Me and Harry Potter


715b1ed5ec0956f1db5e008cf3187e5bGrowing up in a Christian environment, there were certain things I just didn’t get to do growing up. My parents sheltered my sister and I more than any other family I knew growing up: I didn’t go trick or treating, I didn’t have many good friends, I didn’t go to Sunday School after my eighth birthday; I didn’t see most of your standard Disney and Pixar movies, I didn’t listen or watch Adventures in Odyssey, and I rarely got to paint my nails until after I reached my mid-teens.

Now, I don’t tell you this to make you feel sorry for me, but to show you where I have come from. It gives gravity to my journey. Growing up, I didn’t get to do a lot of normal things and I saw that as just what my family did.

Although we didn’t much talk directly about big Christian taboo topics, I grew up under a strong, firm impression that magic, especially in fiction, was bad. Like, really, really bad. Magic could look good in fiction, so my parents didn’t even let me read Narnia, even though our pastor’s children were allowed to enjoy them. Magic became something that I feared, in a way, as though Aslan or the play witch’s hat in Wal-Mart at Halloween was going to hurt me with their evil-ness if I looked too long. Sadly, my family didn’t really discuss the topic heart-to-heart that much and besides, most of the time I was too afraid to even ask that many questions. This unspoken-ness lasted till up to only a couple of years ago.

41a5cf2a5e1ffc9da9f19ff9b237d0ecWhen I was about sixteen or seventeen, my dad decided to read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe aloud–“for fun”. We didn’t discuss what had changed in the unspoken family rules, just of all of sudden, years waay too late, it was time to read a children’s fantasy story. It wasn’t that enjoyable; just, randomly, Narnia was “okay” with no explanation. (Mid-teens to late teens was such a confusing period of my life for so many reasons!) This was difficult because Lord of the Rings still seemed forbidden, and–oh yeah, don’t anybody even mention those two really, really, really bad words.

Harry Potter. Oooh, as a child and even as a young adult, it was such a literal “he-who-shall-not-be-named” situation. Harry Potter was our Christian community’s Voldemort.

Although I couldn’t watch Harry Potter then, I knew I would watch it at some point when I was so old nobody could stop me. That wasn’t really a super-conscious decision, though, and I didn’t go about flashing my thoughts off to people I knew: “When I grow up, I’m going to watch Harry Potter!” It was never in the plan to tell anyone even afterwards either. Of course, it took a lot of inward struggle for it to actually come about.

66f8c998c3556a82724246dc5a40f238When my parents separated for a second time in early 2013, I didn’t immediately run to the Harry Potter series–“Dobby is free! Dobby is free!” Even though Mom had and continues to become way more relaxed about things, I still kept away…

You simply don’t walk away emotionally or mentally free from years of fear of trying to make sure people aren’t questioning your Christian conviction by what you are or aren’t avoiding. I was very afraid of what people would think of me for watching Harry Potter–from my confined social circles, I didn’t know anybody who liked Harry Potter, so I felt very outnumbered for a long time. 

I was afraid of having to own my decision of choosing to watch those eight movies–especially since during my teen years, my family became very soaked in the Patriarchal culture where fathers were in complete charge of their daughters and, in my personal case, pretty much thought for them too. So, for the longest time, even though I could have investigated, I only dabbled in other shows or movies instead.

dumbledore_edited-1In the mean time, I started maturing. Although it had started back about 2012, my thinking process really changed gear in 2013. I slowly stopped inwardly judging other people for their own personal choices and opinions. I realized everyone’s story is different, so God takes people down different roads at different times in their lives–why should we all look the same and do the same things at the same time?

I learned people are just not going to agree over everything, so I just had to do what I felt I needed to do despite fear. That’s being courageous. I realized I was an individual soul with individual needs that needed to be voiced and that that was okay. I learned the world was not actually black and white but millions of shades of grey. I learned the no matter what, many people in my lifetime are just always going to hold up a yard stick and see how I measure out–but how they feel doesn’t need to tell me how to feel.

I learned that I was not a bad Christian for deciding that I needed to watch Harry Potter and form my own personal opinion for myself. That in and of it self was very monumental.

Finally this past year, I got to meet Harry Potter.

b6117ad8d9bbcacac6dd83ea80a38613Harry was not at all what I imagined him–I’d always known what he’d looked like, of course, but I hadn’t known other things–what his personality was like or what his story was about. He turned out to be quite ordinary while at the same time quite extraordinary. He was an orphan, a survivor of neglect, who, through his gift of magic, was able to be who he meant to be and defend himself from abuse and evil, one new year after the other.

