Last Friday, we had our inaugural kickoff for Atom Movie Club. Our first movie chosen was Christopher Nolan’s Inception. We had fun live-tweeting along with the movie, but one question I asked generated an overwhelming response from people:
— Alisha Grauso (@AlishaGrauso) April 4, 2020
Naturally, that wasn’t the only movie to ever wow me with a high concept done well or to blow my mind with elevating what I thought possible in a movie. But I do remember sitting there and wondering how the hell Nolan managed to keep it all straight in his head when writing the script and, beyond that, how incredibly well done and dynamic every single visual sequence was. I walked out knowing that I had seen just a well-crafted, nearly flawlessly-executed film and appreciating it simply for that reason, alone.
As it was Friday night, I expected only a handful of responses to my question, but the answers poured in and they told a pretty fascinating story.
Christopher Nolan Topped A Lot Of Lists
Naturally, thanks to his cerebral, twisty storytelling, quite a few Nolan movies – namely Memento and The Prestige, made the list.
I remember both Inception and The Town both blowing me away. 2010 was a great year for movies!
— Lenz on Film (@FilmLenz) April 4, 2020
— Mel Valentin (@FyodorFish) April 4, 2020
It’s also inception for me. I was 11 when I saw it, and that movie made me fall in love with cinema. It was the catalyst for the cinephile I’ve become.
— joshua (@JoshuaEtchison7) April 4, 2020
The Prestige. I watched it at home one night. I was already tired and sleepy when I started watching it. It was so fascinating and well executed, it drove away the tiredness. By the end of the movie my heart was racing and I was utterly in awe.
— Samitha Jayathilaka (@SamJayathilaka) April 4, 2020
First time I saw Memento – mind was definitely blown. Changed the way I look at movies.
— Danny Baram (@DannyBaram) April 4, 2020
Inception was definitely one of mine. I loved how it portrayed the unconscious mind as increasingly vast the deeper you go.
— The Ten Ways (@thetenways) April 4, 2020
That movie was the reason I wanted to become a musician and a filmmaker. The last movie that made feel that way was Into the Spider-verse.
— The Reverse (@ZoomZappers) April 4, 2020
Inception for me too. Got out of the theatre and then went back in straight away to experience it again. Instantly became one of my favorites of all time.
— 🎬🍿 ʬ⁸⁴ (@daMovieDude) April 4, 2020
And while there were plenty more votes for various Nolan films, the next movie shouldn’t surprise anyone to see…
‘The Matrix’ Topped The Lists Of Plenty Of People
The Matrix is another film that blew my mind when I saw it in theaters. The Wachowskis reinvented what was possible with visual storytelling, and it’s the reason plenty of people grew up wanting to be filmmakers.
The camera work of the Matrix was fantastic. After Trinity mid air frozen, room spin. You knew this movie was something special.
— David Lee Evans (@David_Lee_Evans) April 4, 2020
The Matrix. It was like seeing the whole world differently.
— LeVar Anthony (@igasu) April 4, 2020
I was in like 5th grade and I STILL remember how BRILLIANT that marketing campaign was. EVERYONE, literally everyone was like "what IS the Matrix???" and then we found out and were all like "SHIT YEAH THIS IS DOPE"
— Zukka (@Zukka14408746) April 4, 2020
My Neighbor Totoro.
— Ethan Slayton (@AtomicAgeEthan) April 4, 2020
The Matrix as a series continues to boggle my mind.
— CJ Thomas #OZYMANDIAS ✨🌑 (@The_Sea_Jay) April 4, 2020
One of the Wachowskis’ other films also got some love, too, even if it didn’t do well in theaters.
‘Cloud Atlas’ Was A Sprawling Epic That Hit People Hard
CLOUD ATLAS. After walking out, I felt I knew how people felt watching STAR WARS for the first time on the big screen. So sprawling, so epic. pic.twitter.com/gQXrhpjHp3
— Judd Taylor (@JuddTaylor) April 4, 2020
Cloud Atlas. I expected to hate it – wow, was I wrong! It was everything I had hoped Inception would be. There are still huge problems with it (Hugo Weaving and other white actors playing Asian roles was both unnecessary and offensive), but it definitely blew my mind. pic.twitter.com/21N9hfZ8TM
— Leith Skilling (@LeithSkilling) April 4, 2020
— Mostradamus (@Musachaudhry) April 4, 2020
There were a few movies that kept popping up in the comments, including Vanilla Sky, Annihilation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Requiem for a Dream and Cabin in the Woods.
These Movies Also Got Some Love
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was such a brilliant, high concept premise but the story was incredibly personal and engaging.
— Collin Murr (@CollinMurr) April 4, 2020
Vanilla Sky is absolutely bonkers
— Derrik / Rehoboam (@siriusgray91) April 4, 2020
This was a big one for me too. I was obsessed with it in college and even got a film as literature class to do a group project on the book so I could talk about the cinematography in the movie.
— Jenn Murphy (@Lady3Jenn) April 4, 2020
Vanilla Sky…I slipped right into its reality and out of my own for a while. pic.twitter.com/XgByjsg81T
— Susan socially distancing (@realsusandixon) April 4, 2020
Cabin in the Woods pic.twitter.com/JpNB5qttYl
— Felix ~😷🏡Shelter TF At Home🏡😷~ the Cat🏳️🌈 (@FelixTheIII) April 4, 2020
Annihilation fucked me all the way up.
— Patrick Vicious (@alleywaykrew) April 5, 2020
And people are still trying to figure out the ending of one particular 2004 movie to this day…
‘Primer’ Messed People All The Way Up
My choice. Still gives my brain a hiccup because it's so good. I imagine the writer having index tacked to the wall, with red yarn looping around every card several times.
