Our Staff’s Five Favorite Films…of All-Time

As an aspiring writer, I can’t help but pay special attention to the dialogue. While some revel in the visions of special effect, I revel in clever words strung together in a way that makes any character infinitely more memorable than the plot theme itself. Here are my top five and the quotes that left them stuck to my mind.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This claymation darling of mega inventive Tim Burton remains a staple of the holidays even 25 years after its original release date.

“Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems in a place perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams. For the story you’re about to be told began with the holiday worlds of old. Now you’ve probably wondered where holidays comes from. If you haven’t I’d say it’s time you begun.”

Dead Poets Society (1989)

A mix of well-selected quotes with excellently written dialogue only adds to the powerful acting presence of Robin Williams in what may have been the inspiration for future writers everywhere.

“Carpe diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Swingers (1996) 

Jon Favreau’s 1996 break out hit not only produced several stars but stand out Vince Vaughn may have invented the bro-tone on which every obnoxious single male in LA aspired to.

“You’re so money and you don’t even know it!”

Friday (1995)

Ice Cube proved he was not only a force in the music business but also set to shake up the movie industry with his 1995 film, Friday. A comedy in every sense of the word, it’s hard-pressed to find anyone existing unfamiliar with Smokeyism’s.

“I know you don’t smoke weed, I know this, but I’m gonna get you high today, ’cause it’s Friday; you ain’t got no job… and you ain’t got shit to do. “

The Princess Bride (1987)

Castles, sword fights, vengeance, romance, and Magic Max. ‘Nuff said.

“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

“As you wish.”

I invite you to rent, Netflix, cable, or download any of the films listed, just don’t blame me when you can’t get the words out of your head, for I am “no one of consequence.”

I would describe my taste in film as primarily being visually outspoken and humanely masochistic.

The Red Shoes (1948)

“Why do you want to dance?”

“…Why do you want to live?”

“Well, I don’t know exactly why… I must.”

“That’s my answer, too.”

As a writer and a lover of film and art, the ballet drama The Red Shoes has had a tremendous impact on my life—after watching it for the first time, I was under a spell. I could feel myself changing under it, my mind reeling and expanding; that’s what it does to you. It leaves you spellbound. It’s a story that I could relate to personally and is delivered with a sort of natural and flawless preciseness that not too many films can achieve today. The writing is beautiful and meaningful; even so, the script is no match for how much of a visual landmark it is, encompassing the psychology of the need to express and succeed whilst suffocating under the fears caused by pressure, selfishness, and loss. This is a very art-driven film, production design clearly influenced by the expressionist movement and is mesmerizing in its performances. It bleeds generously with passion and grief—that is why this film is my very heart and soul.

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

“But isn’t it annoying when they do the last song in the films, though?”

“Why?”

“Because you just know when it goes really big, and the camera goes like out of the roof, and you just know it’s gonna end…. I hate that. I would leave, just after the next-to-last song. And the film would just go on forever.”

Björk is, admittedly, one of my favorite musicians ever—unshakably so. Turns out, she’s also a damn fine actress in her jarringly emotional and real performance as Selma Jezkova. Director Lars Von Trier paints the most unique musical you’ve ever seen (music of course provided by Björk herself). It’s chilling, it’s raw, it feels strangely realistic (even within its fantasy sequences), and it’s visceral. To me, this is the most personal movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s all because of her. When you watch her, you feel like you’re watching your friend, your family. Your mother. She harbors this overwhelmingly glowing and warm presence that’s just endlessly watchable and endlessly heartbreaking. This is definitely the saddest film I’ve ever seen in that it’s made me cry the more than I have any other movie all the times I’ve seen it. All I can say is it is a terribly cruel, terribly kind, terribly human film. It’s unforgettable. Like The Red Shoes, it’s a movie that I love so much sometimes it’s hard for me to believe it really exists.

Punch Drunk Love (2002)

“So here we go.”

This is a film that I’ve been watching for years and years; it’s become quite a comfort at this point. This gorgeously shot P. T. Anderson film features peculiar yet brilliant performances that have since stuck with me. I love how odd and awkward and off-putting yet romantic the story turns out to be, the ending being one of the more personally affecting and memorable ones. It’s dreamy, sympathetic, well-written, interesting, and entertaining. The score and soundtrack are AMAZING. I have found this film to be incredibly rewatchable as well as has set an example for the direction in which I aspire to take my writing. It’s one of the first movies that made me want to make movies and set the standard for everything I have ever watched since.

