Top 10: Feel-Good Movies

If you’re having a bad day, or are sick beyond belief, nothing feels better than snuggling up with a feel-good movie. A movie that never fails to make you smile or lift your spirits. Everyone has those certain special ones, and here’s a few of mine.

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1. My Neighbor Totoro

If this movie doesn’t make you smile, you’re basically not human. Hayao Miyazaki is a master storyteller, and Totoro is no different from his other woks that capture the simple magic of childhood. Totoro is a playful mystical creature that brightens the lives of two little girls, taking them on a magical adventure while also teaching them about the realities of life. It can’t get any cuter than this. With gorgeous animation and adorable magical creatures, My Neighbor Totoro is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

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2. When Harry Met Sally

Harry and Sally are pretty much my #relationshipgoals. Sure, they didn’t really like each other at first and it took 10 years for them to finally get together… but they end up fitting together perfectly. These are smartly written and all around great characters. Sharply played by the actors, Billy Crystal’s cynical Harry and Meg Ryan’s cheery Sally have fantastic interplay with an infectious wit. And that monologue at the end always gets me. “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Don’t we all want to hear that? When Harry Met Sally set the standard for romantic comedies that very few have ever reached.

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3. Clue 

Clue is a zany physical comedy that will leave you in stitches from side-splitting laughter. Tim Curry is a huge standout, leading the wacky gang in pratfalls and mishaps throughout the sprawling mansion. Madeline Khan is also deviously funny as Mrs. White, particularly her hilarious monologue on her loathing of Yvette “Flames…on the side of my face!” It is frantic and silly, and feels more like a stage farce than anything. I’ve always thought it would be an excellent play. If I ever need a laugh, all I have to do is pop Clue in the DVD player.

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4. Adventures in Babysitting

Adventures in Babysitting starts out with a fun bang in a magnetic opening. (which I wrote about here) Is it silly and unbelievable at times? Yes. But it’s a lot of fun. The kids singing ‘The Babysitting Blues’ at a downtown Chicago blues club, encountering a Thor-esque mechanic, running into the mob, and so on. Also, the 80s was a time where kids and family movies could get away with a lot more, such as a sub plot where the babysitter looks strikingly similar and keeps getting mistaken for a Playboy model. Adventures in Babysitting is fun and absolutely lovable.

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5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This is a John Hughes classic, sold by Matthew Broderick as the charming lead character. It’s about being young and having fun, with a touch of serious moments as well. Jennifer Grey is hilarious as Ferris’ jealous younger sister. Jeffery Jones nearly steals the show as Ed Rooney, determined to catch Ferris Bueller in the act of skipping school. From the sing-along at the parade, to crashing a fancy restaurant, to a joyride in the Ferrari, there are so many memorable moments. Ferris and his friends have the best day of skipping school ever. And as Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Why not have fun while you can? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off makes you feel like you are a part of that ride.

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6. The Emperor’s New Groove

This is Disney’s funniest film, hands down. An all-star hilarious voice cast, David Spade, Eartha Kitt, John Goodman and Patrick Warburton bring to life the colorful characters. Kronk’s spy song and when he olds the one note leaves me in stitches EVERY time. There are too many knee-slapping moments in this. The Emperor’s New Groove is a whimsical and funky Disney feature that warms your heart and never lets you stop laughing.

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7. Back to the Future

How can you not love Back to the Future? It’s one of film’s most inventive, rousing, and all around entertaining adventures. Michael J. Fox is beyond charming as Marty McFly, and Christopher Lloyd will always be remembered as the zany time-travel inventor Doc Brown. One particular moment that will always leave you smiling is Marty’s “Johnny B. Goode” solo.  Despite being set in the 80s, it really is a timeless classic.

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8. About A Boy

About A Boy is not only wickedly funny, but also very touching. Hugh Grant stars as the jaded Will silver-tongued sleaze with a hidden inner decency. He loves living life with no strings attached. He manages to get involved with a young boy and his depressed mom. Along the way, he learns that you shouldn’t seal yourself off from the world, or as he says in his mantra, be an island. One of the best parts is when he plays with Will at his school concert, “Killing Me Softly With His Song”. About A Boy is a tender and charming British comedy that reminds you the importance of human connection and relationships,

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9. Frankie and Johnny

I just love this movie so much, it’s vastly underrated. It’s emotional and all-around delightful romantic comedy. Frankie and Johnny has fantastic performances by the two leads, played by Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. They have incredible chemistry and really sell the intricacies of the two characters. Frankie and Johnny deals with the complications of life, how it can beat you down, yet there is still the hope of connecting with truly good people. It’s a simple but beautiful little story.

