We’ve all been spending a lot of time at home lately as we protect ourselves and other from COVID-19. I’ve used a lot of my extra time at home to watch a lot of movies, especially ones that I haven’t had time to watch or have been on my list for a long time. Plus, some new releases are being sent directly to our homes now.
So here are some of the best movies I’ve watched over the past few months, including some iconic classics and new releases.
My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away
When HBO Max launched during quarantine, one of their biggest selling points was the entire library of films from Studio Ghibli, the legendary Japanese animation company. I had never seen any of the Ghibli films, but everywhere I went online people said they were some of the best animated movies of all time, right up there with the best of Pixar and the Disney renaissance. So some of the first movies I watched on HBO Max were three of the most famous Studio Ghibli films: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away.
And let me tell you: everyone was not lying when they said these movies are phenomenal. They’re gorgeous, full of creativity and adventure, and strangely comforting to watch. The soundtrack for each movie is a huge standout as well. Highly, highly recommend these three movies and I intend on making my way through the rest of the Studio Ghibli catalog.
Where to watch: HBO Max
Tom Hanks mini-thon: Big, That Thing You Do, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and A League of Their Own
For a couple of weeks during this quarantine, I went through a late 1980s-1990s Tom Hanks marathon. Hanks has been in so many iconic movies it’s hard to keep track of them all. Big is honestly so good mainly because of Hanks’ performance and that piano scene is truly something special. The only issue with the movie is the uncomfortable romantic relationship.
That Thing You Do was Hanks’ first time directing a movie and it is almost too much fun. If you don’t walk away from the movie with the title song stuck in your head then you weren’t paying enough attention. Hanks is great, but the true stars are the band members and a young Liv Tyler.
Was there a more dynamic duo in the 90s than Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? The pair cemented themselves in romantic comedy history by starring in You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. While both were highly enjoyable, I thought the premise of You’ve Got Mail was much better than Sleepless in Seattle. But you can’t deny the finale of Sleepless in Seattle is one of the most satisfying in movie history.
A League of Their Own had been on my list for a long time, mainly because of the iconic line, “There’s no crying in baseball!” This is probably the first time I’ve ever seen Hanks in an antagonistic role, but unsurprisingly he does a great job. But he’s not the focus of this movie. The women of the team are all so delightful and interesting that it’s almost impossible not to root for them. And the fact that it’s based on true events makes it even more resonant.
Where to watch: Big (rent on Apple or Amazon), That Thing You Do (HBO Max), You’ve Got Mail (HBO Max), Sleepless in Seattle (Netflix), A League of Their Own (rent on Apple or Amazon)
Recently, I’ve been using my quarantine time to educate myself on racial injustice and systemic racism. 13th is a documentary showing the history of the U.S. prison and legal system and how it has been disproportionately biased against Black Americans for decades. From the 13th amendment to Jim Crow laws to the War on Drugs and the 1994 crime bill, Black Americans have been consistently dehumanized and overly criminalized. 13th is powerful, haunting, and should be required viewing for everyone right now.
Where to watch: Netflix
Do the Right Thing
Another essential piece of my racial injustice education was Do the Right Thing. Spike Lee’s masterpiece was released in 1989 but tells an eerily relevant story that could have happened last week. It begins as a slice-of-life style movie wandering lazily between different areas of a Brooklyn community. But tensions boil under the surface throughout the movie until they erupt in a horrible but familiar tragedy.
Where to watch: rent on Apple or Amazon
The Sound of Music
Embarrassingly, I had never seen The Sound of Music until this year. Sure, I knew the general story and most of the iconic songs, but I had never sat through the full three-hour experience. And honestly, it’s pretty great. The story and characters are fun and the music is even better when heard in context (although I’m still not sure how “My Favorite Things” became a Christmas song). The final act does feel like it comes from an entirely different movie, but overall it’s easy to see why this is such an iconic piece of film history.
Where to watch: Disney+
This new 2020 release is the latest in the long line of Groundhog Day-inspired movies. Palm Springs tweaks the formula so multiple people can get trapped in the same time loop together. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are SO GOOD together and their chemistry and the movie’s script make this such an effortlessly fun movie. Palm Springs also features a fantastic supporting cast and a wildly entertaining finale.
Where to watch: Hulu
Another embarrassing confession: I’ve never paid much attention to Jane Austen adaptations. I’ve never seen any Pride & Prejudice movie, although I did finally read the book a few years ago. But the trailers for the 2020 adaptation of Emma. (there’s a period in the title because it’s a ~period piece~) made it look so intriguing that I had to watch it. And I was definitely not disappointed. The humor in this movie is spectacular and it’s easy to see how much fun the cast had making this. I was particularly obsessed with the aesthetic, production design and cinematography of the movie.
Where to watch: rent on Apple or Amazon