Sorry it took so long for me to get to this post! Teaching has been crazy busy lately, so personal writing was a necessary sacrifice. Today I had a happy repose from my work so I decided to continue on with this list!
I hate leaving things unfinished, so before I start any other posts or studies, I need to finish this for myself. So without further ado, let’s move forward with my top 20 favorite movies.
20. Kubo and the Two Strings (2014)
I was on my church mission in Russia when this movie came out. My mother and brother wrote to me, telling me how much I would enjoy it. Since I love animation so much, I believed them with almost no questions.
I immediately looked this movie up when I got back home in 2017 and I fell in love. I enjoyed the pure artistry of it, and how innovative the stop-motion animation was. Above all though, it made me ponder a lot about family and life after death.
What truly impressed me about the story was the villain didn’t get killed off. In the end, Kubo gave them the chance to live a better life in the light. When I see this movie, I want to care more for my family members, whether they are alive or dead.
19. Spiderman Into the Spiderverse (2018)
I have a sort of confession to make. I don’t care about superhero movies that much. (GASP!) I really try to, but after a while I get bored with the same type of stories over and over. So, I didn’t jump up and down when I heard about this movie. It wasn’t until after it left theaters I heard rave reviews from my friends who study animation.
I couldn’t count myself a true animation lover if I didn’t give the movie a try, so I rented it and watched it alone in my apartment. It blew me away. I think I rewatched it three or four times in a row, just so I could study it and drink in its amazing story, characters, animation, and music.
What truly impressed me about this story was at its core it pointed out how everyone can be a hero in their own way. Our life circumstances can be similar but we choose how we react and use those experiences to grow. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching this film.
18. Life of Pi (2012)
I’ve talked before about how I finally relented and read the book this movie is based on. Initially, I didn’t want to touch it because I heard it had cannibalism. (I can’t stomach it.) But I saw the commercial for this movie and decided it was time I took the plunge.
I didn’t get it. It took reading the book two times and watching the movie in theaters for me to finally understand how remarkable this story is. Belief is based on faith, and brings a sense of wonder into our lives. That is what this movie conveys in a wonderful way for me.
When I watch this movie, I feel like the world slows down and I can meditate on my core beliefs and important experiences. I try not to watch it with anyone else, because it is a personal time for me.
17. The Fall (2006)
This is one of the most underrated movies I’ve ever watched. It is also one of the weirdest rated movies I’ve watched. It is rated R but I honestly don’t get. . . why. . . maybe it was the references to suicide? That aside, I saw this movie for the first time maybe six or seven years ago and fell in love almost immediately.
This story is not very straightforward. It takes awhile to dissect its intricate layers. I appreciate that, but love its message about living with our sorrows and facing difficult subjects like suicide, chronic depression, debilitating injuries, and immigrant struggles.
I also love how what we see is how the little girl imagines his story. She has such a vivid imagination and I love her straightforward, innocent way of looking at the world.
16. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
No matter how old I get, I love going back to this class stop-motion movie. I watch it every Halloween and know all the songs by heart. It is rather ironic how much I love this movie, because I don’t like to dwell on the evil side of Halloween.
I think I secretly have a German soul that appreciates the macab, or shadowy side of dark fairytales. I love how Jack’s journey to fill his mundane life isn’t towards reimagining himself but opening himself to love.
15. A Hidden Life (2019)
I was flabbergasted in 2019 when I read about this movie and realized no one was showing it in theaters. I looked and looked for any streaming service showing it and ended up renting it for a few days for a ridiculous amount. Reviews for this movie are few and far between, and normally they write it off.
I honestly think this is because of how internal Christian beliefs are in this story. Since the general public hasn’t had the chance to see it, unless by some miracle they hear about it, there aren’t many who have taken the time to see it. This is a shame. It is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen.
It takes place during WWII, and focuses on an Austrian man who refuses, even after torture and imprisonment, to support the Nazi cause. He points out the evil happening around Europe and doesn’t let fear keep him from holding firm to what he believes. To him, nothing should be able to rewrite truth, even powerful dictators who can kill you without a second glance.
14. The Song of the Sea (2014)
Of all the films Cartoon Saloon has made, this is the one that has made the deepest impact on me. It touches on grief and how we move beyond loss and pain in a way that isn’t forceful. It’s as if we as the audience are given a chance to face these sorrows through beautiful imagery and music without the message being shoved down out throats.
That aside, I go back to this movie every once in awhile to remember it’s okay to grieve as long as it doesn’t immobile us. Happiness is a choice, but also a consequence of diligent work and searching.
This is also quite possibly the most beautiful movie I’ve ever laid eyes on. You’d have to watch it to understand this.
13. Princess Mononoke (1997)
I had the hardest time accepting this Hayao Miyazaki movie, because of how violent it is compared to his others. The first time I watched it I wrote it off as “not for me” because I was a rather sensitive 19-year-old. Boy, did my opinion change dramatically over time.
Animation wise, this movie is spectacular, especially considering it came out in 1997. Miyazaki doesn’t cut corners, and I’m very sure this movie had an ENORMOUS budget. If you are in to animation and haven’t taken the time to study this movie in detail, I’d definitely recommend it.
What really stands out to me in this film is its message on balance and living life fully rather than dying fruitlessly. The English dub for this movie translates the message Miyazaki tried to convey for his two main characters. In the end, Ashitaka asks San to live with him in love rather then alone festering because of hatred.
I also ponder a lot about the earth and how I treat it after I take time to watch this movie. Always wonder what small changes I can make so I can live in harmony with the earth.
12. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
My younger self would have never guessed how much I would come to love this movie. Sure, I like a nice romance every now and then but I wasn’t o very enthusiastic about them as a general rule. But, as time progressed, I kept going back to this movie and wondering about how to build a healthy foundation with my future husband.
It is truly remarkable to me how many young man come in whining when they have to sit through this movie and leave wanting to read the original Jane Austen novel when it finishes. I think this movie pulls off its romance in a way that doesn’t feel corny or pushy by not forcing romantic moments or relying on intense emotion to lead its characters forward.
By this movie’s end, it is such a beautiful thing to see these two finally together, their pride set aside as they embrace the future together.
11. Pinnochio (1940)
What a wonder this movie is to me. I said before I have a German soul, and this movie is proof that this has been so since I was barely five or so years old. My mother says I must have watched this movie over a hundred times when I was younger.
Being the INFJ I am, I often sit back and wonder what it was that intrigued me so as a child. After much reflection, I’ve concluded it must be its integral messages on honesty, bravery, and sacrifice. I’ve always had a thing for “how not to live books” because they illustrate plainly consequences for detrimental and healthy choices.
Perhaps it is the black and white thinking I’ve worked around all my life that makes this movie so appealing to me. Perhaps it is the amazing animation, or the songs that get stuck in my head. Overall though, I believe I’ve loved this movie so ardently throughout my life because it gives me a chance to study and understand the nature of good, honest, life choices.
Thank you for reading! See you for the next segment.
Interesting to include “A Hidden Life” and its Christian themes. I should give that a look with that considered, I might be surprised myself. Reminds me of similar movies about Christian laity resisting a tyrannical monarch such as British flicks “Becket” (1964) and “Man For All Seasons” (1966) concerning Sts. Thomas Becket and Thomas More respectively.
I liked A Man For All Seasons. I saw that movie in college.
I saw the film when I was around 8-12 years old, the court scene is one I remember most. I should watch it in full again, it’s been a long time!