By the time I watched the Harry Potter series, I was tired of trying to mentally weigh EVERYTHING the movies communicated in an attempt to catch some secret agenda they may be trying to feed me. (This was something my dad pushed too hard at my family, making movie watching a chore instead of a family pastimes, and ruining initial movie glows–like after watching the first Iron Man.) In many ways, I’m still tired of having to justify myself for liking certain movies to other people or to myself. However, what with how taboo HP can be perceived, I decided I wanted to say what I thought of it–to own my own choices and let people take me or leave me for how I truly think.

4e8c2d6df1994797d913f2d21a0240d1The world of Harry Potter was full of magic, of course. Magic was everywhere. The fact that most of the films took place in Hogwarts, the school that taught witchcraft and wizardry, simply meant that magic was a strong part of the story. However, I didn’t come away from a Harry Potter movie feeling, “Gosh, they really think magic is something I should be seeking out in my regular life. Maybe If I join the Occult my life will get better.” I never felt that the film series actually promoted witchcraft in real life. The films themselves knew they were a made up story and magic was just a part of that story, like the characters and the made up version of London, ect.

Ultimately, in the end, magic turned out to not be a big issue for me; shocker! It didn’t really matter to me that they attended a school to learn how to control their magic (something they were born with–and isn’t it a good thing to be taught how to properly handle your gifts given to you, guided by teachers wiser than you?) used wands, and other magical items. That wasn’t the make or break element. What I thought was a big deal was the characters themselves. The fact that they actually turned out to be great heroes and role models really, really surprised me and that’s what made the series worth watching.

c14598173a3099105b113e9e45338f1bHarry strove to do what was right as often as he could; he tried his hardest to be respectful of teachers and fellow students, and learned to stand up for what was right, even though he made mistakes. Hermoine was a fantastic student who took her school seriously and who could hold her own ground mentally and emotionally. Ron, and his whole family, was very supportive of neglected Harry; Ron was always a friend who pulled through at the end. When it was all said and done, the cast of characters who weren’t bad guys all upheld decency, kindness, pluck, friendship, bravery, and a will to do good. It was truly surprising to walk away from each movie thinking, “These are actually great characters, why was I supposed to dislike them again?”

I can hear people of my past, saying, “But that’s what makes it so dangerous! It looks so good.” If you’re one of those people, check this article out sometime; I mostly agree with it. I mean, sure, I wouldn’t let my brother watch these till after his eleventh or twelfth birthday and he was critically thinking, but at that point I think it would be a great series he could enjoy.

At that age and up, as young people, the stronger impact comes from the characters who are of similar age. We can watch as they make mistakes and grow from them, in relate-able ways of demonstrating noble character and plucky spirit and it leaves us encouraged. The magical school is simply a unique setting for those uplifting character traits to be put on display.

6fc2a3d620af012ec3b5141b040d4f5cSomething I heard forever, and this would still capture my dad’s thinking, would be “If I want my children to have good fictional role models, I’ll give them Christian books.” Having grown up with many of those type books, I can say that I find great characters and character development strongly lacking in a lot of Christian books, and movies too–I’m sorry, but it’s true. I had a hard to time relating to many of those characters’ journeys or finding them convincing yet was inspired to stand up for myself and what I thought was right, after watching the Harry Potter franchise. The irony is ridiculous here but extremely true.

I cannot cover or defend everything on the element of magic of course, nor would I necessarily want to hash it out for days and days either, but I think you all understand what I value more from a film. To me, I decided that for the story, there was little difference between Harry pointing either a wand or a gun or heavy-duty baseball bat at Lord Voldemort. What mattered most was that he knew Voldemort was evil and needed to be stopped because he was hurting people. So, just like in any other movie I would watch, the characters were the make or break point, and I found the cast of Harry Potter characters to be the making of the series!

bccc2e6cce8e4d824f7c7af2ac902957Now, sure, the Harry Potter series has its dark moments and it isn’t Star Wars or anything, but I enjoyed them all. The final film was especially fantastic and is still one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. The characters carried the series forward in a way that was very satisfying by the time it all ended and Harry himself is my favorite character. He could definitely make my top fifteen favorite fictional heroes. I’m often mad to think about how long I associated his name with an idea of evil, when really he’s a selfless, kind character–someone who dealt with temptation but rose above it, rallied friends together to fight evil, and eventually survived neglectful and verbal abuse.

I have come a long ways since I was a little girl who didn’t understand Narnia or watch a Disney movie that contained a little bit of magic, or couldn’t read Harry Potter like the rest of my generation. Please don’t misunderstand me; this is not me saying “HARRY POTTER IS FOR EVERYONE” because, sure, it’s maybe not, and this is not me saying real witchcraft is something to not be concerned about…but that was never the topic of this blog post anyway. This is only my story of how magic made me stronger.

