#24. The Graduate (1967)

“Hello darkness, my old friend…”

The soft whisper of those lyrics is what comes to my mind whenever I hear mention the-graduate-561971d7d56e8of The Graduate. A mere glimpse of the movie poster and I’m humming the haunting intro in my head. However, as a ringtone, they only remind me that my student loans are due once again.

Next year, The Graduate, a film that defined a generation, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its 1967 release. Whether seeing it for the first or 50th time, the film’s humor, genuineness and (loss of?) innocence still resonate with audiences.

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#23. Gone with the Wind (1939)

gone-with-the-wind1Today is the day that I look forward to all year long. HAPPY OSCARS DAY!! To commemorate this special day, I have chosen to write about the 1939 classic, Gone with the Wind. I couldn’t be more excited to finally write about this film. I was first introduced to this movie by my Aunt Joanie when I was around 8 or 9 years old and it has remained my favorite movie ever since (my other favorite movie but in no way a comparison to GWTW is the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap). I must acknowledge the significant role my Aunt Joanie has played in my burgeoning love for movies. Not only did she take me to see movies at the theater more times than I can count, she also opened my eyes to many of the classics, like Gone with the Wind. Although it has been 77 years since its first release, Gone with the Wind, is still considered a crown jewel in cinematic history. At the 1939 Academy Awards, it took home 8 Oscars and was nominated for 13—a record number of nominations for many years.

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Vivien Leigh
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Hattie McDaniel
  • Best Director: Victor Fleming
  • Best Writing, Screenplay: Sidney Howard
  • Best Cinematography, Color: Ernest Haller, Ray Rennahan
  • Best Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler
  • Best Film Editing: Hal C. Kern, James E. Newcom
  • Best Picture: David O. Selznick
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AFI’s #1 ranked movie quote of all time.

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#22. The French Connection (1971)

220px-TheFrenchConnectionWe are now officially one week away from Oscar Sunday (February 28th, mark your calendars!) and my recent tribute to various beloved Best Picture winners is slowly coming to an end. I decided to stay in the seventies again this week with the 1971 gritty police drama, The French ConnectionThe French Connection tells the story of two New York City police detectives—Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo—in their efforts to expose French drug pushers. The film was actually based on a true case in which the New York police uncover sixty kilos of heroin in the rockers of a Lincoln Continental that was imported from Marseilles. Popeye and Cloudy’s real-life counterparts, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, also star in the film as narcotics detectives, Walt Simonson and Klein.

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Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan, the real Popeye and Cloudy.

In 1972, The French Connection won the Academy Award for Best Picture, beating A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Picture Show, and Nicholas and Alexandra. It was the first R-rated film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture since the introduction of the MPAA film rating system (Midnight Cowboy won with an X rating).

  • Best Picture: Philip D’Antoni
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Gene Hackman
  • Best Director: William Friedkin
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Ernest Tidyman 
  • Best Film Editing: Gerald B. Greenberg

Roy Scheider was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role but lost to Ben Johnson in The Last Picture ShowThe French Connection was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing but lost both to Fiddler on the Roof.

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#21. Annie Hall (1977)

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Now that another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, many of us might want a break from the lovey-dovey rom-coms that seem to dominate TV this time of year. However, I think it is always an appropriate time to watch one of the classic anti-romantic romantic comedies…one that arguably changed the roadmap for romantic comedies; one  often referred to as last “comedy” to win an Academy Award; one that blazed trails in film and fashion; one whose screenplay was voted the funniest screenplay of all time by the Writers Guild of America; one that catapulted Woody Allen’s and Diane Keaton’s careers into the stratosphere; one that is the inimitable Annie Hall.Anniehallposter

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
  • Best Director: Woody Allen
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Diane Keaton
  • Best Picture: Charles H. Joffe

Not only did Annie Hall win 1978’s Academy Award for Best Picture, it beat Star Wars—a victory that seems unbelievable today! Woody Allen was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but lost to Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl.

