2 Best Movies to Watch by Ellen DeGeneres

Staff & contributors

, 2023

After winning Oscars for their documentary work, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin make their narrative feature debut with Nyad. The move to narrative fiction isn’t a monumental jump for the director duo, whose cinematic documentaries (among them Free Solo and The Rescue) play like nerve-shredding action thrillers and intense human dramas. Nor does Nyad’s subject — another extreme feat of human daring and endurance — make this feel a million miles away from their most famous works.

The most obvious departures from the directors’ documentary strengths — Nyad’s flashbacks and hallucination scenes, for example — do sometimes highlight their newness to narrative filmmaking, however. These scenes feel shallow and therefore disconnected from the movie’s otherwise deeper treatment of its subject, just as the performances dip into outsized cliches at times. Mostly, though, Nyad manages to float above the trap of trying too hard to be an inspirational sports drama thanks to its confrontation of Diana’s prickly personality. This flips the film’s perspective onto that of Diana’s team (including her coach and former girlfriend, played by Jodie Foster), who ultimately suffer the consequences of her stubbornness. That refusal to submit to hagiographic impulses gives the film a documentary-like edge of truth, making the rousing moments here feel genuinely earned.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Anna Harriette Pittman, Anne Marie Kempf, Annette Bening, Belle Darling, Carolyn McCormick, Diana Nyad, Elizabeth Chahin, Ellen DeGeneres, Eric T. Miller, Erica Cho, Ethan Jones Romero, Garland Scott, Grace Subervi, Harraka Eliana, Iván Oleaga, Jeena Yi, Jodie Foster, John Bartlett, John F. Kennedy, Johnny Solo, Karly Rothenberg, Kate McKinnon, Katherine Klosterman, Lilo Grunwald, Luke Cosgrove, Marcus Young, Melissa R. Stubbs, Nadia Lorencz, Orpha Salimata, Pearl Darling, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Gordon, Sophia Hernandez, Stephen Schnetzer, Tisola Logan, Toussaint Merionne

Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

Rating: PG-13

For the longest time, it was always about how wrestling was affected by David Arquette; this documentary finally turns it around and asks how Arquette was affected by pro wrestling. We get interviews from his family that mostly look down on his silly wrestling phase; and from established wrestling personalities that, despite dated fan perceptions, welcome him at every turn. We really get in the weeds of Arquette’s motivations, anxieties, and training for a comeback tour on the indies. The audio levels may be a little erratic, but the intangible rawness combined with its polished nature make this a very fitting film for the wild man.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: André Roussimoff, Aurelian Smith Jr., Bill Goldberg, Billy Corgan, Booker Huffman, Brett Giehl, Brian Yandrisovitz, Brian Zachary Pillman, Chris Jericho, Chris Klucsarits, Conan O'Brien, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, David Penzer, Dusty Rhodes, Elizabeth Hulette, Ellen DeGeneres, Eric Bischoff, George Murdoch, Harvey Levin, Hulk Hogan, Jack Perry, James Ellsworth Morris, Jay Leno, Jeffrey Jarrett, Jerome Saganovich, Jerome Young, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, Jim Fullington, Joe Rogan, Joseph Ryan Meehan, Julian Micevski, Karen Yu, Ken Anderson, Kevin Nash, Kurt Russell, Lewis Arquette, Luke Perry, Mark LoMonaco, Maxwell Friedman, Michael Lee Alfonso, Mick Foley, Monty Sopp, Mr. T, Nathan Blauvelt, Nicholas W. Wilson, Noah Nelms, Oprah Winfrey, Page Falkinburg Jr., Patricia Arquette, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Richmond Arquette, Rob Strauss, Rosanna Arquette, Scott Colton, Scott Hall, Tony Schiavone, Vince Russo, Wendy Williams

Director: David Darg, Price James

Rating: R