As a film student and enthusiast, I often have people come to me for movie suggestions or opinions. I’m terrible with opinions (I rarely hate a film – I kind of feel bad because someone out there put their whole heart into making that movie!), but I think I’m pretty good with suggestions.
Here are five films I think you should definitely watch:
1. Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki
Of course I have to start off with Spirited Away. Spirited Away is my favorite film of all time, ever, forever and ever. I think that’s a pretty bold statement, considering I’ve seen a couple thousand films in my day. I know a lot of people have already seen this but, if you haven’t, please do. I remember going to see Spirited Away with my neighbors when I was 10 years old. We only decided to see it because whatever movie we wanted to see was sold out. After the movie, we couldn’t stop talking about it, amazed as to what we had just seen. For years, my brother and I would constantly rent the DVD from Hollywood Video (RIP) and watch it whenever it was played on Cartoon Network. For literally 12 years, more than half of my life, Spirited Away has been my favorite movie.
Spirited Away is the story of a young girl named Chihiro who is moving to a new home with her parents. When her father takes a wrong turn and they discover a strange place, everything changes. Chihiro’s parents are gone (kind of) and she is left to fend for herself. Luckily, she finds help from the mysterious Haku. Chihiro’s journey to find her parents and return back to her life is full of twists and turns and just, oh my goodness, everything. I love this movie with my everything and I beg you to bless your mind with it if you get the chance.
2. The Son’s Room, Nanni Moretti
I will be the first to admit that I am a Nanni Moretti fangirl. I love everything he does and I’m sure I’ll talk about the rest of his films at some point. He especially holds a part of my heart because he reminds me of my favorite film professor who taught me everything I know. If you’ve never seen any Moretti films, you need to! There are a few on Netflix including…
The Son’s Room. This will change you. I’m not sure what I can say about it without giving anything away but in (very) short: it is about a family and loss. It is very sad but also manages to be completely lovely and warm, just like every other Moretti film. Just check out the trailer if you’re interested (it doesn’t give much away at all) and then watch the film on Netflix!
3. Sink or Swim, Su Friedrich
I am a massive fan of avant-garde film and have watched this film in particular in quite a few of my classes. Su Friedrich is one of my favorite filmmakers in this field, and maybe just in general. In fact, I’ve specifically written multiple papers about Sink or Swim throughout college. This film pairs really well with some scholarly articles that may help you to interpret it or even help you to see it in another way. Obviously, the film also is incredible without any additional sources.
Sink or Swim is a series of stories told by a young girl that recall childhood events that shaped her into adulthood. The stories hint at situations of emotional abuse and possibly dealing with homosexuality as a young girl as well as happier times as a family. If you’re interested in watching it, luckily, the film has been put on youtube and can be found above in full.
4. Holy Motors, Leos Carax
This entire post is me expressing my love over and over again. I love Leos Carax. I think he is one of the best filmmakers alive. I’ll probably talk about more of his films eventually but for now, Holy Motors. Holy Motors is very weird. I’ve recommended it to a lot of people and only about half of them have told me that they actually enjoyed it. Part of the reason I love it is because it is so unpredictable and (seemingly) nonsensical. I’ve looked for an explanation of the film but can’t seem to find one that I feel best fits it. In a way, this is another reason I love it – it isn’t meant to be analyzed and understood.
Here’s my best attempt at a plot summary: A man (Mr. Oscar) plays multiple roles (not unlike an actor) throughout his work day. That’s pretty much all I’ve got as the film goes in a hundred different directions from there. Again, if you’re up for kind of weird/doesn’t necessarily need to make sense then this is for you. Even if you’re not, watch it (it’s on Netflix!), you might love it.
5. Buried, Rodrigo Cortes
Whenever someone asks for me a scary movie, I tell them to watch Buried. Buried isn’t your traditional horror film by any means (I actually don’t think anyone but me actually considers it to be a horror film), but, to me, this film is freakin’ terrifying. Literally the stuff of nightmares. Just watching the trailer triggers a wave of anxiety, ugh.
As hinted by the title, this film is about a man who is buried alive in a coffin. He was a civilian working as a truck drive in Iraq but was captured and placed in the coffin with only a few items, including a cell phone. He is told by the terrorists who captured him that he will only be freed if they receive a $5 million ransom. I’ve heard that a lot of people hate Buried for its ending but I don’t mind it at all. The fact that it is one of the most stressful movies I’ve ever seen is enough for it to make a lasting impact on me.
And that’s that! Let me know if you’ve seen or plan to watch any of these! Also let me know if there’s any films you think I should watch, I’d love to get some recommendations.