Like everyone else stuck inside, I’ve been spending countless hours flicking through Netflix, BBC Iplayer and Amazon trying to settle on something to watch instead of watching the ‘Dinner Party’ episode (S5, E13) of The Office for the 1000th time. Fortunately, this list of shows and films will save me some much needed time on deciding what watch! (Not that I have much else to do, apart from endlessly scrolling through Instagram.)
Hopefully, these will keep you occupied and inspired in these uncertain times.
Lost in Translation
By Lewis Empson
In a time where we are separated from one another and isolated in our homes; a film that celebrates togetherness and new experiences, all whilst scratching that wanderlust itch is just what we need. Lost In Translation, the second feature directed by Sofia Coppola, sees an unlikely friendship bloom between a washed up film star turned family man Bob Harris (Bill Murray), and directionless, neglected newlywed Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) against the gorgeous and culturally rich backdrop of early 2000’s Tokyo.
Murray and Johansson manage to create electric chemistry between two characters with captivating performances alongside an engaging story and mesmerising cinematography that captured Tokyo’s neon drenched nightlife and bustling city streets in stunning detail. The relationship that blossoms between the two as they explore the vibrant Tokyo nightlife had me fantasising about spending time with friends, enjoying summer evenings and moving on from the lockdown monotony.
This was never a melancholic feeling however as the film was all about finding happiness, living in the moment and moving past the things in life that get you down – so instead I felt more optimism and comfort that better times were ahead. I highly recommend checking this feel good modern classic out on Netflix if you’re ever feeling like the lockdown blues will never end.
By Anna Heledd
Unorthodox gives the viewer an exclusive and factual insight into the Hasidic jew community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The series is loosely based off the best selling memoir ‘Unorthodox: The scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots’, and is the first Yiddish Netflix series. It’s a series that has been produced by experts of the culture, but has still been dramatised to some extent by Netflix to make it more appealing for the Western audience. There’s love stories, excitement, and so much suspense I was on the edge for four hours.
This series has so much to offer, and is successful in guiding the audience through the story, visualising orthodox practices as it goes. It’s a perfect first venture into foreign film if you haven’t already tried it. I won’t give too much away, but the majority of the plot focuses on Esty and her husband, Yanky. You really do see the story of two young people in an extraordinary situation, where everyone has a religious duty to live having one purpose, whether this be the baby maker, or the head of the household. In just four episodes, ‘Unorthodox’ creates characters that are all complex in trauma, experience and personality, there are truly no small parts. That’s why I think it’s the series to watch during a pandemic.
La La Land
By Manon Jones
La La Land, directed by Damian Chazelle, beautifully encapsulates two young hopefuls trying to meet their ambitions in the heart of Hollywood. Sebastian, a hopeful jazz musician, played by Ryan Gosling and aspiring actress Mia, played by Emma Stone, briefly meet before crossing paths again and are drawn together by their shared desire to be successful in what they love doing. The film covers their time spent together over the seasons and is packed with amazingly shot and choreographed dances accompanied with magnificent music by Justin Hurwitz.
This film is the perfect film to help you escape from reality as it will have you singing along but will also make you cry as it is impossible not to fully submerge yourself into the lives of the characters. As the film progresses so does their love and their success, both Sebastian and Mia are tested in their industries and this film will have you hooked until the very end. It’s beautiful and colourful imagery makes this film an uplifting romantic musical while also having a light aspect of humour, making it a perfect watch while in lockdown and looking for an escape.
By Catrin Lewis
Amy Heckerling’s Clueless is a coming-of-age film set in Beverly Hills which loosely follows and modernises the plot of Jane Austen’s Emma. It follows privileged high schooler, Cher, as she navigates her way through the ups and downs of teenage life.
After her stepbrother Josh brands her selfish, Cher decides to set up two teachers in an attempt to make them fall in love. She also gives new student Tai a makeover to help her gain popularity but realises that Josh might have been right when Tai becomes more popular than her. Although Cher undoubtedly has a kind heart and genuinely wants to help others, her actions can sometimes come across as a bit ignorant or self-centred.
For me, Clueless is a go-to whenever I want a feel-good escape. From Cher’s determination (be it haggling for better grades or playing matchmaker) to the fashion and iconic one-liners there isn’t much to dislike about the 90’s cult classic. Although Clueless turns twenty-five this year, its influence on popular culture remains as coming-of-age films today still follow the same blueprint – dynamic characters, unique costume designing and a strong emphasis on the importance of friendships and family over anything.
Dazed and Confused
By Jonas Jamairk
Few films capture a certain time in life in the way Dazed and Confused does. The story takes place in one day, at the beginning of summer vacation in a small Texas town in the 1970s. Main character Randy “Pink” Floyd is in the middle of an existential crisis – he’s asked to sign a commitment to his football team where he swears to not drink or take any drugs during the summer vacation. His coach and his team-mates all demand he adjusts his attitude and get his priorities straight, and Pink feels quite conflicted about it all. He goes on a night out, meeting different friends and guiding the second main character, local freshman Mitch Kramer, through his first high school experiences.
