Thursday, November 9, 2017

Movie Favorites

Movie Favorites

            Kim and I recently put together a list of our all-time movie favorites. Here’s where it stood after our first attempt, in no particular order:

·      Grand Canyon
·      Happythankyoumoreplease
·      The Big Chill
·      Intouchables
·      Whale Rider
·      As Good as it Gets
·      Close Encounters of the Third Kind
·      Annie Hall
·      The Bucket List
·      Something’s Gotta Give
·      The Gods Must Be Crazy
·      Nights in Rodanthe
·      What the #$*! Do We Know? (aka What the Bleep?)
·      On Golden Pond

This was our first draft. A more complete version of this growing list is at the end of this post. 

            What have I learned from putting together our list?

It’s enjoyable to make such a list. A large part of the enjoyment comes from remembering the pleasure of watching the movies, but we tried to eliminate movies that we enjoyed when we saw them but do not stand up to rewatching today. (Blazing Saddles, Ghostbusters, Monty Python and the Holy Grail) Jaws might make our list of favorites, but the news is so scary these days that watching a scary movie does not yield much enjoyment.

We are getting old. (No news flash here.) I shared some of our list with the guy who cuts my hair, and he had never heard of any of them. His favorites were anime, whatever that is. Most of these movies were either made a long time ago, or they feature old people.

Our tastes are fairly mainstream. Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Henry Fonda. Some chick flicks. 

Our tastes are fairly eclectic. What the #$*! Do We Know? deals with quantum mechanics. The Gods Must Be Crazy is about an African Bushman who is hit by a Coke bottle dropped from an airplane. Whale Rider is about a contemporary Maori girl who lives out a myth of her people. Intouchables is French.

We like to watch movies. This is not to say that we enjoy going to movies. We prefer to have the movies come to us, primarily through Netflix, plus a few DVDs and VHS tapes we’ve accumulated. Most movie theaters do not let us bring cocktails, nor do they pause the movie for bathroom breaks.

Why movies? It could be a simple escape from our daily lives – though we pretty much enjoy our daily lives. It could be that movies usually provide a tidier ending than the ongoingness of our daily lives. For me, though, it’s largely because movies have scriptwriters who can make dialogue more snappy, sensitive and insightful than my bumbling unrevisable attempts.

Movies are not real. When I was teaching filmmaking back in the 70s I would require my students to have theirs scripts approved before I would give them a Super-8 cartridge. One student’s script included a shot of an axe flying straight at the camera. When I told him it sounded dangerous, he told me, “Don’t worry – I’m shooting it in slow motion.” I told him OK and gave him the film.

No cell phones. Kim noticed when watching The Big Chill last night that the characters are all talking and connecting and none of them is checking a cell phone. Cause and effect? Perhaps, but I do believe that cell phones are largely missing from our list of favorites.

It is not always enjoyable to make such a list. We had a few moments where one of us said something like, “What’s the movie with the guy in it who made a movie with that actress – I forget her name – who was in that movie we saw last week? He was on an island.” I struggled to come up with Forrest Gump – kept saying, “Ferris Buehler?” We struggled with “the one with Harrison Ford and the Amish.” (We resorted to JFGI, which I will translate upon request.) Maybe this paragraph should go under We are getting old.

I am a voyeur. No news here, except I looked up the word and was surprised to learn that it involves peeking at sexual acts. I enjoy naked emotions just as much, with an emotional strip-tease even better – you know, where the guy gradually discovers and reveals his true feelings. Some guys can do this.

            As promised, here is the extended list of favorite movies. It grows daily.

  • The Goodbye Girl
  • City Slickers
  • Chocolat
  • Thelma and Louise
  • The Perfect Storm
  • The Devil Loves Prada
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Field of Dreams
  • Never on Sunday
  • Dances with Wolves
  • The Apartment
  • The Graduate
  • Rain Man
  • Forrest Gump
  • Lars and the Real Girl
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • The Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Witness
  • Cast Away
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Hair
  • A River Runs Through It
  • Erin Brokovich
  • The Bridges of Madison County
  • There’s Something About Mary
  • Little Big Man
  • Strangers in Good Company
  • Matchstick Man
  • Grandma
  • The Other Sister
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • City Slickers

         So, what are your all-time favorite movies?

From Jeff Belth: Favorite movie: Lawrence of Arabia. Nothing else even close. It is not historically accurate--but the photography is stunning. Everything you need to know about framing a photograph (or painting) can be learned from watching Lawrence. The script and score aren't too shabby either. While I understand the benefits of watching movies at home, nothing compares to experiencing Lawrence on a BIG screen!


  1. David and Kim, Clearly we have similar taste in movies. Thus, I am shocked that Harold and Maude is not on your list. Warning: It is a black comedy as black as they come, and some might find the humor in death comedy offensive. But ultimately, it is a movie about life. I watched it for the nth time just last week, and I still find it charming, provoking, and brilliant.

  2. H&M has been one of our favorite movies forever! Thanks for correcting an oversight. When you are 75, you can only remember so much . . .. Next week’s blog will include reader-nominations, including yours.

  3. Fun read- as always! I love all on your list that I've watched. Other faves are Shawshank Redemption, Cinema Paradiso, Life is Beautiful, The Way, Il Postino, The Sea Inside, and weirdly, Napoleon Dynamite 😂