Stories We Tell

5. The quote:  “When you're in the middle of a story, it isn't a story at all but rather a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood, like a house in a whirlwind or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard are powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all, when you're telling it to yourself or someone else.”

Who said it: Michael Polley in Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell.”

Why it’s so great: Sarah Polley’s father Michael is one of the great documentary subjects of the year -- self-aware, self-critical, humorous and troubled. In this line, which we hear him read from Margaret Atwood's "Alias Grace" (which Sarah Polley is currently adapting for the big screen), we get the perfect encapsulation of the film’s themes of memory, invention and mixed media.

Enough Said

4. The quote: “I’m tired of being funny.”

Who said it: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as Eva, in Nicole Holofcener’s “Enough Said.”

Why it’s so great: Breaking up is hard. Dating is hard. It often forces people to adopt schticks and go-to personalities as a means of self-protection. When Louis-Dreyfus’ character says this to the man she may be falling in love with (played by the late James Gandolfini), she’s sharing something very personal with him -- that she’s tired of the wall she’s built around herself, no matter how light and humorous it may seem. (Screenplay online.)

3. The quote:  “This is the fuckin' American dream. This is my fuckin' dream, y'all! All this shit! Look at my shit! I got... I got SHORTS! Every fuckin' color. I got designer T-shirts! I got gold bullets. Motherfuckin' VAM-pires. I got Scarface. On repeat. SCARFACE ON REPEAT. Constant, y'all! I got Escape! Calvin Klein Escape! Mix it up with Calvin Klein Be. Smell nice? I SMELL NICE! That ain't a fuckin' bed; that's a fuckin' art piece. My fuckin' spaceship! U.S.S. Enterprise on this shit. I go to different planets on this motherfucker!”

Who said it: James Franco, as Alien, in Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.”

Why it’s so great: “Spring Breakers” is like some glorious freak descendent of the 1930s gangster picture. Money, violence and aspiration are the names of the game. Is it a coincidence that Franco’s white wannabe gangsta Alien waxes poetic on spaceships and a perfume called Escape? All his “shit” is a way to self-reinvent. (Screenplay online.)

Before Midnight

2. The quote: “Still there. Still there. Still there. Gone.”

Who said it: Julie Delpy, as Celine, in Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight.”

Why it’s so great: Celine says this simple, beautiful line as she and longtime partner Jesse (Ethan Hawke) watch the sun set on an idyllic bay in Greece. Not only does it cleverly reference the “sunset” of the previous film in the trilogy, but it also gets at the heart of change. Things can never be the same as they were. (Screenplay online.)

1. The quote:  “I don’t see a lot of money here.”

Who said it: F. Murray Abraham, as Bud Grossman, in the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Why it’s so great: When Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) sings his heart out for taciturn talent manager Bud Grossman in Chicago, the typical next beat would be that Grossman goes twinkly-eyed and realizes he’s made his big discovery. But this is a Coen brothers film. No such luck for Llewyn. He gets a straight-forward rejection, which resonates throughout his universe. Having talent is one thing. But money? Different ball game.

Inside Llewyn Davis