“Pop culture is just a Rubik's Cube of shit stacked on shit. And it's always turning and you can't figure it out. Ever.”
― Grace Helbig
Pop culture deserves to be analyzed and talked about. It's one of the few things that links almost every person on the planet. It transcends boundaries, not just because everyone enjoys it — whether it's music, theater, film, video games, or television — but because it's so pervasive.
10 Best Pop Culture Documentaries for Nerds, via NerdMuch?:
The Dangerous Kardashian Effect and the Profound Impact of the Superficial, via The Daily Beast:
Why I Love Analyzing Pop Culture, via The Chronicle:
When Pop Culture Sells Dangerous Myths About Romance, via The Atlantic:
“If I ever had twins, I'd use one for parts.”
― Stephen Wright
Films featuring identical twins, clones, duplicates, body doubles, carbon copies, replicas, mirror selves, and dead ringers.
Meeting your doppelgänger is typically meant to portend your own death, and there's much about identical twins to lend them great dramatic potential. Whether their origins are biological or supernatural (or created via experimentation with closed timelike curves), encountering your doppelgänger often represents the (oft repressed) dual nature of the human person, and can serve as an arena for the battle between good and evil.
This list does not contain movies featuring fraternal twins, like Adam Sandler's 'Jack And Jill', non-identical clones, like 'Logan', or films where characters switch identities entirely, such as John Woo's 'Face Off' or 'Freaky Friday'.
Be aware that, in some films, the reveal of an identical twin plot-line can be spoilery. Browse this list with caution.
‘Cam’ and 5 Other Great Female Doppelgänger Movies, via /Film:
The Best Movies About Doppelgangers, via Ranker:
The Origins of the ‘Evil Twin’ in Gothic Horror and Hollywood, via The Conversation:
“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
― H.P. Lovecraft.
Is our limited perception of time, space and reality just a thin layer of pretense protecting us from the incomprehensible, evil and/or uncaring horrors that rule the universe?
When someone dares ponder the vast gulf of nonexistence before his/her lifespan (never mind its quickly-approaching resumption), he/she is, in a fundamental way, not terribly unlike a helpless newborn who dies within moments of its birth.
Our existence awakens to an incomprehensible, chaotic reality — bright and loud and terrifying. And then, all too soon, it is gone forever. In our brief moment of conscious being, we witness fear, corruption, violence, and the pervasive instability of all systems — a general sense that we are, at all times and places, thoroughly insignificant and desperately unsafe.
And while there are beautiful things here for some of us — love, comfort, the company of friends — we often fear that those good things exist only to mock our brief and meaningless existence. That, in the end, we are all destined to face ultimate, inescapable forgetting.
And then, beyond all of that, there is the possibility of monsters. Monsters so enormous and inherently beyond our limited perception that one glance at them would tear our consciousness from the moorings of sanity and reduce our physical being to its component atoms.
This list of films exists for those who enjoy gazing, slack-jawed and mind-boggled, into the dangerous unknowable.
10 Visually Stunning Cosmic Horror Films, via Scene360:
‘Starfish’ Plays Like an Eclectic Mixtape of Cosmic Horror, via Bloody Disgusting:
When The Abyss Looks Back: Contemplating 'The Void', via Everything is Scary:
10 Mind-Bending Cosmic Horror Films, via FilmSchoolRejects:
Showing The Incomprehensible: 'Annihilation's Influences, via Thomas Flight:
“It’s a war within yourself that never goes away.”
― Luis Montalvan, 'Buried Above Ground' (2015)
While the diagnosis of PTSD did not exist until the early 1980s, filmmakers have been exploring the horrifying and detrimental impact of psychological trauma for decades.
Moral injury is closely related, but refers to an injury to an individual's moral conscience as a result of a perceived transgression which produces profound emotional distress.
What is Moral Injury? via PBS:
Why Is Hollywood Only Now Figuring Out How to Portray PTSD Sensitively? via Vulture:
The portrayal of PTSD in 'American Sniper', via Psychology Today:
On 'Christopher Robin', War, and PTSD, via The New Yorker:
The American Western, as a film genre, has traditionally focused on stories related almost exclusively to the white male protagonist. Subsequently, women's actions are largely ignored, and their voices often go unheard. This collection of films and TV shows have made some attempt to buck this trend.
