50 Best Movies to Watch with Friends

50 Best Movies to Watch with Friends

April 12, 2024

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There are some movies that fall flat when you view them alone but absolutely soar when seen with the right people. All of a sudden, the jokes are hilarious, the slow scenes are bearable, and the jump scares, which you found ridiculous a while ago, are now ridiculously fun. 

These kinds of movies are just so joyous or meaningful or challenging or thrilling (or all of these combined) that it feels like a waste not to share them with friends. So whether you’re looking to have a laugh with your favorite people, engage in a debate with them, or simply find the meaning of friendship onscreen, you’ll be sure to find the perfect watch in our list of best movies to watch with friends below.

31. Hyenas (1992)

best

8.4

Country

France, Italy, Netherlands

Director

Djibril Diop Mambéty

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Funny, Thought-provoking

Restored in 2019, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s adaptation of the 1956 play, The Visit, presents a powerful allegory of societal decay through the story of Linguère Ramatou, a woman who returns to her impoverished hometown with an offer that can change everything. Mambéty’s skillful direction captures the complexities of human nature and the moral choices we face in a world driven by greed and corruption in a global capitalist world. The narrative unfolds with precision, blending dark humor and piercing social commentary. With or without the context of its original influence, Hyenas is a brilliant Senegalese film.

 

32. Sanctuary (2023)

best

8.4

Country

France, United States of America

Director

Zachary Wigon

Actors

Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Gripping

Challenging, strange, and utterly captivating from start to finish, Sanctuary takes the relationship between a pathetic, wealthy man and a desperate, plucky young woman—a relationship built on consensual acts of sexual humiliation—and makes it so much more dynamic and entertaining than it has any right to be. The film takes place entirely in one hotel suite over the course of one night, becoming a series of increasingly absurd psychological scenarios, as the characters wrestle over ideas of power, shame, and identity by concealing and roleplaying various parts of themselves. It’s a wild take on several different genres that director Zachary Wigon is able to effortlessly weave together with excellent pacing, stunning visuals, and two truly committed performances from Christopher Abbott and a wonderfully unhinged Margaret Qualley.

33. Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)

best

8.4

Country

United States of America

Director

Bo Burnham

Actors

Bo Burnham

Moods

Funny, Grown-up Comedy, Original

A healthy mix of despair and self-deprecation has always been Bo Burnham’s signature, but Inside takes it to the next level. It’s a deconstructed film, rather than a simple one-night special; a one-man-show that constantly undercuts itself. Even more so, it sabotages its own immersive qualities and explores the depths of self-loathing by turning oneself into comedy material. Some may say, it’s a classic move, but the pandemic reality and Burnham’s unkempt look predispose us to embrace all the cringe (YouTube reactions), quirkiness, (the sock puppet), and frightening angst (suicide jokes) he puts forward. Emotional rawness and a polished DIY look fits the Netflix bill, but as far as the content goes, this one goes straight to the world heritage lockdown archives.

34. Fingernails (2023)

best

8.4

Country

Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Christos Nikou

Actors

Albert Chung, Amanda Arcuri, Annie Murphy, Ashleigh Rains

Moods

Emotional, Gripping, Original

In what is only his second feature, Greek director Christos Nikou crafts a singular universe that is orderly and enticing. The dystopian premise that you can now scientifically test for love may be bizarre, but it answers to one of the biggest anxieties humans share. That said,  this particular world feels so close to ours today, that you want to dive right in it, weirdness and all. Even the topos of the love clinic, where couples get evaluated and take on exercises before they take the test is framed as a space for hope. There’s no underlying cynicism in Nikou’s film, which is perhaps the most surprising fact about it; on the contrary, longing—however painful it may be—abounds and seeps through the carefully composed images of shared doubt and suspect intimacy. Last, but not least, the chemistry shared by Buckley-Ahmed-White is nothing short of explosive.

35. The Killer (2023)

best

8.4

Country

United States of America

Director

David Fincher

Actors

Arliss Howard, Bernard Bygott, Brandon Morales, Charles Parnell

Moods

Character-driven, Dark, Dramatic

David Fincher’s return to form almost ten years after Gone Girl turns the eponymous French graphic novel series into a stone-cold stunner. The Killer can be described as a crime thriller and a neo noir, but it’s perfectly Fincherian in the ways it withholds information from the viewer, building up suspense in a masterful rhythm. The film opens on the inside of a construction site—a WeWork office to-be—where our Killer stalks his pray across the street. A rather static beginning, where nothing much happens: one may question the thriller qualities of the film during its first act for similar reasons, but just give it time; that’s exactly what The Killer would say. But little does he know that time is something he doesn’t have much of…

36. Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

best

8.4

Country

France

Director

Female director, Justine Triet

Actors

Alexandre Bertrand, Anne Rotger, Anne-Lise Heimburger, Antoine Bueno

Moods

Character-driven, Gripping, Raw

You would expect a courtroom drama to be built around damning pieces of evidence, passionate speeches, or certain social issues lending weight to the investigation. But what makes Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or-winning Anatomy of a Fall so remarkable is how direct it is. Triet doesn’t treat this case like a puzzle for the audience to participate in solving; instead she fashions this trial into a portrait of a family being eroded by even just the suggestion of distrust. It ultimately has far less to do with who’s responsible for the death of a man, and more to do with the challenge of facing the reality that the people we love are capable of being cruel and callous to others.

Which isn’t to say that Anatomy of a Fall doesn’t still possess qualities that make it a great courtroom drama—doubt only continues to pile up with every new piece of information that’s revealed to the audience, until we begin to interpret characters’ expressions and actions in a contradictory ways. But the way Triet executes these reveals is just so skillful, choosing precisely how to let details slip and obscuring everything behind faulty memory, intentional dishonesty, or any other obstacles that usually come up during an investigation.

37. Moonage Daydream (2022)

best

8.3

Country

Germany, United States of America

Director

Brett Morgen

Actors

Bing Crosby, Catherine Deneuve, Charlie Chaplin, David Bowie

Moods

Mind-blowing, Original

Forget everything you know about the music biopic. One-on-one interviews, chronological storytelling, silent moments with the subjects—Moonage Daydream isn’t that kind of movie. Just as David Bowie isn’t your typical pop star, this documentary about him, directed by Brett Morgen, forgoes the usual beats for something extraordinary and fun.

Moonage Daydream is a concert, a light show, and a masterclass in collage editing. It’s a feast for the senses, a fantastic neon fever dream that paints a picture of Bowie in his own words, drawn from archival footage, interviews, and concerts past.

38. Small, Slow But Steady (2022)

best

8.3

Country

France, Japan

Director

Sho Miyake

Actors

Himi Sato, Hiroko Nakajima, Makiko Watanabe, Masaki Miura

Moods

Character-driven, Heart-warming, Inspiring

Small, Slow But Steady is a quiet, contemplative film about a deaf boxer named Keiko. Keiko is determined to become a professional boxer, but she faces many challenges; the pandemic, the closure of her boxing club, and the illness of her aging coach. The film’s director, Sho Miyake, excellently captures the slow, deliberate pace of Keiko’s training; and the quiet moments of her life outside the ring. 

With serene wide shots of the Japanese countryside and small intimate moments in the boxing ring, the film lives up to its name, giving a tender portrayal of the need for connection and community in (and outside) of the pandemic. The steady performances from Yukino Kishii as Keiko and Masahiro Higashide as her coach make this slow-burning film a rewarding and inspiring story about perseverance and the power of dreams.

39. Le Havre (2011)

best

8.3

Country

Finland, France, Germany

Director

Aki Kaurismäki

Actors

André Wilms, Corinne Belet, Elina Salo, Evelyne Didi

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Feel-Good, Funny

Quaint and quirky, Le Havre is a beautiful and heartwarming story about the power of compassion and the importance of community. It tells the story of a shoeshiner who tries to save an immigrant child in the French port city of Le Havre. The charming characters are easy to root for as this community of everyday people bands together to help this young boy reunite with his mother. Even as the film rejects the unempathetic responses to the refugee crisis, it utilizes gentle humor and a light cadence to invoke empathy for others that should exist.

40. Hotel Coolgardie (2016)

best

8.3

Country

Australia

Director

Pete Gleeson

Moods

Dark, Discussion-sparking, Thought-provoking

A plot straight out of a horror film: two young, but penniless foreigners find themselves stuck in a town ruled by miners and their drinking habits. This is the real story of Lina and Steph (surnames withheld), twenty-something women who have just been robbed out of their credit cards and cash in Bali. Their around-the-world trip takes them to Australia, by way of an agency that offers seasonal work, room, and board. The cost is small: you have to be “okay with a little male attention” in this particular place. A mining town called Coolgardie becomes synonymous with hell for the two women as seen through Pete Gleeson’s camera that’s inobtrustive, distant, “a-fly-on-the-wall”. Precisely that distance makes exacerbates the ick factor when watching the documentary today, even if its content is not judgemental. Because of how easily the camera blends in to the surroundings, we’re left to wonder exactly how deep racism and sexism run in that particular microcosmos. After all, according to the manager, customers “grow a new leg” when “fresh meat” comes to town.

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