LIST: “If You Liked X You’ll Like Y” — 2018 Oscars Edition

It’s post-Oscars season, and the drive to watch all of the dimly lit, monotone, stuffy awards-bait movies has abated. Now you can watch fun things again! But before giving into your baser impulses come May and indulging in a popcorn blockbuster or three, here are some recommendations based on the big names at the Oscars that I was able to see. Some are more intellectual, some decidedly lowbrow, but at least one of them should catch your eye.

If you liked Call Me By Your Name you’ll like:
quietly melancholic coming-of-age romances.
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien — Similarly subdued, but with a lower-budget, grittier feel, this movie toys with the intersections of sexual orientation, masculinity, and male friendship.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower — It’s flashier and more mainstream in tone, but still focuses on adolescent angst about identity and the ways love can change from up close or at a distance.
  • An Education — Another story of a teenager falling for and being taken under the wing of a seductive older man, An Education plays the affair in a more exploitative direction but has a similarly lush visual appeal and captures the soft-but-sad mood of teenage admiration and love.
Yell Lady Bird GIF by A24
If you liked Lady Bird you’ll like:
coming-of-age stories about love, female friendship, and self-discovery.
  • The To-Do List — This “female Superbad” is a lot raunchier and overtly comedic than Lady Bird, but it’s more about the way female friendships evolve as teenage girls try to find themselves, find boys, and fight with their families. Also, though it’s set in Boise, ID, a city half as populous as Sacramento, CA, they have a similar hazy, long-car-ride atmosphere.
  • The Virgin Suicides — Sofia Coppola at her softest and most atmospheric, but much more detached and objective while Lady Bird is intimate and even invasive, it still captures that weightless mood of female adolescence.
  • Brooklyn — Another Saorsie Ronan movie, this one is an out-and-out romance more than a friendship story, but the internal struggle to choose between the excitement of New York and the comfort of one’s hometown, and how it plays out in the mother-daughter relationship, is the same in any time period.
If you liked Get Out you’ll like:
psychological horror/thriller films laced with dry wit.
  • Scream — It’s cited by Jordan Peele as one of the inspirations for Get Out‘s self-aware postmodernism.
  • Ex Machina — Whereas Get Out is a race-based horror movie, Ex Machina is much more visibly about gender, though it also toys with racial stereotypes to great effect. However, both movies create a distinct sense of discomfort as they overturn established power dynamics, but leave the overall result ambiguous.
  • Tucker and Dale vs. Evil — Here, horror movie tropes are invoked absolutely intentionally, but this time for hilarious comedic effect.
If you liked Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri you’ll like:
intense psychological dramas with a tight focus.
  • Gone Girl — A cast full of unlikeable characters, with a violently angry yet strangely magnetic woman at the center of it all… These movies are all about women refusing to play the role (“cool girl” wife, grieving mother) society has dictated for them.
  • Birdman — Down-to-earth, even when Earth is full of messy, broken, lashing-out people who make you laugh, even when it doesn’t seem like you should.
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople — The central drama at the heart of Three Billboards is about family and sticking it to authority. So is this New Zealand film, but replace “police chief” with “child protective services” and “public shaming via billboards” with “lead a manhunt into the wild brush.”
gif and dunkirk image
If you liked Dunkirk you’ll like:
tense war movies that focus on the microcosm.
  • Saving Private Ryan — The obligatory WWII movie to recommend, it makes the cut because not only do they share subject matter, but Saving Private Ryan has a similarly uncomfortable, true-to-life approach to the stressful combat scenes.
  • Contagion — Fast-paced with an eerie, uncomfortable soundtrack and a teal-and-orange color scheme… am I talking about Contagion or Dunkirk? And does it really matter?
  • Gravity — The tight focus on individual stories in Dunkirk is taken to the extreme in Gravity, where the scope is literally universal and the personal space shifts from as small as a cockpit to as minuscule as an astronaut’s helmet, giving this sci-fi flick a similar sense of tension and urgency.
If you liked The Shape of Water you’ll like:
miniature magical universes filled with stories about love and humanity. (full review)
  • Amélie — The most directly similar film of all recs in this list, Amélie and The Shape of Water would make a phenomenal double feature. They both star women with short black bobs who live on the outskirts of society, whose kind hearts and penchants for whimsy lead them on an adventure, who discover sides of the world that the everyday person is blind to. And they have matching color schemes—blue and red for The Shape of Water, green and red for Amélie.
  • Her — Okay, so the lady’s Joaquin Phoenix, and the fish man’s an AI, and instead of dark blue the world is millennial pink, but aside from that, aren’t these movies kind of matching?
  • Edward Scissorhands — Sensing a theme? Again, this film creates a magical little world that it draws you into, eliciting sympathy for a monstrous creature and admiration laced with pity for the mousey woman who makes the rest of the community see that monsters, too, can have souls.
If you liked I, Tonya you’ll like:
aggressively dark black comedy that plays with narrative and propriety. (full review)
  • Heathers — What I, Tonya did for parental and spousal abuse, Heathers did for school shooters. I shouldn’t have been laughing at either, but the sheer absurdity of how abhorrently people are capable of acting is, when handled correctly, funny. If you can’t laugh when life is miserable, when can you?
  • Rashomon — Obviously not a black comedy, but the unparalleled king of the unreliable narrator/multiple POV technique, and worth seeing for that alone.
  • Kick-Ass — Whether it’s dark and serious abuse being treated as comedy, or comedic heroic absurdity treated as a valid course of action, these movies follow the same tone. Stories of underdogs who are themselves, well, sort-of jerks can be found on the ice or in high school.
If you liked Baby Driver you’ll like:
action movies full of flash and fun.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — Perfectly neutral-looking protagonist dude? Check. Rocking soundtrack? Check. Awesome fight scenes? Check. They’re both Edgar Wright films, and oh, does it show.
  • Logan Lucky — Fast cars, grand heists, and the power of family. It’s that simple.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service — Kingsman is one of the most purely joyous action movies I’ve ever seen. This movie takes that same attitude towards car chases. Subtract one “Free Bird” bloody brawl, add one “Bellbottoms” bank hold-up, and you’ve got Baby Driver.
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