Saturday, November 24, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Stranded

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we look to Ang Lee's newest, "Life of Pi", and try to narrow down some of our favorite films in which the character(s) are stranded in some way, just as the main character in this newest film is. "Life of Pi" is an adaptation of a best-selling fantasy adventure novel of the same title. It centers around a young boy, Pi, who is shipwrecked and stranded at sea. With a small boat and few supplies, he survives over 200 days alongside a Bengal tiger. The film explores the spirituality, practicality, strength and determination of what something like that entails.


While the film centers around being stranded at sea, we didn't restrict our lists to such (there jut wouldn't have been enough variety). So while there are a handful of films that do revolve around being lost at sea and/or on a beach, multiple other films exist that explore various terrains and environments. From the deserts to the antarctic to the forest and even the planet Earth itself, there are plenty of quality films that dive into many of the same physical, emotional and philosophical tropes that "Life of Pi" will also explore.

So without further ado, hit the jump to see which films we saw as the best that this category (as weakly-named as it is) has to offer!

Alex Schopp -
Not a ton of different titles to choose from, but still plenty I'm happy to have on this list. My #5 selection is fairly interchangeable with a few other films, but the top four picks seem solid.

     1. Cast Away (2000)

Not only is the quality of the film really high, but this feels like it best encompasses the total picture of the film we're drawing inspiration from this week.
     2. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
You just feel so bad for this little guy. A great alien/sci-fi classic.
     3. The Edge (1997)
I love this movie and I'm constantly torn between never wanting any of this to happen to me and also (outside of dying) wanting all of it to happen to me.
     4. The Thing (1982)
It really only lasts a few days, but you try being stranded in the middle of the Antarctic with a shape-shifting alien and see how much fun that is. For most all involved, it didn't turn out so well.
     5. Lord of the Flies (1990)
I remember watching this film in grade school. I've rewatched it since (still years ago), but I do love this story. The extremes we'll go to when pushed to the edge astound me. Regardless of age, its in our nature to all eventually succumb to the same things given the "right" situations.

Ben Foutch -

     1. Cast Away (2000)

     2. The Edge (1997)

     3. The Grey (2011)

     4. Dagon (2001)

     5. Howard the Duck (1986)



Derek Clem -

     1. Cast Away (2000)

This movie hits the top spot due to its greatness, high relevance to our theme, and the constant tears this movie gives me when Hanks and Hunt say goodbye to each other at the end. Oh man is this movie absolutely amazing!
     2. Jurassic Park (1992)
If you're a kid stranded in a faulty dinosaur park, you're gonna want Dr. Alan Grant to be with you.
     3. Apollo 13 (1995)
Even though there is pretty much absolutely no chance of it ever happening to me, being stranded in space is one of my worst fears.
     4. Titanic (1997)
Surprisingly, this movie has never deterred me from going on cruises.
     5. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
You gotta feel bad for the little guy being all stranded here on Earth.

Nathan Hinds -
My list is all over the place. I originally wanted to try and stick with films that centered around characters being stranded at sea or on an island, but I just couldn't make it work. Every time I tried to add a different criteria, I couldn't find five titles that I liked. So ultimately, I just ignored all of it and picked the five titles that stood out to me the most.

     1. Cast Away (2000)

This is #1 because I love the movie, and it's more relevant to "Life of Pi" than what my second selection is. Plus, any movie that can make you tear up over a volleyball has got to be given massive props.
     2. The Grey (2012)
This movie blew me away. Liam Neeson is so amazing in this, and I really think this is his best work to date.
     3. Six Days Seven Nights (1998)
Harrison Ford and Anne Heche are perfect together in this movie. This movie would definitely score high in the Watchability category.
     4. Deliverance (1972)
This is #4 because it doesn't have a very high watchability factor. It's such a powerful movie, but it's also a tough watch.
     5. Flight of the Phoenix (2004)
This is just a great movie if you need to kill two hours.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Cast Away (2000)

If this isn't at the top of your Stranded list then you are doing it wrong.
     2. Mysterious Island (1961)
I have always admired the work of Ray Harryhausen. This is a great example of a master at his craft. It's hard to imagine where special effects would be today had ol' Ray not done his work in such a fine way.
     3. Six Days Seven Nights (1998)
Well Harrison Ford is in it so...I'm biased, get over it.
     4. The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Nice little romance and stranded all at once. Good all-around film, really.
     5. Robinson Crusoe (1997)
I remember seeing this when I was about 12-years-old and thinking about how cool it would be to be on an island and build my own stuff; just rough it out there. That was until people attacked him. Then I was glad to just be watching someone else pretend to do it.

That's right, folks. Film #4 to make it into the Slackers Shrine! After getting two films in early on, more than five months went by before we found our third. Now, with "Cast Away", we've added another just one month later. The film feels deserving of the achievement, though it surely received a bump on this list due to its similarities to "Life of Pi", the film in which these lists were to be inspired by. Regardless though, it's a welcomed addition to the limited membership of the Shrine, and we're happy to include it!

Outside of "Cast Away", 17 different films appeared in the other four selections of all our lists. While many of the titles aren't nearly as acclaimed as "Cast Away", it does show how highly we all think of the film considering that outside of it, only four other films received multiple selections, and they each only got two. So one film this week hit on all five lists in the #1 spot. Then just four with two picks apiece. It just goes to show the gap between "Cast Away" and everything else in this genre. The four films, however, that did manage two picks were "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial", "The Edge", "The Grey", and "Six Days Seven Nights". The first three feel like pretty powerful films all having to do with a character being stranded, while "Six Days Seven Nights" probably sneaks in more for its relevance to the source film this week than anything. It's still a fun flick in which Harrison Ford stars, and if you're looking for a mindless Sunday afternoon watch, this could fit the bill.

Otherwise, with 18 total selections, I think this either ties or sets the record for most overall films detailed in a Top 5 Movie Guide (though I'd have to double-check and I'm far too much of a Slacker to do that - regardless, this is right near the top). Lists with a lot of variety, while they don't always do a great job of bringing the best films to the top (which of course wasn't the case for "Cast Away" this week), they do provide a lot of broad titles for you to look into and more deeply experience all that they genre has to offer. So while many of the titles above only appeared on one list, you should give each of them equal consideration when delving into this subject.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this category has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!