This show is both hilarious and thrilling, with complex yet relatable characters that make it easy to get invested. It combines the classic coming-of-age/high school tropes with the nail-biting suspense of a crime drama, all packed into short, six-episode seasons.
Overall, a thrilling show with a dynamic cast of characters and simple yet effective premise. The first two seasons are definitely the strongest, with the third and fourth becoming slightly repetitive but still engaging. For fans of heist movies or cat-and-mouse style crime dramas, this is one worth checking out.
2013 Korea, Czech Republic
The movie’s attempts to comment on the societal hierarchy can seem, at times, a bit on the nose, but the basic premise of the story is intriguing enough to get you invested, and the strong performances will carry you the rest of the way. If you're a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre in general, this is definitely worth a watch.
2006 United Kingdom, Czech Republic, USA
Craig’s first outing as Bond remains one of his best, and Mads Mikkelsen is the perfect antagonist to oppose him. Casino Royale is a suave, action-packed homage to the classic James Bond that also manages to reinvigorate the franchise for a new generation.
2019 United Kingdom, USA
1917 is a technical marvel that really makes you feel like you're right there in the trenches. The premise couldn't be simpler, yet it's an incredibly enthralling and emotional tale. Numerous talented actors who appear along the way, but the film really rides solely on the shoulders of two men, whose companionship is at the heart of the story. For fans of war movies and cinematography in particular, 1917 is a must-watch.
2013 United Kingdom, USA
Gravity is a nail-biting thrill ride with only two passengers: you and Sandra Bullock. With every second that passes, the cold void of space looms ever closer, and a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose is reminded just how precious life is. This movie will leave you on the edge of your seat for almost the entirety of its 90 minute runtime, and not a second of it goes to waste. No matter what your taste in movies may be, this one is worth a watch.
2017 United Kingdom, Netherlands, France
Christopher Nolan once again showcases his directorial prowess with Dunkirk, a series of non-linear vignettes from various perspectives during the Battle of Dunkirk in the Second World War. This film isn't driven by characters or plot so much as the feeling of war itself, and the different narrative angles make it a truly well-rounded experience. Fans of Nolan's filmography and war movies in general should definitely give this a watch.
Mad Max: Fury Road
2015 Australia, USA
What Mad Max: Fury Road lacks in story, it makes up for ten times over with its extraordinary action sequences, which are even more impressive when you learn they were all made with practical effects. Max's name may be in the title, but Charlize Theron is the one who steals the show as Furiosa, an action heroine for the ages. This post-apocalyptic, visually stunning thriller never lets up off the gas, making this film a spectacle everyone should witness.
A nuanced look at the problems of policing in mid-90s France from the perspective of three friends, all with different backgrounds and goals, but stuck in the same place and lifestyle. La Haine's message remains chillingly relevant across cultures to this day, making this poignant, impactful film one that everyone should see.
2019 Germany, USA
Few films combine comedy and tragedy as well as Jojo Rabbit, creating a very different perspective on Nazi Germany than what is usually seen on the big screen. Taika Waititi shines in both the director's chair and as Jojo's imaginary friend Hitler, whose obvious differences from the actual Hitler emphasize how propaganda was used to influence the German youth at the time. While some of the characters clearly struggle to maintain their accents, the film's more absurdist take on the time period does well to cover up any discrepancies. Overall, Jojo Rabbit is an experience that will make you want to laugh, cry, dance, and then do it all over again.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
2014 United Kingdom, USA
Kingsman is just plain fun, combining all the elements of a coming-of-age tale with a classic James Bond flick, topped off with its own, unique flair. The star-studded cast only amplifies the quality of the movie, which serves as a gateway to one of the next great spy franchises.
2013 United Kingdom
One of the best shows out right now, Peaky Blinders excels on just about every front, from the evocatively bleak cinematography to the stellar performances from major and minor characters alike. Each season is bigger and bolder than the last, but without losing sight of its roots. For fans of crime shows, period pieces, or just good television in general, Peaky Blinders is a must-watch.
