I’m a film watcher, a movie lover. Yes, I am always reading a book, but I love sharing an evening with my husband and sometimes my entire family as we watch a film. Sharing a movie always leads to great conversation. Films can teach, inspire, and get that healthy experience going–out and out laughter. Laughing keeps us healthy and so does following a plot, guessing about the ending, and analyzing characterization. It’s all brainwork. So I’m eager to share this list with you. The films are vastly different and span the decades.
Manhattan 1979 Director, Woody Allen, starring Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, Mariel Hemingway This black and white film with background Gershwin music is a stunner, the scenes of Manhattan art at its best. Both Allen and his best friend fall for Keaton, while Allen fails to realize that a 17-year-old-girl enamored of him is beyond her years in understanding what relationships really mean.
Carousel 1956 Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones Billy Bigelow (MacRae) tells his story to convince heaven’s gatekeeper that he needs to go to earth and help his daughter. He married Julie Jordan but in doing so lost his job as a carousel barker. Worried about supporting the child Julie carries, he turns to crime and is killed. The music has songs like June Is Busting Out All Over, You’ll Never Walk Alone. The film was a favorite of my family, since we too had lost our father early on in life.
Philadelphia 1993 Director, Jonathan Demme, starring Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington Hanks, a prominent Philly lawyer, has AIDS and is fired from his conservative law firm. He hires a homophobic lawyer, Washington, the only one who will handle his wrongful dismissal suit. Filmed ten years after AIDS was identified in the U.S., this film underlines the fragility of life and humanity of each of us. A scene showing Hanks listening to opera and wanting Washington to find the same beauty he does, is classic and unforgettable.
Dr. Zhivago 1965 Director, David Lean, starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin When asked what my favorite all-time film is I answer Zhivago. A young doctor and poet from an upper-class family begins his medical practice as the Russian Revolution is beginning. Married to a woman of his stature, he becomes obsessed with Lara, the wife of a revolutionary. Their love affair plays out against the backdrop of the revolution: his house is taken over by the new government, he is forced to serve in the army, and the society that was once familiar and kind to him is totally changed. It’s a history lesson made palatable by an engaging love story, based on Boris Pasternak’s novel.
Schindler’s List 1993 Director, Steven Spielberg, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley Based on true events during the Holocaust, the film recounts how Schindler, a business man, saved numbers of Jews by employing them in his factory during WWII. Spielberg does not whitewash what survivors have related of life and death in the camps. He followed this with his work on the Shoah, filmed interviews with survivors that will impact our history.
To Kill A Mockingbird 1962 Director, Robert Mulligan, starring Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Frank Overton Based on the novel by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch, father of Jim and Scout, defends an innocent black man accused of rape. The story paints a picture of life in the Depression-era South and forever underlines the importance of paternal love and honesty when raising children.
It’s A Wonderful Life 1946 Director, Frank Capra, starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed Stewart, George Bailey, gets to see what the world would be like if he never existed. A film I hope you have all seen during the Christmas holiday season.
The Wizard of Oz 1939 Directors, George Cukor, Victor Fleming, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger This just has to be on the list for breakthrough technology, a wonderful story and an incredible cast. Back in the day, people in movie theaters oohed and aahed when you enter Oz and the film turns from black and white to color.
All the President’s Men 1976 Director, Alan J. Pakula starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden Woodward and Bernstein, intrepid reporters from the Washington Post, uncover details of the Watergate scandal that lead to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Kramer vs Kramer 1979 Director, Robert Benton, starring Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep Based on Avery Corman’s novel, the film looks at divorce and custody battles from the viewpoint of the father. Hoffman learns to care for his son in order to keep him. No list would be incomplete without Streep, one of the greatest actors of our time. Coming into prominence, she portrayed a new woman, the working mother.
My list could be much longer! Now a few more just for fun, no inspiration needed:
Must Love Dogs 2005 Director, Gary David Goldberg, starring Diane Lane, John Cusack
Feast of Love 2007 Director, Robert Benton, starring Morgan Freeman, and Greg Kinnear
It’s Complicated 2009 Director, Nancy Meyers, starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin
As Good As It Gets 1997 Director James L. Brooks, with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt
Father of the Bride 1991 Director Nancy Meyers, starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton
Laughter, tears, fright–we often experience all of these emotions as we watch film and move from the story’s beginning through the complications to the climax and denouement. Stories reflect life. They can be feel-good or glad that’s not me. Some of my choices may inspire you and some may not. Would love to have your comments and your own list of favorites.
PS Some of the films on my list as also on this list: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies
Thanks to Google Images