Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Is Your Favorite Movie...?

Movie award season has rolled around again, and tonight is the Golden Globes. It will be hosted by Ricky Gervais, so it's guaranteed to be a hoot. And of course, the nominees are all the usual suspects -- Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, George Clooney ... together with some interesting movies. A friend and I were chatting today about movies, and I said if I were to be asked to name my favorite movie of all time -- without even giving it much thought, just off the top of my head -- it would be a 2002 movie called "Whale Rider". And I can almost guarantee that most of you have either never heard of the movie, or have never seen it. It's an independent movie filmed in New Zealand, taken from the award winning book written by Witi Ihimaera. To quote some of the film critics: "This film is so stunningly beautiful to look at--and such an uplifting story--that you can understand why it has won so many audience awards at festivals all over the world."

"A film of elegant simplicity that seamlessly combines reality and mythology. It's also one of the year's most beautiful films."

Keisha Castle-Hughes, the young lady who played the lead role of Paikea "Pai" Apirana, was 11 years-old when she was cast in the movie. She had not had any previous acting experience, and went straight from her school room to the set of the movie. When "Whale Rider" was completed, the movie was nominated for several awards, including Keisha Castle-Hughes for an Acadamy Award for Best Actress. Her performance as Paikea was astonishing.

"My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the whale rider. I'm not a prophet, but I know that our people will keep going forward, all together, with all of their strength."

"Whale Rider" is billed as a family movie, but it is actually a bit edgy, and not at all "Disneyfied". It deals with several layers of issues with which I think people from all parts of the world can identify, and it deals with them in a humorous rather than a "preachy" manner. It's a visually beautiful movie, and I love the scene where the young men are learning the Maori Haka dance. If you're looking for something really different, something non-Hollywood -- that doesn't have Meryl Streep or George Clooney in it, although I do enjoy Meryl Streep and George Clooney too -- pick up "Whale Rider" at your video store, and be prepared for some movie magic.

I would be interested to know what is your all-time favorite movie -- just off the top of your head -- without really thinking about it. What springs to mind? I'm always looking for different movies to watch.



Miranda said...

The Big Lebowski. Hands down will always be my favorite movie off the top of my head. And can it be that you have no comments yet on this?? Crazyness I tell you! And thank you for your comment the other day on my blog! It made my day!

Jo said...

Miranda, I liked The Big Lebowski too. I love Jeff Bridges. Good choice!

Susan said...

THis film looks like one I would enjoy. Interestingly enough, I just went to visit Iowa Grasslands today for the first time. Curiosity got the best of me! He has posted a movie review also. Now, was that a fluke of have you begun wearing matching sweaters now too? hehehe
A belated Happy New Year to you Jo.

A Woman said...

I've actually seen this movie and loved it. I was channel surfing recently on a break one Saturday and came across it. My all time favorite movie though is The King and I with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brenner.

Nancy said...

I honestly can't think of one. Love Actually was a favorite but I can't say my all-time favorite. I liked Men In Black - the first one. I like sci-fi or romantic comedies the best.

I'm goint to Netflix to order this movie. My husband wants to move to New Zealand, so he will enjoy this, I think.

Jo said...

Susan, LOL...! *heh* No ... no matching sweaters. It's nice to see you again...!

A Woman, Deborah Kerr is my favorite actress. In fact, she is sort of my idol. If I could be like anyone, it would be Deborah Kerr. Wasn't she wonderful?

Nancy, Men in Black is one of my favorites too. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith had a wonderful chemistry together, and I laugh every time I watch the movie.

Michelle said...

My favorite movie of all time is Forrest Gump. It makes me laugh and cry everytime I watch it. I'm just in love with the story.

I will have to watch the
Whale Rider. I have never heard of it.

Jennifer D said...

Choosing a favorite movie for me would be like trying to choose a favorite child.
Right of the top of my head I would have to say Shirley Valentine.I love it for the plot, the scenery and the humor. It's a great one. A simple 80's movie that always makes me feel good. That just made me think of John Hughes films... hum... I love Pretty in Pink and Sixteen candles.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a fav.and I really like Quigley Down Under.
My Fair Lady and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is great.OH... Forrest Gump and The Color Purple.
Well I can't really choose.

