Movies everyone should see in their lifetime


Four years ago, in the study hall of my middle school cafeteria, I began to draft a list. I titled it “Movies EVERYONE Should See In Their Lifetime.” I wanted everyone to fall in love with the films I adored, so I began to add all of my favorite movies to this small, half-a-google doc list. I started taking suggestions, and looking at today’s list, I could still tell which movies were suggested by whom. This list became somewhat of my legacy. My friends quiz me on my claims that I know quotes from “every movie on the list” (which is only somewhat true), people I’ve barely even met already know about my list, and my Instagram polls get pretty heated when I claim Ethan Hunt is way better than James Bond. The natural next step was to share it with everyone, right? Every week, I go through a different movie that managed to make a list that now strains to stay on two pages. What I liked, what I didn’t, where you can watch: you have found the movie you’ve been looking for, and it won’t take you a lifetime to see it.

Roman Holiday
Year: 1953
Genre: Romance
Rating: PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

A delightfully dramatic take on the early romantic comedy, Roman Holiday is considered one of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s best. It tells the story of Princess Ann on a diplomatic tour through Europe. She has multitudes of servants, the press at her beck-and-call, and an ornate palace at her current stop in Rome. However, Ann yearns to join the real world, to see Rome as it truly should be seen, without attendants and schedules. After pretending to take ill, Ann escapes the palace and is discovered by reporter Joe Bradley. Joe quickly discovers who Ann truly is, but both keep their identities secret as they spend a wonderful day together as “tourists” in the city. This seemingly light film is critically acclaimed for both its incredible acting performances and the themes it carries about the joys of a simple life, the responsibilities of those with power, and the fleeting beauty of star-crossed love.

What I liked: If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know that Audrey Hepburn is probably my favorite actress of all time. The depth of her performances astounds me, and her role as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday is no exception. Through the screen, we can feel her yearning for a different kind of life, a strange phenomenon for the normalcy of our viewership, for it is a life like hers we so often wish we had. Edith Head, who won the Oscar here for costumes, created the most exquisite suits and dresses; her talent worked so beautifully in the black-and-white era, for the cuts, materials, and patterns take center stage.
What I didn’t like: For all the simple beauty that this movie brings, its simplicity can at times be its downfall. It took a very surface approach, and while there were certainly things lingering under that rosy plot, leaning into those deeper themes would have created a deeper and more enriching film. More than anything, it plays things very safe, and part of me fears that that pattern, when placed alongside the movie’s status as the mold for all future romantic comedies, in a way caused the shallower romantic comedies we see today.

Conclusion: Maybe it makes me cynical, but I hate a happy ending. Therefore, the thing I love most about Roman Holiday is the melancholy way it comes to close. Else, I’d agree with the idea that the film is a sunshine-and-rainbows rom-com with a barely substantial plot, held together by pretty dresses and great performances. However, the way the creators strayed from the classic Hollywood ending is the absolute best thing they could have done for the picture. Instead of that shallow comedy that I feared, having an unexpected ending makes the middle feel like a poignant reminder of the incredible impermanence of our happiest moments and the beauty in the carefree times of our lives. It really makes the whole thing quite stunning. This film is available on YouTube and Amazon Prime starting at $2.99.

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