Nowadays, Harry is a good friend of mine. I own seven of the eight Harry Potter films and I hope to read the books someday. In Hogwarts, I would be sorted into the Hufflepuff house (thank you, Pottermore, for making it official!) a house which I hold in high esteem. On top of it all, I still have a long ways to go in life; I’m still afraid of the dark sometimes and I’m still working on being open about myself. But that’s okay. My story of magic is a very strange one but it’s taken me to a safer place from where I started and left me encouraged in my journey to Spiritual freedom from legalism and fear. I only hope I can continue to be as brave as the little boy who lived beneath the stairs.

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~Jamie

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Top 100 Favorite Movies|10-1


The levels and elements of personal enjoyment, surprise, personal attachment/nostalgia, stand up to rewatches, and personal connection were fundamental in selecting these ten films. I include some personal connection in these reviews so they may look a little longer to read. 😛 Finally, a big thank you to my best friend James for inspiring me to attempt this list in the first place.croods-poster-emma-stone

10. The Croods | 2013 | PG

To everyone who assumes that once I’ve made up my mind that I will hate a movie and thinks “of course she didn’t like it then!”: let me present to you The Croods. I blame most of my first hate on the absolutely horrible advertising the film recieved–the films itself has so much more heart and deeper content than just slap-stick humor and modern family jokes. I liked it enough to rewatch it several times. Ultimately, what connects this movie to me so strongly is the story of Eep and her family leaving the cave and “never being afraid.” Almost literally my parents kept my sister and I in a bubble where “everything new was bad” and that everything in the world would result in our deaths. With my mom now trying to give Kayla and I freedom as young adults, I really feel like I’m finally leaving the cave and truly getting to live instead of “not dying.” 

Although this movie is pretty temporary here at the bottom of my top ten, I am positive that I will always love this film for it’s message and special-ness to my personal story. (Also the movie features a lot of great elements like meta modern family humor, a teenage guy who isn’t a oily or slick but is actually decent nice person, beautiful animation, Emma Stone, and a creative prehistoric world!)

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9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 | 2011 | PG-13

Considering my history of being opposed to Harry Potter, for one of it’s movies to hold position 9 is pretty darn good if you ask me. This movie is exactly how you want to end a big franchise. It is the strongest Harry Potter film, extremely powerful with emotion, action, and satisfying conclusion. Even though I knew of several deaths, I was very surprised by how much I was moved by them and the ending was so beautiful that I cried during that too. The great battle of Hogwarts is one of the best adventures I’ve seen on screen as well.

On a personal level, getting to the position where I felt free enough to watch Harry Potter without feeling like a bad Christian was big all on its own, so to get a great ending to a beautiful saga is like double the blessing. Although I’m not completely free of fear of what people might think of me, on the other side there is still something very freeing to be able to own my love for Harry and not let what other people think hinder me personally. It’s for these reasons Deathly Hallows Part 2 made it to my top 9 movies!Ben-Hur-1959-movie-poster

8. Ben-Hur | 1959 | G

My most favorite classic epic, Ben-Hur has been one of my favorite stories since my early teens. The themes of revenge and forgivness have never been caputered on such a scope of epicness to me before or since. This is my favorite story tied into Biblical events as we see how Christ’s touch on Judah Ben-Hur’s life eventually effects him in the end. The build to the magnificent and raw chariot race is one of my favorite moments in cinema history. I have always loved Stephen Boyd as Massala and Charlton Heston truly owns Judah Ben-Hur in a way that completely makes the movie. The soundtrack is one of my personal favorites, the cinematography is amazing, and the story and characters are timeless. Truly one of the best epics ever created.beauty_and_the_beast_ver1

7. Beauty and the Beast | 1991 | G

Easily my most favorite fairy tale of all times, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has been a favorite of mine since I was small. The magic of it’s heart, music, animation and characters has yet to die from my soul. Just like The Prince of Egypt, the songs are not only emotionally moving but they also move the plot forward or really give you a great glimpse into a character’s dimension that will help build the story at the end. I consider this the ultimate princess Disney feature and easily one of Disney’s best, most unbeatable works of art. The animation is flawless and the atmosphere never fails to fill me with intrigue and bated breath. To me, this is the ultimate love story and the impact it still has on me today when I think of heroines, love, selflessness, magic and animation itself is truly special to me.hot_fuzz_ver4_xlg

