Favorites vs. the Best

It’s a little well-known fact among my peers, coworkers, friends, and family that I’d like to study film in grad school and then work in the field following school. This provokes the question, “What is your favorite movie?”

Hidden in that question are three expectations I must denounce before I reveal my favorite(s):

  • First, most expect my favorite to be something near an Oscar-worthy Best Picture nominee, a documentary that defined my generation, or an inspirational true story that struck heartstrings. I guess my taste is just not classy enough to fulfill that conjecture.
  • The second assumption is that my favorite movies have always been the same. My favorite movie when I was thirteen is not my favorite movie now. Not even close.
  • The most common expectation people seem to have is that my favorite movies and the movies I consider to be some of the best are one and the same.  This stark difference is undermined by your average movie-goer. Good movie-making and a movie that you can watch over and over again and consider your favorite, is, well . . . a rarity.

So with those three presuppositions knocked down, I’ll tell you what my current favorite movies are (in no intended order):

The Wedding Date

Maybe it’s that Debra Messing looks absolutely gorgeous, or Dermot Mulroney’s voice is super sexy and the combination is impeccable. Or maybe I was just impressed by a movie that was written by a woman (Dana Fox, screenwriter), adapted from a book written by a woman (Elizabeth Young, Asking for Trouble), and directed by a woman (Clare Kilner, director). The idea of the movie is hilarious. The protagonist, Kat (Messing), pays an escort to accompany her to her younger, spoiled sister’s wedding where her ex-fiance was the Best Man. Who knows? All I can say is that I found the premise funny, the idea light, the cast enjoyable, and the main character relatable and real.

Dan in Real Life

It’s Steve Carell, only not the Steve Carell most know and love. The Dan in Real Life Carell – that’s the Steve Carell I love. It’s a movie about family, about putting your loved ones ahead of yourself, about taking chances, and about allowing yourself a little freedom to live. Paired with Juliet Binoche, who is naturally beautiful yet doesn’t call attention to herself, the couple is fun to watch on screen together. Dan’s parents’ home feels like the New England home where everyone wouldn’t mind spending a family weekend. It’s chilly, so there’s lots of plaid, lots of snow, and lots of family traditions that makes you feel good inside. Dane Cook unmistakably adds to the movie’s humor, and Sondre Lerche’s beautiful score lends a feeling of warmth and naturalism to the movie.

Elizabethtown

If you’re a fan of Orlando Bloom, you’ve seen him play multiple character roles such as princes, pirates, and outlaws. He’s led in some of the largest and well-known film trilogies including Lord of the Rings and The Pirates of the Caribbean (fine, it’s outgrowing “trilogy,” so screw me!). Ned Kelly, Troy, and Kingdom of Heaven are just a few of the huge movies Bloom has played starring roles in. And suddenly, he’s actually playing a regular, every day person in Elizabethtown. Everyone knew that if Kirsten Dunst could stay out of rehab, she was more than capable of taking on the positive, uplifting role of Claire Colburn. Featuring a fantastic soundtrack that  includes the likes of Elton John, Patty Griffin, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and My Morning Jacket, as well as an original score by past rocker Nancy Wilson, Elizabethtown takes a withdrawn, lonely Drew Baylor (Bloom) who nearly commits suicide, to a small town in Kentucky to attend to the details of his father’s funeral with old, opinionated relatives.  Claire represents a person who understands a lot about life, and knows how to find the wisdom in simple ideas by observing others. She befriends Drew, and in a sense, saves him from himself and his past life that was wrapped up in a job and an empty apartment by forcing him to face his feelings. It’s difficult for me to not fall in love with this film every time I watch it.

And there you have it. My three current favorite films. They may not be considered the best by the majority, the average movie watcher, or any critic, but they’re my favorites. Stick around, and I might let you in on what films I consider to be the best I’ve seen thus far.

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