How’s everyone holding up in the quarantine? I, for one, have been spending a lot of time watching movies and television shows that I love and discovering new ones to keep me entertained and help feel less bummed about these terrifying times. I find it a lot better for my mental health to limit the news intake and instead settle in with my favorite actors, filmmakers, and stories to take my mind somewhere else. So, I decided to write down some of my favorite free quarantine movie and television recommendations (Pro tip: I hyperlinked the titles of each to its Hulu page).
In honor of Killing Eve returning to our screens tonight, I have decided to focus this week’s recommendation list on Hulu! Of course, this is an incredibly small list, and I tried to include something for everyone, so if you are looking for more personalized ideas, feel free to hit me up on social media (@flickchickdc) or via e-mail at email@example.com. Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe!
Y’all, when I say this TRUE STORY is crazy and you need to prioritize it immediately, you need to listen to me. It is one of the most entertaining and shocking documentaries I have ever seen and all I wanted to do when it was over was talk to everyone about what I had just witnessed. Without giving too much away, three identical twins were separated at birth in the ’60s and only found out about each other after a twist of fates at a local college. The story of long-lost twin brothers quickly becomes a media sensation and the men become the ’80s version of viral superstars. But everything is not sunshine and rainbows for long when the brothers dig deeper into their background.
PARASITE, the winner of six Oscars this year, including Best Picture, Director, Foreign Language Film, and Original Screenplay, is finally available for streaming and you can see for yourself what all the hype is about. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the film follows the Kims, a poor family who work their way to employment in the home of a wealthy family, despite lacking qualifications. From there, a “parasitic” relationship begins as the Kims seek to make their employers lives their own.
Centered around themes of classism and greed, this multi-layered, timely film explores many of the issues we face today. I know some of you may be against subtitles, but once you really get into the movie you will quickly forget you’re even reading anything.
BEN IS BACK, written and directed by Peter Hedges, focuses on how substance abuse can tear a family apart and that a mother’s love can withstand even the most dire of circumstances. When prodigal son Ben (Lucas Hedges) returns home to surprise his family on Christmas Eve, he is met with anxiety more than joy. While his mother Holly (Julia Roberts) is happy to see her son and hopeful that he is indeed clean, the rest of the family is not so sure. Over the next 24 hours, Holly makes it her mission to not let Ben out of her sight so they can have a happy and healthy Christmas holiday… but the skeletons in Ben’s closet aren’t going to make it easy.
The film finds a way to take a widespread issue like opioid abuse and present it in an intimate manner, which I’m sure hits home for many that have faced this issue in their own lives, but also makes it relatable to those that have been lucky enough not to face this issue personally. It is equal parts compelling, nerve-wrecking, and stressful, carried by a fantastic script and incredible performances. And for all of you animal lovers (like me), don’t worry! No harm comes to the dog.
This little movie, starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston, was one of my favorite movies of 2013 and is another underrated pick that I have tried to focus on in these lists. It’s funny, has some great twists from the typical romantic comedy, and also has heart. Plus, how can you not love a movie that takes place partly at a brewery? I’ve never wanted to drink a beer with my friends as much as I did after watching DRINKING BUDDIES and we can live vicariously through them.
I, TONYA, directed by Craig Gillespie, is at its best an acting showcase and at its “worst” an incredibly entertaining (and cringe-inducing/hilarious) biopic of America’s most “villainous” ice skater, Tonya Harding. What I’m trying say here is you can’t go wrong with this film. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney’s multi-layered, warts and all performances portray a traditionally underrepresented archetype of female characters, the unlikable (yet kinda likable) anti-hero. The most compelling (and my favorite) part of the film is that it shines a new light on Harding as a person, her rough life, quest for recognition within the snooty ice-skating community, and “the incident” with Nancy Kerrigan. I think you will be surprised by your thoughts on Harding after the film.
I first saw INGRID GOES WEST at Sundance and have been obsessed with this cringey comedy ever since. Directed and co-written by Matt Spicer, INGRID focuses on our social media-obsessed culture, where everyone’s lives are carefully curated to look perfect. But as the cautionary tale shows, the filtered images don’t quite translate into real life. Being “Insta-famous” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and unfortunately Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) has to learn this the hard way after she moves to Los Angeles to be like her Instagram idol, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Get your likes, upvotes, and favorites in now because once you see INGRID GOES WEST, you may think twice about your social media presence. I know I did!
