Movies You Need To See

Movies You Need To See

Ben Winslow, Co-Editor-in-Chief

I decided to take on the burden of watching a lot of movies this past month. Big budget films, little films, indie films, superhero films, I watched them all. Here is my list of the movies that you need to see before we enter award season. 

The Power of the Dog 

This is one of those movies that critics love, but general audiences are not so fond of. In all honesty, I completely agree with the general audiences. The western film, directed by the brilliant Jane Campion, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee is something of a struggle to get through. It lacks the action and power that many movies need to hold an audience’s attention. Despite this though, the movie is still a front runner for Best Picture, and it is an understandable choice. The cinematography and acting is top-notch, and the plot, though bland, is packed with complexities, nuances, and intricacies that are not found in the other Best Picture candidates. It would not be surprising if this movie takes home the big trophy. 



I have written about Belfast before, and I still generally feel the same about the movie. It is a crowd pleaser, full of great dialogue, superb acting, and a plot that is golden. If I had to pick, I would choose this over Power of the Dog, but at the end of the day I am not the one choosing (probably a good thing).  

West Side Story

We have been waiting for this one for a while; the film was originally supposed to premier in 2020 but due to a worldwide pandemic it was postponed. Despite its delay, the movie does not disappoint. While I, personally, am not the biggest fan of musicals, I completely understand why West Side Story is an acclaimed film. The plot, though incredibly unrealistic, is perfect material for an award winning film and also perfect stimulation for some spectacular performances. One actress in particular stands out, Ariana DeBose. She plays the role of Anita, which won Rita Moreno her Oscar for the original film, and DeBose does it perfectly. Her portrayal of grief, anguish, and talent have catapulted her into the front spot for the Supporting Actress Oscar. Without DeBose, I do not think I would include this film on the list, but since she delivers, it is a movie definitely worth seeing. 


Licorice Pizza

Does this movie really have a plot? That question remains unanswered; but if it does, it certainly does not follow the hero’s journey we are used to in film, television, and literature. Regardless, it is still a fun ride that you should definitely go see. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, it is chock full of ripe talent. Set in California, the movie follows a boy and a girl as they experience fun and young adulthood. Although the premise of the love story is inappropriate (you will understand if you see the movie), the idea of it still makes for a good film. 


OMG, if I had more time I could do an entire article about why Coda should win Best Picture, but since I don’t I will settle for telling you why you need to see it. To start the entire plot is heartbreaking, but at the same time pure perfection. The main character Ruby, played by Emilia Jones, is the only member of her four person family who can hear. She serves as daughter and sister, but also as translator and interpreter for her family to the outside world. Ruby keeps from her family her talent and love for singing, but when she decides to join her High School choir, she finally informs them of her passion. The hardest part of this film is watching her family try to support her, while also grappling with the fact that they will never be able to hear their daughter sing. Her parents, played by Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin (the first deaf actor to win an Oscar), deliver outstanding and nuanced performances. Kotsur is quickly becoming the front-runner for Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards and after watching the movie it is incredibly clear why. I am practically begging you to watch this movie. 



I actually enjoyed the movie Dune, directed by Dennis Villeneuve. Although it is just the first part of the series, it set up the franchise for a very successful run. The acting was strong, the story was strong, but the cinematography was what truly stood out. Many of the shoots in the movie were incredibly breathtaking. Shots from dystopian looking desert planets were stunning and certain to win some awards at the coming ceremonies. 

Being the Ricardos

Taking on Lucille Ball is not an easy feat and Nicole Kidman certainly had her work cut out for her. There were some nerves amongst critics about whether or not she would succeed in the role, but after seeing the movie it appears universally agreed that she does a splendid job. Kidman manages to look relatively similar to Lucy, but what is really striking is how accurately she sounds like her. Kidman delivers another strong acting performance in this film and it has placed her among the conversation for Best Actress. While it is unclear whether she will be able to take home the trophy, there is a pretty strong chance she will land a nomination. Outside of Kidman the movie seems to struggle a bit, but it is still enjoyable and funny despite the heavy undertones. You can watch it on Amazon Prime, and if you have the time it is worth it. 


The Lost Daughter

Although produced by a major production company, Netflix, this film serves as the most indie of all on the list. A low-budget, beautifully shot film, directed by Hollywood star Maggie Gyllenhaal, this film deserves all of the credit it has received. Driven by a stellar and nuanced performance by Academy Award winner Olivia Colman, this film could prove to be an underdog throughout this awards season. Colman is certainly in conversation for the leading actress awards, and Gyllenhaal has been talked about for directing and writing. It will be interesting to see how far this little film can go. With a company like Netflix behind it, the stars are the limit. 


Finally, Kristen Stewart receives the credit she has long deserved. Since Twilight she has been a joke of Hollywood, despite the fact that she has delivered outstanding performances in smaller films. In Spencer, Stewart completely morphed into Princess Diana and she does so in a way that I believe is worthy of an Oscar. She is almost assured a nomination for Lead Actress, but I think a win is deserved and would be the ultimate revenge on all the people who have doubted Stewart and her potential. Outside of her performance, the movie, directed by Pablo Larraín, is stunning and 100% something you should take the time to watch. 


Tragedy of Macbeth

Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, of course this movie is going to be great. Very creepy and super suspenseful, the movie very tastefully accomplishes a strong rendition of this Shakespeare classic. Shot in black and white, the set design is dazzling and the lighting is jarring. The acting is amazing, and there will certainly be Oscar nominations for the cast and crew.