Hello there! So it is not an understatement to say that times right now are rough, in fact they’re downright terrifying. The world seems to be slowly shutting itself down and certain countries have been reduced to empty ghost towns. As a person who lives in the UK, I am pretty much relegated to the confides of my house for the next 3 weeks, and in that time I have spent the passing hours enjoying the various films and TV Shows that I love, or needed to catch up on. Then it came to my attention that some people out there may not have the same luxury and may be wondering what the hell they should do now that they’re trapped inside the house. So I thought I would lend a hand and comprise a list of movies that you can enjoy, instead of simply watching Contagion or Friends for the thousandth time. So here it goes, here are ten movies to enjoy while you’re stuck inside your house:
- The Dark Crystal (1982)
Dreamed up by Muppets creator, Jim Henson, The Dark Crystal is an epic fantasy movie, spanning across the alien landscape of the world of Thra, where society is ruled over by the cruel bird-like Skeksis. Using their power over the titular crystal, the Skeksis have reduced the planet to a desolate wasteland and have used their influence to slaughter the local Gelfling race into near extinction. The film takes the form of your basic quest narrative, with a young Gelfling setting off on a journey to heal the crystal and return Thra to its former glory. Except, everything is done with puppets! Yes! Everything you see on screen is a puppet and the sheer artwork on display here makes the film enjoyable simply from a visual perspective. But the characters are also wonderful, the setting is unique, and the film holds a darkness to it that is rarely seen in children’s media today. If you live in the UK, you can still view this movie on Netflix, but if not I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find a copy of it online. And if you enjoy this movie, you should also check out Labyrinth, another Henson movie which stars David Bowie as a sexy Goblin-King, it doesn’t disappoint!
2. Misery (1990)
Based on Stephen King’s infamous best-seller, Misery is a psychological horror movie that follows Paul Sheldon, a famous romance author, who finds himself rescued from a car crash by an obsessive and mentally unhinged fan, a nurse called Annie Wilkes. However things soon take a dark turn when Annie discovers that Paul is leaving behind the romance genre to pursue other ventures, leading to her locking him in his room and inflicting various violent acts against him. The film is slow, sinister and unnerving, and features an Oscar-winning performance from Kathy Bates, who proves once again that she is one of the most talented actors working in Hollywood today. This film may also be one of, if not the best, cinematic adaptation of one of King’s novels, sorry IT fans, but that’s just the truth. Right now this film is also available to watch on Netflix UK. Check it out.
3. Spirited Away (2001)
One of my favourite Ghibli movies, and honestly one of the best entry points for people considering giving the Japanese studio a go. The film perfectly blends the real-world with the realm of fantasy, being Japan’s answer to Western portal fantasies such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. The story follows a young girl named Chihiro, who finds herself trapped in the spirit world after her parents are turned into pigs. The film is one that deals with complex themes such as youth, maturity and the inevitable transition between the two. Complete with heart-stopping animation and a truly beautiful score, the film holds the distinction of being the only Japanese film to win an Oscar, having won the award for best animated feature in 2001. And again this film is the perfect entry point for people who have always wanted to get into the Studio Ghibli fandom. For not only is it full of trademark Ghibli imagery and themes, but it also treads into some darker territory, which will prepare viewers for the some of the more mature entries in the franchise. If you do enjoy this, then I would also recommend checking out either My Neighbour Totoro or Princess Mononoke next. Both films fall on either end of the Ghibli spectrum and either one is the perfect next step after enjoying Spirited Away. Totoro presents itself as a modern fairy tale, and is more grounded in the real world even though it is still very much a fantastical story. The film is also more child-friendly and perfect for families with young children. While Mononoke is distinctly more epic in its scope and delivery, the film is even set in its own fantasy world brimming with Japanese folklore and history. And as a warning the film is very violent and mature in its theming, its probably one of the more adult films in the Ghibli canon, right up there with Graveyard of the Fireflies, so please be prepared. All these films can also be found on Netflix UK, which seems to be going Ghibli crazy at the moment.
4. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
So is the oldest movie I’m going to recommend on this list and it may also be one of the best, with this film still being cited as one of the best movies ever made. Set during the downfall of silent cinema, the film follows a Hollywood actor who finds his world crashing down when ‘talkies’ are introduced to the public. Hoping to retain his stardom, he pitches the idea of making his current film project into a glitzy movie musical – the only issue being that his leading lady can barely speak, let alone sing. The film is one of the great Hollywood musicals, with the three stars: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds (yes, that Debbie Reynolds) all delivering mind-blowing performances through dance and song. This film may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but please at least give it a chance. Because its heart-warming story and toe-tapping musical numbers are enough for it to still be remembered even now as a shining example of Hollywood cinema.
