Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Some of Our Favorite Movies...and Why We Love Them

It's award's season time. Many people probably don't think about all the different awards shows, other than the Oscar's. However, because I live in LA, award's season is a big deal. There's the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, People's Choice Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Kids Choice Awards, Emmy's, Independent Film Awards, and on and on.

So my mom and I thought it would be fun to list out some of our favorite movies. We'd love to hear what your favorites are!

Mara's Favorite Movies:

Hidden FiguresGreat movie. Great story. Great acting. Octavia Spencer is one of my favorites. Cannot recommend it highly enough. So inspiring.

Schindler’s ListThe acting, direction, and story are exquisite. This movie haunts me. I was absolutely obsessed with Ralph Fiennes’ character even though he gave me nightmares. This is one of the few movies that makes me cry every time I watch it.

Sense and SensibilityI’m a Jane Austen fan, and an Emma Thompson fan. And a Hugh Grant fan. And a Kate Winslet fan. And an Alan Rickman fan. And Ang Lee makes every frame of this movie look like a painting. It’s stunning. 

Zero Dark ThirtyThe acting and the story are riveting. It’s smart and thought provoking.

The DepartedI love the acting in this movie. Vera Farmiga, Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg are all fantastic.

The GodfatherClassic. I’ve seen this movie a hundred times. 

Raiders of the Lost ArkIt doesn’t get better than a young Harrison Ford.

Gosford ParkNot really sure why I’m so drawn to this movie, but I love it. 

A Few Good MenAaron Sorkin at his best. My favorite Tom Cruise movie.

Sleepless In Seattle I am not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I like them, but they rarely stick with me for long. However, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are so charming in this film and Nora Ephron's direction make this my top feel-good movie.

Runners up: Sliding Doors [Note from Toni: I love this little-known movie too!], Elizabeth, Love Actually, Star Wars, Pretty Woman, Field of Dreams, Broadcast News, The Bourne Identity, 48 Hours, Zodiac, Bend it Like Beckham, Apollo 13.

Toni’s Favorite movies:

Remains of the DayAlmost all of the Merchant-Ivory movies are favorites of mine, but this one is flawless. [Note from Mara: oh I love this one too!]

Sense and SensibilityBecause of what Mara said. (I wrote my list before I saw Mara’s so it’s nice to see we have several favorites in common. Some of our joint favorites surprised me, including the next one.)

The DepartedMy favorite Scorsese film. I agree with Mara that the acting is terrific.

Christopher Guest’s mockumenariesMy favorite is Best in Show, but I watch the others whenever they come around on cable. 

Gosford ParkThe predecessor to Downton Abbey. Need I say more? I guess I will because I see it’s on Mara’s list too. Julian Fellowes wrote the screenplay and then went on to create and write every episode of Downton Abbey. 

Gosford Park has it all. It’s a murder mystery; it's a comedy of British manners with a hilarious bungling detective thrown in; and director Robert Altman cast just about every famous British actor he could find. (Judi Dench must have had a prior commitment.) 

One more thing (I could go on and on about this movie). It's final line, spoken by Maggie Smith's "Lady's Maid" has become a kind of "checking in" mantra for me when I'm about to do or say something that I think is justified but may make matters worse for someone. I ask myself, "What purpose would it possibly serve?" Many thanks to Julian Fellowes for writing that line.

The Painted Veil—based on Somerset Maugham’s novel. There have been many movie versions of his books over the years. This one is special because of its setting and its acting. It was filmed in a lush but unforgiving remote area of China and stars Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, and Liev Schreiber. I’ve watched this movie many times. I find it mesmerizing.

Juno—I know this is a silly movie to have on my favorite's list, but J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney are hilarious as Juno's dad and stepmom, and what Juno writes on a scrap of paper and then tapes to Jennifer Garner’s front door gets me every time.

FargoOne reason: Frances McDormand.

Cast Away—I think this is an underrated film. Tom Hanks does a spectacular job of being centerscreen for the entire movie. Even more, it’s a moving personal story. The final scene still haunts me.

Radio DaysI love Woody Allen movies, even the bad ones (The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Whatever, Hollywood Ending—to name just three). And I love many of them that the critics panned (Scoop, Cassandra’s Dream, To Rome with Love). I picked Radio Days as my favorite because it's rich in character development, and because Allen filmed it with a purposeful nostalgia that captivates me, and because one of the storylines is that of my immigrant parents.

French KissMy favorite romantic comedy. It stars Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. In my opinion, Meg Ryan was the best comic actor in the movies for many years. I also loved her in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Prelude to a Kiss, and You’ve Got Mail. Unfortunately, French Kiss was largely overlooked. If you get the opportunity to see it, I hope you will.

This was fun, Mara. Thanks for the idea. I hope to pick up a few new movies to watch from the comments!


  1. I love both of your lists!!

    I keep a running list... sorta... it's so incomplete and it prolly needs updating and thinning and redoing... but here's my sorta list:

    One flew over the cockoo's nest
    Ordinary people
    Midnight express
    Sophie's choice
    The graduate
    Lady Sings the Blues
    My life as a dog
    51 birch street
    Howard's end
    Deer hunter
    Annie hall
    The grifters
    Thelma and louise
    Fabulous Baker Boys
    Francis Ha
    Michael Clayton
    Into the Wild
    The Kids are Alright
    Terms of Endearment
    The Big Chill
    Lars and the Real Girl
    Lost in Translation
    No Country for Old Men
    Revolutionary Road
    It’s Complicated
    Monster's Ball
    Crimes and Misdemeanors
    Shawshank Redemption
    When Harry Met Sally
    Blue Jasmine
    Bridge of Spies
    American Beauty
    American Hustle
    August Osage County
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Love and Mercy

    1. So many good ones. It was definitely hard for me to pick--so I went with the ones that I find myself watching over and over. Brookyln and Silver Linings Playbook, Translation and Howard's End definitely could have been added to my list... and Bridge of Spies is a new favorite--Mark Rylance is so amazing in that role! Thanks for reading the blog! --M