Staff Recs: Movies That Can Be Enjoyed Despite Knowing the Twist

Afraid you won’t enjoy a movie after someone spoils it? These recs will change your mind.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo as U.S. Marshals in "Shutter Island." (via facebook)

With the recent contention over spoilers in “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers: Endgame,” the Arts Desk has decided to rebel against this paranoia and go all in on some great cinematic twists. You’ve probably seen a million lists on the best movie twists, but we’re going a step further: here are some recommendations for movies that can still be enjoyed even if you already know the ending (warning: spoilers).

“Shutter Island”
The Martin Scorsese thriller revolves around two U.S. Marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) who investigate the disappearance of a murderous inmate at an insane asylum. The final twist is mindblowing — Daniels is revealed to be the inmate in question — but I contend that it is actually more impressive to watch the film knowing what it is building up to. Scorsese’s direction is stellar and even if one were to prepare for every scare in the movie you would still jump in fright from beginning to end. The added layers to the entire cast’s performances, especially DiCaprio and Ruffalo’s, become even more apparent and one might even appreciate the movie more knowing the hidden truth beneath Daniels’ mission. Like any thriller, the twist would be something you want to relish and have a fresh experience with. However, “Shutter Island” is such a compelling and well-made film that it can still get under your skin. — Guru

“Black Swan”
Natalie Portman is a gifted actress, but without knowing the plot twist in “Black Swan” off the bat, her performance as Nina can seem pretty lackluster. Without the twist, Nina is just a stressed out (albeit, possibly psycho) prima ballerina who desperately wants the best role in the company. It’s not until we meet her sexier, more maniacal double — Lilly (Mila Kunis) — that we realize the true extent of Nina’s psychotic breakdown. Nina isn’t just competing with Lily, she’s competing with herself. By the final scene, we’re not quite sure what was real and what wasn’t. Was Lily ever even there or was Nina as crazy as her mother the entire time? Knowing the twist from the get-go keeps the question of reality in mind the entire time instead of just through flashes during the final scene. And yes, it’s impressive that by the end of the movie you want to watch the whole thing again, but you might as well just save the time and just know the twist going in. — Claire

“Arrival”
The first time I saw “Arrival,” the 2016 Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi film, I was absolutely blown away, and the second viewing was just as powerful. After 12 alien spaceships suddenly appear around the world, hovering silently, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is tasked by the U.S. government with trying to figure out what the E.T.s want. Scenes of Louise interacting with the squid-like aliens as she learns their written language are interspersed with flashbacks to her young daughter’s death after a long illness. But it’s revealed later in the film that learning the aliens’ language allows one to see through time, that they came to Earth to share this tool with humans and that the flashbacks Louise experiences are actually visions of the future. Thoughtful and quietly moving, the film is a beautiful meditation on loss, hope and joy and, if anything, is even better the second time around. — Alex

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