I have kept a list of movies I watch every year since the beginning of 2011. It’s crazy to think that I’m entering my fifth year of maintaining this record, and it’s fun to look back and see how my taste in film has changed over the years. This year, I watched over 100 movies – a new record.
Compared to back in high school, I watch films a lot more frequently now. I took a French Cinema class this semester, which helped my numbers a lot, and movie nights at college can quickly become double or triple features.
I saw very few films in the cinema this year, save for the cultural essentials The Fault in Our Stars and Mockingjay: Part 1. I also ventured to a theater to see the foreign film Ida and The Other Woman, the traditional lowbrow comedy I seem to be dragged to see with friends at least once a year. Admittedly, I’ve become a bit of a film snob over the years. So, without further ado, here are my favorite films that I saw for the first time this year!
- Captain Phillips (2013) – Seen January 31, 2014
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. I think I was worried if I would be bored or not. But it is intense. Even though the plot is based on a true story and you know how the movie will end, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. The last few minutes alone left me in emotional shock and fiercely questioning how Tom Hanks was not nominated for an Oscar for his work in the movie. And, of course, Barkhad Abdi’s iconic line is always fun to anticipate and quote.
- About Time (2013) – Seen June 16, 2014
Richard Curtis, you never disappoint me. I had huge expectations for About Time – Love Actually and Notting Hill are two of my favorite movies, I love Rachel McAdams and thought it was cool that Bill Weasley (okay, Domhnall Gleeson) was the male lead, and I strongly believe that writer/director Curtis is just the king of romantic comedies. This movie was right up my alley – British, romantic, sentimental, and funny. One of the montages playing alongside Gleeson’s voiceover monologue also made me cry, which is a sure sign that a movie has really touched my heart. Needless to say, I now count About Time as one of my favorite movies, and I need to watch it again desperately.
- Dead Poets Society (1989) – Seen June 20, 2014
Yes, it took me this long to finally watch this movie. After I first saw it, I remember thinking, “Oh, that’s it?” Yet, six months later, I feel that I have finally processed the brilliance of the film. Robin Williams’ death and going through another impactful semester as an English major were probably the main factors in this absorption of the movie’s message. The lessons are definitely applicable to today’s society. Liberal arts and the beauty of words can be greatly neglected in a world that declares science and business fields as the only places to find success. One of the boys in the film sadly learns this the hard way.
- Mrs. Miniver (1942) – Seen July 8, 2014
I talked about this in my Classic Hollywood Film Recommendations post, where I raved about how it was a great portrayal of the home front life during World War II. It is from the 1940s, so it’s not a film for everyone, but I think it is a must-see for anyone who enjoys that time period. Like me, you may find the main characters unlikeable for the first half hour or so, but you will grow to love them by the end! Keep an eye out for Henry Travers, who played Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life.
- Philomena (2013) – Seen August 6, 2014
Another wonderful surprise that I did not expect. Judi Dench was delightful in her role as an elderly woman trying to find the son that was adopted against her will fifty years ago. This is also based on a true story, and the flashback scenes reminded me a lot of certain episodes of Call the Midwife. If you do like Call the Midwife, you will definitely enjoy Philomena. I think it’s a highly underestimated film that is startlingly funny and heartbreaking at the same time.
- The Rules of the Game (1939) – Seen September 15, 2014
I watched this for my French Cinema class and the overeager film nerd in me delved into analyzing it. Yes, it is in French, and yes, it is in black-and-white, but picking up on the aesthetics and hidden meanings used by director Jean Renoir (who also plays Octave in the film) was so fascinating. The plot is very Downton Abbey-esque, as it focuses on the relationship between the members of the upper class and their servants, as well as the balance between public and private life. Talking about it from a scholarly view was incredible, so I actually don’t know how enjoyable this would be for a regular watch.
- Day for Night (1973) – Seen October 8, 2014
Another film from French Cinema that is about simply that – the power of film. I fell in love with this one because it provides an entertaining look into filmmaking and the sense of community that arises among cast and crew members while working on a film. It also stirs up the question of whether cinema is more important than real life for the creators of film. In director Francois Truffaut’s eyes, the entire film is essentially a love letter to cinema, so film enthusiasts will definitely love it. In 1974, it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. This trailer is dubbed in English, but the film itself is also in French. And can we talk about how beautiful its background music is?!
- You’ve Got Mail (1998) – Seen November 15, 2014
This was another classic film that, embarrassingly, I had yet to see until this November. You’ve Got Mail was another rom-com that gave me all the feels because of how relevant I found it, from the line about relationships with childhood books to the nature of the banter between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The film reignited the love I have for New York City and its magic, and Tom Hanks made me feel things I have never felt for him before…so, quite the experience! This movie is just so sweet and heartfelt, and it reminds us of a simpler time when email was still a new wonder.
What about you? What are your favorite films that you’ve seen this year?