‘What happens in a fantasy can be more involving than what happens in life, and thank goodness for that.’ – Roger Ebert
In a time of upmost crisis and uncertainty, film can be the perfect thing to turn to. Here’s a list of recommended films on Netflix that are perfect balm to soothe the soul.
A hugely unappreciated comedy with a description that belies just how good it is. Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) become good friends after seeing the friendship of their children. However, the parents try hard to stop their daughters from losing their virginity on prom night. The result is a film that is supremely funny and heartfelt.
As comedic as it is romantic, this tale of an improbable yet perfectly paired duo is a whole lot of fun. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogan) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist who has a knack for getting into trouble. Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is one of the most influential women in the world — a smart, sophisticated and accomplished politician. When Fred unexpectedly runs into Charlotte, he soon realizes that she was his former baby sitter and childhood crush. When Charlotte decides to make a run for the presidency, she impulsively hires Fred as her speechwriter — much to the dismay of her trusted advisers.
Eddie The Eagle (2016)
A truly uplifting based-on-a-true-underdog-story of one man trying to fufill his dreams of going to the Olympics. Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), an underdog ski-jumper, tackles various challenges in order to become the first participant to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski-jumping. His newly-found yet extremely reluctant coach (Hugh Jackman) might just be the person to help get him there.
Fighting With My Family (2019)
Another British truly uplifting based-on-a-true-underdog-story, this time of a family of wrestlers. Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige (Florence Pugh) and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for the WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her loved ones behind and face this new cutthroat world alone. Dwayne Johnson (who cameos and was one of the producers of the film) caught the Channel 4 documentary about the Knight family one night during a stay in the UK, and was certain it was the perfect story for a film – immediately calling Stephan Merchant to share his idea.
My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
The embodiment and epitome of joy itself. Mei and Satsuki shift to a new house to be closer to their mother who is in the hospital. They soon become friends with Totoro, a giant rabbit-like creature who is a spirit. Can be watched in Japanese with English subtitles or the English dubbed version – both are just as good as each other. Then, go and watch all the other Studio Ghibli films that dropped onto Netflix over the past few weeks.
Life Animated (2015)
One of my all-time favourite documentaries, I urge everyone to watch it. Owen Suskind suddenly stopped learning to speak at the age of 3, a diagnosis of autism soon followed. He quickly became cut-off and isolated from the world, until he taught himself to speak using Disney movies. A powerful, often very funny, look at the power of family and how love might not conquer all – but it will often confound all expectation.
I didn’t ‘get’ Spy when I first saw it. When I tried a second attempt, I realised just how wrong I was. Melissa McCarthy is superb, and Jason Statham steals almost every scene he is in. Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst, works behind the desk owing to her expertise in high-tech equipment. When an agent is compromised, she volunteers to be a spy.
Easy A (2010)
One of the greatest teen movies of all time. While Olive (Emma Stone) lies to her best friend about losing her virginity to one of the college boys, a girl overhears their conversation. Soon, her story spreads across the entire school like wildfire. It all features ultimate parent-couple goals courtesy of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.
About Time (2013)
I’ve got such a huge soft spot for this movie, possibly to the extent that defies all reason. When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is 21, his father (Bill Nighy) tells him a secret: The men in their family can travel through time. Although he can’t change history, Tim resolves to improve his life by getting a girlfriend. Yes it wears all it’s emotion and heart on it’s sleeve – but I love it. A film about the importance of time and making the most of what we have.
Ask Dr Ruth (2019)
Another excellent documentary about an extraordinary person defying all odds. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth Westheimer reflects on her painful past. A survivor of the Holocaust, her career path leads her to the forefront of the sexual revolution, making her America’s most famous sex therapist.
Based on a book, this is a beautiful tale of friendship and finding your voice & worth in a world that can be so judgemental. The plus-size, teenage daughter (Danille MacDonald) of a former beauty queen (Jennifer Aniston) signs up for her mum’s pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow in her footsteps, revolutionising the pageant and their small Texas town.
Mistress America (2015)
Because this list wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Greta Gerwig. Tracy Fishko, a naive college freshman, finds her life turning upside down when she starts living with her mischievous future stepsister.
Lady Bird (2017)
…which also gives me a chance to include Gerwig’s directorial debut. Christine Lady Bird McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), faces a lot of ups and downs in her relationships during her senior year in high school.
Ideal Home (2018)
A really charming film about a couple who really should break up, but they just can’t seem to. Paul (Paul Rudd) and Erasmus (Steven Coogan) are a bickering couple with an extravagant life. When Bill, the grandson Erasmus never knew he had, shows up at their dinner party with nowhere else to go, the couple reluctantly decide to take him in. Despite the difficulties of incorporating a child into their lives, Bill grows on them. But when Bill’s father is released from prison and comes to take back his son, the men realise that you don’t fight with your family, you fight for them. The script is solid and pithy, but it’s Rudd & Coogan’s chemistry that make this a real pleasure to watch.
Handsome Devil (2016)
A compelling, rather inspiring and delightful story of two lost – and very different- souls who find each other whilst at boarding school. Two opposites, a loner and the top athlete become friends at a rugby-obsessed boarding school, and the authorities test their friendship. Andrew Scott does an excellent job as in inspiring teacher mode.
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
One of the all-time greatest Austen adaptations, with a truly stellar cast. Rich Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) dies, leaving his second wife and her three daughters poor by the rules of inheritance. The two eldest daughters are the title opposites, Elinor (Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay) is the sensible one and Marianne (Kate Winslet) is the emotional one. Suitors come fast – in the form of Edward (Hugh Grant), John (Greg Wise) and Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman).
Begin Again (2013)
A beautiful film about lost souls making music together something with director John Carney is one of the greats at depicting. Gretta (Kiera Knightley), a budding songwriter, finds herself alone after her boyfriend Dave ditches her. Her life gains purpose when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a record label executive, notices her talent.
Set It Up (2018)
One of the first big successes of Netflix’s RomCom Renaissance, this hate-turns-to-love trope-tastic tale is so delightful and charming. Two overworked and underpaid assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) come up with a plan to get their bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) off their backs by setting them up with each other.
Groundhog Day (1993)
This one doesn’t need a reason, it’s perfection. Phil (Bill Murray), a self-centred weatherman, goes to the town of Punxsutawney for an assignment. He is later shocked when he wakes up the next morning and realises that he is reliving the same day over and over.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Another perfect classic. A chance encounter between two graduates (Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal) culminates in a short-term friendship. But when fate brings them back together five years later, they are forced to deal with how they feel about each other.
Support The Girls (2018)
A quietly powerful tale of the power and importance of female friendship. Lisa is the general manager of Double Whammies, a sports bar that features skimpily dressed waitresses. Always nurturing and protective of her staff, she soon faces one trying day that tests her optimism at every turn.
The Little Prince (2015)
Full of important messages the world really needs right now. The Aviator introduces a girl to a world where she rediscovers her childhood and learns that it’s human connections that matter most. ‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’