darjeeling_limitedThe Darjeeling Limited (2007)
I didn’t realize this until I’d watched it about six times, but I’m pretty sure The Darjeeling Limited is my favorite Wes Anderson movie, and one of the most aesthetically and emotionally perfectly-constructed movies ever made, of all time. How ’bout that?! The movie tells many stories, but the central one is of a journey taken by three bickering brothers on a train through India (or Wes’s idea of what a train though India SHOULD look like—I’ve been on those trains, and while they’re super rad, none of the ones I traveled on were gilded with paisley wallpaper and little ruby lanterns. I’m just being real.). It’s an insanely beautiful movie that captures the charm of the Indian countryside. It’s also funny, and super fucking tragically sad, and will probably make you cry a lot and hold the hand of whomever you’re watching it with. The protagonists are ultimately trying to find their elusive hippie mother (played fabulously and infuriatingly by Anjelica Huston, of course) but, as life and luck would have it, end up finding a bunch of other stuff on their dysfunctional family getaway, too, included but not limited to a li’l romance, some poisonous snakes, and eventually, a grudging brotherly love for one another! —Esme

MV5BMTM1NzQ1OTM3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDAwMjUyMQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_A League of Their Own (1992)
The summer I turned 12, my baseball-loving self was psyched to find a movie dedicated to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which ran 1943–1954. Thanks to the video store across the street, I spent almost every day watching the catcher Dottie Hinson, her kid sister Kit, and the slew of other women who left their hometowns to play ball while America’s men went to war. But while their baseball skills left me in awe, I was even more dazzled by the players’ displays of sisterhood: on top of Dottie and Kit’s evolving relationship, the teammates form a family to help each other through separation, sexism, and loss. Better yet? I learned “there’s no crying in baseball.” —Anne

MV5BMjE2ODUxMjk5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQ5NjYzNDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
This black-and-white classic of American indie films revels in bad jokes as much as it does long, wistful shots of the landscape, and unravels at a supple pace that always seduces me. Willie (played by John Lurie, who also scored the movie) learns that his cousin Eva is coming from Hungary to stay with him, and he whines to a relative that “It’s disrupting my whole life.” His whole life consists of drinking beer, watching football, going to the racetrack, and eating TV dinners. Eva walks around the ghost-town streets of 1980s New York City and plays Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on her tape recorder; she has a fire in her belly that the men around her lack. Some time after Eva leaves to live with their Aunt Lottie in Cleveland, Willie and his friend Eddie go to visit her using their winnings from an underhanded poker game. Their desire to get out of their ruts highlights their deep inability to escape their own sad skins. The three characters stand in front of Lake Erie so covered in snow that it looks like a swath of pure blank whiteness, and Eddie says, “You come to somewhere different, an’ everything looks just the same.” —Annie

MV5BNDE1NTYwMDQ0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE3NDkyMQ@@._V1_Summerland (2004–2005, CBS)
After their parents are killed, three siblings—Nikki, Bradin (played by heartthrob Jesse McCartney), and Derrick Westerly—move to California from Kansas. Living with their aunt Ava and her housemates, they embark on adventures, like puberty and drugs and stuff. What is so interesting about Summerland is that while the siblings grapple with the hardship of living without parents, the storyline constantly drives them away from what they’re used to and toward new experiences. For instance, we see Nikki (played by Kay Panabaker) experience her crushzone for the first time—enter a young, cutely gap-toothed Zac Efron. Watching Summerland always throws me back into the nervous, bittersweet fun of growing up. —Chanel

the_kings_of_summer-cartel-5580The Kings of Summer (2013)
This movie appealed to last-year me because it stars Nick Robinson on whom I had an almost-crush, and because of the film’s “escape the summer” vibes. I watched The Kings of Summer while on a short road trip, and it left me with a full tank of inspiration about how to handle the beast that is summer. Tackling a film about two teen boys running away from their families and civilization is kinda hard to get right, but The Kings of Summer is spot-on in capturing the humor, emotions, and betrayals that one might experience while living with your best friend in a forest inside a makeshift house while trying to stave off the temptations of the local Boston Market and those gosh darn femalez. —Alyson

p21455_d_v7_aaHow Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
Real talk: This is such a silly movie, I cannot even pretend otherwise. With that confession off my chest, I wholeheartedly recommend watching and laughing through Taye Diggs’s terrible Jamaican accent, and the somewhat implausible romance between his character, Winston Shakespeare, and Angela Bassett’s Stella Payne. Stella is a 40-year-old, super-successful stockbroker who lives in San Francisco with her son. She’s a divorced single mother making bank, so it might be said that she is already living her best life, but she’s single, which in this rom-com world gives everybody license to treat her as though she’s on the brink of death. Enter Delilah, played by the wonderful Whoopi Goldberg. She’s Stella’s bestie, and she whisks her away to Jamaica for drinks, deep R&R, and beach boy lovin’. Stella meets Winston, and the rest is on-again, off-again romance. Delilah meets a grizzly end, but her death teaches Stella to grab life by the horns, believe in love after love, and so forth and so on down that clichéd highway. It sounds like I hate this movie, but I really don’t. I love it, and I’m going to go and watch it again right now. —Derica ♦