The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Life in Movies

Andy over at Fandango Groovers is hosting a blogathon in which we compile a list of movies - one from each year since we were born. It was a ridiculously fun task and I tried to include movies that "affected" me in some way or another - go here to check out the other entries and read on for my life in movies!

1992: Porco Rosso - Looking over a list of notable movies that came out in my birth year, I was shocked to see that I have missed out on almost every single one - nope, I still haven't seen "Reservoir Dogs" or "Unforgiven", or even "Lorenzo's Oil". It's bad, I know. However, as many of you know, I have quite an affinity for Hayao Miyazaki and thus it comes as no surprise that I have seen his 1992 release, "Porco Rosso". As a whole, I've often thought of Porco as the lowest point in his filmography (even if the lowest point is miles above most other filmmakers high points) but the scene where Porco dreams of a legion of the spirits of deceased pilots is perhaps one of the most beautiful Miyazaki has ever put to film.

1993: Super Mario Bros. - Though it's infamous for its alleged horribleness, I'll be the first to admit that I actually did not hate Super Mario Bros. I've always been a bit of a video game fanatic, and so when I watched Bros. for the first time I was too busy geeking out about seeing the Italian plumber in the flesh to really worry about how terrible the movie was. Truthfully, it's not even a faithful adaptation of the game (perennially cute green Yoshis being portrayed as freaky looking dinosaurs, for example), but as a symbol of the 90's I think it will last the test of time.

1994: The Lion King - I'm proud to say that The Lion Kingwas the first film whose poster I had hanging up on my wall. It's also the first movie whose t-shirt I sported. Needless to say, calling it a "part of my childhood" is a bit of an understatement. In fact, it wasn't until I recently went and saw the musical adaptation that I completely comprehended what kind of impact it had on me - during the opening scene, I began sobbing, waves of nostalgia and beauty overwhelming me. It's a little bit sappy, I know, but it's the truth.

1995: Se7en - I saw Se7en about a year ago, but still, it often creeps its way into my thoughts, especially whenever I catch a glimpse of a modern day crime-investigation show that inadvertently pays homage to David Fincher's darkly frightening masterpiece. Brad Pitt usually satisfies, but in Se7en he's particularly sensitive, along with a surprisingly memorable Gwyneth Paltrow, both pawns in the film's sinister plot.

1996: Waiting for Guffman -You all probably already know that Catherine O'Hara is one of, if not my absolute favorite actress. What you probably don't know is the very moment I fell in love with her, which was during her 'minimalist acting' monologue in "Waiting for Guffman". Catherine is brilliance throughout, but this is also the movie where I fell in love with Parker I'll-Always-Have-A-Place-At-The-Dairy-Queen Posey, and Christopher Guest's acting and directing.

1997: Life is Beautiful -I suppose you could say that my seeing this was a major step forward in my development as a film buff, since it was the first foreign film I ever watched. As a middle-schooler I remember feeling like I needed to watch this film because if I did I would seem so smart and alternative. No, "Life" is a beautiful film and though it's been ages since I've watched it it was definitely a turning point for me.

1998: The Parent Trap -Whenever I see poor Lindsay Lohan being berated by the media, I always feel a pang of sympathy for her, no doubt instilled by my love for "Parent Trap". To say this movie was a staple in my childhood is an understatement - I watched it constantly and listened to the soundtrack nonstop. The movie even holds up to my more discerning eye, since I rewatched it recently, and it's hard to deny the acting chops that Lohan possesses. Not to mention a simply lovely performance from Natasha Richardson that makes her recent passing so much more saddening.

1999: Mystery Men - This cult classic is a favorite in my family since we used to watch it on every road trip we took. I just watched this a week or so ago and the hilarity is not fleeting. And the cast is AMAZING - this is the first film where I saw Geoffrey Rush, and William H. Macy, and Greg Kinnear (who does perhaps his career best work here, no joke) a hysterical Hank Azaria, and a spicy Janeane Garofalo. If you haven't seen it, go rent it now - it's awesome.

2000: Dancer in the Dark - Bjork is one of my favorite musicians, and the soundtrack to this film introduced me to her. Besides the fact that this is probably the saddest, most emotionally draining movie I have ever seen, Bjork is brilliant and for that reason I cannot thank this film enough.

2001: Spirited Away - I don't think my mind was quite the same after I watched this movie. It's not that "Spirited Away" is one of the most revolutionary or shocking or groundbreaking films ever - it's simply that, at the time I watched it, I had never witnessed anything so complexly beautiful and gorgeous before. Miyazaki suddenly became my favorite director and "Spirited Away" became what I called (and still call) my absolute favorite film. I've watched it countless times and I will never grow tired of it.

