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From mobsters to nuns, check out some of history's top films

Sunday , January 14, 2018 - 12:00 AM

TX. Correspondent

All great motion pictures come to be the icons that they are through their beautifully written scripts, incredibly designed sets and cinematography, original story lines, and casts of actors and actresses that almost seem to become the characters they were chosen to portray.

However, you can truly tell when a movie is history in the making when it has been awarded the title of Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the highest honor a motion picture can receive.

Being the movie lover that I am, I have seen many of these films and remember exactly where I was and how old I might have been when first viewing each picture. For example, I remember being as young as 7 and watching James Cameron’s “Titanic” on my parents’ VHS tapes. I can also recall seeing “The Sound of Music” to pass the time while my younger sister was in the hospital after being born.

These examples illustrate just how much impact these films truly have and how much they contribute to pop culture, societal issues, and even the ways people live their lives each and every day.

With the Academy Awards just around the corner this March, it’s a good time to look back on a few of these top picture winners and discover some fun facts about how they were made and why they continue to be the popular movies they are today.

1. “Titanic” — directed by James Cameron, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (1997). James Cameron’s masterpiece stayed in theaters from its initial release on Dec. 19, 1997, to Sept. 1, 1998, months after being issued on VHS. I suppose audiences could “never let go” of such a remarkable picture.

2. “The Godfather” directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino and Marlon Brando (1972). Most notably known for its puppet-string logo and unbeatable cast, “The Godfather” has remained a milestone in the movie industry for 45 years. Don’t ask Coppola how he made the film, however; I hear he hates people “asking about his business.”

3. “The Godfather: Part II” — directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (1974). Deemed the best sequel of all time, this major motion picture highly valued its lead actor, Pacino, granting him $600,000 to revive his role of Michael Corleone. It was an offer Pacino just couldn’t refuse!

4. “The Sound of Music” — directed by Robert Wise, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer (1965). The most successful musical film ever produced, “The Sound of Music” has warmed the hearts of millions with its catchy numbers, irreplaceable lead actress and beautiful presentation of the Austrian landscape. Although being 52 years old, “the hills are still alive with the sound of music,” making us all want to “sing once more.”

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5. “Gladiator” — directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix (2000). “Strength and honor” will go on for an eternity thanks to this motion picture. Crowe won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the infamous gladiator Maximus, and the actor claims him as the most favorite character he has ever portrayed.

6. “Rocky” — directed by John G. Avildsen, starring Sylvester Stallone (1976). “It’s the eye of the tiger; it’s the thrill of the fight” when it comes to “Rocky.” The relatable characters and the intriguing plot line make the film easy to enjoy again and again. To make the win even more memorable, Stallone proclaimed, when he accepted the award for best picture, “To all of the Rockys in the world, I love you!”

7. “Forrest Gump” — directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks and Robin Wright (1994). Despite not being a smart man, Forrest Gump definitely knew what love was and had a natural talent for storytelling. While viewing this motion picture, one cannot attempt to deny Forrest’s determination, compassion and innocence, whether he be running wherever he goes or sitting with his girl Jenny on their tree, watching the sunset.

8. “Driving Miss Daisy” — directed by Bruce Beresford, starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy (1989). A film starring Freeman is a film worth seeing, with his talent, charisma and diversity. This particular film, however, shows Freeman at his very best, with Tandy by his side to tell a perfect story of breaking down barriers, understanding others and finding that extraordinary friendship that some will never discover.

9. “Casablanca” — directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman (1943). The oldest film listed here, “Casablanca” has stood the test of time, and continues to enthrall and intrigue audiences everywhere. It’s hard to pin down whether it’s Bogart and Bergman’s passion, talent or portrayals that make this motion picture so unforgettable.

10. “An American in Paris” — directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron (1951). This masterpiece has remained a Hollywood classic thanks to Kelly’s imaginative dance routines and charming portrayal of the “American in Paris.” With each tap dance step, rhyme and French word uttered, you cannot help but admire Kelly’s passion, believing in his character as much as in Paris itself.

Siena Jane Cummings is a freshman at Rocky Mountain Junior High. She loves classic books and movies with some of her favorites being “The Outsiders,” “To Kill a Mockingbird and “Little Women.” Email her at



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