Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A-Z of Cinematic Uplifting

So, some scientists have deemed this day, the last Monday of January to be the most depressing day of the year. Which makes sense if you think about it: all the holiday spirit has run out for sure, the cold/rain/ice/early sunsets set people on edge and it's another manic Monday after all.

But why, say I, do we give in to the scientists? After all, they all laughed at Christopher Columbus, when he said the world was round. In a similar fashion, being still in the residue glow of "Up in the Air" (I have told every man, woman, child and vaguely intelligent-looking sentient creature how much I love that film) I sat there like a geek and compiled this. My (drumroll please) A - Z of films that will make you happy/inspired/proud to be alive/at the least not regretting you watched these films. Lights!

Amelie - A classic bit of J-P Jeunet, you will believe one person can find and cause a disproportionate amount of happiness for the world around her. Plus how can you hate any film that includes an orgasm montage?!
Big Fish - One of my all time favourite movies. Guarantees soul cleansing tears of pure joy unless you're dead inside. The shining happy heart of Tim Burton movies. (Honourable mentions: Billy Elliot/Bucket List.)
Casablanca - Just an indescribably wonderful film, the characters are brilliantly portrayed with character nuances in all the right places. Bogart is intense yet vulnerable, Bergman just defies you not to fall in love with her. Beautiful. This film has its rep for a reason.
Die Hard - "Yippee Kay Yay...." All the blokes know what I'm talking about. Everyman adventure spectacle. Plus Chandler, Joey and Ross love it.
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind - Quirky to a fault (come on, Charlie Kaufman wrote it, duh) but so endearing. An ingeniously cast pair in Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey.
Forrest Gump - Because life IS like a box of chocolates. Tom Hanks + Robbie Zemeckis, was this ever going to be anything other than genius? A rollercoaster ride through Forrest's life, you'll laugh and cry with him.
Garden State - Zach Braff penned, this is heartfelt, understated and cathartic. I expect many people have felt like the ironically-monikered Largeman, and for them, this is the anecdote that may skew their points of view back to the positive.
Happy Feet - Happy penguins. Dancing penguins. Dancing penguins to disco covers. Wake the heck up and SMILE!
It's a Wonderful Life - As Christmassy as turkey, crackers and passing out after dinner, James Stewart uses his guy-next-door to heartbreaking, lifechanging and soul-raising effect. A festive must. Capra + Stewart earn their keep once more as a partnership.
Jerry Maguire - It'll have you at "hello". Like so many films on this list, you go through the terrible crushing lows, but the high at the end is completely worth it. Tom Cruise in one of his best performances, and Cuba Gooding Jr at his Oscar winning best! Plus one of the few films where Renee Zellweger actually endears herself to me.
(To) Kill a Mockingbird - Not as completely happy as some of the others, but one of the greatest films I have seen, and certainly one of the best law-related films I have seen. Wonderful book, wonderful film. I would highly recommend both, if only to restore your faith in humanity, democracy, brotherhood and the law.
Lion King - Hamlet +  Disney at its best + Hans Zimmer + Elton John. If you have a soul you'll love this film. Everything the light touches will be your kingdom. (Honourable mentions: Lost in Translation/Love Actually)
Mary Poppins - A very British film busting through the adverse effects of the stiff upper lip and 'children should be seen and not heard' tradition. Julie Andrews is a wonderful triple-threat and Dick Van Dyke is chirpy and addictive, despite the abysmal cock-er-ney accent!
(My) Neighbour Totoro - All the charm and childlike wonder of Disney with a quirky Japanese twist. I love the Studio Ghibli films and if you like Disney and broadening your horizons, I daresay you will love this too!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Jack Nicholson and his kooky supporting cast make this adaptation an acting tour de force, fully bringing out all the charm and character traits from the book. No matter the ending, the scenes of the asylum inmates finding their confidence again under McMurphy's anarchic approach will bring many a smile to your face.
Princess Mononoke - another, more famous contribution from Studio Ghibli. Rather more adult than Totoro, but no less impacting, wonderfully rendered and captivating.
Quantum of Solace - Ugh. I needed a 'Q' ok? Maybe this isn't the best example (Casino Royale/Goldeneye/Dr No would be better) but James Bond films overall are just massive example of high-octane action! Like Die Hard, a vicarious trip through macho ubermensch victory!
Return of the King (Lord of the Rings) - I personally prefer 'Fellowship' but this makes the list as the completion of this epic journey, a thank-you for sitting through 10-12 hours of sheer slog through Middle Earth for which we receive you get the mother of film pay offs. More battles than you can shake Anduril at, all the characters' stories get tied up suitably and perfectly, and thus ends with no small degree of satisfaction and emotion one of the best film trilogies we'll ever see.
Singin' in the Rain - An all-singing, all-dancing fun-filled journey through the things that make this genre of film great. One of my favourite 'cheer up!' films, and now I pass this along to y'all. (Honourable mentions: Shawshank Redemption/Sound of Music/Slumdog Millionaire)
The Truman Show - Again, Jim Carrey? Who'da thunk it? Dulling his comedic side to make him more genuinely vulnerable and universally loved, set to a wonderful Phillip Glass soundtrack, another journey through an everyman's life that will have you rooting for Truman every single step of the way.
Up in the Air - Understated but outrageous beautiful in its own way, this film reminds us that it's never too late to make the dramatic life change to help yourselves and those around you and that reaching and falling short is better than setting your sights lower. (Honourable mention: UP!)
Vanilla Sky - Though I actually prefer the hispanic original (Abre Los Ojos) this return to the Crowe-Cruise partnership again reaps wonderful results. Think the Truman Show with a more philosophical and askew approach. If nothing else you can look at Penelope Cruz and the brilliant cinematography.
Wall-E - For a film where the main protagonists are robots and the first half hour includes not a word of dialogue, there is a huge amount of emotional content here. Wall-E himself is clumsy and ditsy, but his zest for life, even among the refuse of the husk of Earth, is infectious and through his tribulations and triumphs, your heart dips and soars with 'his'.
X-men - The only 'X' that came to mind! This film and Spiderman show how comic book movies should be made, the perfect blend of geekiness, SFX and personal backstory makes this film perfectly enjoyable, and less depressing than its superior sequel and travesty of a third-parter.
Y Tu Mama Tambien - A coming of age Mexican film with a great soundtrack and an even better cast. Exploring the end of boyhood and skirting on sexual tensions, this film isn't groundbreaking, but one of those films and sucks you along in the fervour of its swirling colours and lifestyle and you'll go along gladly, with a massive grin on your face all the way.
Zorro (Mask of) - 'Z'? You think of one. Ahem. Unabashedly popcorn, the Californian setting with Antonio Banderas (for the laydeez), Catherine Zeta Jones (for the fellas) and Anthony Hopkins (for those grumble about young upstart actors), this adventure makes you feel like a child sitting too close to the telly :D