— Jim Cripps (@JimCripps) April 4, 2020
"Primers" still have to go to the YouTube explanation video to understand it.
— David Lee Evans (@David_Lee_Evans) April 4, 2020
Primer. This chart helped… pic.twitter.com/SeYVwO2Vwr
— Margaux McDonnell (@belminican) April 4, 2020
There were a number of one-off answers that I never would have expected and now I either want to go back and rewatch those movies or watch others for the first time.
Others Chose A Movie Out Of Left Field
Perfect blue and paprika by satoshi kon. I’d say perfect blue the most tho.
— A. Penley (@Penleydesigns) April 4, 2020
More recently, Mr. Nobody. It suggests every decision you were ever faced with, there exists a reality where you made both choices. Spiritual and sci-fi.
— Fred Topel #noPROact #fightforfreelancers #fixAB5 (@FredTopel) April 4, 2020
I think for me Children of Men. The commentary… and *that* cry scene at the end. If you’ve watched you know.
— Sharareh Drury (@ShararehDrury) April 4, 2020
Blair Witch 2 kinda did too. A fictional sequel to a pseudo-documentary that basically chastised the audience for falling for the hype and being complicit in the ruse.
— Franchise Fred (@FranchiseFred) April 4, 2020
I know it sounds kinda lame but when I first saw Vantage Point in theaters, the way the stories came together just blew me away
— Grant Hermanns (@grantheftautho) April 4, 2020
RUN LOLA RUN will always be the one for me that broke my mind, thinking, "You can do *that* with a movie?… I wanna do that." pic.twitter.com/GYoliweYaf
— 𝙽𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚁𝚞𝚎𝚐𝚐𝚎𝚛✍📽🎃 (@NateRuegger) April 4, 2020
Such a beautiful film! I never see anyone talking about it!
— Callum Lee Harrison (@callumlharrison) April 4, 2020
Céline and Julie Go Boating
— Alonso Duralde 🌹🎄 (@ADuralde) April 4, 2020
The Game with Sean Penn and Michael Douglas. The ending blew my mind.
— ahhdelmonte (@ahhdelmonte) April 4, 2020
My high school english teacher took our class to the local uni to see 'All That Jazz'. I'd seen musicals before – Sound of Music, etc – this was so utterly new and different and it absolutely snapped my mind open to what could happen in a film. Great question! pic.twitter.com/kaJ88JUSH9
— Dave 'the goose' Goossen (@davegoossen) April 4, 2020
That was brilliant! When Maxine turns to the bartender and says "Check!" — I laughed so hard I had to go into another room.
— David Hal Chester (@davidhalchester) April 4, 2020
Jurassic Park. Not only did it blow my 9yo mind, it (erroneously) Made me realize how powerful digital was going to be and pushed me away from wanting to do practical monster effects for a career. Seriously. Never recovered.
— Matt R. (@ImHere4Contests) April 4, 2020
Clerks made me appreciate that good writing is king pic.twitter.com/6UqO7uXH6y
— John D. Robinson (@JohnDRobinson) April 4, 2020
First time I saw it I nodded off briefly, but I missed something that made the ending baffling.
I wrote it off as a bad movie.
Then I watched it again without falling asleep. Amazing.
— Jock High (@jockhigh) April 4, 2020
Akira. I saw it at The Alamo (theater) in Austin, TX, in 1990, and it got out at midnight. Knew nothing going in except that it was sci-fi and animated. MIND BLOWN.
— Wicker Man Studios (@parkcooper) April 4, 2020
I couldn't tell which celebs were playing characters vs playing themselves 🙄 pic.twitter.com/FKEuW8s16O
— StPaulSue 🙋♀️ (@Suemo123) April 4, 2020
But the one movie that appeared the most in the comments was one not everyone might expect. In fact, it appeared so many times that a few people were going to choose it only to see that everyone had already beaten them to it…
The Shocking Reveal In ‘Arrival’ Floored Just About Everyone
Maybe a weird choice but the first John Wick movie knocked my socks off with how simple but effective it was. I was gonna say Arrival but I see everyone else already said that 😅
— Justin Reece (@KyloReece) April 4, 2020
Arrival, Eternal Sunshine
— Danielle SepulvereSpellingBee (@ellesep) April 4, 2020
Reading Arrival’s script I literally jumped out of my seat at one point
— Jessica Ellis (@baddestmamajama) April 4, 2020
…we’ll just ignore Neil DeGrasse Tyson being a killjoy.
When and how Arrival reveals itself. pic.twitter.com/Lm8xZXnGA6
— Sam Anderson (@Git_Shiddy) April 4, 2020
Arrival for sure. As for foreign films, my pick would be Hero
— Nguyen Le 🎞@🏠 (@nle318) April 4, 2020
— Carmen (@estivaldawn) April 4, 2020
Arrival, because it tricked me into thinking Louise was depressed because of her daughter and I didn't realize it until the twist. I was so involved in the aliens arriving that I didn't stop to think whether or not Louise's reaction was normal even in the face of depression.
— Manuel (@Manuel27285485) April 4, 2020
— Cathy Rubey (@CathyRubey) April 4, 2020
The Prestige, Arrival and… Gone Girl
— thamsanqa 🇿🇦 (@ThamiMzolo) April 4, 2020
— Fabián LB (@fabianlb506) April 5, 2020
— Sharon-S (@sharryscotland) April 5, 2020
It was 2016’s Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner and written by Eric Heisserer and based on a short story by Ted Chiang, that won in a landslide.
So if you’re looking for a list of brain-bending movies to watch, here you are:
- The Matrix
- Cloud Atlas
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Cabin in the Woods
- Vanilla Sky
- The Prestige
But the whole list of movies is worth skimming through so I encourage you to read through the comments.
Would your choice be on the list above? Or would you choose a completely different movie?