01. The Help. This is a new favorite, as I just saw it last night. I loved the book and the movie, though not as detailed as the book, did not disappoint either. It was educational, as it portrayed what being black in the 1960s in the Southern United States was like through the eyes of black people, as well as through the eyes of an educated, observant white girl who wanted to make a difference. What I loved about this movie: It teaches that you can make a difference to change the way things are. I cried throughout a lot of the movie because I feel ashamed that America once treated black people so poorly. My heart ached as I saw the world through the eyes of the help. I laughed a lot throughout the movie as well. It has a great cast; many I'm not familiar with but the acting is great. I loved Emma Stone's character. She did an excellent job. Overall, I felt inspired after watching it.
02. The Pursuit of Happyness. Another inspiring movie. (The book, not so much. This is one case where the book is definitely not better than the movie.) The movie is all about determination, perseverance, being the best parent you can, and doing your best with what you've been given despite opposition at every turn. What I love about this movie: I love movies that have the main character's narration. I love hearing the person's thoughts and learning experiences throughout the movie (which is also one of the reasons I love The Wonder Years). Watching this movie, I can feel the pain of the struggling single father, living on the streets with his son, giving all that he has to be in an unpaid internship at a highly successful brokerage company for the slight chance that he might be picked out of many interns as the only one to be offered a job with the company. To see someone want something so badly and give all that they have for it and then [spoiler alert] finally obtain it is inspiring and brings me to tears. This movie allowed me to put myself in another person's shoes. It made me think about something simple, such as asking someone to borrow $5, when, unbeknown to you, that is all the money they have to live on indefinitely. Will Smith's acting is excellent and the fact that his son plays his son in the movie is just and added bonus.
03. The Secret Life of Bees. I saw this movie by myself in the back of a dollar theater. It was back in 2008, when I was working as a visitation monitor, transporting and supervising / monitoring visits between children in State custody and their parents. This particular visit only required transportation but I wasn't close to home and had a few hours to kill...so why not catch a movie for two bucks that I had been wanting to see? So I sat in the back of the theater and cried my eyes out as I watched this touching film. It's about a girl who is coming of age and searching for answers about her mother. What I love about this movie: Lilly rises above the abuse her father subjects her to by following her heart. I love that pieces of her mother's mystery unravel throughout the movie. I love the relationships Lily forms with amazing women. I love that a white girl joins a black family and race isn't an issue - they are family because of their bond. (I also loved the book.)
04. Life is Beautiful. I saw this movie with some friends when I was attending Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho in 1999. When I walked out of the theater, I felt different than I had when I walked in. That is how I know it makes the list. I remember thinking this is a movie my dad would love. This movie is about hope and perspective. What I love about this movie: Not only does a father do everything he can to protect his son in a Nazi death camp, but he helps his child find joy and plays games with him so he doesn't even realize he is where he is. He doesn't want his son to be scared or lose hope. It is beautifully written. The father's selflessness brought tears to my eyes. The gift of hope he gave his son is amazing.
05. The Bucket List This movie is about two men, both who don't have much time left to live, who decide to do the things on their bucket lists together before they die. I haven't seen it in a long time but I remember feeling inspired and touched. What I love about this movie: The men could have sat around, waiting to die, but instead they made the most of the lives they had left to live. They left no regrets. Plus, they formed a great friendship and were a support to each other during the process.
There are other movies I enjoy that don't inspire me in quite the same way but are still fun to watch. Some of those include Dan in Real Life, When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook, The Count of Monte Cristo, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, The Fugitive, Fools Rush In, Frequency, and The Back to the Future Trilogy.
One I am looking forward to seeing: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
What are your favorite movies? Which ones should I add to my must-see list?