Table of Contents
- WATCH: Netflix Releases Trailer For Gilgo Beach Movie
- Rype GO is now available on Indiegogo.
- 15 Mind-blowing travel movies on Netflix you must watch
- Use travel movies on Netflix as inspiration and motivation
- Escape the snow with these movies, TV shows streaming on Netflix, HBO, Amazon and Hulu
- True Grit (2010)
- Mother! (2017)
- Blood Diamond (2006)
- I, Tonya (2017)
- Booksmart (2019)
- Vice (2018)
- Mom and Dad (2018)
- Sorry to Bother You (2018)
- The Square (2017)
- Ingrid Goes West (2017)
- Heathers (1989)
- Ninja Scroll (1993)
- Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)
- Akira (1988)
- Annihilation (2018)
- Honeymoon (2014)
- Saw II (2005)*
- Escape from Alcatraz (1979)*
- Free Solo (2018)
- Becoming Bond (2017)
I love everything about the beach. The sand and water really give me life. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I take a short drive and sit by the water, soaking up the sun and waves. You know what else I love? Beach movies. I always have. Back in the day I’d watch those sixties beach films like “Beach Blanket Bingo” and “Bikini Beach” and imagine myself bopping and dancing on the sand, too.
Ayva inherited my adoration of all things beachy. In fact, she is just as into beach movies now as I was back in the day. It’s really cool to be able to watch them with her, especially since there are quite a few remakes that are even better than movies that I used to watch. Our favorite right now is definitely “Teen Beach Movie”. We have probably watched that movie 800 times since it came out last year. It’s streaming on Netflix, so we can watch it whenever we want.
Thanks to my little beach bunny movie buff, she’s introduced me to a few other movies that, while they’re not actually beach movies, they have a similar vibe. Camp Rock, Camp Rock 2, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, and Bindi’s Boot Camp are films that are engaging and fun to watch.
The beach movies inspire us to get out and be active, too. I really think that Teen Beach Movie is single-handedly responsible for the fact that we’ve been to the beach twice already this week. Watching Ayva dance and perform in the middle of building sand castles kind of makes me feel like I’m in my own mommy themed beach movie! Ha!
WATCH: Netflix Releases Trailer For Gilgo Beach Movie
SOUTHOLD, NY — Netflix released a trailer on Thursday for a new movie filmed on the North Fork in 2018 about the Gilgo Beach murders, which rocked Long Island and led to the desperate search for a serial killer who has never been found.
The trailer premiered on the same day police held a press conference unveiling new information on the case, including a black, embossed leather belt authorities say they believe was handled by the killer. Police also set up a new website, Gilgonews.com, so the public can call in tips.
According to imdb.com, “Lost Girls” is set to premiere Jan. 28 at the Sundance Film Festival and then be shown on Netflix beginning on March 13.
The film is based on the book “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker, according to producer Anne Carey.
When asked why Southold was chosen for the filming, Carey noted the beach. “It’s a beautiful location, with a very cooperative community,” she said. “It had the right creative elements.”
A post in Broadwayworld.com said the film is “a true-crime story and a strong character piece” revolving around the agonizing search of one mother, Mari Gilbert, for her daughter Shannan, a sex worker who went missing in 2010 and who was later found murdered.
The film stars Amy Ryan of “The Office” and “Gone Baby Gone”; Miriam Shor of “Hedwig and the Angry Itch”; and Gabriel Byrne of “The Usual Suspects”; and is directed by Liz Garbus, the post said.
The search for Gilbert first led to the bodies of four other prostitutes, all of whom were strangled and stuffed in burlap bags. A total of 11 sets of human remains, including Gilbert’s, were found along Ocean Parkway. Police have been searching for a serial killer ever since.
The Netflix trailer shows scenes of the beach in Southold where filming took place.
Mari Gilbert was later murdered by another daughter, police said.
According to a filming permit from Always Am Productions Inc. approved by Southold Town, the crew began work Oct. 26, 2018, at the Kenney’s Beach parking lot and continued Oct. 29 with an actor “leading a march of women” to a gate; filming continued at a private home on Leeton Drive.
One day of shooting included an actor “leading a vigil” at the Kenney’s Beach parking lot; on the next day, filming on Leeton Drive included a “girl running down” the street.
Filming also took place at the Mattituck Motel, according to the permit.
Rype GO is now available on Indiegogo.
People often watch movies for the same reasons they read books; to transport themselves to lands far away.
