Movies For Insomniacs

I have a theory that every true cinephile deals with deep bouts of insomnia and anxiety. We look to enter other worlds and other lives when anxiety and the trials of life keep us up at night. All cinephiles have movies that we go to when those bouts of insomnia and anxiety take over. There are some perfect movies for insomniacs.

In a two-part series, I will break down my ten favorite movies I go to when unable to sleep or when I’m battling severe anxiety. Maybe these films will find their way into your insomnia rotation. In no particular order, here are my first five movies.

Lost In Translation

Lost In Translation makes my list for a multitude of reasons. One of which is very obvious, the main characters themselves are insomniacs due to jet lag halfway across the world. When this movie came out, it struck me in a way that I could not stop watching it, day and night. I was enthralled with the story, the performances and the humanity of it. By the time it was released on video I was working security overnights and I happened to have a portable DVD player and Lost In Translation was in regular rotation during my movie watching marathons. To this day, this movie feels best when I watch it at an awkward hour like 2 am or 7:30 am. With all that said it’s a modern classic no matter what hour you watch it.

Adventureland

Greg Mattola’s highly underrated coming of age film was the first time we got to see the great on-screen chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. One thing that is very difficult to do in cinema is capture nostalgia. Woody Allen has been a master of it when it comes to the 1940’s and 1950’s. Mattola did a masterful job capturing the 1980’s over a summer working a run-down theme park in Pittsburgh. Adventureland has a killer soundtrack and gives off that great comfort feeling you look for when in a bad mental state or in a state where you need to get comfortable when you can’t seem to fall asleep.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is one of the most mind-bending yet endearing and truthful romance films of the last 30 years or more. With a unique concept yet not one that hasn’t gone through the mind of anyone coming off a break-up, I wish I could forget you. It’s a unique storytelling style, and original narration makes it a perfect movie for an insomniac. It is as much of an experience as it is a movie. You can read my whole write up on the film here.

Fight Club

Another mark of a good movie to watch in the middle of the night is one whose majority takes place at night. With not only a dark subject it primarily takes place when the sun is set. Another mind-bending type movie, which is precisely the state of mind of the insomniac, Fight Club feeds off this and takes you on a ride and eventually knocks you out. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were at the top of their game when they teamed up for this ultimate guy movie classic.

Magnolia

I am a firm believer that ANY Paul Thomas Anderson film could fit here, but for some reason, Magnolia sticks out to me here. It may just be because I first saw it late at night on cable after it had come out and before I knew the genius he was. It could also be the pacing that his movies tend to have. There are moments of uncomfortable silence that match the uncomfortableness of insomnia or anxiety. It contains one of my favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman performances. His screen time with Jason Robards is an acting class amongst itself.

Be prepared for another list of late night movies for insomniacs.

Top 5 Kate Winslet Performances

Without a doubt, one of my favorite actresses is Kate Winslet. She is the quintessential British actress, she is fearless, natural and does everything 100% and makes it great. I am excited every time I see a trailer for one of her new movies, and my anticipation is its highest. She frequently uses the term “ballsy” to describe her characters. The term “ballsy” could easily describe Winslet herself and her choice of films. She has never been stereotyped other than having a reputation for being great at what she does. When I decided I was going to choose my top 5 favorite Kate Winslet movies, I realized I had taken up a challenging topic.

Professionally acting since she was very young, her credits begin in 1991 when she was 16, and it would be just three years her breakthrough role come to her. A small independent film with a young director, Oscar winner Peter Jackson. The film, Heavenly Creatures would be a smash hit in the independent film world, and Winslet never looked back. Two years later she received her first Oscar nomination for Sense And Sensibility. The year after that she was the lead character in the juggernaut film, Titanic.

Since all of this, Winslet’s resume reads like the stats of a baseball Hall of Famer. Since her first Oscar nomination, she has received seven total nominations and one win for her performance in The Reader. She has 11 Golden Globe nominations with four wins. 8 SAG award nominations and three wins and finally 8 BAFTA nominations and three wins… All of these accolades in the last 20 years. These are accolades equal to some of the best actors and actresses in the history of the industry. With all that said, on to the list of my top 5 favorite Kate Winslet roles.

5. Mildred Pierce

The only role on the list that wasn’t theatrically released, the 5 part HBO miniseries was carried entirely and focused on Winslet. Kate was in every scene of the epic series, and her performance made everything right about the series, even better. Her ability to give the character a fierce personality and watch her become humble and almost broken shows the talent that we have come to expect every time out.

