The last part of my favorite movies list is incredibly tricky. Even now as I look through my choices I don’t know for certain if I chose correctly. But, for the sake of time, I’ll leave them as they are.
That being said, these top ten films will most likely fluctuate many, many times in the future. What does say consistent is how ardently I’ve admired them over these many years.
Of all the movies I’ve gone over so far, these are the ones who most likely have made the biggest impact on my life. It’s as Mary Angelou said.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Mary Angelou
So let’s dive deep and take a look at ten films that changed my life.
10. The Lion King (1994)
If I watched Pinocchio (1940) one hundred or more times when I was little, I must have seen this movie twice as much. Looking back, it’s no wonder I felt drawn to this movie as a child. When I made my 50 favorite movies list last time, I think it had been too long since I had actually paid attention to this movie.
Now, after I’ve looked over its scenes and listened to its soundtrack multiple times, I’ve realized how near and dear this story is to me, even after all these years. Whether it is the beautiful messages on death, taking responsibility, understanding power, or facing difficult trauma I feel I’ll keep looking back to this story fondly for a long time.
9. Tarzan (1999)
For those who don’t know me, this may seem like a strange choice. Generally, people don’t tend to remember this movie. Many think it’s average and. . . I don’t agree. My family may be tired of hearing me talk about this movie, but I thoroughly enjoy its story, animation, and music.
Although this movie may not be particularly marketable, I do admire its bold take on family, identity, love, and strength. I read the art book for this movie and I was blown away with how much work animators like Glen Keane put into Tarzan’s design and character animation. (Hint: You should read the book if you have a chance. Good luck finding it for a cheap price.)
Above all, this movie is calming to watch. It has beautiful moments of stillness I feel are missing in most action-based movies and Three-dimensional characters I love watching.
8. Howl’s Moving Castle (2006)
My second Hayao Miyazaki love! When I was sixteen, I saw this movie for the first time after hearing it was good from a friend. I was barely dipping my toes in the ocean called anime and manga and thought it was a safe place to start. I watched it at least ten times in a row and fell in love with the story.
There aren’t traditional villains or heroes. In fact, Sophie looks old for most of the movie and Howl is somewhat of a sop before he starts changing. The ANIMATION. IS. BEAUTIFUL! And good golly, the musical score by Joe Hisaishi is my favorite of all time! I think I’ve listened to it at least 100 times. . .
This story unfolds like a dream for me. I appreciate its creativity and vision and never get tired of introducing it to people.
7. The Man Who Laughs (1928)
I go back to this movie every once in awhile to remind myself what true beauty and love look like. If you are not familiar with this film and love old gothic black and white movies, this is the one for you! It features a man surgically cursed to always be laughing. He loves a young blind girl Dea but doesn’t dare go through his love because he’s afraid she’ll reject him when she knows what he truly looks like.
I originally watched this move because I was going through my German Expressionism phase. It quickly became my favorite film from the group. Here is what I said in my cinematic essay:
This film unquestionably captured the inner struggle of a man ruled by his disfigurement; in how his peers perceived him as a freak and how he regarded himself in the same light. It also created an identifiable figure through Gwynplaine, a man fighting for love and identity.
It is the story of a man who allowed himself to love, found the courage to stand against cruelty, and triumphed in the end against those who sought to control his life. When I watch this film, I don’t see a tragic deformed figure like Quasimodo or the creature in Frankenstein. I see a man who found peace and realized true beauty is found within.
6. Coraline (2009)
I’m pretty shocked it took me this long to realize how much I love this stop-motion creepy kid’s movie. I saw it back in 2010 or so and thought to myself, “This is my kind of movie.” I actually like it more than the book (don’t tell anyone.)
I have a thing for stories that reiterate people have the power against evil forces in their life. The Other Mother can’t take Coraline’s soul unless Coraline lets her. That is a powerful lesson for children. Too many times we think we have to give in to evil just because it is strong but people have more power and strength than they give themselves credit for.
The animation and world building in this movie are absolutely fascinating. No matter how many times I go back and watch this movie, I find myself sucked into the world and marveling in the voice acting.
5. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
You might have noticed I tend to gravitate towards stories where the main character goes through a metamorphosis of some kind. Moses in this movie definitely does this. When I was younger I knew I loved this movie but didn’t really know why. Now, I know it’s because I love watching Moses grow closer to God and change.