Paris, Texas (1984)

“He had this idea about her. He looked at her, but he didn’t see her.”

I almost hate how quickly and how easily I fell in love with Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas, or rather, Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas. Stanton’s is up there with Björk as one of my all-time favorite performances. His brilliant portrayal of the lost and childish Travis Henderson is only the head above a body of a brilliant cast of actors. This film is beautifully constructed—and it tore me down like a blizzard. To be fair, I was willing: I wanted to be moved, I was open to being hurt, which made me all the more vulnerable to the seemingly simple yet immensely layered, poignant, potent, gut-wrenching, and haunting story about appearances and ideals and desires clashing with what is the reality. This film, like all the rest on this list, managed still to vastly exceed any and all of my expectations. It blew me away and is admirably unique in the composition of its characters and their arcs. I could only dream of writing something this wonderful and intricately human.

Upstream Color (2013)

“I have to apologize. I have a disfigurement where my head is made out of the same material as the sun. It makes it impossible for you to look directly at me. It has always been this way.”

I loved Upstream Color long before I ever saw it. I first came across the trailer for this strange film years before I actually got myself to see it. From the trailer alone I felt like I had just come across a whole new world. It’s rhythmic, it’s entrancing, it’s mysterious. It looks like no other film. I had no idea what it was about and loved to wonder about all the places it could go. I remember watching that goddamn trailer over and over and over. It’s rare that you really get to fall in love with a film like that just by watching its three minutes of incomprehensibility. I could never get tired of seeing it. When I finally did see it, it still caught me off so guard. The story never goes where you expect it to. Very early on, you realize you just have to let it take you wherever it wants to go. It’s an almost spiritual experience—all the technical and emotional elements come together swimmingly into something you feel, rather than necessarily have to completely and plainly understand. The themes and the subtexts are things that can be subconsciously understood. It’s about larger things under the surface that bug us and frighten us as humans: it’s the struggle between control and connection, connection and freedom. Produced on a minuscule 50k budget, the film looks like cinematic gold. It feels like you’re wandering through a dream. There’s nothing else like it. Visually and tonally, this film has been one of my greatest influences and is a joy to watch. It’s a very grand and very loving film experience.

This is the hardest thing to ask from a film nerd because the list will always be in flux. My tastes largely revolve around the quality of storytelling, but I’m a sucker for anything that stimulates the visual and auditory senses. (With the Transformers franchise being the complete antithesis of this.)

The Searchers (1956)

“I hope you die.”

“That’ll be the day.”

There are few movies that truly hold my attention quite like a good Western. John Ford is definitely one of the most iconic (and imposing) figures in the genre, and this is definitely his best work. Everything about this film oozes a deeper story and a subtle darkness. John Wayne plays against type as a sort-of-racist, morally ambiguous lone rider with questionable motives. This is a man who fought for the Confederates and rued the day they lost. He doesn’t want any part in being a hero, but of course, he becomes one through a couple of unfortunate events. It’s a story everyone emulates these days, from the brooding anti-hero archetype to the tragic revenge plot, but it’s the elements that Ford alludes to as opposed to outright showing that makes this film a classic. You see John Wayne enter a cave where his niece was supposedly left in by the Comanche; he exits moments later, alone and wiping the grit off his knife with sand. And then you shudder, thinking about what the hell happened in there.

The Dark Knight (2008)

“Those mob fools want you gone so they can get back to the way things were. But I know the truth: there’s no going back. You’ve changed things… forever.”

Some films just stick with you until the day you die. Nolan’s seminal work here may have set the (often toxic and obnoxious) trend in blockbusters we see today, but I don’t care. I love this film for what it was able to do for Batman and comic book adaptations in toto: it legitimized them. I can’t say anything about this film that hasn’t been said before, so I’ll share something that’s pretty personal. It’s ten days after my thirteenth birthday. I’m in the Philippines, and my friends and I catch one of the earliest screenings for the day. Since I’m still a dumb kid, I struggle to keep up with the complexity of the narrative, but one thing resonates with me as the end credits roll: “I don’t think I just love Batman, although I most definitely do. I think I love the concept of film. This was a movie that was written, directed, and made. That’s… crazy. How do I become one of those people?”

