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In Honor of the Oscars …

February 27, 2012

… I decided to re-visit a post I wrote a while back about my favorite movies. I don’t see nearly the number of movies I used to, but I still have a fondness for watching my old favorites. There’s something comforting about curling up on the couch with something you’ve seen a dozen times, reciting dialogue along with the characters, laughing at the same lines, and crying during the parts you’ve seen over and over again.

So in honor of the magic of the movies and the Academy Awards, here are my favorite movies that I will watch anytime.

All The President’s Men - All reporters or journalism majors (including me) wished, at one time, they were Woodward and Bernstein. I love the true investigative journalism in this movie; how these young reporters changed history through their honest research, writing, and hard work. And knowing they did all of this without the internet is always humbling. This movie always keeps me on the edge of my seat, which says a lot considering it’s a true story about politics.

The Sound of Music – Who doesn’t love the von Trapp family? The scenery. The story. The music. The children. The Captain and Maria. What an amazing musical. Not to mention the fact that I love movies with a World War II background. And Julie Andrews voice is just magical. Anytime I feel down, I listen to the soundtrack.

Broadcast News – The characters and dialogue, and James Brooks’ writing, are incredible. My favorite line is when Albert Brooks says, “I feel like I’m slipping. But do people who are actually slipping feel that way? Or is it only the really good people who are moving up who invariably think they’re slipping because their standards are so high?” Who writes like this?!

The Muse – And speaking of Albert Brooks. He is so great in this movie too. And the writing is pitch perfect. I love the “Hollywood making fun of itself” aspect of this movie. I tend to lean toward drama over comedy. But this movie is classic comedy and so entertaining.

Zodiac – While I’m not a fan of psycho killer movies, I loved Zodiac because of the masterful way this story was written. I loved how it takes the work of the police, a journalist, and a cartoonist to try to make sense of a situation that just doesn’t make sense. And how the theme of “obsession” runs through all the main characters. I also love how this movie was filmed. The authenticity of the 1970s set-up isn’t hokey or gimmicky; you feel like you’re actually watching the 1970s.

Reality Bites – Every generation has their anthem movie. For the Boomers, it was The Big Chill. For my Generation X, I’d have to say Reality Bites hits a bit too close to home. I remember seeing this movie (for the first of many times) my freshmen year of college and I was blown away thinking this movie was written for me. It was exactly what I was going through at that moment in my life.

War Games – My Dad showed me took me to see this movie the day we bought our first home computer in 1985 — an Apple IIE. I loved War Games then, and I still love it today. It’s now nearly 30 years old, and the themes of man versus machine – and who really knows best – still hit home today.

The English Patient - This goes up there with my love of World War II movies. When I saw this movie in the theater, it felt like Best Picture quality. The story is amazing. The writing in like poetry (a compliment to Michael Ondaatje who wrote the novel). And the scenery, cinematography and music is beautiful. You feel as if you’re watching art.

A Few Good Men – I am a huge fan of anything Aaron Sorkin writes. If we were naming favorite television shows, The West Wing would be my #1. But as far as his movies go, one of my favorites among those that he’s penned is A Few Good Men. Who doesn’t know, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Almost Famous – Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiography resonates with me so much. I am William Miller. I cry every time I hear the following conversation between William and Lester Bangs. Lester, “Guys like us … we’re not cool.” William, “I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn’t.” That sums up how I felt my entire life. I see myself in William trying to be the writer he knows he can become. And I love Frances McDormand in her role.

Terms of Endearment – I’ve seen this movie close to a hundred times and it never resonated with me until I became a mother to a daughter. Shirley McLaine and Deborah Winger are brilliant at portraying the struggles, the tension, the expectations and disappointments, and the love that can only go with the mother-daughter relationship. And I cry every single time.

Beautiful Girls - Love the honest and true portrayal of small-town life years after college. Again, amazing characters and the dialogue is so rich and funny. The characters feel like people you’ve known your whole life, and you love and sympathize with them in spite of (and because of) their flaws.

