I love film. There’s something about it, the way people speak, the way that everything looks. The thing about movies is you can do whatever you want to make the world look different from what it is; you can cover it in CGI, you can increase the saturation, or you can blur everything to make it look just a tad ethereal. On each movie I watch I associate a “vibe” or an energy that comes off of the movie. There’s a different energy in the room when you watch Avengers: Endgame versus Titanic.
So, this is a list organized by the “vibe” of each movie, based on how the movie was filmed and how the director or producer made the film in an aesthetic context. If you’re feeling dainty, edgy, mysterious, confident, this list has something for you. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the ultimate list of films.
Aesthetic #1 : Baroque/Cottagecore, European, Beige & White
Welcome, Aesthetic #1, to your master list of films. People who associate with Aesthetic #1 typically like old European architecture, poetry, and the classics. Their style consists of pale and neutral shades, light fabric, silk or satin, and dainty gold jewelry. Their ideal travel location is Paris and the French countryside, and they like bright flowers.
1. Pride and Prejudice (2005): Pride and Prejudice is based off of the Jane Austen novel, and follows the life and love of Miss Elizabeth Bennett and her suitor Mr. Darcy. I may be biased to films with Kiera Knightley in them, but the countryside scenery and the chemistry between the two leads makes this a must watch. The book is also a must read.
2. Casablanca (1942): Maybe it’s just me, but Casablanca is probably one of my favorite movies. Casablanca tells the tale of World War II era Morocco, under Vichy control. Rick Blaine, an expatriate, owns a small nightclub in Morocco which attracts everyone from refugees to Vichy officials. When his old flame comes into his nightclub (i.e. “In all the gin joints in all the world…”), Blaine has to choose between staying with the woman he loves or helping her and letting her go. Personally, I love how they speak in this movie, and I’ve discovered that it’s claimed to be a classic for a reason.
3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019): This film tells the story of a young painter in 1770s France named Marianne, who is commissioned to do a wedding portrait for a new bride. The catch is that she has to paint the girl in secret, so the bride doesn’t find out. The story develops into a star-crossed love story between the young, aristocrat bride and Marianne. The costumes and the story in this film are beautiful, and it has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Beware, this film is in French, so be prepared to read some subtitles.
4. Little Women (2019): This book holds a special relevance to me because it was one of the first books my mom and I read together, but even so, it’s contagiously loveable. I would be amiss to claim that I did not base a large portion of my own personality growing up on Jo March’s in the books. Based off of the novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women tells the story of four sisters in the late 19th century. Jo, Amy, Beth, and Meg will stay in your hearts long after the curtains close, and Greta Gerwig’s adaptation is as visually appealing as it is theatrically stunning.
Aesthetic #2: Dark Academia, Broody & Intellectual, Brown & Beige
Welcome, Aesthetic #2, to your master list of films. People who associate with Aesthetic #2 like Romantic literature and are fascinated by the analysis and study of everything they see. Their style consists of darker greys and neutral browns, heavy fabric, tweed and London-business-esque style. Their ideal travel location is London and big, historical cities. You drink your coffee with very little milk and sugar. Light a candle and fire up another period film, ladies and gentlemen.
1. Dead Poets Society (1989): At an orthodox New England boarding school, Robin Williams plays an eccentric teacher who implores the stressed young men at the academy to be unconforming and pursue individuality through literature and writing. Set in 1959, the movie implores you to see what you value and the world you live in in an entirely new light. “Carpe diem, seize the day boys.”
2. Black Swan (2010): Natalie Portman plays a prodigal ballerina who vies for the coveted spot of Prima ballerina in the upcoming showing of Swan Lake, and her competition comes in the form of a newcomer (played by Mila Kunis). The film explores the duality between both of the women in the form of the “white and black swan,” and the competition fostered in the spotlight. One of the most perceptive understandings of societal and self-pressure, Black Swan offers a showcase of Nina’s descent into madness in pursuit of the role.
3. Kill Your Darlings (2013): Kill Your Darlings is an autobiographical bio-pic exploring the early life of the Beat Generation, a literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored American politics and culture in a post-war era. The movie follows a young Allen Ginsberg, played by Daniel Radcliffe, and his life at Columbia University in New York City. After meeting the staunch anti-establishmentarian Lucien Carr, Ginsberg’s life takes a darker turn as he learns about Carr’s history and secrets.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011): First off, do not offend me by watching this movie if you haven’t read the books. I will consider you a squib. While the early Harry Potter films feel nostalgic, especially the Sorcerer’s Stone, Deathly Hallows is perhaps the darkest narrative in the books as a whole. As Harry faces against Voldemort for the final time, you see the young boy that the whole world has come to love turn into a steely evil-ridder who hunts down the last of Voldemort’s lifeline.
Aesthetic #3: Art Deco/Technicolor, Bright & Lively, Pinks & Blues
Welcome, Aesthetic #3, to your master list of films. People who associate with Aesthetic #3 are in love with cities like Miami with a huge Art Deco influence, and love retro neons and vintage convertibles. Their style consists of a lot of striking patterns and color, mixed with chrome or optic white silk. Aesthetic #3 is a nightlife junkie, and you probably like reading contemporary artists. You’re definitely more of a music person, though.
1. Mulholland Dr. (2001): Mulholland Dr. is a Lynch masterpiece, and watching it is the biggest trip on Earth. A woman is left with severe amnesia after a car crash, and she wanders the streets of Los Angeles until she takes refuge in an apartment. She is found by Betty, a wholesome blonde who hopes to pursue dreams of being an actress in the big city. The two women set off on a crusade to discover the woman’s, Rita’s, true identity through an idyllic Los Angeles setting.
2. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964): The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a musical film centered around the story of Geneviève, a beautiful young woman who works at a local boutique that sells umbrellas. Geneviève falls for a dashing local mechanic, but her love affair is cut short by her love being sent to the Algerian war. Geneviève tries to move on, but some unexpected circumstances make it inexonerably harder to forget about her first love.
3. Funny Face (1957): Audrey Hepburn plays a shy bookstore associate who is accidentally discovered by a New York photographer while at work. After agreeing to go to Paris with the photographer, Hepburn’s character finds herself falling for the photographer as they run through various aesthetic Paris backdrops. If not for the storyline, watch the movie from a purely aesthetic standpoint.
4. La La Land (2016): Known for the infamous Oscar incident, La La Land is arguably one of the most visually stunning films done in recent history. Mia, a bludgeoning actress in Los Angeles, meets Sebastian, a young man with aspirations to open up a jazz club. The two fall for each other and the film follows as both of them pursue their dreams, which may cost them each other.
Aesthetic #4: Beachy & Summery, Relaxed & Light, Blues & Yellows
Welcome, Aesthetic #4, to your master list of films. People who associate with Aesthetic #4 are beach girls, who probably have wavy hair from salt and can definitely surf or wakeboard. Their style consists of swimsuits (a lot of them) and denim shorts for days on the coast. Your dream car is a Volkswagen van, and your ideal travel location would be anywhere that has a decent ocean (Bondi Beach, south England, find it, seek it.) You’re always down for an adventure.
1. Blue Crush (2002): Kate Bosworth plays an avid surfer in this 2000s teen movie, anxiously awaiting a local competition that would give her validation in her surfing abilities. The movie tells the story of Bosworth’s character and her three friends who have one goal: surf on Hawaii’s famed North Shore. But, she seems to have a problem when she falls for the local quarterback.
2. Mamma Mia (2008): Donna is a hotelier on an idyllic Greek island, and while she’s planning her daughter’s wedding, her daughter Sophie decides to invite 3 different men from her mother’s past; one of whom she’s hoping to be her father. As Sophie navigates the new world of potential marriage, Donna has to face her past in a very literal way. The world of Kalokairi will make you want to abandon everything and run away to a Greek island, and Meryl Streep’s Donna is arguably one of the most iconic characters in modern film.
3. The Beach (2000): A young Leonardo Dicaprio, playing an American backpacker, sets off to Thailand on an adventure to experience the world and connect with new people. The Beach is a enclave of paradise, but everything is not how it seems. The movie is based off of a book by Alex Garland, and the drama and adventure film is worth a watch if just for young Leo. Given, the ratings are pretty rough on Rotten Tomatoes, so watch with caution.
4. The Endless Summer (1966): While this is a bio-pic, this movie revolutionized the public view of surf culture by following two renowned surfers on their worldwide search for “the perfect wave.” Largely praised for its beautiful cinematography and it’s accompanying soundtrack, once Michael Hynson and Robert August enter your life through the sardonic narration of the cinematographer, you’re going to want to find the perfect wave yourself.
Aesthetic #5: 90s & Y2K, Glitter & Luxurious, Neon Pink
Welcome, Aesthetic #5, to your master list of films. People who associate with Aesthetic #5 have definitely watched Mean Girls about a hundred times and say “that’s fetch” at least twice a week. Your style icon was and will always be Paris Hilton, and you’re obsessed with Kendall Jenner’s fashion now. You love glamour and the color pink, and it’s super evident in your clothing choices. Your style consists of flared jeans and halters, and small city bags with little sunglasses. Your dream travel location is probably just to go back to the 2000s.
1. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999): Kat Stratford is an unapologetically abrasive, but beautiful, high school girl. Her younger sister isn’t allowed to date until her sister gets a boyfriend, though, so a classmate hires another student to date Kat so he can date her sister. This cast is amazing: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. While Levitt isn’t the fondest of his role in the movie, I personally love it and think it’s a watch.
2. Clueless (1955): Cher Horowitz is the ultimate 90s it-girl; “a virgin who can’t drive”. She is a rich and shallow young girl who is at the top of the social ladder and finds herself above high school boys. Cher decides to take the lives of her peers and teachers into her own hands, taking a new student, Tai as her prodigy and teaching her how to be popular. In the process, she realizes that she’s actually quite clueless about a lot of things herself. The film itself is a reshaping of Jane Austen’s Emma, and a pretty good one at that to appeal to modern audiences.
3. Easy A (2010): Emma Stone plays the titular role in this play on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” playing a high school student who starts a rumor about her losing her virginity at a party. The clean-cut teen finds herself in a dilemma after the rumor is spread around campus, making her notorious for new reasons and messing up her relationships and reputation. Very entertaining.
4. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005): This movie is a source of so much nostalgia. Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, and America Ferrera play friends in this iconic 2000s movie series about friends who mail eachother a pair of pants over the course of a summer when they’re apart. The four friends each have different conflicts and things happen over the course of the summer, and you get to follow the story of each of them through this one pair of jeans. Personally, I wanted a pair of travelling pants, but unfortunately I can’t find a pair that fits me and every single one of my friends.
And there you have it, a list of movies for a bunch of different aesthetics. Hopefully you can find a vibe on here you’re interested in, and if not, there’s plenty of movies out there to satisfy your need for new movies.