In Bruges (2008)

“A great day this has turned out to be. I’m suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we’re still in fookin’ Bruges!”

Look, 2008 was a good year. Martin McDonagh, in his first full-length, presents a bleak, beautiful, complex, and melancholic morality play, neither one thing or another. It’s simultaneously so tightly written, unapologetically dialogue-driven, highly theatrical, and immaculately choreographed to the point where it feels like a quirky little stage presentation. (It makes a lot of sense given that McDonagh was, and still is, a playwright.) I’ve long held a deep connection with this film, and I’m pretty sure it was my gateway drug to slick, ultra-cool hitmen movies that predate it – the Tarantinos, the Woos, even some of the Jarmusch’s. What sets this film apart from the rest is that it never feels hard to watch. It’s always interesting, never boring. I don’t know why this is. Regardless, I currently see it recommended to me on Netflix. I think I know what I’m doing tonight.

The King of Comedy (1982)

“Well, I’m sorry. I made a mistake.”

“So did Hitler.”

I’ve got to be honest, this spot on the list is interchangeable with a couple of other Scorsese projects. (See also: GoodfellasRaging BullTaxi Driver) But, this is my favorites list, so consider this spot as a “Scorsese appreciation” slot, a monument to my favorite director. I chose The King of Comedy because I just want more people to know about it. It’s incredibly underrated, featuring stellar performances by De Niro and Jerry Lewis(!) and unorthodox filmmaking techniques only a master like Scorsese can incorporate. Similar to Taxi Driver, the plot is largely a character piece, zeroing in on a sociopath desiring fame, settling for any kind of recognition. But what makes this film unique from the rest is the themes it plays with; where Scorsese tends to explore existential dread and poignancy, this project feels surprisingly light. There are legitimate stakes here, but it never tricks you into thinking it’s a crime drama. It’s definitely a tragedy, but at least the butt of the joke is a funny guy.

Adventureland (2009)

“What are you majoring in?”

“Russian literature and Slavic languages.”

“Oh, wow. That’s pretty interesting. What career track is that?”

“Cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster.”

As I’ve said, this list is perennially subject to change. I didn’t set out to compile a list of the classics, although I do hold a deep reverence for them. No, these are the films that have molded me into the thinking mammal that I am today. Take Greg Mottola’s love letter to post-college romance and cynicism, predating the ravenous 80s nostalgia by almost a decade. Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg are perfect in portraying the ennui and aimlessness felt by a bajillion other kids in America right now. What does “potential” and “future plans” matter when you’re stuck working the rides at a crappy amusement park? There’s a beauty and eloquence to the way Mottola frames the sadness and misery. Everything in Adventureland feels genuine, almost autobiographical. Nevertheless, the film is a very positive movie that showed a pre-college snotty brat like me how lovely it can be when things don’t go according to plan. Also, the soundtrack is one of the most important mixtapes ever compiled. Fight me on this.

My favorite films are based on whether I can watch them repeatedly and still get the same feelings I got when I first watched it.

Mamma Mia (2008)

 

“Typical isn’t it? You wait 20 years for a father and then three come along all at once.”

Ah, Mamma Mia. This is my ultimate “feel-good” movie! From the beginning of the film, it hooks you in with a happy atmosphere that spirals into an emotionally complex storyline. Llyod has an astounding ability to create characters that appear extremely realistic and have passionate connections. The moment I tune into Mamma Mia, not only am I ready to sing along, but I feel like I am a part of the story; I’m truly following Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) comedic journey to find her father and feeling Donna’s (Meryl Streep) embarrassment and frustration as her three ex’s appear. The cast did an amazing job creating a tense atmosphere when appropriate. This film adaptation of the musical could not have done better rebooting the ABBA songs used, creating an updated pop feel for each song. The comedy is truly funny without being too vulgar (the euphemism in this film makes it perfect to watch it with the family). This movie is my guilty pleasure for sure, and puts my singing voice to the test!

Spotlight (2015)

 

“This city, these people… making the rest of us feel like we don’t belong. But they’re no better than us. Look at how they treat their children. Mark my words, Mr. Rezendes. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.”

