In ye old days, before the advent of Spotify mixes and “search by mood,” if you liked someone you might homemake them a playlist. The great thing was that it could be perfectly tailored to its recipient’s tastes, no matter how niche—so why isn’t there an equivalently quippy word to describe that thing where a close pal writes you a tailored list of movies? The best movie recommendations come from those who wholly understand your interests, and if you find yourself on our homepage regularly, we’re willing to wager that one of those interests is beauty. Next time you don’t want to spend half a movie’s run time flipping through lackluster options, return to this movie playlist (watchlist?) of eight movies where beauty is a main plot point. You might learn a new tip, get inspired, or just feel the warm pleasure of seeing something you love reflected back at you on the big screen. This weekend, why don’t you watch…
The Beautician And The Beast
There are bad movies, and then there are bad movies so perfectly bad that they are kind of, sort of good. This one falls in the latter camp. Don’t come for rousing performances or a lyrical script—look, it’s called The Beautician And The Beast, you get what you pay for. In a somewhat ode to The Sound of Music terribly gone wrong, the movie follows a beautician played by Fran Drescher, who, in a mixup, becomes the private science tutor for a wealthy family in a fictional European country. The kids um, do not exactly get a valuable education in matters of chemistry or anything like it, but there are makeovers and a love story that’s impossible to believe, but a ride nonetheless. Kids will like it for what it is: ridiculous and a parade of peak ‘90s outfits. Watch for two hours of escapism at its best, which these days is all anybody’s really looking for anyway.
Quite literally the opposite of The Beautician And The Beast—please, oh please, prepare for a big ol’ cry. The beauty element of the movie is that everyone in this tiny Louisiana town finds a way to hang out at the local salon, which is owned by the Dolly Parton. Serious life matters are hammered out under the dryer and over the wash station sink. If you’ve seen it already you know what you’re in for, and you know that you’re willing to watch it all over again (it’s that good). But if you’re a newbie, here’s what to expect: a wedding, a baby, and high family drama. All of which is acted out by Julia Roberts, Sally Fields, Shirley McClaine, and more. Watch while FaceTime-ing your mom, your grandma, or a friend—just don’t watch it alone!
Well, what is good hair? Chris Rock, somewhat surprisingly, is on a mission to find out in this early aughts doc. The term carries a potent meaning within the Black community, much of which is shaped by unfair Euro-centric beauty standards. Rock approaches the idea from all angles, tapping into his network of celebrity friends to offer commentary, and traveling to India to investigate the leading source of America’s weaves. Rock said he was inspired to participate in the documentary when his young daughter expressed frustration with the texture of her hair. Watch for the movie’s clear thesis: what’s on top of your head is less important than what’s in it.
Like A Boss
Like A Boss follows a similar rubric to many recently-released big-budget lady comedies, featuring two besties, a plethora of vagina jokes, and a feel-good conclusion. You probably didn’t see it when it came out in theaters, but for a rough day followed by a night in, this movie is kind of perfect. The gist is that two best friends start a beauty company together—the brand is struggling until they receive an investment offer from a copper-haired Salma Hayek, who owns a beauty conglomerate called Oviedo. Hayek’s wig is unflattering, the plot tends towards cheese, and as editors, we have to admit a real-life beauty launch party is nothing like the one portrayed in the movie, but there’s no denying that Tiffany Hadish and Rose Byrne are comedic geniuses. Watch for a laugh you don’t have to think too much about, Jennifer Coolidge, and a scene where Rose Byrne asks a fully smoky-eyed twenty-something what makeup she wears and she responds “just sunscreen.”
This fantasy movie has real-life beauty origins: As legend has it, filmmaker Tim Burton sat down in celebrity hair stylist Edward Tricomi’s chair for a haircut, and when he got up, he had the idea for the movie Edward Scissorhands. Tricomi is known for his lightning-fast chops, his hands moving so quickly it’s almost like the scissors are part of them. And in the movie, Burton takes that sensation to the extreme through this retelling of Frankenstein starring a young Johnny Depp in Lynn Yaeger-esque makeup with long, pointy scissors for hands. It’s creepy in the way all Tim Burton movies are creepy, with meticulous ’90s-does’50s aesthetics and an unexpectedly touching romance. Watch for the scene where Edward chops avant-garde looks for all the suburban housewives, and be prepared to cry at the end.
You might learn a lot from somebody’s skincare routine—we based a whole site on that theory, anyway. But what American Psycho proves is that a great routine does not belie a great code of ethics. Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, an ‘80s-era investment banker with a case of textbook narcissism. His hobbies include working out, dining out, and employing the monologue, and though his skin seems resilient (he uses a deep pore cleansing lotion, exfoliating gel scrub, and a minty face mask every morning) his temper is fragile, and Bateman’s nighttime routine often includes violence and murder. Watch for Bateman’s Top Shelf montage, Chloe Sevigny’s bangs, and an ending you’ll have to look up explanations for.
This breezy comedy starring the ever charismatic Queen Latifah (as Gina Norris) is a true snapshot of 2000s beauty. There’s enough pin-straight, honey brown strands, thin eyebrows, and lip gloss, even Kimora Lee Simmons’ tan lower abs make an appearance in low-rise hip huggers. The story follows a team of women who work at Gina’s beauty salon in Atlanta, Georgia. While Gina navigates running her own business, she also has to deal with managing her pain-in-the-butt sister-in-law, competition with a balayaged poseur, and deal with stuck-up clients who think they know what’s best. Touching on the very real way you wish your hairstylist could fix your entire life as easily as they solved your grown-out lob, it’s decidedly feel-good, light-hearted entertainment. Watch if you want to feel like you’re in a salon, or if you’re just missing the antics witnessed while sitting in the chair.
Paris Is Burning
Paris is Burning was groundbreaking. It shed light on the Harlem ballroom scene of the late ‘80s, a place where gay and transgender competitors used meticulous costumes, hair, makeup, and poise to perform as if they were on a fashion runway, or an executive board room. These were places that folks who were Black, brown, gay, transgender, gender non-conforming, and economically marginalized were historically disallowed from—but in the ballroom scene, they could be whoever they wanted for a night. Mastering the appearance and mannerisms of heteronormative society meant rewards and praise for the groups competing, but ultimately, it served as armor to help participants navigate an unkind world. And in that spirit, the ballrooms were a sanctuary, and the beauty embedded in the pageantry was revolutionary. Watch for a peek into a world you might not have known existed, and a deeper understanding of how powerful beauty can truly be.
Photo via ITG