For some, watching mind-blowing travel movies on Netflix is a way to prepare themselves for an adventure of a lifetime. They may fall in love while traveling, land an awesome job where remote work is acceptable, or they just figure out how to live the dream by traveling for free.
For others, watching movies about foreign locations may be the closest they ever get to being there.
Regardless of if you’re getting ready to hop on a plane headed halfway around the world, or if you’re just looking for an escape from life, we’ve got you. Here are 15 mind-blowing travel movies on Netflix you must watch today.
We’ve done our best to include a handful of lesser-known titles to avoid suffocating you with endless blockbusters like Eat, Pray, Love, Into the Wild, The Way and Midnight in Paris. They’re good, but so are others.
*To find these travel movies on Netflix, you’ll need to use the search function and copy & paste these movie titles.
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving – Lao Tzu
15 Mind-blowing travel movies on Netflix you must watch
Lion is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born Australian fellow. Brierley’s extraordinary story begins at the age of five, when Brierley’s family somehow lost track of him. An Australian couple, Sue and John Brierley, ends up adopting him, and Saroo moves to Australia with them. Years later, in an effort to find his birthparents, Brierley uses Google Maps to locate his village in India. I won’t ruin the rest for you, but you’ll be happy to know that Dev Patel, who had an incredible performance in Slumdog Millionaire, is also in this.
Fire at Sea
Fire at Sea, or Fuocoammare in Italian, is a gripping documentary set on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa during a time of heavy migration to Europe from citizens of war-torn, financially deprived and inhospitable countries.
The documentary focuses on a young boy, 12-year-old Samuele Pucillo, who spends his time shooting birds, eating pasta and stumbling around his island of sailors and fishermen. Contrasted with Samuele is a doctor who treats migrants arriving on the shores of Lampedusa, some dead, some alive. It’s a must-see for anyone looking to understand the cost that refugees pay in search of a better life. As well as how privileged many of us are in being able to travel.
Amélie is about as quirky, eccentric and funny as it’s main character, Amélie Poulain. The film is set in the hip Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre. Incorrectly thinking that their daughter was born with a heart defect, Amélie’s parents decide to homeschool her. For good or bad, this causes her to develop an overactive imagination. As she grows up, viewers are able to see the beauty of Paris through Amélie’s eyes, as well as experience every mishap she creates and adventure she takes. After watching, you’ll likely want to buy a ticket to Paris ASAP. And, you should.
Failure teaches us that life is but a draft, an endless rehearsal of a show that will never play. – Hipolito, Amélie
While a fantastic movie, Copenhagen is one of the lesser-known titles on this list, possibly due to its taboo subject matter. The film is about a disheveled man named William, in his late-twenties, who goes to Copenhagen and strikes up a romantic relationship with a girl, Effy, who’s fourteen-years-old.
The pair go on an adventure around the beautiful, organized and pleasant city of Copenhagen in order to uncover bits about William’s family (his father is from Copenhagen). As they fall for one another, their obvious gap in age, and the fact they’ll eventually need to go their own ways, looms heavy. That should be enough to pique your interest, no matter how off-color the topic may be.
If you’re someone who ends up over packing for a night away from home, Minimalism is a must-see for you. It’s not exactly a travel-oriented movie, but deals intimately with the concept of having more material possessions than necessary. The documentary focuses on two proponents of the minimalist movement, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. The two quit their jobs, wrote a book on the advantages of living with less and went on a speaking tour.
In the film, their philosophy is met with as much skepticism as it is with enthusiasm. Fortunately, the documentary features other folks (people who live in tiny houses, etc.) who have also adopted a minimalist aesthetic, although in different ways. Even if you don’t walk away wanting to throw out all of your clothes, you’ll undoubtedly learn how to pack less!
City of God
Out of almost all the travel movies on Netflix you must watch, City of God is disappointingly missing. This is sacrilegious. While City of God isn’t about young travelers picking up and going halfway around the world to “find themselves,” it embodies the traveler’s spirit through and through.
The film focuses on Rocket, a young photographer living in a dangerous Brazilian favela. Through his camera, Rocket becomes cozy with a few affiliates of the local gang. Over time, he gains their trust while also navigating the murky waters of death, sex and unplanned encounters. While we can’t speak to the accuracy of the film’s depiction of life in Brazilian slums, it’s supposedly not far off since it’s loosely based on real events.
