Prompt writers are just like you! We are just as susceptible in accidentally wasting an entire afternoon watching a movie on cable as everyone else. We asked our writers the following question
Here are some of our writers’ favorite go-to movies.
“Get busy living… or get busy dying.”
…ORRR, get busy sitting here and watching the rest of The Shawshank Redemption because whenever I stumble across it, I am hooked. And you’d think with all of the times it’s on cable, I’d have gotten enough, that the twists wouldn’t be as twisty, that the quotable moments would lose their luster. But they don’t, and thanks to TNT, TBS, USA, and The Paramount Network, I have served years at Shawshank. Maybe one day I’ll be rehabilitated.
“You keep what you kill.”
And I’m about to kill the rest of my day revisiting the exploits, nay, The CHRONICLES of Richard B. Riddick, as he untangles the threads of his past, dodges bounty hunters, beefs with Necromongers, infiltrates a moon prison, outruns the sun, and leads a one man revolution, all the while trading witty barbs and blows with everyone in his path. Is this a good movie? No. But is this my favorite movie? Yes. A thousand times, yes.
When I was home for Christmas, I found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II on TV. It was about three-quarters of the way through—just when all of the series’ emotions are coming to a head and the students must defend Hogwarts. This is by no means my favorite Harry Potter film. It is not even in the top five, but I found myself glued to the action and cried like a baby despite approximately one trillion commercial breaks.
Magic! Friendship! Unrequited love! Ya know?
I apologize because I’m about to overfish the high seas. Because it’s not ONE movie for me. It’s one producer.
At any given moment, a Judd Apatow movie might be on television. Which means that at any given moment, I might get hung up on a channel watching any number of my favorite performers in a moment that nails their comedic sensibilities. Kristen Wiig’s physical comedy. Maude Apatow and Paul Rudd’s relatable dialogue. Jason Segel’s vulnerability. Melissa McCarty’s scene-stealing intensity.
So, it’s not just one movie. It’s all of them. And it’s not just one movie I’ve seen 100 times. It’s all of them.
Of course, any of my go-to franchises get a stop from me: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Back to the Future – but a standalone classic that I will watch at any point in its runtime is Gone Girl. Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck falling in love? Check. Ben Affleck bumbling around like an idiot while being accused of murder? Oh, I’m stopping to watch that. Rosamund Pike doing the “cool girl” monologue? You know I can’t look away! Rosamund Pike wearing any number of striped shirts? #OutfitGoals! Ben Affleck getting in the shower to prove he’s not wearing a wire? YUP, I’m so there.
Gone Girl is a perfect movie and I never get sick of the perfectly calibrated combination of thriller/rom com/social commentary on true crime + suburbia + the fall of the American dream + generational wealth. The score also rules.
My husband accuses my movie taste of being nothing more than a scene you might have witnessed in a local coffee shop, which is to say, he finds my choices plotless and mundane. But you know what that leaves these quotidian movies ripe for? Acting. Dialogue. Chemistry. Enough Said, the most generically titled movie that I’ve seen over 30 times but still had to Google “Julia Louis-Dreyfus James Gandolfini” to get the name of, contains these ingredients in multitudes.
Don’t bother scouring the guide to find this film (you’ll never remember what it’s called). But when you think you’re catching an Elaine-incepted episode of The Sopranos, give it 5 minutes and I guarantee your ass will indent your couch watching to the end.
For me, it’s always a Woody Allen movie and the one that still shows up, that I can watch over and over, is Alice—his take on Alice in Wonderland. Underappreciated but available for cheap royalties, I guess!
My favorite movie is Zodiac. For those of who you haven’t seen it—and I’m appalled by the number of people I’ve talked who haven’t—the movie is about the Zodiac Killer and the lives of three people who, while not his victims, have their lives spiral because of the killings: Jake Gyllenhaal, a newspaper cartoonist; Robert Downey Jr., a newspaper reporter; and Mark Ruffalo, a police detective. It’s suspenseful, intriguing, and a real-life unsolved mystery. No matter where the movie is when I find it on TV, I have to turn it on, because there’s always a great part left.
“That’s what I like about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”
Wooderson is right, a familiar, favorite movie can transport us all back in time. No matter how old we get, it’s there for us, un-aged and unchanged. It’s ready to greet us, like an old friend, and let the hour drift by as we enjoy each other’s company. One of the great things about the plotlessness of Dazed & Confused is that every scene is a jumping in point. You’re never lost, because the answer to “What’s going on in this movie?” is fuckin’ nothin’, man. We’re just hanging out, trying to have a good time.
There was a time when two early-aughts movies were on a lot, and for some reason, I loved them deeply: Life or Something Like It, starring Angelina Jolie and Ed Burns, and Down with Love, starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. Life or Something Like It was the first Jolie movie I ever saw, and I watched it because I thought she was beautiful. (Still is.) I did love Zellweger in Chicago, so that was the motivation to watch Down with Love. Hilariously, I remembered this movie as being a musical rom-com, but it turns out that Zellweger and McGregor only perform one song, and it’s during the end credits. I guess I was conflating it with Chicago and the fact that McGregor had been in Moulin Rouge, though I hadn’t yet seen that movie. Anyway, I’m sure I’m the only person who remembers these movies, but I loved them. I should see if they’re streaming anywhere…