Around 2003, I played a little game with my brother, Adam; Allen, my boyfriend at the time; and our friend and fellow Rice alum Shreyas. Basically we each had to pick a movie that we thought the others would not necessarily watch on their own, but would enjoy. It was an "expand your horizons" challenge. Everyone had to watch all the movies by a certain deadline and report back with thoughts. Whoever picked the movie that everyone agreed was the best would "win" the challenge.
For some reason I thought about the movie challenge yesterday. 10 years later, this is how I would rank the movies we watched:
Best: Donnie Darko (Shrey's pick)
I have the sense that Shreyas assigned this movie while it was still a bit underground, an underrated sleeper and not yet a cult classic. But maybe not, maybe he was just hipper than us back then, living in SF, spinning tracks and whatnot. I loved it at the time and still think it's great -- I rewatched it within the past six months. I love this kind of creepy, soft sci-fi, philosophy-of-mind movie, and it's rare to find one that's not too bro'ed out, you know? I love the female characters in this movie (Jena Malone as the girlfriend, Drew Barrymore as the teacher, Maggie Gyllenhall as the cool sister, Mary McDonnell as the intense, unflappable mom, "Roberta Sparrow"...)
Tie for Medium: Grave of the Fireflies (Adam's pick) and The Company (mine)
Grave of the Fireflies is an anime movie about the atomic bombings in Japan. It's horrifically sad (especially so because it's about children, a brother taking care of his little sister, a setup that gets me every time) and I would never want to see it again. One or two particular sequences have haunted me for years. I wish there were more war movies that focus on civilians, families, wives (not just soldiers, generals, men!).
The Company is a Robert Altman movie about a ballet company. It's fictional but done in a documentary style, sort of inconsequential but lovely to watch. I haven't watched it again since the challenge, but I would like to. There is one particularly amazing scene, a duet between Neve Campbell (who is professionally trained as a dancer) and another guy (is a dance for two called a duet?) on an outdoor stage, and a storm blows in as it's happening, so there's this tension where you think someone's going to fall as the leaves blow up and the stage gets wet, and in the audience all these people are popping umbrellas open, holding their breath(s). Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure James Franco plays Neve's boyfriend, a chef.
Worst: The Limey (Allen's pick)
It was a struggle to even remember the name of this movie. I don't remember anything else about it, except a male lead with an accent. Maybe it's good and I just wasn't paying attention. If so I failed to live up to my part of the game. Sorry, guys.