By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lights, Camera, Action - What Is The Best Movie Ever?
Placeholder Image

The red carpet has been delivered and giant size gold statues will once again be the accessories of choice as set crews prepare the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 7.

Be it the announcement of co-hosts Alex Baldwin and Steve Martin or the controversial increase from five to ten in the Best Motion Picture category, the Oscar buzz is once again in the air. And, while the Cowboy Capital may be just a mere 315 miles away from all the excitement, we too have an appreciation for cinematic genius.

In honor of this year’s Academy Awards the staff of the Oakdale Leader, Riverbank News and Escalon Times was asked, What is the best movie ever? The answers are as varied as the personalities they represent.

When faced with the decision of, what would be the last movie you would want to watch before leaving this planet, what would you pick?

As a staff we hope you enjoy reading our thoughts and encourage you to share your own favorites by visiting and clicking on this piece. Until then … we’ll see you on the newsstands.


While this is really hard to pick just one, the first movie to come to me is The Sound Of Music. My parents both loved music. I was raised listening to Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and all the ‘50s music. Every year we watched all the great Musicals ever made. It wouldn’t have been a normal year without watching West Side Story, The King and I, Cinderella, and many more I can’t think of right now. Although there were several classic musicals that I have seen over the years this is a movie I have in my collection and watch at least once a year. Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews did an absolute fantastic job in their roles. My favorite scene is where she is coming out of the water holding Marta and she gives him a piece of her mind. You can just see the heat of anger coming off the both of them, and when he calls her Captain it is just hysterical! This movie has the power to make me laugh, and cry. How can you not love a movie like that? I also like the fact that I can watch this movie anytime because I am always in the mood to watch it.

Melody Wann

Advertising Sales


In the summer of 2000 I was hanging out with my family one evening deciding on a movie to rent. We were going over some of the newly released features when my daughter’s boyfriend, Danny, asked if I had ever seen “The Matrix.”

“Naw, never got around to it,” I told him.

I had been working swing shift for awhile, and my wife Donnelle isn’t a big fan of science fiction flicks, so when we did get to see a movie in a theater it was more along the lines of “Cast Away” or “Ocean’s Eleven” more often than not.

Danny, who is now my son-in-law, was flabbergasted that I hadn’t seen “The Matrix” yet.

“You’ve got to see it,” he said.

My son, Kevin, and even my daughter, Rachel, echoed this. Rachel, who is also not a big fan of science fiction, told me I’d love it.

They ran out to rent it, and we popped some popcorn, poured a few sodas, turned off the lights, and started the movie.

And I was blown away.

“The Matrix” was released in 1999, and was the brainchild of the Wachowski brothers. It featured a groundbreaking special effect known as ‘bullet time,’ where the camera seemed to slow down and freeze time as it rotated in a 360-degree view. Even watching the movie a decade later shows the cinematography was way ahead of its time.

“The Matrix” borrows themes from movies as diverse as “Dark City” (1998), “The Terminator,” and “Alice in Wonderland,” although it is certainly original. The plot revolves around a computer programmer who, away from his office, is known as Neo, a hacker extraordinaire. He soon discovers the life he is living is an illusion, a matrix created by a malevolent artificial intelligence out to enslave mankind.

I especially enjoyed the mythology and philosophical aspects of the movie. It has been compared to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, in that we are just watching the shadows on the wall instead of truly living life.

And the movie contains the best gunfight scene, ever.

My only regret is I never had the opportunity to actually watch “The Matrix” in a theater, with its big screen and Dolby sound. I was able to do so with the two subsequent sequels, but in my opinion they never rose to the level of the original.

But all in all, I took away two important life lessons from “The Matrix.”

Remember, sometimes there is no spoon.

And always take the red pill.

Craig Macho

Staff Reporter


The Best Movie ever, for me, is Far and Away. I have always liked period type movies and romances are always good to watch. Also, I am from Oklahoma so the land rush scene is one of my favorites and I can imagine my ancestors going through those times. My kids groan anytime I spot it on the channel listing. I do own it on DVD so I can watch it anytime I like. Maybe this weekend.

Debbie Dobbins

Office Manager


“Out Of Africa” with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford is my choice; it’s a masterpiece. This movie, based on the life of Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen, had an almost poetic script, an amazing story line, and beautiful cinematography.

The story about this strong and stoic woman’s life during her time as a coffee plantation owner in Colonial Africa has so many layers that I can’t do it justice in my description. This movie gets better every time I see it because I pick up other nuances in the story and script.

