Top 5 Favorite Movies from First Semester of Film School

Hello everyone! It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a typed out post, but Top # Lists are always a bit more dense and can be articulated slightly more clearly when typed out.

Plus, I’ve been a little sparse on posts for this month, but I’ve been managing the end of the school year, packing up and storing all my stuff in L.A., and beginning to work for the start of the summer back in Massachusetts.

However, this is a post I’ve wanted to do for a bunch of months now and will hopefully provide you guys with a few must-see movies to check out this summer. Because (as I alluded to before) I have officially completed my first semester at USC! I was in two film classes for my major and saw a ton of great movies. Over fourteen weeks, I saw one movie in each of my classes, so twenty-eight movies total. And in those two classes, I learned a lot from my professors, a lot from discussion, and a lot from each movie. And luckily, I enjoyed twenty-seven of those twenty-eight movies (the less said about The Help, the better…). So now, for your enjoyment and mine, I’m gonna count down my Top Five favorites of those twenty-eight movies (all twenty-eight, seen below).

So without further ado, here are my Top Five Favorite Movies from the First Semester at Film School!

  1. Do the Right Thing

An important yet entertaining movie from Spike Lee. It’s like American Graffiti meets Detroit with three-dimensional characters and a very focused narrative. Plus, there’s PLENTY to discuss regarding whether or not Mookie actually did the right thing and how he as a lead is much different than what we would expect from a leading man. Combine that with some great music and you have an unforgettable ride.


  1. The Talented Mr. Ripley

It’s kind of like Catch Me if You Can if Frank Abignale Jr. was a complete psychopath. I had heard about The Talented Mr. Ripley for YEARS and was glad to finally watch it during my second week of Intro to Cinema. It’s a bleak movie with an interestingly contrasting color palette of great brightness. It stays consistently thrilling and heightens the tension in such a chillingly uncomfortable way. Boasting personality from its lead performance, The Talented Mr. Ripley also has my favorite ending from any movie this semester and is one that will stick with you long after you watch it.


  1. Singin’ in the Rain

It’s funny, it didn’t rain much in L.A. from January to the beginning of May, but on my first day of Intro to Cinema, it was POURING. Perfect weather for Singin’ in the Rain. Sure to please all fans of classic Hollywood, Singin’ in the Rain is a delightful romp through the comically complicated life of a star and his unique relationship with a star on-the-rise, as well as their difficult co-actress. The musical numbers are grand, passionate, and original. The entire movie is radiant and has its whole heart to give. This one will delight until its very last frame.


  1. The Godfather

What is there to say about The Godfather? Of course it’s renowned as one of the best movies of all time, but at three hours it may turn away modern viewers not prepared for a lengthy watch. With that said, WATCH IT! Not only to be able to say that you have, but to treat yourself to the despicable downhill slide of corruption in the Corleone family. This is the mob epic that set the stage for modern classics like The Departed, yet The Godfather is still the king of them all because it balances complex characters in a world of more than black-and-white. As Vito Corleone passes the torch of the crime family to his reluctant son Michael, things begin to go awry in the New York area and tensions begin to rise. Not only do Marlon Brando and Al Pacino give multi-faceted performances, but director Francis Ford Coppola creates movement that feels like real life. As the characters make decisions, you question their actions, yet understand their motivations. You feel as though you are attached to certain secondary characters and their relationships. And, most importantly, you feel as though you have left the film with a greater appreciation and understanding of the situational decision-making ethic of Michael Corleone.


  1. Some Like it Hot

I saw a lot of great movies during my first semester at USC, but Some Like it Hot takes the cake. If you haven’t heard of this Billy Wilder 1959 flick, you wouldn’t be alone. I had heard of it in passing during recent years, but never seen it nor known the plot. The movie centers on two musicians who accidentally witness a murders at the hands of local mobsters. In an attempt to escape a similar fate, the two dress up as women and join an all-female traveling band headed south. From there, shenanigans ensue in one of the most charming comedies I have ever seen. Some Like it Hot has perfectly timed comedic beats, dynamite performances from all of its leads (including a young Marilyn Monroe), and an overall unexpected poignancy. The movie’s humor is smart, witty, and outrageous all at the same time without ever going into immature territory. Yet, the romantic heart of the movie is truly what puts this one over the edge for me. The romances feel real and even heartbreaking at times. The great chemistry between the leads is felt and makes the journey all that more adventurous. In a world of dark movies like The Godfather and The Talented Mr. Ripley and the end of Do the Right Thing, Some Like it Hot truly left me with a smile on my face and its undeniable charm has stuck with me ever since I saw it in early March.


Trust me guys, if your taste in movies is similar to mine, I guarantee you’ll enjoy all five of these. If you decide to watch them, be sure to let me know what your favorite is in the comment section down below. Also be sure to follow me on Twitter @johnmhayeck and stay tuned to this site for more posts in the coming days and weeks. And as always, thank you guys so much for reading!


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