I was thinking about M Night Shyamalan the other day. I freaking LOVED the Sixth Sense, enjoyed Signs, but HATED the Village. But that got me to thinking about plot twists and how many movies have one you don’t come seeing. Those make for the best movies but that leads me to the question, which ones are the best? There are a ton of great examples but I figured I narrow mine down to a top 4 for Mt Rushmore week.
Star Wars: A New Hope
The line is iconic even if it’s misremembered. “Luke I am your father” isn’t correct but that’s not a big deal. It’s the impact of the statement that matters. “No, I AM your father.” One of the most famous lines in movie history and pop culture history. Honestly, it’s up there with one of the most recognizable lines in the world. Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father. I doubt this would have had the impact it did if George Lucas had released the movies in the correct order but I’m glad it started with Episode IV. Now that Disney is taking over the Star Wars Universe (thank god) we’re getting the back story to all of this. We’re getting the back story of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan and Luke. It’s great to fill in the gaps from before. I guess lost in all of this too is the fact that Darth is finding out that he had a son he never knew he had.
The Sixth Sense
Such a fantastic film. An original premise, great writing, great casting, and superb acting. Just like Star Wars, this has a line that is iconic. “I see dead people” is well known. The movie is just so well directed and shot I can’t even believe it. You find out at the end of the movie that Bruce Willis has been dead the entire time. You don’t know it until the end and it’s a huge shock. If you re-watch it knowing he’s dead, you can see how well-executed every shot is with Bruce Willis. You see Bruce at the table with a woman and they both turn and look at Haley Joel Osment as if they just got done having a conversation. It’s little things like that that are just great filmmaking. There’s what happens on screen, but part of filmmaking is what happens off-screen. Your mind fills in the gaps for that. M Night Shyamalan is brilliant in the way he uses that to hook his audience only to pull the rug out from them by the end of the movie.
The Usual Suspects
You can watch it a million times and still get caught up in who is Keyser Söze? We’ve seen the movie before, we KNOW how it ends but still, we fall for it every time. Kevin Spacey is damn near perfect in this movie. The subtle ways he looks around the room and uses things from his environment to spread a story of lies is incredible. He’s completely toast if the cops figure out that he’s Keyser Söze. They have him detained, and he still slips away. The casting is phenomenal, the writing is excellent, and the acting is just so freaking good. Keyser’s character is larger than life. Like a ghost. Everyone knows him. Everyone fears him. But nobody knows who he is. The way that Kevin Spacey plays a broken pathetic criminal despite being the mastermind is amazing. The reveal at the end is one of the most famous twists in movie history and rightly so.
This was a huge hit when I was in high school. I remember seeing it in theatres and then a bunch of people buying the book. There was a lot of cool cinematography in the movie and its directing and writing are fantastic. The cast and acting are damn near perfection. Edward Norton has been one of my favorite actors for years. So versatile but always delivers. From “Death to Smoochie” to “Rounders” to “American History X”. Brad Pitt is far more famous but this movie was different than most roles he’s done before. It’s a dark and twisting story but it’s a hell of a ride the whole time. Much like the Matrix and Truman Show did, it makes you wonder what is reality? How do you measure success? Is society actually good? What about the hyperconsumerism in America? Can you turn human fat into soap and sell it to people? You never even notice that Edward Norton’s character never has a name. Everyone talks to him but nobody calls him anything. At the end, you find out that he and Tyler Durden are one in the same. He was his imaginary friend. Or was it an imaginary friend? The movie was a huge hit and a gigantic part of pop culture when I was in high school and it still holds up today.
So those are MY four movie twists, what are yours? “The Prestige”? That’s a fantastic movie nobody talks about. Maybe even something more subtle like “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”? Feel free to share your ones below in the comments. I know I am forgetting a ton of them so I’m welcome to the suggestions.