I have seen The Whale Rider and I loved it. That is a very good choice.

P.S. I Love You is a fantastic movie.

Land of shimp said...

Well this is ever so slightly embarrassing, but I think I'll survive. The very first one that popped into my head?

Galaxy Quest. I know, I too would prefer to think that something far more highbrow would pop into my head, but no. Galaxy Quest! Never give up, never surrender!

"The writer of this episode should die!!"

Wild amounts of fun, without being so goofy as to be stupid.

Land of shimp said...

Almost as soon as I hit enter, it was pointed out to me by my always helpful son, the line is:

"Whoever wrote this episode should die!"

It's a bit of a family favorite ;-)

PhilipH said...

I seldom watch 'new' movies Jo. I do like to watch, and re-watch many times, films like The Third Man, Brief Encounter, The Man Between, Wizard of Oz - which are my top favourites.

natural girl said...

I live in New Zealand and love the Whale Rider. Also love the Big Lebowski ( saw it again recently on tv still funny). Favourite move at he moment is Seven Pounds - highly recommend it.also love O Brother Where Art Thou.

Owen said...

Out of all the thousands and thousands of films out there, it's hard to pick a favorite, but one that stands out in my mind, which is relatively obscure, is called "Breaker Morant", a story which took place in South Africa during the Boer War... a gripping tale from start to finish. It was based on a book titled "Scapegoats of the Empire"

Owen said...

Oh, and thanks very much for the tip about this one from New Zealand...

Jennifer D said...

Oh, I love O brother where art thou( thanks natural girl), hilarious and smart.
I also love Almost Famous and have you seen Across the Universe? Amazing.

Kathryn said...

My favorite, favorite? Oh, A Knight's Tale.

When i saw it i had no idea who Heath Ledger was. I love the movie, particularly the dance scene. I know there was a lot of criticism of the movie being made with a lot of modern stuff with that which is anachronistic, but i loved it just the same.

Carol E. said...

I've seen "Whale Rider" and loved it. Have you seen "The Rabbit Fence?" I loved that one! Kind of in the same genre as Whale Rider, you might say.

When asked this question I always say "To Kill a Mockingbird" is my favorite. It's close enough to true to be a good, quick answer to the question.

Brenda said...

Thanks for recommending this movie. I will have to look for it. I can't name just one. There are just too many. I have a few I really like that aren't real well known. One is "The Mission" with Robert DeNiro and Jeromy Irons. "My Left Foot" is one that I haven't seen for a long time, but remember liking it a lot. "The Visitor" and "Gran Torino" were two of my favorite recent movies. The old classics are always great.

houndstooth said...

I have actually seen Whale Rider and enjoyed it a great deal. I loved that Pai overcame so many obstacles with such grace.

As far as favorite movies go, I don't know that I could name just one. I've always loved Out of Africa and I have dreamed about going on safari since I saw the movie at age thirteen. Another movie I absolutely love is Little Miss Sunshine. I felt like that movie really spoke to me and a lot of my experiences growing up. There's a scene in the movie when the older brother has this total meltdown when he realizes that he's colorblind and therefore won't be able to become a pilot. Nobody in his family knows how to relate to him, and then his younger sister walks down the hill to sit down beside him. There are just so many things I love about that movie. It's funny, touching and relatable.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

The Way We Were...

Okay, so I'm a romantic who doesn't always get a happy (albeit appropriate) ending.

Again, what a great question.

Jo said...

Michelle, oh yes, Forrest Gump. And who else could have played it but Tom Hanks? It makes me laugh and cry too. :-)

Jennifer, I love, love, love Pretty in Pink. Goodness! I love Ducky. :-) And yes, My Fair Lady. I watched that again the other night, and I never get tired of it.

