Kaylee Dugan's Favorite Movies Of All Time

Hello /Film friends! I don't know what made you click on this article but I'm simultaneously glad you did and I'm also terrified you'll find a way to bully me online. This might sound ridiculous, but even though I've been writing about movies (and food, art, music and all other sorts of cultural joys) for almost a decade, I still have to imagine the internet as a black void where no one can actually read my content. What can I say, I'm fun to have at parties.

Even though the internet is listicles all the way down, writing them is hard, especially when the topic is something as personal as your 15 favorite movies. While I love every title on this list, there are so many more I could discuss at length, and frankly, this list is shifting around in my brain all of the time. But, sometimes you have to buckle down and make a decision.

With that being said, most of my blurbs call out the people who introduced me to these movies or the people I watched these movies with for the first time. All of my friends and loved ones are very cool and smart. 95 to 99% of my best thoughts are essentially ripped from the brains of the people I love, which is why I felt a need to shout them out here. What I'm really saying is, /Film should actually hire my mom to write about movies. I'm just a conduit for her good taste.

15. Saw

I very much want to play a game. I was a pre-teen during the rise of the torture porn genre in the U.S. and it has left a mark upon my heart and soul. Watching "Saw" (and to be honest all of the "Saw" movies, every single one) feels like coming home. Everything about this film screams "gritty mid-aughts horror" and that's 100% what I love about it. Everything is dirty, everything is cool toned, and nothing makes sense. While this is weirdly the only James Wan film on my list, know that my love for him runs deep. If this list was a top 25, "Dead Silence" absolutely would have weaseled it's way in because, just like Wan, I love a good puppet.

14. The September Issue

I am a documentary fiend and while I will watch all of the very sad movies about heart-wrenching murders and real crises, my favorite docs are essentially useless puff pieces about niche worlds. "The September Issue" is very much one of those films. If you read "The Devil Wears Prada" at a young age, this documentary will scratch a very specific itch in your brain. If you've ever had a job in an unconventional workplace that required way too much of your time and heart, this movie will take you right back, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, this documentary kind of reminds me of a life I lived once and while I'm not in a hurry to go back, it's nice to visit. It also reminds me of my best friend Marissa who is the only person in my life who will have in depth conversations about fashion with me. We dress very differently, but we somehow have all of the same opinions. It's magic. Also I love the Anna Wintour gossip. She's a weirdo and I want to know everything.

13. Valley Girl

Okay, so this is the first movie starring Nicolas Cage on my list and you're going to have to keep scrolling if you want to find out what the second movie is, but don't do that just yet. Stay here and bask in the ridiculousness that is "Valley Girl" with me. This is your classic teenage love story, but also every aspect of this movie is upsetting. The sexual politics are horrible. No one has any charisma or sexual chemistry. I love it. It's so uncomfortable and unrealistic, like a bad version of "Euphoria" if it took place in LA in the 80s, and yet I am truly obsessed with Cage in his role. My best friend Aminah found this movie in a dollar bin at a Best Buy and we haven't stopped quoting it since. My phone background used to be a low quality still of Nic Cage from this movie and acquaintances would ask me if he was my boyfriend. This is what it's like to know me.

12. Somm

And we're back to puff piece documentaries! If you like underdog competitions and consider yourself to be a snob or snob adjacent, "Somm" needs to get on your watch list because it will honestly teach you some cool stuff about the wine world. But at its very core, it's also basically a sports movie. You root for people to pass their fancy wine test, and if you're mean like me, you also root for people to fail their fancy wine test. It's specific and nerdy and so much fun. Also, everyone in this doc is a character. No one is boring. Every person in this movie would corner you at a party so they could talk down to you about wine and it rules. Those are (sadly) my kind of people.

11. Only Lovers Left Alive

In my heart of hearts I'm still a 15-year-old girl, so I love vampires and I love vampire romances, both of which this movie has in spades. It's also just cool. It's just a cool movie with cool sounds and costumes and actors. I hate basement apartments, but I would live in that plush gothic sex dungeon Tom Hiddleston has set up in the middle of Detroit right now. I would move there quite literally immediately. Of course, the complicated, but loving relationships in this film are what make it more than just a sick-looking music video. Also, I know this list is just supposed to be about the movies I love, but I can't believe my love for this film and most of Jim Jarmusch's catalogue lulled me into watching "The Dead Don't Die." I've seen that movie twice and I've regretted it both times. Has it affected my love of "Only Lovers Left Alive?" No. Do I still get mad when I think about it anyway? Absolutely yes.

10. The Game

This movie is a puzzle and I love every minute of it. I feel like you'll probably hear (read?) me say this over and over again in this list, but it's dripping in atmosphere. This is the perfect off-kilter thriller that is filled with weird moments that almost, kind of, verge on horror but pull back just before things get too grim. Also, I have a soft spot for movies that are really just about rich people problems, and this movie is a rich person problem shrouded in paranoia and dipped in acid. Everything about it is sinister. Now that I think about it, it's kind of like "Succession" but weirder and meaner. As a side note, I watched this movie in the basement of my high school friend Eli's house and now he's out in the world being a successful doctor. I hope you're having fun out there, man!

9. A Nightmare on Elm Street

I've always been a Freddy girl. What can I say, I like a good joke and a bad dream. If I'm remembering correctly, I believe I watched this movie in high school for the first time with my best friend Chloe, who has impeccable taste in horror movies and is still my best friend to this very day. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is such a wild surrealist ride while still sticking to the genre conventions of the day, which makes it feel familiar but also so different from the other films it gets lumped in with. Also, it can't be understated how fun Freddy Krueger is in comparison to the sad hulking monoliths that are Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. And even though he is fun and distinct and has a real discernible personality, he's still actively frightening. What a flex.