The visuals are stunning. The music is glorious. The characters are relatable and not cartoony. This is truly a movie that takes it subject matter seriously, without being too rigid. I go back to this movie to remember how I felt as a child, seeing Moses grow and understanding God is more powerful the kings, sorrow, or self-doubt.
4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1994)
Back to my childhood. I have such fond memories of this movie. I laughed at the gargoyles antics as a youngling, fell in love with Febus when I was a tween, and thoroughly appreciated its message when I was old enough to understand its messages on identity, beauty, self-worth, faith, and obsession.
I don’t think there has ever been another Disney movie so bold in its subject matter. It addresses issues like disabilities and how they affect a person’s standing in society, parental abuse, lust, and abusing governmental authority.
I love introducing this movie to people who have never had the chance to see it. People crank about the gargoyles being annoying, but I don’t think it really matters. Oh, I forgot to mention how amazing the music is! When I hear the songs they get stuck in my head for days.
A little pause. These top three movies technically should be tied. I put them in the order they are in because I recently watched the top pick and have it fresh in my mind. If I would be honest with myself though, I have no clue what my true favorite movie is. My tastes and opinions change all the time based on my moods and experiences.
3. The Wind Rises (2013)
Since I’ve already talked about this movie many times, I’ll reiterate what I wrote several years ago.
Everyone who knows me understands how I feel about this movie. I love all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films but this one holds an especially important place in my heart. I love its protagonist Jiro Hirokoshi and his quest to fulfill his dreams to create beautiful airplanes. I love the movie’s theme, “The wind is Rising, we must live” and how well the story, animation and character development exemplifies it. I love his relationship with Naoko.
The story centers on dreams to be sure, but it also focuses on living: living through a time of tragedy, living for a loved one, and living for a dream doomed to be exploited. I marveled watching Jiro grow from boy to man. His genuine love for others and kind demeanor touched me. At a glance he is no one extraordinary, yet for me, he was one of the most inspiring heroes and men I have ever seen in film.
2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
I’ve also talked about this movie a lot. I didn’t appreciate very much as a child. I was more interested in The Lion King and Pinnochio to think about it too much. But I started studying animation for fun and realized how beautiful and universal this movie is. I said earlier I love stories where the characters transform throughout the movie. Beast epitomizes this.
I have a special love for stories where people have spiritual transforms manifested through physical transformations. Art is a powerful thing, which leaves impressions on us. It is because artists implant a part of themselves into their work. Or, more specifically, a part of their souls. That is what I feel every time I see this scene, both from the original movie and through Glen Keane’s raw pencil tests.
I really believe the love story in this movie is incredibly moving and relatable. Normally I just shrug and accept romance when it happens in Disney movies. This is one of the few films where I really believe it when they say the characters love and care for one another. That makes a big difference for me.
1. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Director Peter Jackson did not just direct a movie adaptation. He brought Tolkien’s world to life. The acting is phenomenal. Each character was perfectly acted.
There are incredibly tender moments and terribly sad moments. Some parts make you laugh while others break your heart. One of my favorite scenes is in The Return of the King when Pippin sang for Denethor as Faramir and the other soldiers rode to their deaths. I remember in the theater covering my mouth in horror as they tragically left everything behind for the whims of a madman.
I could gush forever about the soundtrack, the realistic battle scenes, and the special effects scattered throughout the trilogy. But if I am honest with myself, what truly makes this movie stand out to me is its message that there is good in the world that will stand up to evil and WE can be part of the good.
I love “Hunchback Of Notre Dame” (even if Disney made its artistic license)! I’m glad to see it’s high on your rankings. Frollo from there remains one of my favourite Disney villains, and so much that I even cosplayed him at various anime conventions, even as recently as last year 😁 Speaking about childhood memories, there’s even an entire YouTube parody miniseries chronicling Frollo’s “misadventures” titled “The Frollo Show” that cracked me up and gave a positive light to me about him.
Did you also watch the older Hunchback films? I saw the 1939 and 1982 live-actions versions, both of which had either great soundtrack or acting.
I have seen the 1930s version. I didn’t know about about the miniseries!
Oh it’s a movie actually, not a miniseries. I don’t think there’s ever been a Hunchback of Notre Dame miniseries, but I know of a graphic novel for it which I found at a library. But it would be interesting to see how it would play out, and how much more faithful compared to the novel. God knows, the movies have been anything but close to the novels 🤔