The sun is for everyone, the beach is for those who deserve it. – Rocket, City of God
Okay, instead of including Before Midnight, which is the final film in Richard Linklater’s phenomenal “Before….” trilogy, we should actually have put Before Sunrise (film 1) or Before Sunset (film 2). The reason is simple. Neither the first nor second film are on Netflix, and the trilogy is so good that we had to let you know about it! So there. Without spoiling the entire three-movie plotline, Before Midnight takes places nine years after movie two, Before Sunset.
The two main characters, Jesse and Céline, are together with friends on some Greek island eating a lot of delicious food and talking a ton about life. In the same style as the two previous films, there’s more of a focus on dialogue, emotion and feeling versus action. It’s what makes the films so moving. They’re real.
We had to include Forrest Gump, we just had to. This man, Forrest (played by Tom Hanks), does everything from becoming an All-American football player to meeting JFK to fighting in Vietnam to becoming a shrimper to becoming an international ping pong sensation to a whole hell of a lot more random stuff while being no more intelligent than a bag of rocks (he was generous and kind, though). The film grossed $678 million dollars and won the Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects. I think we can safely end the synopsis here while ensuring you go see this. It’s worth every minute.
Forrest: What’s my destiny, Mama?
Mrs. Gump: You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself. – Forrest Gump
On the Road
Movies are rarely as good as the books they’re based on. So, we’ll let you know here and now that On the Road is a good film, but that you should read the book before. Why? Books are a more immersive experience that allow you to place yourself in the world the author constructs versus trying to insert yourself into a film with actors portraying characters. Anyway, On the Road is a tale about Sal Paradise, an aspiring writer, and the cross-country adventures him and his motley crew of friends go on. It takes places in the early 1970s, and is full of weed, sex, jazz, alcohol and the desire to rise above struggle to achieve your dreams. For Americans who have never traveled throughout the States, this is for you. For non-Americans who wonder if traveling throughout the States is worth it, this is for you.
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. – Sal Paradise, On the Road
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
No list of travel films is complete without a Wes Anderson movie. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou stars Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, an oceanographer. Zissou was making a documentary when a “Jaguar Shark” at his best friend, Esteban. Zissou plans to avenge Esteban’s death by finding and killing this “Jaguar Shark.” It’s hilarious, full of beautiful and muted colors a-la most of Anderson’s movies and takes the viewer into depths of the ocean as deep as Zissou’s desire for justice. One fun fact is that it also features the Brazilian singer, Seu Jorge, who also played “Knockout Ned” in City of God.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
For any Japanophile, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a real treat. The documentary focuses on Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old (now 92 and still kickin’) sushi master from Hamamatsu, Japan. Jiro owns the three Michelin-starred restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, which is located in a Tokyo subway station. Aside from shots of Japan, the real draw to this documentary is Jiro’s insane work-ethic.
After watching this, you’ll either want to work harder than you ever have before or curl up into a ball and cry because you may never be able to realize the level of perfection that Jiro has. Regardless, there sure is a lot of tasty sushi in it!
I’ll continue to climb to try to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is! – Jiro Ono, Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The Bucket List
Friendship, no regrets and old age. Three things that most people, especially travelers, aspire to. All three are the basis of The Bucket List, which features a well-aged Morgan Freeman and a not-so-well-aged Jack Nicholson. Just from the name, you can likely guess what happens during the film.
Two people are diagnosed with lung cancer and, instead of “going gently into that good night,” they make a pact to check off every item on their bucket list. Traveling to the Great Pyramid, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and other places that inhabit most people’s bucket lists. It’s one of those corny feel-good travel movies on Netflix that we all need every once in awhile.
The African Doctor
The African Doctor is another film that isn’t too well-known, but should be. It chronicles the true story of a man, Seyolo Zantoko, who completed his medical degree in France. Instead of returning to his home of Zaire, to be the personal physician to a corrupt president, he takes a post in a small rural village. The village he moves to is Marly-Gomont, located in the north of France. His family, with expectations of living a luxurious Parisian life, pack their things and join him. Only they find that life in Marly-Gomont is full of pigs, pig crap and no one like themselves.
It’s a wonderful film that showcases, somewhat like Fuocammare (but to a far lesser extent), the costs that many people endure in search of a better life for them and their families. The African Doctor is funny, realistic and touching.
As you can imagine, Gold is about, well, Gold. The film’s protagonist is played by a sweaty, fat and otherwise down-on-his-luck Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey’s character, Kenny Wells, has a dream about finding gold in Indonesia. He enlists the help of a world-renowned geologist, Michael Acosta (played by Édgar Ramírez). Kenny heads to Indonesia, and after struggling for what seems like ages, eventually finds gold. Wells and Acosta’s discovery shakes the world of mining, jewelry and other precious metals, but their discovery isn’t what they think it is. The acting is good, the plot is solid. But what’s most people don’t know about is that the film is based off of the Bre-X mining scandal.
