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  • Elizabeth Drake

Elizabeth’s List of *Not the Best, but the Most Surprisingly Enjoyable, and Rewatchable* Films of th

All but one of these films are by no means the best. You will not catch me defending them as such or running around town touting their cinematic value. They are simply the films that caught me by surprise and made me love them completely at first watch. And as a result, over the last ten years, I have found myself watching them over and over again. So, here’s my list of not the best films, but the films I enjoyed and watched the most. And their drink pairings. Cheers!

2010: The Perfect Host

This thrilling and gag-filled film serves up Niles from Frasier as a deranged dinner host with particular tastes as he saves (and holds captive) a man on the lam. I laughed, I cringed, and I watched it again! This is a must see for any fan of Frasier who can enjoy the traditional antics of a twist-laden thriller. Some may say it’s predictable and unsurprising, but I say there is no limit to the amount of times I want (and need) to see David Hyde Pierce dance around a kitchen in his shiny loafers with a glass of wine and an ulterior motive.

Pair with: A fruity, precocious, & predictable bottle of merlot

2012: Goon

I have too much to say about this film. It has been by my side through loss, love, and everything in between. There is no movie that my partner and I can and do quote from. This film really caught me by surprise one quiet night when I was home alone in my first apartment. I am not one for crude/goofball/jock humor, but after watching this I began to think “Yerrr alriiight, eh?” and watching hockey like I was born in the North. While I still do not find much interest in other jock films or anything featuring the notable and idiotic Seann William Scott, this is 100% my favorite movie and I now appreciate the practicality of the corn dog (“you don’t need a bun for it because the bun is all around it and you can eat it from a stick”). This movie is also so wonderful because you get the pleasurable experience of seeing Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) skate like an ice angel.

Pair with: 10 Moosehead Lagers (and corndogs)

2015: Flesh and Bone

This is not a film. It is a mini-series that forays into the fantastically dark world of professional ballet through the exceptional and enigmatic Claire (played/danced by Sarah Hay). And what a journey it is! I saw a review that succinctly summarized it as “ballet with strippers” and I don’t think it could be more spot-on. And I couldn’t have enjoyed it anymore. Outside of some graphic scenes of feet ruined by pointe shoes and delusion, this has to be one of my favorite viewing pleasures. If you liked watching the dancing in Black Swan, or the bleak dynamic of sex and power in season one of The Girlfriend Experience, this one is for you!

Pair with: Vodka on the rocks. Or lots of food. I do recommend eating in this one. The dancers certainly aren’t.

2016: The Love Witch

Holy hell, the IMBD description says it all: “a modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, with deadly consequences”! That’s for sure! What a delightful tale of female power, male ineffectiveness, and the fantastical (and ever-evil) nature of the patriarchy set in a gorgeous technicolor dreamscape. I didn’t even care how the film ended. The journey was too much fun.

Pair with: A dry Provence Rosé

2017: Ingrid Goes West

What a great year for the movies! We got Coco AND Girl’s Trip! While those were the bests of the year, I think Ingrid Goes West caught me most off guard. It is the icky instagram-able story of Ingrid (played by the well-liked Aubrey Plaza) as a conniving, yet earnest, social media automaton and fancy-lady-influencer stalker. It is atrociously watchable. Get ready to giggle and cringe!

Pair with: Whatever flavor of Kombucha you see first at a health food market

2018: Hillbilly

I had a very enjoyable and cliched experience with this documentary from Ashley York and Sally Rubin. It was delightful and thought-provoking. This doc explores stereotypes about rural folk in the Appalachian region of the US. It features a “return home” narrative as one of the filmmakers returns to her Appalachian home right at the end of the 2016 election. This film is filled with pop culture references, re-examination of historical narratives, and wonderfully thoughtful interviews with Appalachia intellectuals such as bell hooks (!), Jerry Williamson, and Barbara Ellen Smith. If you saw Deliverance, you must see this. If you like Dolly Parton, you must see this. If you like thinking about politics, you must see this.

Pairs with: “Dolly Parton’s America” – a fabulous NPR podcast and Wild Turkey Bourbon (neat)

2019: The Last Black Man in San Francisco

This is the best film of the year and of the decade. I will fight you on this. Instead of me trying to tell why it is the best, just go watch it and see for yourself. And if you have seen it before, just watch it again.

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