4 Best Movies to Watch by Natalie Morales

Staff & contributors

It’s kind of amazing how Johnson, who writes, directs, and stars in this feature, narrowly escapes narrative holes by being so darn self-effacing and likable. The female lead Maddy (Anna Kendrick) should be denounced as a Manic Pixie Girl, but because of Johnson and Kendrick’s overflowing charm, you don’t question the flimsiness of her character until much later on. The game itself should not make sense, but because Johnson is so committed in his physical performance, and so arresting in his charisma, all is forgiven. Self Reliance is like a tasty souffle that looks great at the moment, but left for longer, poofs and deflates. As long as you don't take it too seriously, the film should be a fun if forgettable ride.

Genre: Comedy, Thriller

Actor: Andy Samberg, Anna Kendrick, Biff Wiff, Bjorn Johnson, Boban Marjanović, Christopher Lloyd, Daryl J. Johnson, Eduardo Franco, Ely Henry, Emily Hampshire, Eric Edelstein, GaTa, Gloria Sandoval, Ilia Volok, Jake Johnson, Jeff Kober, John Hans Tester, John Ponzio, Karen Maruyama, Mary Holland, Miriam Flynn, Nancy Lenehan, Natalie Morales, Sky Elobar, Steven Littles, Theo Wilson, Wayne Brady

Director: Jake Johnson

Rating: R

Most computer screen films take the horror film route as a cautionary tale about technology and how we use it. However, when the world was on lockdown, one screenlife film takes a look at its positive side. Simple, straightforward, and comforting, Language Lessons celebrates technology as a means for connection. Through surprise Spanish lessons purchased by his husband, Adam (Mark Duplass) forms a friendship with his instructor Cariño (Natalie Morales). At times, watching the film feels like listening into someone else’s Zoom call, however, their back-and-forth feels engaging because of Morales and Duplass’ chemistry. And when loss hits, on both sides, it’s only natural that their relationship deepens as they console each other. Expressive without being melodramatic and intimate without being too pushy, Language Lessons is a rare optimistic take towards the way we connect to each other through technology.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Desean Terry, Mark Duplass, Natalie Morales

Director: Natalie Morales

Rating: Not Rated

It’s best not to overthink the details of No Hard Feelings, an uproarious comedy that benefits from the lead actors’ physicality. It’s meant to be enjoyed as it happens, at the moment, with Lawrence lighting up every scene with full-bodied commitment and Feldman, a worthy co-lead, delighting at every turn. They’re playing stock characters, and the script doesn’t give much beyond the usual backstories, but Lawrence and Feldman play them with so much heart and gusto, knocking every scene they’re in out of the park. Everything else plays second fiddle to their two-hander show. The cameos are star-studded but forgettable (except for Kyle Mooney, who I wished was onscreen more as Percy’s male nanny), the character development is heartwarming but predictable, and though it bills itself as a sex comedy, the film never really touches past third base. But all that is water under the bridge when you’re watching Maddie and Percy flirt and fumble their way through the film.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alysia Joy Powell, Amalia Yoo, Andrew Barth Feldman, Ari Frenkel, Brian Calì, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Hasan Minhaj, Jennifer Lawrence, Jordan Mendoza, Kyle Mooney, Laura Benanti, Luca Padovan, Madison McBride, Matt Walton, Matthew Broderick, Matthew Noszka, Melissa Lehman, Natalie Morales, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Scott MacArthur, Victor Verhaeghe, Zahn McClarnon

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Rating: R

It's smart that If You Were the Last takes what's usually an overused romcom/fan-fiction scenario (two attractive people stuck in one place), acknowledges it, and uses it to fuel an entire a story. Unfortunately, the film also doesn't quite know where to go with it, insisting on having its cake and eating it too: that is, it wants to be annoyingly quirky and dead-serious about the consequences of infidelity at once, without the tonal balance to sell these contrasting sides. It's hard to feel for the central characters and their respective spouses still living on Earth because the film does so little to sketch out any of these people beyond surface-level feelings of desire and guilt. As much as it tries to convince us that big changes are happening within these protagonists, the film doesn't seem to be willing to enter any truly messy territory.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Andrew Farrier, Anthony Mackie, Bernard Hocke, Geoff Stults, Jason Bayle, Kaleka, Langston Fishburne, Missi Pyle, Natalie Morales, Sarah Voigt, Taylor Shurte, Zoë Chao

Director: Kristian Mercado Figueroa

Rating: R