507873ef2c93fThe Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Like so many other teens, I lived and died for Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. When I heard they were making a movie based on it, I was a little worried. But this adaptation is absolutely amazing. The story follows 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), a socially anxious boy with a talent for writing who has trouble starting high school after his best friend commits suicide. He befriends Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), a badass brother-and-sister duo. They’re into The Rocky Horror Picture Show, swapping mixtapes, and doing choreographed dance moves to “Come On Eileen” at high school dances. But even though Charlie, Sam, and Patrick have tons of fun, they all have dark secrets. This is a movie about diving headfirst into the trials and tribulations of the dark and scary “real world” when you’re young. You’ll laugh for sure, but you’ll also probably cry a lot too. With stellar performances from the entire cast (Mae Whitman and Paul Rudd also star in it!) and an awesome soundtrack (Charlie has a bit of an obsession with the Smiths’ “Asleep“), Perks is just an all-around perfect movie. —Hazel

moone-boy-site-power-1Moone Boy
2012–present, Sky1

On the surface, this is a sitcom about a little boy growing up in Ireland in the late 1980s, but it goes off the rails and way deeper than that. Martin Moone is a weird little kid with three aggressively scornful older sisters, caring but flighty parents, and a grown-ass man for an imaginary friend. He gets bullied, has issues with his friends, and deals with family stuff like communions, his sisters staging rebellions, and strange neighbors. His sisters are my FAVORITE part of the show, especially Sinéad, who delivers the most amazingly sinister and hilarious lines and who, like a lot of big sisters, simultaneously hates and protects Martin. The secondary characters are a big part of the show, which makes this feel less like a sitcom and more like a story. I LOVE the quick animations that show us Martin’s inner thoughts about stuff like school crushes and dreaming of shorter route to school, and the stories are super funny and relatable. There’s also a sick ’80s soundtrack! The imaginary friend is Chris O’Dowd, whom you’ll recognize from The IT Crowd and Girls, and the show is loosely based on his own life. —Danielle

Michel Gondry DVD coverThe Work of Director Michel Gondry (2003)
The Work of Director Michel Gondry came out before Gondry was a well-known filmmaker, and I probably wouldn’t have even heard about it if I hadn’t had a bunch of friends who were film students and already hardcore Gondry fans. The DVD is a compilation of some of the exquisitely twee, staggeringly innovative, and altogether crazy-good music videos that Gondry has directed for artists like the White Stripes and Kylie Minogue. It also features a few short films and commercials that he’s worked on—so the thing is just jam-packed with amazing stuff. The thing that really made me such a huge fan of the guy’s oeuvre/made me want to build a blanket fort with him, though, is a two-part documentary called “I’ve Been Twelve Forever.” It’s a look inside Gondry’s big ol’ super-creative brain; he talks about the process of making some of his music videos and short films and how his work is heavily influenced by a lot of his childhood obsessions and anxieties. Even when the tone is dark, most of what he creates is very playful (the man made a Lego music video!). You can see his inner 12-year-old—that youthful vulnerability and sense of awe—in pretty much everything that he’s done, and I think that’s part of what makes him and his work so special. —Amber

turn_me_on_dammit_ver2_xlgTurn Me On, Dammit! (2011)
Turn Me On, Dammit! is the feminist alternative to all those American movies about outcast boys trying to lose their virginity. This hilarious Norwegian movie is about a 15-year-old-girl named Alma who just wants to have sex with someone! She drifts into sexual fantasies at work, reads porn mags and even pays for phone sex, but it’s still not as exciting as the idea of having sex with her crush, Artur. It’s refreshing to see a movie where a teen girl is driven to action by sheer horniness, and Alma’s intense sexual frustration is so funny. It’s a gem of movie; definitely rent this one! —Hazel

MPW-31615The Age of Innocence (1993)
Not to be gross or TMI but this Martin Scorsese adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel contains the sexiest scene I have ever seen in a movie: Daniel Day-Lewis is Newland Archer, a lawyer engaged to marry a girl named May, played by Winona Ryder, who proves her acting chops by actually managing to seem boring and unappealing. Newland finds himself in the back of a carriage with May’s scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), who’s just arrived in New York after fleeing a disastrous marriage in Europe. Ellen and Newland are secretly in love, but it’s 1870-something and everyone in high society is obsessed with etiquette and propriety, so theirs is a FORBIDDEN LOVE. So they’re in the back of this carriage and they can’t be together but you can feel their yearning like a fever needing to break, and then she reaches for his gloved hand with hers and he takes off his glove and then slowly and achingly unbuttons and removes her glove to uncover her wrist, its two inches of skin the only nudity in the whole scene, and kisses it. And, like, whoa. It’s way hotter than any scene of naked people actually doing it. The rest of the movie is just as great, all epic passions boiling under the thin veneer of Reconstruction Era manners and gentility. It looks beautiful and the music is perfect and Ellen is a proto-feminist hero who smokes in front of men, refuses to be slut-shamed, speaks her mind in the face of social persecution, and basically doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of her. —Anaheed

