You’ve probably seen a bunch of these sorts of recommendations articles pop up already, but that’s because there’s no better time than the current situation to sit back and give a new movie a shot. The Bubble isn’t going to tell you to watch Stranger Things or The Irishman, though – you’ve probably also seen that a million times already. Instead, the film editors have chosen 5 films each that they would personally recommend currently available on the streaming service, taking into account different genres, overlooked gems and timeless classics you may have yet to cross off your list.
This is part of a series of film recommendation articles during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Àbel Recommends: Shutter Island (2010)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo in the leading roles (with Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow in smaller parts), this often overlooked Scorsese-film is about a detective investigating the case of a murderer who escaped from an asylum on a remote island. Eerie and tense throughout, Shutter Island has the best kind of plot twist at the end: the type that makes you say “Of course!” but would never see coming.
Katie Recommends: Lost in Translation (2003)
While films about people just sort of doing nothing can be hit or miss, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is possibly the world’s most beautiful example. Juxtaposing a washed up film star (Bill Murray) and a young wife disillusioned with her photographer husband’s celebrity (Scarlett Johansson) who have a chance encounter in Tokyo, the film connects them through mutual uncertainty and spanning generations of experience. It’s a snapshot of a fleeting passage of time, expressing the futility of certain connections all while emphasising their importance. It’s also one of only five films nominated for Best Director to have been directed by a woman, and Coppola won Best Original Screenplay as one of only twelve women to ever do so.
Àbel Recommends: Prisoners (2013)
Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this mystery crime-thriller from 2013. A father’s daughter disappears and he takes matters into his own hands when he becomes impatient with the efforts of the police. Hugh Jackman gives one of his best performances as a furious and desperate father in this pseudo-Scandinavian crime film. Also, my grandparents absolutely loved it, so you can absolutely watch it with your family. If you don’t have young siblings, that is.
Katie Recommends: Ingrid Goes West (2017)
A bit of a weird one, but a completely relatable and eye-opening experience for the younger generations that have grown up and entered adulthood with the pressures of social media and ‘influencers’ surrounding them.
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is a young woman obsessed with Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) – a popular instagrammer who lives out in California. The film follows Ingrid on her unhealthy obsession with virtual popularity as she fabricates an online persona in order to befriend her social media crush, moving out west to infiltrate the lives of Taylor, her social circle and her family. It’s both hilarious and chilling in its exploration of such modern themes, and while Plaza garnered widespread acclaim for her performance, Olsen gives her best performance to date through expressing both the on-the-surface superficial influencer and the darker side of an individual that doesn’t make it online.
Also, it has Billy Magnussen as the cocky antagonist, which is always a plus.
Àbel Recommends: About Time (2013)
Richard Curtis knows how to make a good romcom. I mean he really knows how. In what turned out to be Domhnall Gleeson’s breakout role, a 21-year old man finds out that he is able to travel back in time to correct his mistakes and impress his crush, Rachel McAdams. What makes About Time especially great is that it manages to explore unexpectedly profound themes while staying wholesome for its entire duration. About Time is one of the last big-budget romcoms before the genre died in the second half of the decade, and it’s also one of the last cultural products of a centrist, Love Actually-esque, 2012-Olympicsy Britain.
Katie Recommends: Nightcrawler (2014)
Jake Gyllenhaal has never been nominated for an Oscar. Jake Gyllenhaal should have won an Oscar for Nightcrawler.
If neo-noir thrillers are for you, then Nightcrawler is the perfect modern tale of gritty sleaziness in the entertainment industry. Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is an aspiring journalist who witnesses a great accident firsthand and manages to capture it on film to sell to news channels, leading to a dangerous hobby that inspires him to take such journalism too far. Filled with amazing performances and an always welcome outing from Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler was one of the most overlooked films of the 2010s when it came to awards. Luckily it found widespread praise from pretty much everywhere else, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive the Academy for not awarding Gyllenhaal with literally anything for this film.
Àbel Recommends: Boyhood (2014)
In Boyhood, we follow the life of Mason from primary school to university. While this seems a bit boring at first glance, what makes this film different from other coming-of-age dramas is its production. Richard Linklater (whose Before Trilogy also makes use of time in a similar way) conducted an interesting experiment between 2001 and 2013. Every year, he filmed roughly 20 minutes worth of scenes with his cast. This means we see Ellar Coltrane grow up in real life. Boyhood explores the beautiful simplicity of ordinary life. Those who were born between 1995 and 1999 will be likely to enjoy the film even more as Mason goes through the same cultural trends as the viewer did during their adolescent years.
Katie Recommends: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Netflix recently added quite a few John Hughes films, and while I feel like most of the current generation has seen The Breakfast Club due to it just being all round iconic, less people know about this equally iconic (and better) high school comedy. It might make you feel even more itching to get outside as the story follows high school senior Ferris Bueller on his mission to pull off a meticulously planned sick day and have a final outing with his friends around Chicago, all while being pursued by his neurotic sister and principal. Matthew Broderick’s Ferris is the classic epitome of 80s confidence and charm, but this film has one of my favourite fictional characters ever in Alan Ruck’s Cameron Frye, Ferris’ nervous but hilarious best friend.
Àbel Recommends: The Breadwinner (2018)
Cartoon Saloon has been consistently producing the best quality animated films since 2009. Their films usually explore the power of myths and fairy tales and how they help children cope with the ills of the world. Unfortunately, they are not getting as much credit as they deserve (probably because of Disney’s monopoly on the animation-front). Abandoning their home-turf, Irish folklore, they turned to Afghanistan in 2018 and followed the story of a young girl trying to provide for her family during the war. Written by Deborah Ellis and Anita Doron and directed by Nora Twomey, every frame of The Breadwinner is as beautiful as its story.
Katie Recommends: The Raid (2011)
Do you like action films? Did you watch a Bruce Lee film one time and think it was kinda cool, but a bit too quirky to take seriously? Have you always wanted to watch more foreign films, especially cool martial arts ones?
Then look no further than The Raid. It’s gritty, violent, and surprisingly heartfelt when getting to the root of what inspires these characters to exhibit such violence. An Indonesian film starring Iko Uwais – who thanks to this film became one of the country’s most famous actors and one of its biggest worldwide breakout stars to date – The Raid focusses on a single team of elite fighters infiltrating a high rise building to clear it out of gang members, with difficult family ties to navigate for Uwais’ main character.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s one of the finest action films in recent memory, if not ever. Its sequel – The Raid 2 – is also on Netflix and is also very good if you liked what you saw.