We're just days away from the 2016 Academy Awards, where the year's best movies and performances will be rewarded with that coveted gold Oscar trophy. The show always has great storylines, and this year is no different -- diversity in Hollywood, whether or not Leo will finally win his Oscar, and of course, who will look best.
Another storyline that constantly exists during Oscar season is how each performance or movie ranks amongst the all-time greats. No matter the film or the actor/actress, we're always apt to compare and provide some methodology for who's better and why.
So in that spirit -- and because I'm a car enthusiast more than a Hollywood type -- I've put together a list of the top movies either focused on cars or featuring an awesome vehicle. These are listed in no particular order, so let the debate begin!
Fast and the Furious (2001). Who knew 15 years ago that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker driving souped-up cars around California while racing and committing crimes would turn into one of the biggest movie franchises ever, with the first seven doing a reported $3.9 billion at the box office. This movie also brought the aftermarket auto industry, often looked at previously as underground, into the public and had young drivers installing big wheels, spoilers, and sound systems into their Honda Civics for years.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000). A remake from the original 1974 film, Gone in 60 Seconds had some of the coolest cars packed into two hours, highlighted by the 1967 Ford Shelby GT500. Any gear head would dream of getting behind the wheel of some of these rides -- which included Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis -- and most would cringe at seeing Nicholas Cage beat up that Shelby GT500.
Bullitt (1968). Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen, has what is considered by many to be the greatest car chase sequence ever filmed. The chase is known not only for taking place on the streets of San Francisco; Steve McQueen did his own stunt car driving in that '68 green Mustang, a car that was so iconic, Ford later introduced its own Mustang Bullitt model.
The Driver (1978). Panned by critics and failed at the box office, but still has all of the elements of a great car movie -- car thefts, getaway drivers, car chases, and more. While the movie itself won't win any awards, it's still great fun watching Ryan O'Neal speed around Los Angeles in a variety of different cars.
Rush (2013). Rush, directed by the great Ron Howard, tells the true story of the rivalry between two great Formula 1 drivers of the 1970s -- James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Based on a true story, there is more than just racing in this movie, as the two men competed off the track also.
Thunder Road (1958). The oldest movie on our list, but a cultural phenomenon that almost starred Elvis and inspired a song title from Bruce Springsteen. When you think of moonshiners in the rural hills, you generally think wagons and horses, but Thunder Road featured some souped-up Ford two-door sedans that allowed the distillers to speed through the hills and avoid the law.
The Transporter (2002). One of Jason Statham's first forays into the auto world in film (he's now joined the Fast and the Furious franchise after turns in Death Race, Italian Job, and The Mechanic), The Transporter centers on a mercenary driver that always makes his delivery -- no matter what. A lot of action and great driving scenes led to this becoming a franchise, with three movies following.
Le Mans (1971). A classic for racing fans, as Steve McQueen takes on the vaunted 24 hours of Le Mans auto race. The entire movie is basically auto racing, with only several minutes of actual dialogue included. The film also features actual footage from the 1970 race, with Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s whipping around the track at top speeds.
Cannonball Run (1981). Known for its all-star cast members like Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, and Dean Martin, Cannonball Run also boasts an impressive list of cars -- a souped-up Dodge Tradesman ambulance, a Ferrari 308 GTS, a Lamborghini Countach, and more. Teams of two pair up to race across the country and will do anything to win.
Days of Thunder (1990). Another favorite for racing enthusiasts and Tom Cruise enthusiasts, Days of Thunder focuses on the life of a hotshot stockcar racer, Cole Trickle (played by Cruise) and his rise to the top. Lots of intense racing scenes, along with cameos from real NASCAR drivers, and ESPN personalities make this a must watch for race fans.
The Italian Job (1969/2003). The original film was a British production and featured Michael Caine and team committing a major heist and using some tricky driving to do so. The remake, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, and Jason Statham among others, features a driving sequence that put Mini Coopers into the American limelight for the first time, as the team drove the tiny cars through the subway to complete its heist.
Mad Max (1979). More heavily focused on a crazy motorcycle gang, Mad Max features chases and explosions that any auto fan can appreciate and held a Guinness Record for Most Profitable Film until 2000. Max Rockatansky, played by Mel Gibson, drives a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT coupe, which was modified to be a police car and the fastest on the road.
What are some of your favorite car movies?