1) Being the Ricardos (2021, Watched 1/1/22)
The general consensus for this movie seemed to be “meh,” but I really enjoyed it. It’s a blend of juicy things I adore in films – a period drama, a behind-the-scenes take on a Hollywood legend, and some glamourous looks. I’m also so fascinated by famous couples of this mid-century era who also worked onscreen together. The Last Movie Stars about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward fit that bill for me this year, but Being the Ricardos also inspired me to watch Amy Poehler’s Lucy and Desi for more insight into the couple’s dynamic onscreen and off.
2) CODA (2021, Watched 2/17/22)
People who think this movie wasn’t gritty or artistic enough for all of its critical praise need to take a step back. Whoever said that every movie up for Oscars had to tell a depressing story? It reminds me of when Jon Stewart hosted the ceremony in 2008 and noted how dark and gory every nominated movie was, sans Juno (“Thank God for teen pregnancy!”). CODA was a sweet, uplifting movie about a family dynamic that’s rarely represented onscreen or even considered by most people IRL. Movies are supposed to help us empathize, learn, and relate, and that’s what CODA did for me.
3) Military Wives (2019, Watched 5/10/22)
Who can resist a story about a forced community finding something to bond over? Inspired by the real organization, Military Wives focuses on the wives living on a British military base who decide to form a choir as a distraction from the danger their enlisted spouses face. I took a contemporary British film class in college, and this movie’s aesthetics and message reminded me of the films we watched then. Smaller British films like this so often capture something special about a very specific part of their culture.
4) An Education (2009, Watched 8/5/22)
I actually first watched this movie years ago, and I enjoyed it then, but I think I’m far enough removed from the main character’s age now that I just saw the story in a whole new light. I related to so much of Jenny’s ambitions and feelings, both at my current place in life and in hindsight of how I was as a teenager. I also really related to the older women in the movie, so if it’s been a while since you’ve seen this, I recommend another watch to see if your perspective has changed.
5) A League of Their Own (1992, Watched 8/17/22)
How have I gone so long without seeing this movie? Following the hype around the new Amazon series based on it, I decided to finally take in the original A League of Their Own. What a fun watch! Was it a specifically ’90s thing to just regularly make low-stakes, good-natured dramedies with stacked casts? If I had watched this as a kid, I think the question of why Tom Hanks and Geena Davis’s characters don’t get together would’ve haunted me forever. I love a young Bill Pullman, but someone did not account for other actors’ crackling chemistry here.
6) The Lost City (2022, Watched 10/28/22)
This trailer does the movie total injustice. I wasn’t expecting to genuinely laugh so much and find this cast and the story so delightful. I think we all forget just how charming Daniel Radcliffe is in all of his post-Potter work and how, because of the financial freedom that franchise gave him, he can take on roles he truly and clearly enjoys. He’s so fun as the baddie here. I also usually feel very indifferent, even bored, about Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock, but they’re so entertaining together here.
7) The Fabelmans (2022, Watched 12/11/22)
When I went over my list of movies watched this year, The Fabelmans wasn’t actually marked as one of my favorites. At that moment, I thought back to my feelings after seeing this and how I just wanted to learn more about Steven Spielberg’s decision-making for this semi-autobiographical drama. I do love slice-of-life, episodic stories, and I think The Fabelmans having that quality, as well as it being Spielberg’s love letter to his family and childhood, makes it a notable watch.
8) Your Christmas or Mine? (2022, Watched 12/19/22)
I love stories that are unapologetically British and don’t bother toning it down to appeal to a broader audience. This script is very much like that. I was shook that the little boy from Hugo was old enough to be an adult rom-com lead, but this movie quickly made me fall in love with Asa Butterfield. New university sweethearts James and Hayley board separate trains to go home for Christmas, but at the last minute, they both decide to sneak onto the other’s train to surprise them and spend the holidays together. The two end up snowed in at each other’s homes, stuck with their partner’s family while trying to hide secrets about their relationship. Such a heartwarming Christmas movie to add to the annual roster!