It’s Election Day, and as a result people are dramatically posting all over Facebook about how they couldn’t sleep a wink last night because they’re so stressed out, and people on Twitter are dramatically tweeting about how they’re gonna excuse themselves from social media so they don’t lose their minds, and over on Tumblr people are posting GIFs from British TV shows most of the world doesn’t watch and those Pinterest kids are pinning the finest in fishtail braid updos and patriotic snacks to not-make later. Blueberries and strawberries arranged like a flag isn’t exactly a snack, but I will still eat that soggy mess if someone else lays it out. What was I talking about? Anyway, Here’s an important guide for all you one issue voters out there. Movies to inspire, movies to dishearten, movies to sway and dissuade. Have at it.
Up in the Air (2009)
(Fun fact, about half an hour before I went to see this movie I found out that the person I had loved all through college, but had stopped speaking to because he’s the worst, was getting married to this other person I hated. So I cried almost the entire movie, wiping tears away as people lost their jobs over and over on screen. This movie would decimate me now, in 2009 it just seemed sort of timely.) George Clooney being earnest is perhaps the saddest sight of all, though Anna Kendrick and her confusing hairline dominate much of the screen presence. A movie about flying in airplanes, and everyone losing their jobs and getting fired and lying to each other and the song that plays over the end credits is so sad it’ll ruin your life, too. I just remember thinking things couldn’t get worse. I had no idea how much worse things would get.
Horrible Bosses (2011)
Three men seek to dispose of their cruel bosses. Those three men happen to be Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis. The bosses? Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell. One of the funniest films of the year, this one highlights the enormous pressure that work places on people and how easily work subsumes us all. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, you really should.
Our favorite foreign correspondent can help us get a good look at what the rest of the world sees when they look at America. From the intricacies of politics to the marvelous way in which certain Americans still hold on to their antiquated beliefs, in this mockumentary, Borat skewers one and all in a way that would be impossible for most people to stomach. I often wonder what Sacha Baron Cohen is like in real life, to be able to pretend so thoroughly to be another person. I guess Isla Fisher knows.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
Riveting, heartbreaking and stunning, this Romanian drama about illegal abortion wound up on the top ten list of many of the biggest reviewers around. Two young girls seek to obtain an abortion for one of them, with harrowing results. I remember being dumbfounded by the darkness and fear that surrounded the world the girls lived in. Whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, this film will be deeply affecting, regardless.
Gay Rights/Prison Reform
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Did anyone else see this awesome movie? Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor play lovers in this bizarre comedy about a pair of gay men who find each other and fall in love in prison. Carrey is at his strangest and McGregor shines in the kind of dopey lovelorn role he does so well, (Big Fish, A Life Less Ordinary). Based on a true story of a man determined to escape prison, this is a strikingly original film with a fantastic cast, reminding us that Carrey can actually act with pretty profound comedic timing, when he wants to.
John Q (2002)
When Denzel Washington’s young son can’t get the health care help he needs, Washington takes matters into his own hands, and holds an emergency room hostage. Combining every parent’s worst fear of being unable to care for their child, with the complicated matter of health insurance makes this one a thriller that is also deeply moving. But also, really sad, like many of these movies.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Aw man, remember back in 2008 when no one knew who Jeremy Renner was? There’s plenty of machismo and bravado in this movie, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, but a lot of exhaustion over the war and some absolutely stunning scenes of courage and intellectualism.
Wall Street (1987)
Still timely and terrifying, a young stock broker (Charlie Sheen) learns the ropes from a greedy older broker Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), dragging the young broker into a dark world of greed, money and women. Sounds kind of good, actually. Amazingly enough, which some of it’s silly and antiquated, there’s plenty that still rings true with this one.
Honorable Mention: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Red Planet (2000)
When I was going through my Carrie-Anne Moss phase I loved this movie, I’ve seen it several times since then and I think it holds up better than Mission to Mars which got more coverage. A team of scientists must explore Mars to seek out solutions for a dying Earth, and man, look who else is in this: Simon Baker, Val Kilmer, Benjamin Bratt. Exploring questions of existence and the future, I haven’t seen this movie recently but I wonder how the tech holds up.
Honorable Mention: Independence Day
Waiting for Superman (2010)
A documentary that explores the sad and pitiful state of public education in America. A fairly stirring film that is fairly depressing as well, this one manages to humanize the problem, yet doesn’t really seem to present any solutions. Guess we should all homeschool after all.
Honorable Mention: The 4th Season of The Wire
The Happening (2008)
Remember this movie? Yeah, probably not. I never saw it because it looks absolutely the worst, but Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel are in it. A crisis begins in New York City and it turns out it’s plants trying to kill everyone. Plants. Thanks a lot, M. Night Shamalyayanannayn.
The 43 seconds of this clip from the movie will confuse and delight you, promise.
Honorable Mention: The Day After Tomorrow
La Misma Luna (2007)
A really quite moving film about a young mother who is working illegally in America, and her son, living in Mexico. When circumstances for both of them change, the young boy begins a journey to find his mother.
Honorable Mention: An American Tale
Runaway Jury (2003)
If you’re not a fan of New Orleans, stay away, there’s a lot of it in this pre-Katrina film, but there’s also a lot of Rachel Weisz and John Cusack and Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman? So it evens out. Though this film is pretty one-sided about guns and gun control, it’s a neat look at manipulation and power struggles between intelligent minds. Although ultimately kind of leaves you sad about the fact that everything is cheated and no one goes un-influenced. A great message for the election, perhaps.
Alright, now that you’ve got your head on straight about the various issues, go vote!