In this unprecedented time in history, we are all sitting at home wondering: what is the best way to fill the time? For college students, we have our schoolwork and other work or involvements to help keep busy. But with such a packed school year, it’s hard to stay on top of all the great movies and shows in theaters and online. And now is the time to catch up.
So, here’s some films and shows I recommend you take a look at while you have some of this “rare” extra time on your hands.
- “Parasite"- How am I not going to include the year’s Best Picture winner? This drama-mystery film swept the nation and the world this past year and if you’ve seen it before you probably understand why. A poor family deceives their way into the lives of a wealthy family’s household. The constant turn of events builds up to a horrific, dramatic conclusion. This is a film that deals with issues and the emotions surrounding one’s class and identity. But you’re also compelled to feel for characters that are committing unlawful acts and it’s interesting to ponder why we feel this way about them. You can rent/purchase the film on-demand or from services like YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.
- “Marriage Story”- Have a Netflix account? Spend your day watching the best performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver that you’ll witness to date. I felt like I was watching a Broadway play from the comfort of my couch. This drama explores the complexities that come with a coast-to-coast divorce and the sacrifices one must make for their family and themselves. It’s filled with relatable, personal situations and a dash of humor. If you’re ready to see one of the best Netflix Oscar-nominated films, check this one out.
- “Clueless"-As if I’d make a watch list and not mention this classic film! This is one of the most iconic films that really transcends time and space. It’s always going to be topical, as this 1995 film has such relatable plots and characters. Alicia Silverstone plays the leading role of Cher perfectly, and we see her journey to self-discovery and realizing the world doesn’t revolve around her. It’s your typical high school flick with unique twists. And if you don’t leave the movie wanting a yellow plaid skirt then...what are you doing? If you want to keep the “Clueless” spirit going, check out the book “As If!: The Oral History of Clueless, as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and the Crew” for some behind-the-scenes stories and secrets.
- “Bombshell”- This 2019 provocative piece is based on the accounts of women who worked at Fox News under the leadership of Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes. After Ailes’ continued inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment, the women risk their lives and reputations to stand up for themselves and what they believe is right. This film was released at a good time- post the, #MeToo movement and in the middle of the current women empowerment era. And, if you want more Roger Ailes drama, I’d recommend watching the miniseries “The Loudest Voice,” available on Hulu and Showtime. It follows Roger Ailes’ journey to creating Fox News and how he handles monumental moments in recent history within himself and the news company.
- “Frozen II”- For those with a Disney+ subscription (which I highly suggest you get if you don’t already have), it’s been recently added! You’ve probably heard some of the new iconic songs like “Into the Unknown” on TikTok. Elsa and Anna are enjoying their time spent in Arendelle but Elsa hears a voice calling out to her. She leaves her town on a quest to discover her family’s past and in doing so, her own self. Olaf is cuter than ever before, and there may or may not be an engagement, too. So, if you want to know what the next chapter of Elsa and Anna’s lives look like, or if you just need something light-hearted and feel-good to watch, give this a try.
- “The Invisible Man”- First, this is a plug to support Hollywood studios during this pandemic. There are so many new releases that were quickly sent to on-demand because of theaters shutting down. It is important to spare some money, if you can, to studios so they can continue producing great new films. Second of all, this brand new Universal Pictures mystery/sci-fi film kept me on my toes the entire two hours. If you like horror films and the anticipation of the next scary thing popping out at you, you’ll love this film. I wasn’t fully convinced of the power of this film until the latter half, when the element of invisibility plays a key role in the storyline and the leading woman’s newfound power. It’s another good female empowerment film, but it does not feel like one, as it’s not so in-your-face about it. But, when you think back on the events in the film, Elizabeth Moss’ character defies the odds of her crazy scientist/ex-boyfriend and...well, I don’t want to spoil it for you!
- “YOU” (Season 2)- You’ve probably seen a lot of memes about this show, even if you haven’t seen it. I have to say, Season 2 is incredible. Season 1 has mixed reviews, and it’s worth your time if you enjoy it, but it’s not necessary for understanding Season 2. This new season really ramps up the psychotic aggression Joe has, to try and get what he wants. The show plays with the question of “What would you do for love?” but with an overly obsessive tone and in a thriller format. The 10-episode season is almost too easy to breeze through in a brief span of time. It’s a show that’ll leave you with cliffhangers and you’ll just have to sit with your conspiracy theories until Season 3 premieres on Netflix.
- “The Office”- This is one of those shows that will resonate with viewers for...probably forever. Every character has its own persona and interests and the interactions between coworkers (both friendships and romances) are so intriguing to watch. You really root for all (or most) of the characters and their well-being as they struggle through some of the simplest things in life as well as some of life’s big challenges. Whether you need a good laugh or a nice background show during your online Chemistry lab, I couldn’t recommend this show enough.
- “Self Made”- You may or may not have heard of this Netflix limited series, but it’s definitely worth your time. The four-episode show tells the true story of Madam C. J. Walker, a black hair care pioneer and stylist who overcame hostility in the early 1990s. Through a rivalry, a crippling marriage and other drama along the way, she becomes America’s first African American self-made millionaire. I couldn’t imagine any other actress than Octavia Spencer to play the leading role. Her confidence mixed with her calm nature really does the role justice. It’s something different from the mainstream content out there, and it takes you back to an older, a little less-crazy time, even just for a moment.
- “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”- If you have an Amazon Prime Video subscription, you’ve got to take a look at this show. Rachel Brosnahan kills the titular character in this uplifting comedy. This show, set in the 1950s, takes you through Mrs. Maisel’s New York life and her self-discovery of her love for stand-up comedy. It’s a show about taking a chance on something unexpected, regardless of what others might think or how things may play out.
- “Gossip Girl”- Another classic. There’s a character for everyone, whether it’s snooty Blair Waldorf, blonde queen Serena van der Woodsen, womanizer Chuck Bass, novelist Dan Humphrey, or the charmer Nate Archibald. You see the characters evolve from privileged high schoolers to post-college adults. This show, like “The Office," is super easy to binge-watch or watch in the background when you’re doing the dishes (or maybe that’s just me). Best to watch on Netflix!
- “Black Mirror”- Also on Netflix, this British sci-fi television series is perfect for a time like this. The episodes are very stand-alone, so you can pick which ones you want to watch and you don’t really need prior context to understand any of them. The subject matter is also very topical, with issues that involve a lot of sophisticated technology, whether it’s futuristic social media or online dating. Especially in these times where we might feel particularly alone, this show illustrates people who might be feeling the same way. Some of my favorite episodes include “Nosedive” and “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too.”