The good news of the week: Arthur actually wasn't that bad. The bad news: It unsurprisingly comes nowhere near this list of my 10 favorite film remakes ever. But hell, I can live with that. I'm just glad my $10 didn't go to waste. But anyway, enjoy the list, and let me know what some of your choices are!
10.) Insomnia—Christopher Nolan's worst film is still good enough to crack this list (not sure if that speaks more toward the director's talent or the sorry quality of most remakes; probably both). The film, a remake of a 1997 Norweigian picture, has some pacing issues, but it's a really fascinating character study with great work from Al Pacino and Robin Williams.
9.) Vanilla Sky—I might be alone on this one, but I don't care. Cameron Crowe's remake of the 1997 Alejandro Amenabar flick, Abre Los Ojos, is a true mind-bender that ultimately is a little convoluted, but the story poses some interesting questions, and Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz share great chemistry. Plus, there's that awesome Times Square sequence, which even the film's biggest detractors can't hate on.
8.) True Lies—Yes, I didn't know it was a remake either, but Cameron actually crafted the film from a French action-comedy called La Totale! The Ah-Nold vehicle is really funny and over-the-top, and reports say we might see a sequel soon.
7.) Father of the Bride—A comedy classic. What else is there to say?
6.) King Kong—No, not the 1976 version—better off not saying anything about that. It's the Peter Jackson epic that makes this list. Though the film is a little too long, it's a visual feast and truly involves you emotionally. There's also Naomi Watts, who gives one of the most underrated performances in recent memory.
5.) Ocean's 11—I've actually never seen the original, but the remake is such great fun. It's obvious everyone involved is having a blast (except Steven Soderbergh, I guess, who hates making movies all of a sudden).
4.) True Grit—I was surprised the first time I saw this because the Coens actually stayed rather conventional, but their version bests the 1969 version in one major way: Acting. Though John Wayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, I'd argue Jeff Bridges character is much more entertaining. And Kim Darby doesn't hold a candle to Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie, though part of that has to do with the Coens decided to shift the focus of the film to the young heroine
3.) The Man Who Knew Too Much—Only a director like Hitchcock has the guts to say, "Yeah, I could do better." With 1956's The Man Who Knew Too Much, the Master of Suspense decided his 1934 version of this film was imperfect and deserved another look. It proves to be the right move. Where the original was a decent thriller, the remake was all kinds of exciting, leading up to one of Hitchcock's all-time great set pieces at Royal Albert Hall.
2.) Casino Royale—The original Casino Royale is an "unofficial" James Bond film that actually parodies the long-running spy series. In 2006, MGM decided to reboot Bond and used this story as our introduction to his world. It was a move I was really nervous about, but it resulted in the best 007 film ever and one of the better action films of the last decade.
1.) The Departed—It's one of my all-time favorite films, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that's it's my favorite remake. It's really remarkable how much Martin Scorsese elevated the Hong Kong-action thriller Infernal Affairs (which is already a great movie). A lot of people agreed: The film cleaned up at the box office and won Best Picture. Not bad for a remake.