This list became rather epic: a personal movie history. It was lovely to remember when and where I saw certain movies. Most movies I loved then, I still love now. ❤️
  1. 1981 : Raiders of the Lost Ark
    I'm just so glad this dreamboat came along the year I was born to make the world a more entertaining place. This perfect popcorn movie defined what movies should be for me as a kid.
  2. 1982 : Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    Gross-out comedy plus teen drama plus a great ensemble. this movie had it all and shocked me and taught me a lot. 😎
  3. 1983 : Valley Girl
    A classic Romeo and Juliet story with valley girl talk and Nicolas Cage as a hunky Hollywood punk. Such an amazing time capsule of a place and time. Doesn't exactly hold up 30+ years later, but it's out-of-dateness is charming.
  4. 1984 : Paris, TX
    With Repo Man a very close 2nd. (It was a great year for Harry Dean Stanton.) I didn't see Paris, TX until I was much older but Repo Man was a favorite in my family and as a kid I found its bizarro dark humor unsettling and fascinating. Now I like it even more.
  5. 1985 : Witness
    I found this movie so fascinating as a kid and it really holds up. Also the scene where they are dancing to the car radio is one of the most romantic scenes ever. Other favorites from this year: Real Genius, Desperately Seeking Susan, The Breakfast Club, Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
  6. 1986 : True Stories
    I grew up watching this movie every year with my grandpa, and I think it really informed me as a person, in a great way. Basically, David Byrne is my deity of choice. But it's actually shocking that this won out over Pretty in Pink, which also had a big impact on me, even though as a movie it is deeply flawed. This year also gave us Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Stand by Me, and Little Shop of Horrors, also big favorites with me since childhood.
  7. 1987 : Raising Arizona
    My favorite Coen Bros. movie and my favorite Nicolas Cage performance (except maybe Moonstruck, also a favorite and also from this year), and my favorite Holly Hunter performance (except maybe Broadcast News, also a favorite and also from this year). Good year.
  8. 1988 : Beetlejuice
    My favorite Tim Burton movie. Pretty much perfect, and one of the most inventively production designed movies of my childhood - maybe one of the first that made me take notice of that aspect of the movies. Other favorites from this year: Hairspray (I remember seeing it on a hot summer day in Oak Park, IL with my mom and cousin), and Working Girl (changes and gets better every time I watch it, which is at least once a year).
  9. 1989 : Say Anything
    A nearly perfect teen movie that doesn't trivialize any aspect of being a teenager, and creates complex, sweet, silly, lovable, weird, normal characters. Lloyd is a romantic hero for the ages, and Diane turns out to be more complex than just the perfect object of his love. Another favorite from this year: Do the Right Thing.
  10. 1990 : Pump Up the Volume
    Still so cool and relevant and sexy 25 years later. Other favorites from this year: Edward Scissorhands (gothic fantasy meets suburban dreams), and Goodfellas (when Lorraine Bracco's voiceover starts out of nowhere: total gamechanger).
  11. 1991 : My Own Private Idaho
    Shakespearean adaptation, homoerotic buddy movie, road trip adventure, weird and beautiful, it captures the ghost of River Phoenix in his prime, the now famous voyeurism of Gus Van Sant, and some truly innovative filmmaking. Another favorite from this year: Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, which not only holds up but has only gotten better with time.
  12. 1992 : Strictly Ballroom
    I was living in Australia in '91-'92 and visiting the beach when I saw a film production shooting at a small storefront with a glittery Coca-Cola sign on the roof. The following year when I saw this sweet little movie, I recognized the scene and it made it even more magical, like I was a part of it. Now it reminds me of my amazing year in Australia. Another favorite: Wayne's World, one of the few my mom and I went to see at the theater in Australia. It's so good. At the time, it felt like home.
  13. 1993 : What's Eating Gilbert Grape
    This was a big year for me. It was like the first year I really cared about movies and sought them out. Also, I got a Columbia House movie club membership with 7 free VHS tapes, so I was rolling in movies. This one hit me hard and seemed real and sweet and had dreamy Johnny Depp in it. Not sure how it holds up as I haven't seen it in a while. Other oft-watched VHS tapes from this year: Dave, Much Ado About Nothing, Benny and Joon, Untamed Heart.
  14. 1994 : Four Weddings and a Funeral
    Another big year for me and movies, this was the first year I took myself to the movies, with no adults. My neighbor Ben and I used to take the bus to the mall. That's how I saw Speed and D2: The Mighty Ducks four times each. Also, the crush I had on bumbling, floppy-haired Hugh Grant was fierce. The British charm was so great, I didn't notice how terrible Andie McDowell was or how they had no chemistry. Other favorites at the time and even still: Little Women, Interview With the Vampire.
  15. 1995 : Sense and Sensibility
    I had recently fallen in love with Emma Thompson (in Much Ado), Hugh Grant (see 1994) and Jane Austen (see nerdy 14yo girl), so this was a perfect storm of wit and charm and longing. Ang Lee's direction and Thompson's script also just made it very lovable. Other much beloved movies from this year: 12 Monkeys, Clueless, Empire Records, Dead Man.
