Thanksgiving, movies, and reasons to be grateful

The gratitude lists emailed among friends and families this Thanksgiving are lovely and thoughtful, expressing heartfelt appreciation for  food, shelter, health, friends, family, babies’ smiles, rainbows, Mom’s lasagna, all that good stuff. The only problem is, when mentioned in the same breath as Mom and rainbows, offering thanks for the genius of Netflix looks pretty puny. But not here: Here’s where movie lovers can offer up movie love in the spirit of the holiday. I’ll go first:

1. Thanks to great American actors whose appearances invigorate every movie they’re in. My choice trio: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Jeffrey Wright, above. Who would you add to the list?

2. Thanks for cup holders and stadium seating in movie theaters.

3. Thanks to filmmakers who know the proper length for their movies. Sometimes 90 minutes is all that’s needed to tell a story; occasionally 140 minutes feels right. (Mostly, the 90-minute range is plenty. Thanks again.)

4. Thanks for the work of great actors already famous in their own countries, stars in the bigger world, including Korea’s Song Kang-ho, France’s Mathieu Amalric, Denmark’s Mads Mikkelsen, India’s Irrfan Khan, Hong Kong’s Tony Leung, and the Palestinian powerhouse Hiam Abbass.

5. Thanks to great young ones, including Fannings and Culkins.

6. Thanks to filmmakers with singular visions, including Spike Jonze, Terence Davies in England, the Dardennes brothers in Belgium, and Henry Selick, who made the inimitable Coraline.

7. Thanks to those who make animated movies, tellers of some of the medium’s most profound stories.

8. Thanks to movies that revel in a lot of talk–I’m thinking of In the Loop.

9. Thanks to movies that revel in a lot of silence–I’m thinking of  The Hurt Locker.

10. And thanks to you, the engaged, lively, opinionated readers of this blog. Now it’s your turn to add to the list. And yes, If you want, you can also express gratitude for health, moonlight, chirping birds, and Grandpa’s jokes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credits ( r.): Andrew Schwartz, François Duhamel, Karen Ballard

Comments (95 total) Add your comment
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  • Chele Belle

    Thankful for subtitles or else half the movies I have enjoyed over the past 20 yrs I’d been able to fully appreciate and understand. Thankful for Daniel Craig as Bond and thankful for any and all Pixar films.

    • Chele Belle

      That’s unable to appreciate or understand.

    • Frank Anderson

      Bravo to Daniel Craig as Bond and Pixar films!

    • TellyB

      Thanks for Meryl Streep. May she grace us with her talent and charm for many, many years to come!

  • Leslie

    I second the Thanks for Pixar movies; few live-action films can achieve the emotional, heartfelt storytelling level of those films. Also, thanks for action movies like the new Star Trek, that prove that there can be a great action movie that can be fun, with amazing special effects, but ALSO have a great plot & good acting.

  • Brooke

    And thanks for Harrison Ford and all the great movies he has made over the years.

    And to Hollywood for finally realizing you don’t have to change a book so it is unrecognizable (Ella Enchanted for example) to make money–as shown with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Twilight.

    • mscisluv

      I second thanking Harrison Ford, except for the newest Indiana Jones film. Yuck!

  • Sarah El

    I give thanks for atypical leading men who lift movies (I’m thinking Sharlto Copley and Michael Stuhlbarg). Also for Pixar films (a no-brainer). For classic marathons on TV like AMC’s The Godfather marathon that went on during the entirety of my Thanksgiving. For movies made to tell stories rather than win awards or make money (…although Pixar does both with its films, it’s the first studio that comes to mind when it comes to good heartfelt tales, and it’s unfortunate that it takes more than a moment’s thought to immediately think of those movies). For the other rising youngers, like Anton Yelchin and Saoirse Ronan. For amazing heart-stopping trailers which are an art onto their own (The Lovely Bones, although getting mixed reviews currently, boasts a beautiful tear-jerking trailer, for instance. Up in the Air’s trailers constantly leave me breathless. Invictus plays its inspiring card right). For the comeback kids Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke (and their upcoming collaboration in Iron Man 2). And for the continuing success and beauty of the cinema at large.

    • Jack2

      How pretentious are you?

      • to Jack2

        That was unnecessary.

      • Mark

        How much of an ***hole are you?

  • Hrfe

    Thanks for making amazing ‘children’s’ movies that everyone enjoys. Also thanks to independent movie theaters in the middle of the suburbs so people who don’t live in cities can see quality films too.

    • Sarah El

      Hear hear! My local indie theatre is actually in a city, but the population doesn’t even reach six digits, so I’d still call that relatively speaking not quite a city. Regardless, it’s an amazing theatre where I get the chance to see movies the multiplexes gloss over in favor of New Moon every half an hour.

  • L

    Trying to list the actors and directors who make the movies worthwhile was too arduous a task (for which I am so thankful) that I’d just like to say thanks for the art of film, and the often beautiful, sometimes painful, but always illuminating light it shines on life.

  • mario

    add colm feore, kirtin chenoweth and virginia madsen to that list of actors

  • Clayton

    Right now, I’m thankful for the (500) Days of Summer DVD being so close to release, the beauty of Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the promise of seeing An Education, Antichrist, and Precious in the next week.

