Winners of the Movie Contest and Your 30 Best Films

Love of Movies and Film Festivals

I was impossibly demanding of my dear readers in our movie contest on August 12th when I asked you to choose the single film which had most impacted you in life and to tell me why in great detail, to boot! The response was overwhelming! You were so good to participate, so kind to indulge us and so creative in articulating the impact of the movie and your love for it. Thank you, thank you so much to my 30 fabulous participants and all of you who commented and supported us!

How I would have myself begun to answer this challenge is still beyond me! A single film from the many, many unforgettable, cherished and touching ones over the course of my life? A single one above all the rest? Where would I even begin? As the White Rabbit from “Alice in Wonderland” advised, “Begin at the Beginning …” and so I shall in response to all of you who asked me for my favorite film(s!!!).

There have been so many films to love. I love When Harry Met Sally – for the brilliant dialogues and classic wisdom. I love Shining Through because it reminds us of the horrific days of WWII, the price of freedom, and the power of love. I love Cinema Paradiso for all these reasons despite all the tears. I love Gone with the Wind if for no other reason than Rhett Butler, Scarlett O’Hara and it being my Mom’s favorite film. I love Breakfast at Tiffany’s because Audrey Hepburn was not just a star but an angel, a stunning one in both. I love The Godfather because it’s a fantastic story, a timeless classic and actually does justice to Mario Puzo’s masterpiece. I love Point of No Return because of the incredible music and because I could feel – somehow, someway – Maggie’s pain and desperation. I love The Birdcage because it has afforded me countless belly laughs even years after watching it – and because Robin Williams doubles his genius when paired with Nathan Lane. I love Star Wars (the original trilogy) because my husband introduced me to this deeply ingrained part of the American culture and to Spielberg’s genius creation. I, like you, love many films and feel very lucky to live in a world which makes movies.

Now the big announcement: We did our judging fair and square. We scored in private and anonymously (contestant names removed). We used the criteria mentioned in the movie contest post. We even used Perl script written by Sina (my brother but better known as many other things!) to calculate results. And we have two winners to congratulate and present with a $20 Amazon Gift Card to do with as they please….(buy a movie perhaps?!). Really, congratulations to Emiel and Steve. May you be next in line!

Our First Winner – Contestant #29: Emiel Vandenboomen from The Act of Traveling

Movie Selection: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Contest Entry:


It is 1985. The world is much smaller than it is now. No internet, no cable TV, no long-distance holidays. There are not many possibility to escape from daily life, exploring new worlds and new people….

What happened back in 1985? There was this kid, 15 years old. He was crazy about movies as well as astronomy. On clear nights he stepped outside in the garden and looked for a spot where the street and city lights would not bother and distract him. He needed complete darkness to search for the zodiac signs in the sky. Or wait for a falling star…

As a teenager he had his own troubles. He was not the most popular guy at school, but he felt comfort in the ways he found for himself to escape daily life. Away from troubles, away from pressure to perform.

Watching the stars he dreamed about space travels, light years away from earth. If he would become an astronaut and was asked to go on a space journey for years and years, would he go and leave everything behind? If aliens would visit the earth, from another galaxy, would he be tempted to go with them?

The answer was always definitely yes. He didn’t think about the rest of his life, his future. He was looking for moments of escape. But then again, would he be that one person that would be picked by aliens? Could he be the chosen one?

It was all about imagination. For him, escaping the real world was possible only by using his imagination. And then he watched a movie. The one movie that made such an impact on him, that he has never forgotten one single scene, ever. A movie that showed exactly the way he felt. That movie was called Close Encounters of the Third Kind.


Looking back I realise that Close Encounters is about dreams, dreams to escape and to explore the undiscovered. Outer space has and will always inspire people to dream about new worlds and new opportunities. When I was young I felt jealous about Roy Neary, the main character who was chosen by the aliens, together with a couple of other people, to join them. He received this strange signals drawing him to a remote area in Wyoming. Nothing could stop him, he was ready to leave earth and discover a new world, a new life.

Don’t we all feel like that sometimes? I still love watching this movie. When I watch it I suddenly go back in time. I feel a teenager again. And at the end I am full of positive energy, ready to enjoy and explore!”

Our Second Winner – Contestant #19: Steve Scott from Steve Scott Site

Movie Selection: It’s a Wonderful Life

Contest Entry:

Gosh, this is a tough one. I have been a movie lover my whole life and I can think of so many that touched me. Gump. Office Space. Shawshank Redemption. Godfather. Citizen Kane. Star Wars. Silence of the Lambs.

Very tough decision. I think I have to go for a Golden Oldie, made the year my mom and dad were born. (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life.

