After nearly two months in quarantine, you are probably running out of movies to watch and TV shows to binge.
If options on your Netflix queue are wearing thin, Hollywood stars are here to help. From directors and actors to newscasters and comics, Variety has surveyed tastemakers from the big and small screen to assemble a list of acclaimed films and venerable sitcoms — and everything in between — that are worth catching up on in the social distancing era.
“‘Tiger King.’ From a psychological perspective, and honestly an acting perspective, they’re brilliant character studies. It’s like when the ego hijacks everything, and reactivity hijacks everything. Also, the narcissistic need and desire to be at the forefront — it’s an amazing study on how to be a cult leader.”
Oh currently stars in “Killing Eve.”
“I am no Domesday prepper and don’t even have the basic disaster kit staples of flashlight and extra batteries. Instead one whole room in my London flat has become a mini library to movies from all over the world. Long have my friends raised a bemused eyebrow at my shelves groaning with physical media, Blu-Rays, DVDS from every region, even the odd VHS. Why on earth would I keep all this stuff, when there’s so much available to stream? Well, I have quite a lot of films that don’t seem to be anywhere online and if I can watch them on a shiny disc I will.
It’s been a deeply frustrating time not being able to work with my closest colleagues (who are also dear friends) and even trying to write is more erratic and sporadic in this uncertain time. What has always been a source of salvation though is cinema and the only bright spot of this deeply strange and sad time has been the opportunity to disappear into a feature film. I’ve been watching a lot of older movies and international films that I am so happy to strike off my ‘Movies I Must Watch Before I Die.’
Of particular comfort have been films from WWII or post war from the UK, Italy, Japan and France; the films of David Lean, [Michael Powell] and [Emeric] Pressburger, [Alberto de Almeida] Cavalcanti, Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Monogatari, Robert Bresson and Jean Pierre Melville, among many many others. I’ve also enjoyed the existential drama and human comedies of Swedish cinema from Ingmar Bergman, Lukas Moodysson and Andersson.
In more happier, carefree times, I was rarely happier than when I can sit in the dark of a cinema. Now, in this very dark time for actual cinemas, I’m trying my best to recreate the experience in my living room, complete with espresso and box of Junior Mints. It’s been a great consolation, but make no mistake, I will be first in line to support my local cinema as soon as I can.”
Wright directed “Shaun of the Dead,” “Baby Driver” and “Hot Fuzz.”
“‘Ozark’ — We’re on Season 3. It’s so good. It’s so much darker than anything I usually watch, and the acting and the writing and the directing, is just so brilliant. I’m loving it.”
Feldstein starred in “Lady Bird,” “Booksmart,” “How to Build a Girl” and will appear alongside Ben Platt in “Merrily We Roll Along.”
“In the time of quarantine, I’ve taken notice of my short attention span, and have tried to address it by only watching shows with subtitles. I started with the Jewish genre — ‘Unorthodox,’ ‘Shtisel’ and ‘Fauda’ have redirected my attention to Hasidic Jews, Israeli Jews, Brooklyn Jews. The types of Jew goes on and on, but I find subtitles a great way to force your mind to pay attention, and a great way to brush up on my Haftorah portion. Next up: any native Icelandic series. I love ice, and I can’t wait to learn the language.”
Handler hosted the E! show “Chelsea Lately” and released numerous stand-up specials.
“The show that we watched, or rather rewatched is ‘Slings And Arrows.’ A Canadian comedy created by the same creators of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ It’s three seasons — six episodes each — and it is about a Shakespeare Theatre company and the struggles of artistic integrity and commercialism and art. It’s FANTASTIC. And makes you believe in the power of live theatre and also CRAVE IT. It is a great reminder of why I love performing live and being a part of a community.”
Foster, a Tony winner for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Anything Goes,” currently stars in “Younger.”
“My wife Laurie and I have been inhaling anything and everything that William Powell ever did. We’ve blasted through all the ‘Thin Man’ movies, as well as several other screwball comedies that he did with Myrna Loy like ‘Double Wedding’ and ‘I Love You Again.’ Also many of his early films like ‘Lawyer Man’ and ‘Jewel Robbery,’ as well as his later films like ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ and ‘Mr. Roberts.’ If William Powell’s in it, we’re watching it.
