Top 25 Countdown — No. 2


Today I continue my Top 25 countdown with my second favorite film of all time.

No. 2 — The Dark Knight (2008)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman
Director: Christopher Nolan
Quote: "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight." — Jim Gordon
About: I remember the first time I saw "The Dark Knight." I remember how stirred I was, how I felt, and how I wept at the end. That same feeling I had washes over me every time I watch "The Dark Knight," though I've seen it 100 or more times in the eight years since its release. It is a beautifully made film. Christopher Nolan is a gifted filmmaker. He sought out not to make a superhero film, but to explore what Batman would be like in a real, grounded world. He started that work in "Batman Begins" but he hits it out of the park with "The Dark Knight," which is one of the best heist movies I've ever seen, period. In fact, it's drawn a lot of comparisons to another film on this list — "Heat" — because of the way it's put together. And it helps to have some beautiful performances. Bale is solid as Batman, but what takes this to the next level is Eckhart as Harvey Dent and Ledger as The Joker. Both are great, and both are necessary to the story that this film wants to tell. For me, personally, I'm moved by the examination of worldview and the nature of man, and by the exploration of polar opposites. Batman is a vigilante, one who believes so strongly in the construct of law and order that he will violate that construct to enforce it. The Joker is an anarchist, one who believes are structure and order are meaningless, making him and agent of chaos. They are a fascinating juxtaposition. Also, Nolan is a Secular Humanist, and he brings that to this narrative. It's a movie that has many layers, and the fun is peeling those layers back. It's also a meditation on how we find hope in a world gone mad. They find it in the wrong place — something that's explored in "The Dark Knight Rises" — which is what makes the ending so powerful and so tragic to me. I think this was the finest film of the 21st Century so far, and a film that's near and dear to my heart as well.
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.

Top 25 Countdown:
3. No Country For Old Men (2007)
4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
5. Simon Birch (1998)
6. The Godfather (1972)
7. Jurassic Park (1993)
8. Jaws (1975)
9. Gettysburg (1993)
10. Up In The Air (2009)
11. Die Hard (1988)
12. Doubt (2008)
13. Way of the Gun (2000)
14. Heat (1995)
15. The Paper (1994)
16. Watchmen (2009)
17. LA Confidential (1997)
18. Serenity (2005)
19. Children of Men (2006)
20. Miller's Crossing (1990)
21. About Schmidt (2002)
22. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
23. The Matrix (1999)
24. Independence Day (1996)
25. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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