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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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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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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My 5 Most Influential Moments From Mary-Kate & Ashley Movies

I grew up loving all of the Mary-Kate and Ashley movies, and I think the twins’ movies about international travel particularly gave me the wanderlust bug early on in life. Of course, the movies totally gave me the false expectation that boys would fall in love with me whenever I went on vacation (this piece sums that theme of the movies up hilariously), but by now, it’s safe to say I’ve recovered from that disappointment.

Looking back at these movies (which are somehow still not available to stream anywhere), I’ve realized they’ve influenced me more than one would initially think. Whether it was a fashion moment, a certain vacation boyfriend, or something that felt dated even when a movie was new, I thought it’d be fun to share my most influential moments from the Olsen twins’ movies and why they’ve always stuck out in my mind.

James taking Chloe to the Peter Pan statue in Winning London, but really just the entirety of Winning London

I feel like I underestimate my love for this movie until I start thinking about it. I loved Anglophiliac stories from an early age via exposure to Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins, and my love of British culture only increased as I grew older and explored the United Kingdom through books. I’m pretty sure my memory of Winning London, my favorite Olsen movie, predates my relationship with Harry Potter. I couldn’t explain why it appealed to my younger self, a version of me whose dream wasn’t London yet, but looking back, I see how this shaped so much of my enthusiasm for the city.

When I studied abroad there, I legitimately had a moment of reflection the first time I visited the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, on an amazing day I had spent crisscrossing the city on my own. Looking at the statue and slowly walking around it just like Mary-Kate Olsen does in that clip, I thought, You did it. You made it here. You’re in London. Through the way the statue is featured in this movie, it had become the ultimate symbol of London for me. When I came home that Christmas, I even rented this  movie on Amazon to watch with the perspective of a Londoner, feeling giddy about being able to say, “I went there.”

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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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What I Wish I Hadn’t Missed

Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.

~ Robert Morgan

1) Simon & Garfunkel’s Central Park concert

2) Newsreels played before movies

3) Wearing a hat and gloves for your daily errands

4) Midnight releases of the early Harry Potter books

5) The original Broadway productions of My Fair Lady and The Music Man

6) Experiencing high school without text messages

7) A television world with only three main channels

8) The heyday of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies

9) Nights that ended with watching Johnny Carson

10) The prime era of drive-in movies

11) The hair and fashion of the 1940s and ’50s

12) Sitting with loved ones while watching the very last episode of M*A*S*H 

13) Nora Ephron’s New York

14) Baggy flannels and wide-rimmed glasses being ’90s men’s go-to fashion

15) The Tina Fey-Amy Poehler era of SNL‘s Weekend Update

16) Watching new Friends episodes on Thursdays

17) Gene Shalit’s TODAY Show segments

18) The novelty of the first few seasons of Real World

19) Swaying to Glenn Miller at USO dances

20) Needing to watch TV in real time at risk of never seeing a certain episode

21) Consciously living through the height of the Spice Girls’ fame

22) Big, wavy hair being in style, a la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

23) Being able to avoid feeling engulfed by the news or that I’m missing the next best thing, and knowing that we can disconnect without realizing we’re doing so

One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.

~ Sam Levenson