7 Best Movies to Watch by Peter Sarsgaard

Staff & contributors

A movie about a 16 year old girl who gets involved with an older more sophisticated man and how the relationship changes her life. Carey Mulligan's performance is nothing short of perfect, inevitably making herself the center of the movie. The coming-of-age story is also quite exceptional, and conveys  impressive load and variety of emotions. An Education is one of those movies that make you live an experience you haven't lived yourself, but because it is so exquisitely and realistically done, the character's problems and joys will feel like your own.

The secret weapon to this charming story of a cranky, aging father and his new robot companion is the near-total dryness of its humor. On paper, this might sound like a depressing movie, but thanks to director Jake Schreier's sensitive touch, its protagonist's fading memory and family drama takes on the spark of youth once more. It's sweet and low-stakes, with most of the tension not coming from any fear that Frank might get caught in his hijinks, but in the curiosity of seeing if he can get back to his thieving roots. A great cast including Frank Langella, James Marsden, and Jeremy Strong keep every emotion coming consistently.

Shattered Glass tells the unbelievably true story of Stephen Glass, a popular and promising young journalist at The New Republic. Stephen's storytelling skills are sought out not just by his admiring colleagues but by other publications as well, so when a rival journalist from Forbes finds holes in one of Stephen's stories, no one takes the accusation seriously at first—except perhaps for Charles Lane, Stephen's editor. Immune to Stephen's charms, Charles digs for the truth and tries, despite an alarming lack of support, to pursue what's right.

Set in the '90s, Shattered Glass may be a throwback to old-school journalism, but its ideas about the integrity of facts still hold water, especially in an age fraught with rampant disinformation.

Pawn Sacrifice is a period drama about famed chess player Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire), following Fischer’s rise from his childhood in Brooklyn through to his famed matchup with Soviet Grandmaster Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) at the 1972 World Chess Championship. The film captures Fischer’s adolescence as a time of burgeoning mastery of the game, while struggling in a fatherless home and beset by early signs of mental illness. Set during the height of the Cold War, tensions between the United States and Russia play a critical role in the story, as they fuel many of Fischer’s fears and anxieties over perceived Russian spying and surveillance. His paranoia reaches a fever pitch in Reykjavik, Iceland, the site of his famous duel with Spassky for the world championship, leading to a remarkably compelling finale. Writer director Steven Knight and director Edward Zwick have crafted a striking depiction of a real-life genius grappling with fraying sanity, and Maguire is stunningly evocative as the abrasive and acerbic Fischer. For the viewer, no advanced knowledge of chess is necessary to enjoy this vivid depiction of one man’s historical achievement in the face of profound mental disturbance.

Directed by Sam Mendes Jarhead is based on the best-selling 2003 memoir of the same title. In the film, Swofford is a 20-year-old soldier in the US Marine Corps during the 1991 Gulf War who is trained to be a sniper. But as the days go by, he doesn’t fire a single shot, given there is no one left to wage a battle after the US air attacks on the Iraqi army. Unlike most war movies, Jarhead stands out for its singular focus on the personal experience of a lost young soldier.