Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Best Prison movies

Thanks to slashfilm for the idea...

Haven't seen: Papillon, Stalag 17, In the Name of the Father, Dead Man Walking, The Inmate, On the Yard, Life, Day Break, King of Devil's Island, Stone, Kiss of the Spider Woman, In Your Hands, The Hole, and Midnight Express.

They're certainly right about A Prophet & The Magdalene Sister. So let's try to rank these, shall we?

15. The Magdalene Sisters - this gets bumped down a bit for not being a traditional prison. But it's a harrowing look at the asylums run by the Catholic Church in Ireland for women that families wanted to get rid of. They were technically for 'fallen women,' but those could be women who were raped, deemed too flirtatious, unmarried mothers, the mentally retarded and abused girls.

14. The Usual Suspects - Again, a fabulous movie. I'm bumping it down because the prison part comes early on. But the line-up is an incredibly memorable moment in filmmaking:

Fenster: Hand me the keys, you cocksucker.
Interrogation Cop: In English, please?
Fenster: Excuse me?
Interrogation Cop: In English.
Fenster: Hand me the fucking keys, you cocksucker, what the fuck?

 13. V for Vendetta - Again - not exactly a prison movie, but Evie's time in "prison" is one of the more memorable aspects of the film.

"They put you in a cell and took everything they could take except your life. And you believed that was all there was, didn't you? The only thing you had left was your life, but it wasn't, was it? You found something else. In that cell you found something that mattered more to you than life. It was when they threatened to kill you unless you gave them what they wanted... you told them you'd rather die. You faced your death, Evey. You were calm. You were still."

12. Escape From Alcatraz - the story of the only possible escape from the most famous maximum security prison.

11. The Green Mile - Sam Rockwell so should have been up for Supporting Actor for this. A Stephen King adaptation of a death row during the depression and its inhabitants.

10. Bronson - Tom Hardy SO should have been up for Best Actor for this. An art-biopic of Britain's most violent criminal, who spent 30 years in solitary confinement.

9. Shawshank Redemption. It's good. I never really fell in love with this one the way most people did, but it is good.

 8. Bridge on the River Kwai - A classic. A POW camp drama which examines dignity in adverse conditions, as most prison movies try to do. Few do so as well.

 7. Hunger - Steve McQueen's stunning examination of the 1981 hunger strike in the Maze prison. The film won the Camera d'Or at Cannes. It has one of my favorite scenes ever, in which Liam Cunningham and Michael Fassbender discuss the strike. In one take. For 17 minutes.

 6. The Escapist - A thrilling 'escape from prison' film, with one of my favorite casts ever. Filmed in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

5. Cell 211 - Winner of 8 Goya awards, including Best Picture, Cell 211 is the story of a new guard who, on his first day at work, becomes locked inside during a prison riot and must pass himself off as an inmate in order to survive.

4. Chicago - A prison celebrity satire with awesome numbers, staging and casting in the film adaptation.

3. Cool Hand Luke - Intensely iconic prison film. Om nom nom.

2. The Great Escape - Okay, it's about a POW camp, rather than a proper prison. But it is one of the best films ever, so it is number 2.

1. A Prophet- Absolutely stunning. The story of a French Algerian, who finds himself in prison fought over by the Corsicans and Muslims. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes.

Honorable Mentions: The Matrix, Convicted, I Love You Philip Morris.

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