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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An Ode to Black-and-White Movies

For me, it started with Shirley Temple movies.

In childhood, my local library was tucked away in a school district building, limited to a long stretch of a hallway and two cramped children’s rooms. The library has since become a sprawling, gorgeous building a block away from this old location, but my formative memories as a reader rest within visions of that confined space, its dirt-brown carpet, the holiday season’s glass case display of a wintry village, and the chapter book alcove’s solar system mural.

At the end of the long hallway were the shelves of VHS tapes, when DVDs were still a novelty, when your main hope for a movie selection was that the person who checked it out before you had rewound the tape. In a time when our movies now start within a short series of clicks, I marvel over how foreign rewinding seems to me now. God forbid you check out a dramatic epic that was split between two VHS tapes.

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My Movie Romance Is…

1) Lady and the Tramp being serenaded over a spaghetti dinner, but especially when accompanying the 102 Dalmatians twist of two human actors, an eventual real-life couple that’s still together today, connecting over that sweetly shared meatball.

2) A couple’s everyday jaunt through a London tube station in About Time, capturing the stresses and the wonders of the mundane yet magical.

3) Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed huddled around a telephone together, just barely balancing between being calm childhood contemporaries and passionate, loving partners.

4) Jimmy Stewart’s slow, twinkling grin in any movie.

5) Captain von Trapp straightening his gloves before stepping in to teach Maria how a man dances.

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More “If These Book Were Movies…”

My “If These Books Were Movies” posts are some of my favorite to write. Books have always played like movies in my head, and I love when a certain actor immediately comes to mind upon the introduction of a book’s main character. The books I’ve gravitated toward lately have led to particularly vivid characters, which made the following “dream cast” selections some of the most “right” picks in awhile.

The downside of these kind of blogs is that I’m often so set on these actor portrayals that any chance of me enjoying an actual future adaptation is slim. But then again, some books are best lived in your head, right?

1) Matt Lanter as Jack Holland (In Your Dreams / the Blue Heron series, by Kristan Higgins)

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“The driver was a teenage boy, Jack guessed, because there was no one on earth who believed in his driving skill and immortality more than a teenage boy.”

Blame it on the #RenewTimeless mission dominating my mind for two weeks now, but I immediately pictured Timeless’s Matt Lanter as Holland golden boy Jack. In Your Dreams is the Blue Heron story centering on him and stoic local cop Emmaline (who I may have pictured as Timeless leading lady Abigail Spencer, but let’s not get too cutesy). I like that on the surface, Jack is seen as a protector, but he has some intense personal demons that In Your Dreams explores. I’ve only seen Lanter in Timeless, but Jack definitely has overlapping personality traits with his soldier character Wyatt, which made this casting choice obvious.

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January 2018 Watch: ‘Moonstruck’

Each month, in an attempt to keep up an active feature on the blog, I’m going to highlight a film I watched for the first time and, well, talk about it. Did it resonate with me? Was it over-hyped? Was it worth a watch? I’ve also kept a list of movies I watch in a year since 2011, so I thought this would be a fun way to highlight films that may have stuck out to me in a special way.

Moonstruck has been on my watchlist since it became available on both Hulu and Amazon Prime a short while ago. It wasn’t until the movie started that I recognized how familiar the characters and their cultural quirks were to me. Three of my grandparents were born and raised in New York City boroughs as the children and grandchildren of immigrants, and the fourth, from upstate New York, went to nursing school in Brooklyn. I’m half Italian, and my Italian grandfather grew up in Brooklyn, where the 1987 movie Moonstruck takes place.

In addition to that familial connection, growing up on Long Island exposes you to plenty of older people who grew up in Brooklyn or Queens apartments, watching their fathers renovate their homes on their own and one day becoming frequent DIY patrons of the Home Depot near their suburban homes. I’ve had an understandable fascination with mid-to-late 20th century New York for a long time, and this movie was the perfect dose of familiarity and discovery for me. Several weeks after I watched it, John Mahoney, whose character Perry I couldn’t help but grow fond of, died, which made this viewing feel even more coincidental.

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More “If These Books Were Movies…”

Some of my favorite blog posts are about my wish list casting of the book-to-movie adaptations I’d want to see someday (here, here, and here). I loved putting together this one, which leans a bit more on the fantastical side than the realistic one. Nevertheless, here are my most recent picks for what actors could play certain book characters in a movie!

1. Christy Altomare and Corey Cott as Amelie and Jack (The French War Bride, by Robin Wells) 

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We made each other feel loved and accepted and treasured. I think that is all one can ask for in this life. 

THIS BOOK. I devoured it in two days and didn’t want it to end – totally my favorite book of the year so far. If you love fiction set during World War II, this is a must read for you. It explored France’s war years in such an immersive way that I was exposed to several facets I didn’t know about before, and I’ve read a good amount of historical fiction set in 1940s France. Part of its gripping narrative was due to the narrator Amelie. The book follows her from the war’s beginning to what she does after the German surrender, but also flips between her past and 2016, when she shares her story with her dead husband Jack’s ex-fiancee.

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21 Years in Movies

In honor of today being my twenty-first birthday (and one year since I arrived in London for my semester abroad, but who’s counting?), I thought I’d revisit my life with a film that came out in each of the 21 years. Obviously, the older films will entail memories of watching them several years after their release, while the more recent ones may have a first-time viewing story behind them. Let’s see how this goes!

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News Worthy: Catching Up

I started my News Worthy posts back in February, and posted weekly updates pretty consistently until April, when I finished school. The posts were a great way to talk about any and every thing I found interesting from that week, and it was a guaranteed addition to my blog.

Working full time this summer swept up any ambition I had to maintain News Worthy, but with the start of the school year in sight, I’m going to try to post weekly posts again. For now, I’m highlighting some recent-ish news / tidbits that was exciting to me!

Theater

I’ve spoken a lot about my love for The Last Five Years, from the original cast album to the film adaptation, so the announcement that Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry are starring in a TLFY  benefit made my life. Like the rest of America, I’ve basically become obsessed with Cynthia Erivo through her lead role in The Color Purple revival. Joshua Henry has done several Broadway shows and will be playing Burr in the Chicago production of Hamilton this fall.

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If These Books Were Movies, They’d Star…

I love sharing what books I think would translate well into films or mini-series, and part of those visions  stem from how clearly I can see a certain actor as a character. Ever since I was little, I remember running a book’s story through my head as if I was directing a movie, picturing people I saw on TV as those in the story. Even now, some of these visions are so strong that I view any movie adaptation of a book I love warily, because it’s almost as if my own movie already exists.

I wanted to share some of my favorite “casting choices” – the actors I quickly adopted as characters when reading – from books that haven’t had any kind of adaptation yet.  That being said, I think all of these stories would be brilliant as films (it may be a secret desire of mine to write a Millicent Min screenplay).

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Films in 2016: Halfway Point

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.

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