This list contains my favorite films on friendships forged among men. Most of the films in this list do not have neat endings.
Here then is the list of my favorite buddy flicks.
1. The Shawshank Redemption. Frank Darabont has adapted three of Stephen King’s writings – The Shawshank Redemption in 1994, The Green Mile in 1999, and The Mist in 2007 – to the big screen and all of them had favorable reviews. His first attempt in 1994, the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption which was included in his 1982 book Different Seasons, is his best. The film is about a friendship between two men who meet in prison and how they help each other survive and make something good our of prison life.
2. Good Will Hunting. This 1997 film from Gus Van Sant is said to be his most commercial film to date which is about Will Hunting who is intellectually-gifted but wastes away his skills by getting into fights and working as a janitor in MIT. I first saw this movie in college and I had thought it was the best-written film I had seen about male bonding. It has been more than a decade since and it still is the best twenty-something-male-bonding film out there.
3. Rain Man. Tom Cruise stars as a hotshot car dealer in Los Angeles who discovers that he has an autistic brother played by Dustin Hoffman upon his father’s death. Incensed, he embarks on a cross-country trip from Ohio to California with his brother to get his fare share of the inheritance but discovers along the way that he genuinely cares for his brother. This film won Oscars for Best Film, Best Director for Barry Levingson, and Best Actor for Hoffman. It also won the top prize that year in Berlin .
4. Sideways. A divorced guy and his college roommate go on a road trip through vineyard-populated Santa Ynez Valley in California , meeting two women – a waitress and a winery employee. The script is astoundingly good and delivered with such panache by its stars Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church , Sandra Oh, and Virginia Madsen. That dialogue between Giamatti and Madsen where the latter compares wine and relationships is one of the best I’ve seen in film.
5. Dead Poet’s Society. Carpe diem. This is probably the most famous line in this sad but inspiring film about the friendship forged between an English teacher and his male boarding school students. Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke star in this film directed by Peter Weir, who directed the little-known Harrison Ford film Witness and the terrific The Truman Show.
6. Stand By Me. Based on the novella by Stephen King, this 1986 coming-of-age film is about a group of boys who go in search for a missing boy who was reportedy hit by a train while picking up blueberries. I saw this film in my early teens and to this day the boys’ adventures reminded me of the summer days with my brother and friends going on bike trips, skinny dipping, and climbing trees to pick cashew seeds and cooking them.
7. The Motorcycle Diaries. Gael Garcia Bernal star in this film about Ernesto Guevara de la Serna who, along with a good friend, embarks on a road trip across South America. What he witnesses – oppression and poverty – on his nine-month journey transforms how he sees the world as a carefree young man. It is said that his trip across the continent fueled and inspired his motives as Che Guevara, the Argentinean revolutionary.
8. Colorum. One of the better entries in this year’s Cinemalaya, this Jon Steffan Ballesteros film is the story between a cop and an ex-convict who embark on a Manila-Bicol-Samar-Bicol-Manila-Ilocos Norte-Manila road trip after they get into a tragic road mishap. Alfred Vargas is surprisingly good but comedian and theatre actor Lou Veloso owns the film. His Best Actor win was well-deserved.
9. American Pie. This maybe a surprising choice but I had a grand time watching this movie about a group of teenage boys who plan to lose their virginity before graduating from high school. The scenes were freaking hilarious and gross. Remember the scene with Nadia and the webcam? Jim getting caught while doing the deed with a pie? Alyson Hannigan with her ‘one time at band camp’ line? Stifler accidentally drinking on a cup which he thinks contains beer? Stifler’s mother?
10. Pare Ko. Jose Javier Reyes’ 1995 movie is about a group of friends battling personal problems – family, love, and heartbreak. I saw this film in my mid teens and was just blown away by it. I know this is not a perfect film. I would probably dismiss it as crap when released today but back then I thought this film was perfect.