Thursday, April 07, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Family

There comes a time in every young man’s life when he must choose when to depart the family home and pursue some personal vision for his life. For some the matter is complicated. For some there is jeopardy in the decision, for himself or for those he would leave behind.

19: Siblings (2004, Canada)
Alex Campbell, Sarah Gadon, Samantha Weinstein, Andrew Chalmers

This is a seriously underrated black comedy with charm and tension and a host of fine performances, especially with the non-verbal nuances (many by youngsters no less) which bring together a delightful off-beat vision and a witty, clever script to draw the viewer through potentially discomfiting circumstances into a safe empathetic place. Its easy to love these characters and experience their peril!

Here is an early clip which sets the stage:

Writer: Jackie May (Flash Forward)
Director: David Weaver (The Samaritan)
Budget: $500,000
IMDB rating: 6.7

20: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993, USA)
Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Darlene Cates, Juliette Lewis

Such well-conceived characters portrayed so convincingly! Wonderful performances by the principle actors. It’s so easy to relate to this subtle story of love, loyalty, struggle and choices. It’s real-life drama delivered with quiet heart-warming intensity.

Eighteen-year-old DiCaprio, heralded for his portrayal of a developmentally disabled teen, was recognized for best supporting actor; winning the National Board of Review award and nominated for the Oscar and Golden Globe. Roger Ebert, who called the movie “one of the most enchanting films of the year,” claimed DiCaprio should have won the Oscar.

Writer: Peter Hedges (About a Boy)
Director: Lasse Hallström (Chocolat)
Budget: $11,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.8

21: Running on Empty (1988, USA)
River Phoenix, Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsch, Martha Plimpton, Jonas Abry

Another story about love, loyalty, struggle and choices, this time under extraordinary circumstances. The choices here are emotionally devastating to ponder. More tear-jerker scenes than you can shake a stick at. Newsweek called it, “emotionally overpowering.”

The film, one of Ebert’s favourite of the year, was nominated for major awards as were Phoenix, Lahti, Plimpton and writer Naomi Foner.

Writer: Naomi Foner (Losing Isaiah)
Director: Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon)
Budget: $3,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.7

“Everyone, just pretend to be normal...”

22: Little Miss Sunshine (2006, USA)
Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell

Here is a sad little road-trip story about a sad little family who is absorbed with the ideas of winning and losing and no one is doing a lot of winning. It’s also hysterically funny.

This project needed a lot of good luck to finally get off the ground and got much of it in the form of brilliant results from unknown quantities such as a writer and a husband/wife director team with no previous theatrical film experience and the newbie Abigail Breslin as the young Olive Hoover who ultimately steals everyone’s hearts. Even Steve Carell was relatively unknown at this time and despite inexperience in this type of role, beat out Bill Murray and Robin Williams for the part. The casting of the six familial roles looks genius in hindsight. Their frictional synergy is brilliant; the result funny and adorable.

This silly and heart-warming story resonates so strongly with sensitive people, I think, because it illuminates such a valuable lesson; one of the most important lessons in life, which so very few people outwardly learn while they are still young or middle age; when it would have been most valuable; a lesson which our elders tend to absorb without realizing it and why so many elders are more at peace with life. It is a lesson we have all heard; a simple one, yet against our treacherous instincts to heed. Learn from this film, I say, and become free!

Writer: Michael Arndt (Star Wars: Episode VII)
Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Ruby Sparks)
Budget: $8,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.9

Short List:
Central Station (1998, Brazil/France) Vinícius de Oliveira, Fernanda Montenegro
The Kids are Alright (2010, USA) Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
The Mosquito Coast (1986, USA) Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix
Nobody Knows (2004, Japan) Yuya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, Hiei Kimura, Momoko Shimizu
Ordinary People (1980, USA) Donald Sutherland. Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton


Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

I've not seen any of these, but I have heard of them all :) At least Leo finally has his Oscar now :)
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

martine said...

Running on Empty is an absolute favourite, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape really is Johnny at his best.
thanks for sharing
martine @ silencing the bell

Anonymous said...

I really liked Little Miss Sunshine and I really need to see What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I think my favourite films about family are The Royal Tenenbaums and Boyhood - or at least they're the ones I thought of off the top of my head.
Good luck with the A-Z Challenge :) I'll be popping back to see what the rest of your 100 Must-See Films are.
My theme for the A-Z Challenge is my favourite fictional characters at ElenaSquareEyes.

Jemima Pett said...

I've not seen any of these, which says something about my family, probably. It'll be interesting to see what films we have in common!
Jemima Pett

Elizabeth Twist said...

You recommended Siblings to me a while back...that clip is tasty, exactly my bag. I most definitely need to check it out. I thoroughly approve of everything else on your list, so, you know, good job! I was just thinking about Running on Empty the other day. I haven't rewatched since River Phoenix passed away--too painful, but I might have to sometime soon.

Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

J said...

I liked the movie What Is Eating Gilbert Grape, but it is really the only one I have seen from this list. Photography Today

Joanne said...

You are picking so many good films. Gilbert Grape is superb Johnny Depp and Leo. The mother in it just broke my heart. Little Miss Sunshine has laugh out loud awkward moments.