A Movie Each Day of February Break

Watching movie recommendations from The Lance’s seven editors

A+Movie+Each+Day+of+February+Break

With my plans for February break sparse due to the pandemic, I knew there was only one thing to do during my much-desired week off: watch movies. But my watchlist is over 200 movies long, and there was no way I, indecisive as I am, was going to be able to sort through them all. I decided to enlist the help of my fellow Lance editors and asked each of them for their favorite movie so I could watch one film (almost) every day of the break, which spanned from February 13 to 21. 

I received a pretty diverse selection, some I had been meaning to see, while others I wouldn’t have watched without a recommendation. I’m glad I was able to experience the other editors’ favorite movies and fill my otherwise rather dull week off. I compiled my thoughts and ratings for each of the seven films, in the order I watched them last week—tread lightly, spoilers ahead. 

 

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) – Livi’s pick

I’m trying to be more appreciative of romantic comedies, so I decided to begin the week with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I expected a simple, lighthearted romcom, and this movie delivered. The 10-day time constraint is a fun concept and moves the plot along. Kate Hudson and Matthew McCaunsnahdfhy are cute as Andie and Ben, and I especially enjoyed the scenes when Andie gets to know Ben’s family. Although I knew this was bound to happen or else this movie wouldn’t be a romcom, I was upset when Andie started to fall in love with Ben. I wanted Andie to succeed in losing a guy in 10 days, but I didn’t care at all if Ben managed to make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Getting a woman to fall in love with you for corporate gain when you don’t intend to stay with her is crueler than getting a guy you just met to break up with you. I’m not entirely thrilled with the way this movie ended; it was technically a happy ending, but it felt like Andie lost. Still, this movie was predictable but fun, and mostly enjoyable. 

Rating: 3 / 5

 

The Theory of Everything (2014) – Brooke’s pick

Although critics quickly dub biopics as Oscar bait, I truly think The Theory of Everything deserved its accolades. The sets, costumes, and score were excellent, and the coloring and cinematography made this movie art-like and beautiful to watch. Eddie Redmayne was incredible in the demanding role of Stephen Hawking, as was Felicity Jones as Jane. Their scenes at university together are so sweet and I felt like I was watching two real people fall in love—though I suppose I was, since the movie was largely based on Jane’s memoir. Jane’s unwavering love for Stephen even when she believes he only has two years to live is beautiful; even when she watches him physically deteriorate and he’s unable to keep up with her, she still has hope for their life together. The buildup makes it even more devastating when we see Jane start to fall in love with Jonathan, and Stephen with Elaine. That said, I don’t like the difference in how the movie portrays Jane and Jonathan’s relationship versus Stephen and Elaine’s. When Jane first meets Jonathan, it’s taboo for her to consider a man other than Stephen, but when Stephen meets Elaine, they are painted as sweet and funny. Nonetheless, The Theory of Everything is inspiring and bittersweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Rating: 4 / 5

 

The Bling Ring (2013) – Tala’s pick

The concept of The Bling Ring is so interesting, especially because it’s based on a true story, and right away I loved the Hollywood glam aesthetic. However, I thought it would have been better executed given that there was real-life material to work with. The movie was rather one-note, as there were no subplots, character arcs, or surprises to supplement the main storyline, which was essentially the five main characters raiding the houses of celebrities just for kicks. The characters were one-dimensional as well; there was no dive into their background or personalities beyond the fact that they are shallow, spoiled, and reckless, and the audience never gets to see why the group, nicknamed the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch by the media, did what they did. Less pressing, but still unfortunate, was the missed opportunity for the main characters to have really awesome outfits. You would think that five teens in the heart of LA would know how to dress, but their clothes were so boring and gauche that it looked like they raided Forever 21 instead of the homes of A-list celebrities. It was 2013, but still. I was engaged a lot of the time and interested to see what would happen next, but the plot was mostly static, the acting was only okay, and a lot of the shots tried to be cool but failed. Bling Ring had the opportunity to be campy and iconic, but it came up short. 

