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Posts Tagged ‘castaway2000’

If you’re like me, you’ve seen and heard jokes and morning show conversations about how unsafe it is to travel with Tom Hanks. This has come up with the release of Sully, inspired by the notorious Miracle on the Hudson emergency plane landing and the events which followed. With this, Tom Hanks has been in at least two major releases where a character he plays deals with a plane crash.

So yes, maybe flying with a Tom Hanks character isn’t the greatest of ideas, but imagine the story which you would walk away telling. Hanks always chooses, or at least almost always, interesting stories and projects, so if all you have to deal with is a little plane crash, so be it.

This, and the release of the latest Dan Brown book-to-screen adaptation of Inferno with Hanks again as Robert Langdon, led me to start thinking about Tom Hanks movies in general, and great subject to ponder. This guy went from the TV show Bosom Buddies, which is where I first was exposed to him, to some of the best films of our time. Thus the inspiration of my latest Top 5 Favorites post.

Before I get into my personal favorites of his film career, let me review how I remember Tom Hanks coming to power. Since I am a child of the ’80s, my first exposure of Tom Hanks was on the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies where he and fellow actor Peter Scolari had to dress as women to get a decent rent-controlled Manhattan apartment in a building for only female residents. After that, I believe the first movie I saw him in, on VHS of course, was Splash (1984). I was a little over 10 years old and barreling towards puberty, so to be honest it took many years for me to realize Tom Hanks was even in that film, since all I payed attention to was Daryl Hannah as a mermaid.

After that, Hanks went on to star in a series of screwball comedies, some better than others, but it wasn’t until I saw Nothing In Common (1986) on HBO as a teenager that I knew this screwball actor had a major amount of talent and range. Punchline (1988) followed that and I remember watching it with my folks on VHS. During the infamous–in my book–scene when Hanks’s character does his Singing in the Rain performance outside that diner having been romantically rejected by Sally Field’s character, my dad uttered a simple, “Wow, that guy is GOOD.”

Multiple projects later as an actor, producer and director including back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role during the mid-1990’s, and Tom Hanks has carved himself a niche as being one of the great actors of my generation.

Without further haste, here are my selections for what are my Top 5 Favorite Tom Hanks movies thus far. The are listed from No. 5 to No. 1.

Subjected for your approval.

poster_savingmrbanksNo. 5 – Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

One icon of cinema playing another icon. Tom Hanks gets to portray Walt Disney, pre-popsicle of course. This movie was so delightful for so many reasons; the cast, the rehearsal scenes, the dynamic Hanks and co-star Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction) created between Disney and the creator of the Mary Poppins literary franchise, P.L. Travers, as the two worked to bring the books to the big screen. Hanks has two great scenes for me; first, when he opens up to Travers about his father forcing him to run his paper route and learning the meaning of forgiveness. The other was the scene where, while in rehearsal, Travers demanded the film not have the color red in all the exterior scenes of London.

The film was extremely informative from a Hollywood historic standpoint, particularly in the fact that Disney never acquired the intellectual property rights to adapt Mary Poppins to screen until well after pre-production had begun.

However, Thompson and Hanks really carried the film with an amazing supporting cast, and Hanks as Disney was a prime example of how this actor is a true chameleon. Among the actor’s research and preparation for the role, Hanks visited the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco several times and spoke with family members including Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. Supposedly, Hanks himself is a distant cousin of Walt Disney, but I could not find any reliable source on the web to confirm that little tidbit.

To read my full review of Saving Mr. Banks, click here.

poster_castawayNo. 4 – Cast Away (2000)

The beauty of this film is how Tom Hanks can say so much with his physical performance and non-verbal representation without having hardly any lines. The story is about how a FedEx executive whose world is ruled by the clock and having no time to meet goals suddenly finds himself stuck on a remote island when his flight crashes in the ocean, now he has all the time in the world for the next three years until he finally figures out a way to try and escape to freedom or die in the process.

To this day, any time I build something with my own hands, like our dog house or change out a light fixture, and it works, I throw my hands in the air and shout, “YES! LOOK WHAT I HAVE CREATED!” This refers to one of the more memorable scenes from the movie where Hanks’ character, Chuck, figures out how to start a fire in the wild of the island, probably having never done so in his life. The moment shows Chuck reaching a new level of his own masculinity and is comical since we’ve all had moments of acting like a total tard when no one was looking.

The moment which shows Hanks as a master for me is when Chuck has finally escaped the island and floating out at see with his volleyball co-hort Wilson, who became the only “person” for him to talk to for his years of solitude. However, while napping on his raft at sea, Wilson comes loose and drifts out into open water with Chuck unable to rescue him. Chuck loses his only friend for the previous three years and the next scene shows him sobbing like a child who lost their best friend. That moment brings me to tears every time, and it is all because Hanks does such a superior job of selling it to the viewer.