Queen of Katwe
Talk about an inspiring film. Queen of Katwe takes place in the Ugandan slum of Katwe. The story centers around a ten-year-old girl, Phiona, who takes care of her younger brothers while scavenging for food. Her mother, Nakku Harriet (played by the amazing Lupita Nyong’o) struggles to provide for her family. One day, Phiona learns how to play chess from a man named Robert Katende. This changes her life. She goes on to beat all of the boys in her town, and many other parts of the world.
Phiona’s struggle, and rise, is about persevering in the face of adversity. It’s also a strong example of how free we can be when we don’t allow ourselves to become boxed in by the negative circumstances that surround us. Like Gold, Lion, The African Doctor and City of God, Queen of Katwe is based on a true story.
Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong. – Queen of Katwe
Use travel movies on Netflix as inspiration and motivation
While we only listed 15 mind-blowing travel movies on Netflix you must watch, there are loads more. Many of the more popular films attract a wide audience for a reason. They’re masterful and well-constructed. But we hope you also take the time to watch a few of the lesser-known movies.
Regardless, use these films as inspiration for your own travels. Whether you plan to hop on a plane in one week or one year. There’s a whole world waiting for you out there.
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Escape the snow with these movies, TV shows streaming on Netflix, HBO, Amazon and Hulu
(Screen shot from “Do the Right Thing”)
Lisa Wardle | [email protected]
The upside to winter storm Stella: Getting trapped inside by a Nor’easter means you have an excuse to watch a lot of movies.
Whether you prefer to escape the wintry weather with a film set in Hawaii or are simply looking for what classics have made it to streaming services, we’ve got you covered.
This list is not a complete breakdown of available titles on Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and Hulu. See the latest releases here.
Escape somewhere warm
Relive the shenanigans of the 1980s in the cult classic “Wet Hot American Summer,” which was filmed at Camp Towanda in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Then watch the follow-up series “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” (Netflix) for a full summer at Camp Firewood.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (HBO Go) offers another comedic escape. Jason Segel stars as a man who flies to Hawaii to forget about a recent breakup, only to find his ex-girlfriend at the same resort.
For musicals, there’s “Grease” (Netflix) with its catchy tunes and summertime dances between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
If you prefer drama, follow two drag queens and a transgender woman across the Australian outback in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Amazon Prime).
And no matter the time of year, it’s always “hot as the devil” in Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed 1989 film “Do the Right Thing” (HBO Go).
More summer, desert and beach movies and TV
Of course, warmer isn’t always better. Steer clear of plane crash plotlines if you’re looking for happy island movies.
“Cast Away” (HBO Go)
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (HBO Go)
“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” (HBO Go)
“Nim’s Island” (HBO Go)
“Y Tu Mama Tambien” (Hulu)
Tropical and warm documentaries
“Africa” (Netflix) is a five-part BBC documentary covering life in different regions of the continent.
“Wildest Australia” (Amazon Prime) looks at the landscapes and wildlife in Australia.
“Wildest Islands” (Netflix) spans two short seasons with episodes from the Amazon River islands to Zanzibar.
Succumb to winter’s grasp
You may be stuck inside during a snowstorm, but things could be a lot worse—and we mean a lot!
“The Revenant” (HBO Go) follows a frontiersman as he seeks revenge and attempts to survive in the wilderness after being mauled by a bear. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy.
“Crimson Peak” (HBO Go) is set in a creepy castle that has a giant hole in the roof so it snows inside as well as out.
“Fargo” (Hulu) season two comes out on Hulu Friday, so catch up with the first season now. Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks star in this 10-episode dark comedy that follows a murder in small town of Bemidji, Minnesota.
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More winter movies and TV
“Cold Mountain” (HBO Go)
“Grumpy Old Men” (HBO Go)
“Happy Feet” (Amazon Prime)
“Into the Wild” (Amazon Prime
“The Road” (Netflix)
“The Shining” (Netflix)
“Snow Day” (Netflix)
“Snow Dogs” (HBO Go)
“Frozen Planet” (Netflix) is a BBC series narrated by David Attenborough that details life in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
“Encounters at the End of the World” (Netflix) by director Werner Herzog takes viewers to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
“The Crash Reel” (HBO Go) details the rise and fall of snowboarder Kevin Pearce.