KILL BILL is one of my favorite Quentin Tarantino movies and I’m sure you can see why. A kickass female heroine that spends 3+ hours of screen time seeking revenge on those that wronged her? Sign. me. up. Admittedly, this film is not afraid to embrace the more gory elements of fight scenes, so if you get a bit squeamish at the site of blood, buckle up.
Nicole Kidman. That should be all I need to say. DESTROYER not only displays one of Kidman’s best performances, allowing her to completely transform for a role, but it also is one of the best crime thrillers of the last few years. With its twist-filled script and the incredible chemistry between Kidman and Sebastian Stan, it should be no secret why I am recommending this. I also appreciate it was directed by a female director, Karyn Kusama. Kidman has pledged to star in at least one female directed movie every eighteen months to give more women the opportunity to get their movies made. Over last 3 years, she has worked with five female directors… so you see how that pledge is going.
From first-time director Max Minghella (who you probably know as Nick on HANDMAID’S TALE), TEEN SPIRIT tells the story of Violet (Elle Fanning), a 17-year-old girl who lives on Isle of Wight with her immigrant Polish mother, but dreams of becoming a pop star. When Vlad (Zlatko Buric) notices Violet’s immense talent at a local bar, he facilitates her audition for an AMERICAN IDOL-style singing competition called TEEN SPIRIT that draws on contestants from across the UK. But will Violet’s inexperience on-stage and disapproving mother hurt her chances of winning the competition and securing a music contract?
At only 92 minutes, it was remarkable how quickly Minghella was able to bring to life deep, interesting characters that I was rooting for from start to finish. Usually movies like this are a bit predictable, but I was not convinced I knew whether this was going to end up having a happy ending or be a parable on the dangers of fame. I won’t tell you what it ends up being, but I’m glad TEEN SPIRIT’s fast-paced script kept me guessing.
WILD ROSE was one of my favorite movies last year and I am bummed that no one has really seen it. Until now, right?! Not only is the music amazing, but due to her fantastic performance in this film, Jessie Buckley has become one of my favorite new actresses. After a stint in prison for drug smuggling, aspiring country singer Rose-Lynn Harlan (Buckley) is struggling to make ends meet to provide for herself and her two children. It’s not until she is hired to work as a housekeeper for a wealthy local woman that things begin to look up, especially because her boss recognizes her musical talent and supports her. Through ups and downs, Rose-Lynn embarks on a journey to find what she’s really looking for in life.
Last week I talked about CHUCK being my favorite TV show of all time. Well KILLING EVE is my favorite show currently on TV (and I watch A LOT of TV). Created by the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge (FLEABAG), KILLING EVE is easily the most well-acted and intelligently written shows on television. A psychological thriller, the show is a cat-and-mouse game between a sociopathic assassin named Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and Eve (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence officer trying to stop her. Through their mutual obsession with each other, there is major tension and white-hot chemistry that I am totally here for. And don’t even get me started on the incredible fashion in the show.
Comer is perfect in the role and deserves every single award she gets. I can think of no other actor that is able to cycle through so many accents and change her character’s demeanor from icy-cold psychopath to goofball to obsessed fangirl, all in the blink of an eye. I promised myself I would keep this description short, but please prioritize watching KILLING EVE ASAP so you can catch up with season 3.
Whenever anyone asks me to recommend an underrated TV show, UNITED STATES OF TARA is it. Created by my favorite screenwriter Diablo Cody (who won the Oscar for JUNO) and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, this series follows a seemingly normal suburban family with a giant secret. Tara (Toni Collette), the matriarch of the family, has dissociative identity disorder…aka multiple personalities. When Tara gets stressed or upset, her personalities make an appearance. And the ones you meet early into the show, may be joined by additional personalities as the series continues.
As I said, Diablo Cody is my favorite writer because her scripts are always so smart, hilarious, and have the ability to really tug at your heartstrings. I always relate to her pop culture references too. Toni Collette is an absolute treasure and one of the best actresses working today; there is no greater representation of this talent than TARA, where she gets to play several characters on one television show. I’ll also note that this is one of Brie Larson’s first big roles, so if you are a fan of her, you will appreciate her performance here.
