Geeking Out About : Visually Stunning Films

As an Illustrator, vision is how I understand everything I’ve learned about the world, and  everything I remember and feel has visuals attached. It’s how I can do a mental walk through of every place I’ve ever lived, remember all of my most vivid dreams from childhood and remember every book I’ve ever read.

So when I say movies are like food, then you know what I mean. I need movies like I need books. Some movies are like junk food. They’re not very stimulating intellectually, but rich with detail and  some movies are a smorgesbord. Theyre satisfying in every manner.

These are some of the movies I’ve found the most satisfying both visually and intellectually, in no particular order:


Directed by Satoshi Kon 2006

Apparently this film is just a little too deep for me. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of its philosophy, or it only has dream logic.  Well, whatever is going on, this is still the very best eye candy.


Directed by Christopher Nolan  2010

This movie satisfies on every level. Intellectually, visually and emotionally, it”s a feast.

The Fall

Directed by Tarsem  Singh 2008

I would’ve nominated this director’s first film, The Cell but this is the movie I enjoyed more. Its a lovely fairy tail, with an emotional resonance that sticks with you, long after the movie ends.


Directed by Ron Fricke  1992

This is a film meant to be enjoyed on a visceral level. It has no dialogue, but its rich visuals more than make up for this lack.

The Watchmen

Directed by Zack Snyder  2009

This is one of the best looking superhero movies ever made. The plot is pretty horrifying , but it’s visual movement and detail are exquisite. If you can stomach some of the gore and the nihilistic philosophies of the characters, it’s worth your time.

The Tree of Life

Directed by Terence Malick    2011

The plot is a  fairly standard coming of age story, about a young boys rocky  relationship with his overbearing father, but its themes of how small human relationships are in the scheme of the cosmos, yet are the end all and be all of our short lives, lends itself to some truly stunning, and occasionally, perplexing imagery.

The House of Flying Daggers

Directed by Zhang Yimou   2004

Okay, I’m not Asian, so maybe this movie really resonates with someone directly from one of the cultures depicted in the movie, but I don’t care, I just like the way it looks and sounds. Its absolutely gorgeous.


Directed by Zhang Yimou   2002

The first WuXia movie by the director of House of flying Daggers, this movie is Good practice. The story, characters, action and colors are all breathtaking. If you were impressed by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will love this movie.

Spirited Away

Directed by Hiyao Miyazaki   2001

I’ve introduced this movie to two generations of little WoC, and for every single one of them, the story resonates so wonderfully and so deeply, that it quickly becomes one of their absolute favorite films. My niece, The Potato, is always up for a rewatch of any film by the legendary Miyzaki, but it is this film in particular, that seems to truly speak to her.

Okay! Me too.


Directed by Ridley Scott  1982

I knew I was going to love this movie from the moment I saw the first trailer, back in 1982.  C’mon people! Robots, flying cars, detectives in trenchcoats and lots and lots of rain and neon. The style that every SciFi movie, for the next 20 years, attempted to copy.

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Directed by Andrew Dominik   2007

I only need to say one thing: Brad Pitt.

Dark City

Directed by Alex Proyas   1998

This is another movie, I knew I was going to fall in love with when I saw the trailer. Its dark and broody and stars William Hurt, and that would’ve been enough, but the story is intellectually compelling, as well. This was one of Roger Ebert’s favorite Science Fiction movies, such that he did two different audio commentaries for the two DVD releases.


Directed by Zack Snyder   2006

Many male critics professed not to understand why this movie seemed to captivate so many female fans.  They seemed to be under the impression that we were fascinated by the presence of Lena Heady. This is why you shouldn’tlisten to critics.

Here’s why we loved this movie:

There are about a bajillion more movies that I could add to this list, but these are the ones I’ll watch over and over.

4 thoughts on “Geeking Out About : Visually Stunning Films

  1. Paprika – I have this in my DVD collection and to this day I don’t understand the plot but I think that’s the beauty of it. Like a gloriously vivid cartoon dream washing over you.

    Inception – Rumour has it Paprika was actually one of Nolan’s biggest inspirations for Inception, which kind of shows especially with the hotel hallway scenes…but Inception is way more serious. Still a fantastic film.

    The Fall – This is one film I’ve been wanting to see for a long time but just haven’t got around to it for some reason. I’ve heard the ending is a bit odd though. Is that true?

    Baraka – I remember seeing this on Netflix and just being blown away. You should see Fricke’s other masterpiece Samsara

    Tree of Life – I don’t know many people who like this as much as I do so it’s nice to read your comment about it. You really summed up the theme of the film too which I think most people missed the boat on. I think the dinosaur scene represents those ideas perfectly.

    Spirited Away – An absolute classic for me

    Blade Runner – This too is a classic. I was so disappointed to find that tickets had sold out at my local theater this week for a screening of the final cut…boohoo 

    Great Review!!


  2. Tony

    Of those on your list, I’ve only seen The Watchmen, 300, and Inception. Of those three, I absolutely *loved* Inception. I agree that it is satisfying on multiple levels.


    1. Thank you, Tony.
      I agree Watchmen is not a good film but it’s like candy for the eyeballs. I’m a young woman with hormones, so it doesn’t matter to me how good 300 was.(Plot? What plot?) I hope you try some of the other movies on the list though. I’m not a religious person but I found Baraka to be spiritually satisfying, rather than intellectual, for example.


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