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Stephanie Andujar: The Best Films Of My Lifetime

YOU can imagine my excitement when James Prestridge of Close-up Culture told me to pick my favourite film from each year of my life – 32 years’ worth of films. Believe me I was amazed by all the films I have seen and what they mean to me.

This project was so much fun. Hopefully others might check out and say ‘Hey! I like that movie too!’


1986 – Little Shop of Horrors

“Feed me Seymour!” What a year to be born in, which debuted Frank Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors with Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin. I always find myself singing along to Skid Row (Downtown), Grow for Me and Suddenly Seymour, to name a few! This one stood out to me among other 1986 favs Pretty in Pink, Peggy Sue Got Married, Three Amigos and Short Circuit.

1987 – SpaceBalls

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“Ludicrous Speed! Go!” Mel Brooks’ SpaceBalls is truly a comedy classic! This I have on a DVD that my sister Melanie gave me. I can watch this so many times and always keep laughing.

Mel Brooks’ comedies always have the right amount of slapstick comedy. You just do not see much of this these days, hence why this film is one of the best! A year that also included The Mannequin, Dirty Dancing, MoonStruck, and Inner Space.

1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

“I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” Directed by Robert Zemeckis, a ground-breaking film that mixed live and animated characters featuring the great (late) Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd and Kathleen Turner voicing Jessica Rabbit. I have the DVD and a nice signed autographed photo by Roger Rabbit himself! What can I say, he makes me laugh!

This beats other 1988 hits such as Beetlejuice, La Bamba, Big, and Beaches.

1989 – Batman

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I love Tim Burton’s Batman so much I still have the VHS tape that my parents used to put on for me and my sister. It is truly one of my favourites starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger. A cool scene with the Joker in the museum featuring PartyMan by Prince makes it even better! One of my favourites for sure among other 1989 releases Honey I shrunk the Kids, The Little Mermaid and National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.

1990 – Edward Scissorhands

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Another Tim Burton film that is in my DVD collection. My little brother gifted me the DVD this past Christmas because it has always been one of my favourites. Edward, a good man, with hands for scissors, is immersed into real life and feeling different is all too relatable sometimes – a classic! Other favs that year include Pretty Woman, Goodfellas, Home Alone, and My Blue Heaven.

1991- Drop Dead Fred

The best imaginary friend ever in film history besides Harvey. Drop Dead Fred is by far one of my favourite films to come out of the year 1991. Fred, played by Erik Mayall and also starring Phoebe Cates make the perfect imaginary friend combo. My sister and I still call each other “snot face” because of this movie too. If you see the movie, you’ll see why.

Two thumbs up! My favourite between thriller The Silence of The Lambs and comedy Nothing But Trouble.

1992 – Malcolm X

“By any means necessary,” this is one that stands out. Spike Lee’s 1992 film Malcolm X was a great piece of cinematic story telling about one of America’s best known human rights activists.

I gifted this DVD to my little brother too which, was based mostly on Alex Haley’s 1965 book: The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Denzel Washington’s performance also captured Malcolm’s essence as well. Best picture of 1992 for sure, even among other cool films that year like Wayne’s World and Death Becomes Her.

1993 – Mrs. Doubtfire

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“Hellloooo” My father loved this movie and it was one of his favourites that we saw together. I have the DVD as well with a lot of great behind the scenes footage and a lot of deleted scenes.

My father loved the scene where Mrs. Doubtfire (Robin Williams) hurls a lemon at the back of Pierce Brosnan’s character’s head – “ A run by fruiting!” Mrs. Doubtfire, played by the late great comedian Robin Williams, stands out from so many great films that year – Jurassic Park, Free Willy, The Sandlot and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

1994 – The Mask

“Somebody stop me!” My family and I saw The Mask in the theatre. I was 8 years old and this one stands out as one of Jim Carrey’s break out roles and for Cameron Diaz as well. It was one of those films that was perfect to watch in the theatre because of the animation which infused with live action. Jim Carrey made it look effortless as Stanley Ipkiss. A true action comedy gem – ahead of other top releases from that year: Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Forrest Gump.

