One thing to know about screenwriter Lucy Alibar is that she is naturally sentimental. Whether it be her first feature film, 2012's Beasts of the Southern Wild, co-written with the movie's director Benh Zeitlin (for which they received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay), or 2019's Troop Zero, or the upcoming Where the Crawdads Sing, it is clear that Alibar gravitates toward heartwarming and emotional narratives.
Through the young heroines she writes, Alibar explores the fantastical ways that individuals finesse love, find courage within themselves, and act bravely even in the toughest of circumstances. This is true again in Where the Crawdads Sing. Based on the bestselling novel by Delia Owens, the film is the coming-of-age story of a young woman named Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who learns to fend for herself after being abandoned in the bayou, and years later, finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.
"I was thinking about Where the Crawdads Sing when making this list," Alibar tells A.frame. "How there are these moments that Kya has where she kind of transcends reality and has moments that are otherworldly or supernatural. I started thinking about movies that have that sort of expressionism, along with the movies that just really inspire me." She laughs, "And then, I got emotional.
"These movies all have this moment where you just gasp and your hand is on your heart or your head," she explains. "And that's what I want to do with the movies I write. I want to give the audience this incredible, joyful rush of emotion. These movies make you fall in love with the characters so that, when they have these transporting moments in the movie, you’re right there with them."
Below, Alibar shares with A.frame the five movies that have most moved her.
Directed by: Bob Fosse | Screenplay by: Bob Fosse and Robert Alan Aurthur
Excuse my profanity, I get so excited when talking about All That Jazz. Holy s***, Joe Gideon. He's one of my all-time favorite characters. What a terrible father who loves his kid more than anything. What an incredible artist who kind of breaks everything he touches. His obsession with creating something perfect, his own mortality, his 'pretty pictures.'
I mean, this is probably every filmmaker's favorite movie, but there's just something about it that makes it an intriguing morality story. There's that transporting "Bye Bye Love" number at the end. And every time it gets to the moment where he's hugging his daughter goodbye and she's holding on tight — she's the only one there who's not at peace with him leaving — it makes me cry. I've seen that movie and that scene so many times, and I always cry at that moment.
Written and Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
I love the way this movie flips through the lens of childhood and adulthood seamlessly. You never once question which world you're in or what's "real." Because the stakes are real to Ofelia. They're real for the audience. It's a morality play with the engine of a thriller featuring monsters. The structure is so simple and clean it just makes the emotions of the actors so profound. I left this movie thinking, "I have to be a good person."
Directed by: Gurinder Chadha | Screenplay by: Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, and Guljit Bindra
I saw this movie in the theaters, and it was the first movie I'd ever seen that was about girls pursuing something other than a boy. All of those characters live with you after the movie's over. I mean, that father! The scene where he stands up for his daughter and says, "I don’t want Jessie to suffer. I want her to fight. I want her to win." That script is fantastic. And the directing! That incredible split scene of the soccer game and the wedding, the music, and the sheer emotion of the whole thing. Being in the audience felt like you were watching a cage fighting match — everyone was cheering. It was such a uniting experience.
Written and Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda
This has one of the most unaffected child performances I've ever seen anywhere. The brilliant directing and storytelling by Koreeda really makes the viewer feel like you're a ghost in this house alongside these kids who have essentially been abandoned by their mother and have to form their own kind of family to survive. You really see and feel the raw need these children have for love and belonging that never really goes away.
Directed by: Stephen Daldry | Screenplay by: Lee Hall
I was lucky enough to have a meeting with Stephen Daldry recently. I was giving my fiancé this scene-by-scene recap of Billy Elliot, and I couldn't finish it because I started crying. That movie is all heart. It's a simple story, but you will find yourself riveted by this father and son, who begin the movie so far away from each other in terms of a conflict of interest. You're riveted by this world that has so little to offer a unique child like Billy, who just wants to be a professional ballet dancer, despite his father wanting him to do traditional male sports like boxing. You're riveted by his father's dedication to his son's dreams, even though he doesn't understand them.
I mean, that scene where Billy's father crosses that picket line — wow. And maybe that teaches that perhaps we don't need to understand other people in order to be good to them and to support them in their desires. And then, that moment at the end where he finally does get it. And he's watching Billy perform Swan Lake and he has this moment of being completely transported by Billy's performance, and that performance is the result of all of the father’s sacrifices, all of his time, his money. You just see the penny drop. You see him seeing his son for the first time. That moment just takes my breath away every time.