  16. 1996 : Romeo + Juliet
    It was conveniently the year we were actually reading R&J in English class, and they were marketing this as the coolest teen movie ever - there was even a beautiful collectible postcard ad campaign for the movie in Seventeen magazine. We were hooked. It was romantic and the two leads were perfect, but also it was wacky and weird like Strictly Ballroom with more money and more style and more ideas. The exhilarating mash up of art and influences and literature and teen angst still astounds me. 💥
  17. 1997 : The Fifth Element
    Once, in my voracious pursuit to watch everything in the video store, I stumbled upon this movie and proceeded to watch it 3 times in a row (watch, rewind, watch again). It was jam packed with interesting things to think about and look at. I loved it. (It would be a great candidate for my beautiful messes list, actually. it's beauty and messiness is what makes it truly great.)
  18. 1998 : Out of Sight
    Also discovered in my genre by genre devouring of vhs tapes at Premiere Video in Moorhead, MN, I loved the crazy madcap charm, style, wit and headlong romance of this. Still do. The beginning of my Soderbergh obsession. Other movies I loved that year: Shakespeare in Love, Rushmore, Elizabeth, The Wedding Singer, Great Expectations.
  19. 1999 : Magnolia
    I was working at the Fargo Theatre in Fargo, ND, an old vaudeville theatre converted into a jewel box single screen art house. What an amazing year to be there. I shoveled popcorn and I watched from the balcony: Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, All About My Mother, The Virgin Suicides, American Beauty, Three Kings, Sweet and Lowdown, Ratcatcher, Topsy-Turvy, Jesus' Son. What a banner year for movies. But at the time nothing hit me harder than Magnolia. It left me shell-shocked.
  20. 2000 : Almost Famous
    This movie is so dear to me. It's not perfect but I feel like it is anyway. The concentrated nostalgia of it is heady. Lots of great, innovative movies again this year, but none of them come close, except maybe Erin Brockovich, which I find entirely entertaining, well crafted, stylish and satisfying. I'll watch it anytime.
  21. 2001 : Spirited Away
    Four of my favorite heroines appeared this year, just when I needed them. I was 20. They were all heroic and malcontent: Chihiro, Amelie, Margot, Enid. Spirited Away amazed me the most in every way, but Amelie, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ghost World are also close to my heart.
  22. 2002 : Catch Me if You Can
    This movie was so much fun.
  23. 2003 : Elf
    It's crazy how much I love this movie.
  24. 2004 : Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    So inventive and wonderful.
  25. 2005 : Me and You and Everyone We Know
    This came out during my first year at film school in Chicago. I loved it so much and it felt so personal to me that I took it as a sign, telling me I was on a good path.
  26. 2006 : Children of Men
    This movie blew me away. The technical aspects of how they did it astounded me as much as the intimate, tragic, subtle sci-fi and Clive Owen's wonderful performance.
  27. 2007 : Into the Wild
    Yes, this movie is about a pretentious asshole rich kid on a doomed wrong-headed mission, but somehow that makes it more interesting to me, and somehow more transcendent. I love the rambling structure of the journey and the way it looks and feels.
  28. 2008 : Rachel Getting Married
    This movie took me by surprise as it ripped my guts out. The family ensemble, their interactions, the wedding ceremony, all felt strange and special. I love it.
  29. 2009 : Fantastic Mr. Fox
    So charming and detailed and lovable.
  30. 2010 : Scott Pilgrim vs the World
    This movie strikes the perfect goofy magical tone of the source, and it gets better every time I watch it. Other favorites: Never Let Me Go, Blue Valentine.
  31. 2011 : Moneyball
    Man I love sports movies. And this is one of the best.
  32. 2012 : The Sapphires
    I adore this movie. I wish it was more well known. It has all the charm, epicness and production value of a big blockbuster, but wasn't widely seen in the US. It's about four Aboriginal women who go to Vietnam to perform for the soldiers. It's entirely delightful, exciting, romantic, charming and political without being heavy-handed. Plus, there's great 60s music and Chris O'Dowd.
  33. 2013 : Only Lovers Left Alive
    This movie is so cool. The design is amazing, the setting specific and magical, the collection of crumbling history and contemporary beauty really fascinating to observe. Possibly the best illustration of what being a world-weary immortal might feel like. Also loved this year: The Kings of Summer.
  34. 2014 : Edge of Tomorrow
    In terms of sheer entertainment, smart moviemaking, and ass kicking, I have to go with Edge of Tomorrow. It's surprising, funny, action-packed and unexpectedly romantic, and just a really successful movie. Also loved: Boyhood, but in a more complicated way.
  35. 2015 : Mad Max: Fury Road
    Just pure relentless adrenaline. Also loved: Room, Brooklyn, Mistress America and The Martian.