Top 4 movies to binge while in quarantine

Scott Powell

The wonderful thing about being quarantined is that it allows you to indulge in all of the lazy habits that ordinarily, when society is functioning properly, would make you feel schlubby and depressed, but they now feel like perfectly productive pastimes.

You can sleep until 2 p.m. You can spend all day in your underwear. I’ve even stopped pouring my cereal into a bowl in the mornings and instead started to simply dump it directly from the box into my mouth, then wash it down with a swig of milk. And not only does this ritual not raise any eyebrows, but people have actually applauded it for being such a novel and creative means by which to more efficiently prepare breakfast. It’s glorious.


Binge watching Netflix is not immune to this widespread destigmatization of all things indolent. Previously, a day spent lounging around on my couch inhaling Cheetos and watching every episode of “Freaks and Geeks” twice over and then dejectedly going to bed would leave me with an unquenchable sad feeling in the pit of my stomach that I told myself could only be cured by eating an entire pint of ice cream — which it turns out only made it worse.

Now, accomplishing such a pedestrian feat feels like a major accomplishment, and I’m almost shocked when I flick off the TV at the end of the last episode and am not immediately presented with a medal.

If you’re looking for some quality flicks to binge while it’s still socially acceptable to do so, here’s a list of the top four movies to watch while quarantined.

“Little Miss Sunshine”

It’s so fascinating how watching everything go to sh*t in the lives of two-dimensional, imaginary people on a TV screen somehow makes us real people feel much better and more secure about everything going to sh*t in our own world. And no movie captures the sheer, inescapable and oddly charming sh*ttiness of life more poignantly than “Little Miss Sunshine.”

On its surface, the story is the narrative equivalent of an elementary school lunch line — with each scene just serving up another lump of sadness onto the story’s already dreary tray as the film progresses. Yet, what makes “Little Miss Sunshine” so brilliant is its ability to maintain an unflinchingly optimistic tone despite its aggressively bleak storyline.

This is thanks to Abigail Breslin’s brilliant portrayal of a 7-year-old aspiring New Mexican beauty queen, Olive, who serves as a constant reminder to her overburdened, dispirited relatives, as well as the audience, of just how little all the little things we worry about and obsess over in life truly matter.

It is a reminder of how life is an exciting adventure whether we realize it or not and how, while the world and everything in it may be sh*t, we really don’t care — and we know for a fact that we don’t care because we continue to live in it, so there’s no use in our harping on our negativity and cynicism.

It’s one of the few movies that is able to really get at the roots of what optimism is, what it means and why it’s so powerful from an internal, human standpoint, without sugar coating it in shallow, material feel-good-iness. It’s a perfect film to help one navigate these tumultuous and bizarre times.

“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Edition”

The only reasonable excuse there’s ever been to not watch “The Lord of the Rings” is that you don’t have the time. That’s it. And, admittedly, it’s a valid reason.

Or it was a valid reason before the world shut down, and we all suddenly found ourselves sitting alone at home with nothing to do apart from trying to figure out when and how the length of a day magically became 87 hours longer.


Now, there is no justification for you skipping out on the greatest fantasy epic ever captured on celluloid unless you A) have an irrational fear of Elijah Wood’s hauntingly beautiful alien-mouse face or B) are just a weenie.

With the extended edition clocking a run time nearly 12 hours in total, this film trilogy is the perfect way to help pass the 111-hour days we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of.

“The Shawshank Redemption”

No quarantine movie list is complete without a prison flick. After all, there’s very little difference between the two, apart from the fact that your mom doesn’t come into your room every 10 minutes showing you a different social distancing meme that she saw on Facebook when you’re in prison.

You just get a nice cozy rat-infested cell all to yourself where you’re free to read and write and make soap sculptures at your leisure.

Of all the prison films — some might even argue of all the films of any genre — “The Shawshank Redemption” is by far the best. It’s a deep, impactful, poignant film about the unflinching perseverance and innate hope that drives the human spirit and allows it to weather the most tumultuous of storms, both internal and external.

“The Royal Tenenbaums”

Truthfully, any Wes Anderson movie would be a good choice to watch while trapped inside, as they almost all center around characters who spend all their time sitting around doing nothing but smoking cigarettes on vibrantly colored antique couches and talking about things like love and exotic musical instruments in droll, monotone voices.

However, of all of Anderson’s films, “The Royal Tenenbaums” best captures the spirit of what it’s like to be quarantined. Not just because the film is about a family trying to cope with having to live together under the same roof, but also because Anderson excels at highlighting and expressing the completely ludicrous and absurd places that people’s minds go when they spend extended periods of time in isolation.

His characters don’t possess any real, deep, internal needs. They have nowhere to go and nowhere to be. They’re perfectly comfortable and content as they are. They just have these vast storehouses of thoughts and ideas and words floating around in their heads that, because their lives are so comfortable and so sedentary, they have absolutely nothing to do with. There’s nothing that pushes them to channel their thoughts into meaningful or purposeful actions, so those thoughts simply merge together into quirky, nonsensical expressions.

It’s a reflection of the kinds of odd places many of us have found our minds going now that we’re spending so much time alone.

Scotty Powell can be reached at or on Twitter @scottysseus.