Annie Hall captured audiences with its remarkable storytelling, poignant writing, dry, subtle humor and the palpable chemistry between Allen and Keaton.  Again, this is not your typical “boy meets girl” romantic comedy we’re accustomed to. In fact, it’s the obvious escape from the norm that allows Annie Hall to remain as relevant today. Annie Hall is Woody Allen’s story of the relationship between Alvy Singer (Allen) and Annie Hall (Keaton).  The viewer is introduced to Alvy—a neurotic, self-reflexive, pessimistic comedian—as  he delivers a witty monologue musing on life and love before recounting his relationship with Annie—an awkward, somewhat flighty, nightclub singer.
The first minutes of this film are brilliant in establishing the crux of Alvy’s character, and the entire tone of the movie. When Alvy reflects he and Annie are no longer a couple, we know this will not be your run-of-the-mill love story — A concept done very similarly in the film, 500 Days of Summer.

The story unfolds in a non-linear sequence, jumping to and from various moments in their relationship, as well as examining the individual pasts of both Alvy and Annie. Despite the scattered story, Allen never loses his focus, as Alvy tries to uncover the meaning of his relationship with Annie within the context of his entire life.

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In addition to being lauded as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, Annie Hall has also made a lasting impression on the world of fashion. The boyfriend-chic, androgynous style donned by Diane Keaton in the film, sparked a trend in fashion. The menswear as womenswear look, can be attributed to Diane Keaton herself, as she wore many of her own clothes during filming.

Almost 40 years after its release, Annie Hall is still widely relevant today. In my opinion, the retrospective narrative, phenomenal writing, and emotional resonance has helped maintain the film’s significance for audiences today. This is a must-see movie for anybody in their 20s.  Annie Hall is not a fairy tale. It’s not a “they lived happily ever after” movie which is what makes it great! Not to be misunderstood, I am all for the fairy tale movies; I probably enjoy them more than most. However, now that I am an ‘adultish person,’ that extra dose of reality in a movie is refreshing. Seeing a movie that doesn’t end perfectly—nor does it end horribly—reminds me that life is not scripted. I know that seems like a pretty simple thing to need reminding of, but with all the social media bragging that happens these days, it is surprisingly easy to forget. It’s easy to get caught up in someone’s perfect social media life and feel bad about your own. That is why this movie is so important!! People and opportunities come into our lives at certain moments for a reason, it may not be great all the time, but it is the little moments of greatness that make everything worth it.

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Gaby

#20. The Deer Hunter (1978)

“You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it’s all about.”

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In 1979, The Deer Hunter won the Academy Award for Best Picture, beating out An Unmarried Woman, Midnight Express, Heaven Can Wait, and Coming Home. This emotionally powerful war epic clocks in at just over three hours and was one of several films surrounding the Vietnam War released throughout the decade –also released around the same time were Coming Home and Apocalypse Now. The Deer Hunter was notorious for its compelling portrayal of the horrendous impact of the Vietnam War, while it tells the story of three Russian-American friends in a blue-collar, steel -working town who leave to fight for their country. Continue reading

#19. Gigi (1958)

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As January winds down, taking football-filled Sundays with it, everyone is making Super Bowl watch party plans.  However, the Super Bowl for the true movie buffs is undoubtedly The Academy Awards. Oscars night has been my favorite night of the year for as long as I began to understand the importance film would have on my life. Sure the glitz and glamour of the red carpet are mesmerizing, but the main reason for my excitement and anticipation are the stories that are being celebrated. It is the placed that a good film’s story takes us that can soothe our souls. The power behind a well-told story can motivate, inspire and provide a delightful escape from everyday life.  A film doesn’t have to be big-budget, star-packed, extravagant or highbrow.  It all boils down to the main ingredient:  the story –  and that is what gives me sheer joy.

Although I am still working my way through this year’s nominees, this is also a great opportunity to indulge in enjoying past Oscar contenders. The first movie of my Oscars tribute is the 1958 film, Gigi. Gigi won an impressive nine Academy Awards in 1959, surpassing the previous record of eight (set by Gone With the Wind, and tied with From Here to Eternity and On the Waterfront).

