11 Life-Changing Movies

11 Life-Changing Movies

You make the popcorn, I'll pour the vodka

I already wrote about TV, so my vast wealth of knowledge is already, for the most part, exhausted. However, as I am a man of many interests, I also love movies. For over a century, they have had a unique way of uniting us. From sorrow to triumph and everything in between, nothing can evoke emotion quite like a good movie, and I am often astounded by the sheer number of films that can stir so many feelings inside of us all, not to mention their diminishing recognition with each passing generation.

Which is why one of my biggest pet peeves in life is people with a clichéd favorite movie. You know who you are, and it's not too late to change it. If your favorite film is The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, or Titanic, this list is for you.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - Jack Nicholson's only memorable film (unless you count Batman, The Shining, Five Easy Pieces, Terms of Endearment, Hoffa, etc, etc, ad nauseam), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest follows Randal MacMurphy through a mental hospital in the wake of his falsely pleading insanity in court. MacMurphy, as the only sane patient, leads the others to a newfound sense of freedom and, more importantly, humanity, as Nurse Ratched, the main antagonist of the film, does everything in her power to dehumanize the patients and break their will to live.

Lesson Learned: The human spirit is indomitable, even in the face of electroshock therapy. Nothing can stop you (except maybe a lobotomy)!


A Patch of Blue (1965) - Selina D'Arcey is a blind girl living in a run-down apartment with her abusive mother Rose Ann (Shelley Winters - one of the few movies where she doesn't die) and her alcoholic grandfather. While stringing beads in the park one afternoon, she meets Gordon (Sidney Poitier), an African-American man, who slowly begins to teach her all about the world around her. It's a beautiful story about humanity and selflessness, and seeing the most mundane of things done by Selina with a childlike fascination is surprisingly inspiring.

Lesson Learned: The unimaginable power of even the smallest acts of kindness, and that to be prejudiced is to be truly blind.


Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Continuing with this theme of how awful society can be, Edward Scissorhands is a Burton-Depp masterpiece (before we all got sick of them) that perfectly encapsulates both the petty, parochial attitude of the suburbs after they are exposed to the titular character, and the tragic glamour of being an outcast. It's a heartbreaking movie with stunningly beautiful cinematography and a lot of schmaltzy Tom Jones music thrown in.

Lesson Learned: Society (especially the suburbs) might hate you if you're different, but who needs their love? You're a star.


Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Generally regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, this surprisingly modern film tackles the loss of prestige in Hollywood, a town with an industry supported by stars as replaceable as they are glamorous. Forgotten movie queen Norma Desmond (played by forgotten movie queen Gloria Swanson) makes a vow to return to "pictures" with tragic consequences. The film shows in graphic, vivid detail what clinging to memories and a youth-and-beauty obsessed society can do to the human psyche. Not to mention the fact that Gloria can ACT, y'all.

Lesson Learned: Don't dwell in the past. Move on, push forward, thrive.


The African Queen (1951) - I guarantee that this is the most inspiring story of two middle-aged people falling in love that you'll ever see. Missionary Rose Sayer and alcoholic steamboat captain Charlie Allnut team up to sail down the Ulanga River and sink a German gunboat at the dawn of WWI. I shouldn't even have to sell this one because Bogart got the Oscar for it and Katherine "Four Oscars" Hepburn (Meryl before Meryl was even born) is in it, but it's an amazing action film and a genuine, heartfelt romance that can appeal to anybody.

Lesson Learned: Let nothing stop you from your happiness, and if you think that's a cliché, you should see these two fifty year olds take on the German Army.


The Heiress (1949) - Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland, who recently turned 99 - lemme hear you say heeeey Ms. de Havilland) is a plain girl from a wealthy family. When she falls in love with a man named Morris (Montgomery Clift), her father, fearing that Morris is more interested in the dowry than his daughter, threatens to disinherit her if she marries him. Good ol' Cathy, naive as she is loaded, tells all of this to Morris thinking that he isn't in it for her mansion, and is then surprisingly surprised when he doesn't show up the next day. Years later, desperate and destitute, Morris returns, begging to marry her. Her reaction is one of the iciest, most amazing examples of acting ever filmed. It's a story of pain, loss, and is still beyond poignant after all these decades.

Lesson Learned: Naivité can be dangerous. Snap out of it and grow up before Monty Clift breaks your heart. That, and it's better to be rich and single than broke and blissfully wed.