Spotlight is a timeless piece for me. It’s a perfectly executed investigative crime film exposing the Catholic Church for its multiple cases of abuse, specifically sexual abuse, towards children. One of my favorite things about this film was the progression of time. It was extremely subtle. After I have been sucked into the plot, I realized that, in the film, 5 months have gone by. It realistically shows just how difficult and long the process of uncovering a scandal is. It’s not something that’s just done overnight. Although it only feels like a couple of weeks go by, just by paying attention to the setting, you slowly realize just how much time has been going by and how little the characters progress. That is what made the ending so satisfactory for me. The cinematography fit the plot wonderfully. The slight tint of blue and grey made the whole movie seem cold and increased the dramatic theme. The camera work was able to catch a character’s body language and facial expressions, no matter how small they were.

Kill Bill I & II (2003)

 

“‘Do you find me sadistic? You know, I bet I could fry an egg on your head right now, if I wanted to. You know, Kiddo, I’d like to believe that you’re aware enough even now to know that there’s nothing sadistic in my actions. Well, maybe towards those other… jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, at this moment, this is me at my most… [cocks pistol] masochistic.’
‘Bill… it’s your baby…’”

Wow. Just, wow. Tarantino’s classic Kill Bill volumes grabbed my attention immediately and refused to let go until the story ended. I was entranced from the very start by the immediate twist. All of the shots were purposeful, and the soundtrack elevated every scene. Uma Thurman was the ideal choice for a progressive, feminist icon in a genre typically serving males. Tarantino made The Bride’s journey even more enjoyable by creating a female character that didn’t rely on her looks or other people to get stuff done. The villains mimicked this progressive ideal by having mixed backgrounds (all of them were more than just side characters on her hit list). They were all more than just fictional characters, but people who could be living next door. The fight sequences and action scenes were properly shot, making it easy to see what was happening. Nothing felt rushed or out of place.The flashbacks were always placed well and showed The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) progression of strength. This film created a lovely balance of showing the origin story, as well as the current time.

The Proposal (2009)

 

“Three days ago, I loathed you. I used to dream about you getting hit by a cab. Then we had our little adventure up in Alaska and things started to changed. Things changed when we kissed. And when you told me about your tattoo. Even when you checked me out when we were naked. But I didn’t realize any of this, until I was standing alone… in a barn… wifeless. Now, you could imagine my disappointment when it suddenly dawned on me that the woman I love is about to be kicked out of the country. So Margaret, marry me, because I’d like to date you.”

This slice-of-life romantic comedy hit me right in my feelings (cue Drake’s new album). First off: Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses of all time. She never lets me down with any of her performances, whether it be a loving mom in The Blind Side, a courageous victim in Speed, or in this case, a complete bitch in The Proposal. Bullock plays the unempathetic Margaret Tate in this film and absolutely rocks it. Ryan Reynolds, playing as Andrew, is a perfectly imperfect match for Ms. Tate. Their non-existent relationship becomes an awkward mess that makes me laugh with embarrassment from watching, every time! The emotions that each character displayed are really what elevated this film from a typical Hallmark love film to a hilarious, wholesome love story that left me with a warmth in my heart. I hate to say it, but the hopeless romantic in me will always love this movie!

Coraline (2009)

 

“They say even the proudest spirit can be broken… with love.” & “Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me! I’ll die without you!”

Selick is able to perfectly capture the eerie, weirdly enchanting world that is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. I feel like I’m watching a nightmare. The claymation aspect makes this film even more creepy! Each movement is purposeful and necessary to the plot. Coraline herself was such an interesting character, who represented everyone’s curious, child-like side. When exploring this new parallel universe she’s in, I always find myself squinting my eyes, like some horror movie! It was creepy enough to make me fear for any small door I came across after watching. The use of colors between each world is enthralling! It made the parallel world the perfect temptation in comparison to the boring, mundane world Coraline viewed.  While this may be labeled as a kid’s movie, even as a young adult, it gives me chills.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

 

“What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere! What’s this? There’s white things in the air! What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes, I must be dreaming; wake up, Jack, this isn’t fair! What’s this?”
The movie that first sparked my interest in all things dark, twisted, and overall Burton-esque. As I was thinking of what film I’ve seen the most throughout my life, this particular claymation film is held closest to my heart and might be the reason why I’m such a slut for Halloween (they don’t call Jack Skellington ‘Bone Daddy’ for no reason). Musicals aren’t really my thing, but it doesn’t take a lover of sing-alongs to appreciate the detail put into creating a film that haunts children and adults alike. To most, this film could easily be categorized under their childhood favorites, but the mentality it took to make this movie still captivates me to this day, and I have yet to see a film that has so eerily intrigued me as this Halloween (and Christmas) classic does.
 
