Best Films to Watch Alone


For film lovers like us, watching incredible movies is a sacred ceremony, and there’s nothing worse than being pestered with the question “So what’s going on?!”
Here’s our favourite recommendations for your personal movie night:

Scenes From A Marriage (1974) 

Any version will do – the 1973 miniseries, the 1974 film (both by Ingmar Bergman) or the admittedly brilliant American remake (by Hagai Levi) – but, specifically, the 1973 version is the best to see alone. In my opinion, Scenes From a Marriage is Bergman’s often overlooked masterwork, the best film from a director who consistently made some of the best films of all time, and it is maybe the best anti-romance film ever made, so perfect for your Valentine’s Day hate-watch, if that’s your game. (How better to spend February 14th than watching a five-hour Swedish miniseries alone?)

The film/series documents a series of moments across a decade of the relationship between a married couple, from equilibrium to complete wreck (and it isn’t so straight forward, as passion never is) with absolutely phenomenal performances and a script so brilliantly gruelling and emotional that it is impossible not to feel directly involved. For fans of downbeat but artful entertainment, any version of Scenes from a Marriage is essential – the pinnacle of feel-bad cinema, an extraordinarily realistic and powerful documentation of romance and marital struggles. Do not watch it with your significant other, as you won’t look at each other the same afterwards.

Reece Beckett

Via Prime Video / Cinema 5 Distribution

Inland Empire (2006)

How does one explain Inland Empire? Even for long-term fans of David Lynch’s signature penchant for otherworldly abstraction and oneiric narratives, Inland Empire’s release in 2006 still leaves audiences mystified to this day. The only synopsis Lynch is willing to provide is that it is about “a woman in trouble.” From there, we are left to find the rest of our way through its dark, labyrinthine mystery through pure emotion – Cinema at its purest!

Boldly and defiantly metaphysical, the film is steered by Lynch’s essence; completely unburdened from limits. A leading work in the distinctive movement of early digital video experimentation during the early 2000s, Inland Empire possesses a singular visual and aural texture. Any semblance of conventional cinematic formalism is completely excised. It moulds, moves and shapes by itself; transforming in any given moment of its own accord. Somehow, Lynch remains precise in his overwhelming nightmarish vision of Hollywood, exploring the female state and the interlocking duplexity of the psyche, amongst an abundance of ideas. By some miracle, Inland Empire’s seemingly disparate ideas and concepts link and flow harmoniously.

For a filmmaker already as special as Lynch, Inland Empire feels special like no other. Watching it alone is certified to be an unparalleled, divine experience. With an astounding central performance from Laura Dern – easily one of the best of the 2000 – it is an invigorating expansion and innovation of the language and underpinnings of cinema. Yet through its harrowing gloom, there arrives an evocative sense of catharsis and hope. A remarkable manifestation of the beauty and horror of life and cinema, you can be assured.

Callum Nelmes

Via Studio Canal

Ad Astra (2019)

Ad Astra is a quiet and meditative piece of cinema where the gaps between genuine human connection feel as large as the vacuum of space. In perhaps a career best performance from Brad Pitt, his character Roy much venture out to the outer reaches of the solar system to Neptune in an attempt to rescue his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who has been missing and before presumed dead.

The internal monologues throughout the film from our protagonist allude to him struggling with depression as he has never fully come to terms with his father’s abandonment of him and his own neglect of previous relationships, always putting his work first. In the film, there is a desperation to find other intelligent life in the universe and in turn meaning but, in the end, it is the meaningful connections with others back on Earth that helps Roy find solace and regain his humanity. Ad Astra is one of the most gorgeous space operas ever shot and is perfect for late night viewing in the dark. It may be slow paced but it is hypnotic and meaningful.

Harry Hipperson

Via 20th Century Fox

Requiem For A Dream (2000)

When thinking of the best films to watch alone, I considered ones that connect to viewers in very personal ways, and were surprising in the emotional impact it had on me. Requiem For A Dream does this through creating a spiralling sense of dread and horror so distinct in it’s slow descent into stomach churning tragedy, that the film is famous for its hard-hitting impact on viewers. Darren Aronofsky directs a film so incredibly addicting in its cruelty, with characters repeatedly finding chances of happiness only to fall further into blue-tinted (think Trainspotting) spirals of addiction, horror, manipulation and madness, not entirely far removed from a possible hellish reality. I distinctly remember finishing ‘Requiem’ as a curious teenage film lover, staring at the wall and crying in silence for a good 15 minutes as Clint Mansell’s ‘Lux Aeterna’ played out of my tinny laptop speakers.

As off-putting as this review may sound, I think Requiem is a ‘must watch’ in the film list of life, and watching it alone allows you to feel a lot of emotions very intensely and privately. However, approach with caution, and make sure you have something to laugh at or a big bowl of ice cream to drown your sorrows in afterwards – and only recommend to your friends if you want to get a kick out of ruining their good mood. Besides, for those in the know, the “ass to ass” scene traumatised many a young viewer badly enough without having to imagine the horror of having to experience that scene with your parents sitting on the sofa next to you.

Kat Munday

Via Momentum Pictures



About Author

Third year film student.

Masters student in Film Studies student dabbling in all forms of media with a critical and passionate eye. Also an actor and creative writer with a particular interest in ancient/middle ages history, various forms of literature and a love for bowling.

Third year film student. Lover of cinema. Bojack Horseman and Succession enthusiast. Likely creating a list on Letterboxd as you're reading this.

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