It’s a bit like in Inside Out, these five films. They each feel like an island with their own personality traits and aesthetic with all of the best parts of the film. Not to sound desperately pathetic but they are a part of you, whether you consciously realise it or not and it’s a little bit terrifying thinking just how much some of these films will have shaped your personality and view on life. Now, on with my five choices before I get worried that the only reason I went to a Scottish university as an English girl is a combination of my love of Brave and Sunshine on Leith.
Perks of being a Wallflower
Available – Amazon Prime, Netflix
So starting with the ever stunning Perks of being a Wallflower. This film will never get old and feels more relatable and poignant with every viewing. I think that can mainly be put down to growing up with this film, first watching it religiously when I was 13 and 14 and then watching it at least once a year from there. Different themes and characters spoke to me at different points in my life and it was always something of a comfort to come back to. Helped by the beautiful characters and script (written by the original author), the movie is one of the best coming-of-age films of all time, in my opinion. Quick shoutout to Logan Lerman making me cry every time, with an honourable mention to Ezra Miller too. The sheer amount of raw and beautiful emotion sewn into the story makes it timeless. Whether the generation that grew up with this film realise it or not, it is one of the first visual signs of the idea that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to get help and specifically it’s okay for boys to get help. I genuinely don’t know if you could call it a happy film but it makes me as happy as a warped comfort blanket. Honestly, how can the tunnel scene with Logan Lerman on the back of the car with Heroes by David Bowie blasting in the background not fill you with endorphins?!
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Available – Amazon to buy/rent
My granny actually introduced me to this film. She watched it and immediately called me to get my family and I to watch it. Despite being slightly sceptical of a film I’d never heard of with a director and cast I’d never heard of, within the first five minutes of meeting Ricky Baker we were hooked. The story follows Ricky Baker, a troubled boy who is fostered by a couple on a farm and after a tragedy and an unfortunate series of events Ricky and Hec have to go on the lamb in the New Zealand wilderness. The comedy never fails to hit and no film has made me want to travel to New Zealand more since the Lord of the Rings. For me this is the film I associate with family. It’s a feel-good comedy that we must have seen at least ten times with different extended family. It’s the go-to because of the story telling, the family friendly jokes and also because of the theme of family. Taika Waititi portrays family in a warm but disjointed image that hits home for a myriad of different people. My granny has good taste, what can I say.
The Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Available – Amazon to buy/rent
I saw The Portrait of a Lady on Fire when I was solo travelling around Melbourne, Australia in a small independent theatre that had armchairs as seats. Moving past the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written where I watched a foreign film on my ‘gap yah’, I think about this film a concerning amount. The film centres around Marianne, a painter who is employed to paint Heloise for her future husband. As Heloise is a reluctant bride, Marianne must paint her in secret by observing her. As they trust each other more their relationship grows too. To be honest, am I surprised by my obsession? What was I expecting from a film about 17th-century French lesbian painters, with most of their relationship playing out through long-lasting gazes and short glances. The use of gaze and looks throughout the film is beautiful whether you fully understand their meaning or not (spoiler, I don’t). It gives as much depth to the story as the beautifully-written dialogue does. There are a lot of things about this film you’ll miss or not understand without proper analysis but the magic is you don’t need to understand it to be able to appreciate its beauty and story. The Portrait of a Lady on Fire is one of the most stunning and breath-taking films I’ve ever seen and the lack of recognition it receives is criminal. I’ve never internally screamed with frustration at an ending more than when it applied to Marianne and Heloise and if you watch one film on this list I beg that it is this one.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Available – Amazon to buy/rent
This is perhaps my favourite film of all time. First exposing me to Wes Anderson’s style, this was the film that moved me into properly appreciating cinema and led me on my path to becoming a pretentious film student. It’s an interesting one: the film is about an extravagant hotel concierge and his bellboy who are caught up in an international art heist but it’s also not really about that. It’s about friendship and love and everything in between. You’re watching for the relationships between the characters and the outlandish use of colour or for Saoirse Ronan and slowly falling in love with her like I did. It’s the enjoyment of all the little parts that make a Wes Anderson film. It’s wild and crazy and you feel like you’re on the adventure with them. Every time I watch this film I am completely invested in every aspect of it and can’t bear to look away for fear of missing a scene I’ve seen so many times before.
Spiderman – Into the Spiderverse
Available on – Netflix/Amazon Prime
Okay this one maybe doesn’t quite fit with my other choices but hear me out. The flow and integration of so many different styles of animation is incredible and slightly mind-blowing. I don’t think you could watch that film 20 times and identify all the different types of animation style. It tells the story of Miles Morales dealing with becoming Spider-Man, alternate universes, and family issues. Despite being a children’s film it deserves full recognition as a proper superhero film with the storyline and fight sequences being some of the best I’ve seen. I’d take it over half the films Marvel churns out. This superhero film has a beating heart and a soul, helped along by the incredible soundtrack composed of a variety of different styles of rap. It boasts an impressive collection of artists like Post Malone and Nicki Minaj and it deserved recognition as an album in itself. Partnered with this one-of-a-kind film it is unstoppable and you will not be able to tear your eyes away. Into the Spiderverse just got put on Netflix so you have no excuse to not watch John Mulaney, an alternate-universe Spiderman/Spiderpig.
Featured image credit: Charlotte Sutcliffe