 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (2011)
 

 

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
 
As much as I hate being a complete nerd for Harry Potter, it wouldn’t be a true Top 5 Films list for me without this in the mix. For some reason the overall consensus is that The Prisoner of Azkaban holds the title of overall best; For me, the darker the intro scene with the Warner Bros. logo is, the better the film. Of all my years of reading and watching movies, never have I discovered a plot twist as astonishing and gut-wrenching as the one J.K Rowling produced in this book. To be able to execute such a prolific written work into live action was amazing to see, and even more amazing to Voldemort finally wither and die. As sad as it was to witness the final movie, nothing has given me more pleasure than to see my favorite trio, with their respected actors finally grown up, find peace.
 
The Da Vinci Code (2006)

“This is the original icon for male. It’s a rudimentary phallus.”

“Quite to the point.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“This is know as the blade. It represents aggression and manhood. It’s a symbol still used today in modern military uniforms.”

“Yes, the more penises you have, the higher your rank. Boys will be boys.”

If I were to marry any white man, it would be Dan Brown, creator of the book from which The Davinci Code was adapted from. Along with the other Robert Langdon films created thus far, The Davinci Code serves as the inception of my interest for mystery thrillers and high-stake riddles capable of dismantling society as we know it. Of course, such a film would not have existed without the equally brilliant mind of Ron Howard, having directed all the entire Robert Langdon series. On several occasions when a novel is adapted into a film, it is created in such a way that leaves many details out from the film, simply because there’s only enough information that can be squeezed into two hours. In this case, however, detail is employed with great finesse, sparing no wasted time to jump straight into the story, allowing the audience to experience what it would have been like to be reading the book word for word.
 
It (2017)
 

 

“Go blow your dad, you mullet wearing asshole!”
 
If there’s a horror movie out there, somewhere, anywhere, I’ve seen it. The standard that I hold horror movies to is based on the number of times it makes me jump or scares me with its pop-ups, and this one prevails them all, having scared me 3 times. The thing that captivated me most about this film was not the film itself, but rather, the poster advertising it. Something so simple yet so horrifying truly symbolized the essence of the movie, epitomizing the most vulnerable level of fear: fear itself.
 
Maleficent (2014)

“Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and fall into a sleep-like death! A sleep from which she will *never* awaken!”

“Maleficent, please don’t do this, I’m begging you.”

“I like you begging. Do it again.”

The fact that Lana Del Rey was a part of the soundtrack for this film might have had some influence to adding it to the list, but regardless I have never been more enamored with a Disney film than I have with this one. As such, I don’t hesitate to add a Disney film to the list simply because I cannot imagine going throughout life with this movie not existing. Angelina once again outperforms her role as the prematurely labeled villain, exquisitely casting her character as a formidable antagonist without the hate that would normally go with it. Shown in a completely different perspective than the original movie, the plot alone makes for such a brilliant twist, especially one where an empowering woman is shown being the hero. Had Angelina been portrayed as the original villain, I still would have been rooting for her the entire time.

If I am crying or quoting every other line… it is pretty dang good.

Casablanca (1942)

“Who are you really, and what were you before? What did you do and what did you think, huh?”

“We said no questions.”

“…Here’s looking at you, kid.”

I was introduced to this film by accident when I was in middle school. My uncle was watching it on TV and decided to watch it with him. After watching it for the first time, I never really understood most of it until I re-watched it in high school. Never has a film made me so heartbroken, emotionally distressed, joyous, and nostalgic; all at once. Casablanca for me is a film that I can always watch and take something new out of it every single time. It sounds dumb, but for me it is true. The storyline is so simple, yet complex and the characters are genuine. Every line of dialogue is profound and has meaning behind it. It is a film that has stood the test of time and a must-see for any film lover.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

“Rhett, Rhett… Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?”

