Arts & Entertainment writer Hanaa Moosavi shares her Netflix-exclusive movie recommendations.
Hello all. As you may or may not know, my name is Hanaa Moosavi, and I am a writer here at The UCSD Guardian. Along with my studies as a philosophy and public law major, I’m also pursuing a film studies minor. Movies have always been a part of my life, like I am sure it has for many of you. I always find myself turning to movies in my freetime, when hanging out with friends, when I’m stressed, and honestly whenever. At a time like this, I know many of you are at a loss of how to fill your time without seeing your friends or going outside. Look no further: Here is a list of streamable movies that you can cuddle up with your computer and watch. I have seen all of these films once, twice, again and again, and one more time after that because of their reliability and my attachment issues with films. All the movies recommended below are offered on Netflix so read the reviews carefully and find one that fits you. Also, please remember to stay safe during these times and keep yourself active and healthy.
“Short Term 12” (2013 Drama)
If you need a film that’s well made, has a very interesting plotline, and will tug the crap out of your heart strings, here’s “Short Term 12.” This film is about Grace (Brie Larson), a woman who works at a children’s center. While we follow Grace’s own story of handling her personal relationship with her boyfriend and the internalized trauma she has procured throughout her life, we also learn about the many different at-risk children and teens that inhabit the center. It’s hard not to fall in love with every character introduced and feel incredibly empathetic towards them. Filled with beautiful cinematography and witty, extremely emotional writing, “Short Term 12” is a movie I constantly find myself rewatching.
“Okja” (2017 Drama)
Bong Joon-ho is not just the director of the 2019 award winning film “Parasite,” he is also the director to “Okja,” a heartwarming story depicting animal cruelty. “Okja” follows Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young woman who lives in the mountains in South Korea with her father and their genetically mutated animal bred for consumption by a major million dollar corporation. Not only is this film beautifully made with insane visuals of South Korea and calculating camera angles, the plot displays a story not often told in the movie industry. The gut wrenching moments throughout this film show the real reason people should care about animal cruelty and how much it affects all of us.
“Anna Karenina” (2012 Historical Drama)
Listen, I do not care who you are or what you think are appropriate movies to watch, “Anna Karenina” is a must see for any cinephile obsessed with experimental film design. By using an actual theater to base most of the scenes in, the writers of this movie were able to create three-dimensional metaphors of the different social classes within the story and integrate it in the set design. A tale about a young woman, Anna (Keira Knightley), battling with her own need to indulge in marital scandals is interwoven with the many different stories of the inhabitants of 19th-century Russia. This film is a transformation of one of the greatest pieces of classical literature into, what I would call, one of the greatest pieces of cinematic excellence of the 21st century.
“The Pianist” (2002 Historical War Drama)
A movie I have recently been able to finally watch due to this time of self-isolation is “The Pianist,” which, for many film students, is considered a must see movie, and I would happen to agree. There have been many World War II films made because, as many of you know, the film industry loves to make profit from American success stories. Americans love to watch movies praising themselves. This movie, however, does a wonderful job of reworking an often told story and giving it a new perspective. This film follows a pianist’s journey of living through the war as a Jewish man. The added element of making him a piano player enhances the desperation of scenes and the overall story through the addition of depressed and lengthy piano chords, as well as the fast and paced compositions. “The Pianist” is certainly a movie to see if you are tired of the other renditions of a WWII plot. Fun Fact: this film won Roman Polanski a Best Director award at the Oscars, but, because he was wanted in America by the police, the award remains unclaimed to this day.
“Inglorious Basterds” (2009 Historical War Drama)
I am weak when it comes to dark comedies, and “Inglorious Basterds” is no exception. And yes, I know this is another WWII film, but I was not lying when I said that Americans love their success stories. “Inglorious Basterds” follows a ragtag team of elite Jewish Nazi fighters. Since this is a Quentin Tarantino film, it is very gruesome and there are a lot of scenes where people get scalped and absolutely destroyed physically, so this is not a film for the light-hearted. Of course, the plus side to it being from Tarantino is that it has amazing cinematography and interesting ways of telling stories, making this another WWII film that takes on a fresh perspective.
“Super Dark Times” (2017 Thriller)
Okay, I think it’s time to hit you with the harder films I’ve seen. Warning: if you are not accustomed to watching experimental, psychologically messed up movies, then please move on to the next recommendation. “Super Dark Times” (Thriller) is a movie you would see on the recommended page on Netflix and think nothing of, continuing to scroll past to find a better movie to watch. This thriller is the “Alice in Wonderland” of paranoia and suspicion that follows two friends who engage in a serious accident that changes their lives forever. Each plot reveal shocks you more than the last, making you determined to watch until the end. A surprisingly amazing display of scene work and set design takes you back to suburbian horror and surprise.
“The Lobster” (2015 Absurdist Film)
Continuing on with the dark theme, I present “The Lobster,” a movie I found completely on accident, and have now fallen in love with. “The Lobster” is set in a dystopian society where single people are required to find a counterpart or they will be transformed into an animal of their choice. We follow a man in his journey to find his soulmate and combat the insane world rules that he lives in. With dramatic, dry humor and deadpan delivery of all plot points, “The Lobster” is a drastically different delivery of dark comedy that keeps the audience intrigued until the very end.
“About Time” (2013 Romantic Film)
It seems about time for me to recommend another film about love, and it has to be “About Time” because there is no romance film I crave more than this one right here. This film is purely for the hopeless romantics who love to indulge in a sweet story about two people finding love, with a twist. The movie follows Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), a normal man who happens to have the genetic gift of the ability to jump in time. As his life advances, contingencies arise in the special gift that force Tim into choices that change his life, for better and worse. Shot in the south Cornish coast, this film reminds you of fantastic memories of summer romance and falling in love.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012 Coming-of-Age Film)
Now, I know what you are thinking: we are down to the last two films and there has been no coming of age classics to fulfill our vicarious living-selves. Here you go you dog, here is “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” (Coming-of-Age), a film that I loved so much when I was younger, I ended up with two copies of the novel completely by accident. This film is probably one of the sweetest, soul-crushing coming of age films you will probably ever see in your lifetime. With a cast including Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller, did you really expect to keep yourself contained and mentally intact? This film follows young Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he navigates highschool life while supporting a heavy load of mental trauma. As he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), Sam (Emma Watson), and the gang, Charlie tries to experience all he can while trying to keep his head above water. If you are missing high school a little extra, give this film a watch.
“Yes Man” (2008 Romantic Comedy Film)
Last but not least, I give you a Jim Carrey classic that I have watched over five times with my parents. “Yes Man” (Comedy) shows Carl Allen’s (Jim Carrey) journey to experiencing the philosophy of “yes,” a philosophy that tells people to only say yes when different opportunities arise in their lives. While turning his life around, Carl seems to find that, not only does he like this new way of living, but when you give to the world, the world will certainly give back to you. This film definitely pounds the lesson “don’t let opportunities slip you” over your head. A lighthearted comedy that is full of Carrey shenanigans and fun facial expressions, “Yes Man” is something you can watch anytime, with anyone, no matter how many times you’ve already seen it. You will always love this classic.
With that, I conclude my list of Netflix recommendations. Thank you for reading, and I hope you find a movie that you will enjoy and cherish during these times of isolation.
Images courtesy of The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Slant Magazine, NME, Bloody Disgusting, The New Yorker, Collider, IMDb
Art by Anthony Tran for the UCSD Guardian.