'Truly Madly Deeply'
The only part of "Truly Madly Deeply" that I don't like is letting go of Alan Rickman! He helps Nina get over him, but not me! When Nina places Jamie's cello in its case for the last time, I can hardly bear the finality of it. But the film grabbed me from the first shot of the Underground, the lighting, the North London milieu, Bill Paterson, the perfect music choices, but mostly the luminescent brilliance of Juliet Stevenson. Obviously, the scene where she weeps with such anguish and anger is the best on-screen crying in the history of movies.
Marcia Roop, 62
Feel like a tough guy and get advice for life -- what more could you want? On what really matters: "A man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man." On what's better than violence: "Leave the gun, take the cannolis." On the futility of hatred: "Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you?" On not trusting the government: "FBI don't respect nothin'." Even on what to say to your girlfriend at Thanksgiving: "That's my family . . . it's not me." Greatest movie ever made. Pardon me for sayin', but it's one you can't refuse.
Michael Long, 43
"Favorite" is the word and does not mean best. Favorite means that I can watch it again and again; it must endure the test of time. Each time you watch it, the script still has something new to offer, a nuance undetected before, an enduring theme, a scene repeatedly enjoyed. For me, the only type of movie that fits this mold is a romantic comedy. If I was stuck on a deserted island, this movie is the one I'd pick. Comedy to keep me laughing and coming back, romance with its themes that engage and endure.
Eric Sanne, 48
'The Third Man'
In Vienna, something is rotten. But wait! Here comes Joseph Cotten. Will he clear up the crime and find Harry Lime? In time? That zither is haunting, the villain's so daunting, the heroine taunting. Who can be trusted? Who will get busted? Can you turn in your friend? Get the girl at the end? Loyalty! Honor! Betrayal! Welles in his prime, camera sublime. Mon Dieu, what a tale!
Sandra Kauffman, 71
'On the Beach'
I was still in high school when I saw "On the Beach." Never again would I be impressed so much by one movie. Delivering newspapers had consumed me with fear of nuclear war. "On the Beach" vividly pictured the aftermath, especially the closing scene. People were being prepared for the end by a religious group offering salvation if you "signed on." Their banner, "There is still time, brother," contrasted above swirling debris after the world had been snuffed out. Thankfully, I emerged from the downtown D.C. theater to see other human beings. There was still time!
Paul Bergeron, 68
Lake Monticello, Va.
It was over 20 years ago that Samantha Baker's parents forgot her birthday in "Sixteen Candles," but I find the not-so-sweet-16 sentiments linger long past sophomore year. Molly Ringwald could do what no current teen idol can -- capture the painful hilarity that ensues when one is of driving age and still riding the school bus alongside "The Geek." Last summer, on bridesmaid duty, I waited for Jake Ryan to whisk me away in my Samantha-esque pink birthday cake of a dress. Jake never showed, though it's only fair -- I drove to school, after all.
Kate Cooper, 24
'The African Queen'
"The African Queen" is both a beautiful love story and a powerfully suspenseful adventure starring all-time greats Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart at their peak. The gradual sexual awakening of the prim schoolteacher, played by Hepburn, is superb; Bogart is as great as ever as the rough river boat captain. The marvelous scenes of the trials and tribulations of the African Queen's passage down the river, beset by almost insurmountable difficulties such as virtually impassable undergrowth, swarming insects and dangerous rapids are edge-of-the-seaters. And the wonderful denouement is one of the great feel-good climaxes in movie history.
Mel Welles, 88
'Days of Heaven'
I must give my favorite nod to Terrence Malick's 1978 "Days of Heaven." Certain visuals from that film will stay with me forever. More than a few lines, too, like the character Linda's rendering of "I could be a mud doctor. Checkin' out the eart'. Underneat'." Scenes that leave the viewer breathless by cinematographer Nestor Almendros; a magnificently haunting and lilting score by Ennio Morricone; understated but strong acting by the likes of Sam Shepard, Richard Gere and Brooke Adams. This movie is simply exquisite, timeless and unflawed.
Alicia T. Peklo, 55
"Henry V," starring Laurence Olivier (1944). I cut high school classes to see this film, and after that day I was walking on air for weeks. I wanted to be king of England! I wanted to be Laurence Olivier! I wanted to be an actor! Since then, I've seen a multitude of outstanding movies, but Sir Laurence's version of "Henry V" has been the standard by which they have been measured. Even Kenneth Branagh's excellent remake (1989) does not compare. If my love for this film has endured for over 60 years, it deserves a nomination.
Converse M. West, 75
'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned
To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'
It was February 1964, and my mother was upset. She had just seen "Dr. Strangelove" and heard people in the theater laughing! For my mother, the bomb -- the hydrogen bomb -- was no laughing matter. But five years later, I finally saw the film myself, and many viewings later I'm still chuckling: fighting in the war room; walking for Mein Fuhrer; impurifying precious bodily fluids. The genius of "Dr. Strangelove" is its ability to satirize -- both hilariously and poignantly -- weapons of mass destruction, military megalomania and presidential powerlessness. Alas, my mother still doesn't find these subjects funny.
