" is still most remembered today. And it was that series where he first showed off his singing and dancing talents which led to his casting in breakout roles for films like "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever".


Travolta's had an interesting career, to say the least. Most people will focus on the bad films he's appeared in, and most notably "Battlefield Earth". The film swept the Razzie Awards in 2000, and sits at a lowly 2% on Rotten Tomatoes. And speaking of the Razzie Awards, while we've expressed plenty of our dislike for the construction of this organization and the awards, any actor who's been nominated for Worst Actor of the Decade twice (80's and 00's) can't be on too much of a hot streak. More than roles that have been seen as failures, I look at the roles he's turned down and wonder how things might be a little different for him today if he hadn't. Notably, he turned down Richard Gere's Golden Globe-winning role in "Chicago", and also played a huge part in Tom Hanks' success, turning down the leads in "Splash", "Apollo 13", and "Forrest Gump".

Anyway, even through all of that, this actor has still put together a long and entertaining career. He's acted in a variety of different genres, now into five different decades. So hit the jump, and see which films we picked out as some of the best from John Travolta's career!

Alex Schopp -
In my opinion, John Travolta is two different people. I look at him in older movies and I look at him now, and when looking at the other, my brain refuses to believe they're the same human being. Still, some good selections from both actors.

     1. Grease (1978)

The songs are really good, and I love the era - everyone and everything looks so awesome. More than any other film, I'm constantly amazed by my complete 180-degree turn with this. I literally hated this movie more than any other when I was a kid.
     2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
The quality of this movie is just so high, how can you not have it up high on your list? Travolta's character is solid in this, but may be the most overdone aspect of the whole film. I still find myself appreciating this film more and more the older I get.
     3. Get Shorty (1995)
I always have an extra affinity for movies that are centered around the movie industry. Great dark comedy with a great cast.
     4. Face/Off (1997)
Gotta love the Travolta & Cage team-up. When I look back on this movie, even though there's plenty of great action and a neat, albeit unlikely, story, I feel like I can really tell that this was the beginning of the end for Travolta. I feel like from this point forward, he wasn't the same person I grew up enjoying.
     5. Look Who's Talking (1989)
This film might be silly, but I really enjoy this type of John Travolta. He's fun and animated, I can enjoy watching this film if for nothing other than his character. Plus Bruce Willis as a baby? Sign me up!

Ben Foutch -

     1. Grease (1978)

Most of my feelings about this film pretty much mirror what Alex had to say. Great collection of tunes on this one.
     2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Like most of QT's films, it's all about the characters. Travolta came back in a big way with this.
     3. Blow Out (1981)
Under-appreciated thriller by Brian De Palma. Check it out.
     4. Get Shorty (1995)
Travolta maxed out the "cool" factor with this one.
     5. Carrie (1976)
What an iconic film. Perhaps a little dated, yet it still gets better with age.

Derek Clem -

     1. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Easily the greatest movie Travolta has ever been in. A great film all around.
     2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
This is regarded as his comeback. I never understood that because I continued to follow him through his Look Who's Talking career.
     3. The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)
This was a horror movie to me when I was a kid. It turned me into a hypochondriac. I was so afraid I would have to live in a plastic bubble.
     4. Get Shorty (1995)
Chili Palmer > Vincent Vega in cool factor.
     5. Urban Cowboy (1980)
My Dad always said, back in his late teens and early twenties, Travolta dictated clothing trends. This movie apparently turned city folk into looking like they just walked off a ranch...a designer ranch, that is.


Nathan Hinds - 
Travolta's filmography isn't nearly as impressive as I always assumed it was, maybe it is and I personally just didn't find as many films of his that I love as I thought I would. Still, I have always liked Travolta in whatever I've seen him in.

    1. Face/Off (1997)
This was an easy choice, and is miles ahead of every other film on this list. One of the most rockin good times you can ever have with an action film. If we were to do a Top 10 list with the entire action genre, you'd better believe this would be in it.
    2. Basic (2003)
I'm not sure why critics hated this film so much, I think its great.
    3. Pulp Fiction (1994)
There are parts of this movie that I love, and parts of this movie that I hate. The reason this film makes it on here is that I love most of the parts with Travolta in it.
    4. Ladder 49 (2004)
Really good disaster movie.
    5. Be Cool (2005)
This is another movie that has always been easy for me to watch.

Andy Schopp - 


     1. Face/Off (1997)
 Travolta and Cage "faceoff" with each other in an extremely impossible and also amazingly bad-ass way! 
     2. Look Who's Talking  (1989)
Incredible look at an original and child shaping idea!
     3. Phenomenon (1996)
 Id like this to happen to me....sort of. I don't want the outcome but i want everything up until.  
     4. Grease (1978)
 This is one of his best roles every in my opinion and i also just straight up like the movie quite a bit.
     5. Michael (1996)
Archangel travels to earth to get a feeling for whats going on...YES PLEASE!

So there we have it. These are the best films we're looking at this week. Plenty of great variety, but still pretty notable films rising to the top. The overall winner here (though with no overall #1 selections) is "Pulp Fiction". It appeared on four of the five lists above, and really helped reinvent Travolta's career with its release. As Derek said above, this is most widely accepted as his comeback movie in the 90's. Then we had three films with three overall selections: "Grease" (two #1's), "Face/Off" (two #1's), and "Get Shorty". There's a pretty great variety of themes and genres with those three films, but all definitely stand-out and offer great performances from Travolta himself.

The only other film with multiple selections was "Look Who's Talking", with two. Interestingly, the two lists that it appeared on were both from the Schopp brothers - I only point that out because I feel like it's a great example of how films that you see at certain points in your life with certain rewatches can really shape your tastes as you age. So if you trust the Schopp brothers' taste, check the film out; if not, no one else thought it as one of the best.

But as always, we hope that each of these film selections helps you to expand your knowledge of John Travolta's filmography, and leads to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!