I have loved this movie since I was a child. It is dated. It is old. Much of the humor does not translate that well in the 64 years since it was made, but there is no movie that comes close in my opinion to the sheer power of that movie.

George Bailey is my idol in so many ways. A quite man who just does his duty. Jimmy Stewart plays Bailey with such an earnest goodness that it is nearly comical in our cynical and jaded age.

In some ways this is actually a dark movie. A good man pushed to the edge of despair by a greedy evil banker. Bailey is actually contemplating suicide in the beginning, but would never do it because of the bad effects it would have on people he cares about.

This common and good man who believes he has never done or achieved anything of significance is given a glimpse of what life would be without him and is able to see the deep impact that simple goodness can have on the lives of people around him.

It is a movie that could never be made today, it seems sappy and naive. But that is it’s power. It shows the way life could and should be. It is an incredible story of hope and redemption for a hardworking and honest man.

Though I have seen this movie at least 25 times over the past 35 years I still have tears in my eyes when I see all the townspeople rally around George in the end.

What this movie really shows clearly is the way your life can interact with others friends, family and acquaintances if you are a kind and giving person.

If we had a world full of George Baileys, rather than Mr. Potters, the world would be an incredible place.

Thanks for having a wonderful competition and reading my rant.”

An enormous thank you to ALL of you for playing and most of all, for sharing your favorite movies. Here is our 30 Best Films from all of you:

Angels and Demons
My Sassy Girl (The original Korean version)
Ocean Tribe
Pride and Prejudice (1995 adaptation) (x2)
Toy Story
Gone with the Wind
Forrest Gump
Office Space
Mind Walk
Harold and Maude
It’s a Wonderful Life (x3)
Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Fame (The original 1980 version)
Split Shift
(directed by our own Katie Tallo)!
The Notebook
Star Trek: The Search for Spock
Ever After
Not of This World
Wanted (2008)
Match Point (x2)
Seven Pounds
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Groundhog Day

Your Thoughts for next Contest?

I thoroughly enjoy running these contests as it is a way not only to appreciate you, my readers but also a way to get to know you better. This was our 3rd contest after the previous successful two: A Photo Contest and A Book Contest. Movies, books and photos! What wonderful things in life! As I take much inspiration from you, tell me please what type of contest you would like to see next here?

Thank you for subscribing to the blog and supporting the prolific living message.

  • Emiel van den Boomen

    Dear Farnoosh,

    I am so happy and honoured! Your contest provided me with an opportunity to write about my favourite movie, finally. It is not always easy to express feelings in writing (especially when English is not your mother tongue), but winning your contest really encourages me to continue to write about my experiences. Travel, movies, cultures, all things that enrich life.

    I loved Steve Scott’s entrance and I will make sure to watch that movie! The way he describes it is awesome. It has been a great contest with a beautiful list of must-see movies. Thanks Farnoosh and thanks to the rest of the jury.

    I also want to thank my parents, my wife and my children. Without their support…..hmm, that sounds a bit too much like the Academy Awards :)


    • Farnoosh

      Too funny as always, Emiel, yes save that Academy Award speech for later, will you?! :) You are most *most* welcome! Yours was a beautiful entry and I am so happy that this encourages you on your writing journey – you must promise to post more frequently because you have a talent for writing and a great perspective on life and all that enriches it. And yes, so many more films to see. Elizabethtown is on my kitchen counter right now! Congratulations!!!

  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

    Wow! Amazing selection. I’ll have to watch that one. It’s a Wonderful Life sounds right up my street though:) Congrats to the Emiel and thanks Farnoosh for a handy guide we can refer to next time we can’t think what DVD to rent:)

    • Farnoosh

      Annabel, I love Gone with the Wind too as you see…..And It’s a Wonderful Life is in my Netflix queue also. Thank you so much for participating in the contest – and by the way, one of my selections for TIFF (Next week!!) was an Australian movie. Can’t wait!

  • Katie

    Farnoosh, what terrific winners you’ve chosen and a fabulous list of films. Love Harold and Maude. Thanks for including my little film among such giants. It was always my dream to make films and I’ve been very lucky to have experienced that in my life. I feel so blessed to know you and to be a part of your big, wide world view.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Katie, how fun do you think it is for me to say “You know, I myself know a director and producer…. “!!! :) If I can get my hands on your film, you bet I will watch it. The feelings are mutual and for so many reasons, dear Katie! Thank you for being here and for participating in our contest!

  • rob white

    Wow! Unexpected winners… what an interesting selection. I have not seen most of these. I am inspired to watch Ground Hog Day again… and again… and again. Bill Murray is one of my favorites.

