I was honored when Andy, head blogger of the Fandango Groovers Movie Blog invited me to participate in his My Movie Year blogathon. The blogathon celebrates each writer’s favorite year in film with their top 5 favorite films that came out during that time. I highly recommend you check out the other participants work at this link http://fandangogroovers.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/my-movie-year-3/.
For my year I wanted to pick a year that had significance to me and I kept going back to the year where I discovered movies as an art form. I always got weird looks from my teachers in elementary school because of the films I watched. My parents didn’t let me watch Pulp Fiction at the age of 10 but they let me watch PG-13 films when I was about 9. Their belief, if I knew that movies weren’t real, then it was fine. When I hit sixth grade, movies took on a whole new world for me. Something just sparked in my brain and I started seeing films that weren’t what typical 11-year-olds were watching (and yes, I got shocked looks from the occasional office aid when I would recount my weekend trip to the movies). The five movies I picked are my favorite films to pull out and watch and while some I didn’t see during the actual time period, they all say something about me. My Movie Year: 1999!
Brad Bird‘s The Iron Giant is a beautiful tale of a boy and his robot. Not only is this Bird’s first film before joining the ranks of PIXAR, but I cite this movie as one of the films that sparked my interest for classic film. In watching this you can see how Bird would be well-suited for PIXAR eventually. The Iron Giant is heartwarming but also expertly balances the action and sweet storytelling for children, with a smartly written story for adults. The movie is a solid throwback to 1950s sci-fi movies, well before it was cool, and there’s a lot of amazing moments culminating with a heart stopping moment when the government is prepared to nuclear bomb a town, creating one of those adult moments most PIXAR movies have. If you missed this movie in theaters like I did, go out and buy the DVD. It’s that good!
Favorite Line: Darn, a perfectly good brain wasted!
I know a lot of people cite director Alexander Payne‘s more recent films like Sideways and The Descendants, but my favorite has always been Election. I think Election resonates with me so much because I’ve met numerous people as depicted in this film during my high school tenure. The character of Tracy Flick, perfectly embodied by Reese Witherspoon (between this and Pleasantville, Witherspoon dominated my view of the 90s), is someone EVERYONE knows. She’s not just a perfectionist, she’s an obsessive, petty overachieving brown-noser who must be stopped before she starts running the government! At least that’s the view espoused by teacher Jim McAllister, played by a hilarious dour Matthew Broderick. Even Chris Klein is great as the dimwitted Paul Metzler. This is the film that epitomized high school for me as it humanized every character you meet and torn down the tropes of characters in most high school movies (this is a film that accurately shows the high school experience while ruining all the themes of a typical high school movie).
Favorite Line: You can’t interfere with destiny. That’s why it’s destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing’s going to happen anyway, and you’ll just suffer.
American Beauty was the first film that put me on the course of choosing 1999. I was 11 years old when I saw American Beauty and I’m not ashamed to say that. I don’t even remember why I wanted to see it, but after I left I loved everything about this movie and as an adult I still find something to love despite the backlash this movie receives. I think because I live in the world of the Burnhams. The suburbia depicted by Sam Mendes is pretty much my town. The imagery of the rose petals is a bit grating but I love the acting in this film. From the obsessive Carolyn (Annette Bening) to the man who kicks off the film Lester (Kevin Spacey). Even our plain teenage heroine Jane (Thora Birch) is a character I closely identified with as a teenager. I won’t get into a debate about the movie being overrated but I love this movie and the world it depicts.
Favorite Line: You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.
No, I didn’t see Boys Don’t Cry when I was 11, I saw it when I was about 15 for a film project. It’s one of the first movies that made me openly sob and I had to turn it off and reflect for a good 10 minutes after I watched it. No film had affected me quite like director Kimberly Pierce’s look at the tragic life story of Brandon Teena (perfectly played by Hilary Swank). I consider this one of those movies I recommend, but I don’t watch it for kicks. It’s not a film to be taken lightly but with our current times it’s oddly poignant.
Favorite Line: I hate my life. I hate your life, too.
We return full circle to the world of PIXAR. I didn’t actually see Toy Story 2 in theaters, gasp! I waited till DVD and was blown away by the artistry of this film. It was the first sequel I’d seen that effectively built and was better than its original. The movie is, much like The Iron Giant, a throwback to a previous era (this time the 50s world of the singing cowboy and television). It’s filled with hilarious one-liners, my favorite voice actress of all time Jodi Benson as the voice of Barbie, and who doesn’t cry during the “When Somebody Loved Me” sequence?
Favorite Line: Let me guess. Andy’s a real special kid, and to him, you’re his buddy, his best friend, and when Andy plays with you it’s like… even though you’re not moving, you feel like you’re alive, because that’s how he sees you.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.