Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Reel Opinion: The Top 10 Best Remakes

Last week, Bradley Cooper’s magnificent remake of A STAR IS BORN was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans and critics (read Reel Speak’s review HERE). It was the fourth time Hollywood has done a film with that title and subject matter, and the film’s success sparked a conversation of the best, and worst remakes that Hollywood has made over the decades. The term “remake” today is often met with a groan, as studios have been cranking out way too many of them in the last 10 or 15 years. But Tinsel Town has always done them, dating back to their very early days. Sometimes they are made to give a new spin on an old story, and sometimes they are made just to make a buck based on the title alone. This Blogger has always believed that a good movie can be found anywhere, and if the content is good, then who cares where it came from. 

This list of Best Remakes judges the films on Reel Speak’s standard of story, character, entertainment value, and any cultural or industry impact. All films must be judged on their own merits, so just how faithful they stayed to the original material does not matter here. 

So let’s get this started before someone remakes it…

10. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

Many people don’t realize that Victor Fleming’s beloved cinematic adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel was actually the sixth version of the story to come to the screen, with versions from 1910 through 1925. The only reason this doesn’t rank higher is the previous versions were basically “shorts”, with running times ranging from 15 to 85 minutes…making the 1939 version the first true “feature” length.’s still very much a remake, and proof that sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. 


David Fincher was the perfect director to bring the popular novel to the screen, which was originally adopted in a Swedish version in 2009. His filmography up to that point, which explored murder mysteries, the internet, and procedurals, gave him the right chops to make DRAGON TATTOO one of the best films of 2011; with multiple Oscar nominations and an impressive box office haul. The performances by Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Christopher Plummer are some of their best work, with Mara showing the world how great she really is. 


Philip Kaufman’s remake of the 1956 horror film, in which humans are replaced by alien duplicates, was a creepy film with an un-nerving atmosphere, and an ending that haunts to this day. Its exploration of human interactions and emotions resonate, and its visual and audio effects were a milestone and a leap forward for Hollywood. 

7. 3:10 TO YUMA

James Mangold’s redo of the 1957 Western was an improvement in every way; starting with the acting from the well-assembled cast of Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda, Ben Foster, and Alan Tudyk…and ending with Mangold’s energetic direction which took the necessary time-outs in-between gunfights to dig into the characters. 

6. THE FLY (1986)

David Cronenberg’s take on the classic horror film from 1958 brought up front the body-horror elements that the original film just could not, or was unwilling to do. When a man slowly transforms into a fly-hybrid creature from the inside out, there can be some horrifying and gross things to see, and this version of THE FLY gave it all to us with some stunning visual effects. Creepy, horrific, and terrifying…THE FLY is often regarded as one of the best in the horror genre. 

5. THE MUMMY (1999)

The Boris Karloff version from 1932 may be considered to be the classic, but Stephen Sommers' version was the real dose of entertainment. High energy, a fun and inspired cast, a fantastic score by the great Jerry Goldsmith, and classical elements that made it feel like a product of the Golden Age of Hollywood. This Blogger's personal favorite remake. 

4. A STAR IS BORN (2018)

The only reason this doesn’t rank higher is that it hasn’t had the test of time put to it yet, but it’s hard to think that Bradley Cooper’s version of this classic show biz fable, the fourth since 1937, will be looked at as anything but masterful in the coming decades. Full of heart and emotion and astonishing performances by Cooper and Lady Gaga, there is a raw power here that transcends its predecessors. 

3. THE THING (1982)

Although this Blogger prefers the 1951 film, John Carpenter’s take on the story of a group of arctic workers terrorized by an alien with the ability to take human forms, stands tall as one of the best horror films ever made. Thick with atmosphere and startling special effects for its time, THE THING was not only a gore-fest but one of those films that messes with our heads…right up until the final frame. 

2. TRUE GRIT (2010)

Sometimes a remake can only work if the right people are involved. John Wayne’s 1969 Western, which earned him his only Oscar, was improved upon in every way by the steady hand of the Coen Brothers directing team, and driven by wonderful performances by Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and most especially…Hailee Steinfeld. Not to mention outstanding cinematography by Roger Deakins which made it one of the most beautiful looking Westerns ever made. Emotionally rewarding all around. 

1. THE DEPARTED (2006)

Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture-winning crime thriller was a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film INTERNAL AFFAIRS, and not only surpassed the original film but stands firmly on its own as a gripping crime drama. Loosely based on a true story in Boston, the film follows an undercover cop deeply embedded in an organized crime boss’s crew…who happens to have his own spy in the State Police. It is a clever, and tension-filled game of cat-and-mouse, peppered with good old-fashioned cops and robbers. Scorsese’s direction and music selections were very much on point, and the performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, and Vera Farmiga are excellent. Of all the remakes Hollywood has done over the decades, Scorsese’s little masterpiece departs from the pack. 

Reel Speak's Top 10 Best Remakes

  6. THE FLY
  7. 3:10 TO YUMA

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