Lifestyle, Movies & TV

Dissecting my highest-rated movies | Maia’s Inner Monologue

I’ve never been much of a film girlie. I’m more of a 20-minute sitcom girlie.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

My attention span is not too long — I blame TikTok. After a taxing day of classes and schoolwork, “Modern Family” or “How I Met Your Mother” are my go-to choices for winding down.

20-minute sitcoms.   

I might even indulge in some “SpongeBob SquarePants” if I really need to rot. And yes, I genuinely believe it’s a masterpiece. Do I have the personality of a 13-year-old boy? Maybe.  

Movies require too much brainpower for me, and I usually need to be in a specific mood to watch them — or so I thought.

Enter my best friend in the entire world, Maggie, a film and television major. Maggie’s on a mission to expand my cinematic horizons and I can’t deny that she’s onto something. 

Mags and I have a list of movies that I need to watch before we graduate. Admittedly, we’ve only crossed off about three out of the 100 or so titles on that list so far. 

As we continue building our list and routinely reviewing on Letterboxd, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty behind the four highest-rated films on mine. 

“Mamma Mia!”

It only feels natural to begin with this absolute gem of a film — favorite number 1. 

“Mamma Mia!” has been my favorite ever since I can remember. I think my mom showed it to me for the first time when I was ten or so. We’d sit on her bed, scream-sing the infectious ABBA tunes and try so very hard to convince my then moody teenage sister to join in on the fun. She always did — in due course.   

I’ve always had quite an affinity for movie musicals. I mean, it makes sense. I’ve been a theater kid for practically my whole life. Any movie where they randomly break out into song is an “A” in my book. But this particular film isn’t just another movie musical. No — there is something unique about this one. 

The charm of “Mamma Mia!” lies in its portrayal of Greek summer, with its picturesque white and blue landscapes and the energetic ABBA songs that accompany it. 

Yet, beyond these surface elements, what truly makes this film unforgettable are the memories it conjures. It transports me back to my childhood, gleefully dancing around my house while singing along to classics like “Does Your Mother Know?” and “Honey Honey.”  

Oh, to be that carefree. 

And of course, we can’t underestimate Meryl Streep’s talent in every film she appears in. Her performance in “Mamma Mia!” was no exception. Who can forget the captivating scarf choreography in “The Winner Takes It All”? It’s a scene that will stick with you long after the credits. But I digress. 

“Mamma Mia!” brings out my inner child. It’s nice to be reminded that she’s still in there somewhere. 

“La La Land” 

“La La Land,” the epitome of romance and, of course, another movie musical. 

What made me fall in love with this film was how seamlessly it drew me into its world. That’s fairly rare in cinema, but “La La Land” pulls it off flawlessly. I found myself unable to look away from the screen. 

I’m absolutely enthralled by Emma Stone’s portrayal of Mia right from the moment she spins on screen. Watching her journey from a struggling performer to a Hollywood star is both epic and achingly authentic. It serves as a reminder that success is often accompanied by struggles and heartache along the way. Real. 

And let us not forget one of the most beautiful parts of “La La Land”: its celebration of romance. As a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, I am drawn to stories that sweep me off my feet and leave me breathless. “La La Land” definitely delivers on that front — but let’s not talk about the ending. I’m still mad. But it had to happen. Safe to say I’m conflicted. 


Next on the list is “Midsommar,” a film that’s as hauntingly beautiful as it is unsettling. 

I’ve seen this film countless times, but with each viewing, I uncover new details I might’ve missed in times prior. 

While rewatching the film over spring break with my dad, I noticed a new little detail — a picture of a bear on the wall in Dani’s apartment. For those familiar with the plot, this seemingly irrelevant painting becomes profoundly important by the end. It’s a testament to Ari Aster’s ability to foreshadow future events in a subtle way.  

And c’mon. Florence Pugh’s performance never ceases to astound me — she is perfection. She could do no wrong. She could probably punch me in the face and I’d thank her. 

And the visuals, oh the visuals. The aesthetic visuals are enough to transport you to the sunny meadows of Sweden. It truly feels like you’re there. Scary? Maybe. But it’s one of those films that lingers in your mind for days after you’ve watched it.  

Listen, when I tell people “Midsommar” is one of my top favorite movies, I’m often faced with raised eyebrows and confused looks. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand. It is unsettling, sure. But the underlying message is too good not to love. 

“Midsommar” never fails to hit me right in the gut — in the best way possible. 

“Mulan II”

And last but certainly not least, “Mulan II.” 

Now, this one might seem like an oddball choice, but hear me out. It’s been a favorite of mine and my sister’s since we were little tots. We’d watch it on repeat, belting out the songs and cheering on Mulan as she sang “Lesson Number One” — best song in the movie. Actually, just kidding. “Like Other Girls” is. 

Revisiting it recently with Maggie, the movie still holds up as it captures the magic that made it so beloved in the first place.

Beyond the heartwarming story and catchy tunes lies another reason why “Mulan II” continues to charm me: the stunning animation. From the rich landscapes of ancient China to the intricate cinematography of the ink swirls in the title sequence, each and every frame is appealing for the eyes.   

While “Mulan II” may not boast the same acclaim as the original, it holds a special place in my heart for its timeless charm and visually stunning animation. 

I tend to gravitate towards the lesser-known Disney films. For instance, I find myself enjoying “The Lion King 1½” and “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” more than their original counterparts. Trust me, they’re just superior in every way. 

Who knows? If a self-proclaimed 20-minute sitcom lover like me can find joy in movies, maybe there’s hope for all of us to broaden our horizons a little — just make sure to put butter on your popcorn at the very least. 

More Articles

One Comment

  1. I’m writing as my usual self because I’m so happy you wrote about this!