In our first installment of movie reviews, I thought I’d give you a benchmark as to where my interests lie.

A self-confessed geek, I, by design, love science fiction, fantasy, and the like. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings you’ll all find in my wheelhouse

However, I’m also all about films that deal with characters and their development. A film is only as good as its plot; the plot only as good as the characters who propel it forward. You have to have something to invest yourself in to stay drawn into the medium.

So, while many of my choices may drift toward the geeky, you’ll also find me selecting films that are character pieces.

Anyhow, here are three films that you should definitely flick onto if you haven’t already.

We Are Marshall – Marshall University in West Virginia suffered the single greatest sports tragedy in 1971 when the coaches, staff, boosters, family members, and more than 75 players were killed in a plane crash. We are MarshallIt follows the story of how a community picks up the pieces following disaster and carries on. Football becomes their metaphor for grief and recovery, an opportunity to “rise from the ashes.” Wonderfully acted by Matthew McConaghey and Matthew Fox, it’s a great sports film that shows reality in an entertaining way. Is it schmaltzy and cliche? Yes. But the fact that it’s real makes it special.

Rocky Balboa
– Thirty years ago, an unknown actor and writer named Sylvester Stallone pitched an idea about a down and out boxer from Philadelphia given the chance of a lifetime against the unbeatable champion Apollo Creed (an archetype of Mohammad Ali). The story didn’t follow typical sports films formula: the hero didn’t win. But he went the distance against Creed, which was the film’s true message. When no one believes you can do it, do you have the courage and strength to carry on? Thirty years later, and Sly has issued his fifth and last sequel to this Oscar-winning original, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Rocky Balboa

Rocky is a 60 year old living back on the streets of Philadelphia. Now a widower after the loss of Adrian, his wife and moral compass, he owns a small restaurant and entertains patrons night after night with stories of his conquests. He does this without relish and pride, but as someone adrift in this modern world, a man out of his time. Along comes yet another chance at the impossible when an ESPN video game simulation declares that Balboa in his prime would beat the current champ: a Terrell Owen-like arrogant loudmouth. I’ll stop with the plot summary here in hopes you’ll see this gem of a movie. Rocky fans will love the way Stallone has chosen to end his series, whereas just plain movie-goers will find it a perceptive commentary on sports today, specifically boxing.

Little Miss Sunshine – Of the three films, this one is the most deserving of an Oscar nomination. While I’m a fan of comedies (“40 Year Old Virgin”, “Wedding Crashers“, and “Anchorman” among recent favorites), “Little Miss Sunshine” strikes that chord of realistic drama coupled with comic genius. I literally cannot go into the plot out of fear of spoiling the experience for you, but this film had three moments which are at the top, superlatively speaking.

1. Most tearjerking scene of the year – Involving Dwayne, the teenage son exploring a vow of silence.
2. Funniest line of the year – Delivered by Olive at a beauty pageant, regarding her grandfather.
3. Drop-dead funniest scene I’ve seen in at least 10 years – Olive again, I can’t say anything more, other than it’s at the end of the film, and that you’ll laugh for 10 minutes straight.

Little Miss Sunshine

Not only should “Sunshine” get a Best Picture nod, but give one to Toni Collette, the harried yet devoted wife and mother; and Steve Carell, the suicidal, gay, genius professor/uncle.

Don’t miss this film.