Sunday is the annual Oscar extravaganza, an obligatory observation for hopeless film buffs like me.

I’m no good at handicapping the awards, though I’m guessing either The Artist or Hugo will pull in Best Picture. But over the last few years, I’ve built a small video library, so I thought I’d hand out my own set of awards — limited to films I have in my collection:

Best Films Set in Iowa (imagine my surprise when I realized no less than four of my favorite movies are set in a state absolutely no one associates with cinematic greatness):

Music Man (my favorite musical)

Field of Dreams (a great movie for fathers and sons to watch together)

Bridges of Madison County (sometimes good movies come from bad books)

The Straight Story (David Lynch’s sweetest film)

Best Sports Movies:

Hoosiers (though I’m not as big a fan as some)

Slap Shot (or this one either)

Field of Dreams (the marriage of magic and baseball)

Bull Durham (best baseball film + Susan Sarandon)

Best Quick Trips to France:

A Good Year (Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard)

French Kiss (Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan)

Before Sunset (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the sequel to Before Sunrise)

To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on the French Riviera)

Best Movie with the Worst Title:

Sexy Beast (in which Ben Kingsley shows his range by playing the polar opposite of Mahatma Gandhi)

Best Movies You’ll Never Convince Friends to Watch Which are Way, Way Better Than They Have Any Right to Be:

Babe (the duck alone is worth a viewing)

Galaxy Quest (with the odd pairing of Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver)

Lars and the Real Girl (with the odder pairing of Ryan Gosling and a life-size doll)

Film That Felt Completely Different on Second Viewing Four Decades Later:

In the Heat of the Night (When did Rod Steiger’s sheriff character develop complexity?)

Best Final Films:

Always (Audrey Hepburn)

Love Affair (Katherine Hepburn)

Film I Can Watch Over and Over and Over and Over:

Groundhog Day (About reliving the same day over and over and over and over)

Film That’s As Good As Films Get:

As Good As It Gets (in which Jack Nicholson gives Helen Hunt the best compliment of her life)

Best Armchair Travel Film:

Bucket List

Best Westerns (not the motel chain):

3:10 to Yuma


Dances with Wolves

City Slickers

The Magnificent 7


Best Boy Films:

The Great Escape (every boy’s fantasy: escaping imprisonment)

The Magnificent 7 (a wonderful meditation on courage)

Best Films About True Love:

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Bridges of Madison County, Shakespeare in Love, Doctor Zhivago, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moonstruck, Spanglish, Always, The Family Man, The Painted Veil, As Good As It Gets, Emma, Out of Africa, Roman Holiday, Somewhere in Time, Sleepless in Seattle, Robin and Marian, West Side Story, Babette’s Feast, Crouching Tiger – Hidden Dragon, Princess Bride (Dread Pirate Roberts to Buttercup: “This is true love. You think this happens every day?”)

Best Kissing Scenes in a Film:

To Catch a Thief (Grace Kelly looks impossibly gorgeous as she plants one on Cary Grant)

Some Like it Hot (Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis — your glasses would steam up too)

Best Movie If You Had a Boyhood Crush on Natalie Wood:

The Great Race (it doesn’t hold up as a film, but she was an eye-opener for a 10-year-old, let me tell you)

Best Films about Food:

Babette’s Feast (the transformative power of a communal meal)

The Big Night (Louie Prima, where are you?)

Best Religious Films That Don’t Sound Like Religious Films:

Groundhog Day (a remarkable allegory)

Ghost Town (as funny as it is moving)

Dogma (gets better with repeat viewings)

Matrix (I need another viewing on this one)

Our film libraries say so much about us, don’t you think? And speaking of libraries, Oak Park Public Library affords me one final category:

Best Films You Probably Never Heard Of:

Junebug (with Amy Adams)

The Answer Man (with Jeff Daniels)

Box of Moonlight (John Turturro, a great midlife crisis comedy)

Face in the Crowd (Andy Griffith is a revelation)

Two Family House (a really sweet midlife romance)

Happy viewing.

Join the discussion on social media!

One reply on “Awards for the best films in my personal library …”