• Phoebe Zeidberg

A truly useful guide to movies and tv for holiday diversion



During quarantine, our psychological lifeline to sanity runs through Amazon Prime and Netflix. Our world is reduced to the virtual. Fortunately, movieland’s virtuality is a spacious and welcoming haven. With suggestions from teachers and students, I have collected some viewing ideas that should bring light and hope to a dark time. These movies have earned over a 6.5 rating on IMDb, do not present overly explicit content — and they are all extraordinary! Peruse this definitive list of movies and shows that you need to watch in … no particular order.


THE LIST! With their ratings from IMDb

Movies

  1. (7.4) Moonlight

  2. (7.6) The Farewell

  3. (7.5) The Guilty

  4. (7.6) Searching

  5. (7.7) Airplane!

  6. (7.6) Dark Waters

  7. (8.6) The Silence of the Lambs

  8. (8.0) Princess Bride

  9. (8.6) Spirited away

  10. (6.7) Contagion

  11. (7.9) Fantastic Mr. Fox

  12. (9.1) The Shawshank Redemption

  13. (7.7) Roma

  14. (6.7) I’m Thinking of Ending Things

  15. (8.0) Shoplifters


Shows

  1. (8.6) The Haunting of Hill House

  2. (8.6) Mr. Robot

  3. (9.0) Twilight Zone

  4. (8.4) Money Heist

  5. (9.3) The Wire

  6. (8.5) Schitt’s Creek

  7. (8.7) Top Gear Britain

  8. (8.9) Gravity Falls

  9. (7.8) Charité at War

  10. (8.6) Skam


Detailed descriptions follow. To find the movie or show quickly, press command-F (or control-F on Windows) and then copy and paste the title.


MOVIES


Moonlight

  • “A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Netflix, Fandango Now, and Vudu




The Farewell

  • “Billi's family returns to China under the guise of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch -- the only person that doesn't know she only has a few weeks to live.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu




The Guilty

  • “Alarm dispatcher and former police officer Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • This movie is definitely my absolute favorite. It is set in one room, but it follows a 911 operator as he tries to figure out what is going on with regards to a distressing call. It is in Danish, so be prepared to read lots of subtitles. It is gripping and amazing how frustrating it is. Please watch it.



Searching

  • “David Kim becomes desperate when his 16-year-old daughter Margot disappears and an immediate police investigation leads nowhere. He soon decides to search the one place that no one else has -- Margot's laptop. Hoping to trace her digital footprints, David contacts her friends and looks at photos and videos for any possible clues to her whereabouts.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG-13

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • Searching is an incredibly interesting concept. The mystery is set on a computer screen and takes that concept to an amazing level. Plus, the mystery is fun and it is definitely worth a watch.




Airplane


  • “This spoof comedy takes shots at the slew of disaster movies that were released in the 70s. When the passengers and crew of a jet are incapacitated due to food poisoning, a rogue pilot with a drinking problem must cooperate with his ex-girlfriend turned stewardess to bring the plane to a safe landing.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG

  • Watch on Netflix, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • This movie is so fun. It’s pretty funny and a great movie to watch with friends and little-ish siblings. Bonus point if you watch it on a plane (but safely because there is still a pandemic going on).




Dark Waters

  • “A tenacious attorney uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world's largest corporations. While trying to expose the truth, he soon finds himself risking his future, his family and his own life.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG-13

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • A great performance from Mark Ruffalo. One of my favorite genres of movie and it is executed nicely. This movie was so great that it caused my mom to throw out all of her teflon pans.




The Silence of the Lambs

  • “Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to draw him out.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • A great classic with an even better protagonist.




Princess Bride

  • “A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a long separation and save her. They must battle the evils of the mythical kingdom of Florin to be reunited with each other. Based on the William Goldman novel "The Princess Bride" which earned its own loyal audience.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • This is a go-to movie. Sleepover? Princess Bride. Sad? Princess Bride. Happy? Princess Bride. A movie for every occasion.