Are 21st Century Westerns the New Feminist Genre?, via Den of Geek:
How 'Godless' Is Shaping a Brand-New, Pro-Women Western, via PopSugar:
The Quiet Menace of Kelly Reichardt’s Feminist Westerns, via The New York Times:
'True Grit': A True Feminist Western, via Utah State University:
What 'Godless' Says About America, via The Atlantic:
'Little Woods' Is A Feminist Western Movie Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen, via Bustle:
'Godless' is Really About the Dilemma of Disabled Masculinity, via Paste:
“We know that it was us that scorched the sky.”
― Morpheus, 'The Matrix' (1999)
Extreme weather events, changes in global temperature levels, mass extinctions — climate change promises so many fun things. But why wait? You can see what that world will be like tomorrow, by climbing aboard the climate fiction train today.
Cli-Fi explores how the world may look in the process (or aftermath) of dealing with climate change.
Well-done Cli-Fi also has an important message to deliver – that of hope. That it's not too late; we still have time to avoid these things happening if we adapt and change.
'Interstellar', Climate Change and the Evolution of Cli-Fi Movies, via ucsusa.org:
The New ‘Godzilla’ Is Science Fiction — and Climate Fiction, via The Daily Signal:
Cli-Fi Is the Hottest New Literary Genre, via good.is:
Can Cli-Fi Actually Make a Difference? A Climate Scientist’s Perspective, via The Conversation:
'mother!' and the Cli-Fi Conundrum, via Jump Cut:
A Review of Cli-Fi Cinema ... Past and Present, via YCC:
What Happens to Fiction When Our Worst Climate Nightmares Start Coming True?, via The Smithsonian:
Darren Aronofsky Says 'mother!' Is About Climate Change, But He’s Wrong, via The New Yorker:
“At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes — an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counter-intuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World (1975)
This list represents a growing collection of documentaries in need of a good debunking.
This is a controversial list, and there will likely be entries here that you disagree with. But, before you post a lengthy manifesto that I probably won't read, try looking up the film in question on rationalwiki.org, or maybe Google it, followed by the words 'debunked' or 'fact checked'.
And if you still disagree, that's cool. If it makes you feel better, I actually have a film on here that I mostly agree with ('The Magic Pill'). It's been  heavily criticized by the Australian Medical Association,  it makes some bold claims and  it doesn't do a good enough job of defending its position with current nutritional science. So I've listed it here. It doesn't mean it's a bad film, it just means it's not a completely credible film.
Netflix Is The Last Place You'll Find A Pro-Science Documentary, via the ACSH:
Watching a Documentary Does Not (Necessarily) Make You Smart, via jordandetmers:
Notes on Bad Documentaries (Or, Can a Documentary Be So Bad It’s Good?), via Filmmaker:
Streaming Services Have a Conspiracy Theory Problem, via Slate:
Doc or Crock: 6 Recent “Documentaries” Accused of Being Fake, via the AV Club:
There Is Almost No Good Science in the Movie 'What the Health', via Vice:
That *#^% Sugar Film, via Slate:
6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap, via Cracked:
Debunking 'What the Bleep Do We Know', etc., via LudicFallacies:
'Forks Over Knives', is the Science Legit?, via Denise Minger:
Unfairenheit 9/11, The Lies of Michael Moore, via Slate:
Correcting the 'Fed Up' Record, via foodinsight.org:
“We're reviving a cancelled undercover police program from the '80s and revamping it for modern times. See, the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas. So all they do now is recycle shit from the past, and hope that nobody notices.”
― Capt. Hardy, '21 Jump Street' (2012)
A collection of films wherein things become either mildly self-aware, or crazily self-referential.
Many of these films are aware that they are films, and the very act of movie-making (or movie-watching) is factored into the experience, or coded into the narrative.
