#5 Love Potion #9
The perfect movie to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon wrapped in blankets – its frothy no-brainer fun. Paul (Tate Donovan) and Diane (Sandra Bullock) are dorky scientists; Paul obtains a love potion from a Gypsy and he and Diane synthesize it. When sprayed into the mouth with an atomizer, it makes anyone of the opposite sex instantly attracted for four hours. Of course, there are obstacles and twists on the path to true love. The juice in this movie comes from the star power of the two leads.
Mary Cumming’s boyfriend thinks he might be gay. She has a vision in the pool that Jesus wants her to sleep with him and bring him back to the light – all they accomplish is a pregnancy. Then she discovers the dark side of being Born Again as all her friends abandon her. A surprisingly light and fun film for such heavy subject matter with a very good young cast, including Jena Malone, Mandy Moore (as a Christian “Mean Girl”), Macaulay Culkin, and Patrick Fugit.
A sweet little movie that fell through the cracks. Two ditzy but hot teenagers (Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams) accidentally meet President Nixon (Dan Hedaya) and subsequently bring down his Presidency, mostly by accident and for the wrong reasons. An excellent supporting cast, including moonlighting Saturday Night Live players like Will Ferrell, Jim Bruer, and Dave Foley. A young Ryan Reynolds shows a lot of comedic flair as “Chip” Haldeman. A great silly comic riff on Watergate.
#2 An Ideal Husband
Based on the play by Oscar Wilde, the plot deals with the blackmail of a Cabinet Minister but the real story is his friend’s (Rupert Everett) scandalous and unapologetic views on life and marriage, which he delivers with penetrating wit. Rupert Everett is perfect for the part; handsome and charming, he delivers caustic lines like a gentleman. What is wonderful about this film is everyone possesses both a sharp intelligence and impeccable manners – every scene between Rupert Everett and Minnie Driver is an exquisite interchange of urbane genius.
#1 Citizen Ruth
Before Sideways and The Descendants, Alexander Payne wrote and directed this dark comedy about Ruth (Laura Dern, in one of her specialty raw, abrasive yet vulnerable performances). She is an unrepentant “huffer” (she likes to inhale spray paint fumes) who has lost a number of babies to her habits. A judge orders her to get an abortion or go to jail and she becomes a lightening rod for the abortion controversy. Not the most obvious comedy premise, but Dern is hilarious as she stubbornly resists all attempts to reform her. An outstanding supporting cast (Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place, and Kelly Preston).