The movie shows Baroness von Blixen’s rich and deep relationships with the natives, as well as the natives’ views of the white Europeans in East Africa. It shows how the baroness dealt with her absent and philandering husband and the embarrassment he caused her. Her passionate love affair with Redford’s character, Denys Finch-Hatton, who was a bush pilot and game hunter, was moving and romantic … and tragic.

All this is seen through Baroness von Blixen’s eyes, and it is done so well, being incredible but believable at the same time. It depicts her love of Africa as being deep and everlasting and unmatched, so much so that it makes you want to go there.

There’s so much back-story to this movie, which enriches it all the more if you’re aware of it. The character of the young woman Felicity in the movie is based on the real-life female horse trainer and pilot Beryl Markham, who wrote a book called “West With The Night.” In part of her book, she recounts her experiences in Africa and talks about her relationships with the characters in this movie.

The baroness did things that many women could have never done in that time, and wouldn’t have been allowed to do. She was accepted and admired in an untamed land, and this was captured brilliantly in this movie. (She was also a well-known and respected Scandinavian author, writing under the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen.)

Dawn M. Henley

Staff Reporter


Over the years no source of entertainment has influenced the lives of Americans more than big screen cinema.

Movies have created catch-phrases, clothing styles, started fast growing trends and effected the way we as people communicate and treat each other.

With so many huge films impacting so many lives over the years, I try to imagine what movie has left biggest impression on me, and I am left with only one obvious choice.


Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Farrell dominate the screen in one of the classiest movies of our time in a film that truly displays the humor in being “really, really, ridiculously good looking.”

Who can forget the epic moment when Derek Zoolander reveals the look “Magnum”, or when Hansel and Derek begin the biggest dance battle ever televised.

With originality in movies at an all time low and Michael Bay blowing up five tons of Napalm on computer generated robots, it’s tough to see a movie not enamored in over the top special effects with bad writing.

If you have not seen Zoolander, crawl out of the bomb shelter you have been hiding in since September 11 (the day before Zoolander released in theatres) and rent, netflix, or red box the greatest comedy ever made.

Laugh at Ben Stiller, laugh at a very funny evil Will Farrell, swoon over Hansel (He’s so hot right now!) and laugh a little bit at yourself for finding something so stupid so funny.

Ike Dodson

Staff Reporter


Oh, how we love the movies and all they represent. This is a tough one, but when pushed to pick just one I have to go with “Rudy.” I have to say, I love a good sports themed flick, factor in the ‘based on a true-story’ aspect and you have a home run (in the case of ‘The Natural’) or a touchdown in the case of this film. No matter how many times I watch this film I cry every time I hear those Notre Dame fans chant his name. This movie tells so many stories beautifully. The story of family and how they shape who we are and what we aspire to be. The story of believing in yourself when others don’t. And the portrayal of pure determination, when the odds are totally stacked against you. This movie is truly a timeless piece, which future generations will continue to benefit from.

Teresa Hammond

Staff Reporter


A Few Good Men has everything I love about movies. It is funny, smart, sad, dramatic and thought-provoking. It is a story of honor versus duty and it entertains me every time I watch it. In fact…I may just pop it into the DVD player this weekend.

Jennifer Marek

General Manager


Best movie ever … that’s entirely too hard to narrow down. I have favorite movies according to genre and circumstance. I mean, I could easily say that Gone With The Wind is my favorite movie simply because I love Vivien Leigh and the book is, hands down, my favorite novel; however, I rarely sit down with a bag of popcorn to watch a four hour movie just for fun. So, that leaves me with a quandary. My favorite movie as a teenager is certainly not my favorite movie as an adult and my favorite comfort films are hardly riveting cinema so which do I choose? Breakfast Club is certainly a contender (anyone of my generation can identify with that classic film) but then again any film by John Hughes during that time was pretty amazing. Baby Boom, Funny Farm, Overboard…these movies never fail to make me stop and watch if they’re on television (no matter that I’ve seen them so often I can recite the lines easily) but if you’re pushing me to the wall — taking no prisoners, giving no quarter — my favorite movie is actually a trilogy and it is the Lord Of The Rings. Everything about the movie moves me from the music, the acting, the story, the costuming, even the Elfish language. I’ve never seen a movie that is so lyrical, moving, beautiful, dramatic … in a word: awesome. It made me want to climb into that world via the movie screen and live in a place where elves, magic, and mystic rings are real instead of fantasy. In short, I never wanted the movies to end. And now that Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have patched their differences, I can eagerly await the release of the prequel to the series: The Hobbit. Oh yeah!

Kim Van Meter

Staff Reporter