Movies I’d Recommend

Skip the introduction and go straight to the list

Introduction

This is a list of movies I watched and liked and would recommend other people watch. Every now and then I'll include a movie that's already quite popular, but I generally don't see the point in recommending movie-that-everyone's-seen-already-and-already-loves. That doesn't mean every movie on this list will be obscure, but it means there may be certain large chunks of the populate who may not have heard of these, or these movies may have been popular in their time but largely forgotten now, or they were box office bombs but actually quite good.

Yes, I know a lot of sexual predators and assholes are involved in some of these films, but they've always been in Hollywood. Think of it more as the cast and crew and other people involved making the film great and not "Famous rapist attached to this picture."

And, these are not all "high art" cinema. Some of these are just fun to watch and not super deep.

Just for having some kind of organization, I'm ordering them by release year.

This list is dynamic... I'll keep adding to it as I think of more stuff.

The List

2020

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Even though this didn't dominate the box office, Birds of Prey is probably my favorite DC movie. It's fun, funny, action-packed, and passes the Bechdel test with flying colors.
The Half of It
Smart Cyrano-esque coming of age dramedy.

2019

Alita: Battle Angel
Nothing revolutionary here. Interesting characters, good battle scenes, nice special effects.
Blinded by the Light
At times funny, at times serious, this is based on a true story and enjoyable even for people who don't dig Bruce Springsteen that much.
Detective Pikachu
Cute. Funny. Some things kind of don't make sense in the beginning. They make more sense later.
The Farewell
Awkwafina showing her acting chops. Charming and heart-wrenching.
Hustlers
Another movie that didn't perform as well in the box office as it should have. Constance Wu was great in this, and Jennifer Lopez was totally robbed of a well-deserved Oscar.
I Am Mother
Almost like a really long episode of Black Mirror, this is disturbing, engaging, and thought-provoking.
The Island of Cats
Cute movie about an old man and a cat.
Knives Out
Yes, LaKeith Stanfield is totally under-utilized in this film, but otherwise, it's a chef's kiss from me.
Last Christmas
George Michael. Emma Thompson. What's not to love?
See You Yesterday
Overall a great film. I wish it weren't yet another film about Black trauma. The first half is really a teenagers-having-fun time-travel adventure, and we don't have that many films like that that aren't just white people. Still solid... just ultimately about Black trauma.
Terminator: Dark Fate
I realize there's Terminator-movie fatigue, but this was probably the worthiest sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

2018

Aquaman
Fairly brainless but fun action movie.
Black Panther
I debated including any Marvel movies, but Black Panther was really revolutionary cinematically for an action and superhero film.
Bumblebee
I honestly hated the previous Michael Bay Transformers movies, but Bumblebee has all the action and fight sequences with a lot more character development and good storytelling—plus one of the best uses of Stan Bush's "The Touch."
Fast Color
Unfortunately, movies featuring Black women with super powers are rare. This one starts off a bit slowly, but the narrative builds satisfyingly.
Overboard
I have to confess I've never seen the original, but this remake is an excellent romantic comedy, Anna Faris kills it here.
Searching
Even though Crazy Rich Asians
got all the hype (and box office) that summer, Searching
was an excellent (and sadly overlooked) film, starring John Cho.
Sorry to Bother You
Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman got all the hype that summer, but... okay, apart from a super weird ending, Boots Riley's Sorry to Bother You is an excellent commentary on race and class in our capitalist society.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Easily the best Spider-Man movies, hands down. Visually refreshing, so well put together.
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
In this Trumpian dystopia, we all need a little Fred Rogers reminder.

2017

The Big Sick
A fairly simple but compelling based-on-a-true-story story.
Coco
Disney/Pixar doesn't always do it right, but they did it right with Coco—the animation, the music, the characters...
Get Out
I don't often like horror movies, but this is a slasher film, and Jordan Peele really gets deep into his metaphors here.
The LEGO Batman Movie
This movie is so silly and clever and good, I can enjoy it even with the sound off. I'm not kidding.
Okja
Everyone raves about Parasite (which was excellent but not as amazing as everyone says) and Snow Piercer (which was actually terrible). Don't forget about Okja! Ahn Seo-hyun gives a stellar performance.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
I enjoyed Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, but the story behind Wonder Woman is also very fascinating. If you do end up digging this film, you may want to read The Secret History of Wonder Woman.

