I HAVE TWO WORDS FOR YOU..
Whether I’m at home or at a cinema, watching movies is one of my favorite pastimes. They can be new, old, action, comedy, black and white, you name it. If I’m not careful, I’ll turn into a couch potato faster than you can say ‘popcorn’, because watching one movie will remind me of another (that I’ll undoubtedly turn on), and 10 hours later I’ll snap out of my trance and realize I had real things I needed to be doing. Does that happen to anyone else?
The movies I’m sharing today may not necessarily have the best ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, but I’ve found you can’t always rely on others’ opinions when it comes to what to watch. As you read, you’ll notice I lean (heavily) towards magic and witches. That might not be your thing, and that’s okay!
1998 | Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest
Set mostly in a big, gorgeously eerie Victorian house (built for the movie), Practical Magic tells the tale of generations of cursed sister witches, who doom a man to an early death should they fall in love with them, all thanks to ancestor Maria Owens. 3 generations of Owens women are under one roof, eating brownies for breakfast and having midnight margaritas (not the youngest generation, of course). The fun really starts when Sally (Bullock) and Gillian (Kidman) try their hand at dark magic to solve a problem, which inevitably comes back to bite them in the worst possible way: from the dead. Even if you don’t have a sister, you can appreciate the love-hate relationship the Owens sisters have with each other, and the lengths they’ll go to save them from a crazy, cowboy-wannabe undead ex-boyfriend.
1993 | Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy
BooOOOoooOOOOoooOok. If you’ve seen the movie, I can almost guarantee you just heard Winifred (Bette) saying *book* in her wicked way. I have been a longtime lover of Hocus Pocus, and will watch this at any given time throughout the year, not just in October. It’s a family movie, but over the years I caught on to the adult humor (ahem, bus driver) which makes it that much funnier. I couldn’t imagine someone nailing the character of Winifred like Bette Midler did, from her short-tempered sister-induced fits and adaptation of a 17th Century dialect, to her perfectly witchy but modern execution of ‘I Put A Spell On You’. Hocus Pocus is the perfect film to put on when you need a good laugh.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
2005 | Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Donald Sutherland, Rosamund Pike
As far as I’m concerned, this is the only Pride & Prejudice you ever need to watch. Period. The filming locations are vast and outrageously beautiful from palaces to picturesque farms, and the movie generally transports you to the early 1800’s with the costumes, piano music, language and portrayal of the period’s traditions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the evolution of Elizabeth (Knightley) and Mr. Darcy’s (MacFadyen) relationship simply because their on-screen chemistry is so realistic, even when Elizabeth is being stubborn and Darcy arrogant. Pride & Prejudice is a splendid love story, brought to new life in this movie.
HARRY POTTER & FANTASTIC BEASTS
2001 – present | Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Eddie Redmayne
Basically, anything J.K. Rowling is associated with, I’m bound to love. It’s called the Wizarding World for good reason: she truly forged a world that you can get lost in. Often when books as good as the Harry Potter series are made into movies, the latter is a letdown. In this case, the movies only fueled my love of the magical franchise, and showcased exactly why movie producers and VFX/ CGI experts should be (and are) praised: nothing cheesy or half-baked about these movies, just pure skill. Not to mention the casting and subsequent acting, even when the Hogwarts students were just starting their journey! It’s a nail-biter to say the least, watching Harry (Radcliffe) grow up while a fight unravels against a foe so great the entire world is at risk, magical and muggle. But with pals Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) at his side, among other critical family, friends even and enemies, it’s a story of victory that you can rewatch a million times and still catch something new in the film.
The continuation of the Harry Potter series with Fantastic Beasts has been a pleasant surprise, and as a HP enthusiast, I sleep better at night knowing there are more Wizarding World adventures to obsess over. Personally, I need a briefcase like Newt Scamander’s (Redmayne) but they probably aren’t on the market yet (ha!).
Marvel Cinematic Universe
2008 – present | WAY too many names to even try
Universe is the most fitting way to name the many, many Marvel movies and characters that come together in one massive story line. There are countless in-depth backgrounds that develop for each character, to then ultimately intertwine with the others in Avengers: End Game. And that’s not even the actual end to some of their stories (thank goodness)!
Iron Man is my favorite character, in part because I’m a huge Robert Downey Jr. fan, but also because he’s a complex genius dripping in sarcasm at all times. You watch Tony Stark (RDJ) endure obstacles that would break most people, and make sacrifice after sacrifice for the greater good despite his love for Pepper Pots (GP does no wrong) and the life he’s built, with comic quips and banter every step of the way.
THIS MEANS WAR
2012 |Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Chelsea Handler
This movie doesn’t have the best ratings, which really surprises me. Lauren’s (Witherspoon) best friend Trish (Handler) tempts her to date two guys, who wind up finding out she’s double-crossing them (because they’re partners AND best friends), and use their department resources to up the ante in their fight to win her over. While they’re pursuing the girl, the brother of an international criminal is pursuing them to avenge his brother’s death. This Means War has just enough action to offset the romance, and the bromance between CIA operatives FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) is so real, that even the men in your life won’t mind if you turn this on for movie night.
2010 |Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan
Very different role, same RDJ. No matter the movie, he always seems to play a sarcastic, slightly (or not so slightly) high-strung guy, who thinks no one is quite as smart as he is, and I love it. Due Date has all the best RDJ qualities with some very stupid, ‘The Hangover movie’ type humor sprinkled in, otherwise known as Zach Galifianakis. Peter (RDJ) and Ethan’s (Galifianakis) unplanned cross-country road trip to make it just in time for the birth of Peter’s first child has side-splitting twists and turns.
What are your go-to movies?