WASHINGTON: While under COVID-19 quarantine, we are all looking for ways to pass the time. A great fun family idea is to try some of the best car movies. And we have listed our top ten, for today.
Yes, there are many more and we will be back with more in the near future.
Until then, enjoy scrolling through these great movies.
1. Christine (1983) –
John Carpenter’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel Christine is pretty much the last word in possessed automobiles. Nerdy, shy teen Keith Gordon becomes obsessed with his new 1958 Plymouth Fury and starts to become more aggressive, ruthless … different. Is it the car? (It’s totally the car.)
King’s wacky premise was gripping on the page, but Carpenter’s coolly efficient direction — along with ace acting from young stars Gordon and John Stockwell, both of whom would go on to become acclaimed filmmakers themselves — turns it into something more: a nasty nightmare of teenage self-actualization.
2. Rush (2013) –
People loved this movie when it came out because, as great car movies go, it was easy like Ron Howard. Rush displays a surprising grasp of the details of Formula 1 racing and brought to life a time and place we all secretly want to inhabit.
The F1 cars of that era are exceedingly sexy, death and mayhem litter the race schedule, and James Hunt, the last of F1’s great cocksmen, does battle with the indefatigable Niki Lauda. Howard cajoled many of the actual race cars out of their owner.
3. Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) –
First, a word about the original: The 1974 Gone in 60 Seconds, directed by stuntman and towing/impounding impresario H.B. Halicki, is one of the strangest films of all time, a series of stitched-together car scenes and stunts held together with dialogue that attempts to relay an elaborate story of a group of thieves robbing a whole crapload of cars. It is borderline unwatchable.
The remake is pretty much the exact opposite: an impossibly slick, Jerry Bruckheimer–produced, star-studded heist flick that goes down smooth and easy. Nicolas Cage is the master thief who has to steal 50 cars in 96 minutes. His teammates include Robert Duvall and Angelina Jolie. The car set pieces are ludicrous and ludicrously enjoyable.
4. Italian Job – (1969)
“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” Cockney con man Michael Caine, recently released from the clink, puts together a truly ludicrous heist to steal $4 million in Mafia gold bullion from the middle of Turin using Mini Coopers.
It’s an odd, silly little movie, but it’s filled with charming bits, from Noel Coward as an aristocratic gangster to Benny Hill as a pervy prof to Quincy Jones’s jazzy score.
Most importantly, the central heist and its ludicrous aftermath are delightfully well-executed. Though quite different in tone and style, the Fast and Furious movies owe a lot to this bubbly cult classic.
5. Fast & Furious (2001) –
The original, launched in 2001, the Fast & Furious franchise explores an aspect of the automotive world not everyone is fascinated by. Some of the movies have admittedly been cheesy, and tuner cars aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But we’re including the ongoing series on this list because it has undeniably done more to bring car culture to the general public than any other series of films.
Thousands of viewers became car nuts after seeing footage of a Toyota Supra or a Dodge Challenger in one of the films.
6. – Le Mans (1971) –
Le Mans is a two-for-one that lets viewers travel back in time, and gives them an all-access pass to the 1971 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. It’s an excellent look at what it takes to keep a man and a machine going for a day straight, and the toll that racing takes on both. The Ferrari 512LM and the Porsche 917 (two of the greatest race cars of all time) play star-studded roles in this movie.
Not to mention that the 1971 version of Lemans stars Steve McQueen in one of his most iconic roles. And fireproof underwear!
7. Grand Prix (1966) –
Besides its three Academy Awards (editing, effects, and sound), much of what you see in the Fast & Furious car movies today owes it all to Grand Prix. Its director, John Frankenheimer, and cinematographer, Lionel Lindon, essentially invented the camera rigs, booms, and so on that now define the genre. Taking place during the 1966 Formula 1 season, the race cars are real, and so are some of the drivers (and cameos).
You might’ve heard of Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Bruce McLaren, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Chris Amon, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham, Richie Ginther, Joakim Bonnier, and Jo Siffert.
If you haven’t seen Grand Prix, you’re not a real car enthusiast.
8. Senna (2010) –
Senna is a British documentary film that depicts the life and death of Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. Ayrton Senna won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34. The film won two BAFTA film awards.
9. Bullitt (1968) –
Bullitt is not strictly about cars. It wasn’t written and filmed to satisfy gear heads. However, Steve McQueen’s green Ford Mustang plays such an important role in the film that it inspired a commemorative, limited-edition model released in 2018.
This action thriller takes place in San Francisco, and it features one of the greatest car chases in Hollywood history. It’s a must-watch.
10. Ford v Ferrari (2019) –
The modern-day Ford GT is the product of a merciless rivalry that placed the Blue Oval in the same arena as an unlikely opponent: Ferrari. After a failed takeover, the two companies spent most of the 1960s punching each other on and off the track via the words and actions of larger-than-life men like Carroll Shelby and Enzo Ferrari.
Ford v Ferrari is certainly the best car movie of the 2010s, and the story it tells resonates outside of enthusiast circles to capture the general public’s attention. It won an Academy Award for best film editing and best sound editing.
For the kids – Don’t forget Herbie the Love Bug. This madcap, zany film stars the irrepressible Buddy Hackett.
I know there are many more, this should hold you over for the week. The trailers in themselves are fun to watch. Many of the movies, particularly the older ones, can be found on YouTube. Just make sure it is not pirated.
Share your favorites in the comments below.
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