I really love movies–from all different decades and genres and countries–so it was really tough (read “impossible and borderline painful”) to narrow this down from 50 to just 10. But here it goes:
1.) It Happened One Night (1934, directed by Frank Capra, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert): It’s almost impossible for me to pick just one favorite movie, but when pressed, I have to choose this one. Considered one of the original romantic comedies, it is superbly written, directed, and acted—not to mention it is hilarious. If you haven’t seen this movie, please do yourself a favor and watch it as soon as possible! And if you don’t want to take my word for how amazing it is, just know that it won five Oscars. Honorable mentions for classic comedies go to Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) and Bringing Up Baby (1938).
2.) Casablanca (1942, directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman): No explanation is really needed here. I will say that because of this movie, I get a little choked up every time I hear “La Marseilles”—and it doesn’t have to be while I’m watching the film.
3.) The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003, directed by Peter Jackson, starring…well, a lot of great people): It’s one story in three installments, and I can’t choose one over the other two. My dad read Tolkein’s novels to me when I was a kid, and then I read them myself (over and over) as I grew up. I love just about everything about this screen adaptation of one of my favorite stories.
4.) The Philadelphia Story (1940, directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart): Intelligently written, absolutely hilarious, starring some of the greatest on-screen talents in history, and directed by one of the classic Hollywood greats, this movie is about as close to perfect as it can be.
5.) My Fair Lady (1964, directed by George Cukor, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison): There are a lot of great Hollywood musicals, but there are several things that make this one my favorite—not the least of which are the story line, the characters, and the performances. Rex Harrison is perfect, and Audrey Hepburn is perhaps at her most charming. Plus, there’s the hilarious, biting sarcasm that can only come from George Bernard Shaw (the musical is derived from Shaw’s stage play Pygmalion). Honorable mentions for Hollywood musicals go to Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and Camelot (1967).
6.) Up (2009, directed by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, starring Ed Asner): I think there is a general consensus that this movie is amazing, and one of Pixar’s very best, so I’ll just mention why it stands out to me. I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life—from the time my beloved grandmother died when I was eight to some particularly painful losses in the past couple of years. I can instantly connect with Carl’s grief—as well as his desire for adventure. I’ll be honest: I was in tears for most of the movie. Honorable mentions in animation go to The Secret of Kells (2009) and Frozen (2013).
7.) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery): I love action/adventure movies, and I never ever get tired of watching Indiana Jones. I love Raiders too, and it’s hard to choose between it and the Last Crusade, but Last Crusade has Sean Connery, so it wins.
8.) Amélie (2001, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, starring Audrey Tautou): Everything about this movie is so beautiful: the language (French), the story, the art direction, the music, the cinematography…everything. But the reason it’s in my top ten is that when I watch this movie, it just makes me really happy. Honorable mention from the French cinema goes to Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) (1964).
9.) Much Ado About Nothing (1993, directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson): No one can adapt Shakespeare to the screen like Branagh can, and Beatrice (Thompson) is one of my all-time favorite heroines. I’ve seen this so many times I’ve had the entire thing memorized since I was fifteen. Honorable mentions for Shakespeare on screen are Hamlet (1996) and Henry V (1989)—both Branagh.
10.) Notorious (1946, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman): My top ten list would be incomplete without a film from the Master of Suspense. It was tough to choose between my three favorites, so honorable mentions go to Spellbound (1945) and Rear Window (1954). Notorious is my favorite story of the three, so that’s what tipped it into the top 10.
(Additional honorable mentions go to: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Princess Bride; The Matrix; Pride and Prejudice (2005); and the entire Harry Potter series)