At the end of each year, I share a list of films I loved the most out of the ones I watched throughout the year (2014 is here, and 2015 is here). We’re now almost halfway through 2016, and I still have a summer full of film-watching and another film class in the fall to find potential new favorites. I’ve been going through a bit of a slump as far as wanting to watch new movies – I had a severe longing to watch one of my favorite films, About Time, the other night, so instead of trying to find something new and quirky on Netflix, I sat and sighed happily for two hours throughout a beloved rewatch.
So, in an attempt to feel inspired and seek out new films, I wanted to talk about the two standout films I’ve watched so far this year. Will these end up on the favorites list in December? Eh, who knows.
His Girl Friday (1940)
“When you’re crawling up fire escapes and getting kicked out of front doors, and eating Christmas dinners in one-armed joints, don’t forget your pal, Hildy Johnson!”
As I watched Rosalind Russell in this movie, all I could think was, “Dear God, I want to be Hildy Johnson.” I adored her witty comments, her ability to talk a mile a minute and stay a step ahead of the other male reporters, and her general badassery. As someone who has to warm up to situations before really diving in, I found this character so great because she just presents so much of what I wish I had. Rosalind Russell really shone in this movie and was the highlight for me, but the classic, quippy tone the entire film has is amazing as well. It almost made me nostalgic for something I never actually experienced – the old-school, newsroom setting with fedoras and rotary phones galore.
The Last Five Years (2014)
“If I didn’t believe in you, / I couldn’t have stood before all of our friends / And said, “This is the life I choose, / This is the thing I can’t bear to lose. / Trip us or trap us, but we refuse to fall.””
I’ve been familiar with The Last Five Years original Broadway recording for years, and absolutely love the music and the stories it tells. Seeing the story in a visual form and going back and forth in time, as it’s presented on stage, made the songs even more powerful and heartbreaking. Telling both Jamie and Cathy’s perspectives of the story, the film presents Jamie’s side from the beginning of their relationship to the end and Cathy’s side in the reverse. The parallelism of their lives at the end of the film is just amazing to watch.
Anyone who knows the cast recording with Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott will probably find the vocals lacking a little something (I’ll admit it – I’m no singer, but Anna Kendrick’s voice has always left me wanting a little more). However, she and Jeremy Jordan incorporate a lot of acting into their singing, which is perfect because the story is told solely through song and requires more than just vocal delivery. It’s not a happy ending at all, and I finished the film feeling a little stunned but in a “Oh-my-God-life-art-music-love” way.
Looking back at these two films, it’s not a huge surprise that they’re my favorites of the year so far. I love musicals and enjoy Hollywood’s Golden Age, and stories about love in contemporary settings and / or strong women are my favorite. I’m hoping for some new favorites to pop up in the next half of the year, even though we all know I’ll just fall back on my ever-reliable Richard Curtis lineup if all else fails.
What about you? What have been some of your favorite movies you’ve seen this year?