TOP 10: Best Quarantine Movies

My friends Aaron and Matt over at The Retro Craptacular podcast were recently discussing their top 10 movies to watch in quarantine and asked me if I wanted to contribute a list! I was honoured and gave ’em a list and figured I’d put it out there on my blog as well. Make sure you check out their podcast before you leave!

So I figure in quarantine you either want a movie you can empathize with because of its themes of isolation and cabin fever or you want the complete opposite—a cozy sort of movie that transports you to a completely different world entirely. So this list is a mix of films in one camp or the other (maybe both in some cases). The ranking is preeeety much arbitrary.

10. Swiss Army Man (2016)swiss-army-man

I mean if you had a choice for a quarantine buddy, who wouldn’t want a corpse that can shoot grappling hooks out of his mouth!

9. The Breakfast Club (1985)mv5byjzhyti0y2mty2u2nc00mgfhltk2mgytntawmtq5yzbhmgi5l2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzawmtu0nzk40._v1_

Bored, just like you! Flip this on, talk about your problems, and learn a new dance routine or two.

8. Little Women (2019)
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So cozy and fun and sad and just a total tear-jerker overall. Just so fucking good–watch this movie.

7. Robin Hood (1973)
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Funnest movie ever, with the most golden and cozy soundtrack in existence.

6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
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A cozy, cute film about a found family living together underground, playing board games and just having a grand old time.

5. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
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A grand, sweeping fantasy adventure with the most warmth of the three films in the trilogy.

4. The Shining (1980)
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^ Me every night after having my 4-year old jump on me all day.

3. Ex Machina (2014)
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Is there a more heavenly place to quarantine than this pristine futuristic mansion in idyllic wilderness with these two hunks and some dancing robots? Nothing could go wrong here right?

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
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Cuddle up with these cuties and all that magic and warm lighting and a nice mug o’ hot chocolate or (butter)beer.

1. All is Lost (2013)
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A relaxing ocean voyage alone with Robert Redford.

What are your thoughts on this list? What have you been watching lately?

TOP 10: Best “Movies of the Outdoors”

With summer upon us, and summer being a season that many people love to spend outside as much as they can, I thought it would be fun to do a new top 10 list of movies set primarily outside and where nature figures significantly into their plot or themes. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Honourable Mentions: Jurassic Park (1993); Midsommar (2019)
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Standout nature moments: Ice sliding, watermelon football, “Mmm, piiiinecones!!”
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Standout nature moments: God’s thumb, a lake turned desert, the glorious rain
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Standout nature moments: Tree people, flowers everywhere, “it’s not destroying, it’s making something new”
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Standout nature moments: Zoo on a boat, carnivorous island, ocean light show
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Standout nature moments: Water, water, more water
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Standout nature moments: The jellyfish swim, the EAC, Dory speaking whale
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Standout nature moments: March of the Ents, rain at Helm’s Deep, rock climbing with Gollum
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Standout nature moments: Sand, sand, more sand
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Standout nature moments: Bob Balaban’s informative narration, kids on the run in the woods, the big storm
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Standout nature moments: Bear attack, bear nap, catching snowflakes

TOP 10: Most Underrated Films

Films here are ranked based upon the difference between my personal 100-point score and the lower 100-point score on IMDb. From what I’ve experienced, a film’s rating on IMDb more or less seems to reflect the popular opinion held by both the casual and the serious film critics that I’ve read or listened to.

 The criteria:

  1. Must be rated higher than 7.5 by me. 7.5 is the minimum score that earns a “Great” designation from me. If I don’t consider a film “great”, I could hardly deem it underrated!
  2. Must be rated lower than 7.5 on IMDb. Conversely, anything rated higher than 7.5 on IMDb isn’t rated low enough for me to consider it underrated.

Without further ado, my Top 10 Underrated Films:

10. The Informant (2009)

The Informant

IMDb rating: 6.5
My rating: 7.6 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.1

I haven’t seen close to all of Matt Damon’s films, but of the ones I have seen, this has got to be my favourite performance of his. The awkwardness, the excitability, the defensiveness, the habitual lying; Mark Whitacre is a fascinating character played to perfection by Damon in this zany corporate comedy with a great deadpan sense of humour and quirky editing a la director Steve Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films. Give it a try!

