1. (500) Days of Summer (2009, Marc Webb, PG-13)
Did they read my journals or something? How can this movie so accurately resemble my current situation? I loved this movie. The story, the presentation, the dialogue, the non-dialogue… all of it was great. Such a refreshing, creative, interesting, relatable movie. I came away feeling down about what the main character went through in this film, and yet at the same time I had a glimmer of hope. And I can only suggest that this paradox of emotions is precisely what the film-makers wanted the audience to feel. It was such an accurate version of real life and how relationships can be so great and so terrible pretty much at the exact same time. If you have the opportunity to see this movie, do it. And if you don’t have the opportunity, create the opportunity. You will not be disappointed. My favorite scene, as will be for a lot of viewers I’m sure, is the “expectations/ reality” sequence. Brilliant and spot on. The movie takes you up to the mountain and down to the valley, just like real relationships do. Very well done.
“Robin is better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real.”
2. Up (2009, Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, PG)
If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read this. Quite possibly my favorite movie this year. Someone wrote a comment on their facebook page about how remarkable it was to show such a heart-wrenching love story without using words, and I admit, they are right. Right from the get-go, I was hooked. This movie has every element that a good movie needs, drama, action, humor, love, and a proper ending. My favorite character, as I bet is true with most of you, is the bird, Kevin. Loved that even when the young boy discovered the bird was a girl, he kept calling him by the name Kevin. Hilarious. Really good movie, great for children, adults, senior adults. Go see it!
3. Big Fish (2003, Tim Burton, PG-13)
At first I was not excited about this movie. That’s why it’s taken me this long to watch it (it came out in 2003). I just thought it might be a little too strange for my tastes. Boy was I wrong. It was strange, but I really enjoyed it. It’s about 2 hours long and when I realized it was about to end, I was hoping it wouldn’t end. I venture to say this is the only movie so far that I wish would have kept going instead of ending. Very creative, but not wild or extravagant for extravagance sake. I’m not sure exactly yet what the message was, if there was one. Perhaps life is less about the facts, and more about the story around them. Maybe? One thing I am reminded of after I see this movie is that I love my dad. Im so happy that we have never gone through a period of not communicating like the characters in this movie did. Overall, very good movie. You should see it. If you like to feel good, to laugh, and to have your heart strings tugged a little.
“Most men, they’ll tell you a story straight through. It won’t be complicated, but it won’t be interesting either.”
4. Taken (2008, Pierre Morel, PG-13)
There were parts to this movie that I thought were unexplained, and definitely kept it from being rated higher on this list. I mean, how many people can you kill consecutively with one chop of the arm? Surely there would be some that needed another chop, or a follow-up shot in the leg or chest or something. And how do you just happen to have all the equipment you need to perform medical treatments? Unless you’re MacGyver, of course. But despite the unexplained issues I had, this was a great movie with a satisfying ending. The protagonist was kick-butt and I loved that!
“I will look for you. I will find you, and I will kill you.”
5. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan, R)
Unfortunately I had high expectations for this movie, because of the critical acclaim but even moreso because friends of mine saw it before me and said it was excellent. Well, I will have to agree with all of them! The movie was very good. From top to bottom it was full of action, drama, humor, love, fear, and emotion. And they accomplished this with little (if any) curse words. I have never been to India, but I felt like I was there with the characters, experiencing all the drama and action of their lives. And to incorporate a show that we all know, “Who Wants To Be A Millionniare?” was a pretty fantastic idea. I definitely felt like I was cheering for the underdog, and the payoff was everything it should have been! I love when love wins. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out.
6. The Blind Side (2009, John Lee Hancock, PG-13)
The hype around this movie proves true. The story is really good. I did think it went on a little too long, but I dare you to resist getting into this underdog story. It’s a story of overcoming, a story of hard work and success.
“You should really get to know your players. Michael scored in the 98th percentile in protective instincts.”
7. Best In Show (2000, Christopher Guest, PG-13)
I love the type of humor in this movie! A simple story, with simple characters, but performed brilliantly. Just goes to show if you have a great idea for a movie, and have great actors and actresses, you don’t need to have crazy special effects and billion dollar budgets. I’m a fan of this one, and of Christopher Guest.
“And really, I think what we’re talking about is standards, basically; very, very specific, rigid, you could say, but in this world where would we be without them, I think. And notice where we are.”
8. High Fidelity (2000, Stephen Frears, R)
This movie starred John Cusack but for me, Jack Black stole the show. Some of the humor was a on the crude side, but it was limited. When I was watching this, I actually was reminding quite a bit of “Slumdog Millionaire” in the way the movie was put together. So thumbs up to “High Fidelity” to doing this kind of editing years before the revolutionary film set in the slums of India. Another good John Cusack film in my book, but if you watch it for him, you may be surprised who you come away liking more, John or Jack.
“She didn’t make me miserable, or anxious, or ill at ease. You know, it sounds boring, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t spectacular either. It was just good. But really good.”
9. French Kiss (1995, Lawrence Kasdan, PG-13)
Classic 80’s romantic comedy. There were tons of one liners and for me, that goes a long way. It also has a satisfying ending (did you expect to be left uhappy at the end of a romantic comedy?). So if you are into rom-com’s from the 1980’s, this is one you should see. I really enjoyed it.
“I love the sea. So beautiful, so mysterious… so full of fish.”
10. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008, Nathan Frankowski, PG)
This is a great movie for anyone with an open mind. The truth is, no one knows for sure how the earth, the universe, the whole human experience started. All we have to go on is what is around us. The movie explains how there is sort of a secret divide between theories of how everything began. And while it explains the secrets, it calls out those who claim that only certain ways are possible. It dives into evolution, Intelligent Design, faith in God, atheism, creationism, and many aspects of the scientific world and how science and faith sometimes (and often) intertwine. Ben Stein was very good at remaining neutral while at the same time questioning the established norm in areas of scientific discovery, faith and how both sides have a lot to offer. Very good documentary that confirms that while Intelligent Design is a scientific theory, it is much the same as evolution in this: it takes a huge amount of faith to believe in either one.
“And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the um, at the detail… details of our chemistry molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer.”