Jim Deutsch, 58
'The Day the Earth Stood Still'
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is my all-time favorite movie. It emerged from the swamp of '50s science-fiction films as the first well-acted, thought-provoking genre film with a powerful pacifist message in an era of Cold War hysteria. It features a fantastic score by Bernard Herrmann that introduced the theremin as the instrument that immediately tells us we are in for something different. Most important, this is the ultimate Washington movie: The alien parks on the Mall and lives in Georgetown. He pays respectful visits with a young earthling to Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial, and, in perfect Washington fashion, he proves his ultimate political power by making absolutely nothing happen!
Randall Lockwood, 58
'Live and Become'
"Live and Become" follows an Ethiopian Christian boy who was secreted aboard a plane during Operation Moses, the rescue movement to immigrate Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Adopted by a Jewish family in Tel Aviv, Schlomo must adjust to his new world and hide his non-Jewish background. While I love hilarious popular movies as much as any other teen, here was a powerful story teaching self-acceptance and unconditional love while using amazing actors to make it so real. I'd never thought deeply about the themes a movie conveys and tried applying them to my life until I saw "Live and Become."
Julia Peck, 13
Without question, my all-time favorite movie is "The Exorcist." It is the perfect movie that combines sinister mystery with terrifying imagery and disturbing psychological horror. Most important, "The Exorcist" delivers pure horror without any comic relief, hip yet hapless teenagers or a psycho-killer jumping out at every turn -- all too common in the horror genre and frankly not scary! "The Exorcist" is a compelling and epic tale of good vs. the ultimate evil and to this day still leaves me deeply disturbed and scares the crap out of me!
Daniel J. Kutruff, 40
"Rashomon" is the film that had the most profound affect on me. I was 16 in 1951 when I saw the film. It was the first foreign-language film I had seen and can still remember being transfixed by the beauty of the film, the strange language and the moral dilemma of the story. I have always remembered that the perception of people who witness an account may differ even though they believe it to be true. The movie also gave me a lifelong love of Japanese art, design and history -- a lot to have gained from a few hours at the movies.
Ruth Baskin, 71
'The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King'
This towering achievement is my all-time favorite. No other movie has seamlessly put together such a fine ensemble, brought out several themes including loyalty, love and friendship, all in a completely imagined fantasy world that was more real than any motion picture I've seen. Every major genre of film was well-represented -- drama, adventure, comedy, romance and horror -- and each special effect actually worked. Not only were they mind-boggling, but vital to the story. Every human being on planet Earth (and, of course, Middle Earth) should experience this stunner. Oh, and I wept like a baby.
David Emanuel, 35
When Bruce Wayne witnesses the brutal murder of his parents in a back alley in Gotham City, it fuels his quest for revenge and justice, spawning the city's masked protector. This is "Batman Begins," my favorite movie. The movie does a good job of translating the comic's dark look onto the screen. But the movie is made by its star, Christian Bale. His ability to portray the charm of Bruce Wayne and the raw grit of Batman brings the character back to its heyday, before it was mismanaged by the likes of Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Joel Schumacher.
Brendan Smith, 18
'American History X'
In "American History X," Edward Norton delivers an Academy Award-nominated performance as a neo-Nazi skinhead. I have never been so entranced by a movie or actor before. I was pinned to my seat. I could not stop watching. I wasn't scared by "Friday the 13th" or "A Nightmare on Elm Street," but when I found myself convinced, and even inspired, by Edward Norton's racist propaganda in "American History X," I was scared! The movie itself is flawlessly written and beautifully made, but without Edward Norton delivering the performance of his career, it just wouldn't be the best movie ever.
Sam Kott, 14
The film "Glory" has always stayed with me. Man's cruelty to man, combined with a powerful historical narrative and some truly amazing performances. There is no greater metaphor for courage, bravery and valor than the sacrifices made on the battlefield. But I have never thought of this as a war film. So many facets of the human condition -- and all the ways man fails both his fellow man and himself -- are on display. In the end, bravery, solidarity and sacrifice converge, and there is hope, perhaps a sweet fiction, but for myself, it's in that hope that the film affects me. It is powerful, beautiful, infuriating and inspiring. I love the film.
Zachary S. Kraus, 35
'The Princess Bride'
Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, chases, escapes, miracles and, most important of all, true love -- "The Princess Bride" has it all. Westley's famous "As you wish" line steals any woman's heart, and who doesn't like Inigo Montoya and Fezzik? After falling in love with this movie, I decided to read the book. Usually books are much better than movies -- somehow when books are turned into films it doesn't quite match your expectations. "The Princess Bride" is a rare gem that definitely lives up to the book. It is a film that will entertain people of all ages and interests.
Sarah Dunn, 20