Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Malin Akerman, Kate Mara and Josh Radnor

The stars and director of happythankyoumoreplease talk favorites and their new film.

by | March 4, 2011 | Comments

It’s a three-in-one Five Favorite Film fest today, as we sat down with the stars and writer-director of the indie comedy-drama happythankyoumoreplease, which opens in select theaters this week. The debut feature for How I Met Your Mother star-turned-filmmaker Josh Radnor, the movie follows the unpredictable lives and relationships of four New York twentysomethings, and stars Radnor, Kate Mara and Malin Akerman.

First up, we spoke with Malin Akerman. Familiar to mainstream audiences as superhero Silk Spectre in Watchmen, the versatile actress has alternated between studio comedies and indie drama, appearing radically different in happythankyoumoreplease as Radnor’s best friend who has the condition alopecia.

“It’s what you live for in that it’s so much fun to transform yourself,” Akerman says of her role, which required her to shave her eyebrows and appear hairless. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to extract yourself from the physical and just become a character. A lot of times studios are a little bit more reluctant to bring you in for auditions for roles that are outside of the genre that they’re used to seeing you in, so I feel like the independent film world is a place where I can test that out. I like all genres of film and I want to be able to do everything.”

True to that ethic, Akerman will soon play the title role in Inferno: The Linda Lovelace Story, a biopic of the infamous adult star of Deep Throat. “I’m really excited about that,” she says. “It’s pretty heavy content. It’s really the relationship between her and her husband, and the way that he treated her. It’s more about Linda Lovelace as this battered woman rather than just — obviously it’s not a remake of Deep Throat.[laughs] I’m not getting into that genre.”

Read on for more Five Favorite Films, with co-star Kate Mara and director Josh Radnor. Up now, here’s Malin Akerman’s list.


Dirty Dancing (1987, 68% Tomatometer)


We’ll start with the cheese. [laughs] I’ve seen Dirty Dancing about a million times in my life. Always a good one. Just because, you know, I watched it as a teenager and your hormones are going crazy at that point and you’re like, oh my god, “Nobody puts baby in the corner!” I dreamed about being a dancer. And Patrick Swayze was so sexy in that film; a guy who can dance is always so attractive. It was just like a dream being swept off your feet — one of those fantasy films.

Annie Hall (1977, 98% Tomatometer)

Love Annie Hall. Everything is so random in his films but it’s also so grounded, and it’s so nice to watch. I like when you watch a film and you feel like you’re a part of somebody’s life for an hour and a half. It feels all improvisational, but it’s interesting, it moves along and it has a good story. And it’s just nice to see those people, because there are, you know, mistakes, which becomes the magic of the film.

No Country For Old Men (2007, 95% Tomatometer)


Love No Country for Old Men. I feel like there’s no formula to it. I love the Coen brothers. They’re so brilliant and they always surprise you in one way or another. A Serious Man was awesome. I like stuff like that, that kind of throws you for a loop. It takes you on a journey that is unexpected.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, 95% Tomatometer)


I loved Pan’s Labyrinth. It transported me into another world. I like fantasy worlds; I love Lord of the Rings as well, for that reason, because you really get to get out of reality and go somewhere else. Pan’s Labyrinth was kind of this dark, sick, beautiful… it was like watching a moving painting, like a Salvador Dali painting or something like that. It was just really magical and it sort of provoked so many different feelings at one time. It’s kind of sick, you know, the guy with no eyes is coming at her and it felt like when you have a crazy dream — you’re watching someone’s crazy dream. It just affected me.

Betty Blue (1986, 76% Tomatometer)


You know which one is one of my favorites? Betty Blue. Oh, if you’ve not seen it — you have to see it. It’s amazing. What a great film. It’s not without its faults, which sort of parallels life, you know — you feel like you’re living with these people for two-and-a-half hours. It’s really great. Loved it.


The elder of two talented siblings (sister Rooney is currently filming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for David Fincher), Kate Mara has been a busy actress of late, appearing in one of the year’s biggest hits, Iron Man 2, and the acclaimed, Oscar-nominated 127 Hours. (Little sister also played a small-but-pivotal role in another of the Best Picture nominees, The Social Network.)

Mara is mixing things up again for this week’s modest indie, happythankyoumoreplease, in which she plays the role of Mississippi, a Southern girl looking to break into the singer-songwriter music scene in New York. She falls into a romantic liaison with central character Sam (played by writer-director Josh Radnor), and gets to perform the movie’s key musical denouement.

We chatted with Mara ahead of the movie’s release, and got her to name her Five Favorite Films. Read on for Josh Radnor’s all-time best list.


Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980, 100% Tomatometer)


I was excited that I had the chance to sing something in [happythankyoumoreplease]. I did a lot when I was younger and I haven’t in such a long time, but I grew up doing musicals and musical theater. That was my real passion and I soon as I started doing films, when I was 14, I did less. I would love to do movie musicals or Broadway. [A music biopic] would be a dream of mine… that leads into my favorite movies. Coal Miner’s Daughter is my all-time favorite movie. A lot of that has to do with that’s just a dream sort of ideal role for me. I love country music. I love the idea of playing a country singer and the whole thing, I love it. And I love Sissy Spacek. So yeah, that’s one of my favorites.

The Sound of Music (1965, 84% Tomatometer)

What else do I love? Well The Sound of Music is what, I think, made me wanna be an actor. I was so young when I saw it. I wanted to be one of the Von Trapp children. [laughs] It’s what started my love of music, singing; the whole thing. Any time it’s on I get this sort of “home” feeling. It’s one of those things, when it’s on, I feel guilty changing the channel. You get sucked in. And it holds up, too. When I went with my mom to Italy, we took a trip to Austria to go specifically on The Sound of Music tour, when I was 12 or something. [laughs] So that’s one.

Lady Jane (1985, 57% Tomatometer)


You know, I haven’t seen the film in a very long time, but because it was another thing that my sister and I, as kids, would watch — the film Lady Jane, with Helena Bonham Carter. And Helena Bonham Carter was, I think she was like, 17. I feel funny saying that’s one of my favorite films, but it really inspired us, and we’re both actors now, and she is, to us, still amazing. When I watched it, I just remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s my dream,” to play that role. I love her. Lady Jane started my love of period films and the British accent, which I’m obsessed with. I just did my first one. I did a medieval film [Ironclad] that… Do you know Jason Flemyng? He’s one of my really good friends. As soon as I heard Jason Flemyng was doing it and that it was medieval, I was like, I don’t even care what it’s about — I gotta do it just for the fun. I was the only girl on the movie. It was hilarious. And yes, I got to do my British accent.

The English Patient (1996, 83% Tomatometer)


Okay, what else? Oh, The English Patient. These are in no particular order, by the way. I just love a sweeping romance. It’s one of the best scores ever. I love cinematic music. I think music is so important to a film and the music in that film is, to me, pretty perfect. And I love a tragic love story.

Friday Night Lights (2004, 81% Tomatometer)


My last one probably seems… it’s really true though: Friday Night Lights [laughs] is one of my favorite movies. And I only say it like that because I… look, I love it. Maybe it’s my love of football playing into it as well. I read the book before I saw the movie. The book is great. I was really into it and I thought, there’s no way the movie is gonna be as good as the book and, I don’t know — [director] Pete Berg did it for me. I’m a huge fan. Maybe it’s all those boys. I don’t really know what it is. Any time that movie’s on TV, I gotta watch it. It’s weird, I know; but you know, that’s me.


Josh Radnor is known to fans of TV’s How I Met Your Mother, the successful sitcom in which he’s appeared for six years now as Ted Mosby. This week, he’s stepping up to the role of writer-director with his first feature film, happythankyoumoreplease, a personal indie comedy-drama that explores the highs and lows of modern twentysomethings negotiating life in New York.

“I wrote it largely during the first two seasons of How I Met Your Mother,” Radnor explains, “kind of on and off when I wasn’t working. Every free moment that I wasn’t at the show I was editing the movie.”

Radnor was conscious of the genre of “first time writer-director” films, drawing from his own observations and experience, as well as some of his influences.

“I mean, I think the movie can be classified in a certain genre,” he says, “but at the same time I feel like it turned some of those tropes on their heads. I had movies that were guiding inspirations — I loved Dazed and Confused, that kind of ensemble feel; I love Magnolia. I love movies that the camera just finds different stories. I described it as like, you’re at a party and the camera goes around and picks up different conversations with different people, but you’re still at the same party.

Here then, are Josh Radnor’s Five Favorite Films.


The Breakfast Club (1985, 90% Tomatometer)


I just watched, on New Year’s with a bunch of high school friends, The Breakfast Club, which I hadn’t seen in years. I remember being very affected by it but I couldn’t believe how well it held up, and I also couldn’t believe how well I actually knew the movie — like, I remembered every frame of that movie. It’s such good storytelling and it’s such a perfect blend of comedy and pathos. I kind of underestimated the effect that John Hughes had on my consciousness. He really taught, I think, a whole generation of people empathy. It’s kind of a marvel, that movie. So that’s certainly one of them; I have to put that up there.

Before Sunrise (1995, 100% Tomatometer)

Before Sunset (2004, 95% Tomatometer)



I’m a huge fan of those Richard Linklater films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, which are kind of like one movie, I think — I’ll call those one movie, ’cause it’s of a piece, right? I don’t know, just something about watching Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walk around European towns and fall in love. That movie taught me how active dialogue can be if underneath it is something dramatic. And I love Richard Linklater for that, because he loves dialogue and he lets his characters talk and I certainly want to let my characters talk. It’s not all quivering lips and, you know, weird angles. He really just puts the camera on people and lets it be dramatic.

Tootsie (1982, 88% Tomatometer)


One of my favorite films has always been Tootsie. I think I fell in love with New York and the romantic idea of being an actor from that movie. I saw it in a theater when I was really young and I don’t think I understood it all, but I remember people laughing so hard and I just knew I was watching a great movie. And all that stuff between Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack is amazing. I revisit that movie a lot. I think, again it has that effect — it’s a very bittersweet movie, because it’s really funny but it also has those great sweet, honest moments. And it’s about a guy wearing a dress. I mean, it’s amazing that they pulled that movie off.

The Lives of Others (2006, 93% Tomatometer)


Do I get pretentious? Because this is foreign. {laughs] I love that German film from a few years ago that won the Oscar, The Lives of Others. Such a great movie. I’ve seen it a bunch, and I own it. I love, love, love that movie, and I found that it was just intensely riveting and scary and beautiful and so well crafted, so well plotted as a movie. And such a sad comment on a time in a certain country, but also a really beautiful comment on people being altered and finding their humanity again. I thought that movie was really special.

Happiness (1998, 84% Tomatometer)


This is actually kind of a curve ball, ’cause I don’t generally like movies that are this dark, but I’m a huge fan of the Todd Solondz film Happiness. That movie’s so f**ked up, but it’s so… I actually really enjoy that movie. That movie is so deeply disturbing but there’s something exuberant and hilarious about it. The laughs are so uncomfortable. That movie just really works for me and I don’t generally like movies where the vision of humanity is that dark and unforgiving.


Happythankyoumoreplease is released to select theaters this week.