Spirited Away

  • “10-year-old Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) moves with her parents to a new home in the Japanese countryside. After taking a wrong turn down a wooded path, Chihiro and her parents discover an amusement park with a stall containing an assortment of food. To her surprise, Chihiro's parents begin eating and then transform into pigs. In this supernatural realm, Chihiro encounters a host of characters and endures labor in a bathhouse for spirits, awaiting a reunion with her parents.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG

  • Watch on Prime Video, HBO Max, and Vudu




Contagion

  • “When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minnesota from a Hong Kong business trip, she attributes the malaise she feels to jet lag. However, two days later, Beth is dead, and doctors tell her shocked husband (Matt Damon) that they have no idea what killed her. Soon, many others start to exhibit the same symptoms, and a global pandemic explodes. Doctors try to contain the lethal microbe, but society begins to collapse as a blogger (Jude Law) fans the flames of paranoia.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu

  • Sure, this is definitely not the best movie on this list, but it is the one I think about the most. I watched our current pandemic be predicted by a 9-year-old movie. Contagion kept me on the edge of my seat and was chilling to watch during these times, leading me to think about what would happen if COVID-19 got worse. Please, please watch this movie and make sure to wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and don’t meet up with family over the holidays. Miss one Christmas to make sure your grandparents will be alive for the next one.




Fantastic Mr. Fox

  • “After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids the farms of their human neighbors, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Giving in to his animal instincts endangers not only his marriage but also the lives of his family and their animal friends. When the farmers force Mr. Fox and company deep underground, he has to resort to his natural craftiness to rise above the opposition.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, Disney+, and Vudu




The Shawshank Redemption

  • “Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn't commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu




Roma

  • “Cleo is one of two domestic workers who help Antonio and Sofía take care of their four children in 1970s Mexico City. Complications soon arise when Antonio suddenly runs away with his mistress and Cleo finds out that she's pregnant. When Sofía decides to take the kids on vacation, she invites Cleo for a much-needed getaway to clear her mind and bond with the family.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Netflix




I’m Thinking of Ending Things

  • “Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents' secluded farm.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on Netflix

  • I love this movie, but it is not for everyone. It is just so weird. So weird. The pacing is beautiful, the ending is confusing, the acting sets the mood perfectly. What is not to like? Keep watching through the driving scenes, do your best to get lost in their conversations.



Shoplifters

  • “On the margins of Tokyo, a dysfunctional band of outsiders is united by fierce loyalty and a penchant for petty theft. When the young son is arrested, secrets are exposed that upend their tenuous, below-the-radar existence.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • R

  • Watch on FandangoNow, Vudu, and Hulu

  • While incredibly sad, this movie is a beautiful representation of family. The shots are stunning. You fall in love with every character. This movie does not feel like it ended for me. I think about it often and it definitely deserves a rewatch.



SHOWS



The Haunting of Hill House

  • “The Haunting of Hill House is a modern reimagining of Shirley Jackson's legendary novel of the same name, about five siblings who grew up in the most famous haunted house in America. Now adults, they're reunited by the suicide of their youngest sister, which forces them to finally confront the ghosts of their own pasts... some which lurk in their minds... and some which may really be lurking in the shadows of the iconic Hill House.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • TV-MA (IMDb), 16+ (Common Sense Media)

  • Watch on Netflix

  • This is my favorite horror series. The actors did a great job and the camerawork was even better. Episode 6 featured a 17 minute 1-shot scene that is worth watching even without seeing the rest of the series.



Mr. Robot

  • “Mr. Robot follows Elliot Alderson, a young computer programmer with an anxiety disorder, who is recruited by Mr Robot and his anarchist team of hackers 'fsociety'.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • TV-MA (IMDb), 16+ (Common Sense Media)

  • Watch on Prime Video

  • Mr. Robot sucks the watcher into its world. This show has loveable and well-rounded characters. It has plot points that surround mental health that might be difficult to watch for some people. The ending is slightly too long, but feels complete.