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#18. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Do you believe?

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Miracle on 34th Street is one of those classic Christmas movies that continues to steal your heart no matter what your age. With its simple, yet significant message of faith and love, it inspires audiences each year.

 

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Payne, O’Hara, & Wood

In this Christmas classic, Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood star as a mother and daughter who both have a little too much common sense and not enough faith. Doris Walker (O’Hara), an executive with Macy’s department store enlists a man named Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) to serve as a last minute replacement for the drunken Santa and to lead the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. After a phenomenal “performance” as Santa Claus, he is hired to become the official Macy’s store Santa—a coveted job for any Santa impersonator. Although, Kringle’s authentic portrayal of Santa Claus quickly wins the hearts of many, he is determined to restore a sense of faith to a non believing Doris and Susan (Wood). Unfortunately, Kringle’s claims of really being Santa Claus cause complications that lead him to a mental ward. One of Kris’s most faithful believers—and O’Hara’s love interest throughout the film—is lawyer, Fred Gailey (John Payne). With a little help from Gailey, Kris needs to defend his sanity and prove his authenticity.

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#17. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Well, we made it through another Monday, we are another day closer to Halloween, and it’s day three of my Spooktacular Halloween Movie Marathon!

“Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors. Beware of the moon.” This is the simple, yet eerie advice that the locals of North Yorkshire offer two American college students traveling through England in the cult classic film, An American Werewolf in London.

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David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are American students traveling through Britain, when they stop in a local pub called “The Slaughtered Pig,” hoping to get a warm meal. Instead they are greeted with hostility by the locals and are given one piece of advice before they leave: “Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors. Beware of the moon.” The boys nonchalantly accept the advice and continue their journey. As anticipated in any horror film, the boys wander off the road and encounter a large wolf. While attempting to run away, Jack is gruesomely ripped apart before the wolf goes on to attack David, scratching and biting him.  In an instant, the locals from “The Slaughtered Pig” appear to shoot and kill the wolf, however as David begins to fall unconscious, he sees the lying body of naked man rather than a wolf.

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#16. The Exorcist (1973)

Day two of my Spooktacular Halloween Movie Marathon is packed with nightmarish thrills and eerie chills. I am definitely spooked but haven’t been caught hiding under my bed yet!

The-Exorcist_1974-cinema-now-playing-793x1024The Exorcist is arguably the film that engineered a new era of cinematic horror and ultimately transformed the genre. Released in 1973, The Exorcist quickly became a cultural phenomenon. It produced such a petrifying effect that many people were led to fits fainting, vomiting, and hysterics, needing paramedics on scene at theaters. Other moviegoers were so frightened that they left mid-screening. In both the story it told and the impact it made, The Exorcist retains it’s title as the ‘scariest movie of all time.’

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#15. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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October is winding down, meaning one thing—HALLOWEEN. Halloween ranks a close second to Christmas.  I take my costume and candy selection VERY seriously. However, I’m not the best company when it comes to watching a horror flick.  I do not understand the appeal of spending 90 minutes in a constant state of terror followed by days of residual fear and panic.  It is scary enough being a Royals fan in the postseason – why ask for added stress?

Despite my apprehension and better judgment, I’m focusing this blog on a few horror films from my book of ‘must sees’. I’ve locked the doors and made peace with my Maker. Wish me luck!

My spooktacular movie marathon begins with Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic, Rosemary’s Baby. As mentioned, scary movies are not my thing so the genre is largely missing from my famed film library. Therefore, watching Rosemary’s Baby was circling way out of my comfort zone.  For those of you with a passion for fright, this film’s got you covered with satanic rituals, secret doorways and eccentric witches. If you are like me and watch a majority of the movie peeking through hand-covered eyes, don’t let yourself miss the film’s backdrop of a magnificent New York City apartment, as well as a leading lady with a wardrobe that is truly on fleek!

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That hat. Those boots.

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