My normal New Year's resolution to lose 20 pounds was just not working for me. The diet lasted about a week and I never lost 20 pounds. This year I tried something new. I resolved to see a new movie once a month, in a movie theater, throughout 2014.
I had an epiphany while watching "Philomena" in December 2013. I was feeling particularly stressed about work and the holidays and just needed to clear my head. Well, that movie will make almost any problem seem small in comparison: Philomena is abused, has her baby stolen from her, searches for him and, all the while, maintains an amazingly positive outlook. The beautiful scenes of Ireland were a bonus.
So that's how this new resolution came to be. And I started on it straight away. On New Year's Eve I saw "Saving Mr. Banks," which really illustrated the cagey relationship between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers with the making of the movie "Mary Poppins" as a backdrop. Since, technically, I saw that movie in 2013, I went at the end of January to see "American Hustle" -- and my resolution was on a roll. It had great performances, and big hair. Having lived through the '70s, I found the plot a bit far-out (but it was based on the true ABSCAM sting by the FBI).
February was a short month but on the 28th, my husband and I saw "The Monuments Men" and gained a new perspective on Hitler, art and World War II. My mother and I took my nieces to see "The Lego Movie" in the middle of March. Mom and I laughed at the inside jokes about individualism, "the piece of resistance" and the human spirit. The girls just loved the Legos.
The month of April also sneaked up on me, and on the 29th I went to see "Noah" by myself in order to keep my resolution. I felt very alone in the theater as the rock monsters helped Noah and his family build the ark as he mentally wrestled with the fact that all of humanity dies once they finish the job. Life is funny and I really learned what alone means when my mother died the next day. I have felt lonely ever since.
In May, I took my father to see "Million Dollar Arm," which was less about baseball than it was about India and family and human motivation. My dad and I liked that movie, which we felt had good, moral themes and, as Dad said, "Anyone could see it."
Summer movies included "Jersey Boys," which illustrated quite a dramatic commitment to friends and to music. On the rainiest July Fourth in memory, I went with my older nieces to see "The Fault in Our Stars," the film based on a novel by John Green. It wasn't as good as the book, but isn't that usually how it goes?
"Guardians of the Galaxy" was fantastic fun in August. My youngest son and I saw that movie a few days before my husband and I brought him to college in Philadelphia.
Officially an empty-nester in September, I saw "This Is Where I Leave You" (and should have left), and in October, I never should have gone to "Gone Girl."
November introduced me to a new "St. Vincent," played with grit by Bill Murray. That movie clarified for me what a good film is all about: relationships, memorable characters, courage, challenges, resilience mixed with a sense of humor. And I'm hoping that "Unbroken," the film about World War II veteran Louis Zamperini, will deliver all that and more at the end of this month.
As 2014 comes to an end, I realized that this resolution helped me learn about myself. Every month there was a new movie with new characters to meet, beautiful locations to see, new challenges to resolve. Some films I loved; some I endured. But each one taught me something. These movies and my commitment to my New Year's resolution helped me through some big transitions and difficult months in 2014. And it was fun. Isn't that what a resolution should be?
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