Alane, I have never seen Galaxy Quest, but now I am going to put it on my list. And I hope whoever wrote the episode doesn't die. *heh*

Philip, Brief Encounter, oh goodness yes, with Trevor Howard. What a bittersweet movie. Have you seen Waterloo Bridge? And just today I watched The Heiress.

Natural Girl, yes I saw Seven Pounds just recently, and I loved it. It's wonderful...!

Owen, yes, Breaker Morant is one of my favorite movies. My grandfather was a Captain in the British Army in the Boer War, so I love any movies to do with the Boer War.

Jennifer, I haven't seen Across the Universe. Another one to put on my list, from your recommendation. Thank you! And yes, Almost Famous is excellent too.

Kathryn, I haven't seen A Knight's Tale, but everyone I know who has seen it says it's fabulous. Heath Ledger was so good, wasn't he? What a loss!

Carol, yes, I saw The Rabbit Fence, and it was so touching and moving. And of course, yes, To Kill a Mockingbird. Gregory Peck was wonderful as Aticus Finch, wasn't he? Gregory Peck could read the phone book, and I would watch it.

Brenda, you have listed four of my favorite movies! My Left Foot was incredible with Daniel Day Lewis. And of course The Visitor is in my list of top ten movies. Richard Jenkins...! What a performance.

Houndstooth, I watch Out of Africa every time it comes on. And Little Miss Sunshine is brilliant. Have you ever seen a movie with a more wonderful ending? Pure joy!

Connie, The Way We Were -- yes! Oh, it's so hard to have a favorite movie with all these wonderful movies, isn't it?

Cloudia said...

Whale Rider was a sensation here in Hawaii.

Once Upon a Time in America

World of Henry Orient

Bell Book & Candle

Barefoot in the park


Trouble with Angels



Annie Hall/ Manhattan

I'm forgetting some...

I'm revealing too much, LOL!

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It has got to be "Running on Empty", a 1988 film by Sidney Lumet. As one critic put it; "Possibly the finest and most underappreciated film by Sidney Lumet, this movie has moments which grab you by the throat -- they are so powerful. The cast, which is outstanding (Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti, and River Phoenix in particular), is part of the reason for its power." I have trouble describing the movie and putting it in a neat compartment which is probably one of the reasons that make it stand out.

If I have to, I would use the following words though them seem inadequate to really capture the movie; loving, tragic, inspiring, life-affirming, dealing with guilt, multi-generational, parenthood, coming of age, family, political etc.

Oh, ignore me but see the movie. was nominated for 2 Oscars and won 3 international awards. (perhaps you thought that I would suggest "Alvin and the Chipmunks"?)

Jo said...

Calvin, I have never seen that movie, but I Googled it, and it looks fantastic...! It won a ton of awards and nominations as well, and it has a fabulous cast. I'm going to see if my local video store has it. Thanks for recommending it.

And yes, here is something you might get a kick out of. :-)

Blue Ridge Mountains said...

Doctor Zhivago is one of my oldtime favorites

carolyn said...

I also loved Whale Rider, but my all time favorite is Enchanted April. Four very different women, in post WWI London, rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. It stars several great actors, one being the wonderful Joan Plowright.
A magical movie.

Mary Ellen said...

I had heard about the Whale Rider and thought it would be a good movie. For some reason, I just forgot all about it! I think I'll rent it this week before I forget about it again.

I can't pick one favorite...I'm too old and have seen so many good movies. My favorite old movie is "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. I really love Marilyn Monroe...I think she was a very unappreciated actress.

I also love Katherine Hepburn movies...and Cary Grant, and Fred Astaire..the list goes on.

The latest movie I saw was the Sherlock Holmes movie with Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. That was a lot better than I expected it to be.

Jo said...

Blue Ridge Mountains, oh yes...! Dr. Zhivago. I saw it again recently. Did you know it was filmed in Canada? When are you going to start posting again, BTW? :-)

Carolyn, oh, gosh, I had forgotten about Enchanted April. That was a beautiful movie...!

