Lex Briscuso's Favorite Movies Of All Time

Hey /Film cuties, my name is Lex Briscuso and I'm one of the new kids on the block. You may have seen my byline pop up one or two or tens of times over the last couple months — but right now, I'm just a new girl standing in front of all of you, introducing herself and asking you to have a look at her top 15 favorite movies. Take my hand, let's take a stroll.

I hate disclaimers usually, but I do feel compelled to give not one, but two this time around. First off, this list changes every damn second in my head, but I tried really hard to snatch all the long-timers in my brain — the ones I rarely stop thinking about and am always recommending or finding myself having comfort watches of — for this list. Secondly, there's basically zero snobbery in this here list; I am just as into the profound as I am the stupid and/or banal, and I won't apologize for it. Sorry, y'all. Wait. Never mind.

Needless to say, it's not easy to commit to many things in this world, and a top movies list is one of them. But what I can say is that these are movies that will always be with me, whether or not they fall off the favorites list in the future or even make their way back on again. Hell, there are movies that aren't on this list that will always have a place in my heart. You know this, I don't have to explain it to you: making lists is hard but making movie lists is next level.

In any case, here lies my top 15 of the moment — may you find a few on here that you want to rewatch or discover for the first time.

15. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

This 1986 comedy is probably as close to a modern classic as we'll ever know in the genre — and it's the definition of a comfort movie (though you will realize through this list what a loaded term that is for me). There's nothing more soothing than watching Matthew Broderick and friends place prank phone calls, infiltrate city parades, and contemplate the complexities of life.

14. Grease 2 (1982)

I have no problem saying it: "Grease 2" is infinitely better than the original. Maybe it's because I find the original to be a bit overdone (which I feel like I can say because I played Rizzo in a high school production), but there's something so fresh and fun about the sequel that the first one just doesn't have. It could be the cast, which is altogether more charismatic and electric than the original group. It could also be the music, which, again, is just so much catchier than the soundtrack that came before it. Though, it's nothing without its roots, which gives us the awesome Frenchie subplot through-line and makes the sequel not just a cash grab but a true continuation. Plus, there's no better line than "Tonight, we bowl."

13. One Direction: This Is Us (2013)

Fun fact about me: I have eaten, slept, and breathed One Direction since 2010. It's been a hard stan life, juggling a dedication to a major global sensation while also harboring my intense love of films over the years — but it was really cool to lean into both of those worlds when documentarian Morgan Spurlock turned his sights on my five favorite dudes in the 2013 concert-film-slash-exploration-of-worldwide-fame. The movie was shot at what seemed to be the height of the band's acclaim as they toured ahead of their third album "Midnight Memories." As the story goes, they got bigger and bigger. It's a touching look at their upbringings and how they found themselves thrust together to become the biggest band in the world — no, they didn't start as a band, surprisingly — interspersed with fun concert footage of the five guys having the time of their lives together. When it comes to serotonin boosts (and, honestly, top-notch documentary work), this one is a double shot.

12. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

I remember seeing Quentin Tarantino's seventh film in theaters and thinking what a cultural moment it was. How cool it was to be experiencing that. Now, I realize that it wasn't necessarily a cultural moment, but more of a moment for me personally as I connected deeply with the storytelling risks being taken — hello, who doesn't love bold historical fiction? — and the performances (Melanie Laurent is basically God to me). There's no denying the story is smart and effective, and it isn't hard to get wrapped up in it all, especially with a hilarious villain like Christoph Waltz. He won an Oscar for a reason. To this day, it still feels like a movie I wish I'd written and I think I'll always be jealous of QT for that.

11. Bliss (2019)

Joe Begos' unique and bloody Los Angeles vampire tale had me by the throat from the first viewing — and each subsequent viewing reminds me why I keep coming back to it. Anchored by a fierce lead performance by Dora Madison, the 2019 splatterpunk horror fever dream follows artist Dezzy Donahue, who finds herself with a thirst for blood following a drug binge she went on to garner inspiration to complete an unfinished painting. The movie is steeped in specificity, with a clear picture of Begos' vision of a neon-smoked, blood-tinged LA on display. Between the performances, the direction, the production design, and the fact that it was shot on 35 mm, this movie is unmissable.

10. Daniel Isn't Real (2019)

Speaking of high style in films, Adam Egypt Mortimer's psychological horror rabbit hole starring Patrick Schwarzenegger and Miles Robbins delights me to no end. Upon seeing it at 2019's Brooklyn Horror Festival, it felt like time had slowed down and sped up all at once. The movie simultaneously felt like two seconds and one hundred years long. In short, I never wanted it to end. It could've been the chemistry between Schwarzenegger and Robbins — the cornerstone of the film which follows a troubled college teenager who begins to relive aspects of his childhood trauma when his former imaginary friend comes back into his life — and it could've been the specificity of the story. It could've been the effects, it could've been the stylization of the shots that give us an insight into the tone of the film's world. But it was all of those things together, and that is what makes this under-seen feature great.

