Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.
Let me set the scene for you,
You are 22 years old, going on 23 and life is about to hit you hard after graduation. As you prepare to set off into the larger world, nerves and nostalgia have sent you looking for something concrete to catalog the 23 years of living you have experienced through the eager and expanding worldview of what it means to grow up in the 21st century.
One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you are embroiled in the world of Letterboxd. On Letterboxd — a website for social film discovery — the films which molded and shaped your worldview come back to you. One after another, you rate, like and diary those that work and those that don't. Order is restored and nostalgia is reborn in the messy business of film recollection.
Alas, if you are like me, this is not enough. Nostalgia must be neater.
In an effort to make nostalgia as neat as possible, I dove back through the archives and selected one film for every year of my life that I think you, my fellow Gen Z folk, should watch. I will freely admit that this is a practice of incredible subjectivity. I am by no means a film expert. But that’s less than the point. Instead, take this as an invitation to travel down a road of your own design. Take this as a roadmap with cities and towns circles in someone else’s handwriting as a means to urge you all to consider the meaning of movies and the way your life has come together in this crazy era.
I reckon your nostalgic journey might end up looking pretty neat. Tune in next week for the next ten years.
Part ONE — The Years of Revisitation
“Gladiator” — 2000
Russell Crowe fought in arenas so “Game of Thrones” could dogfight with “Dragons.” If you question my choice here all I ask is this: Are you not entertained?
Runner up: “American Psycho.” To every male member of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond, I am sorry.
“The Royal Tenenbaums”— 2001
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The fact that I knew how to spell the title is a great endorsement to how much I talk about this film. Wes Anderson’s New York dollhouse filled with a troubled family is equal parts tragic, hopeful and ephemeral. It is timeless and of the moment all at once, with Gene Hackman gracing the world with one more memorable performance to crown his incredible career.
Runner Up: “Ocean’s Eleven.” Do not fret, Rusty and Danny will get their due.
“Punch-Drunk Love” — 2002
“Punch-Drunk Love” is both my favorite Adam Sandler performance and favorite Paul Thomas Anderson project. Reds and blues, romance and fistfuls of fury, all in believable musical glory.
Runner-ups: “Ice Age” and “Lilo and Stitch.” It’s hard to understate the importance of cartoon ice creatures to those of my generation. And what a cute alien thing.
“Lost in Translation” — 2003
For me, this is an all-time “you are either with me, or you are against me,” type of favorite movie, saying anything else would be lying about why it’s here. The feeling is immaculate. I’m attracted to emotions that conventionally are wrong, yet I can’t escape them. It’s simply perfect.
Runner up: “Finding Nemo.” Never touch the butt. A foundational text for little Logan.
2003, what a year.
“Ocean’s Twelve” — 2004
Julia Roberts pretending to be Julia Roberts — but not actually being Julia Roberts — while being confused for Julia Roberts, as she is talking on the phone with Julia Roberts, is magic.
Runner Up: “Mean Girls.” Yup, no further questions.
“Madagascar” — 2005
Yes, I will include, cherish and celebrate all my childhood favorites — no, I do not care about your mature choices!
“The Departed” — 2006
Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, cops and robbers; characters and entities who are a little bit of each other all at once. “The Departed” is always so intriguing to me. Not because it is the peak of Martin Scorsese’s career, nor any of the actors, but because it seems to neatly develop the signature elements of everyone involved, while never giving any of those people the floor to take over. There is a sublime and thrilling balance that makes it impossible to look away. “The Departed” is Scorsese's Oscar winner and it is what I believe to be a fundamental text in his legacy as the most influential American filmmaker of the last 50 years.
Runner up: “Borat.” Revolution of raunchy. King of cringe. A masterpiece filmed with okay camera equipment.
“Zodiac” — 2007
Here is my humble submission to next semester’s journalism department film screening. “Zodiac” is the best journalism movie of all time and a testimony of David Fincher’s singular brilliance. I have no clue how anyone could make such a nice movie of cops and journalists fumbling their way to obsession over a murder case that captivated a country.
“Burn After Reading” — 2008
John Malkovich has a drinking problem and a bunch of schmucks are getting in the way of his dream of being an author. The Coen brothers really went all out with this one, and it is one of the most absurd movies I have seen. Also, Brad Pitt and wired earbuds, two passions in my life together in the most spectacular way.
Runner Up: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” The singular best use of gratuitous male nudity on screen. Other funny stuff happens too, by the way.
“Inglourious Basterds” — 2009
I was nine years old and my parents had a date night. They didn't go out much, nor do they go out much now, nor do they have much moviegoing experience in general. Nonetheless, I remember this one because I was jealous. They were going to a movie with a curse word in the name, so, naturally, it had to be cool. That movie was “Inglourious Basterds.”
For a couple of months, I stewed over this perceived injustice until I got wind that Quentin Tarantino's sixth directorial effort was hitting the shelves of my small-town movie store. So, on my bike home from school, I swung by the movie store, picked out the film and took it home in what felt like a covert operation. Since then, and those first watches and rewatches at home in secret, “Inglourious Basterds” has been my most rewatched movie and a text that has defined my taste in humor, homage, sense of place and dramatic creativity that films can accomplish.
No other movies were considered for this year.
Contact contributor Logan Jones-Wilkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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