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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

I consider myself to be someone who loves stories of all mediums, which is why I became a writer. I write novels, short stories, poems, scripts and so on, but they are all stories. Movies are also stories, just told a different way, and they hold a special place in my heart. 

I have two ever-evolving lists of movies in my phone, one called “best movies” and one called “favorite movies.” The “best movies” category is self-explanatory; it consists of movies that I think should win awards, and are truly great movies. The “favorite movies” category is a bit different. The list consists of movies that I love, but may have some difficulty defending, such as Butter, the 2011 movie about butter carving. I love that movie, but it should not win any awards. 

I went through both lists and picked out a bunch of movies that I feel like everyone should watch because they are genuinely good movies, and then weeded it down to ten. There is no horror, since that is a finicky genre and coming from a horror fan, if someone went their entire life without watching a single horror movie, it would not be a travesty.

The Florida Project

What’s it about: In the shadow of Disney World, 6-year-old Moonee and her best friends live in a hotel and create their own magical lives, while struggling to reconcile with the harsh realities around them. 

Why you should watch it: When I first saw this movie, I fell in love with the coloring, which is vivid. It literally looks magical, which represents how Moonee sees her world, versus how adults, such as her mom, see it. The adults are struggling to make ends meet, but Moonee is just a kid, running around with her friends, watching fireworks over Magic Kingdom.


What’s it about: Linguistics professor Louise Banks leads a team of investigators when spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war trying to find out why the creatures are there, Louise and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. 

Why you should watch it: I love alien movies, and this one brought a fresh take on the genre. Usually alien movies show the humans trying to fight the extraterrestrials, and this one showed that in the beginning, but then the focus turned into communication, and eventual relationship. 

Girl, Interrupted

What’s it about: In the late 1960’s, after a suicide attempt, a young woman named Susanna spends 18 months in a psychiatric hospital. 

Why you should watch it: I have seen many movies that attempt to tackle mental illness and its impact on women, as well as the stigma of mental illness. Even though this one shows characters in the past, that stigma is very much still here and is worth looking at.  


What’s it about: An adventurous teenager named Moana sails across the ocean to save her island and her people with the demigod Maui to fulfill an ancient quest of her ancestors. 

Why you should watch it: I feel like most people have seen Moana at this point, but if you have not, I am telling you to do so at this time. I would say it is my favorite Disney movie. The songs are immaculate and unlike Frozen, it doesn’t make peoples’ ears bleed after listening to it for too long.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

What’s it about: When gigantic robots attack New York City, “Sky Captain” is called back into action to use his private air force to fight them off. His ex-girlfriend, reporter Polly Perkins, has been investigating the recent disappearance of prominent scientists and suspecting a link between the robot attacks and missing men, Sky Captain and Polly decide to work together. 

Why you should watch it: This is such an underrated movie, yet it made up so much of my childhood. The graphics are a weird version of CGI that “have not aged well,” but also make parts of the movie look illustrated and trippy. The storyline is unique and I love everything about this movie. 


What’s it about: In Earth’s future, the planet is slowly becoming uninhabitable. A NASA physicist is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole, but first, he must send former NASA pilot Cooper and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

Why you should watch it: This is not just a “space movie.” So many movies that take place in outer space focus just on that, but this one does not. It focuses on family and what is left behind when a father leaves his children for their entire lives so he can save their future. Also, this might be our future. 

Lemonade Mouth

What’s it about: After meeting in detention, five high-school students form a music group and prepare to compete against a popular rock band. 

Why you should watch it: In my opinion, this is one of the best Disney movies in terms of having heart. Yes, High School Musical is awesome, but Lemonade Mouth showcases friendship, cultural differences, bullying, and family issues, all with the best soundtrack in a Disney movie. 

Mad Max: Fury Road

What’s it about: After civilization has collapsed, survivors live inside a desert fortress called the Citadel run by the Immortan Joe. When Imperator Furiosa rescues his wives and takes them, she forges an alliance with Max, an escaped captive of Joe. Together, they try to outrun the Immortan and his crew in a high-speed chase through the desert while also looking for civilization. 

Why you should watch it: Not just the action scenes, but yes the action scenes. There is never a dull moment in this movie. Also, despite the fact that the movie is called Mad Max, the main stars are the women, and they make this movie. 

Surf’s Up

What’s it about: Surfing means everything to teenage penguin Cody Maverick. Followed by a documentary film crew, he leaves his home in Antarctica for Pen Gu Island, to compete in a surfing competition, where he finds himself and what he cares about. 

Why you should watch it: Animated. Surfing. Penguins. Followed by a documentary film crew. And they interview a stepped on sea urchin. You’re welcome. 

School of Rock

What’s it about: Overly enthusiastic guitarist Dewey Finn gets thrown out of his band and finds himself in desperate need of work. He poses as a substitute music teacher at an elite private elementary school, and teaches his students about rock, forming his own band of kids, and imagines his redemption, putting his new band against his old. 

Why you should watch it: Of course Dewey is not a good role model, but this movie is so fun. Watching the kids go from being in an uptight environment to letting loose and learning about music is wonderful. The kids end up teaching him as much as he teaches them, and it is heartwarming. 

Olivia is a senior Creative Writing Major from New Hampshire. She loves to ice skate, write novels, and bake, as well as spend time with her elderly rabbit, who is the true star of the show.
Emerson contributor