7 Best Movies to Watch by Jack Reynor

Staff & contributors

You may have heard about this 2019 critic-favorite from clips like this one of a kid running to flee the movie theater during a screening. “little billy ran the f**k out the door”, the caption reads.

You will want to do the same. Recovering from losing her sister and her parents in a single incident, a young girl goes on a trip to Sweden to observe a ritual within a bizarre commune that occurs every 90 years. This cult’s idea of death and their traditions intersect with the girl’s grief to create unthinkable monstrosities.

Note: while some readers praise the movie for its depiction of anxiety, I highly recommend against watching Midsommar if you suffer from panic attacks.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Actor: Agnes Westerlund Rase, Anders Back, Anders Beckman, Anki Larsson, Anna Åström, Anna Berentzen, Archie Madekwe, Austin R. Grant, Björn Andrésen, Ellora Torchia, Florence Pugh, Frans Cavallin Rosengarten, Gunnel Fred, Hampus Hallberg, Henrik Norlen, Isabelle Grill, Jack Reynor, Julia Ragnarsson, Katarina Weidhagen, Klaudia Csányi, Lars Väringer, Lennart R. Svensson, Levente Puczkó-Smith, Liv Mjönes, Louise Peterhoff, Mats Blomgren, Mihály Kaszás, Rebecka Johnston, Tove Skeidsvoll, Vilhelm Blomgren, Vilmos Kolba, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Zsolt Bojári

Director: Ari Aster

Rating: R

John Boyega, Algee Smith, and John Krasinski star in this difficult portrayal of the Detroit 1967 riots, the biggest civil unrest in American history before the 92 L.A. protests. A murderous cop, a band on the verge of breaking big, and a hard-working security guard find their fates intertwined by the events that took place that summer. Detroit blends real-life images with its storytelling. It would be a perfect movie if it wasn't for a scene in which the police brutalize young Black men for finding them in a hotel with two White girls. This scene, while a necessary part of the story, is overstretched and feels almost sadistic, more so because the film was made by a White director, Kathryn Bigelow.

Genre: Crime, Drama, History, Thriller

Actor: Alexander Cook, Algee Smith, Andrea Eversley, Anthony Mackie, Ato Blankson-Wood, Austin Hebert, Ben O'Toole, Bennett Deady, Chris Chalk, Chris Coy, Darren Goldstein, Dennis Staroselsky, Ephraim Sykes, Frank Wood, Gary Wilmes, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Glenn Fitzgerald, Hannah Murray, Henry Frost III, Jack Reynor, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Jennifer Ehle, Jeremy Strong, John Boyega, John Krasinski, Joseph David-Jones, Kaitlyn Dever, Karen Pittman, Khris Davis, Laz Alonso, Leon G. Thomas III, Lizan Mitchell, Malcolm David Kelley, Mason Alban, Michael Jibrin, Miguel, Nathan Davis Jr., Peyton Alex Smith, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, Samira Wiley, Timothy John Smith, Tokunbo Joshua Olumide, Tyler James Williams, Will Bouvier, Will Poulter, Zurin Villanueva

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Rating: R

An uplifting and inspiring movie with Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer. Jones stars as Supreme Court Justice Associate Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this biopic centered around her hallmark case against sex-based discrimination. While it doesn't feel like it truly conveys the power of Ginsburg's story, her determination, or all the odds that were stacked against her, it serves as a mellowed-down preview of her remarkable story. Watch this if you're in need of a good dose of inspiration.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Amanda MacDonald, Angela Galuppo, Armie Hammer, Arthur Holden, Ben Carlson, Cailee Spaeny, Callum Shoniker, Chris Mulkey, Dawn Ford, Felicity Jones, Francis X. McCarthy, Gabrielle Graham, Gary Werntz, Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Jack Reynor, Jeff Lillico, Joe Cobden, Justin Theroux, Karl Graboshas, Kathy Bates, Michael Dickson, Ronald Guttman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sam Waterston, Stephen Root, Wendy Crewson

Director: Mimi Leder

Rating: PG-13

In 1980s Dublin, a young Irish catholic-school boy, whose family is facing financial problems starts his own band with the sole objective of impressing a mysterious femme fatale. The film takes you on a beautiful and witty journey through the band’s path to success and our protagonist’s quest in conquering his love all to the rhythm of some of the biggest 80’s pop-rock hits and the band’s own original soundtrack. Without a doubt this film is the long awaited passion project of filmmaker John Carney (Once, Begin Again).

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance

Actor: Aidan Gillen, Ben Carolan, Des Keogh, Don Wycherley, Eva-Jane Gaffney, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Ian Kenny, Jack Reynor, Karl Rice, Keith McErlean, Kelly Thornton, Kian Murphy, Kyle Bradley Donaldson, Lucy Boynton, Lydia McGuinness, Marcella Plunkett, Maria Doyle, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Mark McKenna, Paul Roe, Percy Chamburuka, Peter Campion

Director: John Carney

Rating: PG-13

From the director of Once and Sing Street comes Dublin-set Flora and Son, part love letter to music, part not-so-slick advertisement for Apple’s GarageBand. Eve Hewson plays the titular single mother, whose wayward 14-year-old son Max (Orén Kinlan) is one more slip-up away from being sent to youth detention. In an attempt to find an outlet for his unruly teenage energy, she salvages a beat-up guitar, but after he rejects it, there's nothing to do but give it a go herself — cue her belated moment of self-discovery.

Max’s anonymity in the title makes sense, then, because this is much more Flora’s story. However, while Hewson pours energy into the role, she can’t quite transcend the script's limits: Flora’s initial unlikeability (a little too emphatic), and the awkward attempts to roughen up a feel-good story with unconvincingly gritty elements. The film seems aware of audience expectations for a Carney joint, too, so it skips convincing dynamics and fleshed-out supporting characters in its rush to deliver musical setpieces (which never quite reach the catchy heights of Sing Street’s earworms, unfortunately). Still, there's real charm — and some compelling ideas about the magic of music — in here, especially once the film gets past its shaky first third and unabashedly embraces its feel-good heart.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music

Actor: Ailbhe Cowley, Aislín McGuckin, Amy Huberman, Don Wycherley, Eve Hewson, Jack Reynor, Joni Mitchell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Katy Perry, Keith McErlean, Kelly Thornton, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Marcella Plunkett, Marcus Lamb, Margarita Murphy, Orén Kinlan, Paul Reid, Sophie Vavasseur

Director: John Carney

Rating: R

What seems like The Good Mother's biggest asset is actually its downfall. Yes, the three main actors (Swank, Cooke, and Jack Reynor as the civil servant son, Toby) are all good at what they do, but they're incapable of resuscitating a script that's never truly come to life. These casting choices, obviously made to give some clout to a very mediocre project, feel even more disappointing because the disconnect between actor and character is way too big. For example, Swank is not the alcoholic, fed-up mother we need her to be in this case, and its hard to see this as something else than a derogatory take on her previous more tender and glam roles. Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte's Sundance-winning As You Are carried a whiff of fresh air, The Good Mother is drained out of all its energy, avoiding reflective depth at all costs, not to mention skirting around the ambivalences of motherhood. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Dilone, Hilary Swank, Hopper Penn, Jack Reynor, Karen Aldridge, Larry Fessenden, Laurent Rejto, Norm Lewis, Olivia Cooke

Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte

Rating: R