In order to be well, you’ve got to make some time to take care of you. What better way to unwind than to get lost in a movie for a couple of hours? We know browsing through Netflix can be more stressful than it is relaxing, which is why we are providing our comprehensive list of recommended films for you to enjoy. This week’s category is made up of films that we recommend for aspiring film buffs—and even if you’ve seen these, aren’t you about due for a rewatch?
1. Taxi Driver (1976)
Do you like young Robert De Niro and his mole? Jodi Foster and her spunk? Martin Scorcese and his penchant for edge-of-your-seat thrillers? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, and think that Joker (2019) was derivative, Taxi Driver might be next on your watchlist. Not only did it establish these three as icons of Hollywood, it’s just a great story. Follow Travis Bickle (De Niro) as he descends into madness the deeper he digs through the muck of New York City. You’ll bear witness to some iconic haircuts, quotes, and sunglasses, and if you pay attention, a nice little cameo from Scorcese himself.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Jim Carrey may have fooled you into thinking he only does comedy, but he plays a washed-up, newly single guy extremely well. Pair him with a hair dye-obsessed Kate Winslet and a mind bending plot device and you’ve got a cinematic journey unlike any other. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) centers around a new medical marvel that allows people to erase their memories. For Winslet, that’d be her painful breakup with Carrey. Carrey, too, is ready to numb himself to the world, but with some intervention from Mark Ruffalo (pre-Hulk), Elijah Wood (post-Frodo), and Kirsten Dunst (mid-Mary Jane) he soon learns that the solution might not be so simple. Director Michel Gondry can also be praised for the visual flourishes and practical effects he uses to make the film extremely immersive and, at the same time, maintain its mystery.
3. There Will Be Blood (2007)
If you’re on your way to becoming a film buff, no list is complete without some of director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. They’re both at peak performance in There Will Be Blood, which explores the degenerative fallout between a selfish oil prospector (Day-Lewis) and an over-the-top young preacher (Paul Dano) as they duke it out in the 1890s. It’s a tough watch by any standards, but watching two stuck-up guys yell (and yell so well!) at each other is an absolute pleasure. It’s a sweaty and, well, oily production; if one thing gets across, it’s the sliminess of it all. There are few characters to root for, but pitting villain against villain makes for one spectacular film.
4. Roma (2018)
This is, perhaps, the ASMR of movies—it’s a near silent film, with instances of birdsong or a radio softly playing that create a gorgeous texture. It follows the compelling story of a young Mixtec woman who works as a maid and nanny for a wealthy Mexican family. Tackling the disparities of class, gender, and race, it paints a definitive portrait of life in Mexico during the 1970s. Part of its realism stems from the fact that it is based on director Alfonso Cuaron’s own experiences growing up during that time. He draws on this knowledge to create something that is uniquely poignant, in spite of, or perhaps because of, its quiet moments.
5. Okja (2017)
So you can’t cough up the rental fee for record-breaking South Korean film Parasite (2019), a masterclass in the art of filmmaking by director Bong Joon-ho. However, Bong’s previous film, Okja (2017), might fulfill your cravings for the kind of movie only he can make. It follows the story of a “super-pig,” an animal that has been genetically altered to produce more meat, and the South Korean girl that raised her after they are separated by a corporate powerhouse. It’s got everything you want to see: Jake Gyllenhaal going absolutely bonkers, Tilda Swinton in braces and bangs, Paul Dano as a militant animal rights activist, and Choi Woo-shik (one of the stars of Parasite) even plays a small role as a hilarious truck driver. Bong decks you with the tonal shifts he pulls as the movie bounces around from comedy to tragedy to action-thriller and beyond, making this a must-watch.