11. The Intouchables (2012)
Often times, stories about the power of friendship are overwrought, yet this film keeps the perfect balance of the sweet and realistic. After a paragliding accident leaves him a quadriplegic, Philippe hires a young man, Driss, to be his caretaker. Both actors are instantly likeable, with Francois Cluzet achieving great dramatic effect and Omar Sy is a hugely magnetic actor. The film tells the tale of two men from different realities growing a bond that leaves each one dependent on the other. Watch for this film to be making an impression come awards season. It will undoubtedly be on many pundits top ten list.
10. The Avengers (2012)
This film was equal measure action, humor, character development, and the sense of awe and wonder when you watch your favorite superheroes gather together for the first time ready to fight. As they stand in a circle, looking above as attackers fly at them, you’re excited. I love being excited when I go to the movies. I love it, and I always want that feeling. I want the feeling of being there, watching them go and fight and win and feeling the need to cheer them on as they chase down those who wish them harm. It’s easy to dismiss films such as The Avengers off as “nerd” films. It’s easy to say that they’re for a certain audience, a “type”. While easy it’s also scarily narrow minded. The Avengers is fun, thrilling, well-written and filmed, perfectly cast, and simply an absolute joyous film to watch. Yes, dramatic films with sorrowful leading men bring in the award buzz, but those films have yet to excite, thrill me, is the way that a well-executed superhero film has. And very few films have kept me smiling as long as The Avengers did.
9. Amélie (2001)
Amélie is a movie that I had been meaning to watch for some time and by the time I had managed to I never regretted it. I am so happy I did because the movie is stunning. It is a movie for dreamers, for inventors, for romantics, and for the typical movie fan. It is vibrant and playful and genuinely enjoyable to watch. If subtitles don’t scare you away from movies (if they do you’re missing a lot), it is a must see. Watch it for the simple love story and for title character who just wanted to make someone happy.
8. Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey (2011)
People argue that seeing “the man behind the curtain” disillusions a fan. That seeing the hand connected to the puppet, the face voicing a favorite cartoon, the actors behind the scenes even, ruins that overall effect. Where is the magic now that we all know how it works? I’d argue that’s exactly what the magic is, knowing and learning and coming to that realization that “Oh, so that’s how you do it. That’s how this wonderful piece of art came to life.” As a lover of film and of most entertainment, I seek out facts of what came when, who did what, and how did this happen. Credit given where credit is due an all that. One of my favorite cinematic experiences is my first time watching the behind the scenes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was seeing the art directors, the costume handlers, the director interacting with the actors that made something click, made a thought go off in my head that said “hey, I think I want to be a part of this madness.” I looked up to these filmmakers just as Kevin Clash looked to Jim Henson and just as a kid today with a bit of an artistic side will look up to Clash. Kevin Clash was going on hope. He was going on hope and a passion for art and what he wanted to do. It would be difficult to watch this film and not come out of it with a strong sense of dreams. He inspires you to chase what inspires you most because hey, it worked for him.
7. The Princess Bride (1987)
How do you forget this film once you’ve seen it? How do you forget Westley’s “As you wish” to Buttercup, as his veiled way of professing his love. Or the moment when “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepared to die” is finally uttered to the targeted man. It’s a tale of romance, adventure, all with a satirical edge. It’s the movie you stop on any time it’s on television, it’s the one you watch around the holiday season, it’s the one that sticks. It’s a marvelous tale with an array of colorful characters, all of whom paint an extraordinary picture.
6. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Sure, the basic premise is about a Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums, faced adversity, violence and isolation, only to miraculously end up on the Indian version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and is then suspected of cheating. Admittedly, it’s not the happiest of taglines to accompany a film. It doesn’t offer the immediate, bright outlook on life, it has to gain it. The undercurrent of this film however, is a love story. From the first time Jamal sees Latika, standing alone in the rain as “Latika’s Theme” plays, until the end, this is their love story, about two connected souls. There are plenty of obstacles that keep them apart such as gang violence and poverty, and a brother whose involvement has become destructive, but their love survives and it’s admirable to see onscreen. Dev Patel is charming, heartbreaking and fascinating to watch and shares immense chemistry with Freida Pinto. The film is about a resilient survivor; it’s about the underdog who manages to achieve happiness against the greatest of odds. If the last scene doesn’t make you a. tear up, b. give you chills, c. make you smile, d. feel good, I don’t have anything left to say.
5. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Feminism in a teen film? Who would’ve guessed? Just think back to it. The paintball scene, Kat flashing her teacher, Patrick serenading Kate from the bleachers, Cameron defending Bianca from Joey, the end poem? Can there really be so many “awe” inducing moments in just one movie? This is the pinnacle teen, coming of age film, the one that embodies energy and youth yet doesn’t shove prescribed virtues into the audiences faces. The characters are exuberant yet wise, hotheaded yet sympathetic, these are well written characters in what appears to be by synopsis alone, a fluff movie. Inspired by Shakespeare play “The Taming of the Shrew” this film is just the right measures of romance, comedy and a hint of drama. Watch it and recall your high school years where you could only wish to be as cool as Kat.
4. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Hands down, the best romantic comedy made. Ever. Am I being hyperbolic? Possibly. Do I particularly care? No, because anyone who has seen this film has thought the same for a period of time. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are electric as friends turned lovers and who were always, always soul mates. At the beginning of the film Harry tells Sally that no man can be friends with a woman without being attracted to her and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. The two bicker, disagree about everything, can’t stand each other, and yet are so hopelessly in love. It’s the idea of opposites attract performed onscreen and it’s sweet, sentimental and often times hilarious. Who doesn’t know Ryan’s famous orgasm scene in the diner? This film caught me, and I’m sure plenty others, by surprise. It looks like a run of the mill rom com, genre film but it does it’s all so well with such clarity on who and what their characters are, why they need to be together, and just how to make it so audiences agree. The last declaration of love just as the New Year is about to arrive is to this day, one of the most romantic scenes on film. How can’t this movie make you believe in love?
3. Midnight In Paris (2011)
Woody Allen has the effortless ability to set a scene. He picks a beautiful location and finds its inner nooks and crannies and allows it to shine. Owen Wilson seems difficult to pick out once surrounded by the beauty that is Paris. This film carefully constructs a story that finds us watching a struggling artist embrace who he is as a writer, rather than seeking out an escape. Writing is an escape within itself, so why search for more. It is the performances by Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the scene stealing Marion Cotillard as Adriana who capture the viewer’s eyes. They become a part of the landscape; the era. There’s a reason why this film was so popular, and it’s because of the pure joy that’s infused in it. Here is a director who loves movies, making a movie about a writer who loves to write, about characters who loved life. It’s all about passion and the way it drives every move you make.
2. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Has anyone else not yet seen this film? I only just saw it for the first time this past year and I have no good explanation why and neither should you. The dance scenes are out of this world and your eyes are glued to the screen once the music piques and the orchestra beings to follow. Gene Kelly, Donald O’ Conner and Debbie Reynolds have a fantastic rapport and their performance of “Good Morning!” is infectious and choreographed with such mastery that it’s a shame audiences will never get another Kelly inspired dance. Everything about this film is magical, from the charming acting, to the catchy music, the color and the dancing! Oh my goodness the dancing. This is what a classic should be; a movie that we look back on with fond memories, can notice what makes it a classic, and still be able to embrace it as if it were released today. The lack of technological advances shouldn’t be a deterrent from the overall wonderful quality and spark. Let’s face it, we’re never going to see something quite like O’Connor’s performance of “Make Them Laugh” again.
I don’t have enough words for this movie. Almost Famous will always be THAT movie to me. The movie that made me love watching films; made me love music more and love writing more; the movie that made me wish for the most thrilling life I could have. I was ready to love and experience. The soundtrack to this film is a character within itself. With bands such as The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Elton John, this film transports you without letting the film slip into a dated feeling. And when the bus full of hung over, grungy, life-embracing rock stars and friends start singing “Tiny Dancer”, you yearn to join the chorus; because they feel such a sense of home cramped into that tour bus that you can’t help but want to be sitting there with them. A lot of these characters screw up, some of them are unlikeable, but all of them are fascinating to watch. Because they’re not just some unattainable characters that as viewers we’re meant to idolize. Instead these are characters that we can understand. We understand Penny’s longing for a cemented home, Russell’s wish for greatness in his art, and William for his ambition and naivety. This film is a feel good. It’s such a feel good that every time I finish it I’m sad my adventure with them is over, but I’m reinvigorated to pick up a pen, or open a word document, and start writing my own. Watch it and tell me you don’t have the urge to move and think and do.