I have spent a good amount of my early life watching movies. I always favored the shorter and precise format compared to television shows, so much so that I think the only shows I’ve watched all the way through are Glee and Parks and Rec. That being said, I am not a cinema buff. I try to stay up to date with new releases as best as possible, but I do not know much about the specifics of film composition. In result, this list is based off of films that are so prevalent in my life that they have left their mark on me, for better or worse.
- The Princess and the Frog
I think it is most appropriate to start with my favorite movie of all time. The Princess and the Frog was released when I was 8 years old and I have been obsessed ever since. After watching it in my small local movie theater, I awaited the film’s release on DVD. That DVD shows my love for the movie; the hinges on the cover are weakened. The edges of the cover photo are worn and tears reside in the paper. The disc has a mosaic of scratches and fingerprint smudges. The fingerprints are mainly from me and my brother Oliver, as The Princess and the Frog is our favorite movie to watch together. The movie reminds me of childhood. It reminds me of the TV room in my childhood home. It reminds me of my brother and I laying right in front of the TV, even after being yelled at by our mom that our eyes were being destroyed in the process. It didn’t matter to us as we sang “Almost There” and laughed with Louis and Ray. We smiled as Tiana and Naveen journeyed through the Louisiana Bayou. The Princess and the Frog is the reminder of my childhood and the comfort of my family that I try to remember everyday.
- Scooby-Doo 1 and 2
Okay! Objectively these movies are not good. The second one is better than the first, but both are certainly not seen as fine cinema. However, they have always been a guilty pleasure of mine because of the way they remind me of the past. Major nostalgia goggles are required for viewing, especially with the amount of Sugar Ray in the movies. I grew up with two older brothers and spent a large amount of my time with them. Being the youngest and only girl, I tended not to have very much of a choice in the activities that we did. Most of the time growing up I watched Rescue Heroes, WWE, and Teen Titans. However, when I got sick, it was very different for me. Even for a brief time, I was the only kid in the house as my brothers were at school. This gave me a full range of the TV, and that was something I didn’t always have. When we were sick as kids, my dad would take us to the library and pick what movie or show we wanted to watch all day. And even though my choice was a bad one, I picked both live-action Scooby-Doo movies. I would watch them all day long and even as my throat hurt or my nose was stuffy, I enjoyed my ability of choice without judgement of the terrible movie that I wanted to watch.
- Pride and Prejudice
This is on the list because of Kiera Knightley. I love Kiera Knightley and I think Pride and Prejudice is the best movie to show her excellence. Additionally, I am a sucker for Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is the movie and novel that makes me feel optimistic. It is heartwarming and comforting and has been an escape when I need it throughout my life. I think I watched this movie for the first time in middle school. I didn’t know why I picked it, but after watching it I felt comforted. Middle school is such an interesting time for people, especially girls, and whenever I felt overwhelmed I thought to turn to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. It began my love for period pieces, going on to expand to titles like Jane Eyre, Little Women (2019), and A Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The landscapes of the English countryside, the 19th century costuming and of course, Kiera Knightley, all influenced the fact that Pride and Prejudice was the first stepping stone in discovering my ultimate personal comfort.
In 2017, my best friend recommended I see this movie that he saw in theaters called Ladybird. At the time, I didn’t know Greta Gerwig, Saoirse Ronan, and of course, Timothée Chalamet wasn’t the chosen white boy of the year at that point. When I did watch the film, like many, I was largely impacted. A large part of that impact is from the timing. I saw Ladybird when I was a junior in high school, going through very similar things that Christine goes through. The movie does an excellent job at describing the strange college application process while also shedding light on the confusing relationship a lot of girls have with their mothers. It hit home. Being from a suburb outside of a major city, the way that the movie describes the ideals of a sleepy and sunken town was very relevant as I tried to grapple with the realities of living in a Midwest suburb that has a weird distant interaction with a bigger city. Many people my age love this movie because of the way it showed living as a teenage girl and the ways it conveys how coming-of-age is not always picture perfect.
- Call Me By Your Name
The same friend who recommended Ladybird made me watch Call Me By Your Name on our way to Maine for vacation during the summer before my senior year of high school. I watched the movie, loved it and then went back to read the book on vacation. As I read the book and thought of the images in the movie, I was reminded of the joyous feelings in life unburdened by judgements of reality. On that vacation, I would wake up too late, drink coffee and tea as I laughed with my family at the kitchen table, then read for a large portion of the day on the porch that overlooked the bay in the quiet and relaxed town in Southern Maine. Every summer my family returns to this place and spends a couple weeks lounging around, eating homemade blueberry crisp, and playing “Clue.” Call Me By Your Name reminds me of that love. Not only is it a beautiful romantic story that so brilliantly shows the experience of unexpected and intense love, but it is so perfectly set during a hot and airy summer. This is why it reminds me of that vacation. This vacation is often the only time in the year where all the members of my family are truly on break from the busy balance between work, school and other responsibilities. It embodies the excitement of summer, my experience of meeting new people from new places and the ease of a relaxed lifestyle unbothered by expectations.
Despite seeming like a chaotic list, these movies have all individually influenced my life greatly. There is something about watching a movie that is so calming in the era of social media and constant connection. I appreciate the time I get to unplug for two hours and invest in something else entirely. It reminds me of a world beyond myself and the opportunity to dream and change. Even if it is Scooby-Doo.