Hurrah! Jamie Joyce tagged me as part of J & J Productions’ Favorite Movies campaign/tag/challenge!

Before I jump in: whenever I answer the massive question of “What are your favorite movies,” I always try to keep the questioner aware that I may have problems with certain aspects of these movies (the worldview, a objectionable scene, etc.). Some of these films may not be for every family or age group, and I respect that, and I want everyone to know that I’m not watching these mindlessly, and if there’s something objectionable, I most likely hit the “skip” button.

Disclaimers are now behind me. The Favorite Movies Tag rules are as follows:

1: List favorite movies (in any format that you like and the movies do not have to be in order).

2: Post James’ video tribute (above) somewhere in your post.

(This video is very neat and a tribute to James’ favorite movies; I haven’t seen all of these films but *ahem* I squealed a little for the Lord of the Rings and Empire Strikes Back clips. Just a little, mind you 😉 )

3: “Tag” other bloggers (optional).

On to the fun! These are my top ten favorite films, and really only the first two are in order; the rest of them could be scrambled around rather haphazardly.

Maribeth’s Favorite Movie Of All Time: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


The Return of the King is my favorite film in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and a movie that I’ve loved deeply for ten years now. I first saw it as a starry-eyed 11-year-old; now, as an adult, I hold this story close to my heart, and not in a fangirly “Oh this is so cool!!” kind of way. Although I do fangirl, don’t get me wrong! One does not simply keep calm when Aragorn jumps out of the Corsairs’ ship, no matter how old you are 😉

Now, however, I cherish so much more the rightness of Frodo’s cause, Aragorn’s nobility, Gandalf’s wisdom, Arwen and Eowyn’s loyalty, little Pippin’s courage, Sam’s unswerving devotion to his best friend, and the ultimate triumph of goodness that, no matter the cost, is truly worth fighting for. If you’re judging by how long I’ve been a fan, how often I’ve watched it, this is my favorite movie of all time.

Maribeth’s Second-Favorite Movie (as of 2013, that is): Les Miserables


This story has been a part of my life since my childhood, when my dad first shared with me the 1970’s film. Later he read to all of us, from William Bennett’s The Book of Virtues, an excerpt from the original book where a kindly bishop gives a destitute felon two precious candlesticks. Of an enormous cast of characters, Jean Valjean, Javert, Cosette, and Marius were always very familiar names to me.

This new, impressive film is not only the most accurate adaptation of the book I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen three Les Mis movies, so I can speak with some authority!), it’s also based on the world-famous decades-running musical. Not everyone can take two and a half hours of singing, but if you brush up on the story and the main songs, any history, literature, and music lover should enjoy this film. Recommended for ages 13+, no thanks to two objectionable scenes and an intense plot. (You can read my Just-Got-Home-From-The-Theater review here.)

Eight More Much-Loved Favorites:

Emma (2009 BBC miniseries)


Technically this is a miniseries, but this is one of our family’s favorite films ever. Even my dad loves it and watched it . . . let’s see, was it three or four times straight through? Anyway, if you’re going to watch any Jane Austen film, it should be this one. The BBC does it again with superb costuming, cinematography, and screenplay.



Valkyrie (which I reviewed here) is based on the true story of the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. I. Love. This. Movie. It’s suspenseful, it’s amazingly accurate to the real history, and the main character (played by a very, very impressive Tom Cruise) is downright inspiring. With the exception of one really bad, totally unnecessary curse word, this is an A+ film.



Cue the bagpipes. Braveheart is a classic, so long as 1) you don’t use it for your history report on William Wallace because it isn’t all that accurate, 2) you can handle medieval warfare, and 3) you can skip at least two scenes that are inappropriate and, in one case, TOTALLY HISTORICALLY INACCURATE IT NEVER WOULD’VE HAPPENED BECAUSE THE PRINCESS WAS 12 OR SOMETHING. Harrumph.

Still, I love the stern, courageous hero whose passionate love for freedom really did bring about Scotland’s independence, at least for a while. And if you’ve never heard the sometimes-haunting, sometimes tear-jerking, sometimes-rousing soundtrack, do look it up on YouTube. It’s beautiful.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back


(*ducks Mom’s flying tomatoes* 😉 😉 😉 )

Star Wars came at a time in my life when I craved the epic. I truly believe the Lord used it not only to soothe a bad case of cynicism after my disastrous unfortunate excursion into politics, but also to stir into action my dormant creativity. Hey, if I hadn’t met Luke Skywalker, you think Mark Winderlast would be in existence? I think not!

Anyhooz, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite. Of the three films, the pacing is the best, the acting is the best, the suspense is the highest, and the character development (especially with Luke and Han) is the finest. I just mute Yoda’s Force-pulpit-thumping and get on with the rest of the story.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington


Another family favorite! (And don’t you just love that vintage poster?) James Stewart as young Senator Jefferson Smith is laugh-out-loud-funny as well as inspiring; the script is flawless, the story fast-paced and well-developed, and the climactic scene puts you on the edge of your seat. Highly, highly, highly recommended!

Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace is a great film and if it weren’t for one thing–one thing!–it would be an A+ film I could recommend without reservation. My one caveat is that Romola Garai (who plays the heroine and also plays Emma in the aforementioned miniseries) is dressed HORRIBLY for about 70% of her screen time. I know, I know, it’s supposedly period dress, but she looks awful.

Otherwise, though, I do recommend this film. Ioan Gruffud plays William Wilberforce, the Christian politician who worked towards the abolition of slavery in England. The title of the film comes from Wilberforce’s friendship with John Newton, who wrote the beloved hymn. This is a powerful true story, and proof that Christians can affect politics for the better as long as they stand consistently on their God-given convictions.

For all the Sherlock fans out there, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Wilberforce’s best friend! He’s some kinda young, too–and in a powdered wig, no less. But he dies, and I fear he doesn’t come back a la post-Reichenbach 😉



Courageous was excellent, but I think the romance/adventure mix, the hero’s steady transformation, and the “Will they ever get back together again?” element still make Fireproof my favorite Sherwood Pictures film.

Three other things going for this movie: 1) a presentation of the Gospel expertly woven into the story, 2) Kirk Cameron, and 3) wonderful shots of comic relief here and there. Without a doubt, an A+ movie.

The Alamo


“Most People” didn’t like this film, but I did. Personally, I couldn’t stand the John Wayne Alamo movie. Oh, it was beyond awful. Patriotism just SLAMMED down your throat, no subtlety whatsoever, and what was that with Davy Crockett and the señorita? Come on!

This film doesn’t have the Wayne-esque Yeehaw Element, but it does have a much, much higher level of historical accuracy. I love the story of the Alamo in much the same way as I love the story of Valkyrie and even a certain part of Les Miserables; yes, the courageous characters know they might not survive this, but they’d rather die than throw away what they know is right. Rated PG-13 for some swearing and intense battle sequences.

Oh–and attention to all Phantom phans! Patrick Wilson, AKA Raoul in the Phantom of the Opera movie, plays William Barrett Travis, one of the great Alamo heroes. There, now everyone’s had their movie trivia for the day.

There you have it, my top ten favorite movies. And in conclusion I think I’ll tag:


Natasha Marie


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