Movies were my very first love. I don’t know exactly how or when that love first came to be, but as Jane Austen once said, “I was in the middle before I knew I had begun.” I was an anxious kid, didn’t always know the right way to move through the world or be a person, and life wasn’t always easy to understand, but stories were. I loved the structure, the control, the way filmmakers could take all the chaos of life and make sense of it somehow.
My parents nurtured my love, especially my mother whose knowledge of old movie stars seemed limitless. I started going to see movies in theaters around four years old when I saw Toy Story 2. My parents took me to see everything from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. Nothing – not even an R rating – stopped me from watching a movie I wanted to see, and my parents quickly learned that parental controls on the TV were futile. When I was younger, my favorite movies were epic adventure movies from the late 90s and early 2000s. I went through an unfortunate Russell Crowe phase that involved repeated watches of Gladiator and Master and Commander. As I got older, I found my niche in literary adaptations, off-beat indies and the beautiful violence of Jane Campion.
In this list, you’ll find just a few of the movies that made me who I am. From fairy tales and Jane Austen to epic romances and animated classics. They are movies I watched during the formative years of my life, movies that influenced the kind of person I grew up to be. They’re movies I could watch a million times – and trust me, I have – and never, ever get bored. The movies on this list remind me of why I fell in love in the first place.
I don’t know if these are the best movies ever made, but they certainly made me. These are the 10 Best Films of all Time.
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10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
“We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of all masters.”
Star Wars has been a part of my life for a long time – for as long as I can remember. My fourth birthday was Star Wars-themed and my godmother dressed up as Darth Vader for the occasion, much to my horror. I was obviously thrilled when The Force Awakens was announced, but I left the theater feeling empty. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it bothered me so much. It was just missing something.
The Last Jedi has divided fans and critics for years, but for me the film is the only recent Star Wars film or television show that has made me feel something. That has made me remember why I even liked Star Wars to begin with. Rian Johnson made a film that didn’t solely rely on nostalgia, a film that wasn’t so heavily, painfully self-referential. It was trying to pave the way for the future of the franchise, not just hide in its past. The Last Jedi doesn’t do it perfectly, but I admire the effort. I admire the risk it took.
I also really love Mark Hamill’s performance in this film. I think it’s one of the best performances of his career. He was famously unhappy with Luke’s arc in this movie, and as someone who’s played his character for decades his initial feelings are understandable. But he didn’t let them affect his performance. He really gave it his all and it shows. It’s such a beautiful send-off for him and for Luke. I will always take this movie and his performance over the robotic, deepfake Luke of ‘The Mandalorian’. I will always love The Last Jedi because it gave me something real.
I’ll never get over my disappointment with how the sequel trilogy ended, but The Last Jedi will always be a reminder to me of what we could have had.
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9. Ever After (1998)
“A bird may love a fish, Signore, but where would they live?”
“Then I shall just have to build you wings!”
Ever After, starring Drew Barrymore, is a retelling of “Cinderella”, set in 16th-century France and featuring actual historical figures like King Francis and Leonardo da Vinci. It’s the kind of film you watch when you’re sad and you need something to believe in. It’s lush, romantic and funny. Ever After is on this list because it’s a love story and those have always been my favorite.
I grew up during the early 2000s when the ‘not like other girls trope’ was running rampant in media. I remember being ashamed that my favorite stories were love stories, and that I shouldn’t want to explore them. After all, girls were made for more than love and I felt like I should want more for myself.
Luckily, I grew out of that phase and now I revel, without shame, in all things romance. Ever After holds a special place in my heart because it has everything I could ever want in that department and I think it’s one of the best fairy tale adaptations of all time. There’s a sense of innate justice in Ever After, that good things happen to good people and bad people eventually get what’s coming to them, which makes me cling to this movie. Real life isn’t like this, real life is messy and unfair. But with Ever After, I can leave the real world for a bit and spend some time in a fairy tale.