BY NADYA ELLERHORST
For the past 6 months, I, like most, have found myself with ample amounts of free time (at least, I did until the semester started), and what better way to spend it than indulging in copious amounts of movies. However, I figured if I’m going to watch something, it ought to be something good.
Like, 90%-plus rating on Rotten Tomatoes good.
Hence, I am pleased to present a list of every super “Fresh” film I have watched in the span of this pandemic. While Rotten Tomatoes shouldn’t be the definitive source to decide whether or not to watch a movie, I wouldn’t contradict the high ratings given to these films.
Furthermore, there are likely a couple incredible dozen films on each streaming platform I still need to watch. However, as much as I like to deny reality, I am a college student, not a critic.
At time of writing, all listed films except “Seven Samurai,” “The Birds” and “Crazy Rich Asians” are included with either an Amazon Prime or Netflix subscription. I recommend Morris Library or your local library (yes, they still exist) if you’re dying to watch one but hesitant to spend some.
Disclaimer: the writer is in no way responsible for the lowered rates of studying and ensuing grade drops as a result of your wanting to watch these superb movies.
Crazy Rich Asians (91%)
Probably the most “wholesome” film on this list, and based on the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, the plot is pretty run-of-the-mill: girl meets guy, guy invites girl to meet the family, girl finds out he’s from one of the the richest families in Singapore, and luxurious chaos ensues. Fascinating fact: this is the first major American film with an all-Asian cast since “The Joy Luck Club.”
Jurassic Park (91%) (Netflix)
You know the theme song, but do you know the story? The first in a long string of attempts to unsuccessfully establish a prehistoric theme park, you’ll come away having learned the valuable lesson that maybe, just maybe, an attraction where an electric fence is all that separates dinosaurs from humans isn’t the most lucrative venture.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (93%) (Netflix)
This is Jim Carrey like you’ve never seen him before: serious. It is a neurological love story that addresses our distinctly human characteristic of wanting to erase things painful to us from our memories and explores whether doing so results in even more damage than does holding on to the past. Who knew a movie about memory could be so unforgettable?
Being John Malkovich (93%) (Netflix)
Featuring John Malkovich in the breakout role of John Malkovich, there are few alternative universes where this film would be classified as “normal.” It is deeply weird and nonsensical, but for some reason, the whole concept of a portal into famous actor John Malkovich’s head just works. No one’s saying you have to understand it. Just watch it — and proceed to constantly think about it for a month or so after.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (93%) (Netflix)
Don’t watch this movie if you’re looking for a mood boost — I unfortunately learned this the hard way. Louise Fletcher as the sadist Nurse Ratched is simply incredible, in that you will feel a true, burning hate for her character. I have never so fervently wanted to punch my TV screen.
Marriage Story (94%) (Netflix)
Don’t be tricked by the title: this movie is all divorce. It’s emotionally complex, with moments of humor and pure melancholy closely intertwined, but it skillfully avoids succumbing to melodrama and features some of the most organic acting I’ve ever seen. And if Adam Driver dressed as the invisible man doesn’t bring you joy, nothing in this world will.
The Birds (95%)
The birds in this movie put our combined Fightin’ Blue Hen spirit to shame. The only thing more terrifying than the squeaky, metallic caws that fill the air before they attack is their lack of any motive for terrorizing a small, seaside California town. You will never look at crows, seagulls or YoUDee the same way.
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (95%) (Netflix)
Finally, a hero that can defeat the bad guys AND holds a postgraduate degree. Although the concept of a brawny college professor preventing the Nazis from getting their hands on the Biblical Ark of the Covenant is a bit strange when you overthink it, it is action at its finest. Post-viewing, you will likely begin humming the theme song as you go about your mundane daily activities, and that is okay.
The Florida Project (96%) (Netflix)
Although it takes place near Disneyworld, it is by no means a happy movie. Told mostly from a child’s perspective, it is an emotionally raw saga centering on a single mother and her mischievous daughter as they struggle to make ends meet. The acting in this film is so brutally realistic that you will probably have to remind yourself that what you’re watching is not a documentary.
The Social Network (96%) (Netflix)
Ah, Jesse Eisenberg. The only actor I know of who can rock cargo shorts and sandals in the dead of winter. Ever wonder how Facebook came to be? Watch and find out! Forget that Facebook was a social media platform? Consider this Mark Zuckerberg origin story a dramatic refresher. Bonus: it features Justin Timberlake in his post-ramen hair heyday.
Peanut Butter Falcon (96%) (Prime)
This is a film 5 years in the making, the brainchild of Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz to turn their friend Zack Gottsagen’s, who has Down syndrome, dream of being a movie star into a reality. The result? A wonderful, empowering story about finding the best of friends in the unlikeliest of places, and letting no obstacles, not even semi-professional wrestlers, stand in the way of your aspirations.
Knives Out (97%) (Prime)
Likely, my favorite movie of 2019 and here to help get you through 2020; it toys with your immediate suspicion that the most obvious character couldn’t possibly be the murderer. That would be too easy! Or would it? Final verdict: we need more Marta’s in this world.
The Farewell (98%) (Prime)
A hidden gem “based on an actual lie” in director Lulu Wang’s family; it’s a bittersweet story about the length’s a family is willing to go to protect their matriarch. It’ll make you appreciate your loved ones a little more, no matter how much they annoy you during quarantine.
Lady Bird (99%) (Netflix)
I usually can’t stomach films about the hardships of being, you know, a teenager, but it’s challenging not to empathize with Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird as she navigates her final year of high school. And if the 99% percent rating is not enough to lure you, maybe the fact that Timothée Chalamet co-stars is.
Battleship Potemkin (100%) (Prime)
You simply cannot deem yourself a “movie buff” until you see Sergei Eisenstein’s riveting triumph. It is difficult to comprehend that this film detailing a mutiny and its revolutionary shockwaves were made in 1925, as it delivers more than most modern films can. It’s a silent film, but the stunning cinematography makes up for any lack of audio. Watch it and never take the public domain for granted again.
Seven Samurai (100%)
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but “The Magnificent Seven” and “A Bug’s Life” were not original concepts. Both borrowed a great deal from Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s cinematic masterpiece centering on a group of samurai who vow to protect a defenseless village from bandits. It’s very long (don’t watch it the night before a midterm), but definitely worth it for the three-and-half-hour stream of captivating shots. Don’t like reading subtitles? Get over it.