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Warning: If you are going to watch this film, make sure you have the entire day to yourself.

This film is extremely long (almost four hours) however the grandeur of this film is utterly ridiculous.

The time spent on costumes, set design, and the script shows. Yet this film would not have come to life without the fantastic cast. These characters are unforgettable with iconic lines. You feel for them throughout the entire movie. This movie had me speechless by the end and screaming curse words at the screen. There is a reason why the ending has become so iconic over time.

The Princess Bride (1987)

“All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.”

“But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

“You’ve made your decision then?”…

…”You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? You’ve beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

“You’re trying to trick me into giving away something. It won’t work.”

“IT HAS WORKED! YOU’VE GIVEN EVERYTHING AWAY! I KNOW WHERE THE POISON IS!”…

This movie I received as a gift from my own grandfather on Christmas. When I opened it, I had no idea what it was, and I never watched until years later when I was actually sick, and I had no tv in my room and streaming was still not an option yet (this is no lie). Ever since that fateful day I have been in love with this movie. I know practically every line and enjoy all the characters. It is a film that has somehow still remained relevant and is not forgotten. It is a film that is great to lighten the mood after a rough day or just to enjoy with stuffing your face with a bag of oatmeal wafers.

La La Land (2016)

“My aunt used to live in Paris. I remember when she used to come home, and tell us… these stories about being abroad. And… I remember… she told us once that she jumped into the river once. Barefoot. She smiled.

[sings]

Leapt without looking, / And tumbled into the Seine. / The water was freezing. / She spent a month sneezing, / But said she would do it again. / Here’s to the ones who dream, / Foolish as they may seem. / Here’s to the hearts that ache. / Here’s to the mess we make.”

I am a sucker for musicals. I love them. So to have a film about trying to make it in Hollywood and follow your dreams while having singing and dancing– it is my dream come true. However what really makes this film is Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The two have such a fantastic connection, and it shows. When I watch this film, I did not see them as major A-list Hollywood stars; I saw them as two desperate dreams trying to make it in Hollywood which helps carry the film. Even though the cinematography is gorgeous. I love every minute of it– especially the planetarium scene (which is everything)! Plus the soundtrack is beautiful; I have it on cd and digital download.

Logan (2017)

“She is not my daughter, but I love her. You may not love her, but she is your daughter. Please, help her.”

Yes, a superhero movie. However, this is not your typical superhero movie. I grew up with the X-men movie aka Hugh Jackman is the Wolverine. I saw it from the beginning to the end. I saw his entire life in front of my eyes. I adore Hugh Jackman and love the Wolverine. This film as the conclusion of the Hugh Jackman as Wolverine era was the best thing they could have done to give tribute and send off such a beloved character. Hugh Jackman made the Wolverine, and this proves it. At the end of this film I was sobbing, and mascara was running down my face. It is such a personal film for me, and everything the did was excellent to the biggest and smallest details. It is a film to watch.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

“Please tell me you’re not one of Toulouse’s oh so talented, charmingly bohemian, tragically impoverished writers?”

Moulin Rouge will always have a soft in my heart. I watched it after my first real heartbreak and Ewan McGregor’s sadness and my sadness were in sync. Aside from identifying with a major character, McGregor and Kidman are phenomenal actors. And by far Moulin Rouge has one of the best soundtracks of the early 2000s. There is so much raw emotion in this film, the comedy is spot on, the lighting and the intricate sets are breathtaking. And it doesn’t have a happy ending which is usually a foreign concept in American films because we want to feel good after we have watched someone else struggle, especially when we identify with the characters. There is no competition in its genre.

Thirteen (2003)

“The itsy-bitsy spider dropped acid at the park…”

This film is a lot more disturbing now that I am an adult. And I think that’s why I still like it so much. Nikki Reed was anywhere from 13 to 15 years old when she co-wrote and starred in Thirteen, so my thought is she had to have had experienced or identified with some of what occurred in the film.  Watching the film, it’s easy to forget Reed and Evan Rachel Wood are supposed to be 13-year-olds getting into the kind of things they are getting into. The level of involvement in drugs, sex, and crime at that age is taboo and seldom talked about but it’s real and Reed gave a voice to the 13-year-olds who could identify with the situations in the film. And because the film takes place over the course of several weeks there are clear signs of character development and how each of their actions affects the next step they take.