8. Jane Eyre (1943)

Unfortunately for me and my brain I was shown this movie at a very young age and then I read the book as an impressionable teen, so the moody Rochester is forever my lit/cinema crush. It's a curse! Anyway, "Jane Eyre" is the perfect gothic romance featuring Orson Welles as your sad boyfriend who loves to neg you and Joan Fontaine as an absolute babe with perfect hair and a tenacious spirit. The mystery at the heart of this unconventional love story is wonderfully unhinged and the fact that it's in black and white only makes it feel more goth and bleak and British. I used to watch this movie all the time with my grandmother, who is from England, and it definitely made me think that every house in England was a decrepit castle, which isn't not true.

7. The Exorcist

I was raised Catholic and I love a horror movie that has a healthy dose of Catholic guilt, and boy oh boy does "The Exorcist" deliver. Besides the deeply sad religious tones, it also packs in an incredible amount of gore and general unease. There are aspects of the movie that feel so subtle and delicately placed and then you get the famous, "your mother sucks cocks in hell line" and there's vomit everywhere. It's got range and atmosphere for days and so many quotable lines. I also feel personally blessed to live in the same city as "The Exorcist" stairs, so it feels like a real hometown movie.

6. Howl's Moving Castle

Okay, so I was truly obsessed with "Kiki's Delivery Service" as a child but I had no idea who Hayao Miyazaki was or that he made any other movies. Cut to me being like 10 or 11 years old and watching "Spirited Away" for the first time, which owned so hard and made me obsessed, but again, I was too young to drive myself to Blockbuster and rent my own movies, so that filmography continued to go unexplored until I was in high school and a friend lent me her DVD copy of "Howl's Moving Castle." There are a lot of Miyazaki movies I love, but this one takes the cake. It perfectly juggles the more adult aspects of the characters while still giving into these wild childish scenes of pure joy. It's a real romp of a love story and the world building is top notch, both intimate and sprawling. I love a man who knows how to put an ensemble together.

5. Moonstruck

I am not really a romantic comedy person but "Moonstruck" owns and even if you're someone who hasn't been overly impressed with romantic comedies, I think this film is charming enough to win anyone over. I mean 1) Cher is a revelation in this movie, she owns every scene she's in and most of the scenes she's not in. 2) Nicolas Cage as a frenzied and passionate lover who also happens to have a wooden hand is truly impeccable casting. 3) It's legit funny and sweet and everyone in this movie is obsessed with the moon and its magical love powers, which is kind of heavy metal. All three of these facts make it sound like a movie I made up completely, and I love that about "Moonstruck." It's a little slice of magic.

4. The Blair Witch Project

I mean, I'm a Maryland girl so I believe there's a state bylaw that makes me legally obligated to love this movie, but I'd like to think I would love it even if I wasn't born with Old Bay blood or whatever. My younger, and much cooler, cousin Rachel convinced me to watch this movie with her when we were kids and we did 100% think it was real and we did think the Blair Witch would be coming for us. Besides eliciting real fear because we were real dumb, you cannot deny the pure unadulterated menace that ekes out of this movie. Even if you can't deal with the shaky cam style or the constant screaming (there is a lot of screaming but frankly wouldn't we all be screaming if we thought a witch was going to kill us?), from a business perspective, this movie was able to do so much with so little and that alone is impressive. Did it launch a thousand copycat found footage films? Sure. Do I love all of those movies too? Yes.

3. The Lost Boys

My love for these last three films are also love letters to my mom, a woman who is down to watch literally anything but is also the shrewdest and most discerning critic I know. I remember coming home from high school and my mom immediately saying to me as soon as I walked through the door, "Did you hear Corey Haim died?" and my response was something along the lines of, "Who?" And she, without pausing, told me to get in the car because we needed to drive to the local Sam Goody (RIP?) so that we could buy "The Lost Boys." We came home and immediately watched it, and as a goth kid turned goth adult who still loves vampire media, I'll never be able to thank her enough for introducing me to this film. It has everything! An incredible soundtrack, cool motorcycle vampires, true love, Kiefer Sutherland with bleach-blond hair. What more could you ask for in a movie?

2. The Silence of the Lambs

I'd like to start this off with the weird and perhaps surprising caveat that I've only seen half of the first season of "Hannibal" and it was fun but it's not "The Silence of the Lambs." And I don't care how many tumblr gif sets you make of Mads Mikkelsen, I'm not going to change my mind. Anyway, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster own so hard in this movie, I could watch them act the hell off of each other for hours. Truly, the rest of the plot could go away and this movie would still rule, but its conventional thriller sensibilities combined with those one-off moments that feel legitimately transgressive, boggle my mind. This is another movie my mom introduced me to when I was a teenager, and I'll never forget my little brother asking to watch it with us and my mom aquiescing, just to send him out of the room when that scene in the prison happens. I grew up in a cool family.

1. The Shining

I've made everyone I love watch this movie and most of them still love me, which feels like a very specific and unprofitable grift. I mean, it's very long and also polarizing, the kind of horror film you either love or hate, and the reasons you can hate it are so varied and most of them are correct ... and yet. I love all of the wild overacting and repetitive scenes that lull you into a kind of hypnotic nightmare about the breakdown of the classic American family unit. It's honestly perfect to me. Two fun tidbits about me and this movie are that 1) My mom gave me a DVD copy for Easter one year when I was a teenager (like it was placed in an Easter basket surrounded by chocolate, how I was cosmically gifted such a heavy-metal mom I'll never know) and 2) My dad looks strikingly like Jack Nicholson. I will not be taking any further questions at this time.