Here are some of my favorite movies. Some are recent, most are not and some are in black and white.
UP Animated, Disney/Pixar. A retired balloon salesman, Carl, has held onto his house after his beloved wife Ellie passes away. Now the only property left amid skyscrapers Carl, rather than move away, ties thousands of balloons to the roof, and sails off to South America. Unbeknownst to Carl, a boy scout named Russell is on the porch when his home lifts off.
WALL-E Animated, Pixar. WALL-E, a robot left on Earth after its last inhabitants leave the ruined planet, scavenges through the garbage heap that is left behind. When a sleek new robot named Eva comes back to scout for signs of life, WALL-E falls for her in a big way. There are some very grown-up messages in this movie, one of my favorite animations.
Murder on the Orient Express, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery, directed by Sidney Lumet. Albert Finney plays Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in this mystery set aboard the Orient Express where one of the passengers, Mr. Ratchett, is found murdered. The train is stopped due to heavy snow covering the tracks and while the passengers wait for the rails to be cleared, Poirot begins sleuthing. Ingrid Bergman’s performance in this movie is superb. She plays a ‘backward’ girl who is raising money to help poor children in India. Lauren Bacall does an outstanding job as well. The murdered man it turns out, was implicated in the death of a little girl, kidnapped from a wealthy American family.
The Remains of the Day, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant. So beautifully done, Hopkins as the butler of the great house and Thompson as the head housekeeper. Something of a Downton Abbey of its time, the story takes place during the lead up to WWII.
Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains. A love story like no other, better than Romeo and Juliet by far
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Katherine Hepburn, Sidney Portier, Spencer Tracy. Race relations are put to the test
Steel Magnolias, Julia Roberts, Sally Fields, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis. Every southern woman should see this movie. Superb acting on all levels.
Castaway, Tom Hanks. You need to know the significance of Wilson
Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman narrates this tale of an innocent man imprisoned for murder and his revenge.
Now Voyager, Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid. Bette Davis blooms into a beautiful and strong young woman after leaving the confines of her mother’s home.
The Apartment, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray. Jack Lemmon has let his superiors at work use his apartment for their out-of-wedlock assignments. It doesn’t really bother him until he falls for the girl involved with his boss.
Gaslight, Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten. A truly evil character marries Bergman as part of a scheme to steal hidden jewels.
The Heiress, Olivia de Haviland, Montgomery Clift. De Haviland is facing life as a spinster, browbeaten by her father who compares her, always unfavorably, to her deceased mother. Clift, a penniless man of good family asks for her hand in marriage but her father believes him to be only after her inheritance.
Bird Cage, Robin Williams, Nathan Lane. Robin Williams plays the owner of a gay club in Miami. His son has become engaged to the daughter of a conservative Senator. The pains Williams and his partner, Lane suffer while trying to pretend they are a heterosexual couple when the fiance’s parents come for a visit are hilarious as well as thought provoking.
Harry Potter, no need to explain anything on these. I like the earlier movies best but they are all good. Usually, I like the book version better than the movie, but for Harry Potter, the opposite is true. Unbelievably imaginative, what a treat for today’s kids (and grown-ups!)
Love Actually, Liam Neesam, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Kiera Knightly, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney. An outstanding cast portrays so many love affairs, most have happy endings, though not all. This is a favorite Christmas movie, some good music throughout.
Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright. Forrest (Hanks) and Jenny (Wright) are school kids together when Forrest is bullied for being mentally challenged. Jenny becomes his best friend, standing up for him throughout their school days. The story takes place during the Vietnam/civil rights era in the South. Jenny goes off to California to become a flower child, while Forrest heads to war. The best part of looking back at all of that is the music, it’s worth watching if only for the rock and roll favorites. A must see movie.
Star Wars, everyone knows this series. A friend of mine asked recently about what order these should be viewed for someone who’s never seen any of them. I would go in the order they were created, for the simple fact that the visual effects will get better with time.
Howard’s End, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter. Another beautiful English drama with Hopkins and Thompson. Howard’s End is the country home that belongs to Redgrave’s character who is married to Hopkins, a wealthy business man. Redgrave becomes ill and signs a paper on her death bed indicating her wish that Thompson inherit her house. Helena Bonham Carter plays the tempestuous younger sister of Thompson who unites and divides the two families.
Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden. Mildred (Joan Crawford) will do almost anything to win the love of her daughter Veda, who is spoiled, vain and socially ambitious. Mildred works hard and is able to support Veda who scorns her mother’s working at restaurants and is not even satisfied when Mildred opens her own businesses. She is not too proud to take the money that her mother’s industry provides but still longs to be a member of high society.
Second-Hand Lions, Michael Caine, Robert Duvall. A young boy whose mother reliably chooses the wrong man, leaves him for the summer with her uncles, a couple of old bachelors, at their farm in Texas. Duvall and Caine play the older brothers, who sit on their front porch with shotguns to warn off the salesmen who come calling. The brothers are reported to have a fortune hidden on the farm, treasure from their travels in Africa when they were young. At one point they receive a mail order lion they had intended to use for target practice. The lioness is old and becomes the boy’s pet. A lighthearted movie for all ages.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Based on John LeCarre’s novel. This movie is so well done, I’ve watched it several times now. Gary Oldman plays George Smiley, the hero, Colin Firth also stars. There’s a mole inside MI5, Control has narrowed it down to four, one of which is possibly Smiley himself. But Control is forced out and dies shortly thereafter. Smiley is forced out too, but works behind the scenes to discover the traitor amongst them. Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, many good actors, a good spy story.