Hanks gave an interview in 2000 about his preparation for the role, from which he stated the hardest part was losing so much weight to show Chuck three years after being stranded. He said not eating French Fries during that process was torture, I agree it would be. Regardless, his pre-production work paid off in the final project helping create one of his greatest roles and pictures.

There is only one moment of the movie I disliked. During the reuniting of Chuck and girlfriend Kelly, played by Helen Hunt (As good As It Gets), when she is catching him up on events he missed over the past three years, she mentions Tennessee not only has an NFL football team in the Titans, they went to the Superbowl and almost one the game but came up short by one yard; one yard away from winning. That’s actually inaccurate. In that Superbowl game, the Titans were down by a touchdown and they needed to reach the end zone to tie the game and send it into overtime. On their last play, the were one yard shy of the goal line. It was one yard to tie, not one yard to win. That has always bugged me for some reason. Maybe Kelly just didn’t understand the game.

poster_punchlineNo. 3 – Punchline (1988)

This movie is not only one of my favorite Tom Hanks films, it is one of my favorites of all time. It follows the plights of two comedians; Steven (Hanks) who is a med-school flunkie and peppered stand up comic and Lila (Sally Field) who is a New Jersey housewife who is trying to break into the craft. She enlists Steven into a sort of mentorship role while Steven eventually falls for Lila. The picture culminates into the lauching of Steven’s career because of Lila’s sacrifice.

The movie in general is a small story from the life of comic Barry Sobel, who was quite popular during the late ’80s and early ’90s. However, Hanks was nothing like Sobel. The actor made the character his own. He was hilarious but also quietly sad, being virtually homeless and emotionally helpless, that is until Lila comes into his life. This is also possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen from Field. Between her and John Goodman (Coyote Ugly) playing her husband, her home life creating adversity for her outer motivation was so well scripted.

Back to Hanks. Like I mentioned in my preface, the Singing in the Rain scene shows how trying to be funny can truly give you a glimpse at a character’s sadness and depression. I just don’t know how Hanks pulled that scene off but it is truly masterful.

In preparation for this role, Hanks–and Fields for that matter–enlisted the aide of actual stand up comics to help them. Helping Hanks was none other than his character’s true-life inspiration Barry Sobel. Sobel and comedian Randy Fetcher teamed with Hanks to help write his character’s stand up routines for the film. Both Hanks and Fields took their learnings to random stand up clubs to get comfortable with the craft prior to filming.

David Selzter (Lucas), writer and director, was a fan of comedy clubs which helped inspire him to write this loosely adapted from true life plot. His work on this project was truly a great example of writing, directing and performance choices working together as a team. That is one of many reasons Punchline is one of my favorite movies of all time and one my favorites starring Tom Hanks. To read my full review of Punchline, click here.

poster_savingryanNo. 2 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

I think it’s amusing only one movie directed by Steven Spielberg appears among this list, while two appear directed by Robert Zemeckis. I felt the ensemble performances within the eight men of the rescue squad was what made this picture so entertaining. It will take a long time to put an ensemble THIS strong together again.

However, Tom Hanks as Captain Miller was the cornerstone of the casting. Hanks had so many great aspects to his character including the neurological tick which made his hands tremble at times. Also, the script included an interesting game among Miller’s men who kept guessing his backstory but wasn’t really sure until one of the film’s most tense moments. The speech of that scene was actually much longer, and Hanks pleaded to Spielberg to shorten it since Miller wouldn’t be interested in telling his men that much about himself. Spielberg agreed.

The special effects, going hand in hand with the picture’s production design, was flawless and captured the destruction and the era of the German occupied regions of France depicted throughout the story. Two-time Academy Award winning director Spielberg and two-time Oscar winner Januz Kaminski really knocked the visuals of the film out of the park. Overall, you can’t get a better World War II set movie than “Saving Private Ryan.” I have yet to see anything come close, and I doubt I will in the remainder of my lifetime.

One note to Tom Hanks integrity to the craft was a six-day boot camp each of the actors were asked to endure prior to filming. Since the boot camp was terribly physically challenging, one actor voted the team quit, but it was Tom Hanks, who reputed enjoyed the experience, who decided to stick it out in preparation of his role, thus inspiring the rest of the cast to see the camp to its end as well.

To read my full review of Saving Private Ryan, click here.

poster_forrestgumpNo. 1 – Forrest Gump (1994)

This is my second selection directed by Robert Zemeckis which won him the Academy Award for Best Direction in 1995; however, it is my first selection among favorite Tom Hanks starring pictures.

Forrest Gump is just a man who looks to keep things simple, thinks simple and loves a gal who is anything but. However, it is the numerous sequences where Gump’s presence is added to pivotal moments in American history and at times causes them is what makes this picture a delight. That, and of course his friendship-relationship with Jenny, played by Robin Wright (Unbreakable), is what pulls the heart strings and makes this movie an American classic.

