An Education is a charming, intelligent film filled with excellent performances, especially from Carey Mulligan, who shines as the curious ingénue. Mulligan’s character, Jenny, is bookish school girl from suburban London who meets an older, sophisticated attractive man, David (played perfectly by Peter Sarsgaard), who drives a sports car and who sweeps her off her feet. David even convinces her strict, driven parents with his “respectable” act. Jenny is hooked completely…so much so even school is no longer important. When David’s true colors surface, she seems left with nothing, but is she? Based on the memoir by Lynn Barber, An Education was adapted for the screen by British novelist and humorist Nick Hornby, who uses his satiric, dry wit to bring the characters, especially Jenny and her family, to life. Though this film is mostly a serious drama, Hornby’s knack for writing vibrant and vivid characters comes across in this touching and heartwarming story. Nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Actress (Mulligan), Best Adapted Screenplay (Hornby) and Best Picture), this film is one of the best of the year.

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10 Things I Hate About You
American President, An
Away We Go
Best Man, The
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Brown Sugar
Bull Durham
Chasing Liberty
Chocolat (2000)
Continental Divide
Daddy’s Little Girls
Dave
Definitely, Maybe
Doc Hollywood
Down with Love
Failure to Launch
Family Man, The
Fever Pitch (2005)
Four Weddings and a Funeral
French Kiss
Good Year, A
Groundhog Day
Hitch
Holiday, The (2006)
Honeymoon in Vegas
How to Deal
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
Intolerable Cruelty
It Could Happen to You
Jerry Maguire
Jersey Girl
Just Like Heaven
Just Married
Kate and Leopold
Keeping the Faith
Kissing Jessica Stein
Laws of Attraction
Leap Year
License to Wed
Little Black Book
Lot Like Love, A
Love Actually
Made of Honor
Maid in Manhattan
Mickey Blue Eyes
Moonstruck
Music and Lyrics
My Best Friend’s Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Mystic Pizza
Never Been Kissed
New in Town
No Reservations
Notting Hill
One Fine Day
Only the Lonely
Phat Girlz
Pretty Woman
Proposal, The
Return to Me
Roxanne
Runaway Bride, The
Serendipity
Shakespeare in Love
Sleepless in Seattle
Someone Like You
Something New
Something’s Gotta Give
Sweet Home Alabama
There’s Something About Mary
Tin Cup
Two Weeks Notice
Valentine’s Day
Wedding Date, The
Wedding Planner, The
Wedding Singer, The
What Women Want
When Harry Met Sally
When in Rome
While You Were Sleeping
Wimbledon
Working Girl
You’ve Got Mail

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(500) Days of Summer
Against All Odds
Age of Innocence, The
All the Pretty Horses
As Good as it Gets
At First Sight
Atonement
Autumn in New York
Bed of Roses
Before Sunrise
Before the Rains
Bridges of Madison County, The
Brokeback Mountain
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Cold Mountain
Crossing Delency
Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The
Days of Heaven
Dead Again
Dear John
Dirty Dancing
English Patient, The
Ever After
Falling in Love
Far from Heaven
Frankie and Johnny
French Lieutenant’s Woman, The
Frida
Ghost
Hope Floats
Legends of the Fall
Message in a Bottle
Mirror has Two Faces, The
Nights in Rodanthe
Notebook, The
Officer and a Gentleman, An
Possession
Remains of the Day, The
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Save the Last Dance
Say Anything
Slumdog Millionaire
Somewhere in Time
Sweet November
Titanic (1997)
Walk in the Clouds, A
Walk to Remember, A
Witness

