Standalone movies like The breakfast club and The black Knight have the power to attract viewers again and again. Genres like animation and horror thrive on the ability to rewatch them. These movies garner favorable reactions that keep audiences coming back time and time again, never getting old. Dramas and thrillers are another story. Once the twist is revealed or the third act breakup ensues, a one-time viewing is all audiences need to appreciate the film.
For obvious reasons, franchise films are excluded from this categorization. Over the past decade, these multi-genre films have been so well made that once you’ve seen them, you’ve seen them. These images can be enjoyed for the high-quality cinematography that leaves an impression on the audience, but not one to conjure up a second watch. Movies like these are the ones you watch because you work on them or care about their sensibility, and never really put them back in line for a movie marathon.
“The Lighthouse” (2019)
Featuring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, the film follows a pair of lighthouse keepers trying to cling to their sanity in late 1800s New England. With excellent performances from both stars, Lighthouse drew in critics and audiences alike by using the cinematography (for which it earned its only Oscar nomination) to create claustrophobic tension for characters and viewers. For those who haven’t seen it, viewers can stream this movie by renting it on Apple TV or with an Amazon Prime subscription.
Director and co-screenwriter Robert Egger has created a black and white masterpiece that you’ll never need to see again once you watch it. This is a film that balances beauty and madness: the experience of seeing for the first time cannot be replicated. Audiences recognize his cinematic stature but need not seek him out for the next movie night.
‘Alley of Nightmares’ (2021)
A slow-burn crime drama, alley of nightmares is visually stunning, keeping viewers engaged until the long-awaited payoff. Stanton Carlisle (bradley cooper) is a hustler who goes from a lowly carnival job to a wealthy con artist posing as a psychic. Carlisle’s con is called into question when he joins forces with a wealthy business tycoon. The movie is based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel.
The film earned four Oscar nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, but won none. Director Guillermo del Torobrings the perfect film noir to the screen, but its pacing makes it a film that once you’ve seen it and appreciated its beauty, you won’t want to see it again. alley of nightmares is a beautiful complete film but it lacks the elements to make it reviewable. It’s available to stream with subscriptions to Hulu and HBO Max or to rent on Amazon Prime.
“Nocturnal Animals” (2016)
Based on the novel Tony and Susan by austin wright, nocturnal animals finds art gallery owner Susan (Amy Adams) is forced to examine her past through the troubling lens of her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) manuscript. Led by the Admirable Tom Fordthe film is just as shocking to viewers as the script is to Susan.
From the (not a spoiler) opening image to the final scene, Adams and Gyllenhaal brilliantly execute their characters’ emotional journeys. The film won an Academy Award for Supporting Actor for Michael Shannon. With a tale as dark and harrowing as this, audiences recognize its value but prefer not to be tested again. The film is available on Netflix or for rent on Amazon Prime.
Another modern black and white film, Nebraska has a simplistic beauty that should be preserved by only looking at it once. movie stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte as father and son Woody and David Grant drive from Montana to Nebraska so Woody can claim his supposed million dollar Mega Sweepstakes marketing prize. The couple’s estranged relationship plays out expertly during the 115-minute runtime.
The film earned six Oscar nominations at the 86th Academy Awards. In addition to Best Picture and Best Director for Alexander Payne, Dern earned a Best Actor nomination. Unfortunately, Nebraska did not win a gold statue for any of his nominations. The film is available to stream with subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Paramount+ and EPIX or to rent on Prime.
Dry but intelligent, Purebred produces brilliant performances from his tracks, Anya Taylor Joy and Olivia Cooke. Upper-class teenagers Amanda and Lily rekindle their childhood friendship as they plot to solve their impending life problems. The film’s thoughtful pacing keeps viewers engaged as the story reveals darker secrets. With an unpredictable ending twist, once you’ve seen it, there’s no turning back and being surprised when you see it again.
The film was written and directed by Cory Finley, his directorial debut. Yet despite critical acclaim and high production values, it did not result in any major Academy or Golden Globe nominations. Taylor-Joy and Cooke balance each other well, making the film a great choice for movie night if you haven’t seen it. Purebred is available to rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube or Apple TV.
‘The Favourite’ (2018)
With three female stars, The favourite is a chaotic, well-made period film that exudes a solid comedic presence amongst its dramatic base. New maid Abigail (Emma Stone) upends the status quo of a British court when she befriends Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), expelling Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) from the Queen’s good graces. There’s a lot going on in this movie from start to finish, with some pretty comically crazy moments, making viewers wonder what’s really going on.
Coleman’s win for Best Actress would be the only award the film won among its ten nominations at the 91st Academy Awards. Even if you’re the viewer who doesn’t appreciate the stuffy nature of period dramas, this film will provide respite from the genre’s usual tropes. Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Fantastically put together, At Yorgos LanthimosThe favourite is available to rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV and Vudu.
After the closure of the US Gypsum plant and the death of her husband, Fern (Frances McDormand) travels the country, lives in his van, and finds seasonal work at places like Amazon. She is invited to a support meeting in Arizona for nomads like her. There she discovers so much about the life she started living and the journey that awaits her. nomadland is based on the journalist Jessica Bruderthe book Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century.
The film is semi-fictional as Fern’s co-nomads are real people living the lifestyle. Director Chloe Zhaobroke boundaries in 2021 by becoming the first woman to be nominated in four Oscar categories in the same year for Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, in addition to Best Director. It’s an emotional masterpiece that will have the most impact on first viewing. It’s available to stream with a Hulu subscription or to rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Vudu.
‘The Eighth Year (2018)
So good, but so uncomfortable, Eigth year is the story of Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) as she tries to get through her last week of eighth grade. A pre-teen socially barely surviving the height of technology and her generation, Kayla’s cringe-worthy journey is honest and genuine, with many viewers recounting her struggles to fit in. The film is written and directed by the comedic mastermind. Bo Burnham.
Burnham’s film doesn’t romanticize the transition from middle school to high school, the struggles of knowing who you are at that age, and dealing with insecurities. Fisher earned her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Due to the cringe factor, this film is masterfully put together, but may be too difficult to watch more than once. Streamers can watch this coming-of-age story with subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Hulu, Showtime, Sling TV, and The Roku Channel.
A controversial snub at the Oscars, scammers, is an empowering heist movie that holds its magic for just one viewing. A group of strip club dancers struggle to turn the tide of their Wall Street clientele after the stock market crash of 2008, led by the club’s top earner, Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). The film is inspired by a true story and the New York Magazine article titled “The Hustlers at Scores”.
Lopez would earn Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations, but did not score victory for either. Fans of the film and Lopez were outraged when she was snubbed for a lead role nomination by the Academy. Hustlers is a dish best served once to preserve the integrity of rooting criminal characters. The star-studded film is available on Hulu or for rental on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV or Vudu.
‘The French Dispatch (2021)
Keeping his usual promise, Wes AndersonThe latest episode of is extremely well done. Lovable and pragmatic editor, Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), refuses to cut the articles of its journalists in the final edition of The French Dispatch magazine, with viewers walking with each writer through the storylines that inspired their story. It’s a film where the average viewer can recognize and appreciate the caliber of cinema it takes to produce, but not one that will become a movie night staple.
With elaborate sets and intricate cinematic details, The French Dispatch is for the viewer of Wes Anderson. If you’re new to his movies, this isn’t the movie for you; however, if you’ve followed Anderson closely throughout his career, this one is a career-worthy installment despite being snubbed by the Academy for the 94th awards season. This ode to journalism is available with subscriptions to Hulu and HBO Max or for rental on Amazon Prime.
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