The 5 Movies that Sum Up My Love For Movies

love movies

“Summing Up” is a fun exercise I used to take part in during public speaking courses in high school. The premise is simple: you’re tasked with sharing five things about yourself to someone else so that they can properly sum you up.

We would do this with books, sports, TV shows, and of course, movies.

I’m sure you can all relate with how frightening it is to tell someone your favorite movie, even if you’re reasonably confident and have good self-esteem. For whatever reason, many of us can have this lingering doubt that the movie we pick is somehow embarrassing or, worse, wrong (whatever that means).

Choosing a “favorite movie” says a lot about who you are, whether you like it or not. You immediately put that movie on a pedestal above legions of others movies that are probably better, and this creates a slight conflict between you and the person who’s listening.

love movies
The Godfather: Part II

For this reason, I used to play “Summing Up” when I was still figuring out my movie tastes. Instead of telling people that my favorite movie of all time was this or that, I gave them a few movies that illustrated my love for movies.

And you know what? That’s way more fun than just boldly implying that “your” favorite movie is something special, even if you really think it is.

Nowadays, I just tell people what my favorite movie is because it hasn’t changed in a long time and probably never will. But looking back, I’m compelled to revisit this exercise more often, and as it turns out, my favorite movie is on this list anyway.

If you’re thinking of movies right now that fit this exercise, please share in the comments at the end of the post so we can get to know you in a non-creepy way. For now, here are the 5 movies that sum up my love for movies, starting with #5.

#5 Star Wars (A New Hope)

love movies

OK, let’s just get this one out of the way. While A New Hope isn’t necessarily the best “Star Wars” film, it’s certainly the most iconic, at least for me. No, Yoda isn’t in it, and Vader’s big twist isn’t until the next one, but I’m talking about story, not set pieces.

The story arc of A New Hope is my personal favorite version of the Hero’s Journey (or monomyth), made famous by Joseph Campbell. You have a central hero, impossible circumstances, a ragtag team of allies gathered along the way, and beautiful locations to watch them complete their journey.

You have a progression from zero to hero, a damsel in distress, and a main character who returns triumphant and transformed. A New Hope is my favorite movie that has this admittedly common storytelling, and it’s one of the first movies I ever watched that captured my imagination for heroes and adventures.

For that reason, most of the adventure movies I watch now end up getting compared to this one, rather than Empire Strikes Back or the Indiana Jones films.

#4 The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

love movies

Based on an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, this retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most satisfying story arcs I think I’ve ever watched on the big screen.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the basic set up, this movie is about a lovable adventurer named Edmond who is betrayed by his best friend for a crime he didn’t commit and is sentenced to life imprisonment. Meanwhile, his best friend steals his fiancé without batting an eye while Edmond plots his revenge in jail.

I won’t spoil the rest, but you can probably tell what’s coming. This movie is such a well-crafted revenge story that manages to be decently faithful to the source material. As someone who loves a great revenge movie starring Guy Pearce, this movie doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Every scene is pivotal, the relationships between the characters are unforgettable, and the actual message of the whole thing is timeless.

#3 You’ve Got Mail

love movies

Yes, I realize this movie is a bit of a ham, but I’ll never stop loving You’ve Got Mail. Even though the movie was considered underwhelming during its time, I’ve found it better and better the more I’ve watched it. I honestly can’t say that for a lot of movies that came out in the 90s, especially comedies.

Choosing this movie as the “romantic comedy” of the list was a hard decision because it had to win over Crazy, Stupid, Love. But really, the big difference between these movies is that You’ve Got Mail is more than just an archetype for what Crazy was trying to poke fun at.

Mail does much more with its subject material in that it contrasts relationships within the context of technology and even touchy subjects like capitalism, all set in the “center of the world,” New York City. The story works on a lot of levels, even if you’re not that entertained by the budding romance between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, so every time I rewatch this movie, I find more things to like about it.

While that doesn’t put this movie in the league of superior rom coms, of which I’d actually include Crazy, Stupid, Love, it’s still a movie that perfectly sums up what I look for in a movie about people falling in love.

#2 The Lion King

love movies

This may surprise a lot of you who were expecting to see Toy Story be my animation pick, but as some of you know, The Lion King is the first film I ever saw in theaters, so it had a much bigger impact on me. Though to be fair, both movies cover a compelling story about redemption, which is where I’m really going with this pick.

Granted, The Lion King is basically Disney doing Hamlet with lions, but if we can give Robin Hood a free pass, then why not this? Watching both stories, I certainly enjoy The Lion King the most because it does a much better job of getting me to invest in its characters, while Hamlet suffers from being bound to an older story that was made for a different audience.

So for that reason, The Lion King is an animated movie that I compare to almost every movie I watch that tells a story about someone finding redemption after a major tragedy and achieving their destiny.

This is actually why I enjoyed the recent Jake Gyllenhaal movie, Southpaw, which tells a similar tale with a boxer who realizes he isn’t as great as he thought it was. Even though the movie isn’t a classic, I gravitated toward Southpaw‘s story because it reminded me so much of other great redemption arcs like The Lion King and even Rocky III. 

True, I could include a host of other great animated flicks that would fit well here, like Finding NemoThe Prince of Egypt, and Aladdin. But I can’t help but hold Lion King to a much higher standard all these years later.

#1 The Mask of Zorro

love movies

This is my favorite movie of all time. Not because it’s objectively the best movie ever, but because in my eyes, it’s the perfect superhero movie.

Yes, this is my superhero pick, and it’s based on one of the first superheroes ever fictionalized (unless you count Greek mythology).

The Mask of Zorro has everything you could possibly want in a superhero film. It establishes its credibility with an original Zorro who has a compelling backstory. We watch the new Zorro train, fight, and fail under motivations that get you excited to see his transformation pull through. Even the romance plays an integral part in the story and doesn’t feel forced like some other superhero movies.

And the action scenes, even to this day, are some of the most fun moments I’ve ever had in a movie theater. Every set piece is a marvel, there’s tension when there should be tension, and there’s swashbuckling fun when there should be swashbuckling fun.

The first Pirates of the Caribbean does a good job of capturing this too, which is why I also hold that movie up to a pretty high standard for adventure films. But unlike Pirates, Zorro doesn’t rely on one interesting character to make its story intriguing. And at its heart, it’s still a superhero movie that fully delivers on everything you expect to see in one.

So there you have it! These are the five movies that sum up my love for movies. Adventure, revenge, romance, redemption, and superheroes. All of these movies are my first thoughts when said tropes are brought up, and they’ll probably stay that way for a long time.

What are your picks? Let everyone know in the COMMENTS.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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25 thoughts

  1. This game is a great idea! From now on, anyone who asks will now know that the movie that sums me up a T is Terminator 2. I saw that movie in theaters, and nothing else is like it.

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  2. I guess the movie that sums me up best is WALL-E.
    Yes, I chose a animated KID’S movie, but hear me out. WALL-E has action, a futuristic setting, a dramatic twist or two, and is basically a romantic comedy with robots.
    And it’s Pixar, which is a bonus.

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  3. Lion King was the first movie I saw in theaters too! Let’s see, 5 movies that describe my love for movies…without writing an essay to explain each lol. Oh! I know. I’ll do this same exercise on my blog this week so I can include my reasons. In no particular order, here we go: Madame X (yeah…my mom got me into black & white films lol), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, The Sixth Sense, Home Alone 2, and All Dogs Go to Heaven. Man…that was really hard!

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  4. Toy Story 3 is my favorite animated movie, with Monsters Inc and Incredibles as 2nd and 3rd respectively.
    Indiana Jones is another movie on my list (1st and 3rd)
    I also have an interest in Box Office Rivalries. My Top 3 (In no particular order) are Interstellar vs Big Hero 6, MU vs WWZ, and Frozen vs Catching Fire
    I have A LOT of candidates for which movies make the list, but that’s all I will give you for the moment.

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  5. The five movies that define me as a film lover (in no particular order):

    Inside Out (Would have put Frozen, but this was the first movie to make me cry)
    Kingsman: The Secret Service (Spies and Action and a Great Plot)
    Avengers: Age of Ultron (I needed one superhero film)
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (The Fantasy Film)
    Godzilla (The king of the monster… movies)

    If I had to pick a favorite out of all of these, I’d go with Kingsman, a great example of the movie being better than the original… so I hear.

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  6. Difficult, yet fun to think about.

    My first impulse is:
    Die Hard
    Love Actually
    Inception
    Brigadoon
    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    I am a complicated weirdo.

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  7. The Pixar Theory is not a real thing. “It’s not true — come on!” Andrews said.
    “Do you know what kinds of meetings we’d have to have to make sure all our movies line up?!” del Carmen remarked.

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        1. I have an opinion on this that may surprise you. I’m somewhat working on a piece about it. That said, if you want to discuss, just head over to the Pixar Theory posts and comment there.

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  8. Mine would be:
    5: Inception
    4: Alice in Wonderland (the animation)
    3: (I wanna go Inside Out or Nemo, can’t decide :0)
    2. The Dark Knight Trilogy
    1 LOTR Trilogy. ROTK is my fav of all time.
    Jon please reply to me!! xD I don’t care, it’s just I don’t have an email so I can’t notify you of my comment.

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  9. I think my 5 movies that describe my love for movies are (in no particular order)
    .the incredibles
    .return of the king
    .the dark knight
    .the avengers
    .inception

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  10. -Mulan (action & drama): Relatable characters.
    -The incredibles (superheroes): Creativity and ambition.
    -Horrible Bosses (comedy): Comedy that comes from self-awareness and not from clichés.
    -Inside out (animated): Presentations of reflextion of the human condition.
    -Monsters University (coming of age): All of the above!!

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  11. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Empire Strikes Back
    Die Hard
    Inglorious Bastards
    The Spongebob Movie

    I couldn’t help putting in Spongebob. It was the first movie I got on DVD. Growing up on VHS, watching that movie felt like being in the future. It’s definitely the movie I have seen the most times. That being said, nothing beats Ferris Bueller.

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  12. The two hardest questions in the world just might be “What are your favourite songs?” and “What are your favourite movies?”. It becomes even harder for someone as indecisive as me. I can almost guarantee that you regretted not including something in this post 🙂 I salute your courage!

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  13. What great movie loves! Mine would have to be: (in no order)
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    Disney’s Hercules
    Dazed and Confused
    Some Like it Hot
    Grosse Pointe Blank

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  14. There are son many movies I could say. A lot of easy answers that everyone could use. For example, Raiders of the Lost Ark, LOTR, Pulp Fiction, The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, etc. Anyone could say those films are their favorites, and they are some of my favs. But the five movies that I am about to list are the ones that I feel like only I could give.

    Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: My respects to Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, but this is the Edgar Wright movie that I feel is almost perfect. The colors, the fast-paced humor, the action, the creativity, Scott Pilgrim is perhaps the ultimate nerd movie. I love it so much. My favorite comedy and one of the best directed movies that I have ever seen.

    The Sting: A cool movie, pretty much the definition of cool. Paul Newman and Robert Redford coning Robert Shaw for revenge in 30’s Chicago. If that isn’t one of the greatest movies ever, I don’t know what is. A great film with a sweet Gotcha! moment followed immediatly by an awesome ending. The movies that taught that as a kid, old movies could be cool. Well, that and…

    Goldfinger: The best James Bond film by far with all the iconic moments. The Aston Martin, Oddjob, the girl covered in gold, all of it. Cheesy? Yes. Dated? Maybe. Awesome. Definitely. I watched a Bond film a day as a kid after seeing Goldfinger for the first time, but this was always my favorite. Sean Connery is the man.

    Ocean’s Eleven: I love heist movies, I love big stars, and I love thinking that I am cool. I, perhaps, am not cool, not in the way that Danny Ocean is, but this movies made me want to be cool. In seventh grade, after I showed the movie to all of my friends, we started planning a heist on the casino near our town. We never followed through, but still. Sharp dialogue, great performances, and a killer ending. I still watch this movie maybe once a month.

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit: It was this or O Brother, Where art Thou?, but I opted for the cartoon goofiness of Roger Rabbit. This movie came out of nowhere for me. I watched it with a couple of friends, not expecting much, and got one of the wildest rides of my life. A great whodunnit film with fantastic visuals that still hold up. It combined three of my favorite things: cartoons, detective stories, and 30’s-40’s period pieces.

    Those are five. I left out so many (I’m sorry, Inside Out), but I really enjoyed writing this. Tell me what you think.

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  15. My Top 10:
    10. Despicable Me
    9. Kung Fu Panda
    8. Ratatouille
    7. Over the Hedge
    6. Finding Dory
    5. The Emperor’s New Groove
    4. Up
    3. Finding Nemo
    2. Megamind
    1. The Lion King

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