“Holtanna: The Antarctic Adventure” (Amazon Prime) follows four adventurers as they attempt to become the first person to base jump in Antarctica.
Or avoid the weather altogether
If you’re looking for a new release instead of focusing on the weather, there are plenty of 2016 films now available on streaming services.
New action and drama
“Anthropoid” (Amazon Prime)
“Captain Fantastic” (Amazon Prime)
“The Dressmaker” (Amazon Prime)
“The Gambler” (Hulu)
“Genius” (HBO Go)
“Hands of Stone” (Netflix)
“The Legend Of Tarzan” (HBO Go)
“The Boss” (HBO Go)
“Central Intelligence” (HBO Go)
“Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates” (HBO Go)
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (HBO Go)
“Sausage Party” (Netflix)
“What We Do in the Shadows” (Amazon Prime)
“Who Gets the Dog?” (Amazon Prime)
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New sci-fi and horror
“10 Cloverfield Lane” (Amazon Prime)
“The Handmaiden” (Amazon Prime)
“X-Men: Apocalypse” (HBO Go)
New family releases
“Finding Dory” (Netflix)
“Nine Lives” (Amazon Prime)
“Pete’s Dragon” (Netflix)
New TV series
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” (Netflix)
“Burning Sands” (Netflix)
“Greenleaf” (Netflix) follows the drama of the family behind a Memphis megachurch.
“The Grand Tour” (Amazon Prime) is a reality show in which three men find interesting vehicles to drive.
“Santa Clarita Diet” (Netflix)
TV seasons now streaming
“Chef’s Table” season three (Netflix)
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” season two (Netflix)
“Girl Meets World” season three (Netflix)
“The Golden Girls” entire series (Hulu)
“Hand of God” season two (Amazon Prime)
“Love” season two (Netflix)
“The Man in the High Castle” season two (Amazon Prime)
“The Mindy Project” season five (Hulu)
“Stephen Universe” season three (Hulu)
“The Vampire Diaries” season seven (Netflix)
“O.J.: Made in America” (Hulu) won best feature-length documentary
“Zootopia” (Netflix) won best animated feature
“The White Helmets” (Netflix) won best documentary short subject
“The Jungle Book” (Netflix) won best visual effects
Other Oscar winners, including “Moonlight,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Fences” and “La La Land” are available for purchase or rent on Amazon but not currently included in Prime, HBO Go, Hulu or Netflix streaming subscriptions.
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Or stick with the classics
In addition to new releases, Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and Hulu all regularly rotate their offerings. Here is a look at some classic films and cult favorites now available.
“The Big Lebowski” (HBO Go)
“Blazing Saddles” (Netflix)
“The Blues Brothers” (HBO Go)
“The Boondock Saints” (Amazon Prime)
“The Breakfast Club” (HBO Go)
“Chicago” (Amazon Prime)
“Cocoon” (HBO Go)
“Footloose” (Amazon Prime)
“Goldfinger” (Amazon Prime)
“Gremlins” (Amazon Prime)
“Jurassic Park” (Netflix)
“Mission: Impossible” (Hulu)
“No Country for Old Men” (Amazon Prime)
“Pretty In Pink” (Hulu)
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Amazon Prime)
“Shakespeare in Love” (Hulu)
“The Sixth Sense” (HBO Go)
“Thelma & Louise” (Amazon Prime)
“This Is Spinal Tap” (Netflix)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (Netflix)
“Top Gun” (Amazon Prime)
“Trading Places” (Amazon Prime)
“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” (Amazon Prime)
“Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” (Amazon Prime)
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More TV and movie coverage
- What’s the best Netflix original series? We ranked the top 30
- What’s coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and HBO this month
- Filmed in Philadelphia: 25 movies that give Philly locations a silver screen spotlight
- 23 horror movies filmed in Pittsburgh
Hulu, once only a streaming platform for network television, has expanded to feature a robust library of films. As with any catalog, however, Sturgeon’s Law still applies, and it might seem difficult to find the real gems housed within Hulu’s massive library.
Fortunately, we have you covered. This curated list is a one-stop guide to the best movies on Hulu right now. It’s all organized by genre for your convenience, so turn on your favorite streaming device, have Alexa dim the lights, and let the credits roll. Check back periodically as we’re always updating recommendations based on Hulu’s latest releases.