4. Steve Jobs

This role in last years biopic gave her, her seventh Oscar nomination and won her a fourth Golden Globe and her third BAFTA award. The part of Joanna Hoffman was a particularly challenging one for her due to a few reasons. First, this was the first time that Winslet had to tackle the difficult task of mastering Aaron Sorkin’s fast-paced, back and forth dialogue. She passed that test with flying colors. The second difficulty was one that Winslet had learned to master the slight Polish accent beautifully. There would have been no debate if she had taken home the Oscar instead of Alicia Vikander.

3. Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road marked the second time she teamed up with extremely close friend Leonardo Di Caprio and first time working with her husband at the time, Oscar winner Sam Mendes. Movie fans everywhere had been eagerly awaiting Winslet and Leo to reunite on screen, and they did not disappoint. It proved to be the perfect choice for a reunion. They played anything but the perfect couple everyone remembered from Titanic, as well as showing how much they had both grown as actors and people. She won the Golden Globe for her performance in the leading dramatic actress category. It would prove to be a historic night for Winslet.

2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Her fourth Oscar nomination would come in 2004 for her masterful performance as Clementine Kruczynski in Michel Gondry’s opus, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Playing opposite Jim Carrey, who was terrific himself, she pulled in what has been called one of the 100 greatest performances ever. The only reason she didn’t walk away with the Oscar was due to the buzz saw that year in the form of Hilary Swank. With an all-star cast, Winslet stood out, way out. Full Film Review Here

1. The Reader

There is no question this was her best role in my opinion. She finally took home Oscar gold for playing Hanna Schmitz. The incredibly moving and stirring story was made palpable by Winslet. The story of an eventually convicted Nazi war criminal and her intimate relationship with a young student who opens her up to all kinds of literature and stories are so compelling it leaves an indelible mark. Winslet’s performance is a massive reason for this. It is the fear her in her cap. One thing is for sure she’s not done churning out award-winning performances by a long shot.

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind Is One Of The Most Unique Romance Movies

I love a good romance movie but it has to be done in a different way to really make me enjoy it. That’s why Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is unique. It has everything that makes it unique and unconventional and it starts with the writer, Charlie Kaufman. 

Charlie Kaufman gained notarially with his brilliant script for Being John Malkovich which fused one of Hollywood’s most innovative writers with one of Hollywood’s most eccentric people. The film would go on to be a massive independent hit and bring Kaufman an Oscar nomination. The trouble with “Malkovich” is people didn’t get it. It would take five more years, and an upstart production company in Focus Features to help people see that Kaufman wasn’t crazy but just had a detailed profound and different way of looking at everyday life that involved a lot of creativity.

Charlie Kaufman would have 2 Oscar nominations under his belt by the time Eternal Sunshine would begin its production. One for “Malkovich” and one for Adaptation which did bring Oscar gold home for Chris Cooper in his best-supporting-actor role.

Eternal Sunshine is the story of a man named Joel Barish who has recently broken up with his eccentric girlfriend, Clementine. He soon discovers Clementine has enlisted the help of the Lacuna corporation to aid her in erasing Joel from her life and memory. Fueled by his disappointment and anger, Joel then decides to have the same procedure done. It is only at the start and under sedation that he realizes that he doesn’t want Clementine erased from his mind. He wants to keep all the memories, good and bad. The movie then is a trip through the relationship of Joel and Clementine as seen through the eyes of Joel’s memory and their attempt to stay together even if it’s in Joel’s mind.

With a look at relationships and areas of life that most people have felt and have memories they wish they could just altogether forget, Eternal Sunshine shows that life is what it is and makes us who we are despite the great and terrible moments we endure.

Eternal Sunshine would go on to be the movie that would force those in the independent world to take notice of Michel Gondry. It was his American directorial debut and some films to follow would not live up to Eternal Sunshine but would none the less have Gondry’s touch on them all.

Kaufman, however, would continue to make some of Hollywood’s unique and intelligent films which included his debut as a director with Synecdoche, New York starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Synecdoche would not bring in the viewers that Eternal Sunshine did but would let Kaufman stretch himself as a screenwriter and director.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet turned in superb performances which would have made the film mediocre or even bad without such acting. With what, off screen, seemed like such unlikely chemistry, Carrey and Winslet proved they had what it takes to make it work. Winslet was already on her way to being the most celebrated working actress since Meryl Streep (which she has surpassed in the eyes of this reviewer). Carrey would once again get snubbed like he was in ’98 and ’99.

Regardless of awards and recognitions, Eternal Sunshine is a great and different slant on the modern day love story that will leave you thinking about it and then you need to re-live it all over again.