It’s movie-award season, so we checked in with three Washingtonians who care a lot about movies: DC native and NPR film critic Bob Mondello, movie buff and MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, and Congresswoman Diane Watson, whose California district includes Hollywood and the site of the Academy Awards.
“My definition of a great movie is one that you’ll see over and over again,” says Matthews. His favorites include The Mummy (1932), It Happened One Night (1934), Casablanca (1942), A Placein the Sun (1951), the John Wayne 1956 western The Searchers (“Take out a fewof the hokey scenes and you have the greatest movie ever made”), and 1959’s North by Northwest.
Mondello, who sees more than 200 movies a year, struggles to name a favorite. “My head doesn’t have the capacity for plot anymore,” he says.
Among those that did pop into his head are Buster Keaton’s The General (1927); Funny Bones (1995); Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1969 drama, Queimada (known in America as Burn!); and Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist.
Watson’s favorites are classic crowd pleasers: The Sound of Music (1965) and Gone With the Wind (1939).
As for their favorite places to watch a movie? Watson likes the Magic Johnson theater in LA. Matthews prefers a weeknight at the Avalon in DC with his wife, TV anchor Kathleen Matthews. And Mondello likes Cleveland Park’s Uptown, though he’s also partial to the Avalon and the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring.
Those three, he says, are “the only places to see movies. Period. End of sentence. All the suburban multiplexes are characterless—you might as well be in a black box.”