1995 – ClueLess

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“Like, whatever.” This is one of my favourite films from 1995. My sister gifted me this DVD because ClueLess brought us all that mid 1990’s fashion that hailed from Paris and we fell in love with a new kind of era. It was directed by Amy Heckerling who always delivers cult classic films that stand the test of time. A total Betty. This one takes the cake over Casino, Friday, and Toy Story.

1996 – The Craft

We had our mum take us to see this at the theatre. My little brother was not even a year old but we wanted to see this film so bad. My sister and I left feeling like witches with new found powers. Such a cult classic. With Fairuza Balk and Robin Tunney – who I got to work with in the film See Girl Run in 2012 – talk about being spellbound. A stand out among other favourites that year – Scream, Independence Day and Space Jam.

1997 – Selena

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“BidiBidiBomBom!” It is only fitting that Selena is on my list as a top favourite. We got to see this in theatre at Easter. My Dad asked what we wanted to do and my sister wanted to go see the Selena film since it had just been released.

Director Gregory Nava did a beautiful job by showing us Selena Quintanilla’s legacy and all that she accomplished in her life. This also brought us Jennifer Lopez whom I also admired as a Latina breaking into Hollywood. Another fav that year I saw with my Dad and sister was Donnie Brasco.

1998 – There’s Something About Mary

“We got a bleeder.” I love this movie so much. This was actually released on my birthday July 15…I was 12 years old. Wow. The Farrelly brothers never cease to amaze me with their comedies and humour.

Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz were the perfect combo too. The “gel” in her hair scene will always be a scene to remember. My favourite in a year that also gave us Ever After, Saving Private Ryan and American History X.

1999 – Girl, Interrupted

“Susanna Kaysen!” Based on her memoir, Girl, Interrupted was a really good film. Winona Ryder did a great job as Susanna and Angelina Jolie really embodied that seductive dangerous type all too well.

It made you want to be a part of her antics but without quite belonging on that side of danger. Brittany Murphy also shined in this film, leaving us knowing that she too would have been an even bigger star if she had not died so young. A stand out – ahead of The Matrix, Big Daddy and Notting Hill.

2000 – Almost Famous

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“Fever Dogggg…Scratching at my Backdoorrrrr.” This film had me feeling like a roadie or a rock star. I really liked this film – another in my DVD collection. I believe this was Kate Hudson’s break through role too, playing the band aid Penny Lane ,alongside new comer Patrick Fugit. Philip Seymour Hoffman had a cool part as Lester Bangs too and was perfect as usual. But I cannot forget other favourites such as Cast Away, American Psycho and Romeo Must Die.

2001 – Riding in Cars with Boys

This is a favourite. I love this true story. Riding in Cars with Boys is all about writer Beverly Donofrio, played by Drew Barrymore. It is a great coming of age film set in the 1960s and it also starred Brittany Murphy as her best friend Fay. A great movie capturing humorous but sometimes tough moments as you grow through life. This was the top pick, ahead of Shrek, A Beautiful Mind and Shallow Hal.

2002 – Death to Smoochy

Danny Devito brought us a cool dark comedy with Death to Smoochy. Robin Williams was all too funny playing Rainbow Randolph, a corrupt star of a children’s show who gets replaced by Smoochy, played by Edward Norton.

This movie was just all too funny and real, leaving us with another superb performance from Williams. Two thumbs up!

2003 – Bad Santa

Another dark comedy that I really love. Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa was ruthless and funny as Santa. The scene with him and the kid, played by Brett Kelly, playing checkers has me busting out laughing till this day. A very funny film for sure. This year also saw released Bruce Almighty, Monster and Big Fish.

2004 – Napoleon Dynamite

“Vote for Pedro!” Napoleon Dynamite was the ultimate friend in this indie comedy. I remember seeing this with high school friends near to graduation and I fell in love with it.

It had this sense of being set in the late 80’s but we know it is supposed to be present time. It reminds me of what high school was like. Other favourites that year are Anchorman, The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 50 First Dates, The Terminal and Garden State.

2005 – Just Friends

“Forgiveness… is more than saying sorryyyyy.” Ryan Reynolds had me dying in this film with Anna Faris. I think they also said Amy Smart’s character’s name a lot because they liked the way “Jamie Palamino” sounded. This is a go to film for laughs but I also liked Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wedding Crashers and 40-Year-Old Virgin.

