1. Aftersun (2022) by Charlotte Wells
Following the childhood memory of a young girl, Sophie, on a vacation with her loving father, Calum, to the Turkish coast before he commits suicide, Wells’ Aftersun is a poignant movie that delves into the idealistic views that children often have of their parents. While watching this movie I found myself searching for a drastic, explosive moment. Perhaps the father would kill himself in front of us, walk out on Sophie, or hurt her. But he didn’t. I thought we would find an answer. But we didn't. The journey of the film was not about the culmination of the dramatic event, because the event had already occurred. Instead, the story was about the desire to comprehend. Aftersun's significance lies in its brief moments, and the film's subtlety is what makes it realistically exceptional.
2. La La Land (2016) by Damien Chazelle
Often described as a modern masterpiece, Chazelle’s La La Land takes you by surprise and brings you to a place where dreams and reality seamlessly intertwine. Set as a romantic musical film, it follows the passionate and turbulent love story between Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a jazz pianist. As Mia and Sebastian manage their jobs and relationship, encountering both victories and sacrifices along the way, the movie takes the audience on a journey of dreams, love, and the quest of success. Every frame feels like a work of art, effortlessly combining the nostalgic allure of vintage Hollywood musicals with a contemporary flair.
3. Beautiful Boy (2018) by Felix van Groeningen
Beautiful Boy is a profoundly emotional and heartbreaking movie based on a true story that explores the tumultuous relationship between a caring dad, David, and his drug-addicted son, Nic. While David struggles valiantly to support and assist his son while dealing with the harsh reality of addiction and relapse, the movie explores the tragic impact of addiction on both an addict and their loved ones. Beautiful Boy tackles themes of love, hope, and the unbreakable relationship between a father and kid through raw performances and evocative narratives. Watching this movie is certainly an experience; I was completely emotionally eviscerated but, above everything, the film left me fortunate to be alive.
4. Midsommar (2019) by Ari Aster
Following a group of friends who travel to a remote Swedish village to experience a midsummer festival, Midsommar is such an immersive, unique, disturbing, and visually pulchritudinous experience. What begins as an idyllic festival quickly turns into a nightmare as the unsettling traditions and rituals of the villagers grow increasingly malevolent. As the group becomes ensnared in a web of evil, they must confront their own fears and strive to escape the ancient pagan community's catastrophic grip. "Midsommar" delves into topics like sorrow, trauma, and the tragic power of what appears to be an oasis of peace.
Aarna Tyagi (she/her) is a fourteen-year-old writer and avid reader who currently resides in Long Island, New York. She enjoys playing discordant yet soothing chords on the piano, reading books, writing poems, and listening to music that speaks to her soul. Her favorite musical artists are Mitski, Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, Cocteau Twins, and Men I Trust. If you don't catch her listening to music, she's probably reading poetry by Ocean Vuong and Sappho or novels by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Audre Lorde, and Franz Kafka.