Little Birds (2011)

I traveled halfway across the world to find out that people are dumb and cruel everywhere. I coulda just stayed home.”

Little Birds is another film about teens and young adults testing boundaries. But unlike most films where these type of characters learn their lesson before things get too serious, the film ends on a “never to be talked about” pact. Juno Temple gives a disturbing performance of a teen who is impulsive and lacks the ability to sense when things have gone too far. Kay Panabaker plays the voice of reason but is never listened to. Little Birds is a really great drama piece for young adults. It shows how some of us are susceptible to doing to absolute worse for attention when we aren’t getting it elsewhere in our lives.

The Bad Batch (2016)

“Strange isn’t it? Here we are. In the darkest corner of this Earth. And we’re afraid of our own kind.”

From a concept standpoint, The Bad Batch is in its own league. The timeframe of events doesn’t seem to span over more than a couple of days. And the film is very brief in its dialogue. What entices me most about this film is the cinematography. The desert becomes this living thing that is full of life instead of a place where things go to die. The director, Ana Lily Amirpour, really captures what it means to have nothing to live for so that you start living without fear of consequences. None of the characters are very inviting because of this and I believe it helps the audience to justify why a character did something when they see true lack of remorse. Killed or be killed because in a place full of bad batch there is no compromise.

Ponyo (2008)

“Haaaaaaaaaam!”

If you know anything about Hayao Miyazaki, you know everything that man does is a masterpiece. You’ll also know that no matter how small or big the task his characters take on, they are all framed as equally important. Ponyo is a really special one to me because my younger sister and I could plop down and watch it over and over again and be mesmerized every time. A little boy befriends and helps return Ponyo, a goldfish turned human and back again, to her family to save everyone else from the tsunami that has engulfed the town. Along the way, he helps others and even helps Ponyo to find the joy in helping others. The little boy shows fearlessness, understanding, and selflessness. As always with Miyazaki’s films, the animation is stunning. This film will have you rooting for team Ponyo and Sosuke from start to finish.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

“What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she’s a stranger.”

Anyone who knows me knows this is my film! Not only is it one that came out in my formative years. It was one of the first times cinema was able to move me. To shape me mentally. It wasn’t Gondry’s visuals or direction, but Charlie Kaufman’s incredible screenplay that really did it for me?

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

“This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met “the one.” This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total misreading of the movie ‘The Graduate.’ The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent’s marriage she’d only loved two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she is who he has been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.”

This is a film that changed how I saw things. I watched it in a theater back in ’09 and I remember thinking right around the “Expectations/Reality” scene “Man this is a really well-made film”. I’d never looked at a romantic comedy with such analysis before. Giving a male role the traditional female neuroses clicked with me. Tom is a guy who can’t see the forest through the trees. Even when he’s told clear as day what Summer wants and doesn’t want he can’t deal with hearing what he doesn’t want to hear. From the music to the shot selection this film is 100% right up my alley. Marc Webb’s first foray into the big screen remains it’s best.

It Happened One Night (1934)

I want to see what love looks like when it’s triumphant. I haven’t had a good laugh in a week.

This film changed my life. I remember the first time I saw it. I love romantic comedies and there isn’t a one that doesn’t draw something from this one. Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable have unbelievable chemistry you won’t believe they couldn’t stand each other. So much so that they had little faith in the film following its release. Then they casually went ahead and won all the awards. And yes I mean ALL THE AWARDS! It deserved every single one.

The Apartment (1960)

Ya know, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe; I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were.

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine have such great chemistry it’s ridiculous. There’s something to be said about this film still feeling fresh almost 60 years later. There’s one scene, in particular, involving a broken compact that is so subtle yet impactful. It’s a scene that moves me, makes me think and it’s just so lovely. This is just utter brilliance filmwise. 

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I love you.

I know.

The very first film I’d ever seen in a theater and an experience I can recall as clearly as a Vegas autumn morning. Darth Vader becomes the greatest villain in cinema history. Luke Skywalker’s character arc hits an unexpected high. And the love between Han Solo and Princess Leia hits the crescendo. From Hoth’s snowy peaks to the city in the sky there’s so much wonderful cinematography and too much great dialogue all packaged together in an all-time classic.   

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