But if it ever happens, I'm ready with this list.
1. "You've Got Mail"
I love this movie for sentimental reasons, for bouquets of sharpened pencils and caviar garnishes. For Meg Ryan's floppy hair and the Zabar's cash-only line. Nora Ephron, who directed and co-wrote "You've Got Mail," recently passed away, and in tribute, many bloggers I follow have written little posts to share their love for this film and others that Ephron wrote ("When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," for example). Their words made me extra homesick for Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly and friends, and I have been (unsuccessfully) looking for the DVD at thrift stores ever since. The search continues.
2. "The Land Before Time"
In the wise words of Little Foot's mother, "Some things, you see with your eyes. Others, you see with your heart." Cue music, and cue Sara crying. I've watched "The Land Before Time" since before I could walk or talk, and it is an everlasting metaphor for life that I've turned to repeatedly. Between Diana Ross singing "If We Hold On Together" and the motley crew of young dinosaurs finally arriving in The Great Valley, awash with sunlight and green food and their adoring families ... ahh, I'm a goner. This movie teaches me things every time I watch it, and usually, it's the same lessons over and over.
3. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
This is the kind of movie that's just mainstream enough to be cliche, but also artsy and offbeat enough to be respected. It features Jim Carrey as mild-mannered Joel and Kate Winslet as manic-pixie-dream-girl Clementine (although, as she says brilliantly in the movie, she's not a concept; she's just a [messed]-up girl looking for her own peace of mind). They are lovers, and also strangers, and also bitter exes who intentionally erase all memories of their past involvement. This movie makes me question the whole idea of regrets, of wishing I'd never met a person, and reminds me that love is messy sometimes. It also really makes me want to go to Montauk.
4. "Hot Rod"
This one's just for fun. Nothing cheers me up and gets me sillier than watching Andy Samberg in the awkward teenage character of stunt-boy Rod Kimble. He has a hormone disorder. He has a dad who's super-dead. He has a crush on the girl next door (and the girl next door has a douchey boyfriend). Favorite moment:
This movie is in the category of STUPID BUT FUNNY. As in, "This scene/character/line/idea is stupid ... but is it also funny?" And there's no accounting for exactly why I'm on board, why this movie delights me so, but there you have it. I want to take it with me so I can laugh on the desert island, and also so I can memorize every line and quote it top-to-bottom (life goal).
5. "Like Crazy"
My number five spot was a wild card and a tough decision, because when it comes to desert island movies, you're not just picking movies you happen to like a lot; you have to consider what role these movies will be playing in your long-term, lonely existence on this island. I wanted to include movies that inspired different essential emotions within me, and "Like Crazy" ... well, it brings on the romantic-sads. And sometimes, the romantic-sads are good to have.
As a concept, "Like Crazy" is a really interesting film because it was made from a fifty-page outline (written by the director) that the actors then used to improvise actual scenes and dialogue. It feels realer than real, probably because these lines were coming from the gut rather than the page. I both hated and loved seeing the two lead characters fall for one another, then deal with the unbearable distance between California and London, then be together, then be apart, then be together, then be apart, then figure out what the years of separation have done to them. I'm really glad this movie only came out last year and didn't exist at any point when I was going through a breakup, because it's entirely possible I would have watched it repeatedly, stayed in my bedroom, and eventually died in a puddle of romantic-sads. This movie is a very tough one to get over.
(If you want to see the trailers for these movies, go here. I've made a handy little list.)