    • mscisluv

      If you want to stay thankful, skip Antichrist.

    • Ronnie

      Be prepared psychologically for Anti-Chritst. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen mostly in terms of its extreme graphics.

  • Dabears1089

    Thank you for mentioning Jeffery Wright. Him and Kyle Chandler are the two most underrated actors in Hollywood. Once again Jeffery Wright blew me away as Muddy Waters, in Cadillac Records.

  • Andrew P

    I’m thankful for the movies that present their genre realistically like 500 Days of Summer and The Hurt Locker. both movies showed you true emotion, realistic dialogue, and that some stories are better left not being tied in a pretty perfect little bow.
    I’m also thankful for AMC Golden Tickets and Netflix’s Stream Instantly feature.

  • TJ

    Did it bother you that your integrity as a movie reviewer was called into question over your review of New Moon because of your magazine’s incessant coverage of the series?

  • Kelsey

    I’m thankful for…
    1. Good “kids” movies like Up, The Princess and the Frog, Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
    2. My AMC Moviewatcher card and my AMC’s Fork & Screen theaters. A burger and beer during a movie? Yes, please!
    3. Seeing multiple (at least six) trailers in the theater. One of my favorite parts of movie-going.
    4. Solid independent/low-budget films like The Hurt Locker, District 9 and (500) Days of Summer.
    5. All of my favorite actors, a list of whom would be too long to contain here.
    6. Other people besides me who haven’t been brainwashed by Twilight.
    7. The last two Harry Potter movies, which I plan to savor.
    8. Reviews written by my three or four favorite critics.
    9. Thanks to the UK for all of the stuff it sends our way (except for maybe Pattinson, you guys can keep him).
    10. The thrill I still feel when seeing a major “event” film. I next expect to feel it while sitting in an IMAX theater waiting for Avatar to start.

    • Rachel

      Here! Here! I agree with everything you have listed – but we don’t have a burgers and beers in our AMC movie theaters (where can I sign up?!)

      I actually felt giddy with glee when I saw the previews/trailer for the Avatar movie – but also appreciate little gems like District 9, The Hurt Locker and others.

    • Jenny

      kelsey…i agree with everything you said! : )
      especially one, four, six, and seven. the kids movies these days are amazing! it feels like weere going back to the good disney days. : ) yeahh, i am so glad some people still arent “brainwashed” by twilight. and the harry potter movies just keep getting better and better! : ) the last two are gonna be freaking amazing, im sure!

    • Jack2

      wow, loser

      • Lily

        I’m thankful for not knowing any people as sad as Jack2

  • Di

    Richard Linklater. For everything, but most of all for showing me when I was 16 how love could be, and then showing me 9 years later how it could rip you apart. Also for Tape, a movie we stopped 25 minutes and started over so we could immediately write down the lines we wanted to remember.

  • Sarah

    1. Thank you for Michael Giacchino and Ennio Morricone, my two favorite composers of all time.

    2. Big thanks for all day movie marathons of varying genres (especially to AMC, for their fabulous John Hughes dedication).

    3. Robert Altman, for making one of the most natural movies of all time, Nashville. If it can get a stickler like me to like country, you know it’s gotta be good.

    4. J.J. Abrams. Not only for the Star Trek movie, Lost, and Fringe, but for producing the upcoming Samurai Jack movie.

    5. The great year of children’s movies. Up, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc. They’ve all been amazing compared to recent endeavors from some of these studios (looking at you, Cars).

    6. The Hangover – In a year of so-so comedies, this one has been the standout for myself. Amazing to see one of my favorite standouts, Zach Galifianakis, get such rave reviews.

    7. The Critics – All in general, but the fact that you and Owen have these taped debates makes it all the more joyous to go see the films you review.

    8. …Michael Giacchino, again. What can I say, I’m a sucker for his soundtracks.

    9. People actually going to see independent movies! You have a chance, (500) Days of Summer. You too, Hurt Locker!

    10. Seeing a movie that has mixed reviews from all sorts of critics, hating the actual film, yet enjoying the experience because of friends? Maybe it has to deal with the friends more than the movie, but I believe the fact that I disliked New Moon made the night much more enjoyable than if I would have liked it. We had more to talk about and more to laugh at.

  • Stephen

    I’m thankful that Disney opted to return to my favorite form of animation, 2D, for their upcoming Princess and the Frog. I’m thankful that actors like Dakota Fanning and Saoirse Ronan represent a bright future for film as they pick roles based on their integrity as a film, not on the money they bring in. I am thankful that there are actors like Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep, both of whom can turn the worst script into a masterful display of talent. I am thankful that directors opt to think outside the box with films such as Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline. And I am thankful that there are people out there that are courageous enough to see and speak their mind about films – no matter what the critics tell them. As a critic myself, it is the highlight of my day when a reader questions my review of a particular film, for it is only then that I know that someone out there is free and confident enough to go against what they read and hear and enjoy or dislike a film because they want to – because at the end of the day, that is what cinematic entertainment is all about!

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