Mary Ellen, oh, goodness yes! Some Like It Hot. I love the scene in the upper berth of the train. The Seven Year Itch is also wonderful. Golly, so many good movies, hey!? :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

I've seen Whale Rider. I thought it was pretty good.

Jo said...

Charles, it's great, isn't it?

The Fullmers said...

I LOVE this movie as well! Thanks for sharing it with others, it really is a great movie.

young-ecletic-encounters said...

This is my first visit to your site. What a wonderful idea for a post. I have very eclectic taste in movies and it would be hard to pick a favorite, but these come to my mind first
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Knight's Tale
Practical Magic
Dead Again
Secret of Roan Inish
Benny and Joon
We just got Netflix and ideas for new movies for me was a great idea.
Thanks Johnina :^D

Carla said...

Calamity Jane (1953) with Doris Day. That's my all time favorite. I love old movies.

Burcu said...

Hi Jo,
I like reading your blog as long as i get the chance.
The trailer of the movie is so nice, i'll see if i can find it.
I don't know if you had watched the movie ' Rain Man'. Dustin Hoffman and Tom Curise are starring. A perfect story of an autistic man ( Dustin Hoffman ). Nobody could perform that realistic and good.

Have a great week Jo!

Greetings from Northwich

Jo said...

The Fullmers, I'm glad you have seen it. It's wonderful, isn't it?

Hi, Johnina, :-) every one of those movies you mentioned on your list are some of my favorites too. Benny and Joon was so cute. I love Johnny Depp. And I loved Practical Magic too. Nicole Kidman was at her best in that movie.

Carla, I love Doris Day too. Did you ever see The Man Who Knew Too Much? That was where she sang Que Sera, Sera.

Burcu, greetings from Vancouver. :-) Rain Man ... yes! That was a fabulous movie. I saw it again the other day. It's one of those movies you can watch many times.

Kimberly said...

Classic - Gone with the Wind. I love it & even though I have the DVD version - I still watch it when it comes on "plain" TV.

kenju said...

In answer to that question, I always say "Dr. Zhivago". I loved it and it has stuck with me for decades. The newer favorite is "August Rush" and if you haven't seen it - do so ASAP!!

Louisiana Belle said...

I'll have to check your movie recommendation out. Anything with New Zealand as the backdrop has to be good. Such a beautiful place.

As for my favorite movie, that would be difficult to pick just one. However, I did see Crazy Heart last weekend and LOVED it. Jeff Bridges is THE MAN.

Jo said...

Kimberly, oh, yes...! Gone With the Wind. I watched it just the other day. I never get tired of it.

Kenju, I LOVE August Rush. I have seen it twice. WHAT A MOVE..! Yes...!

Louisiana Belle, I have seen the trailer for Crazy Heart, and it looks wonderful. I love Jeff Bridges. He looks perfect for the role in Crazy Heart. Did you ever see him in Star Man?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is one of my all-time favorite movies, too. In fact, when the Blockbuster's Video store near me closed several months ago and sold off their stock, I purchased a copy because I knew it was a movie I would want to see again and again. It was stunning in every possible way, and it didn't hurt that my upbringing in a severely male chauvinist home made me root for this courageous girl that much more. Love it!

Paula Slade said...

I have three favorites (in this order of preference) "On Golden Pond," "Chariots of Fire," and "The Picture of Dorian Gray."

Mia said...

Citizen Kane.

People always want to know everybody's favourites. My favourite colour, don't care. Favourite food, everything. Favourite number, don't care.

But some things I can list without hesitation. Favourite band, the Beatles. Favourite helicopter, 206. Favourite movie, Citizen Kane. I can watch it every day I know that if I live to 100 I'll never be able to do better.

Lisa Erickson said...

I would have to pick Whale Rider also. Love that movie! Love her single sightedness! It is really such a strong movie!

Zach "AKA The Director" said...

Whale Rider is an excellent choice! My favorite movie of all time is The Shawshank Redemption. I can't quite remember how many times I have seen it but I could never get tired of watching it.

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