I hesitated to even include this on my list because everyone knows what a great show THE HANDMAID’S TALE is, right? Even so, I want to give another plug for this amazing, though at times hard to watch, dystopian drama that takes place in a United States ruled by a totalitarian, theocratic government called Gilead. Because fertility rates have declined, fertile women are forced to become “handmaids,” made to sleep with husbands of wealthy families whose wives cannot have children themselves. Dark, huh?
I know we are already living in a scary time, so this may be a bit triggering/unappealing if you are looking for more of a light watch. However, this show is really, really good and Elisabeth Moss is absolutely incredible in it. I also want to give a shoutout to Yvonne Strahovski (CHUCK) who goes toe-to-toe with Moss and along with Jodie Comer (KILLING EVE) is giving one of my favorite performances on television right now. Another cool element of the most recent season is that some scenes were filmed right here in Washington, DC and I went and watched them film!
SHRILL is another underrated favorite of mine. Based off of a memoir, the series follows “an overweight young woman who wants to change her life, but not her body.” I loved this description on Hulu’s site because I think it perfectly encapsulates the show and is what I love most about it. Of course, the show focuses on weight and does an amazing job messaging body positivity. But we finally get a TV heroine that yes, may be heavier than the lead actresses we are used to seeing, but still faces the same exact problems. Annie (Aidy Bryant) has boy problems, issues at work, and all the other problems plaguing young women these days. It’s crazy that we had to wait until 2019 to see this viewpoint on-screen.
Based off of the 1996 film, FARGO is a black comedy, crime-anthology series that picks up with a new cast and new case each season. The first season is set in 2006 and follows hit-man Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton), whose deception causes mayhem in a small Minnesota town. Police deputy Molly Solverson (the amazing Allison Tohlman) begins to investigate murders that may be tied back to Malvo. The second season, my favorite of the three, is a prequel to season 1 and takes place in 1979. The season centers around a couple (played by real life couple Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemmons) who attempt to cover up the semi-accidental murder of a member of a local crime family. And the most recent season—starring Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ewan McGregor—follow a couple that get involved in a double-murder.
Season 4, starring Chris Rock, was supposed to premiere this month but was delayed along with everything else due to the pandemic. So make sure you catch up on the series now so you’ll be ready for season 4!
The best way to describe PEN15 is a cringe-inducing comedy that will trigger memories of your adolescence. Set in 2000, showrunners Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle (both in their early 30s) star as 13 year old versions of themselves. And you know what? It works. Every 30 minute episode is absolutely hysterical and is sure to bring back some of your similar micro-dramas from middle school. The official description of the show describes this time of our lives perfectly, “where the best day of your life can turn into your worst with the stroke of a gel pen.”
Based off of a 2017 book, this series follows two mothers from vastly different life paths. While the women get along initially, their inherent differences and dangerous secrets may be the cause of exceptional damage in both of their lives. Let’s be real, I will watch anything with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington so that was my starting point with this series. As I am writing this, there are still two episodes left in the series and I am excited to see what they have in store for us.
DAMAGES was must-see TV every week at my house. It is a legal thriller that centers on ruthless senior attorney Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), who will stop at nothing to win a case, and Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), her fresh out of law school protege. Not only does it have fantastic performances from Byrne and Close (giving her best version of Miranda Priestly from DEVIL WEARS PRADA), but it is one of the twist-filled television shows I have ever seen and left me guessing from episode to episode. I haven’t seen DAMAGES since it aired, but just thinking about it for this recommendation section has made me want to do a series rewatch!
Based on the insane, true story of Gypsy Rose and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard, this mini-series combines two of my favorite things, true crime and Patricia Arquette. I don’t want to say too much about the story because I want you to watch the show and discover it organically. What I will say is it is legitimately one of the craziest true crime stories you will ever hear and it’s no surprise that they turned it into a movie so quickly.
Created by Ryan Murphy (GLEE, AMERICAN HORROR STORY), SCREAM QUEENS is a satirical, comedic slasher series that starts off trying to figure out who is killing coeds at a college in season 1 and moves to a hospital setting in season 2. The whodunnit mystery is secondary to the meat of the series, which lies in the amazing character development. Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin is one of the most hilarious and entertaining television characters of the last decade. And in no other series are you going to have THE scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, gracing your television screen in a truly hilarious, meta performance. SCREAM QUEENS is so much fun and iconic with my friends and I, we quote it probably as much as we quote MEAN GIRLS. Murphy keeps teasing a new season and I would totally be here for it.