I'm not saying these are the best films of all-time. There are many movies that I think are much greater than these, but that I could only watch once.
This post pays tribute to the movies I could watch over and over. The kind of movie you might flip on to have in the background while cleaning the house. I present these, aggressively-unapologetically, in no particular order.
1. You've Got Mail
Look. I don't care what you say. It's a nearly perfect film. I watch it every Thanksgiving morning while I cook pies that my family definitely won't eat. I could quote the entire movie at you, word-for-word from the opening line all the way to the part where Meg Ryan says "I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly."
AND I CRY EVERY TIME.
Once a week I think about the part where Joe Fox tells Kathleen Kelly, after driving her out of business, "it wasn't personal." She responds, "What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's personal to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway. Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."
But my favorite: the cafe scene where Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly meet for their first date is script-writing masterpiece.
"You've deluded yourself into thinking that you're some sort of benefactor, bringing books to the masses. But no one will ever remember you, Joe Fox. And maybe no one will remember me, either, but plenty of people remember my mother, and they think she was fine, and they think her store was something special. You are nothing but a suit."
2. The Truman Show
I don't know why, but I just want to live inside this movie. And sometimes I feel like I do. This was such a creative film with an incredible cast (shout out to my girl Laura). Every scene of this movie is beautiful art, from the colorful imagery of the idealistic town, to the sickeningly-cliche banter between the residents, to the folks at home escaping into this sanitized monotony by staring at their TVs instead of living their own lives--it's magical.
Once a week I think about the scene where Laura Linney drops into the middle of an advertisement for Mococoa during Jim Carey's very serious meltdown; ultimately she breaks from her TV character, screaming "do something!" to the hidden producers as the two start physically attacking one another.
"What the Hell are you talking about?! Who you talking to?!"
"I've tasted other cocoas. This is the best!"
3. Mean Girls
I could watch this movie five times a day for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it. It is beloved by nearly everyone, and it is still extremely underrated. Find me a better five seconds in any film than when Amy Poehler says "I'm not a regular mom; I'm a cool mom." The pacing in this movie makes it so there is never a single boring moment. I can't think of any movie where there are as many lines that are fun to quote completely out of context.
I would like my legacy to be that I have written a scene as exceptional as the one where Cady meets The Plastics.
"If you're from Africa, why are you white?"
"Oh my God Karen; you can't just ask people why they're white."
Easily one of my favorite movies of all time. The scene where Philomena tells the old nun that she forgives her after decades of living in torture because this nun took Philomena's baby from her and gave him away makes me sob every time. I think it's one of the most powerful scenes in the history of film.
"I want you to know that I forgive you."
"What? Just like that!?"
"It's not just like that. That's hard. That's hard for me. But I don't want to hate people. I don't want to be like you."
"It must be exhausting."
(I can't find a great clip of this--but here's something)
5. Waiting For Guffman
Usually when people ask I tell them this is my favorite movie. This is another that I could quote from beginning to end. Catherine O'Hara is a treasure, and her character's audition scene with her husband for the town musical is perfection.
But my very favorite scene of the movie (and this is like choosing which of my children I love the most) is when Corky, the director of the community production (celebrating Blaine Missouri's sesquicentennial), asks the town council for $100,000. The council laughs at this, denying his request, telling Corky "our budget for the entire year is $8,000. And that includes swimming." To which he responds "there's not gonna be any swimmin' in my show."
"We're talking about my life. And it's forcing me to do something I don't want to do. To leave. To, to go out and just leave and go home and say, make a clean cut here and say 'no way, Corky, you're not puttin' up with these people!' And I'll tell you why I can't put up with you people: because you're BASTARD people! That's what you are! You're just bastard people! And I'm goin' home and I'm gonna . . . I'm gonna BITE MY PILLOW, is what I'm gonna do!"
6. The Color Purple
My uncle introduced it to me when I was in college and it had a profound impact on me. This is a gorgeous film. I think Whoopi Goldberg is such a big personality that we sometimes forget that she is an incredible actress. (Oprah, too.) I love Whoopi's character in this film--her ability to stay positive on some level despite the constant barrage of horrors she experiences throughout her life.
Every time I hear Shug say "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it," I start crying.
But the best scene of the film is when Whoopi finds her strength to finally leave the man who has abused her for most of her life.
"I'm poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I'm here. I'm here."
7. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Fight me. Fight me on this. Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a masterpiece. There is not a second of this film that is not absolutely brilliant. From the Tim Burton cartoonishly-dark vibe to Danny Elfman's perfect score to every line packed with at least five subtle jokes, this film does not get enough credit.
Pee Wee's bike has been stolen, and he is on a quest to travel the country to find it. One scene cuts to Pee Wee talking with a police officer, who can be heard to sincerely say "and what leads you to believe the Soviets are involved?" Or there's the scene where the ambiguously-asexual Pee Wee fends off a love interest by telling her in a harsh voice "you don't want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner. A rebel." before skipping off, giggling.
Or Large Marge! Or the masterful ending where Pee Wee sells the rights of his life story, which is then made into an action film that completely bastardizes the real story and in which Pee Wee's character is played by a James-Bond-type figure and when Dotty asks Pee Wee if he wants to watch the movie he says "I don't need to see it. I lived it."
You guys. This film. is. a. masterpiece.
"It's like you're unraveling a cable-knit sweater, and someone keeps knitting, and knitting, and knitting, and knitting . . ."
8. My Cousin Vinny
I only wish being a lawyer was this exciting. I could never get tired of watching the courtroom scenes in this movie.
Marisa Tomei deserved her Academy Award for this film for all of the heavy lifting she did from the beginning to the end. But her best work is the one most often referenced: her testimony about why the car that left the tire marks in front of the scene of the crime could not have possibly belonged to the defendants.
"The defense is wrong!"
What can I say? I like animals that talk.
If this film doesn't make you feel happiness, you need professional help. I am unreasonably proud of the sheep and wolf working together to help Babe, this pure soul, to perform at the sheep-herding competition at the end of the movie.
Also, there are few animal/human scenes as beautiful as the one where the farmer-of-few-words sings to the sick pig.
"If I had words/ To make a day for you/ I sing you a morning golden and new/ I would make this day/ Last for all time/ Give you a night/ Deep in moonshine/ If I had words/ To make a day for you."
10. Hairspray (2007)
My love for this film is probably the gayest thing about me. AND I'M DATING A MAN RIGHT NOW.
I smile so hard for the entirety of this film that I have to schedule sad activities after so I can have a break from all the happiness. Everyone in this movie, from Michelle Pfeiffer to Amanda Bynes to Zac Efron to John Travolta in drag to Nikki Blonsky to Queen FREAKING Latifah, is pure perfection.
The final scene goes on for a full eternity, and it is not long enough.
"If you don't like the way I look well I just don't give a da-amn."
Ok. Your turn. GO!
~It Just Gets Stranger