The film is rich with peculiar and funny side-characters, and different school cliques, who all go on journeys of their own. From local high-school intellectuals who can’t help themselves from thinking how pointless high-school parties are, to adult potheads who still hang out with high-school kids. Throughout the night they all interact and run into each other, all wanting to do the same thing – just have some fun while they’re stuck in this place.
By Francesca Ionescu
When Raphael Bob-Waksberg introduced the idea for BoJack Horseman to Netflix I don’t think anyone would have thought the show would be such a success. Afterall the pitch must have sounded a bit like: ‘A man struggles with his career plummeting after his 90’s sitcom ends, while dating a businesswoman he doesn’t appreciate, and a fellow Hollywood star is constantly and naively pursuing a friendship. Oh yeah, the man is half horse.’
And in the first season that’s all we’re getting. An exaggerated satire of the celebrity world and the public venerating them. So, you keep watching, and suddenly you’re finishing a show that talks about substance abuse, miscarriage, sexuality, motherhood and childhood trauma. The show isn’t all dark and gloomy, it manages what a lot of comedies fail to do- remain funny throughout, through references and animal jokes and dark humour that isn’t offensive as a punchline. Most importantly the show, despite its animal side, is human, it’s vulnerable and relatable. BoJack isn’t a classic protagonist, he is truly flawed and struggling and if you want to be immersed into his long journey to recovery now it’s the best time to give BoJack Horseman a watch.
Bridget Jones‘s Diary
By Cicely McFarlane
Bridget Jones‘s Diary is a must-watch film! The lighthearted awkwardness of Bridget is shown as she fumbles her way through finding the career she’s always wanted, and the love, or loves of her life. I think everyone can, or has related to Bridget in some way or another, whether it’s by saying the wrong thing in a crowd or feeling somewhat out of place.
With her wonderful adoption of the ‘keep going’ attitude, she demonstrates that positivity is the only thing we can control; and that with life comes embarrassing and challenging obstacles. Whether you are team Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) or Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), it’s the confidence of Bridget that grows as she begins to understand how she should be treated, and essentially her worth as a reporter, and as a woman. Her group of friends seeing her through the thick and thin, the amusing narrative of Bridget, and of course the unforgettable fight scene between Cleaver and Darcy, provides an uplifting, romantic and entertaining film. With the soundtrack of this film circulating positivity and independence, we eventually see Bridget getting the guy, and life, of her dreams. This film is a must watch, and a timeless feel food movie, perfect for keeping the isolation blues away!
By Darcy Servais
When someone asks you what your favourite movie of all time is, you will always have that one film that automatically pops up in your head that no other film will ever come close to beating. For me, that film is Donnie Darko. I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it, so much so that I even got
a quote from the film tattooed on me! Starring a young Jake Gyllenhaal, this weird and wonderful sci-fi psychological thriller will have you wondering what on earth happened in the last hour and 48 minutes to make you fall in love with this cult classic. The story follows an eccentric and troubled
teen that prevents the end of the world with the help of his seemingly imaginary friend Frank. He is sent to see a psychiatrist for symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, but all is not what it seems. This film will allow you to escape into a word of time-travel and teenage rebellion, and without a doubt will become a staple in your ‘must watch’ collection. Oh, and it also has one of the best soundtracks known to man.
By Zoe Williamson
If you are looking for a wholesome, uplifting and magical film with a beautiful narrative, then immerse yourself into the colourful world of Mamma Mia!
This timeless classic does not age and has been part of our lives for over a decade. It takes place on a Greek island and captures astonishing cinematography of the mesmerising blue scenery. After finding her mothers diary, Sophie invites her three potential fathers to her wedding, without her mother knowing, leading to uncertainty when they arrive. The film explores these relationships and conveys the most heart-warming moments between these characters. The theatrical narrative is highly driven by the wonderful music of ABBA and is performed by acting legends including Meryl Streep. Along with the singing, there is joy, laughter, happiness and dancing, making you feel a part of the musical too. This entertaining film is also filled with incredible detail, including the costumes, locations and background design. This invites you to immerse yourself into the world of these characters and follow their journey. Even if this doesn’t sound like your thing, this feel-good- film will in no doubt put a smile on your face and you will be having the time of your life
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
By Megan Evans
If you are in need of an emotional, memorable coming of age movie inspired by an outstanding novel, I would recommend The Perks of Being a Wallflower! It is set in the early 90s, has a beautiful soundtrack featuring David Bowie and The Smiths just to name a couple, and details Charlie’s unconventional style of thought and the complications of adolescence and adulthood.
With an all star cast featuring Emma Watson, Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman, the movie addresses a variety of themes such as drugs, friendship, suicide, love and sexuality, and the appreciation of experimenting with entertainment in your adolescent years. There are lovely intertextual references to entertainment such as The Rocky Horror Show and literary fictions such as To Kill a Mocking Bird, and A Catcher in the Rye to upend their significance and how readers and viewers learn about history and development of life through what you view and read.
Both the movie as well as the novel attempts to answer the question of accepting the love we think we deserve, as embodying the struggle of finding self love, not just romantic love. The main characters are not just your usual typical teenagers, they are dealing with issues that are so interesting and relatable to so many people and is an iconic film in politicising society.