Commentary: Six films to watch while self-isolating

Doing our part to practice physical distancing and self-isolation to stop the spread of COVID-19 means there are a lot of empty hours each day we need to fill.

Maybe one of the most common methods of doing so is through catching up on films and series on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Crave. If you are having difficulty picking what to watch, here are some titles you should check out for a variety of pandemic and binge-watching experiences.

Want to live out the pandemic Hollywood style?

Train to Busan (2016) — Amazon Prime Video 

This South Korean film directed by Yeon Sang-ho follows lead character Seok-woo, a divorced father, who takes his daughter Su-an on a train trip to see her mother for her birthday. Partway through their trip, they find out an epidemic of vicious zombies (not the passive Walking Dead kind) has broken out in South Korea and they are sitting ducks right in the middle of it.

The film is a breath of fresh air as there’s a human aspect that focuses on helping others, as opposed to devolving to a complete mistrust of your fellow humans, even when the world is in the midst of the apocalypse.

The film is a great watch even if you have watched every other zombie movie in existence that unnerve you to the point where you definitely want to stay indoors.

Isolation ranking: 8 metres of physical distancing out of 10

Contagion (2011) — Netflix 

This pandemic-based thriller has been resurrected to the top of the Netflix trending page with its eerie similarities to our current situation.

Director Steven Soderbergh puts together an ensemble cast that includes Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow among others to bring to life a world being ravaged by a virus, born from pigs and bats, and the chaos that ensues.

Following the lead of Matt Damon, whose wife and son in the film are some of the first deaths of the illness, we see just how easily these situations escalate and can affect the lives of millions.

If this doesn’t freak you out, have you disinfecting your entire house and avoiding all contact with others, then nothing will.

Isolation ranking: 6 hand washes out of 10

Need something lighter to ease the tension?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) — Netflix

Matthew Broderick’s most recognizable work and a John Hughes classic, this film follows the hijinx of Ferris Bueller (Boderick) who fakes sick to skip class. He and his friends escape the dull reality of high school and enjoy the wonders of the outside world, making the most out of their youth, all themes that students are experiencing a bit differently right now.

This is a must-watch right now because we all need to escape from reality now and live vicariously through someone in a much happier time, whether they are real or fictional. So sit back, relax and allow this iconic ’80s teenager remind you of a simpler time.

Isolation ranking: 7 days of quarantine out of 10

Life of the Party (2018) — Netflix 

This one is especially recommended for university students who are stressed about finishing courses online, take-home exams and wondering if they will be graduating without an actual graduation ceremony.

This film will remind you about all the fun aspects of post-secondary education as it follows the recently divorced Deanna, played by the zany Melissa McCarthy, who re-enrolls at her daughter’s university to finish the last year of her degree that she lost due to being pregnant at the beginning of her lost marriage. Her daughter, Maddie, tries to help her mother fit in by introducing her to the sorority, taking her to parties and other youthful shenanigans that all end in hilarious fashion.

It’s a time all students should be reminded of in times of such uncertainty.

Isolation ranking: 2 months of online classes out of 5

Just need a good movie?

Uncut Gems (2019) — Netflix 

Usually an Adam Sandler movie would have been included in the previous section as a perfect turn-your-brain-off film filled with cheesy laughs and toilet humour. However, this film is quite the change of pace for Sandler and easily his most critically-acclaimed film to date.

Playing jeweller and gambling addict Howard Ratler, Sandler’s quirky acting style finds its perfect match as his skittish mannerisms give a great portrayal of someone constantly looking over their shoulder because they owe money to the wrong people.

Many would have thought pigs would fly before seeing a performance of this caliber from Sandler, so let the current state of affairs be the reason you witness to this great piece of cinema.

Isolation ranking: 4 N95 masks out of 5

The Irishman (2019) — Netflix

Martin Scorcese adds a third mob masterpiece to his collection with this film that sees all the crowd favourites from the gangster movie genre come back for one more classic production.

It’s told through the recollection of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro, who spent time as a hitman in a crime syndicate. All the classic wise-guys from Joe Pesci to Al Pacino weave another epic tale of shady deals and outlaw violence that pack the punch of films like Casino and Goodfellas before it.

It’s three and a half hours of brilliant story-telling that at the end cement all involved as legends of the genre. It can be one of the better afternoons you can spend in self-isolation.

Isolation ranking: 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 10