Network (1976) - One of the greatest satires in modern history, Network is essentially a two hour attack on TV. After being fired, an anchorman starts going crazy on air, threatening to kill himself on live TV in one week. Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) notices the ratings spike that this lunatic is providing for the network (see what they did? Network - network, pretty clever) and eventually he gets his own show, which quickly becomes the highest rated in America. No spoilers, but it all goes to hell real fast.

Side note: watch for not only Faye Dunaway, but for William Holden (also in Sunset Boulevard) and his amazing monologue where he refers to Diana as "television incarnate ... Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality."

Lesson Learned: People will step on your face to get to the top and won't give a damn if they leave you along the wayside. You gotta be tough to make it in this world, kid.


Peyton Place (1957) - I cannot recommend this enough for anybody who disliked their town growing up. Everything from murder to incest, suicide to rape rocks the idyllic New England town in this mesmerizing masterpiece. I watched this for the first time in high school, and it really put things into perspective of just how bad small-town America really can be, giving me a newfound appreciation for my own.

Lesson Learned: Appreciate what you have and where you are in life because it could always be worse. You could live in Peyton Place. And something about judge not lest ye be judged.


Dark Victory (1939) - If you take away one name from this article, let it be this one: Bette Davis. One of the greatest actresses of all time during the greatest year of filmmaking to date makes even this, an hour and a half of a woman dying, an amazing film. Bette plays Judith Traherne, an heiress who smokes and drinks and lives a life free of responsibility until she discovers that she has a terminal illness (and we're supposed to sympathize with her? Poor little rich girl). Davis' transformation from the Paris Hilton of the 30s to a caring, mature woman is heartwarming.

Lesson Learned: Family and friends, more so than champagne and cars, make a life, no matter how tragically short, worth living.


Leave Her to Heaven (1945) - This movie will permanently scare you out of ever getting married. Gene Tierney gives a bone-chilling performance as Ellen Berent, a woman who marries her favorite author then proceeds to murder anyone who could possibly divert his affection, from his disabled little brother to their unborn child. Tierney's role transcends a two-dimensional villain and is a fully realized embodiment of the depravity of the human soul. It's just a shame that she lost the Oscar for this role to a real-life monster, Joan Crawford.

(Fun babysitting tip: if the kiddos ask for a movie, pop this one into the VCR to let them know that life isn't one long Disney production.)

Lesson Learned: If they're attractive, intelligent, stylish, and mysterious, they're going to murder your family. Never marry. Live like a nun. Die a virgin.


Auntie Mame (1958) - When Patrick Dennis is orphaned in the 1920s, he goes to live in Manhattan with his only living relative - his Auntie Mame Dennis. She's a wealthy, witty, well-traveled party animal with a heart of gold who never wakes up before noon. Eventually, with the help of her equally unconventional friends, the eccentric socialite teaches him to abandon his conformist, narrow-minded world view and truly experience life, while elegantly shooing away bigots, freeloaders, and generally boring people in the process. It's an incredibly smart movie that has (overall) stood the test of time, and it's practically impossible to watch this without taking away some inspiration (like never putting olives in a martini because they "take up too much room in such a little glass").

Lesson Learned: "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" - Mame Dennis Burnside

Not all of these movies have a definitive, happy ending. Not all of them are easy to watch. Not all of them are even universally beloved. But these movies are so powerful that I have finished watching them a different person. I miraculously stumbled upon some of them at a time when I desperately needed the lessons that they offered, others I discovered by word of mouth and came to love. Some of these films are still held as standards of cinema, others are woefully unappreciated. Yet, in spite of notoriety (or lack thereof), all of them possess an individual message that will resonate with anybody. Watch one, watch them all, maybe you'll love one as much as I do, and then the next time you have to play an icebreaker game in class during syllabus week, you can reply with something a little less hackneyed than Forrest Gump.

Cover Image Credit: http://theredlist.com/media/database/muses/icon/cinematic_women/1930/gloria-swanson/025-gloria-swanson-theredlist.jpg

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Poetry On The Odyssey: Chasing Daffodils

My Vision Is Clear


In the day we chase daffodils

cradling their petals oh so delicately

as they fan their beauty in the sunlight

we hold white knuckled hands

ambling through the meadow

care free

but as the sky grows dark

and our vision blurs

that hand grows claws

painful to the touch, we release each other

and take off,

running so swiftly from the bears and the wolves and the vultures

that we forget to open our eyes

and find strength in each other

To combat these demons

with the force of a thousand warriors,

instead of silhouettes dancing in the night

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