Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned – and at times, heated – discussion over popcorn or a pint? Sport, music and politics are all ripe for the picking: England’s greatest XI, the best decade for pop and numerous government gaffs, all providing endless opportunities for an argument. When it comes to the movies it’s no different, so here’s five of the best (what I say goes, but feel free to disagree in the discussion feed below).
Pacino or De Niro?
There's an adage that's been doing the rounds in Hollywood for some time now: Robert De Niro's been crap for longer than he's been good, or words to that effect. Since selling his soul to comedy some two decades ago with Meet the Parents and Analyze This, there is some truth to that, although there's been the odd highlight such as Silver Linings Playbook. As for Al Pacino, he's been somewhat picky with his roles over the last twenty years or so, and has therefore retained a little more credibility. Having said that, neither covered themselves in glory last year in the whoppingly-disappointing The Irishman, so we really need to examine the back catalogues. Goodfellas? Taxi Driver? Raging Bull? There's only one winner.
Do the Oscars really matter?
Speaking of those three classics, one thing that will forever remain a mystery is how Martin Scorsese failed to pick up the Best Director Oscar for any of them. Little Italy's favourite son did eventually claim the prize in 2006, but that was for the vastly inferior The Departed. There are of course, those greats who never got the nod - Cary Grant and George C. Scott spring to mind - as well as a few who've never even been nominated; Donald Sutherland, for example. Like their music equivalent, the Grammys, there are times when you're left wondering how the hell he/she/they ever won? It's also no secret that your face needs to fit, shall we say, or the Academy will be very disappointed with you. As Audrey Hepburn, winner of four best actress gongs, once said: "My work is my prize." Good enough for me, so it's safe to say, no, they really don't matter at all.
I had started cooking up this article before the sad passing of Sean Connery, and what's stood out among the tributes is that he's generally regarded as the premier 007. If any of the five entries on this list are down to personal preference, it's this one, but as I'm doing the writing... it's got to be Roger Moore. James Bond as a character is nothing if not unbelievable, so a heavy dose of both cheese and tongue-in-cheek are the order of the day, which Moore was able to deliver in spades. As well as being the funniest of the lot, his posh English persona was tailor-made for the role. The most famous Scotsman of them all does come a close second, however, so as a tribute he's at the top of this page in his famous guise.
Top of the Terminators
Aka a straight shoot-out between T1 and T2. The rest don't come anywhere near, that we can agree on, although last year's Dark Fate was a decent enough addition. Back to the main event. Judgement Day is that rare thing, a sequel that's equal to the original, taking Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg but giving the audience a whole new version to get their teeth into. With its eye-watering budget, the special effects were, back in the early 90s, unrivalled, but the first film never had such luxuries in 1984. This makes it even more of a marvel, and with its mean, menacing presence and superior dialogue, it gets the nod here.
Is Keanu Reeves really that bad an actor?
He's enjoyed something of a career revival in the wake of John Wick, and has recently entertained audiences in Bill and Ted Face the Music. Throw in hits like The Matrix and Bram Stoker's Dracula, and you wonder why there's a problem in the first place. Reeves isn't terrible, it's just that his A-list status is out of step with his acting ability, but that never stopped Arnie. He's also struggled with accents, as in the aforementioned Dracula, but that never stopped Sir Sean. No, he's not that bad, we've just expected better.
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