Top 10 Favorite Films — For Now

What we consider our favorite things says so much about us. While some books, songs, or films may remain lifelong favorites, our tastes may change, and what we once loved might not touch us in the same way.

I wanted to track what I consider my top favorite films for this reason. Some choices were immediate and easy, and others took more consideration. There are movies I love and consider important to how I’ve grown, but if I could only watch ten films for the rest of my life, which ones would pass that test of watchability? Going by this test, some surprises snuck into this exclusive group, but life can’t be all comedy or drama or camp or fantasy.  We need silly, inexplicable stories just as much as we need the serious ones.

So these movies are the ones that never fail to delight me, the stories that inspire me and comfort me at this time in life.

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The Movie Moments That Always Delight Me

Movies are the memories of our lifetime. We need to keep them alive.

~ Martin Scorsese

1) Any moment Hugh Bonneville has in Notting Hill, from his brief, drunken rendition of “Blue Moon” to him giddily searching for Anna while wearing a rugby shirt.

2) The background music in the 1985 Anne of Green Gables mini-series, my absolute favorite book-to-movie adaptation, and its whimsically sad but hopeful tones.

3) Lilly chasing down Michael and Mia in The Princess Diaries, undoubtedly clunking along in the private school curse of penny loafers and screaming, “Not you, I don’t even know you!” to other students.

4) Seeing the two old men that my sisters and I always said resembled our grandfathers during “The Soldiers of the Old Home Guard” in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

5) The booming opening beat of “Tradition” that plays just as Tevye rides his cart off-camera in Fiddler on the Roof and the quick shots of Jewish symbols that follow.

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My Favorite Movies of 2018

It’s crazy to believe that this is the fifth year I’ve talked about my favorite movies of the year. While my picks in the past have been vastly different from each other, the movies that stuck out to me in 2018 were eerily similar in certain aspects. They come from the same two years, three of them can be interpreted as rom-coms, and two of the movies are Netflix originals. A little weird, right?

I read through 2017’s favorite movies post in preparation for this (check out 2014, 2015, and 2016), and back then, I wrote that the year’s favorites weren’t actually personal standouts. Basically, they’re not very likely to make my list of all-time favorite movies, and I still agree with that statement today. I haven’t watched any of those movies since last year, but looking over the list, I understand why they meant so much to me at the time. A favorite movie doesn’t necessarily have to remain a tried and true love affair your whole life. As long as it means something to you at a certain point, it’s worth remembering and valuing.

Last year, I also talked about reading more books than movies. That happened again this year, but for the first time, I watched screeners of movies for work quite frequently. At the time of writing this, the last three movies I’ve seen were all screeners I watched ahead of their actual premiere dates. I always feel delightfully sneaky getting to watch these before most people, but on the other hand, keeping up with TV and movies for work also means I’m less likely to watch a film in my free time.

In the end, I think I’ve become pickier with movies, but I did genuinely adore the ones listed below (as always, these are movies I watched for the first time in 2018, not necessarily ones released this year). Will they become lifelong favorites? I can’t say for sure, but treat yourself and try one of them out if you think they’ll suit you!

1) Moonstruck (1987) – Seen January 13, 2018

As I said in my post about Moonstruck earlier this year, the romance involving Nicolas Cage was the only thing I didn’t get about this movie, but the rest of its world and storyline totally made up for it. Brooklyn widow Loretta casually accepts a slightly loveless marriage proposal from her beau, but when her fiancé sends her to visit his estranged little brother, her feelings for the younger man grow complicated.

Old New York feels very familiar to me because three of my grandparents were born and raised in city boroughs. I’m also from Long Island, where the older generations are packed with people who grew up in Moonstruck‘s generation of Brooklyn. This movie’s characters felt like home to me, and the romance of its cozy Italian restaurants (and admittedly John Mahoney’s slightly sleazy professor) definitely surpassed its romantic relationship. At the end of the day, I’d much rather have tiramisu and an old-school maître d’ at my side than Nicolas Cage.

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10 Favorite Pop Culture Moments of 2018

Happy Christmas Eve! I really loved making a list of my favorite pop culture moments last year, and putting together the same post for 2018 was no exception. Part of the reason why I love the entertainment industry is because it soothes our bad days and distracts us from our individual troubles and the world’s issues. Obviously, there are moments when the field overlaps with politics and international concerns (see: #MeToo), but I love recapping what put a smile on my face throughout the year.

What are some of your favorite pop culture memories from 2018?

1) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married, Prince Louis is born, Princess Eugenie gets her moment in the sun, Meghan is pregnant…

…and essentially any positive thing to do with the royal family this year. I’m so over all the reports of drama within the family (brothers are allowed to go through tough times and sisters-in-law never have to be BFFs) and would rather focus on their brighter moments. What other year had two royal weddings, a birth of a prince, and the announcement of a beloved couple’s first baby? While watching Harry and Meghan’s wedding, I even grew more emotional than I anticipated, tearing up at Harry’s reaction to his bride, as well as Doria Ragland watching the two of them together. I cried over some of the New York Times’ more personal event coverage and just spent that whole morning marveling over this amazing addition to the British monarchy. Plus, all of the year’s weddings and babies just meant that we all had more chances to see my favorite royal, Princess Charlotte, be the mini-boss lady she totally is.

2) Timeless returns for Season 2 and gets a two-hour finale movie

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5 of My Favorite Podcasts

I first talked about some of my favorite podcasts in July 2017, but since then, I’ve become such a podcast fan that I organize all of the ones I follow by the day new episodes are posted. I work from home and really rely on podcasts to keep me engaged in my work. I know some people can’t focus on tasks with unrelated audio playing, but I’ve found I’m usually fine with some background noise.

