Nine Movies to Watch Before you Graduate College

By Scott Harvey, Columnist

When you read this, I will be about one week away from graduating from Furman. Accordingly, I’d like to offer you some advice in the only way that I know how: with movies. Here are nine movies that I think will help you get through and get the most out of your college experience.

  1. “Everybody Wants Some!” (2016) – Richard Linklater’s shaggy-dog comedy about a group of college baseball players in the days leading up to the start of the school year is an absolute delight. You may never find a friend as cool as Finn (Glenn Powell), but the movie’s engaging characters and hilarious hijinks will help you appreciate the free-wheeling nature of college life while you can.
  2. “The Paper Chase” (1973) – We’ve all had that professor who just seems impossible to please, no matter what you do. James T. Hart (Timothy Bottoms), the protagonist of this classic about year one at Harvard Law school, is no different. His tete-a-tete with the formidable Professor Charles Kingfield (a magnificent John Houseman) will hopefully provide you with some tips to conquering that difficult task, or at the very least give you relief that you don’t have it as bad as Hart.
  3. “The Lego Movie” (2014) – Group projects are an inescapable reality of college, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Regardless, after watching “The Lego Movie,” I don’t think it’s possible to ever approach a group project with a negative attitude. After all, everything is awesome when you’re part of a team. That’s one of the many surprisingly profound lessons to learn from this ingenious and infectious comedy.
  4. “Rocket Science” (2007) – College can be a nerve-wracking time at first. New place, new people, new freedom. It can sometimes make you feel like a fish out of water. The same could certainly be said for Hal Hefner (Reece Thompson), the hero of “Rocket Science,” who is goaded into joining his high school debate team by the pretty and popular Ginny (Anna Kendrick), despite the fact that he has a crippling stutter when he speaks. This oddball comedy is a triumph about finding your voice and personality in a potentially uncomfortable environment which makes it essential viewing for college students.
  5. “Boyhood” (2014) – Another one (to quote DJ Khaled) from Richard Linklater. “Boyhood” is, of course, the movie which took 12 years to make, Linklater filming a few minutes every year as he traced the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from childhood to his first days of college. “Boyhood” is an incomparably rich movie and it will help you treasure all of the individual moments, both big and small, which make up the college experience.
  6. “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” (2015) – College is, to be sure, a lot about growing up. But sometimes, we need a little nostalgia, a little trip back to childhood for a couple of hours. And I can think of no better film to scratch that itch than this one, the best of the “Star Wars” series. Full of eye-popping special effects and effortlessly compelling storytelling, “Star Wars” is a reminder that we should never be afraid to indulge that child in all of us, no matter how old we get.
  7. “Almost Famous” (2000) – Cameron Crowe’s irresistible tale of a budding young journalist (Patrick Fugit) who bails on school to go out on the road with the rock band Stillwater is one of those movies that puts a smile on your face from the beginning and never wipes it off. It’s also a cautionary tale about the rock star life, which may seem intoxicating but is ultimately unfulfilling, just as radio DJ Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) warns our hero William. So stay in school, kids. Oh, and to quote William’s mother (Frances McDormand), don’t take drugs.
  8. “Short Term 12” (2014) – Whoever you are, chances are that you are not at college without the support and help of someone older along the way. A family member, a teacher, etc… “Short Term 12” is a movie that honors those people who sacrifice so much for our well-being. The story focuses on Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) and Grace (a simply brilliant Brie Larson), who run a short term foster home for emotionally unstable teens. Their commitment to the cause is both inspirational and heartbreaking and this remarkable movie will stay with you long after you see it.
  9. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) – Yeah, I can’t connect this movie to college in any way but it’s an amazing movie that you should all see!

This is my final column for “The Paladin.” For the past 4 years, I have loved getting to share with you my thoughts on one of my favorite things in life: the movies. If one of my reviews has led even one person to see a movie like “Short Term 12” that they may not have otherwise seen, I will consider my job a success. I leave you all with a quote from another great movie, “A Clockwork Orange”: “It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.”

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