I could go on and on about all the movies I love. There are many more, and most of them are in the DVD cabinet in my family room. But these are my favorites. The ones I watch over and over again.

What are your favorite movies? Any of mine on your list?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 1:33 am

    Nice reflections- some of these are my fans too. I guess I love Casablanca, When Harry Met Sally, and anything Woody Allen- while not always uplifting, always artistic.
    Happy Oscars! So glad Meryl Streep won Best Actress.

  2. February 27, 2012 2:34 am

    I find it amazing the way movies – like books and music are intricately tied with our history. It is for this reason that Braveheart is big on my list! As you know, What About Bob? is another. The Beatles movie ‘Help’ was one of the first movies I ever saw. I still enjoy ‘Titanic’ because of the period it is set in, the music, and the timeless love story. Speaking of love story, which of us wasn’t shaped by the movie Love Story? There’s many more, but I’ll finish here. Great post Leah!

  3. February 27, 2012 6:10 am

    My very first movie that I fully understood – I am referring to English – was “Breakfast in Tiffany” and it still remains my very favorite one!

  4. February 27, 2012 6:24 am

    My favorite is A Room with a View. It pulls me in every time I watch it. I love the settings and costumes and poor confused Lucy Honeychurch.

    Can you believe I’ve never seen Terms of Endearment? It’s on my list, but I never seem to get to it. Time to change that. Thanks for the push.

  5. February 27, 2012 6:58 am

    I have to always put in a vote for Love Actually!! From your list, I’m a big fan of Terms of Endearment and Reality Bites as well.

  6. February 27, 2012 8:03 am

    I, too, love the Sound of Music, so it was especially gratifying to see Christopher Plummer win an Oscar last night!

  7. Lena permalink
    February 27, 2012 8:09 am

    Great list! I love many of these as well. Three of my favorites worth sharing also are American History X with Edward Norton, In The Name of the Father with Daniel Day Lewis and Return to Paradise with Vince Vaughn and Joaqiun Phoenix… ll three are amazing, thought-provoking and terrifying in their own way… worth visiting or revisiting!

  8. February 27, 2012 6:09 pm

    Nicely done! I have a few favorites in there, too! Particularly, The Sound of Music and The English Patient.

    If I was going to add my favorite thriller – I would have picked Silence of the Lambs. As for a well written movie – you can’t beat Pulp Fiction!

    GREAT read…thanks!

  9. February 27, 2012 6:24 pm

    I so enjoyed this post and noted several movies I desperately need to see or see again. Top in my list is “Muse” which I have not seen but am now dying to see. I love a comedy that is well written and relies on great dialogue – like Woody Allen films. I also love “The Sound of Music.” All time favorite: “A Song is Born” – an old story re-written to showcase big band era music. I like the music and dance in “An American in Paris” too. I also love WWII movies. One of my favorite old ones is “The Best Years of Our Lives.”

  10. February 27, 2012 10:02 pm

    Great selections. :) I only saw 4 of the ones you listed. I appreciate your reviews because it makes me want to see some of the ones I’ve missed. :)

  11. February 28, 2012 10:23 am

    I love your list. I’ve never seen Beautiful Girls, Reality Bites or Zodiac (which I won’t because I can’t do scary). I’ll have to add them to my list should I ever have enough energy to stay awake for a movie. LOL.

    And I think you are plenty cool!

  12. February 28, 2012 5:10 pm

    Love this list, Leah! And so love Albert Brooks, as well. My favorite of his is “Defending Your Life.”

  13. February 29, 2012 6:15 pm

    I am totally embarrassed that I didn’t know even half of these movies… but now, woman, I MUST check them out! I DO agree that Terms of Endearment is one of the very best movies ever. Thank you so much for putting this list and the synopses together. I think I need to do a movie marathon now!

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