MV5BMTI0NjExNDg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDMyOTA5._V1_SX640_SY720_Sliding Doors (1998)
This romantic drama stars GOOP, Ice Quee…I mean, the actress Gwyneth Paltrow as Helen Quilley, a young English woman who has been fired from her job as a publicist. Right after she gets sacked, Helen goes to catch a train home and the movie splits into two different plotlines: in one she catches the train, and in the other she misses it. The Helen who boards the train faces newfound love and professional success, while the one who misses the train faces far more hardship. Sliding Doors is a sometimes cheesy, overly dramatic take on missed connections, but the dueling plotlines make this movie weirdly compelling. There’s no doubt you’ll be over-analyzing what you’ve missed out on as the result of a tiny misstep. Like, UGH, I am NEVER going to miss a train again after this movie, my destiny could be COUNTING ON IT. How many Hazels ARE THERE running around this world in different dimensions?! Man, fate is zany. Oh, and did I mention it has a perfectly ’90s soundtrack featuring Aqua, Jamiroquai, and Dido? —Hazel

the-flyThe Fly (1986)
The Fly is a horror film of the ultimate cartoonish, gross-out variety that stars my favorite (regularly-typecast-as-a-scientist) actor, Jeff Goldblum. I do not recommend watching this while eating, for reasons I shall soon get into. Goldblum plays a quack called Seth Brundle who, while using an absurd egg-shaped device for a doomed teleportation experiment, accidentally combines his DNA with that of a common house fly. MESSED UP, I KNOW. He starts growing weird patches of hair and eating like a fly—by vomiting onto his food. Geena Davis plays the requisite love interest, and she is justifiably terrified as she watches her lover LITERALLY BECOME AN INSECT. One of the more interesting aspects of the film is the way Brundlefly—yes, he really calls himself that—gradually loses access to human emotions, and caves to instinctual animal urges. It’s an eerie glimpse into how twisted people can become when they abandon their humanity. Also, IT IS SERIOUSLY GROSS. You have been warned! —Meagan

kelly-cal-87429-poster-xlargeKelly & Cal (2014)
Kelly, played by Juliette Lewis, is a former Riot Grrrl unable to adjust to her new life in the suburbs as a mom and housewife. Cal is her neighbor, an angry 17-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair due to a spinal injury. Both characters have a strong connection to who they used to be, and deep uncertainty about their present lives and where they are headed. Their unconventional friendship forms in Cal’s garage where Kelly shares parts of her creative past with Cal, and encourages him to make art. Their bond helps them work through their emotions, but it creates distance in Kelly’s marriage and Cal grows unhealthily attached to her. Kelly & Cal is a beautifully nuanced, character-driven story that explores life’s messy transitions, and the intense emotions and relationships that often accompany them. —Stephanie

orlandoOrlando (1992)
Before I knew anything about gender, before I understood why I always lovingly doodled and daydreamed about girls and not boys, my mom put Orlando in the VHS player (!!!) and LEGIT threw my world completely out of whack. This movie, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, explores the nuances of gender and the ways it affects social interactions. Orlando, played by the androgynous godlike entity that is Tilda Swinton, begins their long life with an offer from Queen Elizabeth: they can have untold riches and land, on the condition that they do not wither with age. They agree, and so begins their 400-year life, the first half of which they spend as a man, the second, as a woman. As a woman and as a man, Orlando faces bizarre expectations. As a woman, Orlando is romanced by formerly platonic friends, and robbed of the property they held as a man. The spectacular plot is matched by gorgeous, spellbinding visuals. This movie is all smoke and mirrors, magic at its best. —Lucy

220px-ParenttrapposterThe Parent Trap (1998)
The 1961 version of The Parent Trap is prime goods, but Lindsay Lohan’s remix has a charm that always livens my twin-envying soul. Admit it, you’ve always wanted a twin, right? And if you have a twin, I’m jealous—I mean, you were in the womb with another person! Anyway, The Parent Trap is about twins who swap lives after they meet for the first time at summer camp. Although they are pretending to be each other, the movie is mainly a story of self-discovery. Annie and Hallie get to view their lives as themselves and as each other, and this helps them realize their individual traits and quirks, outside of their #twinning. In short: By discovering each other, they discover themselves. This movie delivers the laughs and tears that come with life’s wild, wonderful, and awkward experiences. —Chanel

