The Barbenheimer craze is all the buzz right now. The pop culture phenomenon celebrates the contrast between Barbie (2023), a feminist fantasy comedy, and Oppenheimer (2023), a historical epic, with both films basking in a shared critical and commercial success that defies box office conventions in the current post-streaming era. Barbie specifically has just become the highest-grossing weekend for a film directed by a woman.
Whether you watched both films on opening night or still need to buy tickets, here are some films and shows to check out to fill the “Barbenheimer”-shaped hole in your heart.
Want more movies from Barbie director Greta Gerwig? Then try:
Lady Bird (2017) & Little Women (2019)
Barbie might be the latest addition to Gerwig’s filmography of character-driven feminist flicks, but it certainly isn’t the first. Before Barbie, Gerwig was busy collecting critical awards and acclaim for the coming-of-age flick Lady Bird (2017) and the period drama Little Women (2019). While both films are a little less technicolour pink than Barbie, they still share the same empathetic understanding of girlhood, growing up, and self-discovery that’ll be sure to leave you a little weepy-eyed.
Want more sharp satire? Then try:
Heathers is the anti-Breakfast Club black teen comedy that first gained cult status for its subversive, sharp satire. It’s bleaker than Barbie, but still shares the same surrealist tone and cutting social critique heavily rooted in reality. The hilarious school board meeting in Heathers in which teachers cluelessly discuss how to handle teen suicide isn’t unlike the boisterous male-led boardroom discussions at Mattel. While Barbie takes proverbial aim at the patriarchy, Heathers isn’t afraid to make fun of how society treats teen suicide while having fun in the process. It’s deliciously dark, filled with mirth and murder, and stars Winona Ryder in the lead role. What’s not to love?
Want more “chick flicks” with substance? Then try:
Bring It On (2000) & Legally Blonde (2001)
Bring It On and Legally Blonde, like Barbie, are unapologetically girly chick flicks filled with campy costume design and clever social commentary. While Bring It On tackles cultural appropriation in the world of competitive high school cheer, Legally Blonde illustrates how women like Harvard Law student Elle Woods shouldn’t have to forsake their femininity in order to be smart or successful. Over twenty years later, both films hold up and feel as fresh and funny as ever — and definitely deserve a showing at your next movie night.
Want more live-action musicals? Then try:
Enchanted (2007) & Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Enchanted centres on Giselle (Amy Adams), who finds herself transported out of the animated fantasy kingdom of Andalasia and into the live-action world of New York City. Like Barbie, Enchanted involves a female protagonist being expelled from a seeming utopia into a bustling city filled with unknowns. Both films share a similar sense of earnestness and a catchy score that will have you humming along.
It’s also worth checking out Singin’ in the Rain, and as Barbie director Greta Gerwig’s all-time favourite film, its impact clearly ripples into the meticulously-crafted masterpiece that is Gerwig’s Barbieland. Both movies are dazzling technicolour eye-candy filled with elaborate dance sequences and a whole lot of love for all things filmmaking.
Want more Cillian Murphy? Then try:
Red Eye (2005) & Peaky Blinders (2013-2022)
Cillian Murphy is no stranger to playing an anti-hero or outright villain. In psychological thriller Red Eye, Murphy stars as Jackson, the mysterious man who winds up sitting next to hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) on a red-eye flight to Miami. It’s tense, gripping, and perfect for Oppenheimer fans searching for a thriller with a bit of a faster pace.
Maybe you can’t get enough of Murphy and want a longer viewing experience. Then it’s worth checking out his nine-year TV tenure as gang leader Tommy Shelby in the historical crime drama series Peaky Blinders, which focuses on Birmingham gangs from the late 1800s to the early 1910s. It’s visually stylish, chock-full of great performances, and emotionally riveting — give it a try.
Want more tense thrillers based on real stories? Then try:
Zodiac (2007) & The Social Network (2010)
If you’re tired of re-watching Christopher Nolan films like Inception, Interstellar, and Dunkirk, check out these David Fincher films instead. Like Oppenheimer, Zodiac and The Social Network are gripping thrillers that painstakingly craft tension in a way that’ll leave you hanging right on the edge of your seat.
The Social Network follows Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin in the early years of Facebook. Its fast-paced dialogue, as well as the intercutting between the rise of Facebook to the present-day deposition scenes in the film, resembles Oppenheimer structurally and makes for genuinely gripping drama. Zodiac on the other hand follows San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith as he attempts to uncover who the Zodiac Killer is by obsessively tracking the clues on the case. It, like Oppenheimer, is as gripping as it is anxiety-inducing.
Want more period dramas? Then try:
There Will Be Blood (2007) & Greyhound (2020)
There Will Be Blood is a sprawling period epic that follows the cunning Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who is determined to secure wealth as an oilman no matter the moral cost. Like in Oppenheimer, there’s a compelling and morally grey figure at the helm as well as a similarly engrossing visually-driven storytelling style.
In Greyhound, U.S. Commander Krause (Tom Hanks) struggles to defend an Allied convoy of ships from German U-Boats during his first war-time mission. Like Oppenheimer, it takes place during the 1940s. It’s perhaps less like Oppenheimer and more like Nolan’s historical war thriller Dunkirk — faster, more present, and with less dialogue to amplify the tension of the here-and-now. Still, what Oppenheimer and Greyhound share is compelling historical drama, strong performances, and a looming sense of anxiety that’ll stick with you long after the credits have rolled.