5. Mary & Max (2009)
This is probably going to be one of the weirder recommendations on this list, and this so far has been comprised of a puppet-fantasy movie and a movie about spirits living in a bath house – but hey, it’s my list. Mary & Max is an Australian claymation movie, which stars Toni Collette and the late-great Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the titular characters. The film follows young Mary, a little girl living in Australia in the 1970’s, who decides to write a letter to a random address in America, in the hope of finally making a true friend. It just so happens that the receiver of her letter is Max, a middle-aged, morbidly-obese man from New York, who also has Asperger Syndrome. What follows is an unlikely friendship between the two, one that spans over decades of their lives. The film is gritty, cute, darkly-comic and emotional all in one beautifully crafted package. To date it is probably one of the best claymation movies I have ever seen, and the only one that could compare to the work of Aardman here in the UK. Please check it out if you can find it, I’m pretty sure it’ll be somewhere, especially when considering the praise and acclaim it has received.
6. The Color Purple (1985)
The Color Purple is probably one of the strangest and impactful movies ever to have been made. Strange because it was the first movie to be directed by Steven Spielberg that wasn’t intended to be a summer blockbuster, in many ways this is Spielberg directing Oscar-bait, but with actual heart and sincerity. The film is also impactful for its large African-American cast, for it being the debut film of a young Whoopi Goldberg and for also casting Oprah Winfrey in an Oscar-nominated supporting role. The film follows Celie, a black woman living in 1900s America. After being abused and violated all her life, Celie finds solace in the love of her sister, and in the love of her friends. The film is both hopeful and harrowing in equal measure and a warning should go out about the amount of domestic abuse depicted. Although some fans consider the film melodramatic and overly sentimental, when compared to the Alice Walker novel it is based on, I still find it an enjoyable watch. The film also borders on three hours in length so it will definitely keep you entertained for a good portion of the day.
7. Klaus (2019)
The most recent movie on this list, Klaus is a seasonal film that depicts the origin story of Father Christmas, in both a unique and visually stunning way. The animation is utterly breath-taking and the story being told is heart-felt and full of emotion. The film was recently nominated for on Oscar, but sadly (and unfairly) lost to Toy Story 4, I’m just gonna say it, Klaus was robbed. And I’m sure some of you will not be interested in watching a festive movie so soon after Christmas, but please give it a go. It’s easily one of the best festive movies made in the last five years and one of the best animated movies as well, and its on Netflix, so it’s easy to find and enjoy.
8. The Craft (1996)
The Craft is a 1996 teen-horror-drama following in the footsteps of other teen-based horrors of the time, the only difference here being – its not a slasher film. The movie follows Sarah (played by Robin Tunney) who moves to L.A. with her dad and step-mum. Soon she finds herself bonding with three girls who reveal themselves to be a coven of practicing witches, with Sarah’s natural magical ability helping them to reach their full witchy potential. The film is grungy and angsty and its probably the best witch-based film ever made, at least the best mainstream one. The cast is also led by four amazing actors, with Fairuza Balk stealing the show with her unhinged performance as Nancy, a performance that makes me wonder why we still haven’t seen Balk in the mainstream for a while. To date this film remains one of, if not my favourite film of all time and I would recommend it to anyone who loves horror and magic.
9. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Arguably the best movie to ever be penned by Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally is a film that follows Harry and Sally, two acquaintances who find their paths crossing throughout their lives, eventually leading to them becoming close friends. However as the years pass, it becomes clear that both of them want far more than friendship, but will they be willing to risk everything for love? The film is quirky, funny and probably depicts one of the best on-screen relationships in cinematic history. To date it is still known as the rom-com universally loved by both men and women, showing just how encompassing and engaging it truly is.
10. A Little Princess (1995)
Based on the classic children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and directed by Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron, this seemingly forgettable film is probably one of the best children’s films ever made. It follows Sara, a young girl who is placed into an American boarding school by her loving father as he departs to fight in World War I. Sara gets through this time by befriending the other girls, and regaling them with stories of her life in India, allowing her to live in a fantasy world where is free to do whatever she wants. However things soon take a tragic turn and Sara’s fantasy slowly crumbles before her and she soon finds herself having to accept the cruelties of the world. The film is simply beautiful, from the costumes to the sets of the school and the Indian wilds and the story being told is one full of heart and female empowerment. To date it is still one of my favourite nostalgic movies and I would highly recommend giving it a watch, if only to sample the amazing direction on display.
And so, there’s my list. I hope that some of you actually give these movies a go because they will definitely fill in kill a few hours during the day and in my opinion they are all wonderful. I’m considering creating another two lists to follow this one, one for TV shows and one for books, so please keep an eye out for further recommendations.