For me, its become almost a nightly ritual during these last two months to finish up my work (or nothing) for the day, and then start the search for something to watch. It feels like throwing darts sometimes – a few minutes in, your hands are up in the air with a “who the heck thought this was a good movie?!” and you’re back at the menu screen. Or you just go back to watching the Office for the fourteenth time. If this sounds familiar – here are a few of my recommendations and favorites that I’ve found after many dead end searches. Enjoy!
Find Me (Amazon)
Adventure Drama – In this simultaneously heartwarming and hearth-wrenching story, a coworker disappears and leaves a series of clues and suggested adventures for her coworker and friend who never got out much. As she sends him through some of the country’s most incredible places (like the Narrows at Zion National Park) in the American West, we slowly learn of the true reasons for while she took off in the first place. As he works to find her, he also finds himself. Sound cheesy? Maybe – but overall it was incredibly well put together with a great message and beautiful cinematography.
Into the Forest (Netflix)
Apocalyptic Thriller – Unsurprisingly, apocalypse, pandemic and plague movies have soared in popularity during the quarantine. I think its somewhat comforting to shove your face full of popcorn while watching a zombie eat someone’s face on screen, then whispering to your dog ‘see, its not that bad‘. This movie starring Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) follows the struggle of her small family to cope and make due in an apocalyptic scenario where there is no power. Gasoline is rarer than toilet in paper in March 2020, and the two sisters are left alone with a few gallons and little resources after their father dies. As the anxiety and suspense builds, the girls must protect themselves and weigh their options for long term survival. This one is oddly gripping because of how realistic it is – there are no zombies, no sickness, no foreign threat – just the very real possibility of a world off the grid.
Molly’s Game (Netflix)
Dramatic True Crime – I was incredibly surprised to have had to scroll quite a ways to find this one deep in the Netflix library. In this ‘based on a true story’ biopic, a former Olympic skier gets roped into a high stakes poker club as a concierge – and ends up going off on her own to become the ‘Poker Princess’. Like any story that wraps together gambling, violence, drugs and powerful players – the drama unfolds as the story is told. Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba work great together, with Michael Sera playing a slightly more sinister version of himself and brief appearances from Kevin Costner. This one could be the lovechild of Joy (the QVC mogul) and 21 (the card counting drama) as they switch between games in California and New York.
Meru (Amazon Prime)
Mountaineering Documentary – This documentary still tops the list as one of my all time favorite adventure films, especially since I often guide through icy areas and hope to tackle similar peaks one day. Jimmy Chin (National Geographic, Free Solo) and Conrad Anker join to assault the peak of Meru – one of the world’s most challenging climbs. With a combination of climbing, mountaineering, and sheer willpower, this gripping documentary takes you through their two attempts to reach the summit. This one will leave your heart pounding and an inkling to get out to the mountains.
The Wall (Netflix)
Military Thriller – If you enjoy military thrillers – this one tells the story of two soldiers (one being John Cena) pinned down behind a wall by a single sniper – who happens to be a master of psychological tricks. Although there are just a few actors on screen the entire film, and the slightly subpar acting – I almost broke a sweat watching this one. It really puts you in the seat and the mind of a soldier’s struggle to do what it takes and take out an enemy he can’t see. A solid combination of American Sniper‘s military themes with hints of Cast Away as the soldier makes due with what he has behind his only cover – a crumbling wall.
Triple Frontier (Netflix)
Adventure Thriller – A group of retired special ops veterans agree on a mission that isn’t backed by the military. One of the veterans has intelligence on the location of a druglords’ riches – and the team sets out to steal it. From intense action and firefight scenes, beautiful mountain cinematography, and white-knuckle helicopter flights. I was sitting on the edge of my chair for this one, and thought that despite some minor plot holes, it was definitely worth the watch. Ben Affleck, while a little cold, is well balance by Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and the rest of the ensemble. This one is what you get when you mix Narcos with Oceans 11.
Dark Comedy – In the seemingly endless versatility of Jack Black, Bernie tells the story of a town’s beloved funeral director who gets romantically involved with a widowed client. The film is formatted as a dark comedy/mockumentary, with much of the dialogue coming from interviews with the colorful people of the town and their thoughts on Bernie after his elderly girlfriend was found dead. The banter is hilarious, detailing the comical abuse Black put up with in the relationship. Matthew McConaughey plays the town’s sheriff tasked with investigating the crime.
The Death of Stalin (Netflix)
Historical Satire – For the history buff or satire geek, this one will both have you googling aspects of Soviet Russia as well as holding your sides from laughter. Steve Buscemi leads a hilarious cast of stooges and stalwarts who were the heads of various departments under Stalin. When Stalin finally dies, and one of the cast takes over as the new leader, you’ll see how they deal with the transition and the hijinks that present themselves along the way. This one is a healthy mix of Inglorious Basterds, 12 Angry Men and the Three Stooges.
Survival Thriller – While I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of the actors in this one – it doesn’t matter a whole lot, since there is not a ton of dialogue. A man stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash fights for his daily survival while facing the dilemna of whether to wait for rescue, or set out into the unknown for a near-impossible trek to the closest town. As the events unfold and it becomes clear that rescue is unlikely – he sets out for a battle against the terrain and the cold. Cast Away with a little bit of The Revenant vibes in this suspenseful wilderness thriller.
The Laundromat (Netflix)
White Collar Crime Drama – In this dramedy based on a true story, an ensemble cast led by Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas delve into the shady world of shell companies and the ripples effects they can have. With cutaways to simplified explanations like we saw in The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, this one is both eye opening (likely by design) and well acted enough to warrant a watch. While the plot wasn’t as well developed or explained in some areas, I still enjoyed it and went down a WikiPedia wormhole afterwards.