Film critic gives top five films to watch while social distancing

HUNTER FRIESEN, Film Critic

With the coronavirus taking center stage over our lives, many of us are now stuck at home self-quarantining. Despite being the overall right thing to do to protect yourself and everyone else from the virus, quarantining doesn’t offer much in terms of entertainment.

Fortunately, these modern times allow us to have access to thousands of movies and television shows at the tip of our fingers. This blessing also comes with a curse as it can become an insurmountable task to comb through all that is offered and decide on what to watch. 

To help with this struggle, I have cultivated a list of five recommendations for films to watch during this period of isolation, all of which can be found on streaming sites. 

“Contagion”

Directed by the great Steven Soderbergh and written by his frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns, this pandemic thriller is more eerily relevant than ever.

The film sports an ensemble cast of A-list actors such as Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyenth Paltrow. In addition to his slick directing, Soderbergh’s calculated editing provides some of the scariest imagery put to film as he details the merciless spread of a virus among a population.

While “Contagion” may not be the most upbeat movie to watch at this exact moment, its realistic approach to storytelling offers a not so different comparison to the real-world circumstances we are currently facing.

“The Irishman”

It’s probably been sitting in your Netflix watchlist for months now as you keep looking at that daunting 209-minute runtime and decide today just isn’t the day to watch Martin Scorsese’s newest gangster film. 

Well, with quarantining now in fashion, you have all the time in the world to watch this instant crime classic. Starring Robert De Niro as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, the film places its main character at the forefront of American history in the mid-twentieth century as he increasingly becomes embroiled in the seediness of mob life. 

“The Irishman” is one of the best films of the past year as its epic runtime glides by with ease because of Scorsese’s masterful direction and the spectacular performances from its all-star cast, which also include legends such as Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.

“Parasite”

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2019, Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” is a genre-defying thriller that transcends its South Korean roots and is able to tell a universal story of the battle between the haves and have nots. 

The film follows the escapades of the poverty-stricken Kim family as they infiltrate the household and lives of the wealthy Parks. Once inside, the dichotomy between the two families begins to blur and the tone of the film flips between comedy, horror, and drama within the blink of an eye. Fortunately, while everything within the film keeps you guessing, the one thing that stays constant throughout is the immense talent by all involved to make this wholly original and unforgettable film.

Available on Hulu beginning April 8, there isn’t a better time than now to see this international hit. 

“Rear Window”

With many of us stuck at home for a long period, it only makes sense to see one of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films, “Rear Window.”

Set in one single location, this suspenseful thriller stars James Stewart as a photographer forced to reside solely in his apartment as he heals a broken leg. After innocently spying into the windows of his unassuming neighbors, he begins to suspect one of them has committed the heinous crime of murder. From that moment, our hero must work with his girlfriend (a fantastic Grace Kelly) to prove if what he saw actually occurred.

I recommend watching this at night to get the maximum feeling of dread.

“The Martian”

Just like “Rear Window,” this 2015 space drama also follows our main character as he is stranded in one location and must deal with the perils of isolationist living. However, this Matt Damon starring film is able to mix in quite a bit of comedy in addition to the life-or-death stakes. 

Stuck on Mars after being assumed dead by his team, astronaut Mark Watney must rely on his wit and will to survive on an inhospitable planet while also signaling to Earth that he is alive. 

Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Comedy and nominee for Best Picture at the Oscars, “The Martian” is one of the best science-fiction films to come out during that genre’s renaissance in the most recent decade. 

And despite being unintentional at the time of its creation, the film now contains an even more impactful and inspirational message of how we can still succeed while being secluded.