Remakes get a lot of flack, and I've been guilty as such for giving them so much hell. And why not? There have been so many awful ones in the last 10 years and so many more in development (I will have to literally cry when Michael Bay's THE BIRDS comes out)
Still, there have been quite a few good ones over the years (and at least 1 very recently--STAR TREK, which surprised me) so I wanted to make a list of 10 of my favorites.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Jim McBride's super stylish remake of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless was pretty despised, but it's one of my favorite films ever. Richard Gere has never been better in a movie.
John Carpenter's The Thing is undoubtedly the best horror remake of all time. It surpasses the original Howard Hawks film, though it sticks more closely to the original source material--the novella WHO GOES THERE?. One of Carpenter's very best.
David Cronenberg's The Fly is my second favorite horror remake of all time. Like Carpenter's The Thing, Cronenberg's film surpasses the original with a wit and style all it's own. I'm not into heavily F/X films so much, but these two are absolute standouts. They are ingenious scare films made with love and passion.
Howard Hawks himself took on a remake in 1940, and it was of THE FRONT PAGE. His Girl Friday still stands as the best version of that very adapted play by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur. Perfect Chemistry between the two leads and a very distinct rapid-fire style set the movie apart from everything else of the time.
The Last American Virgin is a remake of Boaz Davidson's own Lemon Popsicle series film GOING ALL THE WAY, and happens to be one of my very favorite teen films of the 1980's. It's mostly zany teen set pieces, but it's also pretty real and heartbreaking.
The Awful Truth is a movie that I have watched countless times, and it never fails to make me smile. There were 2 film versions prior to this one, but Leo McCarey's film reigns supreme. This is the screwball comedy at it's finest.
Paul Mazursky's reworking of the Jean Renoir film BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING was a great comedy of manners back in 1986. Mazursky played the balance of satire and sensitivity really well, and the actors are all pretty great. Down And Out In Beverly Hills is a film I can watch over and over and get something from every single time.
Back in 1988, the horror genre was starting to taper off, and good films in the genre were becoming few and far between. An update of The Blob seemed right for a new generation. With the new technology and F/X of the day, This Blob pulls out all the stops. The movie has some very memorable moments and manages to make that gelatinous goo from outer space seem scary again.
William Friedkin's sadly forgotten Sorcerer (likely because it was a costly flop at the box office) is a remake of the french film WAGES OF FEAR, and I really love Friedkin's take on it. From the tangerine dream score to the atmosphere and the dread lurking in every frame, It was one of the most tense movie experiences i've ever had.
A John Cusack college flick from 1985 finds it way to my list because it is a sincere, well written tribute to the great 1934 screwball comedy classic IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. The Sure Thing bears a lot of resemblance to that earlier film, enough for me to qualify it as a remake, but manages to put a fresh enough spin on it.
Remember way back when Rob Reiner was a great director? This is one of my favorite teen movies to emerge out of the 80's. Oh, and it also stars Daphne Zuniga, giving one hell of a breaking-out-of-her-shell performance.