6. Hot Fuzz | 2007 | R

Easily my favorite comedy of all time (sorry, 21 Jump Street, but the Brits take it.) Hysterically clever, the film delivers laughs that are strongly balanced by fantastic characters, a strong mystery and lots of metaphorical moments that completely respect but laugh at the action genre on a whole. Simon Pegg perfectly captures Nicholas Angel’s rigid love for justice while Nick Frost plays the perfect sidekick Danny Butterman who isn’t too silly and perfectly compliments Angel’s personality—these two characters and actors are one of the most ultimate duos in cinema and TV history. Yes, I just said that. However, the one thing I love best about this movie besides the humor, action spoofy-ness and characters, is it’s Miss Marple/English Village flavored mystery. It hearkens back to my first love–a good old fashioned who-dun-it! Rolled together it creates truly one of the best comedies/action/mystery flicks of all time.Star Wars - A New Hope (1977) Style A by Tom Jung

5. Star Wars: A New Hope | 1977 | PG

I know everyone loves Empire Strikes Back; I love it too. But whenever I think of my love for Star Wars, I always think of A New Hope. There’s just a special place in my heart for the very first Star Wars film and that’s how it beat Empire. This movie is just about the definition of the word ‘classic’. The soundtrack is amazing, the effects still hold up well today and the story’s plot flow is perfection. I love the introduction we receive to Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker , Han Solo, Chewbaca and of course the droids. Everything plays a role in the film with a solid opening and a conclusive ending which I prefer to the big cliff-hanger, even if that had a great impact on cinema history with Empire. There is so much to love in A New Hope but I really shouldn’t need to go on much longer here :P. There are few movies that can even come to rival the greatness of Star Wars and the impact it’s had on pop culture and intimate lives–myself included! All hail the great sci-fi film of the ages!posters12/11/08

4. Rocky | 1976 | PG

I love a great underdog story and this easily my favorite of them all. However, to me Rocky is more than just an excellent boxing story with a fantastic delivery of one man’s personal struggles in and out of the ring. To me, Rocky presents a strong representation of true manhood. Coming from a spiritual background where outward perfection was strived for more than a humble spirit in many of the men around me, watching Rocky was like a breath of fresh air and a strong reminder to me of what real men are made up of. Strength of body and mind are nothing in a man if they are not clothed in a gentle spirit. Rocky is one of my personal heroes because he is a very gentle man, shown by how he approaches people, goes out of his way to help others in his own way, and steadily attempts to win Adrian’s heart. For these reasons (and the simple fact that this is simply a stunning film) Rocky will always mean the world to me.tlk-new-poster

3. The Lion King | 1994 | G

The only reason The Lion King managed to beat Beauty and the Beast was because of my emotional connection, which even I find strange since I didn’t grow up seeing it a million times or anything. Recently playing the movie in the background of my day, I choked up about six times and got chills at least five and I wasn’t even paying that much attention. These are not even your classic moments like Mufasa’s passing; this is moments like Rafiki speaking to Simba and the log bridge scene during Hakuna Matata. I can’t explain my connection to this film, I only know it’s there. The songs and soundtrack, voice talent, and animation strongly combined with the grown up themes of throne-stealing, murder, and fear, creates one of, if not maybe Disney’s best animated film of all time.0103074_big

2. Thelma and Louise | 1991 | R

One of the best female-oriented films I’ve ever seen; this spoke to me and my own personal situation which is how it became my second favorite movie. I’ve always knew of the names Thelma and Louise; they’ like Lucy and Ethel or Lewis and Clark. 😛 But when I finally got around to watching the movie, I was so happy and surprised to discover it was a masterpiece must-see. Themed with timeless invaluable friendship and taking control of one’s own life and choices, Thelma and Louise both empowered and uplifted me as a woman and human being. Humorous and delightful while also being dark and somber, the film delivers a well balanced plot and character journey which I strongly related to because I myself am just beginning to make my own life discions. For more amazing reasons why this movie is fantastic, head over to my latest guest post on J and J Productions when you’re done here!5k8lv1eXe7vbeJ57eXLIKxFamAQ

1. Clue | 1985 | PG

Out of all the genres that could compete to win my number one film, my love for the who-dun-it mystery genre won out, and it actually won very easily. From the beginning of this list, I never had a hard time deciding that Clue would reign at the top. In fact, during the construction of this post, I rewatched Clue with my sister and about twenty minutes in, she turned to me and said, “This feels like it should be your number one movie, Jamie.” I definitely knew then that this movie was truly my cinema soul-mate.

It’s everything I want from a murder mystery; quotable dialogue, a fantastic period setting of the 1950’s, lovable slapstick humor that isn’t too over the top, continuous plot twists, a sly self-awareness of it’s genre, and truly quirky characters (all of them gems but my favorites including Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, and Tim Curry as Wadsworth the Butler.) The multiple endings hearkens back to the game board where you can get a different murderer each round; however there is an official ending that wraps up the film perfectly. I’ve rewatched this film countless times and continue to catch little things, expressions, or moments that add to the atmosphere or plot!