2016

Ghostbusters
I'm a child of the 80s and loved the original Ghostbusters, but this was better.
Kedi
Super cute Turkish documentary about the cats in Istanbul.
Little Boxes
You may remember Nelsan Ellis (RIP) from True Blood. Here he shows his versatility as an actor. Melanie Lynskey is great as usual, too.
Moana
I wasn't a huge fan of the music (even though the main song is catchy), but this is a solid finding-who-you-are story.
Moonlight
Yes, everyone's heard of this movie, and it's all hyped up, but it is actually that good.
Queen of Katwe
Compelling based-on-a-true-story story.
Your Name
Super trippy and cute and heartbreaking.
Zootopia
Romantic comedy, mystery thriller, imaginative anthropomorphism, lots of humor.

2015

Advantageous
Sci-Fi featuring Asian Americans? Yes!
Brooklyn
Beautiful film. Saoirse Ronan kills it.
Everything Before Us
Sci-Fi featuring Asian Americans? Yes!
Jupiter Ascending
Campy fun!
The Little Death
Cheeky Australian sex comedy.
Tomorrowland
Kind of box-office-bombed, but it was still a fun movie!

2014

Alex of Venice
Little known. One of Mary Elizabeth's strongest performances.
Big Hero 6
"On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your pain?"
It Follows
Again, I don't love horror movies, but I couldn't stop thinking about this for days afterwards. The premise is intriguing.
A Most Violent Year
The plot is a bit simple, but this is a solid watch.
Obvious Child
Funny. Actually allows the main character to have an abortion.

2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Actually a better experience than the comic book it's adapted from, since there is no narration from Batman. It's all show, not tell.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Powerful. Visually stunning. Quvenzhané Wallis gives a great performance.
Brave
Merida!
Haywire
Haven't really liked Soderbergh after Sex, Lies, and Videotape, but this was an excellent little film, and Gina Carano kicks ass in it.
Hello I Must Be Going
Melanie Lynskey (from everything) creeps on Christopher Abbott (from Girls).
Robot & Frank
Touching.
Smashed
Another lesser known but dynamite performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

2011

What's Your Number?
Anna Faris and Chris Evans are really together in this.

2010

Burlesque
Cher. Christina Aguilera.
Easy A
Clever, modern adaptation of The Scarlet Letter.
Let Me In
Creepy, compelling vampire movie. Honestly, much better than the original, which I couldn't even finish. Bullying scenes are bit too realistic.

2009

District 9
Chilling and disturbing social commentary.
La Doppia Ora
Amazing and clever Italian suspense.
El Secreto de Sus Ojos
Amazing and clever Argentinian suspense.

2008

Be Kind Rewind
Mos Def. Jack Black. Funny. Fun.
Happy Go Lucky
En-Ra-Ha!
Young People Fucking
Funny sex comedy.

2007

Bridge to Terabithia
Very touching adaptation.
Death Proof
Lots of great performances in this major introduction to Zoe Bell.
The Golden Compass
Didn't do well in the box office, but this was a great film.
I Am Legend
Kind of intense, so you have to be in the mood, but this is solid.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
I never thought I'd care about Donkey Kong or video game competitions, but I got really sucked into the drama.
Never Forever
Engaging drama.
Ping Pong Playa
Underrated comedy.

2006

The Bridge
Really changed my mind about jump barriers on bridges.
She's the Man
Amanda Bynes at her best.
Shortbus
Better known for Hedgwig, John Cameron Mitchell does a great job representing a diversity of sex positivity here.
Sleeping Dogs Lie
Romantic comedy by Bobcat Goldthwait? It's ridiculous, but it works.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Educational. Sadly still relevant.

2005

Good Night, and Good Luck
Great docudrama on Edward R. Murrow.
The Grace Lee Project
How many Grace Lees are there?
Hard Candy
Ellen Page is intense and awesome.
Loggerheads
Bonnie Hunt's great in this.
The Notorious Bettie Page
Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner, Gretchen Mol, and Lily Taylor!

2004

Kinsey
Seeing Other People
The Woodsman

2003

Oldboy
Shattered Glass

2002

Changing Lanes
Red Dragon
The Sweetest Thing
Whale Rider

2001

Bridget Jones's Diary
Enigma
Iris
Lantana
Mulholland Drive
Not Another Teen Movie
Snakeskin
Spirited Away
One of the few Miyazaki movies that plays okay dubbed.

2000

American Psycho
Center Stage
Chicken Run
Claymation chickens. What's not to love?
The Ladies Man
Live Nude Girls Unite!
Love & Sex
You probably didn't think Famke Janssen and Jon Favreau could do a cute romantic comedy together, but this is it.
Pane e Tulipani
Return to Me
Whipped

1999

But I'm a Cheerleader
Dark comedy ahead of its time.
The Color of Paradise
Honestly, I don't even remember the plot of this movie, and it was so intense that I don't want to watch it again, but I just know it was very moving and great.
Drive Me Crazy
Romantic comedy, high school style.
East Is East
Funny family movie.
The End of the Affair
Great romantic drama adapted from the Graham Greene novel.
Eyes Wide Shut
Even Tom Cruise can't ruin this movie.
Foreign Correspondents
Two movies in one. The first story is intriguing but doesn't resolve in a satisfying way. The second is a solidly constructed narrative. Little-known gem starring Melanie Lynskey (1st part) and Corin Nemec (2nd part).
Just Looking
Yet another coming-of-age story about a white boy, but still good.
Pushing Tin
John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Angelina Jolie are in this movie, but Cate Blanchett really steals the show.

