Personal Favorites: My "Ten "Desert Island" Films (The First Five)

Not only is it fun to compile a list of favorites, but it can also be really enlightening, as the artworks you love tend to say a lot about who you are and what you value in life.  It's interesting to look at what your these pieces share in common, where they overlap, and what that says about you.  On this particular post I'm focusing in on movies, as film is the medium I consume the most of and as far as crossover appeal and what they share? 

Most of my favorite films have elements of fantasy, largely because of the escapist appeal, but also because it helps to use larger than life characters, creatures, natures and possibilities to point up and speak on more complex issues.  All of the films in my list are hopeful.  Even if darkness wins at the end of the movie, the victory will not be lasting.  This is something I both believe, and ocassionally doubt, so these movies have provided a lot of solace in times of uncertainty.  Another thing that most of these films feature is the prominence of strong, risk taking women, and they often feature underdogs, or characters that face a world that underestimates their possibilities. 

These are the films I can watch again and again, so while I may love "Brokeback Mountain" it's not on this list as 've only seen it once and would have to be in a really secure place in my life to want to watch it again.  All that said, here is my current list of favorite films (in no particular order).  Yes, three of them feature Judy Garland, but while her presence helps to really highlight the reasons I love the film and may contribute greatly to why I love the film, it is hardly the sole reason. 

10.  Rear Window:  Pure candy.  The movie which looks into why we love to "watch", gives it's audience so many things to look at and puzzle over (the dog loving couple who sleeps out on their balcony due to the oppressive heat, Miss Lonely Heart and her constant search for love, Miss Torso and the swarm of men surrounding her) the least of which is that man in the apartment across the way.  Toss in the no nonsense, blunt brilliance of Thelma Ritter, the beauty of Grace Kelly lounging about in Edith Head creations, and the frustrating nonchalance in Jimmy Stewart's ability to take her for granted and you have a sumptuous and thrilling movie.

9.  The Clock:  It's such a simple heartfelt story of love about a soldier on leave and the office girl who shows him around New York.  It pays tribute to the ordinary people all around us, and to love in the midst of chaos.  It doesn't hurt that Garland (in her only non-singing role at MGM)is absolutely stunning as the romantic lead.  Bonuses:  It's interesting to note that Richard Linklater made this film required viewing for Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke when they were making Before Sunset, and that Stephen Sondheim loved it so much that he attempted a musical adaptation of it early in his career.

8. The Muppet Movie:  I love quest films and this is one of the best.  It's so ingeniously crafted, heartfelt and bizarre; a lifeline to anyone who has ever felt like a misfit.  I wore out the movie soundtrack as a kid, and had the poster hanging on my wall.

7.  Defending Your Life:  Like a lot of the movies on this list, it not only has a beautiful message and a concise story, but has so many nuggets to enjoy like a great cameo by Shirley Maclaine, a charming performance by Meryl Streep, and a fascinating limbo world called Judgement City where you wait out your fate and in the meantime can bowl, review your past lives and eat as much as you want without getting full or fat.  At the heart of this film for me though, is Albert Brooks and his intense relatability. 

6.  A Star is Born (1954):  So mythic.  It's the ultimate Hollywood tragedy, and it's beautifully shot by George Cukor, written by Moss Hart, with a performance by Garland in which she both sings and acts her overflowing heart out.  If you are my friend, and you are at all willing, we've probably watched this together, or it's on our list of things to do.  It's my personal favorite.