Coming to university is undeniably an exciting time; making new friends, exploring a new city and all those other clichés. However there is still a bit of time to kill between now and then, and as top-quality Oxford students, you need to spend that time wisely and productively, which in reality means plugging into Netflix while your friends from home leave for fresher’s week a month before you.
Seriously, you can’t pore over that impossibly long reading list all day, so why not browse some of these titles? A couple might even pass on some advice for uni in the process…
A must for any student, you will soon be able to fully empathise with the antagonists of this cult comedy. Granted, Oxford lacks the casinos, Tigers and Mike Tysons of Las Vegas, but there’s still a lot of shared ground between the two. At some point this year, you’ll most definitely find yourself attempting to retrace your drunken footsteps from the night before – so who better to get advice from than the experts?
I am Legend
Special preparation here for students who have no exams at the end of first year – lawyers and theologians, this one’s for you. You will walk the halls of your now-abandoned college mostly alone whilst your vampire-esque friends retreat to the darkened libraries trying to cram in last minute revision.
Rocky I, II, III, IV (don’t bother with V), Rocky Balboa
If you want to get punched in the face repeatedly with metaphors about how to be an underdog and still win, you can’t go far wrong with Stallone’s seminal collection. You may at times feel up against the world when dealing with deadlines, or feel like you’re not supposed to be here. But remember that that is only a state of mind, as everyone is capable of giving their problems a knockout blow. Clichés aside, Stallone’s own personal battle to make the first film makes it all the more resonant.
The magnificence of Denzel Washington is what propels Antoine Fuqua’s gritty and tense drama along, and for these reasons alone it is worth a watch. But what can this really tell you about university life? Well in this loose analogy you need to accept that Denzel here is your college Dad/Mum – the person who will teach you right from wrong – and also maybe even how to do wrong but not get caught.
One of Tarrantino’s earliest movies, Dogs is a heist film devoid of the heist. Full of cutting dialogue and unforgettable, iconic scenes, it really is a cult classic which deserves all of its plaudits. The plot of this film sometimes resembles essays at Uni; a fair amount of talk before hand, a heap of planning, and then boom, in an instant it’s completed. Now all you have to deal with is the gruelling aftermath in the tutorial.
“Are you watching closely?” asks Michael Caine at the start of a film which is clever even by Christopher Nolan’s ludicrously high standards. Just as the talented rival magicians in this film make their tricks seem effortless, it can appear that some people have the difficult task of work-life balance sorted without a hint of worry. The reality behind the illusion in both cases is time and practice, something that you’ll come to realise pretty quickly through first year.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Matthew Vaughan’s punchy and stylish take on espionage remains one of the most refreshing films of recent years. Highlights include the ultra-violent church scene, the equally ultra-violent secret lair scene and the ultimate figure of class and charisma that is Colin Firth. But if “Manners maketh man” then Kingsman proves that said ‘man’ doesn’t have to be privately educated and impossibly rich. Coming to Oxford may make you feel like fish-out-of-water Eggsy, but the reality is that, no matter where you come from, you’re just as good as the rest.
Dead Poets’ Society/The History Boys
Two sides of the same coin from two sides of the pond, the underlining themes in both of these films are very similar. Whilst ‘Poets’ might inspire you to “make your lives extraordinary”, the ‘History Boys’ is likely to make you doe-eyed when reflecting on the city you are about to come into, safe in the knowledge that your own interview experience are way in the past now. Either way, both of these films are fun, inspiring and seemingly relatable in equal measure.
22 Jump Street
Did you take a Gap Yah? Are you now noticeably older than your Fresher counterparts? Are you an undercover cop? If you answer yes to at least one of those questions then maybe you should take a leaf out of Jenko and Schmidt’s book and learn how to assimilate.
The Usual Suspects
A Kevin Spacey tour de force makes this one a classic. For two hours you can’t help but ask “but who is Keyser Soze?” – and for your whole first year at Oxford, you’ll be wondering “but who are the real nerds?” Spoiler: you are. Everyone at Oxford is. And you know what? It’s time to embrace it.