12. Rain Man (1988)
While this may seem like the strangest film to be in the top 25, with all the elements in this film's story and character development it isn't that strange once you think about it (at least for the people who know me!). First of all, its a road movie and, more than that, a road movie about brothers. That is something that I can really relate to (growing up with an older brother and my family taking several long car trips to Tahoe, Canada and the Mid-West). Second of all, it is about a subject that isn't explored that often in film, let alone in a powerful and emotionally resonant way: Autism (save for Penny Marshall's Awakenings and the 1960's underrated hit David and Lisa). The third thing I love about this movie is the extreme character development that Charlie Babbit (played by Tom Cruise in what I consider his best role) goes through. He begins as a slightly amoral car dealer who, when he hears about his father's death, only cares about the money he will get out of it. When he learns he has a brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman in his greatest well-deserved Oscar-winning role), he takes it upon himself to try and get custody of his brother and his brother's care (and therefore the trust fund his father set up). Along the road, he grows into someone who loves and respects his older brother, despite the vast differences between them. Some of the best scenes in the film are between the two actors (especially when Charlie takes the savant Raymond to Vegas to count cards!). Directed by Barry Levinson, the film is an exquisitely touching and underrated piece. It has come under fire for its somewhat stereotypical depiction of autism and autistic-savants, but the fact that this film brought nationwide attention to a subject that had been ignored by people in the past makes it a landmark. The film won several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor (for Hoffman's brilliant performance). It is a heartwarming film that encompasses a lot of the features I enjoy in a good movie.
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