13 Of Cinema's Most Meta Moments, via Empire:
Is Meta the New Funny?, via Cult Popture:
A Beginner’s Guide to Meta-Films, via CoS:
The Joys Of Meta Cinema, via Raindance:
The Year Of The Meta-Blockbuster, via CO.DESIGN:
The 20 Best Meta Movies of All Time, via Taste of Cinema:
The Heady Joy of Meta Movies, via Fandor:
The 10 Best Meta Horror Movies, via Collider:
High Five: The Podcast has an episode entitled Most Meta Movies (and Deadpool!):
'They Came Together' and the Best Meta-Comedies of All Time, via Signature:
The Rise of Self-Awareness in Cinema: Is Film Doomed to Become a Mockery of Itself?, via /Film:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits."
Film Critics Pick The Best Short Films Ever Made, via IndieWire:
25 Short Films to Watch on YouTube, via Ranker:
16 Short Films That Launched the Careers of Famous Directors, via Mic:
Best Short Films, via discover.film:
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them, into the impossible.”
― Arthur C. Clarke
A collection of science fiction movies and television shows that attempt some degree of scientific accuracy, with technologies or scenarios that may be nonexistent in today's world but are at least realistic (if only theoretical). That is to say, they don't rely on magic or fantasy (or anything that departs significantly from mainstream theory) to propel their plot.
This is not to say that some of the line-up here don't take a few speculative leaps, but they at least begin from a place grounded in credible research and theory, from where they then develop their more extravagant premises.
Yes, listing time travel films here is a cheat, but I've only included a few, and only those that make some attempt to explain their paradoxes and/or take their temporal consequences seriously.
The Best Hard Sci-Fi Movies, via /Film:
The 11 Most Accurate Science Fiction Movies Of All Time, via ScreenRant:
Five Science Fiction Movies that Get the Science Right, via New Scientist:
“Your mother's in here, Karras. Would you like to leave a message? I'll see that she gets it.”
― Pazuzu, 'The Exorcist' (1973)
After combing through movie lists from IMDB to Reddit, I think I've created the most complete collection of horror movies that climb inside your skull and mess with your brains.
Some people claim that the benchmark of true psychological horror is that the truly petrifying aspect is what isn't shown, not necessarily what is. But I've also included horror films that rely on the wholesale disintegration of the human psyche, and films where characters begin to lose faith in what is strictly real.
Beginner's Guide: Psychological Horror, via Film Inquiry:
What Exactly Is a "Psychological" Horror Film?, via PopMatters:
Why 'The Shining' is the Best Psychological Horror Film Ever, via The Tangential:
Why We Crave Horror Movies (PDF), via Stephen King:
Common Themes in Psychological Thrillers, via The Artifice:
Death, Grief & Why Horror Films Matter, via Talkhouse:
The Psychology of 'Annihilation', via Storytellers:
Psychological Thriller ‘Oculus’ Challenges Perceptions Of Horror Genre, via The Heights:
Psychological Horror in the Films of David Lynch, via film-o-holic:
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
― Chief Martin Brody, 'Jaws' (1975)
One Perfect Shot has a fantastic article entitled 'Blood in the Water: The History of Shark Movies':
The Shark Movie Matrix, via The Ringer:
Why 'The Shallows' Really is the Best Shark Film Since 'Jaws':
“Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”
― Black Phillip, 'The VVitch' (2015)
The cinematic spectre of the witch — the most prominent archetype of unruly feminine power — has been both a genuine accusation that meant a death sentence for women throughout history, as well as a dark, fanciful identity that many modern women find empowering.
This list includes both varieties, and even includes a few movies (’Firestarter’, ’Lucy’, and Disney's 'Frozen') where the word “witch” might not be spoken aloud, but supernatural feminine powers are on full display nonetheless.
Seasons of the Witch: Tracing the Resurgent Witchcraft Trend, via the AV Club:
Hag, Temptress or Feminist Icon? The Witch in Pop Culture, via The Conversation:
Toil and Trouble: Witches in Film, via Faculty of Horror:
The 15 Greatest Witch Movies of All Time, via Vulture:
“I'm your number one fan. You're going to be just fine.
I will take good care of you. I'm your number one fan.”
― Annie Wilkes, 'Misery' (1990)
Movies, Miniseries and TV Series Based on Stories by Horror Writer Stephen King.