Additional streaming guides
- Best shows on Hulu
- Best movies on Netflix
- Best movies on Disney+
- Best movies on Amazon Prime
- Best movies on HBO
True Grit (2010)
The second film adaptation of Charles Portis’ classic Western novel, the Coen brothers’ True Grit is a damn fine take on the genre, with superb direction and great performances from its cast. Set in the 19th century, the film begins with teenager Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) seeking revenge on outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who murdered her father. Chaney and his fellow rogues have fled into Indian country, where the local authorities can’t follow, so Mattie hires curmudgeonly U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to help her track him down. Along with a Texas Ranger by the name of LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), they pursue their quarry. True Grit doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the Wild West, but the film isn’t without a sense of humor. This blend of horrific violence and wry comedy is classic Coen brothers.
Darren Aronofsky has made a number of controversial movies, but none has been so polarizing as 2017’s Mother! — a film that had critics and filmgoers dividing into camps based on whether they thought the film was a brilliant biblical parable or a trainwreck carrying some neat ideas. The film begins with a married couple, known only as Him (Javier Bardem) and Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), living in a secluded house. Him is a poet, trying to compose his next work, and Mother tends the house. Their life seems routine, until Man (Ed Harris) arrives, eager to meet Him, and takes up residence in their house. Soon, Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), comes as well, and then more strangers follow in her wake. As their house swells with uninvited guests, Mother struggles to maintain her composure. As that relatively simple explanation of the premise might suggest, Mother! is a strange film, an increasingly tense, frightening drama that makes heavy use of allegory.
Blood Diamond (2006)
Leonardo DiCaprio received one of his many (non-winning) Best Actor Oscar nominations for Blood Diamond, in which he stars as Danny Archer, a mercenary smuggler searching for a priceless diamond amid Sierra Leone’s civil war. DiCaprio’s performance, however, is just the tip of the iceberg, as Djimon Hounsou received a Best Supporting Actor nomination and the film earned three technical nominations, as well. It makes sense because Edward Zwick’s dramatic thriller is extremely gripping, intense, and heartbreaking in equal measure. A fiercely critical polemic against the diamond industry and imperialism writ large, Blood Diamond leaves no stone unturned in its high-octane thrill ride.
I, Tonya (2017)
Tonya Harding is one of the most notorious figures in sports history. Once a shining star in the world of figure skating, she transformed into a villain after her ex-husband and bodyguard conspired to injure her rival, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver), a conspiracy many believed Harding had a hand in. I, Tonya follows Harding (Margot Robbie) from her sad childhood to her rise as a figure skater, to her eventual fall.
What elevates the film above most biopics, however, is its willingness to play with reality; I, Tonya filters events through the perspectives of its characters, leaving the audience questioning whether Harding is simply a misunderstood person with some flaws, or a devious villain. Robbie’s standout performance — and that of Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s mother — is simply the foundation that supports the entire endeavor.
So, you worked really hard in school, avoided drugs and alcohol, didn’t go to any parties, and were rewarded by getting into the Ivy League college of your choice. Nice! You’ve got a lot in common with Booksmart‘s protagonists, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein). If you’re anything like them, however, you may be unhappy to learn that everyone else in your school also got into the Ivy League college of their choice but they partied constantly and had a great time in high school. That realization leads Amy and Molly to go out for one wild night of partying before graduation day. It may sound like a tired concept for a high-school comedy but Booksmart is anything but a run-of-the-mill teen movie. By investing in the friendship of its brilliant female leads and focusing more on questions of growing up and discovering yourself rather than sex and dating, Booksmart is a refreshing take on the teen comedy. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is funny, refreshingly creative, and heartwarming.
With 2015’s The Big Short, director Adam McKay transitioned from the fun, outlandish comedies that had defined his career to that point (Anchorman, Step Brothers) to didactic, angry satire. Vice, which chronicles Dick Cheney’s (Christian Bale) long ascent up the stairs of political power, takes that formula and runs with it. The black comedy takes aim at his subject and also at the society that enabled him. The movie follows a not-entirely chronological path through Cheney’s life, from his shiftless, drunken youth to his tenure as one of the most powerful men in America. As in The Big Short, the plot is frequently interrupted by explanatory skits, the narrator, even the characters themselves. Beyond McKay’s dynamic approach to satire, Vice is worth watching for Bale’s tremendous performance.