    • Farnoosh

      You sir never came back! I was waiting with baited breath. Ground Hog Day really annoys me but Andy (the hubby) says it’s a very deep movie – and I am still looking for that depth but I do LOVE Bill Murray – he is a classic. Ok I’ll watch it again too – and kindly forgive you for missing out on the entry, Rob but this is the last time!!!! :)

  • Joshua Noerr

    Farnoosh, this was a lot of fun and there really are some great films on the list. Scott hit a great one, I love It’s A Wonderful Life.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Joshua, glad you had fun – I enjoyed your entry and I have yet to watch the movie Scott (and 2 others voted on) but I will be soon. Thank you for playing along and for your comment today!

  • The Exception

    These are great – I flipped here from Tess and the Bold Life. There are some here I have not seen and must check out!

    • Farnoosh

      So many good choices, so little time! Enjoy and thanks for your comment here!

  • Sandra Lee

    This contest was great fun, Farnoosh! Now we have this excellent list of films – from both you and the other contestants – to pursue. That’s a rich serving indeed.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Sandra, thanks so much for playing – yes we have a fun movie list. I have already rented Elizabethtown to watch before TIFF…..Give me ideas for next contest if the mood strikes you for a good one!!

  • Steve


    What an honor to be chosen. Thank you very much! All of the entries seemed so darn good I had no idea I even had a shot at really winning.

    I would like to thank the academy…..

    Seriously, what a wonderful idea and fun contest it was. Thanks for hosting it and thinking up this fun idea.

    The list of the 30 films seems like some pretty darn good entries. I will have to go and check out the few that I have not seen. Thanks again for the honor.

    • Farnoosh

      Steve, there you are!! Congratulations again! You are very welcome and you must know that I have your movie at top of my Netflix queue! You are most welcome and do save the academy award speech for another time…. ;)! Just teasing – thanks for participating and come back for future contests or any time you wish….!

  • Nadia Ballas-Ruta

    Hi Farnoosh,

    What a cool contest!

    I loved what Steve Scott wrote about “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I have seen that movie so many times and I still cry at the end. People are basically good…we just seem to forget that because good people just do not make the evening news. So that movie just inspires hope that if we were ever in trouble, people would be there to catch us. And the reality is that it happens…at least it has in my life.

    And I totally agree with you about “When Harry Met Sally” and “Star Wars” (the original trilogy). Those are great films!

    I look forward to the next contest!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Nadia, I see we like some of the same movies – classics really, When Harry Met Sally and Star Wars Trilogy! I hope that you will play in the next contest – and also share with me any ideas you have for the next contest….I am taking ideas so I can make sure it’s exciting and interesting and of some value to our readers! Thanks for your comment!

  • marion

    I am so pleased that It’s a Wonderful life ranked so well. Steve’s description was awesome. I didn’t think of Indiana and the Raiders of the Lost Ark which is strange because of the number of times I describe the scene when Indi walks across the void to the cave. Powerful stuff.

    Fun competition – thank you

    • Farnoosh

      Marion, thank you thank you – I know you described the same movie for us and I can’t wait to watch it – I’d love your thoughts and ideas about the next contest now so tell me what would interest and excite you for a next round and I really thank you for playing this contest and for your follow up comment and encouragement.

  • Brett

    I may be late to the party, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pitch in.

    First: the top 30 list… Angels and Demons? Office Space? Wanted? The Notebook? Man. They don’t belong there.

    Here’s my top 16, in no particular order:

    Minority Report
    Blade Runner
    The Godfather
    The Godfather, Part II
    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Pulp Fiction
    The Prestige
    Fight Club
    American History X
    V For Vendetta
    Taxi Driver
    The Usual Suspects

    Leaving all of them out was criminal :)

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Brett, I welcome you whether you are late or early to the party but everyone is entitled to their opinion and these were not the “best 30 films of our time” but “your 30 best films” – as in, the ones provided by the contestants….and speaking of which, thank you for your top 16! I have some favorites among them too!

  • Nea | Self Improvement Saga

    Wow….I love the list and I hate that I missed the contest. Some of my favorite movies are on this list: The Notebook, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Gandhi. I’ll definitely have to keep a closer eye on your blog.

    • Farnoosh

      Nea, don’t worry – this was the 3rd contest I ran and it was so much fun so you can rest assured there’ll be another contest soon but I do need ideas so if you have any, please do share them! Thank you for your comment!!

  • Dina

    Man… I missed all 3 contests! I hope I will be around for the next ones! My favourite movies are (as my head currently decide right now, it’s always changed!) Life is Beautiful, Bravehearts, and the Pianist.

    • Farnoosh

      Dina, come back more often – and now that you are here, tell me what you like to see in the next contest! Thank you for the lovely movie recommendations and for your comment!

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