Stephen King Knows He’s Having a Moment, via Vanity Fair:
‘IT’ as American Folk Horror, via Everything is Scary:
15 Stephen King Movies and Miniseries that Deserve Remakes, via ScreenRant:
Every Stephen King Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best, via Vulture:
The 5 Creepiest Stephen King Plot Twists, via Inverse:
Top 30 Stephen King Movies, Ranked, via Rolling Stone:
F This Movie! has an episode entitled "All Things King" (skip to 32:00):
Stephen King On What Hollywood Owes Authors When Their Books Become Films, via Deadline:
The 10 Best and 10 Worst Stephen King Movies, via Looper:
“You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”
― George Taylor, 'Planet of the Apes', (1968)
A grim collection of films depicting global threats, dystopian societies, post-apocalyptic worlds, and (in a few cases) the planet Earth blowing up real good.
Apocalypse Wow! Why Do We Love the End of the World So Damn Much?, via WestWord:
People Have Always Been Obsessed with the End of the World, via The Smithsonian:
Our Never-Ending Obsession with the Apocalypse, via BBC Future:
I Am Become Death: The Horror Legacy of 'The Day After' and 'Threads', via Everything is Scary:
“Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”
― John Cutter, 'The Prestige' (2006)
Great films with poignant, memorable, Shyamalanesque, or downright traumatic endings.
When Movie Twists Fail, via Georg Rockall-Schmidt:
What a Twist: Double Consciousness and M. Night Shyamalan, via Back Row:
6 Huge Movie Plot Twists That Caused Even Bigger Plot Holes, via Cracked:
'mother!’s Ending: What Does It All Mean?, via Vanity Fair:
Why 'The Sixth Sense' Ending Has Never Been Matched, via Esquire:
And the Award for the Grossest Twist Ending of the Year Goes To…, via The Mary Sue:
“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”
― Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum (2007)
What makes our lives worth living? Does free will exist? Is morality just a convenient charade? What is the nature of the human condition? Is God dead, as Friedrich Nietzsche said, or is He just really good at playing Hide & Seek?
The following films ask the "big questions", or are generally concerned with how to live one's life, believing that philosophical and psychological inquiry can help.
What is an Existential Movie?, via Existential Therapy (archived):
A Rookie’s Guide to the Existential Movie Magic of Ingmar Bergman, via PHOENIX Magazine:
What Makes Existentialism Work on Film?, via No Film School:
10 Existential Films for Philosophy Students, via Philosophy in Film:
5 Movies to Watch When You Have an Existential Crisis, via illuminapresto:
10 Best Existential Movies of All Time, via The Cinemaholic:
10 Movies That Will Provoke Existential Angst, via Scene360:
BBC Culture polled 253 film critics from 52 countries to determine the funniest films ever made.
What the Critics had to Say About the Top 25, via BBC Culture:
Why 'Some Like It Hot' is the Greatest Comedy Ever Made, via BBC CUlture:
Do Men and Women Find Different Films Funny?, via BBC Culture:
Are These Really the 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time?, via Vanity Fair:
Film Critics Who Voted for BBC Poll Blew it, via StealingShare:
5 Moire Films that Should Be on the BBC’s List of Greatest Comedies, via Hypable:
The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000, as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.
Visit BBC Culture here:
We Asked Readers to Choose 9 More Great 21st Century Films, via BBC Culture:
Comedy Shut Out of List of the 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, via Vulture:
Surprising Facts About the 21st Century's Greatest Films, via BBC Culture:
The 21st Century’s Greatest Films Form a Stark Contrast to the Highest Earners, via MarketWatch:
The Pleasures & Perils of Compiling Greatest-Films-Ever Lists, via The Globe & Mail:
Why 'Mulholland Drive' is the Greatest Film Since 2000, via BBC Culture,
The Newsreel Podcast, via CutPrintFilm, discusses the List (skip to 33:33):
To come up with a list of the 100 best episodes, the entire staff at The Ringer was asked to submit their favorite episodes of the century. The list was then assembled with those submissions in mind, and with one stipulation — only one episode per show could make the cut.
The result is a list of 100 episodes of TV that covers the medium’s vast variety of genres and recognizes the wealth of greatness delivered on the small screen for the last two decades.
View the list on The Ringer: