My Top Five Movies

Everyone is dying to know (in my mind) so here’s the list. No real order, and it may surprise you that there’s only one superhero flick, but it’s there to represent the genre at large.


In WW2, before there was a US Air Force, you had the Army Air Corps, along with the Army draft. But if you flew 25 successful bombing missions, you got honorably discharged and could go home.

This ought to tell you something about the mortality rate on bomber missions.

The crew of the Memphis Belle flew 24 successful missions. This is the story of their 25th. It’s perfection.

Solid cast, too. Sean Astin, Billy Zane, DB Sweeney, and John Lithgow, just to name a few. Incredible flick.


Shoot, I remember renting A Good Year from Blockbuster in 2007. Why? Because back then I’d make a list of all the movies I wanted to see in a given year, and it was on my list from 2006, but that was a rough year for me and I didn’t make it to the theater. I like Russell Crowe so I grabbed it and WOW.

The story, the setting, the scenery…all of it is a blaring, glaring question that demands to be answered: WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR TIME? What is most valuable to you? What matters most, and are you doing anything to secure it?

The book is wildly different from the movie–and fine on its own, but inferior by comparison. I love Max’s arc in this one. It’s too bad the Lance Armstrong jokes aged like a fine milk though.


“You’re the man now, dawg” was made famous by this movie from 2001, about two literary writers who are both missing things in their souls. They come from distinct backgrounds but are united in their drive as well as their suffering. One has experience and the other has vision, and together they build a friendship that fills the gaps in each other’s lives.

This is a story about mentorship, but on its plainest level, it’s a story about friendship, and a damn fine one at that.


This was the movie that concluded a cancelled TV show back when cancelled TV shows were doomed to the ashbin of cinematic history. Firefly should have never gotten the axe, but it was a Western on FOX, so it was doomed from the start.

(Brisco County Jr. looks on and nods knowingly.)

The writing is tight, the pacing is fast, the dialogue twists are abundant, and the script is infinitely quotable. This movie is a clinic in characters and story, riddled with pain and loss as well as triumph against incredible odds. Just awesome.


Why this one, and not Endgame? Well, because Endgame HAD to be good. And it succeeded. It also did so on the shoulders of nearly two dozen movies before it, only two of which really sucked.

TWS could have been a vanilla stepping stone between Avengers and Age of Ultron, but the Russo brothers decided to swing for the freaking fence by blowing up S.H.I.E.L.D. and putting Cap front and center, having him shake off the confusion of 70+ years in the ice. Here’s a man who had every excuse in the world to quit, and instead he put it all on his back and stood even taller.

The chemistry between the actors, the thrilling action scenes and combat sequences, as well as Cap’s example of undying friendship and loyalty to his own principles…I could go on and on. This movie changed the superhero genre and raised our expectations for it all going forward.

Anyway, that’s it, that’s my five. What are yours?

Secret purposes as secret identeties

My friend Dennis posted this the other day, and it’s pretty awesome. This kid in Alicante, Spain, dug himself a literal man cave. (Article here.)

When I was writing THE HERO NEXT DOOR, I had a thought from Nick’s perspective that may not have made it into the text, but definitely shaped his character: he was incredibly empowered by having a secret purpose, a secret mission that he didn’t tell anyone about (except his Grandma, and only because he had to.)

Whenever I read about NEETs or young men who are adrift in life and have no drive or ambition, I want to show them things like this in the hope that it gives them a spark of defiance, a purpose, a mission to go against even their own innermost basic instinct to do nothing, to be nothing, to accomplish nothing.

Rise above it. Conquer. Do something nobody can talk you into or out of. Even if it’s as complex as becoming a small town superhero, or as simple as digging a huge hole in the ground.