10 Movies to Watch In 2021
May 3, 2021
#1) Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
“Operation Varsity Blues” is a reenactment documentary investigating the college admissions scandal that broke news headlines in March, 2019. The film follows Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the scandal, and the families that used his counseling assistance to get their children into top-ranked universities. The documentary sums up the scandal and provides details as to how many wealthy families found “backdoors” into elite institutions, including photoshopped sports photographs and faked standardized testing scores. The film especially pertains to those currently in high school or applying to colleges.
“Minari” follows a Korean-American family who moves to an Arkansas farm in hopes of finding their own “American Dream.” Although the characters face various challenges, the movie emphasizes the importance of resilience, gratitude, and hard work. The movie is able to convey the grotesque reality of many immigrants hoping to achieve their dreams alongside a narrative that highlights the strength of a family unit. While centered on a Korean-American family, “Minari” is ultimately a refreshing story for everyone about life’s most difficult and painful moments; how setbacks can become new opportunities.
Platforms: Youtube, Apple Tv, Movie Theaters, Amazon Prime
#3) David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
“David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” is an environmental documentary that examines the life of environmentalist David Attenborough on his travels across the globe. Attenborough brings attention to many of the harmful effects humans have had on our planet over the past couple of decades, including loss of biodiversity, species extinction and climate change. As someone who has visited every continent over his 93 years of life, Attenborough reflects on the defining moments he experienced as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen throughout his career. This film educates viewers on the importance of preserving our planet before it is too late and the negative effects human activities have caused to our environment.
Platforms: Netflix, Youtube
Centered in the mid-2000s, “Nomadland” follows a woman embarking on a journey through the West after losing everything during the Great Recession. “Nomadland” depicts a reality of hardship and the emotions that come with uncertainty. Scenes in the movie suggest the possibility of a serene lifestyle capable of coexisting with adversity and unpredictability. Applicable to students, “Nomadland” serves as a reminder to be compassionate and empathetic towards others as everyone is on their own journey in life.
Platforms: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Youtube
“Becoming” follows former first-lady Michelle Obama on her journey through America and the White House as an African-American woman. The film is partly based on Obama’s bestselling memoir “Becoming,” which was released in 2018. From growing up in Chicago to attending Princeton University and becoming the First Lady to the 44th President Barack Obama, Obama reflects on her life, education and goals in her documentary. The film also follows her during her book tour in 2019, revealing a more authentic image of herself to viewers at home. “Becoming” teaches its audience about leadership, perseverance and racial discrimination.
Platforms: Netflix, Pluto TV
A modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, “Emma.” follows the lavish lifestyle of a young matchmaker who meddles in the lives of her friends and family. Set in Regency-era England, the movie is a good reminder of how detrimental selfishness or a lack of self-awareness can be; which is portrayed through the actions of the titular character. Although a lighthearted movie, “Emma.” also emphasizes the importance of healthy friendships, one that is sincere and accepting through a story filled with heartbreak and vulnerability.
Platforms: HBO Max, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime
#7) The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is a documentary highlighting the life and “mysterious” death of Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was an African-American and transgender LGBTQ+ activist who attended many rallies and protests throughout her life. Shortly after attending a Gay Pride parade in 1992, Johnson was pronounced dead. The film investigates her death and many other similar deaths that are suspected to be the result of hate crimes, but were dismissed by the police as “suicides.” “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” teaches its audience about hate crimes faced by both the African-American and LBGTQ+ communities, Johnson’s life and legacy as an advocate, and the ongoing battle for equal rights.
“Tenet” follows a secret agent who is given only a single word as a weapon and transported to an alternate universe in order to prevent the outbreak of World War III. The movie immerses viewers into a storyline filled with complex concepts and thus requires their full attention to stay on top of the plot. This thought-provoking film challenges viewers to embrace divergent and unique concepts. With the protagonist trying to alter time, “Tenet” emphasizes how one cannot go back in time to fix mistakes. Instead suggesting the importance of accepting one’s mistakes and learning from them; what’s done is done.
Platforms: YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Prime
#9) Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
During the 1970s, teenagers with disabilities were faced with a life of isolation, discrimination, and segregation. Many were sent to institutional camps over the summer by their families. “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” is a film about Camp Jened, a former summer camp for disabled people, in New York that lit the spark for the Disability Rights Movement in the United States. During the film, the characters discuss the assumptions many disabled personnel are faced with by their families and the world. The film follows the story of how Camp Jened raised their teenagers into activists for the Disability Rights Movement and inspired them to fight for the equality and freedom that they were not given at home. “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” teaches its audience about the Disabled Rights Movement, discrimination that disabled people are faced with every day, the impact assumptions have, and the stories of any Camp Jened alumni. The film’s executive producers are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Platforms: Netflix, Movie Theaters
#10) The Half of It
A coming of age movie, “The Half of It” follows the journey of a timid student assisting the school jock to woo a girl they both secretly like. The main character, Ellie, inspires viewers to dig deeper below the superficial level of themselves in order to build meaningful relationships. “The Half of It” explores complicated relationships with relatable characters we can all empathize with. Set in high school, the movie also challenges the traditional norm of school cliques and societal expectations, instead emphasizing the importance of forging one’s own path according to their own interests to reach their goals.
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