Interestingly, I’ve only played the board game a few times and my attachment to the film does not come from the game itself. Growing up, 80 percent of the books I read were mysteries, so it should be no mystery (HA!) that my personal attachment to the genre should transfer to films. Overall, Clue is simply a fantastically enjoyable mystery film. While one will either get it or not get it, either way I highly recommend it, because, after all, it is my number one favorite film of all time.

~Jamie

Top 100 Favorite Movies|20-11


Well, we’ve hit my top twenty (plus a bonus in this post-because of rearranging.) Although I’ve loved that I’ve been able to do this blog series, I’m also excited to be near the end! No lie; it has been very challenging to come up with 100 mini reviews within the past two months. Still, I’ve been thrilled just to have achieved this task of ranking some of my favorite movies, even if they rearrange themselves every so often. Seriously, it’s a huge accomplishment for me personally! Okay, enough talking, let’s go!

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20. How to Train Your Dragon | 2010 | PG

This actually feels a little low for How To Train Your Dragon because this movie is genuinely awesome–like, pretty much everything about it is awesome. I tend to be a little protective of the film-it always made me mad to hear church friends call Hiccup a modern day wimp, even before I watched the movie. Hiccup is one of my favorite animated characters Dreamworks has ever made because he’s a hard worker even though his size prohibited him from being like everyone else. He’s an underdog, he’s compassionate, smart, has a fun sense of humor and brave enough to change his entire culture by learning to not be afraid of new knowledge. Besides Hiccup and Toothless (who can dislike Toothless) being some of my favorite characters, the film has an amazing soundtrack, fantastic visuals, lots of fu and suspense along with the interesting setting of the Vikings. How To Train Your Dragon is very easily one of the best animated films I’ve seen and it’s very easy for it to be in my top twenty!

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19. The Help | 2011 | PG-13

Earlier I said “The Devil Wears Prada” was my highest ranked chick-flick and I would continue to hold to that statement because The Help, although a film that would appeal more to women, has content more deep than one would normally find in a “chick-flick”. Once again, Emma Stone is perfection, this time as Skeeter, an aspiring writer looking to talk about something deeper; with the invaluable help of Minny and Aibileen, she goes attempts to do just that. I love this movie for how many issues it touches without being overwhelming–standing up for something you believe in, even when it’s very very scary; being bold enough to write something revolutionary; learning that people are not always what they seem; learning what real beauty is: all with depth, humor, and heart. The story is moving and encouraging and sad and quite funny! A chick flick this is not.

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(Bonus) 19. Men in Black | 1997 | PG-13

Some last minute rearranging led to have Men In Black bumped around a tad bit; it is technically now the new number 19. 😛 Anyway. Men in Black! When I put the film into my laptop, I didn’t know much about it at all except that it was very popular, but that can mean so many things when it comes to certain movies, right?! So, I went in with no expectations and was shocked to fall in love with it as the film got going. In fact, I’m mad that I didn’t get to see it sooner than I did. I’ve always liked Tommy Lee Jones but this movie made me really love Will Smith. The combination of the two actors is a match made in heaven. Besides the enjoyable science-fiction/super-secret agent elements, it was also just darn funny and exciting! Definitely stood up to the hype and was incredibly fun! So, bumped up high because of surprise elements and brilliant script, MIB is definately one of my very favorites.

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18. Despicable Me | 2010 | PG

Despicable Me; it looks like one of those cheesy kid movies, and in some ways it is. It’s also heart warming and plain freaking hilarious . The minions are pretty much the pinnacle of success when it comes to comedy and animation. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the minions. Steve Carrel is perfect as Gru; the accent and everything is what makes the character so great. The three girls are very lovable and they balance each other’s personalities out well. Their interaction with Gru is great. One of my favorite parts about this movie is Gru’s transition from his bad guy persona to willing father to three girls who need a dad and what he’s willing change  for them. Considering I’ve seen my own dad choose things over me, these moments in the film are very touching to me, especially near the end. So, packing a punch to funny bone and heartstrings, Despicable Me is one of the best non-Disney movies in my book!

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17.  Iron Man | 2008 | PG-13

(I swear foreign posters are always the coolest–I had to use at least one! :P) The beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Iron Man is still one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen. What a strong start! Tony Stark’s origin as a playboy genius turned terrorist fighter is rendered beautifully in this film. Tony Stark is one of my very favorite heroes because his journey towards heroism is gradual but real. I still consider Tony Stark one of my top ten favorite fictional heroes ever. Iron Man also introduced one of my favorite female characters from comic book origin, Pepper Potts. Pepper and her relationship with Tony is set perfectly in the first film and developed well throughout the Iron Man movies. I’m always grateful that the relationship was not rushed within this particular film as it kept it realistic and more lovable. Besides the AMAZING soundtrack, humor and heart, Iron Man is a fantastic superhero movie that begins one of my favorite franchises perfectly.

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16. Iron Man 3 | 2013 | PG-13

In which Tony Stark continues to get even more awesome! This was the perfect place to pick up right after The Avengers and it was also just a great continuation of Tony Stark’s story. The Tony in Iron Man 3 is way more sensitive and mature than the Tony in the first Iron Man. This is what continually reminds me that Tony is one of my favorite heroes. He’s still himself while becoming more responsible and dependable, like a real hero. Besides the movie just being all around entertaining, hysterical, and engaging, I really appreciated how much raw soul we got from the characters. There nothing like a “former” bad*ss superhero now dealing with panic attacks and making more effort than ever to make his girl feel secure in their relationship–seemingly small scale things that are actually very relatable, relevant and important! As Tony becomes more and more real, the more amazing he becomes. And Pepper Potts; she was just AWESOME in this movie. Also the climatic ending of this movie is one of my ultimate favorites.

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15. Wreck-It Ralph | 2012 | PG

I’M GOING TO SAY THIS FOR THE ONE THOUSANDTH TIME. THIS IS UNDERRATED GENIUS. From the minute I saw the first trailer, I knew I would love this movie. And boy is it good. I love the video game world that was constructed–the whole world just reeks with brilliant creativity! The plot delivery is great and main characters are so lovable! However, my favorite aspect of the movie is it’s message. I saw Wreck-It Ralph during a point in my life when I really didn’t know what was “me” and what was ‘what other people wanted me to be” and it was very confusing. I was at a place where I was becoming tired of trying to please everyone, of trying to keep from stepping on toes in my Christian circles and was slightly conflicted on what my dad wanted me do/be and what I felt was right. Wreck-It Ralph was a beautiful, funny yet perfectly timed reminder that the best thing to be in life is yourself.

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14. Thor: The Dark World | 2013 | PG-13

Oh my gosh this movie was so fun. Haha, that could be the tag line: Thor The Dark World: so much fun. While I was a little worried about how they would handle post-New York Loki, Marvel was amazing and handled him and Thor beautifully. What I loved best about Thor The Dark World was how well they continued the main characters’ stories while delivering a fantastic theater experience. It. was. so. fun! Thor and Loki’s brother dynamic was explored more and that was one of my favorite parts. I do not understand the hate for Jane, I loved her in this movie and waiting for the reunion between her and Thor was also high on my list of priorities for the movie to cover. I was pleased with the result! Despite Darcy being a little over the top, I can’t come up with any complaints that I have about the movie. It was everything I wanted from the Thor sequel and easily one of the most enjoyable times for at the theater!

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13. Die Hard | 1988 | R

The action genre at it’s best. I repeat, it’s best. I’m serious, I consider this the unrivaled king of action films because it’s basically as close as you can get to perfection. Especially in this genre where 90% of recent action movies can’t seem to handle a good plot, special effects, decent humor and believable characters all at once (resulting in the characters becoming limp, thus the inevitable flop into the mud.) Die Hard delivers the opposite of that in spades. Basically, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to do whatever you have to do to see it. So, besides it being perfection, why else is it so high on my list? One name: John McClane. Your every day cop pushed beyond the limits. He’s such a great character, who not only is a perfect bad*ss action hero but also goes through some fantastic character development! One of the most touching parts to me is when he realizes what he should have done differently in his struggling marriage and takes it to heart. I wish I could have seen this in real life from my own dad, but the next best is from the good heroes in the movies. That’s what I’ll always say. Yippee-ki-yay!

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12. Captain America: the Winter Soldier | 2014 | PG-13

Of all The Avenger sequels, I was most worried about this one for the sake of my favorite Avenger. I didn’t want Steve Rogers’ conservative beliefs to be changed, watered down, or compromised to “make all audiences happy.” I didn’t want Sharon Carter to be introduced right away as a love interest and loose the specialness that Steve and Peggy had had. I didn’t want Natasha’s character to be handled wrong or taken in a weird direction. Thankfully, Marvel delivered and my faith in them is now stronger than ever before. 😀 I personally was relieved that my favorite superhero wasn’t tampered with but was delighted that he and his beliefs were respected throughout the film. So, not only was it amazing sequel to The First Avenger/The Avengers, it delivered it’s own story keeping true to the heart of what Captain America actually represents. Five stars from me!

