I‘m not emotionally attached to ranked lists. If I tried too hard to find five films that I think are the best films of all time, I’d remember five better films as soon as this was published. So I didn’t make one for a long stretch of time. The month of this publication our writers have a focus on comforting films, and it got me to consider another avenue to approach this list: the holidays are coming up and my birthday is a little over a week away. I think I’m going to make a top five list based on what would have been the most comforting film to me at different years of my life. I’ll start young, and end with my current tastes. We’ll do the arbitrary years of ten, thirteen, sixteen, nineteen, and twenty-two. The three-year difference should cover a lot, and I’ll be twenty-five at the end of November. Maybe next time I make one of these lists I’ll include that one, too.
Ten Years Old: Spider-Man 2 (2004)
I grew up loving comic books and cartoons. Spider-Man was the first protagonist in any media I ever cared about. I counted the days to the release of the first Spider-Man. I collected everything, and though Raimi’s depiction of the hero wasn’t necessarily faithful to the lore, it was faithful to the feeling of Spider-Man. Borrowing a lot from Richard Donner’s Superman, Raimi was able to give the colorful, the fantastic, and the urban epic an emotional core that Donner couldn’t do Superman. Spider-Man 2 specifically questions Peter’s dedication to heroics and is one of the most rewarding comic book films because of it. I liked it as a kid at the time because I never liked Green Goblin and I loved Doctor Octopus. He had metal arms, he was so cool!
Thirteen Years Old: Shaun of the Dead (2003)
I was thirteen years old in 2006 and the large portion of 2007. I remember being obsessed with comedy at the time, and Shaun of the Dead was the perfect storm of everything I ever wanted. I also played a lot of Dead Rising; these years were filled with zombies. I watched the Romero classics then, too. This film showcased Edgar Wright’s talents from the get-go, and the film felt like everything it should. Fun, funny, and scary. The energy, mixed with dry humor, made me love it. My friend and I eagerly anticipated Hot Fuzz in theaters and were not disappointed. I’ll also admit this sad fact: this film was the reason I fell in love with listening to DVD commentaries. The cast and crew felt so warm and everything was insightful. I felt like I had friends.
Sixteen Years Old: Mallrats (1995)
So we’re looking at 2009-2010 here. I was still really deep into my comedy phase. I no longer laugh anymore, but I don’t think Kevin Smith is the reason why. I loved all of his films at the time (and I still look at his career and decisions with approval) and Mallrats was my personal slice of comfort. I didn’t like the drama heavy stories, but Mallrats catered to me specifically as an audience. There’s a reason why he didn’t make another one of these. Also, great commentaries. When I played the DVD for these things, they still had the laser disc commentaries and Ben Affleck was there, and he was as unlikable as his character. Good stuff.
Nineteen Years Old: A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
So I was out of high school and into college by this point. I had seen all the cult classics and famous “YOU GOTTA SEE THIS” stuff. I dug Carpenter, Kubrick, Lynch. I saw me some Bogey and Bacalls, some Polanski films before he became despicable. Still, this was a movie I kept coming back to. I’m a sucker for losers, and I feel a huge connection the entire Peanuts gang. I’ve read every single Schultz strip and have seen most of the films; this theatrical one, however, is one of my most beloved. I watched this on DVD all the time and nowadays I save it for once a year on my birthday. Watch it for great performances by the kids, great music numbers, and the underlying message of the film that is the ultimate defense against the bitter reality of life.
Twenty Two Years Old: Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
My humor has become mystifying as of late. I think Dr. Strangelove was a film I always understood and appreciated, but over the last few years I’ve fallen completely in love with it. No longer is it an understanding. I feel like this film is perfect for my sensibilities. The wacky characters and dark humor, coupled with the shallow but clever word play and potty humor seal the deal for me. This is my favorite Kubrick film. The performances by Scott and Sellers are indulgent. The film is fearless. Good job me from three years ago. I still agree.