The following are podcasts I’ve really grown to love in the past year. I used to only listen to podcasts during work, but I’ve started playing some of these while cooking or doing any other menial task. I prefer interview series and pop culture discussions over true crime or political podcasts, so if you like lighter fare in your podcast lineup, I’d highly recommend any of the picks below!

1) Desert Island Discs

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This is actually a long-running radio show on the UK’s BBC Radio 4, having first aired in 1942. I either listen to it in full form on the BBC’s website, where more recent episodes usually stream easily, or in shortened podcast form on Stitcher or Mixcloud, which both have older interviews that won’t play for me on the BBC site. Featuring both British and foreign guests from various professional industries, each episode asks for its subject to select eight songs they’d wish to have access to as a castaway on a desert island. In between each musical snippet, they discuss their lives, careers, and why these songs stand out to them. For starters, I recommend trying out Tom Hanks and James Corden‘s episodes, and if you’re open to listening to an interview with someone you may not know, Miranda Hart’s is great. I usually veer toward the interviews with film and TV figures, but the podcast’s endless archive includes episodes with politicians, authors, musicians, and more.

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Even More ‘If These Books Were Movies’

I can never go too long without making one of these posts! For me, actors that encapsulate characters usually come to mind moments after a book introduces someone new. I’m then unable to really separate the story from these faces, and playing casting director always feel like a secret reading bonus. Below are some of my recent dream-casting choices for if these books ever became movies!

1) Leighton Meester and Michael Zegen as Ruby and Andrew (Girls on the Line, by Aimie K. Runyan)

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“I refuse to marry a man who spends his life in a dark room, longing for the sun but lacking the backbone to stand and open a window.”

I’m that weird 20-something who has never seen Gossip Girl and doesn’t really have any desire to, but I’m loving Leighton Meester in Single Parents. She appeared quite quickly as the resilient, determined Ruby, a Philadelphia society woman who answers the Army Signal Corps’ call for female phone operators during World War I. As a working-class son of Irish and Italian immigrants, Andrew immediately reminded me of Michael Zegen from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. While his character is a bit of a dope, Zegen strikes me as an old New York type who will always step in to help you at a dire time, which fits Andrew perfectly.

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My Most Random Pop Culture Confessions

The world of TV and movies is a weird one. Not only is it so vast, but the way it cultivates for each person is extremely dependent on the family and life one is born into. This means that everyone’s individual pop culture educations have their own unique quirks. An encounter with a TV show or movie that you think is a natural rite of passage isn’t as obvious to others, so in a bit of a stream of consciousness, I wrote about my incredibly random experiences with and takes on TV and movies. It’s a bit of an indulgent, nostalgic post for my own benefit, but if you have your own thoughts to share, please do!

I’m in my early 20s and grew up watching Family Feud reruns from the 1970s on the Game Show Network. For me, it was all about hilariously outdated outfits and Richard Dawson greeting all of the women with a kiss on the lips. The channel also reran episodes from the ’90s that Ray Combs hosted. My understanding of the Steve Harvey generation comes from Kenan Thompson’s SNL parody and the briefest clips of Steve Harvey hosting celeb editions.

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5 Celebs I’d Want On My ‘Dinner List’

Rebecca Serle’s new book The Dinner List introduces the concept that the main character has a birthday dinner with Audrey Hepburn and three important people from her past. The book is on my TBR list, but hearing about this idea spurred on my own thoughts about which guests, living or dead, I would invite to a dinner party. To fit with the theme of my blog, I narrowed down my list of most desirable guests to five celebrities I’d most want to invite for a meal.

Although I’m sure I could compose an endless list of writers, historical figures, and musicians I’d love to talk with over wine, the simplest solution for now was to pick those who fit within the most traditional idea of celebrity to me. As a result, I have a TV reporter and an actor/composer on my list, but I picked these top five based on what combination of people would create the most enjoyable environment.

My top dinner guests also came about because I would also want my grandfather there. He passed away more than seven years ago, and there’s no doubt in my mind that if miracles happened and this kind of opportunity was feasible, I’d want him right there with me at this table of stars.

Jimmy Stewart

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You know I love me some Jimmy Stewart. I’d inevitably be so starstruck and flustered about him at my dinner table that I’d be a little shy to talk to him. That’s when my grandpa comes in — I think they’d get along so well! Jimmy Stewart was more than 20 years older than my grandpa, but I feel that they would bond over many generational and personality similarities. Both fought in World War II, and, just like my grandpa, Stewart always came across as an old school gentleman.

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Yes, More ‘If These Books Were Movies’…

These are some of my favorite posts to write. As seen by all of the posts filed in my ‘If These Books Were Movies’ tag, I love talking about a certain actor who appeared almost instantly as a character in a book I was reading. I’m attempting to write a novel now, and I’ve loved putting together a secret Pinterest board of the actors I envision as my characters. The dream castings mentioned in this edition were particularly strong and quick to materialize — Hollywood producers, take note!

1) Julia Roberts and Rachel McAdams as Birdie and Cady (Campaign Widows, by Aimee Agresti) 

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“Talent could protect and insulate you against the world in so many ways, she had always thought.” 

A lot of the characters in this ensemble novel actually appeared very clearly to me, but Julia Roberts as a D.C. socialite whose marriage is failing and Rachel McAdams as the plucky TV producer who has moved her life to D.C. for her fiancé’s career were utter no-brainers. Birdie is an older woman whose fabulous campaign parties make up for the personal turmoil she often faces in regards to her philandering husband, while Cady makes the best of her producer job at a local, lowly ranked morning talk show as her fiancé jets off as a staffer on a prospective presidential campaign. Cady reminded me a lot of McAdams’ Morning Glory character, while Birdie just had the composure Roberts has in so many roles.

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