Top 25 Countdown — No. 5


We're nearing the end of this countdown, and as we do we get the most sentimental choice on this list.

No. 5 — Simon Birch (1998)
Starring: Joe Mazzello, Ian Michael Smith, David Straithairn, Ashley Judd, and Oliver Platt
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Quote: "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice, not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God. What faith I have, I owe to Simon Birch, the boy I grew up with in Gravedown, Maine." — Adult Joe Wentworth
About: When you're looking at a list of personal favorites, there are usually emotional ties to a film that get it on the list. There is something about it that stirs you. "Simon Birch" is probably the least pedigreed and least easily defended choice on this list from a cinematic stand point. Yet it's in the top five. In fact, at times in my life it's been No. 1. I still have a poster for this little film from 1998 on the wall in my office at work. It's because this is the most sentimental choice on this list. I was in high school when I saw the film for the first time, and it got to me. I cried twice during the film, and truth be told it still makes me cry. I love Ashley Judd, so that helped me get into it, but it's the beauty in the story. The themes of friendship, family, sacrifice, and what it means to be a person of faith. That last point is something that has resonated with me when looking at films my whole life. But this movie took on a new meaning for me in the fall of 1998 when I began my senior year in high school. We all have teachers we remember, ones who struck a chord and helped shape how we saw the world during our formative years. For me, one of those teachers was Bobbie Kay, my AP English teacher. She did a lot to improve me as a writer and thinker. But it was an early assignment — where she hand selected books for us as individuals to read — that ties to this film. She picked for me "A Prayer for Owen Meany," a novel by the great John Irving. Irving has become one of my favorite writers, in large part thanks to Mrs. Kay's introduction of him to me as a senior in high school. As soon as I cracked open the book and read the opening line, I knew "A Prayer for Owen Meany" was the novel upon which "Simon Birch" is based. Truly the movie only captures part of what makes the novel great. But that line, quoted above, is what begins both the movie and the film. And it always gives me chills. "A Prayer for Owen Meany" is still probably my favorite book ever, and that is part of what ties to the sentiment I have for this film and the beauty of this story. The other is that it reminds me of Mrs. Kay, a great teacher and a great lady who is sorely missed.
Rating: PG for language, emotional thematic elements, and an accident scene.

Top 25 Countdown:
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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