Into-the-wildInto the Wild (2007)
Sean Penn’s Into the Wild is based on Jon Krakauer‘s non-fiction book of the same name, and follows Christopher McCandless as he travels into the Alaskan wilderness. In a bid to remove himself from society, McCandless breaks his credit cards, discards his possessions, abandons his family, and changes his name to Alexander Supertramp. His “less is more” attitude exposes him to challenges along his journey—some of these are fatal. However, on his adventure he makes friends for life, and manages to exist outside of social norms. The folk sound of Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack, which features songs such as “Society” and “Hard Sun,” rejects materialism and beautifully complements McCandless’ raw emotion and his lonely kind of freedom. Although McCandless is alone for the majority of his journey, the people he does meet along the way propose the striking idea that maybe “happiness is only real when shared.” This film is a must-watch that leaves you to make up your own mind about what it means to live a truly free life. —Sarah

Battlestar-GalacticaBattlestar Galactica (2004-2009, Syfy)
On the Twelve Colonies, humanity is nearly wiped out after a sneak-attack by the Cylons, an artificially-intelligent robot race created by humans. Led by Commander Adama and the new president of the colonies, Laura Roslin, the 50,000 human survivors of the attack attempt to find the mythical planet Earth. As they search for a new home, they are pursued nonstop by the Cylons. The Cylons aren’t metallic-looking robots: They’ve evolved to look human, and some of them even believe they are human. Although their humanoid appearance makes it easier to sympathize with them and their motives, you’ll probably still spend much of the series wondering who will be unveiled as a Cylon next. By showing how its human and Cylon characters react to their new and ever-changing circumstances, BSG explores the central questions of what makes us human, and how we might build healthier societies. It’s also as heart-pounding and addictive as this sketch from the TV show Portlandia suggests. —Stephanie

MV5BMjA4NDI0MTIxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTM0MzY2._V1_SX640_SY720_ The Prestige (2006)
In 19th century London, two magicians, Alfred Borden and Robert Angier—former partners turned bitter rivals—compete to see who can develop the best and grandest illusion. When Borden introduces a trick called “The Transported Man,” which involves him vanishing on stage and then reappearing in the back of the theater, Angier frantically tries to unravel his secret. They each develop their own unique version of the trick with terrifying, supernatural results (thanks in no small part to the inventor Nikola Tesla). The Prestige is beautifully directed by Christopher Nolan, who uses bait-and-switch, repeated sleights of hand, and deceptive appearances, to make the film a magic trick in itself. —Meredith

S7Mad Men (2007–, AMC)
Who is Don Draper? Seven seasons into Mad Men and I don’t think anybody is entirely sure. But that’s what makes Matthew Weiner’s AMC series so compelling. Instead of villainizing its main character (and there are countless reasons to), or hating on those who surround and enable him, the show takes time to look at what makes a person so flawed. Don is working through a painful past, and season after season, we’ve learned how much his personal history shapes his perspective. And the more we learn about Don, the harder it becomes to make snap judgements about him—I’ve even had to re-examine my own view of him. Over the past seven years of watching Mad Men, I’ve only become more enamoured with the way that Weiner’s characters manage to eclipse their past selves with each episode. I’m not even nearly emotionally prepared for the series finale this May. —Anne

law-order-svu-season-16Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–, NBC)
As a child, the Law & Order theme song scared the life out of me. You’d never see chubby little me run faster than when I raced up the stairs, and away from the TV, to escape the blood and horror that I knew were coming. Nowadays, that same tune gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling because I know that my two favorite superheroes—I mean detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson—are about to kick some serious butt. In SVU, crime is never morally straightforward. The show muddles the good/evil binary, and thins the line between criminals and cops. By portraying all characters as flawed, it’s possible to relate to them as humans and to become emotionally invested in the outcome of each episode. SVU immerses you in the worlds that exist on both sides of the law, and I always finish watching this show with a renewed perspective on the barriers that exist between people—both real and imagined. —Alyson ♦