Ever since COVID-19 descended upon the world population and sent many of us into various degrees of quarantine, the world has attempted to find ways to cope. Everything has gone into disarray, millions are in economic danger, and as of writing this, normalcy feels miles away.
I can’t begin to explain how many ways this pandemic has affected the film industry. From the early shock of SXSW being cancelled to the closing of theaters nationwide, we’ve been in the midst of a never-ending stream of bad news harming filmmakers, filmgoers, film critics, film programmers and everyone in between.
And how do many of my colleagues find peace in this time of strife and quarantine? Why, by watching movies, of course! Typically, I’m a big proponent of horror movies as catharsis. I watch them without anxiety multiple times a day. It’s my job to do so, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
But somehow, I can’t wrap my head around the craze of marathoning apocalypse/zombie/outbreak movies at a time like this. Reality is too harsh already; the last thing I need is a reminder of how bleak things could become.
So instead of offering films to feed our already spiraling fears, how about some films that can soothe, uplift, and just maybe provide a little hope? While most of the films also pair well with a good high, they also play well as their own warm hug of good vibes and a nice buzz.
- “Booksmart” – Sure, graduations have been cancelled for high-schoolers all over, but that wonderful feeling of optimism, expectation, and excitement that follows can still be channeled and harnessed by us all. Olivia Wilde’s debut is the authentic, heartfelt female-buddy comedy we can turn to when we just want to be reminded of the power of friendship in confusing, changing times.
- “Legally Blonde” – The world economy is shifting so substantially that many of us will need to think about new career paths or ways to do our jobs. Enter the quintessential movie that proves you may surprise yourself (and others) with where your true calling lies.
- “Footloose” – Honestly, I’m just including this one because one day when we’re allowed to gather in groups again, we should all have a giant spirited dance party to release all our built-up energy and tension. I hope it looks just like the end of this movie: big hair, glitter and cowboy boots included.
- “It’s a Wonderful Life” – With so much loss, it’s easy to forget just how many blessings we still have. If you have any family around you or checking in on you, you are blessed. If you have a home and can stay safe, fed and comfortable, you may find gratitude. If you find yourself not feeling positive, let “It’s a Wonderful Life” tenderly remind you of all that is good in the world.
- “Modern Times” – Oh how history repeats itself. This mostly-silent slapstick classic manages to address the class divisions and pain points of the Great Depression while still finding room for levity and laughter. It functions as both an important perspective on the class struggles still plaguing our nation and a pleasant, amusing romp—depending on how you choose to view it.
- “Inside Out” – If you’re stuck inside with your children, let me suggest the best animated film for both you and your young ones. “Inside Out” manages to be easygoing entertainment and a valuable lesson in mental health all at once. In these times, it’s important to manage our emotions as best we can right now, and no film teaches this art more simply or effectively.
- “Kedi” – A documentary about cats wandering the streets of Istanbul may sound like a peculiar addition to this list, but trust me when I say nothing is as calming or charming as this pure-hearted story of elegant felines living their best lives in challenging conditions.
- “Office Space” – If you’re working from home and wistfully reminiscing about the good ole days of working in an office, let “Office Space” bring you back down to Earth. But don’t worry- Your life can be just as full of flair as Joanna’s Chotchkie’s vest, even when you’re under quarantine.
- “Everybody Wants Some” – Pretty much every one of Richard Linklater’s films could be on this list. Even in his more melancholic moments, he can’t help but express hope and adoration for his characters. “Everybody Wants Some” is my favorite of his “hang out” films—one that despite its characters hijinks and dramas, never forgets that everything is going to be alright, alright, alright.
- “Xanadu” – OK—hear me out on this one. Musicals are absolute brain candy in dark times, and this just happens to be about artists’ never-ending need to create and how valuable their creations can be to society. Artists are struggling hard right now, but we can all do our best to support them—as consumers, muses, fans, writers, etc. Now just suspend your disbelief, accept a little campiness in your life, put on your roller skates and smile. I promise you’ll feel better.