2019 United Kingdom
This series is one of Netflix's best, with a story that will make you crack up one moment and tear up the next, thus perfectly encapsulating the awkward emotional roller coaster that is the teenage years. The entire cast is phenomenal, making it easy to get invested in the characters' lives – even the ones you might hate initially. Overall, Sex Education's only flaw is that there aren't more episodes.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2001 New Zealand, USA
Fellowship kicks off one of the greatest film trilogies of all time, providing a beautiful introduction to Tolkien's world and establishing characters that would go on to become pop-culture icons. Out of all three movies in Peter Jackson's trilogy, Fellowship has the greatest sense of wonder, as the world is still new to the viewer and the Hobbit protagonists, neither of whom have ever been on an adventure such as this. And yet, the movie also establishes that there are real stakes to this quest, as certain main character deaths are arguably more impactful than any that come in the subsequent films. The sequels may be grander in scale, but Fellowship is the cornerstone of the franchise.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2002 New Zealand, USA
As the middle child of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Two Towers has the difficult task of following up on the first installment while also setting up the third -- and it doesn't miss a beat. While Fellowship had a single party of adventurers with a clear goal, in Two Towers, the group is split, providing a much more complex but no less engaging story. The branching narrative style introduces viewers to more of Tolkien's world, but also keeps audiences keenly aware that the moving parts are all connected, and each member of the fractured Fellowship still has a role to play. Two Towers takes the franchise to new heights with some of the most epic battle scenes ever put to film, and Peter Jackson's bold strategy of filming the entire trilogy as one, long project pays off, as the characters look exactly the same as when we left them. Overall, Two Towers is the heart of the trilogy -- and the entry that most deserves to be watched in its extended edition.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003 New Zealand, USA
Return of the King closes out one of the greatest movie trilogies ever created, leaving no stone unturned as it guides viewers towards the long-awaited conclusion. The third film loses none of Two Towers' momentum, once again plunging audiences into epic battle scenes and raising the stakes to the max. As many other franchises have proven, a poor final installment can ruin a series, but Return of the King undoubtedly sticks the landing, becoming the only sequel next to The Godfather II to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. As the last piece of the puzzle, Return of the King is what makes Lord of the Rings the defining fantasy epic of our time.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
2017 United Kingdom, USA
While not nearly as memorable as the first film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle still manages to entertain with its phenomenal action sequences and strong cast. The film also has a new relevancy in the era of Covid, as the villain's plot involves unleashing a deadly pandemic across the globe. However, the overall mediocrity of the film forces one to question this series' ability to helm a full-on franchise akin to James Bond. Kingsman certainly has heart, but needs something more to distinguish itself, and this installment doesn't quite provide that.
2017 United Kingdom, USA
Baby Driver a stylish thrill ride from start to finish, with a great cast, solid story, and perfect blend of drama and humor. The action sequences are amazing, largely due to the music choices and sound design. In fact, one could argue that music is really the main character of this film, as its importance to the protagonist and influence on the flow of the action ultimately define the movie. The story may not be the most meticulously crafted narrative, but it doesn't need to be. The film uses levity to patch up the parts that may not hold up to intense scrutiny, allowing audiences to focus on it's true strengths of action and music - and in those departments, Baby Driver does not disappoint.
1984 United Kingdom, USA
A quintessential '80s action flick, The Terminator helped turn Arnold Schwarzenegger into one of the most bankable stars of the decade, and spawned a rich sci-fi movie universe that, unfortunately, hasn't been well utilized since. Playing on mankind's fear of being replaced by machines, The Terminator flirts with philosophical undertones, but is ultimately a thrill ride more focussed on horror and action than anything else. The effects don't hold up well by today's standards, but considering what it accomplished for the time, The Terminator remains a classic.
1979 United Kingdom, USA
The perfect blend of sci-fi and horror, Alien is just as suspenseful and terrifying as it was when it first released, which is a testament to the quality of the film's effects and performances. Unlike the sequels, which are more action-focused, Alien is a true horror film, and the close quarters of a ship adrift in the vacuum of space is the perfect setting for such a tale. Sigourney Weaver's performance as Ripley is nothing short of iconic and helped normalize female action-stars over macho, Schwarzenegger-types. While the story of Alien is very contained, the lore helped spawn an entire sci-fi universe that has since expanded into comics, video games, and other media, proving that this film's legacy will stand the test of time.
2012 United Kingdom, USA
Skyfall is widely considered Craig's best outing as Bond, and for good reason. Unlike previous Bond films, Skyfall shakes up the formula by taking James off his A-game. He's not the spy he once was, and the years of injury and trauma are starting to show. In addition, Skyfall gives audiences their first look into Bond's past, shedding some light on the circumstances that created this iconic character. Judi Dench's M shines in this installment, as her maternal relationship with Bond is brought to the forefront. Overall, the glimpses into Bond's backstory, his struggles to get his edge back, and his connection with M make Skyfall the most personal James Bond story to date.