9. Enemy (2013)

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IMDb rating: 6.9
My rating: 8.2 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.3

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t understand a lot of this brain-bending film’s imagery and plot twists until I googled it afterwards, but that didn’t stop me from being completely entranced throughout, thanks to incredible direction that grabs a hold of the central plot motif (a man spots his doppelganger as an extra in a movie) and goes on to create such an incredibly unrelenting and uneasy atmosphere. It’ll send shivers up your spine, no doubt, and Gyllenhaal is fantastic, as always.

8. One Hour Photo (2002)

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IMDb rating: 6.8
My rating: 8.3 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.5

Speaking of shivers down your spine, Williams’ brilliant performance in this film as the sad but scary stalker Sy is sure to give you some! The direction is equally superb, with plenty of thoughtfully framed close-ups and thrilling tracking shots to go with a great soundtrack. A memorable horror-thriller you shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re into stalker/psycho flicks.

7. Your Sister’s Sister (2012)

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IMDb rating: 6.7
My rating: 8.2 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.5

This low-budget indie drama was a breath of fresh air. Right from the get-go, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the dialogue (largely improvised, from what I’ve read)–it was more than scripted words, it was natural conversation. This contributed to incredible characterization and a refreshingly natural feel that fit perfectly within the limited cabin/outdoors setting and down-to-earth plot about love and relationships.

6. Compliance (2012)

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IMDb rating: 6.4
My rating: 8.0 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.6

Perfectly nails the slow-build of tension and horror that every great thriller does, sucking you in as the insanity slowly builds to the point where you, the viewer, can barely watch anymore, but unbeknownst for most of the movie to its own characters under the pressure of a manipulative authority. A terrifying, well-made indie whose scares are rooted in its realistic setting (indeed, this was based off a true story) and perfectly crafted script.

5. Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)

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IMDb rating: 6.5
My rating: 8.1 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.6

Maybe I just like indie flicks more than the average person. But the characters are just so relatable here-flawed, imperfect, searching for meaning in life. Jason Segel’s earnest teddy bear of a guy is endearing beyond belief. Great, natural performances, a down-to-earth one-day timeline (I’m a sucker for those), and a climax that had me bawling happy tears.

4. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

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IMDb rating: 7.3
My rating: 8.9 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.6

I’ve heard this film being criticized as contrived for its coincidental connections between characters, but I still couldn’t help but be completely compelled throughout and would instead deem it as a masterfully crafted three-part crime/family drama that hits you like a ton of bricks with each plot twist. It’s epic, it’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking, and really manages to capture the impact each choice we make in our lives can have. Almost Shakespearean in its portrayal of family and tragedy. Amazing performances up and down the cast, good music, and lovely cinematography are in there too. Watch it!

3. Batman: The Movie (1966)

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IMDb rating: 6.5
My rating: 8.3 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.8

I guess some people just didn’t get that the campyness here was completely and brilliantly intentional. But to me, with how literally every scene is just dripping with ridiculousness, it’s quite clear, and quite hilarious. Seriously, this might be the funniest movie I’ve ever seen. If your sense of humour permits, every scene will have you in stitches!

2. The Company You Keep (2012)

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IMDb rating: 6.4
My rating: 8.2 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.8

A refreshing thriller light on action, heavy on intrigue: An investigative journalist, a web of fugitives now all living under different names; questions are asked, secrets are uncovered, people are found, people escape. Perfectly paced, with a stacked cast and great cinematography. I was captivated the entire time, give it a go if you’re in the mood for a journalism-based thriller a la Spotlight!

1. The Spectacular Now (2013)

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IMDb rating: 7.1
My rating: 8.9 (review here)
Rating difference: 1.8

On the surface, it may look and sound like a typical teen romance with some inspirational cheese thrown in there, but that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. It’s raw, real, and just as–if not more–tragic than it is heartwarming. The main characters are flawed and complex, and so is their resulting relationship. To top it all off, it doesn’t have a tied-in-a-bow, grand-final-kiss happy ending, which fits the rest of the flick to a tee. You won’t be disappointed by this one!

Thanks for reading! What are some of your underrated gems?

All Is Lost (2013)

Groundbreaking and refreshing in its stark simplicity, with its lone character, isolated setting, complete absence of dialogue (or monologue), and numerous long continuous action shots. Given its lack of complexity or flashiness, its ability to engage is all the more marvelous, as the aforementioned elements, combined with Redford’s solid performance, make it feel like you’re right there with him at sea. It’s an exciting, torturous, exhausting, and heart-wrenching tale of survival.
8/10 (Great)