Rating: 2½ / 5

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – Ava’s pick

Perks should probably not be the highest rated of all the movies I watched this past week—especially since it’s up against some Oscar nominees and winners—but there is something so indescribably wonderful about this film. Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, the author of the original book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the perfect combination of happy and sad and nostalgic. The movie isn’t overly flashy or showy and it truly encapsulates the energy of the book, which I attribute to the fact that the movie was in the hands of the book’s author. Every scene adds something to the movie, managing to capture both the melancholy and cheerfulness of Charlie’s first year of high school. Charlie is such an endearing main character, and I think everyone can relate to him at least a little bit. Logan Lerman was incredible without even having many lines, which is a testament to his talent as an actor. Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Paul Rudd were brilliant as well, and I adore each of their characters’ relationships with Charlie. I was curious to see how Chbosky would execute the letter format of the books, and it made the movie feel even more personal. Although the story takes place in the ‘90s, Perks is simply timeless. This is the first and likely the only time I will ever say this: I enjoyed the movie adaptation better than the book.

Rating: 5 / 5

 

1917 (2019) – Matthias’s pick

I am not one for war movies, but 1917 was, in a word, an experience. I am envious of those who were able to see it in theaters in all its silver screen glory. The movie was visually beautiful and combined the horrors of war with the right amount of human interest. As I watched, I couldn’t help but think of the extraordinary effort that went into 1917’s production to make it appear as if it were shot all in one (technically two) take: the historically accurate sets (which were meticulously constructed to match actors’ blocking and the pacing of their lines); the dedicated acting (imagine how many times someone fumbled a line and had to start a forty-minute scene from the top); and Sam Mendes’ directing (did you know that the film is based on his grandfather’s stories from WWI?). Filming in one cohesive shot was the best creative decision for a war movie like this—the unbroken shot felt natural, taking the audience on a suspenseful two-hour journey and providing a limited POV so we only experience what the main character does. (Roger Deakins definitely deserved his Best Cinematography Academy Award). I felt like I was playing a video game I couldn’t control, hoping that whoever was in charge would make the right decision. Not that there are many for me to choose from, but 1917 is officially my favorite war movie.

Rating: 4½ / 5 

 

Good Will Hunting (1997) – Jonah’s pick 

Robin Williams mentoring troubled young men is basically its own film genre (see also: Dead Poets Society). Good Will Hunting was well-directed, with cinematography that matched the energy of the story. There were a ton of memorable scenes, but my personal favorite is hands down when Will intellectually obliterated that guy in the bar. Matt Damon was perfect in the title role, which I suppose has something to do with the fact that he wrote the script, and Robin Williams and Minnie Driver were awesome as well. Will’s relationships with Sean and Skylar had me rooting for him to sort through his various issues and not push away two people who truly cared about him. I liked Will as a character, and his emotional breakthrough at the end was cathartic to watch. Good Will Hunting was a technically great film, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Maybe rave reviews set my expectations too high; maybe it’s because the movie centers around Will’s emotional issues which aren’t really addressed until the very end of the movie, and I’m impatient. That said, it’s still a good movie with a solid script. Now that I know what this film is about, I’m sure I would like it more if I were to rewatch it. 

Rating: 3½ / 5

 

Top Gun (1986) – Maren’s pick

Let me preface this by saying that I’m aware that Top Gun is not supposed to be a deep, Oscar-worthy film; also that I am about to sound like a massive buzzkill (I apologize in advance, Maren). This movie was just: men fly planes; ‘80s songs; fighter pilot lingo; Tom Cruise lusting for Kelly McGillis, and vice versa; repeat. It felt like the cool plane scenes were there to distract from the lack of an actual plot, and even during the action scenes, which were excessively long, I checked out mentally. I didn’t love the main character, Maverick, and nothing about him was really developed over the course of the movie, even after the death of his best friend, Goose. The effects were surprisingly good, though, and the acting was okay (save for a slew of cheesy dialogue). There were some great shots throughout and I always love the layer of saturation that seems to accompany every ‘80s movie. I understand Top Gun’s appeal as a cheesy action-packed comfort film, but I wasn’t a fan and I wouldn’t watch it again. Also, I do not understand why the beach volleyball scene was necessary, but I’ll allow it. 

Rating: 2½ / 5

 

All images courtesy of Letterboxd unless otherwise stated.