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The art of film and cinema truly is one of the world’s most powerful tools for spreading joy. To me, there is no better feeling that watching a heart wrenching drama or being engrossed in a heartwarming animated adventure. Beyond providing escapism from the stress of everyday life for a few hours, movies grant people a sense of belonging and a sense of community. Well-produced films with innovative storytelling have the power speread joy, bring people closer together, and grant people joyful memories that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. In my lifetime, I have seen a countless number of films, but here are a few movies that stand out because of the tremendous impact they have had on me.

  • Toy Story 3: Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first two films in this iconic franchise, Toy Story 3 is truly superior to the rest. The film focuses on Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the gang’s adventures in a day-care center after Andy accidentally donates them. The entire movie is full of exciting adventure, humor, and even suspense. The plot is light-hearted and keeps you laughing, supported by a thoughtful message on the importance of growing up. The emotional goodbye between Andy and his toys at the film’s conclusion brought tears to my eyes. With a bittersweet lesson about time, the film affirms that change is inevitable and goodbyes can be tough, but love always lives on in the next generation.

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  • The Outsiders: This 1983 film focuses on the social divide between the wealthy “Socials” and the poor gang called “the Greasers” in the 1960s. Although it is full of suspense and action, the characters are emotional and raw. The Greasers were seen as worthless misfits, but in reality, they formed a strong and loving family. The loyalty and tremendous love shared among these Greasers truly inspired me to be a better person. Appearances can be deceiving, and The Outsiders showed me life from a different perspective, teaching me the strength of family and opening my eyes to acceptance.


  • How To Train Your Dragon: This animated flick from DreamWorks Animation is bold, exciting, and ambitious. Adventure and emotion combine to form a strong testament to the tremendous  power behind imaginative storytelling. After an unlikely encournter with a dragon, a young viking named Hiccup forms a strong bond with a dragon. This exciting film that focuses on a forbidden friendship pioneered progress in animation. 

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  • Dunkirk: This epic war thriller by Christopher Nolan depicts the very real story of  the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk during WW2. With thousands of men stranded and enemy forces closing in, this film uses masterful visual storytelling on an epic scale to send a message of hope and perseverance in the face of tribulation. With stunning cinematography, this movie truly immerses you in heart-pounding action, opening my eyes to the tribulations of soilders during this fateful time in history.


  • Saving Mr. Banks: The 2013 period drama Saving Mr. Banks focused on the untold backstory of how Disney's classic Mary Poppins film made it to the silver screen, depicting Walt Disney’s arduous efforts to acquire the rights to the imaginative story. Although the film stands out by being both hilarious and heartwarming, I truly love this film because of the way it highlights the extraordinary emotion found in entertainment. By focusing on Walt Disney's warmth and dedication, the film makes a powerful statement about the ability of storytellers to instill hope in audiences everywhere.


After three years at Cal, Brianna Brann graduated UC Berkeley in 2020 with a double major in Economics and Media Studies! She is originally from Santa Clarita in Southern California, but she loves the weather, nature, and people in the Bay Area. In addition to her unmatched passion for film and television, she also enjoys visiting the beach, playing with her dog, and hiking outdoors!
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