princessbThe Princess Bride (1987)
This is one of my favorite sick-day movies—it’s basically the visual equivalent of comfort food. Because it’s framed as a story that is being told by a grandfather to his sick grandson (played by a pretty adorable young Fred Savage), who interrupts occasionally, it really has the vibe of someone telling a story to you. The story’s about a girl named Buttercup who is told that her true love, Westley, was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Her chances of finding love, she believes, died along with Westley, so she agrees to marry the scheming Prince Humperdinck (whose name alone tells you he’s going to be a tool). Right before their wedding, Buttercup is kidnapped by three outlaws, one of whom is my favorite character: a fencer called Inigo Montoya who is on the lookout for the six-fingered man who killed his father. The moment he finds this man, Montoya vows, he will greet him with the line “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I could probably write an essay about all the amazing scenes and quotable lines in The Princess Bride, but I’ll just say if you haven’t seen it, let Grandpa Peter Falk tell you this fabulous story about swordfights, battles of wits, Rodents of Unusual Size, and, above all, true love. —Stephanie

MPW-33692Stealing Beauty (1996)
I’ve always liked Liv Tyler (Empire Records and That Thing You Do! are two movies that I hold very dear) but it wasn’t until I saw her interviewed on a morning talk show back in the early ’90s that I became obsessed with her. She was wearing pink Converse and speaking Elvish and she just seemed like the coolest lady ever. After that, I bought a pair of pink Converse and started making my way through all of her work. That’s how I discovered Stealing Beauty—a gorgeous coming-of-age drama directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. In the movie, Liv (she and I are on a first-name basis IN MY MIND!) plays a 19-year-old virgin named Lucy who goes to Tuscany for the summer and stays with her deceased mother’s artist friends. Her goals: to rekindle the romance she’d begun with an Italian boy years earlier and to uncover the identity of her biological father. Throughout the movie, all of the older characters observe her and playfully gossip about her—they’re fascinated by Lucy, I think, because she represents a type of potential, energy, and sexual innocence they don’t feel they have access to anymore. Some of these people are little too invested in Lucy’s sex life: there’s a scene where Jeremy Irons’s character tells her that she’s “in need of a ravisher” (which totes seems like something Jeremy Irons would say in real life). So why did I absolutely have to rush out and buy this movie after I rented it? Well, there’s the story’s stunning Tuscan backdrop, the perfect soundtrack (Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, Portishead), and of course Liv, who was playing a character that I—a sexually inexperienced young woman—could sort of relate to at the time. But mostly I love it because it’s just really enchanting—lovely and ethereal. —Amber

Stoker-2013-Movie-Poster2Stoker (2013)
This film is not for anyone who feels squeamish at the first sight of blood. Mia Wasikowska plays India, a morbid 18-year-old girl whose father has just died. In the days after her father’s passing, a mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) that India never knew about shows up at the house. Though India’s mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) welcomes him with open arms, India can tell there’s something not quite right about this intrusive family member. What follows is a trippy and thrilling coming-of-age story that feels like a fairy tale—but one that includes more blood than most horror movies! —Hazel

ridingincarswithboys_1Riding in Cars With Boys (2001)
I was drawn to this movie for a three reasons: (1) The cast. Drew Barrymore is one of my favorite actresses and I also love Brittany Murphy and Sara Gilbert and basically everyone else in this movie. (2) I love true stories, especially those about writers. This movie is based on the writer Beverly Donofrio’s autobiography of the same name. (3) I love stories set in ’60s, especially the ones that examine the conflict that arose as society changed and rebellious teenagers showed their parents that the forced wholesomeness of the previous decade just wasn’t working. In Riding in Cars with Boys, Beverly (played by Drew) deals with the consequences of that rebellion. Both she and her best friend, Fay (Brittany), have an adventurous streak, and after they do a little bit more than ride in cars with boys, they both get pregnant and are forced to get married and miss out on teenager stuff like prom and college. The movie has a little bit of a Lifetime movie vibe, but that adds to the charm for me. —Stephanie ♦