Ten Films

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I saw the rightly acclaimed Moonlight (2016). It’s destined to be a classic and goes into my file of favorite movies, all of which have provided me with iconic scenes that act as touchstones and even talismans for me. Here are ten.





Tender Mercies (1983) — I’ve written about this film at Traces before. The closing scenes of Tender Mercies remind me that none of us has a God’s eye view of his or her own life. More is happening at any one moment in our lives than we can perceive or understand.





The Thin Red Line (1998) — I’ve written before about this film, too.  Touchstone: “All things shining.”






The Night of the Hunter (1955) — Tag line: “It’s a hard world for little things.”






Deliverance (1972) — Takeaway: the inevitability of transience, the ineluctability of change.






Wendy and Lucy (2008) — Touchstone: we do have the capacity for unconditional love, however harsh this world can be.






The Seventh Seal (1957) — Reminder: the universe is bigger, in almost every way, than we are. So, you know, relax.






Godfather Part II (1974) — Cautionary tale: simple verities (e.g., don’t ever take sides against the family again) are worse than useless. Taken to an extreme, they are (self-)destructive. Life is complicated.






The Accidental Tourist (1988) — Touchstone: it’s possible to be happy.






The Sweet Hereafter (1997) — Takeaway: bad things do happen.






The Piano (1993) — Takeaway: look for beauty, and seek to add to it.




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