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10. Down With Love

Down With Love is a stylish romp that homages 1960s classics such as Pillow Talk. It’s basically like a chocolate bar, (pretty much like the one Ewan McGregor seductively unwraps in one scene) deliciously light and sweet and guaranteed to make you feel good. It’s unabashedly silly, cute and charming movie fluff.

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Top 10: Opening Credits

An opening credits sequence sets the tone and overall theme of the film, and sometimes a film can start off with a bang. An opening sequence that is captivating, making the film a gripping watch from the very start. Combined with the right choice of music, that right song can hit that sweet spot to completely personify the film you’re about to watch. Here are some of the great ones.

1. Skyfall (And James Bond series) 

The James Bond series prides itself on the opening titles, they are one of the most memorable parts of film history. The recent James Bond film is no different, with a trippy underwater sequence with both bright colors and play on shadows. Adele’s Oscar-winning song is the sultry soundtrack to the opening.It ends with the camera diving into Daniel Craig’s piercing blue eyes. The entire James Bond canon, especially the classics, (Goldfinger especially) is at the top of this list. The sequences are well-crafted, and the latest James Bond‘s is no different.

2. Watchmen

Zack Snyder smartly manages to hold our attention with this slow-motion and gorgeously shot montage. He miraculously concentrates a wealth of Alan Moore’s dense backstory into this compressed period. The use of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A’Changin'” is brilliant, as we follow the heroes through notable periods of history, such as The Comedian being behind JFK’s Assassination. I had not read one bit of Watchmen, and this title sequence helped me understand the backstory without the use of one word of dialogue. The opening actually ends up being the best part of the film.

3. Do the Right Thing

Rosie Perez dances to Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’ under hot-red lights and it’s great. It’s a heated and powerful opening, with a song that is very important throughout the film. Do the Right Thing is a film with a lot of messages about our society, and this is a simple but great opening statement.

4. Grease

The title-based song is sung by Frankie Valli, a perfect choice for a film honoring the 50s. The animations are tongue in cheek satires of 1950s pop nostalgia. The cartoon likenesses of the actors are adorable. This is a fun and bubbly opening sequence that is just as infectious and the film it’s preceding.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

Fincher has a knack for starting his films off with great opening titles. There’s another on this list, and it’s worth noting Fight Club and Panic Room as well. Trent Reznor does it again with his cover of ‘The Immigrant Song.’ You don’t know quite what you’re looking at in the design, but it is captivating. Paired with the frenetic song, the titles are strange, gritty, edgy, but also very provocative. Which is, essentially, the entire feel of the Lisbeth Salander stories.

6. The Graduate

Perhaps one of the most well-known opening titles of all time, often homaged in many other films (including Tarantino’s Jackie Brown). Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence is Benjamin’s swan song, it encapsulates the apathy he is feeling and appears again and again throughout the film/. The sounds of the airport announcer droning mixes with the song. Benjamin rides a moving sidewalk, deep in thought and disillusioned with the world around him. This is a memorable opening that sets the stage for Benjamin’s plight which we follow throughout The Graduate.

7. Seven

Fincher does it again with Seven‘s opening. Gritty and just downright dirty, the opening gives us fun little clues and peeks into the killer that will be revealed later. One being the razor to the fingers. It’s uncomfortable, grimy, and completely and utterly creepy, as is the entire film.

8. Lilo and Stich

Lilo and Stitch‘s opening starts off with beautiful animation of the Hawaiian sea. It always makes me want to go swimming, you can feel the rays of sunshine and cool water. The Hawaiian song ‘He Mele No Lilo’ is lovely, and of course fits perfectly with the setting. Lilo and Stitch is a unique Disney film, as is their choice to set it in Hawaii. The sequence also serves as a great introductory not only for the setting, but also for our lead character. We see exactly who Lilo is, a curious and fun little girl.

8. Catch Me if You Can

This fun and jazzy animation paired with the score fits the time period to a tee, as well as the buoyant cat and mouse feel of the film. The cute animations highlight the different identities and other lives that Frank Abagnale will don throughout the film.

10. Adventures in Babysitting

This opening just perfectly encapsulates the joy of youth and what it is to be a teenager. The song begins before the first shot is even on screen. Elisabeth Shue lip-syncs and dances to ”Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals, a classic 1960s bubblegum pop staple. There’s something sweetly nostalgic about a teenager of the 80s singing this 60s song. It’s something we wouldn’t really see in a modern film. It’s a fun and memorable way to open a comedy for young kids. She has carefree fun before her hopes are dashed by some jerk with a license plate that says “SO COOL”