Five Favorite Films with Michelle Monaghan

The star of Duncan Jones' sci-fi thriller Source Code drops by for a chat about her most-loved movies.

In director Duncan Jones' ( Moon) new time-twisting sci-fi thriller Source Code, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a soldier sent into a space of eight minutes aboard a train bound for disaster; a temporal pocket he must inhabit over and over until he unravels either the identity of a bomber -- or his own. Fortunately he gets to relive those same eight minutes with his delightful co-star Michelle Monaghan, who plays a passenger on the train in possession of a possible key to Jake's future. Or past. No, wait, is it the future? Yep, it's one of those cyclical narratives that revels in its sometimes confounding paradoxes. For Monaghan, who Jones cast having liked her in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it meant playing the same scene, and character, on endless loop; adjusting her performance ever so slightly in reaction to the changing trajectory of Gyllenhaal's time-tripper. We caught up with the actress, most recently seen in Due Date and Somewhere and soon to star in Marc Forster's Machine Gun Preacher, and asked her to name her Five Favorite Films. "That's really hard," Monaghan laughs, "but I'm sure everybody tells you how hard it is." Indeed.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974, 94% Tomatometer)

My favorite -- my number one favorite, actually -- is A Woman Under the Influence. [Gena Rowlands] is just... I respect and admire her so much as an actress. I just think that performance is so brave and extraordinary. It was one of those things that, as a woman, as an actress, I kind of appreciate, you know. And also, that film is kind of a really, truly independent film. I think Cassavetes financed it, I think Peter Falk put money into it; kind of no one really believed in it. I was in a film a couple of years ago that a studio would never touch, a movie called Trucker, which was a great opportunity for me; but those sort of movies need to be independently financed.

Fargo (1996, 94% Tomatometer)

I really like Fargo a lot. It has everything. I love the Coen brothers. I love Frances McDormand, I think she's just an extraordinary actress. She's so funny in that movie, as Marge. I'm from the Midwest, I'm from Iowa; so obviously that accent's really heightened, but it's something that I hear every time I go home. It's something that feels like very much where I grew up; that backdrop is exactly where I grew up. It's definitely exaggerated but yeah, there's definitely that, "Oh, oh my gosh" where I come from. And when I go home and after I have a couple of beers you'd probably hear it come out: "You betcha!" [laughs]

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989, 62% Tomatometer)

I love Christmas Vacation, with Chevy Chase, and Randy Quaid as well. It's so funny. Juliette Lewis is in there, too -- who I think is genius, by the way, in everything that she's in. That movie, to me, is so funny that every time it plays at Christmas time I inevitably have to watch it. I mean, every scene in that movie is so funny -- when that squirrel lands on the toupee of the grandpa; the kid when he gets on the damn saucer and he flies down the hill, I mean, I just think that's a really cheesy scene. And I love Chevy Chase. Any Chevy Chase. He's just got a really funny quality about him, and it's really subtle -- he's got a little twinkle in his eye, he's really sort of mischievous. I like him. Just the way he carries himself -- he's really animated without being physical.

Animal Kingdom (2010, 97% Tomatometer)

This movie is still my favorite movie of last year, and I think I have to name it because I just thought it was an extraordinary film and I still think about it a lot. I saw it in the theater and it really hit me like a ton of bricks. I think he's a really extraordinary director, David Mich˘d. Ben Mendelsohn and Jackie Weaver -- every single performance in that I was so impressed with, but in particular just the direction. That's a director that I appreciate the sense that he allows his actors to just act and have these really quiet moments, and he really just created this world -- the atmosphere of that movie was amazing. For a first film, too. The way that he was able to create a level of tension with actors not really saying much or doing much, it was just what he did with the camera. There are not a lot of films where you can just appreciate the camerawork and what a significant aspect of the whole film it is. It was perfectly curated.

Hands on a Hard Body (1998, 84% Tomatometer)

I really like documentaries a lot; maybe more than film. I love this documentary called Hands on a Hard Body. It was made in the 1990s, I think. It's about this annual event that takes place in Texas -- it's kind of like an endurance test of how long you can keep your hand on a truck. And if you are the last man standing, you get the truck. Literally, you just stand, day and night with your hand on a truck, and there's like 15 or 20 people all standing there. And it's such a well-done documentary. They feature each person before the program starts; the director comes in and he asks them questions like, "Why do you want to do this? Why do you want your truck?" and it's just a real, unique look into people's lives. It's really powerful and it's really moving and it's kind of funny and odd and bizarre. It goes on for, I think, over 72 hours, and it's really sad as you see this people dropping out. It says a lot about human endurance.

Source Code is in theaters this week.


Coach McGuirk

Desmond Hume

Great list. I'm surprised Christmas Vacation is rated that low.

Mar 29 - 02:23 PM


jj l

I'm surprised it's rated that high.

Mar 30 - 07:13 AM


Charlie Voelker

Animal Kingdom, Hell yes!!!!!! pretty good list, I wasn't going to see source code util I saw Duncan Jones was the director, and she doesn't hurt, If you know what I mean ;)

Mar 29 - 02:31 PM


Joshua Dinsmore

Nice picks, but the National Lampoon movie isn't what I would have picked. Animal Kingdom is a surprise, though.

Mar 29 - 02:37 PM

Coach McGuirk

Desmond Hume

Who cares what you would have picked?

Mar 29 - 07:59 PM


Todd Garry


Mar 29 - 08:36 PM


Joshua Dinsmore

Was that a rhetorical question? And there's no need to be impertinent. What did I do to you?

Mar 29 - 10:24 PM

Angus M.

Angus Milborough

It was a rhetorical question.

Mar 29 - 10:52 PM

Reg I.

Reg Inald

seriously, who cares?

Apr 2 - 04:49 PM

dan t.

dan teasdale

lol i sure as hell dont

Mar 30 - 08:51 PM


Aaron Yovanovits

Me neither.

Apr 1 - 12:47 AM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

I'd have picked Eurotrip

Mar 31 - 09:03 AM

Armond Whites No. 1 Fan

Tyler Parke


just that earns an A+ list from me

Mar 29 - 02:47 PM


Andreas Babs

Oh yah

Mar 30 - 06:10 AM


Chris Trilling

Great List! Only good girls come from the midwest.

Mar 29 - 03:09 PM

This comment has been removed.

This comment has been removed.

Bill Y.

Bill Y

It's easy to claim good schools when standards are so low and you get a passing grade as long as you know your bible! Housing is affordable because there's no demand! No one wants to live there in the middle of freaking nowhere! Crime is "low" because there are fewer people per capita than in a bigger, civilized city! And there's less traffic because you can fit more people in a donkey carriage than in a car!

Mar 30 - 11:00 AM

Bill Y.

Bill Y

The midwest is stupid and like newt gingrich and mike huckabee! Sure it's easy to claim good schools when standards are so low and you get a passing grade as long as you know your bible! Housing is affordable because there's no demand! No one wants to live there in the middle of freaking nowhere! Crime is "low" because there are fewer people per capita than in a bigger, civilized city! And beautiful women? Sure if you like big fat barefoot christian sows with aqua net hair and stained tanktops sucking on greasy food at a cracker barrel or, for special nights, an applebees!

Mar 30 - 11:04 AM

John C.

John Cervera

Damn, sounds like someone got rejected hard by a Christian Midwestern girl...

Mar 30 - 04:27 PM


Rick V

Sheesh, calm down buddy!

Mar 30 - 06:55 PM


Chris Trilling

Im glad I could allow you to get that off your chest. Its better it happened here than in a bell tower with a rifle.

Mar 30 - 10:17 PM


c f

Heheh... The best part about this rant is that any locale could have "more people per capita." Undifferentiated masses of people are the definition of 'per capita', as this moron failed to identify a particular demographic, e.g. number of imbeciles per capita, etc. Besides, I've lived all over the world, and there are plenty of beautiful and ugly women per capita in every country and county.

Mar 31 - 06:34 AM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

Darn gonna hit yu with me bible

Mar 31 - 09:06 AM

Monti Cristo

Daniel Higgs

awesome list! Christmas Vacation is still the best Christmas comedy ever.

Mar 29 - 03:24 PM

JC Martel

JC Martel

Sorry, Bad Santa stole that title away.

Mar 29 - 06:08 PM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

No. Eurotrip

Mar 31 - 09:07 AM

Joana Ferreira

Joana Ferreira


Jun 9 - 01:58 PM

I hAtE bAd MoViEs

Brad Cunningham

Fantastic list! I love the national lampoon movies (most of them)

Mar 29 - 03:38 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Appreciated her mentioning Juliette Lewis...have always liked Lewis. Wish she'd quit trying to be a rocker and get back to movies.

Mar 29 - 03:57 PM

Reza T.

Reza Trikurnia

I agree...

Mar 30 - 10:43 AM


Paul Kemmler

I'm so excited she had Animal Kingdom on the list. That was such a great movie, and ridiculously underseen by people in america.

Mar 29 - 04:43 PM

Helge B.

Helge Beck

Yep, same here... It was kinda overshadowed by The Town, although it's by far the better picture.

Mar 30 - 06:21 AM


Big Brother

Very ecclectic list I like it.

Mar 29 - 05:05 PM

Dakota -Kapodaco- Gordon

Dakota Gordon

Haha! Christmas Vacation! Amazing...

Mar 29 - 05:24 PM

JC Martel

JC Martel

Sorry, Bad Santa stole that title away.

Mar 29 - 06:08 PM

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