With the conclusion of the 2015 Academy Awards, one is led to reflect upon the greatness of cinema and iconic films. Of course, great films do not necessarily have to be heavily awarded. Here is a compilation of the movies the Honors faculty and students appreciate the most:
DR. LAW, Honors Program Director
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Upon being asked what his favorite movies were, Law immediately responded with this 1975 British comedy, adding that he has seen it more times than any other movie. He described it as “amazingly funny” for its revolutionary humor regarding the Knights of the Round Table.
Sleepless in Seattle
Inspired by “An Affair to Remember,” this romantic comedy stars the captivating duo of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Law admires how the movie weaves an intricate romance between two characters who do not even meet until the final scene.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this 1968 science fiction film depicts encounters between humans and advanced machines built by extraterrestrial species. Its screenplay was inspired by “The Sentinel,” a short story by Arthur C. Clarke. This was the first science fiction movie Law saw when he was young.
DR. MELISSA JOHNSON, Associate Director, Advisor
This 2013 film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl with a score by HansZimmer, centers on the rivalry between two 1976 Formula One drivers. Johnson said that she appreciates the faithfulness of “Rush” to its real-life story.
This ‘80s film received an Academy Award for its most notable song, “Flashdance… What a Feeling.” Johnson said that since she was a dancer when she was young, she found “Flashdance” to be an inspirational movie with a great soundtrack.
Johnson labels this movie as her “favorite don’t-need-a-lot-of-brain-cells-to-watch-it movie,” adding that she owns it on DVD. This 2007 comedy, which stars Amanda Bynes, tells the story of a college freshman determined to pledge her mother’s sorority.
REGAN GARNER, Associate Director, Advisor
Garner commends films if they pass the Bechdel test, which requires that:
- There are two named women in it.
- These two women talk to one another.
- They are talking about something other than a man.
An overwhelmingly large number of movies do not pass this test. To see whether a film passes or not, you can go to bechdeltest.com. Garner went on to recommend the Hippodrome Theater, The Wooly and Video Rodeo as places to watch or rent movies.
Directed by Laura Poitras, this documentary focuses on the scandal surrounding Edward Snowden. It received widespread positive reviews and the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Garner said that she regards this film as “terribly important.”
Dazed and Confused
This 1993 coming-of-age film stars Matthew McConaughey. According to Garner, “Dazed and Confused” is important for college students to see because it features high school seniors at a crucial point of their lives.
KRISTY SPEAR, Advisor
A Tim Burton film, “Big Fish” is an adaptation of Daniel Wallace’s novel of the same name. It focuses on the strained relationship between a dying father and his son. Spear said that she enjoyed the story, the visual effects, and the cast. (“Who doesn’t love Ewan McGregor?”).
Satirizing the white-collar workplace, Office Space has become a cult classic. Spear connected with the relatable characters. “As someone who works many Sundays a year, I can appreciate this film,” she said.
Run Lola Run
This German film features the story of a woman who needs to find a significant amount of money in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend’s life. “It makes you think about what might happen differently if you could relive certain events in your life,” she said
DR. JOHN VAN HOOK, Associate University Librarian Honors course (Spring 2015): Great Novels and the Great War
Released in 1946, this film noir stars Humphrey Bogart as a detective and features a screenplay written by William Faulkner. Van Hook described the movie as “incredibly complex” and as one that must be seen multiple times.
The Red Balloon
Shot shortly after World War II, “The Red Balloon” is a mere thirty-four minutes long. Van Hook first saw this film when he was five years old and was struck by how it “teaches you that imagination and love conquer everything in a way you would never expect.”
DR. SYLVIE BLUM, Associate Professor of French and Film
Honors course (Spring 2015): Uncommon Reading: Coco Chanel
Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot
Translated as “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday” in the United States, this comedy stars Jacques Tati as a clumsy character. Blum said that she appreciates how the protagonist appears to be a predecessor of Mr. Bean.
This film, directed by Jacques Rozier, focuses on the interactions between people aboard the “Maine-Ocean,” a train that goes from Paris to the seaside. Blum describes the film as “poetic” in its demonstration of how people discover another rhythm in life, deviating from the fast-paced, busy rhythm.
DR. MARY-ANN EAVERLY, Associate Professor of Classics
Honors course (Spring 2015): Women Writers and Classical Mythology
Jason and the Argonauts
Released in 1963, this film portrayed the quest of the Greek hero for the Golden Fleece and used stop-motion animation. Eaverly said that she particularly liked its character development and the “fun of the special effects.”
JAMAL WAKED, freshman, aerospace engineering major
Directed by Christopher Nolan, this three-hour long science fiction film portrays an increasingly uninhabitable Earth and a crew of astronauts who travel through space to find a planet that sustains human life. Waked admires the scientific accuracy, soundtrack, and imagery of the film. Interstellar recently received the accolade of Best Visual Effects at the 2015 Academy Awards.
KAMRAN ALI, sophomore, environmental science major
Fantastic Mr. Fox
This stop-motion animated movie depicts the story of a fox who steals food from wealthy, unkind farmers every night. It is the first animated film directed by Wes Anderson. Kamran enjoys both the cleverness of the plotline and the casting. George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Bill Murray are among the well-known actors whose voices are featured.
ANMOL PATEL, Junior, Microbiology and Economics major
A Time to Kill
Samuel L. Jackson plays a man on trial for murdering his daughter’s rapists in this 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill,” which is set in Mississippi. Patel touts the significance of the film’s theme of racial injustice, saying that “it’s very important because it enhances the disparities that existed in the South. This movie was created almost twenty years ago, and we saw the same disparities in 2014.”
KATHLEEN O’LEARY, Senior, English and History double major
Wizard of Oz
Released in 1939, this iconic film adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum stars Judy Garland. O’Leary said that she loves the film for its timelessness. “Each time I watch it, it gets better because there’s something new,” she said.