Updated: Jun 14, 2021
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Having been in quarantine for over a year, I can admit that I’ve seen my fair share of movies. Whether it’s action, comedy, drama, horror, or romance doesn’t really matter to me -- I enjoy them all. At one point this summer, I was even watching one movie a day! But with COVID-19 cases steadily decreasing and our country returning to normalcy, it’s time to put a pause on the movie-binging and start doing better, more active things. With that being said, there’s no better time than now to unveil my top 5 movies ever, with so many great movies fresh in my mind. I’m no movie critic, but I think my list has a nice combination of critically acclaimed movies and my personal preferences.
Here it goes:
Honorable mentions: Shawshank Redemption, Wolf of Wall Street, Fight Club, and Inception.
#5 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This 2004 sci-fi/romance film features Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kristen Dunst, and many more renowned actors. The best way to sum up this movie is that it’s a love story in reverse. After a messy breakup, Kate Winslet’s Clementine undergoes an experimental surgery to utterly wipe out her memory of her ex-boyfriend, Joel. When Joel figures out that Clementine no longer has any memory of him, he opts to do the same experimental surgery. Yet shortly afterwards, on a train ride home, Joel and Clementine meet. They are under the impression they haven’t met before, but there’s some unexplainable connection. After hitting it off, they find cassette-tapes revealing their troubling past together. They are shocked, disgusted, and ashamed — but opt to give their relationship another try. I think Charlie Kaufman’s message in this story is simple but deep: no matter how hard you try, you can’t erase the past. You will always find your way back, so why even bother? What makes this movie so phenomenal is the realness displayed by both Carrey and Winslet. Throughout the whole movie they are each fighting in their own head. Their minds are telling them they need to forget each other and move on, but their hearts won’t let them. In short, I loved the plot and complexity of this movie.
#4 Ferris Bueller's Day off
I know, this is a bold take. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a kids movie, right? The plot is simple and the cast is merely average, no? Well maybe. But you can’t deny how fun this movie is and the way it makes you feel. Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Brodrick, is the typical high school slacker. Featuring just one day in his life, the movie shows Bueller faking being sick to ditch school and go on a crazy journey. Whether it’s pretending to be his girlfriend’s dad and picking her up from school, driving his friend’s dad’s Ferrari over 100 mph, or going to a baseball game, Ferris is living every young kid’s dream. Ferris is the epitome of “enjoying what’s in front of you.” As he infamously said, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!'" This quote captures the essence of the movie and has surprisingly resonated with me over the years. With that being said, you can’t watch this movie like a critic. You have to watch it lightly and appreciate it for what it is: a fun, engaging film.
#3 Silver Linings Playbook
Again, this is a movie that no critics would put in their top 30. But Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are simply remarkable in this movie. Featuring the suburbs of Philadelphia, the story is about a young man, Pat Soltano (Bradley Cooper), with bipolar disorder, whose wife recently divorced him. Throughout the movie, Solatano is trying to get his life back on track, and attempts to win back his wife. But in the process, he meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a woman who faces mental health problems of her own. They form a friendship and although Tiffany is quite interested in Pat, Pat is strictly focused on reconnecting with his wife. However, when Pat’s wife is finally willing to take him back, Pat realizes what was in front of him this whole time. This serves as the general message of the movie. Sometimes we as humans are so caught up in what we think we want instead of what we genuinely want. There’s a big difference. The movie is a beautiful story, and there are some hilarious moments with Pat’s dad, played by legend Robert DeNiro. The authenticity is astonishing and makes the viewer feel quite connected.
#2 Good Will Hunting
This film starred Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who also wrote the film, which became the start of two great careers. Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, is a self-taught genius working as a janitor at MIT. Despite having the potential to do whatever he could possibly want, Will likes living in South Boston with his friends and doesn’t want to do anything else. However, he gets in trouble with the law and is forced to meet with different therapists. One in particular, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), is able to connect with him like no one before. Sean and Will have their fair share of struggles, but Sean is ultimately able to open Will up, pushing him to move to California with the girl he loves. Despite having a deeply troubling background, he is able to move forward with his life. It’s not the plot or the outcome that makes this movie so great -- it’s the individual moments. Whether it’s Sean and Will fighting during their therapy session, or Chuckie (Ben Affleck) and Will talking about sports and girls, this movie has some hilarious and heart-warming scenes. As a viewer, there’s nothing better than watching Will develop and realize his true potential.
#1 The Departed
There’s a strong argument to be made that this is the single greatest cast in the history of film. You cannot top Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Whalberg, Alec Baldwin, and many more all in the same movie! And you can’t forget who directed this movie—one of the great directors of our time—Martin Scorsese. This movie follows two different story lines and switches back and forth throughout the movie. The first storyline is about Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate an Irish Gang led by Frank Constello (Jack Nicholson). Simultaneously, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) goes undercover to infiltrate the Boston police department. Both organizations ultimately find out they have a mole, which clashes the intense storylines. Damon, DiCaprio, and Nicholson are extraordinary leads for this movie. Damon plays his role as a phony so well — especially with that smirk of his — that he is intensely hateable and causes the viewer to scream at him through the TV. This is not a new role for DiCaprio, but he brings a new level of maturity and emotion that is lacking in his other films. Nicholson is as scary as his Jack Torrance in The Shining, but this time you’re almost rooting for him. The supporting cast is phenomenal, and there are some really great moments between Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg. If you’re going to watch only one of these films, I recommend this one. You might even have to watch it twice because of all the crazy plot twists.