9. First Reformed (2017)

In my opinion, this is the quintessential Paul Schrader film. It is where the filmmaker crescendoed with all of his long-standing themes and let the wave crash into something really beautiful, melodic, and chaotic all at once. Ethan Hawke, who plays a priest struggling with his faith, is both electric and contemplative in this movie and I can't help but think his Ernst Toller is the natural progression of his ability to shape the story he's always been telling and continues to tell with each film. He hasn't quite nailed it since, though, and each film he's made since just keeps me coming back to "First Reformed."

8. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The flesh is family, baby. The original 1974 horror show is a sight for the senses and a depraved look at terror for terror's sake, which would become all the rage in the horror genre years later. There's just something about the look of '70s cinema that is really fresh and vibrant, and this movie is no exception. Plus, the film doesn't hold back on the blood and guts — after all, it has a rep for a reason. A true horror original that is just simply a must-watch (and I even like the remake).

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

I cannot stress this enough: "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is the blueprint. Every time I watch it, I'm reminded that there's no horror movie quite like this one. It's got style, it's funny, it's anchored by a powerful lead actress (don't you feel bad every time you see that grey streak in her hair?), and features one hell of an iconic antagonist. Freddy became a phenomenon for a reason — he's actually scary — but the film is more than just his character, and I keep finding new things to like about it with every (probably way too frequent) viewing.

6. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Aside from Ferris, my comfort movie taste errs on the messed up side. The Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel will forever be burned into my brain as one of the most aesthetically pleasing and textually exciting films I've ever seen. My '70s movie addiction aside, there is something so satisfying about an invented vernacular and the movie does an excellent job of making that palatable for a wide audience. Again, specificity is key (can you tell this is something I love?) and this movie, despite its difficult subject matter and themes, has that in spades.

5. Saw (2004)

Did I mention my comfort movies are disgusting? The first "Saw" entry is, in my eyes, a really riveting drama and almost functions like a stage play, so it's hard for me to not come back to it time and time again and be enchanted by it. A morality play at its finest, "Saw" doesn't skimp on plot, story, dialogue, or themes. I don't think I'll ever stop trying to reframe this movie in people's minds.

4. The Social Network (2010)

While I have my gripes with Aaron Sorkin, I can't fault him for this one. I fell in love with this movie like one does with another living, breathing human being after seeing it for the first time in 2010. Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield's Eduardo Saverin are wholly different, and entirely more human, than their real-life counterparts and that makes for an interesting, and more relatable, story. I can't help but feel an emotional connection to it, the story of how a friendship dies. Plus, that lightning-fast dialogue is just so, so fun.

3. Possession (1981)

Watching this horror-film-cum-divorce-drama feels like plugging myself into an electrical outlet. Actress Isabelle Adjani is best known for her role as Anna, a housewife who becomes increasingly manic and unhinged after asking her husband, Mark (Sam Neill), for a divorce. Her performance is literally second to none and it's hard not to feel personally changed by watching it, every single time. It's hard not to be affected by her acting choices and unsettled by her drive. If you haven't seen it, it's required viewing. I'm waiting. 

2. Velvet Goldmine (1998)

Todd Haynes is the "Carol" darling now (and for good reason) but I find that "Velvet Goldmine" is his most under-appreciated gem. The film isn't for the faint of heart in the sense that it more resembles a patchwork quilt than an intelligible, linear narrative, but it isn't hard to follow along when you've got characters like this film does. The ensemble cast — which boasts Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Toni Collette — ties this film together like a bow and gives a human touch to what otherwise might just be a sheep in glam rock's clothing. A movie full of personality and heart, it's a queer homage and manifesto all at once.

1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

There's not much to say about the original found footage movie that hasn't already been said to death. But I found myself engrossed and disgusted and petrified on the first few viewings of "The Blair Witch Project" in my adolescence. This film just has a power and a grip it can choose to tighten on people and I have never not been in its wake. A forever comfort movie, you will find me watching this for both no reason at all and in celebration of some of life's biggest moments (yes, I try to ring in the New Year with this bad boy annually). And I've always felt a deep empathy for Heather, who is just one of the purest filmmakers ever "profiled" on screen. She just wants to get the damn shot, and I think those of us who love this medium more than anything can relate to that.