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11. The Avengers | 2012 | PG-13

The Avengers bounced up and down my list constantly, from between my top forty and top ten. It was hard finding even a temporary point for this film. It’s not like I rewatch The Avengers all the time or anything like several of the movies in my top ten. However, it has finally settled here at number eleven, and so many of you have already seen it that I shouldn’t need to go into too much explanation as to the specialness of this movie. Because even though it didn’t make my top ten, The Avengers and it’s many movies have had a beautiful impact on my life. This movie is what I consider “comic book spirit adaption” perfection. Marvel gave us something very special. It gave me something special. Superheroes in New York. Who knew it could be so funny, touching, and exciting! That’s what movies are all about.

~Jamie

Top 100 Favorite Movies|40-31


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40. Warm Bodies | 2013 | PG-13

This was my first zombie film, in fact my first real introduction to zombies and it’s funny that I even wanted to try something like it in the first place. However, I fell in love and haven’t looked back. Zombie movies are at their best when the plot is focused on the characters and not the gore factor, and movies like Warm Bodies are a testament to that. Our main character R is more than just a flesh eating corpse; he remembers the the world as it was before the infection hit and wishes he could feel again, sleep again, be alive again. The zombie apocalypse version of Romeo and Juliet is the neatest the thing, in my opinion, and the interesting plot and dear characters made the movie an instant favorite in my book. hp5final 39. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix | 2007 | PG-13

I really liked this movie. Everything just got so serious. Hardly anybody believes Harry Potter that Voldemort is back and when the Defense Against The Dark Arts sends Hogwarts a nasty teacher who won’t let any of the students learn to defend themselves, Harry begins to secretly training “Dumbledore’s Army”. Watching the Harry Potter series, this is probably the first movie where I got really invested in the thrills, characters and plot. I appreciated the growing darkness of the HP world too, with Voldemort presence, and delving into Snape’s background in connection to Harry’s parents. Harry also continued to cement himself as my favorite character as he found things that were definitely worth fighting for.
tumblr_lr27ov4jk71qal4szo1_500 38. The Sound of Music | 1965 | G

I didn’t get to watch a huge variety of movies growing up but thankfully I got to grow up with The Sound of Music.  So, I’ve been in love with Maria and the Von Trap family for as long as I can remember. It’s a wonderful musical, especially because music is a part of the plot itself. The characters actually know when their singing and I like this a lot because then it doesn’t even feel like a musical; it just feels like a long movie with music as conflicting plot piece between characters. I personally appreicate this approach when it comes to musicals.  With unforgettable songs, fantastic characters, engaging moments and a more somber ending, the film is definitely one of my favorites from my childhood. (The film is truly at it’s best with the glasses of nostalgia.)The-Hunger-Games-IMAX-poster1 37. The Hunger Games | 2012 | PG-13

I have a respect for this movie–for the franchise on a whole, in fact and I hate the fact that most people water it down to a simple love story in which you pick Team Peeta or Team Gale. The story is so much more than that. It’s about a girl who had to grow up, who cared enough about her family that she was willing to die for them. Who accidentally became the symbol of a rebellion against a wicked government. Although it wasn’t until Catching Fire that I became a sold-out fan of the franchise, I still really liked The Hunger Games. The soundtrack is fitting, the acting is great because Jennifer Lawrence is always good and the plot is not cheesy at all. Katniss is an easy hero to stand behind and support and that’s what I like about her and this movie.InceptionPoster3WBHD 36. Inception | 2010 | PG-13

This is one of those special movies that don’t come along enough; they happen and blow our minds with their inventive creativity, dimensional characters and extremely unique premises. I adore nearly everything in this movie. The actors are fantastic, especially Leonardo Dicapiro. The music is awesome because it’s Hans Zimmer and it’s very fitting. And the plot–planting information within someone’s mind–is brilliant. There is not too much I could say about Inception that hastn’t been said already except that it’s a masterpiece and a must see for anyone who considers themselves someone who likes movies. Walt-Disney-Screencaps-One-Hundred-and-One-Dalmatians-Title-Card-walt-disney-characters-32132663-4314-3162 35. 101 Dalmatians | 1961 | G

The moment I rewatched the opening credits of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, I knew this would be one of my lasting favorite Disney movies forever. The film is kinda whacky when it comes to animation style, slightly off beat from other Disney films and very, very funny. The music is unique and and bouncy like a puppy, easily one of my favorite soundtracks ever. Pongo, Perdita, Roger, Anita, Nanny and the puppies are the warmest little family ever-I absolutely love Roger and Anita’s relationship, they’re a tragically underrated Disney couple. Jasper and Horace are hysterical henchmen and easily one of the best parts. Cruella De Ville is one of the most intense yet hysterical villains to ever grace a screen. In my opinion this is a wonderfully unique Disney film and a classic that should live on with the best of the bunch. tumblr_lubi5fLKD81qfklxzo1_500 34. A Christmas Story | 1983 | PG