1998

Dangerous Beauty
Dark City
Denial
The Negotiator
The Red Violin
The Wedding Singer

1997

Bliss
The Boxer
Eve's Bayou
The Ice Storm
One Night Stand
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

1996

2 Days in the Valley
Bound
Flirting with Disaster
L'Appartement
The Long Kiss Goodnight

1995

Angels & Insects
Boys on the Side
French Kiss
Kids
Sense and Sensibility
Showgirls
This movie is terrible, but if you watch it through a camp lens, it's terribly entertaining.
Tank Girl
While You Were Sleeping

1994

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Death and the Maiden
Eat Drink Man Woman
Go Fish
Heavenly Creatures
Amazing debut for Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet.
The Hudsucker Proxy
Muriel's Wedding
Serial Mom

1993

And the Band Played On
Carlito's Way
Love Matters
Much Ado About Nothing
Shadowlands
Compelling docudrama about C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham.
Sleepless in Seattle
So I Married an Axe Murderer
The Vanishing

1992

Basic Instinct
The Lover
Malcolm X
The Player
Reservoir Dogs
Strictly Ballroom
Tokyo Decadence
White Men Can't Jump
Year of the Comet

1991

Dead Again
Dogfight
Raise the Red Lantern
The Rapture

1990

Henry & June
The Hot Spot
La Femme Nikita
Even though Americans started to become aware of Luc Besson because of Léon: The Professional, this film is far superior to Léon and also to all the American TV shows spun off later.
Opportunity Knocks
Pacific Heights
Presumed Innocent
Total Recall

1989

Chances Are
Gross Anatomy
Kiki's Delivery Service
Sex, Lies, and Videotape
When Harry Met Sally...

1988

Akira
Bull Durham
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
I don't know how much of this is actual documentary, but it's presented as such and absolutely hilarious.
Coming to America
Dangerous Liaisons
Married to the Mob
Mystic Pizza
Classic buddy movie / coming-of-age dramedy.
Red Heat
This traffics majorly on stereotypes of the Soviet Union, but it's still a compelling thriller and buddy comedy/action film. Young Laurence Fishburne looks great in this, too.
Sweet Hearts Dance
Twins
Classic comedy.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Young Guns

1987

A Better Tomorrow II
Full Metal Jacket
This is kind of a first-half / second-half movie. The first half is a compelling drama. The second half is a meandering mess. You can actually just stop watching after the first half.
The Lost Boys
Outrageous Fortune
Robocop
Roxanne
The Running Man
Some Kind of Wonderful
Throw Momma from the Train

1986

The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Aliens
F/X
Jumpin' Jack Flash
Tough Guys

1985

Clue
The Purple Rose of Cairo

1984

Johnny Dangerously
Top Secret!

1983

Pauline à la Plage

1982

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

1981

An American Werewolf in London
Body Heat
Excalibur
History of the World, Part I

1980

The Empire Strikes Back
Somewhere in Time

1979

The Castle of Cagliostro

1978

The Lord of the Rings
The Peter Jackson versions got all the hype (and special effects), but this animated version is subtler and more compelling (and not nearly as long).
Watership Down

1976

Carrie
In the Realm of the Senses
Logan's Run

1975

Barry Lyndon

1970

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Cult classic, good only in a so-bad-it's-good way. Written by film critic Roger Ebert, if you can believe it.

1969

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

1968

Night of the Living Dead

1963

Lord of the Flies

1959

Crimson Kimono

1957

An Affair to Remember
If you loved Sleepless in Seattle, you have to see this. It's YOH.

1947

My Favorite Brunette
Funny Bob Hope movie.

1940

The Philadelphia Story
Hilarious comedy.
The Shop Around the Corner
Jimmy Stewart may be more of a household name now than Margaret Sullavan is, but he was super intimidated by her (she has a fascinating life, by the way), and the chemistry between the two here is great.

1939

The Women
Classic Cukor film with an all-female cast. Clever and fun.

1937

Daughter of Shanghai
Sadly, much better roles (yes, plural) for Asian Americans than most movies from the 80s and 90s. Anna May Wong and Philip Ahn are terrific in this.