2002: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - I had to fit an installment of the Harry Potter series in here somewhere, since I have and always will be a huge HP geek. By the way, I'm totally a Hufflepuff.

2003: Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King -Really, what can be said about the epicness that is LOTR? I cannot even describe the emotions in words.

2004: Napoleon Dynamite - My twelve-year-old self was not quite prepared for the indie brilliance that "Napoleon Dynamite" brought to the table. Perhaps one of the most polarizing films of my seventh grade life, my classmates either loved it or hated it - personally I was on the love side of the spectrum. It's just so unbelievably quirky and yet, completely endearing. GOSH!

2005: Good Night, and Good Luck -When people are arguing over whether they're Team Crash or Team Brokeback, I'll always stand behind the fact that I'm team Good Night and Good Luck. When I first watched this film, I thought I was so cool because it was a Best Picture nominee, and it was in black and white, and it had jazz music in it. Even though I didn't really understand the political history behind it. Fastforward a couple of years and I realized how exquisite this film really is - it's marvelously directed and acted with a simply phenomenal soundtrack.

2006: Little Miss Sunshine - Though 2004's entry is also partially to thank for this, I give "Little Miss Sunshine" credit for getting me into indie cinema. Sure, it's kind of crossover between indie and mainstream, but it made for a perfect transition. Full of great performances and perfectly loveable writing, LMS became a personal favorite after I watched it.

2007: Ratatouille - I always knew Pixar was great, especially after "The Incredibles", but "Ratatouille" was where I first really fell in love. It helps that the film was followed with the amazing "Wall-E" and the heart wrenching "Up" but I really cannot describe how much I love the little cooking rodent. Michael Giacchino's soundtrack over the lush visuals of Paris make me swoon every time I watch it.

2008: Slumdog Millionaire - As far as firsts go, this is the first Best Picture winner that I ever saw in the theaters. It was rather a monumental occasion for me - it was a prestige movie and I watched it in a packed theater, excited because it had won BP about a week earlier. I know this isn't one of the most unanimously loved winners of the big prize in the past few years, but I personally find it to be the perfect celebration of why we go to the movies in the first place.

2009: Inglourious Basterds - I hope I don't make myself sound too stupid when I say that for about the first two chapters of my favorite film of 2009 I thought, who knows why, that it was based on a true story. Of course, I figured out that it was fiction but that misconception may have just made this movie ten times better for me. This is, probably, the movie that influenced me to become a blogger though - after watching it, I was obsessed and I began to read movie blogs, and well, the rest is history.

2010: Scott Pilgrim Vs the World - What better way to end a retrospective on the movies of my life than my recent number one film of 2010. It was simply a film made for me - countless video game and other nerd-friendly references, a fun rock-inspired soundtrack, and a hilariously brilliant cast full of powerful actressing. It wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but to say that I love it is an understatement.

So there you have it! I got a little long winded but it's hard not to when you're being nostalgic. Check out everyone else's posts as well and comment below on which of these movies you love too!


  1. Dude! I wrote practically the same thing about 'Good Night and Good Luck' on my list.

  2. Agreed, Good Night, and Good Luck is a better film than Crash and Brokeback Mountain, I however went for the more lowbrow fun of Sin City for my ‘05 selection. Thanks for taking part.

  3. First mention of Spirited Away (from what I have seen) hoorah! Nice list Robert :)

  4. Rich, Andy: I'm glad you guys both like GNGL too! It's such a great movie, and I'm glad I got to take part in the blogathon.

    Castor: I'm surprised! I'd think it was more popular. Thanks Castor! :)

  5. This is a great list! I think you are the only other person I have seen so far who selected Napoleon Dynamite. Also, kudos to you for choosing Super Mario Brothers. I haven't seen it since I was a kid but I have been curious to revisit it and see just how bad it truly was.

  6. I just linked over here after reading your interview on LAMB. This has inspired me to do this on my site, as well... although the 70s are going to be rough. I may have been around back then, but I don't have many memories of them.

  7. You are so young!
    Flawless movie taste though.

  8. love your exactly the same age as you apparently!! i'm so glad someone out there feels just as strongly about LOTR as I do...

  9. You made me want to watch Super Mario again. What a bizarre film.

  10. Wow, it's kind of amazing how similar our nostalgia for movies goes... I'm totally with you on Life is Beautiful and The Parent Trap!

  11. a truly unique list robert. i don't think we have one movie in common in our lists but it's been enjoyable finding out why you chose these flicks.


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