54. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
One of the most powerful World War II dramas that was ever on film. The first minutes of the movie transport the audience directly into the graphic intensity of the D-Day landings. Steven Spielberg had tackled aliens, dinosaurs, sharks and even the Nazis, but in 1998 he directed this amazing film (receiving his second Best Director Oscar in the process). The movie tells the story of a band of soldiers (led by the always great Tom Hanks) who have to make it through occupied France to rescue a soldier (the titular Private Ryan) whose three brothers have all been killed in the war. The conflict is not only the soldiers fighting the German enemies, but it is in within the soldiers themselves who question whether or not the mission is worth all the trouble. The band of soldiers is an array of character actors including Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi and Jeremy Davies. Each actor has given equally good (even great) performances in other films and projects since. Plus there are some intriguing performances from the cameo appearances including Ted Danson and Matt Damon, who plays the role of Private Ryan. The film was a massive summer success and I was privileged enough to see this film with my grandfather, who had fought in France during World War II. It was great to get his impression of the film and how Spielberg had related the soldiers' story. The movie did, unfortunately, lose the Academy Award for Best Picture to #68: Shakespeare In Love. While I consider this one the better movie, I am glad that it was a movie like Shakespeare In Love that won over this film instead of the far inferior The Thin Red Line (also a World War II drama).
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