[TOP 10 MOVIES FOR GIRLS]
When people think of “chick flicks,” romantic comedies, or tearjerkers filled with distraught women losing a boyfriend, child or best friend, come to mind. Yet, “chick flicks” go beyond the obvious. They are usually emotional explorations of the heroine as she tries to navigate through her different societal roles. How to be a good mother and pursue a career. How to find love when you think you aren’t worthy. Finding good friends. The importance of family.
The core of this exploration is the desire for intimacy and love. And as women seek intimacy and love in their lives, they sometimes look to their onscreen counterparts for a cathartic and vicarious experience. These 10 films represent the gamut of stories that touch the hearts of women.
When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Can men and women really be friends? Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal explore this question through this romantic comedy jaunt that spans 12 years of their lives. Women can relate to the fear and uncertainty of finding the right man and the realization that he may be right under your nose.
Titanic (1997) – A young stowaway, a.k.a. “The King of the World,” helps a socialite awaken from her coma of proper etiquette, an arranged and loveless marriage and society’s class expectations. Through his death, she learns to live and discovers her heart will go on.
Moulin Rouge (2001) – “How wonderful life is now you’re in the world,” a writer sings to a courtesan, and a modern day Hosea and Gomer story unfolds. In a musical set to the tunes by Elton John, Paul McCartney and The Police, love, jealousy, power and beauty are explored within the backdrop of dizzying special effects and extravagant costumes and sets.
Kate and Leopold (2001) – Traditional chivalry captures the heart of the most independent, career-oriented and emotionally wounded 21
century woman. Leopold sweeps Kate (literally) off her feet with old fashion courtship. Purity reigns supreme, as there is no onscreen consummation. With knowledge of painting, culinary arts and flowers, Leopold represents the combination of man that most women seek—strong, sensitive, honorable and respectable.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) – Transformation of an ugly duckling to a beautiful woman despite her family’s strict expectations of her. Even her love for a non-Greek man helps her to discover herself and embrace the craziness and eccentricities of her family. More than a romantic comedy, this independent film celebrates family and the merging of two cultures.
Waiting to Exhale (1995) – The power of friendship helps four African-American women deal with the harsh aspects of life. As they look for love in all the wrong places, their longing to be truly loved and fulfilled crosses all ethnic lines. It is the love of “sister-friends” that helps them see the truth and wait for something better instead of settling.
Thelma and Louise (1991) – Two post-feminist heroines make their mark on the cultural landscape as they explore gender politics and vigilante justice. Controversial and thought-provoking, this film allows for serious discussion about the roles of women, both good and bad.
Say Anything (1989) – Cheers to a film that allows the high school loner to be in a relationship with the smart girl. Love is explored outside of expectations as both people bring out the best in each other. A boy learns how to be vulnerable and love. A girl accepts she doesn’t have to be perfect and takes new risks.
The English Patient (1996) – Adultery, unrestrained emotions and selfishness—key things that lead to destruction to self and others. With a torrid and passionate love affair, this couple takes obsession and dysfunction to new heights. A great lesson on the importance of healthy relationships, monogamy and the sacredness of marriage.
Love Actually (2003) – Many stories about love from a British perspective. A woman sacrifices a chance at love in order to take care of a mentally ill brother. Another woman’s love is tested by a husband’s infidelity. An aging rock star realizes the true love of his life is his platonic relationship with his manager. For marriage to romance to friendship, this movie helps women as well as men appreciate the importance of relationships and emotional bonding despite the risk of heartache.
Many women enjoy these films because the different stories represent some aspect of their lives. It’s not just the emotional connection, but also a deeper longing for something more. Brent Curtis and John Eldredge sum up this experience in The Sacred Romance. “This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality. It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for being truly alive. However, we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God.”
[TOP TEN MOVIES FOR GUYS] What constitutes a guy’s film? Lots of action, not a lot of dialogue and maybe some dumb jokes thrown in the mix? And don’t forget the scantily clad women. But, there are movies that go beyond the typical stereotypes. Most guys are drawn to stories that go below the surface and explore the deeper aspects of life. “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, and adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. That is how he bears the image of God; that is what God made him to be,” says John Eldredge in his book, Wild at Heart.
So, here are 10 films that represent some aspect of that longing.
Braveheart (1996) – A portrait of a hero as he avenges his wife’s death and fights for Scotland’s freedom. His courage and perseverance provide a model for the modern day warrior who seeks to make his mark in the world.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003) – Friendship and loyalty lie at the heart of these three films. No matter how difficult the journey, the power of the fellowship allows them to remain strong and battle evil until the victorious end. “And, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
Star Wars (1977) – A galaxy far, far away captured the imagination of many young boys and grown men. Luke Skywalker becomes a man as he fights Darth Vader’s evil empire and discovers the Force. It’s a mythic journey filled with adventure, danger and cool light sabers.
Rocky (1976) – Yo Adrian! A down and out Philly boxer gets the chance of a lifetime—a heavyweight championship bout. With sheer determination, basic physical training and a protein diet (remember the raw eggs), Rocky makes you believe in impossible dreams. He’s an underdog not only fighting other boxers, but fears and personal demons. An inspiring classic.
Gladiator (2000) – Stripped of his honor and dignity, Maximus reinvents himself as a proud and victorious gladiator with the ability and will to survive. He has strength to conquer his opponents in bloody battles and bring humiliation to the evil emperor of Rome; yet, he’s sensitive enough to make peace with his past and his losses.
Field of Dreams (1989) – A cornfield housing the ghosts of baseball past—a place of dreams. Second chances for an emotionally wounded man to reconcile with his estranged father. A movie where many men claim to have something in their eye when Ray Kinsella’s character plays catch with his father for the last time.
The Matrix (1999) – Philosophy wrapped in awesome special effects created a new genre of action film. The typical components still exist—martial arts battles, continuous sprays of bullets, cool black trench coats, leather and sunglasses for ultimate GQ styling. But there is dialogue, plot and spiritual implications deep enough for the girlfriends and wives to enjoy it as well.
Swingers (1996) – A lesson in listening to your maturity, instead of your guy friends, on dating. This is the story of a man on a quest to find a mate and all the mistakes he makes along the way by accepting bad advice from male friends. When he decides to be real and stops playing games, he discovers a woman who accepts him, flaws and all.
Office Space (1999) – The cube farms, the TPS reports and the red stapler are enough to send any workingman over the edge. But this satirical visit through Corporate America allows for cathartic and vicarious viewing as many men dream of quitting the rat race and pursing their dreams.
Fight Club (1999) – Discovering manhood through the primal ritual of fighting. Lacking rites of passage into manhood, the men in this film seek meaning and purpose beyond their dead-end jobs, Ikea furniture, absent fathers and self-help groups. Physical pain is the release for emotional and spiritual pain as they try to be men in a confusing society that has conflicting messages and the lack of strong role models.
There are a lot of films that represent the male perspective but did not make the list. These are films filled with adventure, beauties and battles, stories that stir the hearts of men while providing a nice selection for that Friday night movie rental.