The Movies That Got Us Through Quarantine


{shortcode-a69a69e3762d52f1136a9adf76a8be232aa211d5}“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014)

Wes Anderson doesn’t get much better than “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” the film which netted the famed director his first Best Picture and Best Director nominations at the Oscars. Its hyper-saturated color palettes, intricate production design, shallow depth of field, and incessantly symmetrical compositions exemplify what we have come to expect from the auteur. As with many of Anderson’s films, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" also features a standout ensemble cast led by Ralph Fiennes, who plays against-type as the effortlessly affable M. Gustave. Alexandre Desplat’s rustic score buoys the film’s infectious, old-school charm.

— Lanz Aaron G. Tan

We reviewed “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and gave it 4 stars.


“Rent” (2005)

Derided by critics as overproduced and pretentious, this film adaptation of the beloved musical deserves another round in the spotlight. Its theatrical flair is far from out of place: “Rent” embraces its Broadway beginnings with real spirit. As its protagonists, impoverished young artists in New York City, experience the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, their paths meet to tell a poignant story of love and loss. Even in its darkest moments, the film never abandons the carpe-diem message of its heartwarming finale: “No day but today.”

— Clara V. Nguyen

“The Lobster” (2015)

Yorgos Lanthimos makes strange films. In “The Lobster,” individuals who check into a mysterious hotel are given 45 days to find a romantic partner, otherwise they are turned into animals. Hotel guests can extend their 45-day limit by hunting single people who live in the forest. As one might expect, the hotel is under a stringent set of rules upheld with brutal punishment. Starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as a deadpan couple, Lanthimos’ film is ridiculously original and incredibly dark. No wonder it catapulted him into Hollywood.

— Lanz Aaron G. Tan

We reviewed “The Lobster” at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and gave it 4.5 stars.

{shortcode-902fce153782d2c5b9537c7b6454bdcb42a09ae1}“The Irishman” (2019)

Remember when Martin Scorsese’s mafia epic “The Irishman” dropped in 2019? And how everyone was talking about how it was almost three-and-a-half hours long? And how it was easy, in a pre-quarantine world, simply to pretend that you watched it because it’s so long no one could hold you to remembering any particular scene? Well, now is as good a time as any to catch up. The film isn’t Scorsese’s best, but it’s still pretty great, and Joe Pesci coming out of retirement to act in it is reason enough to give it a watch.

— Allison J. Scharmann

We reviewed it and gave it 5 stars.

“Call Me By Your Name” (2017)

How lovely it would be to be lounging our days away “somewhere in Northern Italy” in 1983 rather than within the confines of our homes, our attention glued to Zoom rather than to the Italian countryside and a young Bach’s musings. This is exactly where Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film, “Call Me By Your Name,” transports its audience, taking them far from wherever they are and supplanting them squarely in a timeless idyll. If the sounds of Sufjan Stevens and ‘80s glam pop aren’t enough reprieve from the now, the breathtaking scenes of an Italian summer spent basking in the sun provide a much needed escape.

— Sofia Andrade

“Children of Men” (2006)

Cuarón doesn’t make films often — he’s only made five in the last 22 years, and each one is distinct from the last — but each one bears the searing stamp of someone deep in love with their craft. Set in a dystopian future where pandemic infertility causes mankind to crawl to an unceremonious end, “Children of Men” is as tense as it is thought provoking. Here, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s long unbroken takes communicate a seething, prescient sense of danger, especially in a car escape scene where the camera defies the laws of physics. “Children of Men” is a demanding film, but Cuarón always respects the audience’s intelligence, making his film a challenge worth solving.

— Lanz Aaron G. Tan

We reviewed it and gave it 4 stars.

{shortcode-6a6954f1c3888f18dbadd223dab77266c61860a3}“Frozen II” (2019)

Everyone loves “Frozen II,” a breathtakingly dazzling visual spectacle and all-around cinematic masterpiece. Kids love it because it’s a Disney movie, parents love it because it’s actually pretty funny, and gay uncles love it because of its catchy musical numbers. It’s a family movie in the most sincere sense of the word and, as such, the perfect addition to your quarantine lineup.

— Kalos K. Chu

We reviewed it and gave it 5 stars.

“The Lives of Others” (2006)

Have you ever felt like you were being watched — even when you were alone? “The Lives of Others” explores the history of that reality in East Germany during the height of the Cold War, this time through the eyes of a Stasi officer, Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), who’s convinced that a local playwright is anti-communist. Surprisingly, the film manages to humanize Wiesler as he grows oddly attached to the lives of the very culprits he swore to convict. Donnersmarck shoots his film with a depersonalized, industrial grey filter, which compounds Wiesler’s initial emotional detachment and the general artificiality in a state where no personal secret is ever safe.

— Lanz Aaron G. Tan

We reviewed it and gave it 4 stars.

“The Adventures of Food Boy” (2008)

If nothing else, social distancing gives us time to sit, think deeply, and ask ourselves life’s essential questions: Why are we here? And what happened to the guy who played Ryan in “High School Musical?” Our quest to answer both of those questions naturally leads us to one of the strangest movies ever made: “The Adventures of Food Boy.” Lucas Grabeel stars as Ezra, a seemingly normal teenager until he discovers that he has a superpower — the ability to shoot food out of his hands. The film follows Ezra’s efforts to harness his powers despite initial struggles, including an unforgettable scene in which he accidentally floods the school bathroom with mustard. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was Food Boy. Simpler times indeed.

— Connor S. Dowd

“Lost in Translation” (2003)

Separation is a key motif in writer-director-producer Sofia Coppola’s magnum opus; she uses glass and reflections to signify the emotional dissonance between her American characters and their diametrically opposed surroundings in Japan. “Lost in Translation” is about the spontaneous moments that breathe life into our existence — how, despite their ephemerality, the impact of these moments lingers long after they have passed. Coppola became just the 11th woman to win Best Original Screenplay and only the third to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards for this film. So “for relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”

— Lanz Aaron G. Tan