Mom and Dad (2018)
Brian Taylor’s horror/comedy Mom and Dad takes a simple premise — sometimes, even loving parents get a little fed up with their kids — and runs with it all the way to Crazytown. The film follows the Ryan family: Brent (Nicolas Cage), Kendall (Selma Blair), their petulant teenage daughter Carly (Anne Winters), and young, hyperactive son Josh (Zackary Arthur). The Ryans exhibit the typical tensions of movie families — Kendall feels shut out of her daughter’s life, Carly steals money from her parents to buy drugs — but those problems explode when a mysterious signal drives all the parents in town into a frenzy, making them possessed by a singular urge to kill their children. With the rampage spreading around town, Carly and Josh must escape from their murderous parents. As one might expect, Cage turns in a delightfully frenetic performance, and Blair keeps pace with him. Mom and Dad isn’t brilliant satire (the dialogue can be a bit stilted at times), but it’s so over-the-top and moves at such a ferocious pace, it’s hard not to get caught up in the action.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
The directorial debut of Boots Riley (perhaps better known as the frontman of the hip-hop band The Coup), Sorry to Bother You is a madcap satire of 21st-century capitalism, a film that tosses realism out the window within the first 10 minutes or so. The movie follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a sad-sack guy who, desperate for money, gets a job as a telemarketer at a grimy office (he lies about his previous work experience, which his interviewer considers a positive). Cassius struggles to make sales, so an older coworker (Danny Glover) gives him some advice, telling him to use a “white voice.” After using a white voice (David Cross), Cassius suddenly starts racking up sales and soon gets a promotion to the esteemed position of Power Caller. As he climbs the corporate ladder, however, Cassius risks losing his soul to the relentless machine of marketing. Sorry to Bother You makes uses of some bonkers visuals to accompany its eccentric premise, such as an early sequence in which Cassius, as he calls customers, literally drops into their houses, snapping back to the office when they hang up.
The Square (2017)
The Square, the latest award-winning film from Swedish director Ruben Östlund, follows a man named Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of a modern art museum whose exhibits, he assures an interviewer, must be “cutting-edge.” Running such a museum is a difficult job, and throughout the film, Christian trudges through setback after humiliating setback, some of which are his own making. As in his previous film, Force Majeure, Östlund is a vicious satirist, slowly chipping away at his protagonist and the larger, bourgeois world of modern art. As absurd as it is scathing, The Square is a sharp comedy that manages to keep topping itself from beginning to end.
Ingrid Goes West (2017)
A delightfully dark comedy about the hazards of social media, Ingrid Goes West follows Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), a troubled woman who develops an unhealthy fixation on an Instagram celebrity, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). In awe of Taylor’s sunny, sublime life, Ingrid moves to California and conspires to worm her way into Taylor’s orbit. Ingrid Goes West has a sharp script with snappy lines that capture the dialect of the social media age. Each character feels absurd in their own way, and Plaza’s performance as the bubbly-yet-dangerous Ingrid is among her finest.
A dark subversion of the high school films that dominated in the 1980s, Heathers follows Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), one of the popular girls — a member of a clique called the Heathers — at Westerburg High School. Weary of the group’s tyranny, Veronica teams up with dangerous misfit J.D. (Christian Slater) to pull a prank on the Heathers’ leader, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker). When the prank turns deadly, Veronica realizes she may be in over her head, as J.D. wants to keep killing the school bullies. Very dark, but also funny, Heathers is an excellent, unique comedy.
Action and adventure
Ninja Scroll (1993)
The classic anime film Ninja Scroll follows a wandering swordsman named Jubei and a ninja named Kagero, whose paths cross when they run afoul of one of the Eight Devils of Kimon, a group of ninja with demonic powers. Jubei and Kagero, along with an old spy named Dakuan, must fight their way through the Eight Devils and stop a conspiracy to overthrow the shogunate. Ninja Scroll moves from fight scene to fight scene, set piece to set piece, with ruthless efficiency. The action sequences are the main attraction, particularly the fights with the Eight Devils, each of whom has unique powers that make for creative battles.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)
Fallout has a good case for being the best entry to the Mission: Impossible franchise. Rogue Nation writer-director Christopher McQuarrie returns and continues to push the envelope in this traditionally envelope-pushing series. M:I is at its best when the world of espionage in which it exists is living just along the edge of believability, which McQuarrie has fully grasped. Thanks to Tom Cruise’s insane penchant for thrill-seeking and ability to perform death-defying stunts sans double, the most recent iterations of Mission: Impossible do just that: Expand our mind beyond what we thought possible, while grounding the story of international conspiracies and world-destroying syndicates just enough to feel plausible. While James Bond’s MI6 enjoys a level of tongue-in-cheek, Ethan Hunt’s IMF captures the imagination of an interconnected, deeply perilous world and gleefully operates in the fringes. Fallout continues to explore the villainy and influence of The Syndicate and its leader, Solomon Lane, as the IMF joins forces with the CIA to prevent a global catastrophe. It’s as good as spy movies get.
