41. Remember the Titans
The first time I ever saw this movie was on the bus on the way from a mission trip my youth group took to Mexico, and it’s so fitting: Teamwork leads to friendship that overcomes race and class issues. This is the true story of a high football team that had to integrate in the early ’70s–serious stuff, yeah, but it’s done with a lot of grace and humor. They go from suspicion and racism to realizing that hey, these are just a bunch of other guys that play ball.
42. Return to Me
Guy loses wife (and makes me choke up every single time, dang it). Guy meets girl. Girl has a charming grandpa who has a bunch of funny old geezer friends. Guy and girl fall in love. Girl finds out she has a strange and sad connection to guy’s dead wife. Guy gets angsty. It’s a romantic comedy that a lot of guys I know even like.
43. Road to Perdition
When a member of the Irish mob is betrayed by the family he works for, he and his son go on the run and pursue vengeance and justice. Sounds a little formulaic, except that said mobster is Tom Hanks, cast against type, and the film itself is acted and written wonderfully. Tragic, but utterly beautiful, and an exploration of the relationships between fathers and sons.
44. Romeo + Juliet
Take the Bard’s classic play and set it in mid-’90s California. Saturate the thing with religious imagery and grunge rock and make Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes the title characters, and you have quite possibly my favorite version of the play ever. Here’s the last nine minutes:
Based on the play of the same name, this is a movie about writer C.S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Davidson–how they met, became friends, got married, fell in love (yes, in that order), and then had to face her illness together. It makes my heart ache watching it, not least of all because it’s based on a true story, and also not least of all because Anthony Hopkins is a freaking great actor. Here’s a scene:
46. Singin’ In the Rain
This is such a great movie that I’m just going to let it speak for itself:
47. Slam Nation
With all the spoken-word poetry that I stick up on here for your enjoyment, it’s probably no surprise that I really like this documentary, which follows teams at the 1996 National Poetry Slam in Portland, OR. There’s drama (“he’s breaking the rules!”), competition, and general hilarity. Oh, yeah, and some great poetry, too. Here’s the trailer, which has some faces you’ve probably seen here before (some profanity):
48. Across the Universe
Breaking alphabetical order here because I changed my mind about the movie I stuck here originally–Across the Universe is one of those movies you either love or hate, and I unabashedly love it. Does it have its faults? Well, yeah. I can think of a fifteen-minute stretch that was just completely random and unnecessary, for example. But is it a love song for all of the ’60s, and for the music of the Beatles? Of course. And it’s one I can definitely sing along to:
49. That Thing You Do!
Tom Hanks’s directorial debut follows a band from Erie, PA as they rise to the top of the charts, and then…they break up. They’re called the Wonders for a reason, of course. It’s totally lighthearted, has some great music (written by Fountains of Wayne, the “Stacy’s Mom” band–bizarre, huh?), and there’s a really sweet love story to boot. Here’s a song:
It feels appropriate that the last movie on the list is also the newest. This is not a movie about environmentalism; it’s about love and relationships and good stewardship of the earth. It’s about having to overcome what distracts us, what programs us, to connect with one another. And, y’know, there are adorable robots to boot. If anything, go because of this: