It's movie awards season, which means from the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards and many more glitzy celebrations, Hollywood's finest are being recognized as, well, Hollywood's finest. While no one can predict whether this year's Best Picture honoree will become an enduring classic or simply a film buff footnote, what we know for sure is that the following list of films made quite an impact on our NEA colleagues.
Go Live & Become (Va, Vie Et Deviens) changed my life because it showed that love comes in the most unexpected places and changes us in the most unexpected ways. -- India Pinkney
Fargo changed my life because it was so far outside of my conception of what a movie could do. The Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning film was, at a young age, my first step away from a steady diet of rock-em-sock-em action movies (which I still enjoy very much!). I was at summer camp when I first saw it. The movie is breathtakingly intricate, and the viewer’s experience is entirely guided by the film’s craft. For me, the experience of seeing the Coens’ meticulously paced editing, the brilliant performances, Roger Deakins’ brilliant snow-dappled cinematography, and the movie’s quick shuttling between suspense, slapstick, violence, and existential pondering was like suddenly being able to understand and speak a language that I had been hearing my entire life. -- Daniel Fishman
Breaking Away because it adds a dimension mostly absent in the movies--class. -- Carlos Arrien
David Lynch's The Elephant Man changed my life because it introduced me to the most beautiful piece of music on Earth, Barber's Adagio for Strings, and there's no life complete without that music in it. --Jason Schupbach
Grand Canyon changed my life because, as a freshman in high school, I hadn't thought seriously about life and death. -- Adam Kampe
I saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I was six years old. It changed my life by illustrating the absurd, the fantastic, and the truly frightening were part of a well-balanced imagination if combined with the love of one’s family. The flying car, German castles, and Truly Scrumptious were awesome. The child catcher terrified the crap out of me, so much so that I was afraid to let my feet dangle off my bed. A few years later I saw The Sound of Music and Giant. Sergie Bondarchuk’s War and Peace (It’s pretty), George Stevens Giant (OMG), Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (Freaking Jeepers!) all made me stop and think for a good long while. Episode three, season three of Steven Moffat’s Sherlock has me rethinking pacing and character-driven story telling. -- Laska Hurley
Ikiru changed my life. A mid-level government bureaucrat learns he's going die and tries a lot of different things to give his life meaning. Finally he takes up the cause of a group of poor women wanting a park for their children. He makes it happen and receives no credit, save from the women. Beautifully filmed and acted. Still watch it when I need to remember what's important.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original version, duh) changed my life because Kevin McCarthy has the most awesome voice over line of all time: deep, timeless, classic. “I never really knew the meaning of fear, until I kissed Becky.” -- Carol Walton
The Spanish Prisoner changed my life because the movie illustrates how we create expansive narratives with mere pieces of information…and slight suggestions. The Game (starring Michael Douglas) changed my life because the scenes reminded me how very much I enjoyed living in San Francisco, California and I need to do so again--for the third time. Billy Elliot changed my life because I asked my sister about what breath-taking ballet move was performed during the last scene. My sister is a dance enthusiast, and we shared our passion and excitement for the arts. Pane e Tulipani changed my life because of being almost left behind during a bus tour abroad. I have wondered what if? Kitchen Stories changed my life because I a saw an endearing glimpse of Garrison Keillor’s Norwegian bachelor farmers. --vEnessa Y Acham
Trainspotting didn’t change my life but I remember being blown away by it when it came out. It was an incredibly visceral take on the fragility of people and all their relationships and the struggle for young people to find a way to survive. Great music. -- Maryrose Flanigan
National Velvet changed my life because it ignited my love for chestnut thoroughbred horses. The horse featured in the film, The Pie, looked very much like my late chestnut thoroughbred horse. My horse even had a similar name—Fly. In the movie, Velvet Brown (played by Elizabeth Taylor) announces that her heart skipped a beat when she first saw The Pie. I had the same reaction when I first saw Fly, the great love of my life. -- Bonnie Nichols