The seminal anime film Akira has had a huge impact on sci-fi since its release, but despite how many films and video games have drawn on Akira for inspiration, the movie itself still feels fresh. The film begins in Neo-Tokyo circa 2019, decades after the start of World War III. Far below the towering skyscrapers, gangs of motorcycle-riding youths fight in the streets. A leather-clad hotshot named Kaneda leads a gang called the Capsules. While evading the police, Kaneda’s comrade Tetsuo runs across a mysterious being with psychic powers, and after crashing his bike, ends up in the government’s custody. After enduring strange experiments, Tetsuo develops psychic powers, and a mighty ego to match. As Tetsuo’s powers grow, Kaneda must try to stop him before he destroys Tokyo. Akira is a slick action film full of striking imagery and stylish violence.
Annihilation is the kind of film that asks the big questions, though, it never truly answers any of them. Helmed by the visionary behind Ex Machina (Alex Garland) and adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s novel of the same name, the film follows a ragtag group of military scientists — namely, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh — who investigate a biological anomaly known as “The Shimmer,” a quarantined zone on the coast that’s mutating everything in its path. It’s an ambitious novel to tackle, yet, Garland and company tackle the book’s haunting, metaphysical themes with aplomb, serving up a sci-fi masterpiece that will leave your head reeling once the beastly, otherworldly screams and crystalline blossoms begin to settle.
Horror and suspense
If there is one lesson to take away from horror movies, it is to never spend a weekend in a secluded cabin, a lesson newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) learn in Honeymoon. The movie wisely builds up their relationship in the first act, and their affection makes it all the more unsettling when things start to go wrong. Honeymoon is a character-driven horror movie, and while it is light on jump scares, it does a great job of creeping out the audience, slowly escalating the action until it reaches a disturbing climax.
Saw II (2005)*
Escape room horror is one of those underrated fears you don’t really think about until you see movies like Saw. This film is where it all began for Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), a sadistic serial killer who abducts people into a game that tasks them with solving puzzles, finding keys, and settling group conflicts to save their own lives. Illusionist David Blaine has nothing on some of the deathtraps in Saw II. The participants aren’t random, either. Jigsaw’s victims are all people he perceives to be flawed in conscience and morality. In this one, eight such people are taken captive and asked to play a sadistic game for their lives. A lone astute detective is their only hope for survival. The second film in a series that eventually exploded in popularity, Saw II has a compelling hook and a finish that may well blow your mind.
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)*
What do you do with a lifelong criminal who seems to defy all rules of imprisonment? You take him to Alcatraz, the most infamous maximum-security facility in the world. Escape from Alcatraz follows Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood), a cunning conman whose breakout expertise is eventually tested at a camp designed to keep bad guys in and whistleblowers out. The film starts as a classic thriller but quickly shapes into an eye-opening representation of Alcatraz’s harsh conditions. Much of Escape from Alcatraz is grandiose flair from Hollywood, but other real themes — such as the effects of isolation on mental health — get healthy exploration. There’s also the fact that it’s Clint Eastwood in a blockbuster thriller, and that alone warrants a look.
Free Solo (2018)
What can we say about Free Solo that hasn’t been said already? Filmmaker Jimmy Chin’s award-winning biopic chronicles professional climber Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of one the most iconic slabs of granite in the world, El Capitan, as well his upbringing and van-fueled life outside the wall. It’s a harrowing portrait, one lined with vertigo-inducing shots and candid conversations about life and death, told through the lens of a 33-year-old who wants nothing more than to summit a 3,000-foot cliff with no ropes or safety harness. The footage of the climb itself — from the route planning to the actual execution — is mesmerizing, but it’s the film’s blunt examination of Honnold’s mind and motives that takes it to new heights.
Becoming Bond (2017)
James Bond is one of the most prestigious roles in cinema, one several great actors — Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig, among others — have stepped into. One man who got a taste of the Bond lifestyle, however, stepped away from it after just one film: George Lazenby, who starred in the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In Becoming Bond, director Josh Greenbaum sits down with Lazenby to hear the story of how a young car mechanic from Australia came to play a British icon, and why he walked away from it all. Lazenby is a charming storyteller, and Greenbaum wisely lets him take the lead, as he tells a tale as full of drama, sex, and luxury as any Bond film.
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