Twilight Zone

  • “A classic anthology of sci-fi, suspense and goose-bump-inducing tales that explore 'a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.' Filled with invention and irony, the stories are tightly constructed, ingenious flights of imagination with often cautionary themes---and frequently a terrific twist at the end.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • PG (IMDb), 10+ (Common Sense Media)

  • Watch on Netflix

  • My favorite episodes are, “To Serve Man”, “Two”, “The After Hours”, “Where is Everybody”, “Time Enough at Last”, and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. This show is great to watch whenever you have time. The episodes are only 20 minutes long, but they take a day for you to process. Amazing inspiration can be drawn from this show, such as Jordan Peele’s Us.



Money Heist (La Casa de Papel)

  • “An enigmatic character called The Professor plans something unique when he plots to carry out the biggest robbery in history.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • TV-MA (IMDb), 16+ (Common Sense Media)

  • Watch on Netflix

  • An incredibly fun show with the best characters who inevitably get killed off.



The Wire

  • “A complex, impeccably acted crime drama set in Baltimore that follows the thread of a single police investigation, from the perspectives of both law-enforcement officials and the criminals they're pursuing. The Peabody-winning series was created by David Simon (The Corner), whose richly layered plotlines focused on the city's illegal drug trade in the first season before expanding in scope for the second to include corruption on the waterfront.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • TV-MA (IMDb), 18+ (Common Sense Media)

  • Watch on HBO Max




Schitt’s Creek

  • “A wealthy family loses their fortune and moves to a dreary small town they purchased once as a joke.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • TV-14

  • Watch on Prime Video and Netflix

  • Once disgusting and infuriating characters turn into a loveable, but still snarky family. The story is beautiful and funny. Great show to watch to cheer you up.




Top Gear UK

  • “The hosts talk about everything car-related. From new cars to how they're fueled, this show has it all.” — IMDB

  • TV-PG

  • Watch on Hulu and I believe some episodes are on Amazon Prime

  • This show is just so much fun, doesn't matter if you are a gearhead or not. Each episode has a new slew of issues and it is just such a blast to watch, but only if it is hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Warning: only around every 3rd episode is funny, but when it is, it’s amazing.




Gravity Falls

  • “Animated comedy about twins Dipper and Mabel Pines, who live with their eccentric uncle for a summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon, where he operates the world's most bizarre museum.”

  • TV-PG

  • Watch on Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime

  • As corny as it may be, I absolutely love Gravity Falls. I started watching it as a kid and was never able to finish it. I desperately want a Disney+ subscription, not so I can watch the Mandalorian, but so I can watch this. It is just so much fun and great to watch with little siblings.



Charité at War

  • The Berlin hospital Charité continues to function during World War II under the ominous shadow of the Third Reich.” — Rotten Tomatoes

  • TV-MA

  • Watch on Netflix

  • An interesting perspective on WWII. The characters are lovable. The set and costume design is wonderful. A great show to binge watch in full in a weekend.


Skam

  • “The story of young teenagers and pupils on Hartvig Nissens upper secondary school in Oslo, and their troubles, scandals and everyday life. Each season is told from a different person's point of view.” — IMDB

  • N/A

  • Watch on Prime (show from the Netherlands and therefore not easily accessible in America but if you live somewhere else you might be able to find it)



My highest recommendations would go to the Twilight Zone and The Guilty. This show and movie are stressful and exciting and incredibly interesting, but most importantly, they do not leave you. You will continue to think about them hours after watching.

This list can serve as a direct guide or just inspiration. Please watch them and become fully immersed in these movies and shows. For a moment, allow yourself to focus on one thing and enjoy yourself, except for Contagion, you won't enjoy yourself through that one. Do not feel guilty for allowing yourself to relax. Make sure to remember some snacks and drinks.


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