In our current age of social distancing and COVID-19 fear, a good movie that doesn’t require you to leave your house may be just what the doctor ordered. However, if you’re like me, choosing a movie available on Netflix or with the most basic Hulu subscription can be difficult. The selection is rather sparse, and many Netflix originals are cringe-worthy at best.
Luckily for you, I compiled my very favorite movies from a variety of genres available on Netflix or Hulu. Stay in, stay safe and stay entertained with these high-quality, easily accessible films.
1. “Silver Linings Playbook”
Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, this film racked up major Oscar nominations when it premiered 2012. Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a bipolar man who moves back in with his parents after his court-mandated mental health hospitalization.
The movie follows Cooper’s character’s attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife and his new relationship with Lawrence, who plays a widowed woman also dealing with mental illness. Cooper and Lawrence’s performances are sensational, and the movie is a perfect mix of emotional complexity and humor.
2. “Carrie Pilby”
A relatively unknown film, “Carrie Pilby” is a great movie to watch when you’re looking to curl up on the couch and feel warm and fuzzy. “Carrie Pilby” stars Bel Powley as Carrie Pilby, a recent Harvard graduate from London who is currently living in New York City.
Pilby began Harvard at 16, and while the protagonist is extremely intelligent, she suffers from social anxiety and reflects upon the ways her age caused her to be taken advantage of in college. “Carrie Pilby” is a story of healing and self-discovery. I’d recommend the watch just to see Pilby’s excellent chunky sweater combinations.
3. “A Simple Favor”
Starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, this film generated massive buzz when it premiered in 2018. If you didn’t get a chance to see the comedic thriller, Hulu offers the movie to stream.
The amount of plot lines, absurdity and martinis served up by this movie will leave you laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. While this movie is a mystery and does involve thrills and murder, it’s far from scary. Rather, Kendrick’s mommy blogger character and Lively’s portrayal of a mysterious, enigmatic beauty make a magnetizing duo that will leave you wondering what you just watched – in a good way.
4. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”
Based on the book with the same mouthful of a title, this movie tells the tale of a book club on the island of Guernsey during Nazi occupation. Foggy British scenery, romance, letter writing, Lily James’ impeccable fashion – this movie really has it all.
If you love romantic movies and history, this film is definitely the one for you. I also recommend reading the book.
5. “All the Bright Places”
Another Netflix original based on a popular book, “All the Bright Places” is the story of two hurting teens who find joy in new adventures and each other’s company. Violet Markey, played by Elle Fanning, recently lost her sister in a car accident in which she was driving. Theodore Finch, played by Justice Smith, helps Markey on her path towards healing by coaxing her into discovering different wonders of Indiana.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, this is the most well-done Netflix original movie geared toward young adults I have ever watched.
6. “The Kindergarten Teacher”
Disturbing and thought-provoking, this film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a kindergarten teacher who becomes obsessed with one of her students after he demonstrates advanced poetic talent.
This movie is an acquired taste and can be uncomfortable to watch, but Gyllenhaal’s performance is outstanding and asks viewers to consider the boundaries between teacher and student and how we treat child prodigies.
7. “My Girl”
If you haven’t seen “My Girl” before, you’re definitely missing out. Anna Chlumsky stars as Vada, an eleven-year-old hypochondriac living with her widowed father in their house, which is also a funeral parlor. Her best friend, Thomas J., is played by Macauly Culkin. In the film, Chlumsky’s character undergoes a life-changing summer of both sorrow and joy.
The film is a tear-jerker, but also filled with bubbles of humor and happy childhood nostalgia.
8. “The Iron Lady”
For all the Merryl Streep fans out there, “The Iron Lady” is one of her best performances. Streep portrays Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s controversial Prime Minister from 1979-1990. The movie follows Thatcher in her old age as she reflects upon her time as Prime Minister.
“The Iron Lady” is perfect for anyone looking to learn a little history. When the world feels bleak, it can be reassuring to watch a film about a tough female leader who guided her country through stressful political crises.
9. “Up in the Air”
Starring George Clooney, “Up in the Air” follows a man who lives out of a suitcase, travelling across the country to professionally fire employees. Anna Kendrick, who plays his new apprentice, begins to change his outlook on living in isolation – as does a love interest played by Vera Farmiga.
Thought-provoking, funny and containing an unexpected twist, “Up in the Air” was nominated for six Oscars. This movie will make you contemplate what in life is truly meaningful.
10. “Julie and Julia”
Amy Adams and Merryl Streep star in this cheery, based-on-a-true-story film sure to make you want to hop in the kitchen and whip up Julia Child’s beef bourguignon. Streep plays Julia Child, a famous chef who wrote a French cookbook for American amatuer cooks. Child is joyful, particular and determined. Adams plays Julie, a woman living in New York City and unhappy at her job. She chooses to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook and blog about it. This movie will make your mouth water and your heart warm.
During this unprecedented time of social isolation, a movie that doesn’t require you to leave the house can be the perfect distraction. All ten of these movies have something to provide, whether that be joy, something to think about or even a new outlook on life.