I believe that media absolutely shapes people as individuals. A favorite book, play, poem, or song is very telling of a person’s personality (person’s personality-shocker). Thus, in true post-Oscars fashion, I present to you guys my current top 5 favorite movies. They’re not the movies that I think are the best from an objective standpoint, but they are the ones that I can’t shake. They’re the ones that I could watch and rewatch and be captivated each time. In short, they’re the ones that have sentimental meaning to me.
Honorable Mention: Revolutionary Road
I’m definitely cheating by adding in a sixth movie, but this one was too unique in its impact for me not to mention it at least once.
A trend for me seems to be that as time goes on, I start to like a movie less and less. I can adore a movie the day that I watch it and then barely remember it two weeks later.
The opposite happened with Revolutionary Road. For hours after I finished the movie, I sat wondering whether or not I wanted to cry. I didn’t; the movie is much too subtle for that and that’s how it got me. It’s so sad in such a quiet way that I felt like I carried the story around with me for days afterwards.
The movie is brilliantly acted. There’s nothing more to say on that front. The colors are also genius; everything’s bright and white and blinding. From beginning to end it screams “suburbia,” with all of the overwrought dreams and eventual disenchantment that comes along with it.
5. Kill Your Darlings
“Some things, once you’ve loved them, become yours forever. And if you try to let them go…they only circle back and return to you. They become part of who you are…”
“..or they destroy you.”
There’s no one who didn’t see this one coming. Kill Your Darlings follows poet Allen Ginsberg as he starts at Columbia University and meets some of the key founders of the Beat Generation. The group dynamic is shaken when one of the members commits a murder.
Lucien Carr makes this movie for me. Even after watching this movie probably a half dozen times, I still don’t know what to feel towards Lucien. Is he manipulative? If so, is it justified? Is he a victim or a perpetrator? I think that perhaps he’s both.
From characters to costumes to setting to music, the film is more than solid. The controversy comes in when considering what exactly the movie is saying about the real-life people being portrayed, but that’s a story for another day. As a work of fiction and nothing more, Kill Your Darlings holds a special place in my heart.
“You mean she would rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her?”
This movie. This movie.
First of all, the first ten minutes of this movie are a fucking ride, which is why I was stunned as the movie went on to find that I could relate to it so much.
In the beginning, the events of the movie play out like a well-done romcom; Amélie sets the guy that she likes out on a big game of hide-and-seek around town. She purposely makes sure that he narrowly misses her at every turn. In doing so, she effectively becomes the girl that all audiences know: the quirky and mysterious chick.
However, the film refuses to let Amélie be that one-dimensional. The film makes sure the audience knows that if Amélie keeps up the charade, she will end up alone. That is an incredible message. It shows that relationships are not a game of power: one partner does not get to place up a barrier and still expect to build lasting connections with others. That hits home for people like me who outright refuse to show vulnerability when interacting with people.
3. An Education
“Studying is hard and boring. Teaching is hard and boring. So, what you’re telling me is to be bored, and then bored, and finally bored again, but this time for the rest of my life? This whole stupid country is bored! There’s no life in it, or color, or fun! It’s probably just as well the Russians are going to drop a nuclear bomb on us any day now. So my choice is to do something hard and boring, or to marry my… Jew, and go to Paris and Rome and listen to jazz, and read, and eat good food in nice restaurants, and have fun! It’s not enough to educate us anymore Ms. Walters. You’ve got to tell us why you’re doing it.”
What ultimately makes this movie great is that it teaches a lesson without being overly preachy. Like with Amélie, the main character, Jenny, gets to have her fun before reality sets in.
Jenny is miles ahead of the girls her age. She’s smart, she’s talented, she’s sophisticated. She’s going to travel to France, listen to vinyls, and smoke cigarettes. It’s no wonder that she rejects boys her age and instead steps into a whirlwind romance with an older man who has the means for her to live the life she wants. He’s poised, he’s charming, and he has the means for her to live the life she’s always wanted. Her education falls to the wayside as she drops out plans to marry her new beau, because why not? She has everything she’s always dreamed of with him and finishing school no longer holds any value. Her education won’t give her anything that marrying this man won’t already give her. She’s happy and simultaneously challenges the system that seems to manufacture educated women like a factory.
But no. The man who she plans to marry has been lying to her the entire time (adults who get into relationships with minors can not be trusted). He’s already married with kids and this is not the first time he’s wooed girls just like her.
With no education and no future, Jenny is left with nothing. By the end, she’s cleaned up her mess–she’s accepted to Oxford and is back in Paris, this time with a boy her age. The central message of this movie is one of empowerment: “The life I want, there is no shortcut.”
“I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count.”
Alright, so I’m 17 years late on boarding the Titanic, sue me. I doubt there’s anything I can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll give it a try anyways.
Jack Dawson. Leo himself was unsure about taking the role because he didn’t know what he’d get out of it. He always played the grittier roles, the characters with demons or tragedies. Jack Dawson definitely is not one of those characters. He is this ball of energy and light and I don’t think anyone could’ve portrayed him better. I never thought that such an endlessly positive character would ever appeal to me, but he made it happen.
Rose DeWitt Bukater. Her strength is absolutely unparalleled. She rebels against every social constraint imposed on her and it is brilliant. The change of attitude is even seen in Old Rose, who does everything on her own time and refuses to let anyone tell her what to do.
1. Like Crazy
“I thought I understood it, that I could grasp it, but I didn’t, not really. Only the smudgeness of it; the pink-slippered, all-containered, semi-precious eagerness of it. I didn’t realize it would sometimes be more than whole, that the wholeness was a rather luxurious idea. Because it’s the halves that halve you in half. I didn’t know, don’t know, about the in-between bits: the gory bits of you and the gory bits of me.”
When I think of indie film making, this is it. This movie is the embodiment of indie films for me.
I don’t know what I’m more into: the story itself or the way that it’s shot. Both have a rawness to them that is jarring. It really does show “the gory bits”: the fighting, the distance, both geographically and emotionally. There’s not much that I feel I need to say about Like Crazy besides that it is simply stunning. -L
What are your favorite movies? Compile them in any format and link me in a comment below! I’d love to watch them and hear your thoughts!