Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Life in Films: Favorite Movies by Year

Film Twitter has prompted me to join in on the recent lists of people's favorite movies for each year of their lives. At 45, I feel like that's a lot of territory to cover, and of course a lot of the movies I watch these days came out long before I was born, but I have seen most of the big hits for most of the years in question.

I want to clarify my process a bit before I get to the actual list. As I looked at the films for each year, I asked myself the following questions:

1) Do I own the movie? If I didn't feel the need to buy it, then it's probably not my favorite.
2) How many times have I voluntarily watched this movie? Have I watched it again recently?
3) How much of this movie can I quote or recite from memory? The more of it I know by heart, the bigger the impression it has obviously made.
4) Do I own merchandise and/or clothing celebrating my love for this movie? Since I'm wearing a Yoda t-shirt as I type this post, it would be silly to pretend that I'm not a sucker for Star Wars and/or Muppets. Not all movies get merchandise, of course, but if I love something enough to wear it on a shirt I'm probably pretty attached to it.

I didn't pick the "best" movie from each year; I picked a favorite. I didn't think about Oscars or box office appeal (or lack thereof) or whether hipsters would approve of my choices. Sometimes the decisions were excruciatingly hard, and there are three or even four really close seconds that on a different day might get the edge over the one I chose today. I didn't pick any of these to impress anyone; I'm a lifelong geek with a deep love for science fiction, fantasy, Disney, animation, and comic books. I like quirky, funny stuff. I like super heroes. I picked movies that I go back to many times because they make me happy, so you won't see a lot of tragic downers on this list because my favorite movies are the ones that make me want to keep living. Your list will be different, and that's OK.

So, without further delay, here's a favorite film for every year of my life so far...

1972 Dracula A.D. 1972   (Cushing & Lee do disco Dracula - I can't help it)
1973 Robin Hood    (yes, the Disney one)
1974 Young Frankenstein    (Sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!)
1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail      (Just a little peril...)
1976 Murder by Death     (I love the cast; I love the parody of the genre)
1977 Star Wars     (Changed my life)
1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers    (Donald Sutherland's goggle-eyed stare!)
1979 The Muppet Movie    (Makes me deeply happy. Can you picture that?)
1980 The Empire Strikes Back    ("I love you." "I know.")
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark    (Bad dates. Plus, Nazi punching!)
1982 The Last Unicorn      (Makes me cry. One of my favorite books ever.)
1983 Return of the Jedi     (Yes, I even like the Ewoks.)
1984 Ghostbusters     (There is no Dana!)
1985 Back to the Future     (Still so much fun)
1986 Labyrinth     (Tough year of choices, but I'm going for Bowie & weird Muppets)
1987 The Princess Bride    (Come, my love, I'll tell you a tale...)
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade    (My favorite Indy movie)
1990 Back to the Future III    (I love the Western steampunk vibe)
1991 The Addams Family    (Because it's awesome & so is the pinball machine)
1992 The Muppet Christmas Carol    (Light the lamp, not the rat!)
1993 Groundhog Day    (Because we watch it every year)
1994 The Lion King     (Hakuna matata!)
1995 Babe    (I grew up with Border Collies, and James Cromwell is great.)
1996 Matilda    (A girl reads books - what's not to love?)
1997 The Fifth Element   (Super green!)
1998 Dark City    (Ebert's favorite for 1998 and mine, too)
1999 The Iron Giant    (What you currently have - IN YOUR MOUTH - is art!)
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (For the Preston Sturges allusion & so much more)
2001 Monsters Inc.    (Put that thing back where it came from or so help me...!)
2002 Lilo & Stitch    (It's hard to be weird, whether you're a girl or an alien experiment)
2003 Peter Pan    (best adaptation yet of this story)
2004 Hellboy     (I love everything about this movie)
2005 Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit  (My favorite W&G)
2006 Penelope    (Modern fairy tale with a very cool cast)
2007 Hot Fuzz   (The soundtrack alone wins for me, but movie is so delightful)
2008 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (So English. Hilarious & heartbreaking.)
2009 Star Trek   (Trek is back! Nimoy is back! Joy!)
2010 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World    (I'm team Knives)
2011 The Muppets   (For embodying my nostalgic love perfectly)
2012 The Avengers   (Joss Whedon! Agent Coulson!)
2013 Belle    (Gets my 18th century groove on in a big way - lovely film)
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy   (It's all about Rocket and Groot)
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road    (Motorcycle matriarchs - heck, yeah)
2016 Star Trek Beyond    (Trek done right - plus, Simon Pegg!)

Since it's only March, it's too early to declare a favorite for 2017, but it looks like a full year of contenders. Hopefully it will end up being another year where it's really hard to choose.