I'm thankful for movies. I know it's a pretty silly thing to say when there are so many things that are much more important in the grand scheme of things. Sure, I'm also grateful for my friends and family and health, but cinema has the capacity to change how I view the world and exist on a daily basis.
There's nothing quite as profound as looking around my small pocket of the universe after a movie is over and realizing something in my consciousness has shifted. With that said, here are a few movies I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving—movies that changed my brain and that made me, if not a better person, then a different one.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I never thought a Jim Carrey movie could be so heartbreakingly beautiful and romantic. The modern traditions of Thanksgiving remind us about the family we are born into, compared to the one we choose for ourselves. For all of "Eternal Sunshine's" gorgeous directorial flourishes (Michel Gondry still hasn't made a movie half this good), the idea that we sometimes don't choose who we love is perhaps even more remarkable.
There are the people in our lives we can't imagine existing without; our lives seem fuzzy and unfocused before they were a part of it. What makes "Eternal Sunshine" such a perfect film is that, depending on the kind of person you are, the movie can either be seen as a hauntingly depressing view of co-dependence and mental illness, or as hopelessly romantic haiku about finding your soul mate and fighting to make the relationship work. "Eternal Sunshine" reveals just as much about the viewer as it does about itself.
I'm thankful this movie taught me how to love.
Spike Jonze's 2013 masterpiece helped me get over a breakup I didn't think I was ever going to move past. On its surface, "Her" is a science-fiction romance about a nerdy guy who falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and has the most serious relationship of his life with someone who doesn't really exist.
The central idea in "Her," which helped me move through the heartbreak, is that sometimes one person in a relationship evolves, even as the other person stays stagnant. Instead of searching for blame or picking apart the things we could have done differently, "Her" speculates that, as heartbreaking as it can be to experience someone moving past you, in the end all we can really do is love each other in the best way we know how.
I'm thankful this movie taught me how to break up.
Frances Ha is my spirit animal. She's not very good at the things she tries, but her fearless belief in herself gives her the courage to make the attempt. "Frances Ha" isn't just about the endless struggle to make our dreams come true, but also about that moment when we look around and realize our friends have become our family. Frances Ha isn't just her own fiercest advocate, but ours as well. Even in our darkest moments, Frances is smiling and giving us the thumbs up.
I'm thankful this movie taught me to fight for my dreams.