I know from personal experience that you will walk away from this film either loving it or hating it. But oh my gosh, do I love it! This is easily my favorite Christmas movie, hands down. It’s one of those comedies that never get old because of it’s fantastic dialogue and comedic timing.The plot is so simple-a boy wanting with all his might to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas–but the insight we get on your typical American family around Christmas time is dimensional and priceless. Despite the setting being in the early 1940s, the film rings true for even today because parents and children alike haven’t changed that much. As kids we all fantasize ourselves as heroes and have to deal with one or two bullies and adults today still insist that we will shoot our eyes out if one ever touched a BB gun rifle. Ralphie dreams, he wishes, he schemes, he’s both naive yet not pure innocence; it’s easy for us to cheer for him because he is us. And to me, that is what makes this Christmas comedy so beautiful.Aliens-1986-Poster 33. Aliens | 1986 | R

The first movie Alien gave us great sci-fi horror and excellent introduction a fantastic sci-fi heroine. In the sequel Aliens, we get to continue to follow our heroine Ripley as she must face these demons again. This is credited to being one of the best sequels ever made, and I would agree. Although I like Alien and Aliens about the same, I’ve set Aliens higher because I hate bad sequels and this franchise already has two other known flops, so I highly appreciate this movie. Ripley is one of my top favorite female movie heroines now; she’s smart and strong– in this film, her motherly side is also brought out when she rescues a little girl. Speaking of the little girl Newt; she’s one of the most likable, believable little actresses from the movies ever. I have so much good to say about this film and not enough space too; it’s action, it’s character motivation, it’s harsh, it’s scary, it’s smart and steady; it’s Aliens.
screenshot-med-01 32. Monsters Inc | 2001 | G

Of all of Pixar’s quite broad range of movie settings, I remember being the most impressed with Monster Inc. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the monster setting and the whole creative idea of Scarer’s collecting children’s screams for fuel. Little Boo’s appearance in the monster world makes for a great plot line of “put that thing back where it came from” with plenty of great suspense. However, my favorite part of the whole movie is the relationships that are between Sulley, Boo, and Mike. Oh yes, Mike, who can forget Mike; he’s easily one of the most hysterical characters created for animation–ever! You will see several more animated films on this list but Pixar films end here at number 32. It feels appropriate for this to be my highest placed Pixar; after all, I literally fall asleep every night with a stuffed version of Sully.scream_xlg 31. Scream | 1996 | R

How do I talk about Scream? It’s easily the best horror film I’ve ever seen. Most shocking and surprising opening to any movie ever. Great cast of believable, mostly likable characters. Creates the beginning of a wonderful heroine. Suspense is unbelievable. You will be guessing whodunit the entire time. It also happens to be a spoof on the horror genre and it’s done so well that you could barely tell! It has one of the best twist endings ever. Bad guy “Ghostface” will scare you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. You will not be able to walk through your house at night without a light ever again and it’s absolutely awesome. What else do you want me to say about it? It deserves it’s cult following, it has several decent sequels (which is more than some movies can say) and delivers on the suspense and mystery big time! Two thumbs up for Scream allll the way.

~Jamie

The Winter Soldier (short n’ spoiler free)


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(I’m keeping this short since the movie just came out.) I saw Captain America The Winter Soldier Friday evening with my sister and we both really loved it! During a scene, Kayla randomly leaned over to me and whispered, “This the best movie ever!” That pretty much summed up my feelings too.

It was awesome seeing Steve Rogers front and center again. It was his movie The First Avenger that brought The Avengers into my sights in the first place. I fell in love with his heart, character and nobility. I take a moment now to say thank you to Marvel for the amount of energy and thoughtfulness that has been put into translating this character onto the screen without making him seem preachy or over in-your-face-patriotic or trying to make him more liberal. They’ve done right by him and that makes me extremely happy.

What makes this movie so great is that Steve shares this movie with SHIELD. Natasha Romanoff was amazing in this movie; she and Steve make such a great team. I really liked seeing more of her and I’m glad she got to share the spotlight. We also got to see a lot more of Nick Fury during the first half; it was very exciting seeing him in action rather than just directing people around. 😀 As to the rest of the movie, there was tons of fantastic action, intimate emotional moments, excellent introduction to The Falcon and some good twists throughout the plot!

Other than a few technical things that bothered me (two action scenes were little hard to follow because of the cinematography) I have practically no complaints about the movie! I highly highly recommend getting to a theater as soon as earthly possible to see this if you haven’t yet!

~Jamie