• Entertainment
Ben Vanelli

In this article by film fanatic Ben Vanelli ‘21, readers can get some recommendations for movies to watch via Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Max while anxiously awaiting for theaters to reopen. 

With the Academy Awards occurring at the end of April, it’s a good time to get hyped for movies. Even if some theaters are still in the process of opening again, there’s plenty that streaming has to offer.



Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Dir. Guillermo Del Toro


What Pan’s Labyrinth offers is a superb genre-mashing of childhood fairytales, supernatural horror, and wartime violence. It’s truly unlike any film I can say that I’ve seen before in that regard. Taking place during the Spanish Civil War, it follows a young girl, Ofelia, whose mother’s sickness and stepfather’s leadership in the Spanish regime give her an opportunity to explore the campus of the base, and its nearby forest. The many mythical creatures she meets put her through tasks, and it’s truly a magical and mature story. Watch with subtitles. 


The Social Network (2010)

Dir. David Fincher


Take Aaron Sorkin, one of the most accomplished screenwriters of the last 30 years, combine him with the visual talents of David Fincher, and you get The Social Network, the story of Mark Zuckerberg, and the origin of Facebook. It’s hard to believe that this was made in 2009 and released in 2010, especially with the controversies that Facebook has gotten involved in since then. Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield as his former partner Eduardo Saverin are absolutely fantastic. The dialogue alone is enough to make it worthy of a watch, but every aspect of this film combines to make it one of my all-time favorites.


At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

Dir. Julian Schnabel


The death of Vincent Van Gogh was long thought to be a suicide, and this is still the consensus; At Eternity’s Gate follows the last years of his life and buys into the theory that he was accidentally shot by two young boys and that he created the suicide idea to protect them. What this film does to bring out Van Gogh’s mental state is incredible. It employs vertical angles at times as part of superb camerawork when implying his bouts of mental anguish, wonderful color grading to match his artwork, and a brilliant Willem Defoe to play the part. 


Amazon Prime Video

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Dir. Wes Anderson


A seaside community’s hostilities come out when two love-stricken twelve-year-olds decide to run away together. When I saw this film, I felt a very personal side of Wes Anderson translate into his work. His ensemble cast is great, but it’s the story at the center that makes Moonrise Kingdom one that’s hard to forget; not in the sense that every second is memorable, but the feeling that it gives you is timeless and nostalgic. 


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen


This is the story of a struggling folk singer in the NYC folk scene of the ‘60s, Llewyn Davis, as a string of bad fortune follows him everywhere he goes. Llewyn, played by a phenomenal Oscar Isaac, roams the streets of New York, picking up gigs at the same cafe while sleeping in the apartments of friends and other musicians. This is a true character study. Llewyn tries so hard to be authentic that it hurts what little finances he has left even more, and creates an inescapable void of uncertainty, despair, and carelessness. Still, it is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever watched and definitely one of my favorites, highlighted by its sympathy, music, and performances.


Inception (2010)

Dir. Christopher Nolan


While it’s one of the more overrated films of the country, in my opinion, Inception is still a huge display of movie magic and spectacle, and it’s fun to watch. What it lacks in character, it makes up for in astounding visuals and creativity with elements of time. The dreams-within-dreams are interesting and the world it builds is fun to think about.



Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Dir. George Roy Hill


This western features Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two robbers on the run from the law. Its cinematography and visuals are right up there with its screenplay as the best aspects of the film. It’s so utterly enjoyable, combining romance, action, comedy, and a little bit of drama to make for an incredible and timeless movie. 


50/50 (2011)

Dir. Jonathan Levine


50/50 is the story of a young man whose world is flipped upside down when he gets a cancer diagnosis— with a 50% chance of survival. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in this role, and I adhere to the opinion that he’s one of the most underrated actors working today. Seth Rogen complements as the well-meaning but dim-witted best friend, with Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard in supporting roles. This film is a great insight not into just the physical but also mental anguish of a cancer diagnosis.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Dir. Ben Stiller


Stiller is mostly known for his comedic contributions to film (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, etc.). What we get from Walter Mitty, however, is a much more personal and dramatic effort, though not without its share of decent comedy. Stiller crafts a great story of a middle-aged man who finds himself on a trek to Iceland for a journalism piece, and discovers several things about himself along the way. 



School of Rock (2003)

Dir. Richard Linklater


Jack Black takes a role as a rock-inclined slacker who poses as a substitute teacher to make the money he needs to pay his rent. Desperate to win a battle of the bands, he employs his students as members and ends up forming a genuine connection with them. Its undemanding humor and charm make for a really fun watch. 


Bad Education (2019)

Dir. Cory Finley


The true story of the staff of a New York high school’s embezzlement scandal, Bad Education follows Hugh Jackman as its superintendent who’s hiding more than one secret. We only get information about him as the film goes along, making for a much more engaging and intelligent experience than if we had this exposition to go off of. Jackman is fantastic here, as is the supporting cast. 


Jaws (1975)

Dir. Steven Spielberg


The classic summer blockbuster. Jaws is a revolutionary piece of cinema that inspired the big-budget summer movies we now get every year. There’s nothing not to like about Jaws: giant sharks, greedy politicians, three men on a boat that should be bigger… not to mention the wonderful direction from Spielberg, great special effects, and a smart script to go along with it.