6 Best Movies to Watch by Matt Malloy

Staff & contributors

Starring Matthew Broderick and a young Reese Witherspoon as, respectively, Jim McAllister, a high school teacher and Tracy Flick, a notorious 'that girl' in his class. When Tracy decides to run for class president, we see the floodgates open as all sorts of bizarre and insane behavior pours out of the two. Quickly, it becomes clear that Tracy will do nearly anything to win, and as circumstances spiral out of control, madness descends - along with hilarity!

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Romance

Actor: B.J. Tobin, Chris Klein, Colleen Camp, Delaney Driscoll, Frankie Ingrassia, Holmes Osborne, Jason Paige, Jeanine Jackson, Jessica Campbell, Jillian Crane, John Ponzio, Kaitlin Ferrell, Marilyn Tipp, Mark Harelik, Matt Golden, Matt Malloy, Matthew Broderick, Molly Hagan, Nicholas D'Agosto, Phil Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, Rohan Quine

Director: Alexander Payne

Rating: R

The title of this small-scale comedy drama alludes to an aspect of creativity that isn’t inherently cinematic but which is necessary if you’re going to make anything: just showing up and doing the work. Kelly Reichardt’s filmmaking is in keeping with that focus: this is a gentle movie, full of the patience the art-making process requires and which has always characterized her contributions to “slow cinema.” 

The film is set in a small creative community where the prickly Lizzy (Michelle Williams) works in administration at an arts center and perfects her sculptures for her upcoming solo show. Her efforts are hampered by small daily dramas, though, like the pigeon whose wing her naughty kitty has broken or the friends of her father who lightly exploit his hospitality. And then there’s her neighbor and landlord Jo (Hong Chau), a rising star of an artist who inspires thorny feelings of inadequacy in the only moderately successful Lizzy. Reichardt and Williams deftly explore these insecurities, subtly suggesting that one-sided resentments like Lizzy’s are easily dissolved with a bit of human connection. These gentle moments of insight are rewarding, but it should be noted that your mileage may vary with Showing Up’s insular art world focus and Reichardt’s more unhurried-than-ever pace.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Amanda Plummer, André 3000, Bahni Turpin, Cody Burns, Denzel Rodriguez, Eudora Peterson, Heather Lawless, Hong Chau, Izabel Mar, James Le Gros, Jean-Luc Boucherot, John Magaro, Judd Hirsch, Kevin-Michael Moore, Kristina Haddad, Lauren Lakis, Maryann Plunkett, Matt Malloy, Michelle Williams, Orianna Milne, Sam Kamerman, Teal Sherer, Ted Rooney, Theo Taplitz

Director: Kelly Reichardt

As a first feature, The Unbelievable Truth had a startlingly new style at the time, with deadpan humor, intentional stilted dialogue delivery, interrupting intertitles, and randomly posed existential questions, but these stylistic touches was what made Hal Hartley a key figure in the early aughts of American indie filmmaking. It’s a surprising twist to the romantic comedy, the first where Hartley pays homage to his hometown of Long Island. The two leads form an unconventional relationship, that at first, seems objectionable with Josh having a criminal background, and Audry just barely coming of age, but as they recognize the genuine emotion inside of each other– the existential despair, the want of a normal life, and the soul seeking they try to find through art, science, and literature– the romance just works. This, the leap of faith in another person despite appearances, forms the current that makes the portrait of small town America feel real and hopeful, even with its nihilistic humor.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Adrienne Shelly, Bill Sage, Christopher Cooke, David Healy, Edie Falco, Gary Sauer, Jeff Howard, Julia McNeal, Katherine Mayfield, Kelly Reichardt, Mark Chandler Bailey, Matt Malloy, Mike Brady, Paul Schulze, Robert John Burke, Tom Thon

Director: Hal Hartley

Rating: R

Happiness is a difficult, disturbing watch. Unlike films that claim to be brave, Happiness actually goes there and shows us just how deep, dark, and perverse our urges can get. But far from being controversial for the sake of it, this fearless film has important things to say about the facade of happiness, the urgency of loneliness, and the futility of feigning ignorance about both. And it does so with an impressively wry humor delivered by a talented cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Dylan Baker. They play their complicated characters so well, they'll have you thinking about the strange ways you can, in fact, relate to them on some level, long after the credits roll. 

This isn't a film you'll want to revisit often, but you will have to see it at least once in a lifetime—if anything, for the kind of painful honesty you’ll rarely find anywhere else.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Ann Harada, Anne Bobby, Arthur J. Nascarella, Ben Gazzara, Bina Sharif, Camryn Manheim, Cynthia Stevenson, Dan Moran, Diane Tyler, Douglas McGrath, Dylan Baker, Elizabeth Ashley, Gerry Becker, Jane Adams, Jared Harris, Joe Lisi, Johann Carlo, Jon Lovitz, José Rabelo, Justin Elvin, Lara Flynn Boyle, Lisa Louise Langford, Louise Lasser, Marina Gayzidorskaya, Marla Maples, Matt Malloy, Molly Shannon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rufus Read, Socorro Santiago, Todd Solondz, Wai Ching Ho

Director: Todd Solondz

Rating: NC-17

Finding Forrester is the rainy afternoon type, or a summer night film -- it's a traditional American movie so to speak, with all the components to make your traditional need for a traditional movie more than satisfied. It tells the story of two writers, a young black kid living in a ghetto and struggling to admit his passion for writing over his passion for Basketball (played by Rob Brown), and a Pulitzer Prize winning writer who has renounced his success for unknown reasons (played by Sean Connery). The plot is predictable, and in that traditional sense, very enjoyable. Directed by Gus Van Sant, it will feel almost as a sequel to Good Will Hunting but trust me, this ends up being a great thing too.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alex Trebek, Alison Folland, Anna Paquin, April Grace, Busta Rhymes, F. Murray Abraham, Fly Williams III, Gerry Rosenthal, Glenn Fitzgerald, Gus Van Sant, Jim Titus, Lil' Zane, Matt Damon, Matt Malloy, Michael Nouri, Michael Pitt, Richard Easton, Rob Brown, Sean Connery, Stephanie Berry, Vince Giordano

Director: Gus Van Sant

Rating: PG-13