It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by El Bicho
This holiday classic by Frank Capra offers a great message about people unable to see the big picture of how good they have it. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a selfless man who sacrifices his own dreams and ambitions for the benefit of others throughout his life. Distraught over his own struggles, George considers suicide because with his insurance policy he thinks he's worth more dead than alive to his family. However, Clarence the Angel (Henry Travers) appears and shows George his notion that life would have better if he hadn't been born is incorrect. George gains a new appreciation for what he has.
Though I am nowhere near the saint that George Bailey was, I have been in his position before. Life can be difficult and overwhelming at times, but being at the center of it doesn't offer the best perspective. It's easy to get caught up with what you think is important and disappointed in plans that don't come to fruition, but ultimately those things may really be petty and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. One glimpse of the news to see the struggles of others around the globe whose lives are devastated by crime or nature makes for a great wake-up call. Spending time with friends and family does and so does watching It's a Wonderful Life.
Broadcast News (1987) by Dusty Somers
As a freelance journalist, I don't work in a newsroom anymore, and I've never really worked in the broadcast world. I've also never been involved in a love triangle with co-workers. Maybe my life doesn't exactly resemble James L. Brooks' winning, insightful and gently satirical romantic comedy, but the film's finer details -- both professional and relational -- about the news business certainly ring true for me.
It helps that the film's three stars -- Albert Brooks as the dedicated and underappreciated Aaron Altman, Holly Hunter as the neurotic workaholic Jane Craig and William Hurt as the vapid but successful Tom Grunick -- all feel like real people in newsrooms where I've worked.
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) by Amanda Salazar
This is probably the hardest film to pick because I am not sure there is a film that depicts the life of a struggling 25-year-old musician, writer, film lover, but if any screenwriters are interested please contact me for further details on the subject.
For the film that best depicts my life I would have to say My Best Friend's Wedding starring the lovely Julia Roberts. This film doesn't depict my life in the way that you might think but for those that do not know the story, Roberts plays Julianne who had made a bet to marry her best friend Michael but it turns out that he is just recently engaged to someone else. The film then follows her trying to sabotage the wedding and steal him back. Maybe it's the fact that I have made a similar bet with a friend of mine, that if we are not married at the age of 30 we will marry each other. Or how the film touches on the fear of losing love and not appreciating what you already have until it is gone. But what is so wonderful about this movie is that it doesn't end up the way that you think it will and America's sweetheart actually doesn't get the guy.
My Best Friend's Wedding graciously moves between romance and comedy and even though things don't end up the way that you want, it is a lot like life and that you just have to roll with the punches and keep trying.
Dazed and Confused (1993) by Shawn Bourdo
Being a child of the '80s - you'd think there would be any number of John Hughes films that would sum up my life. But it's really been TV that has come through to depict my life - it's been The Wonder Years and Freaks and Geeks that have captured my life. It would take a 1993 film about 1976 to best depict my life in Western Michigan in the 1980s.
Dazed and Confused captures the Michigan feel perfectly. This suburb of Austin, Texas in the film could easily be my Kalamazoo and Mattawan High School of 1983. Our school was still living in the traditions of the '70s as the '80s were well underway. There were definitely characters around our school like O'Bannion (Ben Affleck) - the bully who has been held back a few years. And the one that feels most "real" to me is the Matthew McConaughey character of Wooderson - the older guy still hanging around with the high school kids.
But it's not just the characters - it's the same celebration of life, the fact that you feel like it's just a teenager's world, and the way that all the students seem to accept each other. There isn't the division that we would see in The Breakfast Club. Here the nerds, Cynthia, Tony and Newhouse, can party with the stoners. And what connects them all? Music. The great equalizer of teenagers. Linklater understands the way that the music needed to interact with the story and the way it would bridge all the characters and connect them. When Mitch lays down with his headphones at the end - it's Foghat's "Slow Ride" in his ears that connect him to Pink and Wooderson driving to get Aerosmith tickets.
I wish I could have grown up in Sixteen Candles or even better The Muppet Movie, but I didn't. My small town roots are best represented in a little Texas town in Dazed and Confused.