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For the first time, Woody Allen acting in one of his movies did not annoy me so much that the temptation to turn the film off was almost irresistible. He does not choose, in Husbands and Wives, to play someone who is more neurotic than anyone else in Manhattan. That is not the ONLY reason I enjoyed this film. It is a strikingly open and honest film about relationships. It doesn’t hold anything back and is not afraid to realistically show the anatomy of a break-up, midlife relationship malaise, and the frantic energy of a new relationship. In hindsight (this film is from 1992), it’s a strong subject matter for Allen, who has a young college student fall for his middle-aged professor character. It was not long after this film that Allen, in reality…NOT in the movies, fell in love with his adopted step-daughter. But, leaving that alone, he does an excellent job of being as honest as he can be in this film…as an actor AND as a director. His scenes with Juliette Lewis (the young girl that plays the smitten college student) are filled with frank talk…not with silly dribble that many May-September screen romances sometimes fall for. The other characters’ relationship dialogue is just as true as Allen’s. No one walks away into the sunset in this one. It’s brutal at times, but so is life and love. Right?

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Everytime I see this one, for some reason I always forget the twists and turns it takes, which is good since that of course increases the suspense for me. This is a prime example of wonderful melodramatic noir films of the post-WWII era…maybe even the best example. Not as serious as Laura, (or as good) and not as over-the-top as some (such as the Joan Crawford campy classic Mildred Pierce), The Postman Always Rings Twice is a perfect mix of murder and sex. Based on the short novel written by the same author as Pierce and another murder/sex film noir classic Double Indemnity, James M. Cain, Postman finds drifter John Garfield drifting to a roadside gas station/café owned by a older guy and his sultry, younger wife, Cora, who puts the D in DAME and the X in SEX. Lana Turner has never had to play up her sensual self as much as in this film…she seems to just sizzle each time the camera is on her. And Garfield does a good job of catering to her…not being able to resist, but putting up just enough resistance to lead to trouble. Basically, a great potboiler for those cold, lonely nights.

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This is the classic example of film noir….more than Otto Preminger’s Laura…more than anything else of the era. Why? Well, because this one’s got everything. In a big way too….lust, murder, the perfect femme fatale, the perfect fall-guy, the perfect everything. Based on the novel by James M. Cain (who also penned The Postman Always Rings Twice and Mildred Pierce) and directed by Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity is a thriller from start to finish…you’re always wondering and questions and getting closer and closer to the edge of your seat. Fred MacMurray plays a sarcastic insurance salesman who catches Barbara Stanwyck’s eye when he goes to try and sell her husband some insurance. Stanwyck is unhappily married and MacMurray knows it. The one thing in their way…her husband. Like in Postman, husbands are always expendable. Stanwyck is simply the best film femme fatale ever. She’s mean without being hard. She’s cool under pressure without being too sentimental. Stylized and perfectly cast, this Wilder masterpiece set the standard for film noir films…and dared others to try and top it…which, in my opinion, no film ever did.

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A fabulous, sweet romantic comedy that deal with father-daughter issues, aging issues, and later-in-life love issues. Emma Thompson shines as a woman in the middle of her life…dealing with a possessive mother and friends who continually try and set her up with Mr. Right. She meets Dustin Hoffman, a man in the midst of life crisis, and they befriend each other. When the idea of the friendship becoming something more surfaces, both characters insecurities get in the way, at first. A sentimental and pure story of love and relationships and how even though something might not be perfect, it still might work.

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Jane Wyman as a middle-aged widow and Rock Hudson as her young gardener…sounds familiar, right? Well, the 2002 film Far From Heaven was loosely based on the plot. The biggest difference between the modern-day interpretation and the 1955 melodrama is that it was considered HIGHLY scandalous for an older woman to be involved with a younger man back then. Today, that would raise little more than an eyebrow, if that. In addition to the powerful, yet out-dated story, this film, directed by Douglas Sirk, features a breathtaking use of color. Sirk adds even more melodrama to the already syrupy scenes by wowing the audience through bold and expressive colors. From the clothes to the scenery (done on a set), the melodrama of the film is enhanced with the brightness and vibrancy of the colors. So, get your tissues ready and be prepared for some campy, sometimes corny dialogue but some visually stunning filmmaking.

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