Movies to watch during quarantine that won’t make you really, really sad


If there’s one good thing that has come out of the restrictive stay-at-home orders enacted throughout the country, it’s that most of us have a lot more free time. And, thanks to the wonders of the internet, there are plenty of things to spend it on. From billions of hours of YouTube videos to thousands of video games available to download, those of us privileged enough to have internet have access to a virtually unlimited stash of entertainment. And while I do enjoy a good video game, my quarantine time-suck of choice has been movies. Films can be therapeutic, brightening our day with laughter, telling engaging stories, or whisking us off into fantasy worlds. And while streaming services have helped me immensely in fighting the sadness brought on by both the isolation of quarantine and a Rochester spring (Snow in May?!? Really!?!?!?!), it is important during this time to watch the right kinds of movies. For me, at least, it is imperative not to watch anything too depressing (a late-night viewing of Titanic imprinted this important lesson on me). There’s also the dual challenge of finding a movie that both doesn’t remind us too much of our current predicament (e.g. Contagion) and doesn’t make us too reminiscent of the times when we could actually hang out with our friends. With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of movies that strike this delicate balance and have made my quarantine more bearable (as well as the streaming services you can find them on):

Avengers: Endgame (Disney+)

Okay, so there are two types of people I recommend this movie to, and one type that I don’t.

If you haven’t watched most, if not all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will most likely be extremely confused by Endgame. The movie wastes no time giving exposition, instead throwing the viewer right into a story more than twenty films in the making. If you are not familiar with these films, the plot will seem nonsensical and the emotional beats most likely won’t hit for you. However, if you are a MCU fan and haven’t seen this movie yet, watch it immediately.

Endgame is one of the most satisfying movies I’ve seen in my lifetime. It balances action, humor, and pathos perfectly, while still finding ways to develop the characters audiences have grown to love over the years. And if you’ve already seen the movie, I’d recommend watching it again. Its themes of uniting against a seemingly unstoppable enemy are especially resonant, given our current situation, and it imparts a feeling of pure triumph that might be hard to come by.

“And you’re gonna call it Back to the Past, right?” – John Mulaney

Back to the Future (Netflix)

Back to the Future is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was elated when they added it to Netflix this month. This is truly the quintessential popcorn flick: an endlessly entertaining, perfectly-paced romp that’s bound to lighten any viewer’s spirits. From the wildly creative plot to the hilarious script, Back to the Future feels like a passion project that just happened to have the budget of a summer blockbuster. And while the other two movies in the trilogy (also on Netflix) are solid in their own right, neither can touch the lightning in a bottle that was the original.

Beastie Boys Story (Apple TV)

Big disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of the Beastie Boys. In fact, I got the free trial of Apple TV specifically to watch this documentary about the influential rap group. However, I believe that even someone unfamiliar with the trio would appreciate this movie. The film is rather unconventionally made: instead of the usual narration-with-pictures kind of documentary, we are treated to a live discussion from the two remaining Beasties, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Mike “Mike D” Diamond. (The band’s third member, Adam “MCA” Yauch, tragically passed away of cancer in 2012.) What results is a fun, unique account of the Beastie Boys’ three-decade-long history from the two people most knowledgeable about it. The film delves into the band’s creative process and both the good and bad aspects of fame, along the way paying tribute to Yauch, whom the other two members admit was the artistic mastermind behind the group, as well as an all-around great man. Beastie Boys Story is just one of those movies that makes you feel like you can do anything, a boost of motivation at a time where many of us have been fighting against complacency.

Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (Disney+)

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies were near-ubiquitous in the mid-to-late 2000s, or at least, until a couple of dud sequels slowed down their momentum. Upon recently re-watching the first three movies, I can understand what the hype is about. While Curse of the Black Pearl (the first one) is far and away the best out of the trilogy, the other two are very entertaining films in their own right. With far-flung locales and Hans Zimmer’s iconic score, few can match PotC‘s sense of adventure. And despite being around fifteen years old, the special effects in these movies are still impressive today, a feat not accomplished by many other blockbusters. Add in some great performances and interesting pirate lore, and you have a more than worthy source of escapist entertainment. Michael Bolton agrees.

The Morales doesn’t normally join in recommendation articles, but if you haven’t seen this movie, DO IT NOW.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Netflix)

If you feel like watching a superhero movie but don’t want to be forced to catch up on twenty movies worth of backstory, Into the Spider-Verse is for you. This is a clever, beautifully-animated movie that stands completely on its own—no cinematic universe needed. The film tells an engaging, heartfelt story about the importance of family, a message we can all certainly use in these times when our relationships with our loved ones may be strained. In my opinion, Into the Spider-Verse is one of the most accessible superhero films in a long time, great for comic fans and non-fans alike.

[Ed. Note—neither Mr. nor The Morales can recommend this movie highly enough. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not watching it right now.]

Watching a good movie always helps boost my spirits. Whether it be making us laugh, filling us with wonder, or inspiring us to be creative, cinema has a unique potential to help get us through these difficult times. And while these were some movies that helped brighten my mid-COVID days, this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to comment with any movies that have made your quarantine more bearable!