2006 – The Departed

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A Martin Scorsese favourite of mine. The Departed is a cool film covering the South Boston area and Leonardo DiCaprio playing a cop going undercover to infiltrate a mob led by Jack Nicholson.

Just those two names alone tells you it is going to be a dope film and it is. A stand out film among The Devil Wears Prada and Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

2007 – The Simpsons Movie

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“D’oh!” I went to the theatre to see The Simpsons Movie because I have been a fan since the time they first aired The Simpsons on The Tracy Ullman show. When the movie released I had to see it and of course get it on DVD as well. I loved that they centred it around a message of not only saving Springfield from disaster but the whole world. “Spider pig…Spider pig.”

2008 – Sex And The City

I love that I can include one of my favourite HBO series after they made it into a film in 2008. My sister and I actually went to the movies to see it and waited in line with all the other fans.

We even dressed up and found we were not the only ones in the Sex & the City spirit. Even with the release of The Dark Knight, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Revolutionary Road, Sex And The City will always be number one from that year.

2009 – Precious

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Obviously this film is the stand out from 2009. Precious was the first film I got to act in as Rita Romero alongside my cast mates. Lee Daniels did a brilliant job of turning Sapphires book “PUSH” into a cinematic gem. I even knew we would do well at Sundance but I did not know how well. Happy to say, I am part of a film that will have a place in cinematic history.

2010 – Sex And The City 2

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Yup, my sister and I waited on line again to see part 2 of Sex And The City. Seeing these films were so important because we had been fans of the Sex And The City series and being able to see our favourite four women getting into crazy adventures in Abu Dhabi was a must see. Of course 2010 did bring us The Social Network, Kick-Ass and Shutter Island.

2011 – Bridesmaids

bridesmaids

Kristen Wiig brought us a really good comedy with Bridesmaids. Trying to be a good friend while dealing with your own mess and planning a friend’s wedding with all these comedic moments was just all too good. It also introduced us to the hilarious Melissa McCarthy. Thank you Kristen Wiig!

2012 – Life of Pi

I really loved this film. The story of teenage boy Pi, left alone with a Bengal Tiger on a lifeboat – learning to trust each other – was Ang Lee’s masterpiece. It was beautifully filmed and a profound story that resonates. A favourite among The Hunger Games, Argo and Ted.

2013 – Wolf of Wall Street

This is Martin Scorsese’s other cool film with Leonardo DiCaprio delivering in the role as the real Jordan Belfort. All the grittiness and reality of Wall Street was exposed and the film was directed so well. My sister and I saw this on Christmas Day and it was packed. This one was great but I also liked The Great Gatsby and the hilarious This is the End.

2014 – A Walk Among the Tombstones

I am happy to add thriller Walk Among the Tombstones to my list because I had a part in it with the great Liam Neeson. I played a cashier he interrogates while trying to find out about a kidnapping and murder. The year also brought us Maleficent and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

2015 – The Night Before

“Nut Cracker Ballllll!” I love this movie. The Night Before was a cool different Christmas movie that my sister actually put me on to. Three guys Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordodn-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, celebrating with each other Christmas Eve and getting into some crazy antics.

Michael Shannon as the bud dealer was brilliant too. Two thumbs up. I also saw and loved revamped films Jurassic World and Cinderella.

2016 – Sausage Party

This animated movie was all too funny. I have stuffed animals of the characters from this film too. Another Seth Rogen masterpiece featuring cartoons voiced by Salma Hayek, James Franco, Kristen Wiig and so many other great actors. A very cool and funny animated feature where if supermarket products could talk… we would know how they felt.

2017 – Marjorie Prime

Another film I am happy to say I was in. I played Julie in Director Michael Almereyda’s Sci-fi drama. I worked alongside Lois Smith as Marjorie, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis and confided in the Hologram played by Jon Hamm. I also loved John Wick Chapter 2.

2018 – Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Even though we have yet to see what else 2018 brings us in films, I saw this with my siblings recently and it was really good. Christ Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job as they did in the first instalment. Bringing us ever closer to dinosaurs and what life with them could have been like. Two thumbs up for sure.

By Stephanie Andujar

Check out Season 3 of StephA: One Woman Show

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3 comments

  1. Great post, I enjoyed reading and I love some of the films you chose. The Departed is amazing and I love all of Tim Burton’s movies, he’s one of my favorite directors!!

    Like

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