2019 Poland, United States, Hungary
As a fan of the Witcher 3 video game, I was very curious to see the series adapted to television, and it did not disappoint. While the non-linear style of storytelling can be somewhat confusing, the show excels at immersing audiences into this fantasy realm. From the costumes and special effects to the choreography of the action sequences to the performances themselves (Cavill, in particular, shines as the titular Witcher), this Netflix series has the makings to become the next Game of Thrones.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
2019 United Kingdom, USA
Tarantino's classic brand of humor is on full display in his latest flick, which calls back his earlier works in the sense that it's not really about anything – and I mean that in the best way possible. It's not that the movie lacks substance; it's that there is no one, clearly defined narrative goal. The film is ultimately a character study of an actor and his stunt double during a particular time in Hollywood's history, and that's all it needs to be. Pitt and DiCaprio shine as the two leads, and the fantastic supporting cast takes the film even higher. The biggest qualm I have with the movie is that the revisionist history angle is entirely unnecessary. Nothing against Margot Robbie's performance, but her character simply added nothing to the story aside from providing a face for Sharon Tate, who wasn't even relevant until the very end. Cutting those sequences out would have also made the movie's runtime much more bearable. That being said, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is still a solid addition to Tarantino's filmography.
2019 Canada, USA
As someone who loves the Batman mythos, I wasn't sure if a Joker movie without the Caped Crusader could even work, and after seeing it, I'm still not. The film goes to great effort to redefine the Joker's origin story so audiences can root for him. Rather than adhere to the classic, chaotic-evil, psychopathic version of the character, the film creates a new iteration of the Joker - one whose actions are supposed to be justified because people are mean to him. While this version is more true to life (most real serial killers had traumatic lives), the whole story reeks of nihilistic angst, and the insinuation that people are allowed to do terrible things because society is innately unjust unnecessarily politicizes the character. That being said, Joaquin Phoenix gives a great performance. The shadow of Heath Ledger difficult to escape, but Phoenix really makes the role his own, and it helps that this version couldn't be more different than Ledger's in terms of personality. This Joker isn't a schemer; he's far more rash and imbalanced, which adds a thrilling element to the story because no one knows what he'll do next. Overall, I give the movie big props for providing a fresh, unique take on a character who has been around for the better part of a century, but I still believe a Joker needs a Batman to balance him out.
2009 United Kingdom, USA
Avatar has the unique problem of simultaneously being both overrated and underrated. The staggering box office figures give the movie a reputation that it simply doesn't live up to, but conversely, it also causes many critics to be overly harsh. The premise of inverting the classic alien invasion story so that humans are the invaders is a very intriguing concept, and Avatar excels at immersing the audience in the world of Pandora. The Na'Vi feel like a full-fledged species with their own cultures and lore, which speaks to the efficacy of the storytelling, though movie could stand to be shorter. Ultimately, Avatar doesn't redefine the genre, but it's still a solid sci-fi flick with a lot of world-building potential.
2009 Germany, USA
Inglorious Basterds is, in true Tarantino fashion, equal parts hilarious, violent, and suspenseful from start to finish. The cast is absolutely phenomenal, down to the smallest part, and the way in which the separate plot-lines weave around each other until they finally coalesce at the end is masterful storytelling. Having the titular Basterds be a band of Jewish soldiers taking the fight to the Nazis' doorstep is an awesome reversal of the way Jewish people are usually portrayed in WWII films, and the revisionist history angle Tarantino takes at the end fits perfectly with the tone of the movie. If you're a fan of war movies and suspenseful storytelling in general, Inglorious Basterds should be next on your watchlist.
2013 United Kingdom
Broadchurch is as bleak and enthralling as crime dramas come, with exceptional performances across the board, but particularly from Tennant and Millward as the two leads. The way in which their investigation invades the lives of the people in the community, as well as their own families and pasts, makes Broadchurch a very personal tale – one that you know isn't likely to have a happy ending. This series isn't exactly going to lift your spirits, but if you're interested in a gritty, emotional journey, it's definitely worth watching.
2018 Australia, USA
Aquaman is far from the top tier of comic book movies – even by the often abysmal standards of the DCEU – yet despite its problems, the movie does manage to entertain through sheer spectacle. Jason Momoa was a brilliant casting choice for Aquaman, turning a character who was often looked down on as lame into an undeniable badass, and he carries the film from start to finish. The story is ultimately forgettable and, at times, verges on campy, but if you go into the movie with your expectations properly set, there is fun to be had in Aquaman.