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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Four UC Davis professors share their favorite movies

French films, zombies and Burton, oh my!

With a little extra time on our hands, this may be one of the only quarters where watching a movie as a small distraction is completely acceptable. The list below includes four professors’ favorite movies. Although we may not be physically with them during lecture, we can be with them in spirit by watching some of their “faves,” as Political Science Professor Jaime Jackson put it. 

Communication Professor Virginia Hamilton — “Thelma and Louise” directed by Ridley Scott 

Thelma and Louise” follows two women trying to take a short break from reality with a fishing trip but end up running from the law for murder. How did a small, serene trip end up with a flee to Mexico? 

“It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me angry, it makes me happy,” Hamilton said via email. “It thrusts the dark side of sexism into our faces and yet we get to be thoroughly entertained as we ride through all the emotional dynamics. It is extremely well-written and all of the actors are excellent.”

Although Hamilton can pointedly recall how many times she’s watched this movie (four), she can’t decide which character is her favorite. 

“[Thelma and Lousie] are each other’s half of a whole,” Hamiton said. “I love Thelma because of her innocence, femininity, honesty, and the personal growth she achieved during her ‘adventure.’ I love Louise because of her responsibility, strength, conviction to principles, and her ultimate radical acceptance of that which she cannot change.”

Among many other awards it received, the movie won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. It is labelled an Adventure/Crime movie, but Hamilton describes the film as political.

“It exposes the range of privileges ‘the system’ bestows upon men at the expense of women,” Hamilton said. “However I think everyone should watch the movie because it is both seriously important and highly entertaining at the same time.” 

“Thelma and Louise” can be rented on Amazon Prime. 

American Studies Professor Megan Bayles  — “Beetlejuice” directed by Tim Burton 

This 1988 classic follows a newly-wed (and newly-deceased) couple that haunt their home, stuck in limbo for what seems like forever. When a new, irritable couple moves into their home, the dead lovers hire Beetlejuice to help them kick the living couple out of their home.

Although this may sound like a horror film, Bayles described it as a comedy. 

“It’s dark and funny and very Tim Burton,” Bayles said via email. “The actors are perfectly cast—Beetlejuice is the role Michael Keaton was born to play, young Winona Ryder is the perfect goth teenager, and Alec Baldwin is so young and charming. And there are so many memorable minor characters.” 

Bayles watched the movie countless times as a child and recommends this movie to every student. 

“Who doesn’t need a little dark comedy-fantasy right now,” Bayles said. “Do it after you finish ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ and before you start re-watching ‘Schitt’s Creek.’”

“Beetlejuice” can be rented on Amazon Prime and iTunes. 

Psychology Professor Priscilla San Souci — “Shaun of the Dead” directed by Edgar Wright 

The comedy movie, about a post-apocalyptic world where zombies exist, pokes fun at zombie horror movie clichés. 

“I love British humour — especially when it comes to a man vs. nature theme,” San Souci said via email. 

Her favorite character is Shaun because although his situation isn’t preferrable, he makes the best of it. 

“It’s one of those [movies] that I could pick up in the middle,” San Souci said.

“Shaun of the Dead” can be rented on iTunes, Hulu or Amazon Prime. 

Political Science Professor Jaime Jackson  — “Amélie” directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet 

Back when Netflix wasn’t a thing and Blockbuster existed, Jackson worked at a video store. Though she is a movie-lover, her all-time favorite is the French film “Amélie”  — she said she’s watched it more times than she can count. 

“I know the movie so well that I use it to brush up on my French whenever I’m headed out to some place where I need to speak the language,” Jackson said via email. 

The movie won multiple awards, including the Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Best Foreign Film.

“It’s weird and beautiful,” Jackson said. “I love the imagery. I notice some new thing every time I watch it. The characters are all strange and awkward. And the music is amazing!”

Amélie follows a young girl with a sad childhood as she grows up and fills her own world with a whimsical touch.  

“I would recommend this movie to EVERYONE because it is a story about self-discovery,” Jackson said. “Amélie learns how to overcome her fears but it’s done through a simple lens without a lot of thrills and frills. It’s just a great movie to watch if you need to be inspired or watch something warm and comforting. Even if the subtitles are hard to keep up with for folks, the body language, music and imagery are all capable of getting the message across.”

“Amélie” is available on Hulu or Amazon Prime. 

Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


  1. Amelie is a fantastic movie, and if you get the chance to visit the Montmartre district in Paris, you can visit lots of places she goes in the film.


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