My favorite scene to show Hanks’ chops is when he is reunited with Jenny, after she has given birth to her son, also named Forrest. She tells Forrest Sr. the son is HIS from their one night together years before. Hanks’ physical response to the news, knowing he now has a son and concerned for the kid’s mental abilities showed two things. One, there was an emotion of utter fright which Hanks conveyed without using any dialogue, and two, this was the first indication that Forrest was cognitive of his own mental limitations and fearful it was hereditary.

This is of course an ironic notion since it shows a level of sharpness we hadn’t been shown from Gump prior to that moment. The moment gets me in the feelie-goods every time and shows the immense amount of talent Hanks has for his craft, and that scene–in my opinion–won Hanks the Academy Award.

This performance is also one of the best and unique accents Hanks had developed from the film. Watching the DVD extras, Hanks gives an interview where he credits the accent was developed from the natural accent of Michael Connor Humphreys who played Gump as a young boy. Hanks said he had such a great southern accent which “came from his backbone,” he decided to adopt it for his older Gump character. To do so, Hanks sat and listened to Humphreys describe the plot of his favorite movie to him. The movie? Jurassic Park.

Another reason I felt this production was special for Hanks, since the visual effects of the film and locations were demanding on the film’s budget, the A-List actor, whom already won one Academy Award walking on set by that time, agreed to not be paid for his role. Instead, he accepted percentage points as compensation which allowed him a $40 million dollar payday and his second Oscar. Sometimes, Hanks knows it’s about the craft first and the money later, and this brilliant work is a prime example of that. This is just one of many reasons why Forrest Gump is my favorite film in Tom Hanks’ list of productions.

Of course, when you review Hanks’ list of films, choosing a mere five to select as your favorites is extremely hard if not impossible. He has performed in so many absolutely great films, not good but GREAT films, selecting only five to write about can’t be done. Therefore, I have selected–as I do with all my Top 5 Favorites posts–five honorable mentions which almost made the cut.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Tom Hanks’ character of Donovan is where the message of this film sits. Compromise is about “Give” and take not “Give Up” and take. His resolve and refusal to compromise his negotiation stance helps the audience get behind him as a protagonist. Hanks is as well as he always does in a leadership type roll. I also like how they gave his character a cold during the entire trip to Berlin for negotiations. For some reason, it made him more human. Now, Hanks is always a great addition to any film, but this is the one film where Hanks doesn’t necessarily carry the film. They carry each other. To read my full review of Bridge of Spies, click here.

Captain Phillips (2013)

This is such a great story and well made film, but half of it occurs in such closed quarters, the film becomes a complete study in using one’s face to convey inner motivations and fears. Tom Hanks and Academy Award nominated supporting actor Barkhad Abdirahman, the leader of the Somalie pirates. Hanks is perfectly the man for that kind of trade. The film is intense and the moment when Phillips, the title character, is about to be executed by his captors and he screams out to his family back in New England for even having left them, my heart breaks each time I’ve seen. In addition, after the Navy Seals finally take down the bad guys and Hanks is rescued, his breakdown in the medical unit equally heartbreaking but far more satisfying.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This was moreso a great notch on Leonardo DiCaprio’s resume, but Tom Hanks as a nemesis character on the side of the law is a perfect addition to the dynamic of the film. DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr.–whom I’ve actually interviewed in real life, the true life-inspired character not the actor–serves as an anti-hero, breaking the law and swindling money just to support himself as a runaway. However, Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty is the man attempting to bring justice to the story, so even though he’s the nemesis for the main character, he’s the “good guy.” This makes the film unique and one of my favorites with Hanks on the bill. To read my full review of Catch Me If You Can, click here.

Apollo 13 (1995)

What can I say about this modern classic about one of the most terrible moments in NASA history which turned into one of its finest hours of rescue. From the moment the Apollo 13 mission to the moon is derailed by a faulty coil which blows up an oxygen tank once the three-man crew are in outer space, the film is one of the most intense stories of rescue and government teamwork. Hanks is wonderful as the lead role of astronaut Jim Lovell who was captain of the mission vessel and it’s not only one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies, it’s one of my favorites from director Ron Howard.

The Terminal (1999)

Barely edging out The Green Mile among my honorable mentions is The Terminal about a foreigner (Hanks) who is detained and stranded at New York’s JFK international airport while on a mission to honor his late-father’s memory. However, after a coup in his homeland while flying to the U.S. leaves him without a country to pass through immigration checkpoints, Hanks’ foreign character Viktor uses his time making friends, learning to speak English and battling the strangely anal adversity of an extremely well-written nemesis character in Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci). Albeit the romance between Viktor and Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) got convoluted at times, this slice of life picture directed by Steven Spielberg was enjoyable from start to finish and there is no reason to consider it one of my honorable mention favorites starring Tom Hanks. To read my full review of The Terminal, click here.

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