p.s. Give me a break. It's hard to find things for Q, X and Z, darnit!
p.p.s. You totally saw it, didn't you? I was bound to mention Up in the Air.

23 Response to A-Z of Cinematic Uplifting

26 January 2010 at 02:07

Awesome suggestions!
I am going to have to have a movie marathon one of these evenings!

26 January 2010 at 02:07

Great list! I'll have to add the ones I haven't seen to my Netflix queue.

26 January 2010 at 02:30

I love the soundtrack to the your post which you provided! That's kind of a fun concept...I may have to play with it in my own little way (and credit you for the idea of course).

Also some thoughts:
Amelie: LOVE it.

Die Hard: Ladies can love this movie too! Yippee Kay Yay!

Garden State: all time favorite, a movie that clearly shows the importance of a soundtrack to a great movie

Wall-E: I would have loved it even without the little dialogue it had! He and Eva are so cute!

Zorro: Thanks for mentioning Zorro/Antonio Banderas, my sword wielding crush

Great list!

26 January 2010 at 02:54

I dig the list (and I just watched part of Forrest Gump last night). And for Z... Zoolander! :)

26 January 2010 at 03:00

Great list and some movies I really, really love on that list! Mary Poppins - LOVE IT! (Also, I agree Q, X, and Z are VERY hard movie titles. Hard.)

26 January 2010 at 03:26

Great list! I love the idea! (And I had no idea that today was the most depressing day of the year!)
I'm definitely going to have to check out Studio Ghibli--thanks for the tip!

26 January 2010 at 03:32

I want to hug you for including The Truman Show on your list! What a great friggin' movie! Even thinking about it brought a smile to my face!

26 January 2010 at 03:35

Zoolander! D'oh! Though that's more funny than uplifting ;)

Hey, glad you all enjoy the suggestions! If any of them fail to satisfy, I will take any flak you care to send my way, so confident that you will happy-cry/laugh/whoop at each one! :D

26 January 2010 at 03:49

I totally haven't watched all of these.. Youtube wouldn't even let me watch that Amelie video (due to inappropriateness and my age factor! ;D) but I have to commend you on the Singin' in the Rain one.. LOVE IT.

26 January 2010 at 04:03

Oh I LOVE this list!! And not only because there are some great picks on there, but also because it didn't make me feel like a loser. Usually when someone asks if I saw such and such movie, 9 times out of 10 the answer is "no." I'm horrible with them! If I don't catch it at the theater, I have a hard time dedicating two hours to a DVD.

Can't wait to fill in my gaps for this list :)

26 January 2010 at 05:09

I've got 16 of those I know for sure. Maybe a few more seen but not repeated.

(To) Kill a Mockingbird - great great great - Love Harper Lee

26 January 2010 at 06:19

ooh, good choices. But... I need to watch more films! There's some on here that I haven't seen and really really must get round to!

26 January 2010 at 09:30

Great list, I've seen about 12 of these and will have to check out some more. There's nothing like a good film to lose yourself in when you are feeling blue, especially an uplifting one.

I'd agree with Crystal above, Z should be for Zoolander - I love that film, so funny. Although Mask of Zoro also works for me too.

27 January 2010 at 01:23

I so highly approve of this list it's ridiculous. I started typing all the movies I approve and it basically just turned into a re-write of everything you had. There are about 5 or 6 I haven't seen, but I'm gonna have to watch them because it's obvious you have impeccable taste!

27 January 2010 at 02:51

So glad you chose Amelie and not Avatar for letter A!
I've seen most of those movies but still there are a few that I've yet to see.
And yeah, I loved Die Hard too!

27 January 2010 at 21:52

This is awesome! I might have to steal this post idea.

27 January 2010 at 23:40

Garden State is my all time favorite movie. It could lift my spirits no matter how bad a day I had.

31 January 2010 at 06:53

Fantastic list! You've definitely got some of my favorite movies of all time on here! I will have to be sure to watch the ones on here I *haven't* seen...

1 February 2010 at 01:23

Ooooh this reminds me that I need to get around to watching Casablanca, asap.

2 February 2010 at 06:40

I may keep coming back to this post. I haven't watched all of these but love some of them. :)

5 February 2010 at 02:37

Awesome list!!! Amelie, of course. Princess Mononoke, a gem! I should start a list like this too...

9 February 2010 at 17:33

Great list and a few on there I need to check out.

10 February 2010 at 00:07

I've seen ALL these movies except (My) Neighbour Totoro. Which means I must go find it because your other suggestions I have either really love or thought was decent. (mostly love though)