His movies and the comedies of the 1930s and ’40s provide the perfect escape from our current situation. To go into a black and white world of dinner clubs and elegant apartments filled with people in tuxedoes and evening gowns drinking martinis and champagne and falling in and out (and back in!) love with each other truly takes you away from the pandemic and the 24 hour news cycle. William Powell embodies that escape better than anybody. He was a hilarious actor who had such a light touch, who could look handsome and elegant, even though he was a fairly normal looking guy, and who exuded such confidence that you always feel reassured in his presence, like nothing could really go wrong as long as he is around. We always end every one of his films feeling lighter and more optimistic. And they’re great things to watch before bed because you go to sleep with visions of an idealized world in your head as opposed to wallowing in the news up until bedtime and then taking all of its frustrations and angst into your night’s sleep. William Powell is the new Prozac.”
Feig’s directing credits include “Bridesmaids,” “A Simple Favor,” “The Office,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “Last Christmas.”
“I haven’t had cable TV for 20 years, so it’s all streaming over here and some old DVDs. I’ve been watching a mix of films I needed to revisit to remember why we need to make films and new work from new voices I love, as well as some TV and documentaries. This week I watched films from SXSW on Amazon Prime and a double feature by Eliza Hittman. The nuanced and heartfelt ‘Beach Rats’ followed by her new beautiful film ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always.'”
Har’el directed the 2019 film “Honey Boy.”
“‘The Plot Against America.’ Zoe Kazan is one of my best, best friends. There’s always this pressure when you watch one of your friends because — maybe it’s growing up in the theater — the whole time you’re sort of panicking, like, ‘What am I going to say?’ The compliment has to be good. It can’t be hyperbolic, it’s got to be specific. Sometimes it’s just handed to you. Her performance is such a master class, to the point where it’s one of those female performances where you feel angrily jealous and then it’s so good that it just surpasses jealousy and you’re like I could never do this, it’s the most incredible thing.”
Gilpin stars in “The Hunt” and “GLOW.”
“First up, ‘Nailed It,’ we have to laugh during quarantine right?! Nicole [Byer] is the best, I love it when someone hits the panic button and she does something crazy! Maybe when all this is over they can call me to be a guest judge? Next, all the original ‘Muppet’ movies and perfecting my Kermit the Frog voice, I want to hug him so bad, my favorite so far is ‘Muppets Take Manhattan.’ Last, I have been having virtual watch parties of ‘Home Before Dark’ with my family across the country. We were hoping to watch it together in person, but this is almost as good, plus this way I don’t have to share my popcorn!”
Prince starred in Apple TV Plus’ “Home Before Dark” and “The Florida Project.”
“I have a 3-year-old, so it’s a steady stream of Disney Plus. We’ve even watched the weird straight to home videos from the 90s. Late night, I watch all Bravo reality to escape reality and “Mrs. America.” Hello! Rose Byrne is Gloria Steinem!”
Ashford, best known for her Broadway background, recently appeared in HBO’s “Bad Education.”
“‘Schitt’s Creek.’ It’s fun. It’s a good escape. The acting is brilliant. It’s a great situational comedy. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Hoult will star alongside Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible 7” and acted in “X-Men” spinoff “Dark Phoenix,” “The Favourite” and Hulu’s miniseries “The Great.”
“These days for some reason I’m streaming ‘Dystopia’ to go with the real dystopia! My current binges are ‘Westworld,’ ‘Killing Eve’ and I just finished Season 3 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and the most current season of ‘The Walking Dead.’ Needless to say, I am fully strategically prepared for the end of the world. And of course I binged ‘Tiger King’ like everyone else. Also really enjoyed ‘The Two Killings of Sam Cooke’ on Netflix and am using the downtime to get caught up on ‘Insecure’ and ‘Queen Sugar’ when not drowning in design ideas from HGTV. As a Gen-X kid I was raised by my mom and the TV, so I feel perfectly positioned for this era.”
Reid is an MSNBC political analyst and host of “AM Joy.”
“’Nathan For You’ is endlessly funny to me. It’s one of those shows that I’ll tell friends to watch, and then I’ll watch it with them while they’re watching.The reason why I like it is because he has this reality element, but also comedy element. It sits in this space that feels so uniquely for TV.”
Youssef created and stars in Hulu’s comedy “Ramy.”
“I’d been hearing a lot about [‘Sex Education’]. I shot a film with Asa [Butterfield] and wanted to support him but wasn’t sure I wanted to watch a high school show. I was surprised by how elevated and interesting it was. It’s shot beautifully, the themes are impactful, the characters are complex and yet relatable and there’s so much to learn. Plus it is HILARIOUS. I wish I had a show like this when I was going through high school, I feel like school’s curriculum around sex is really under serving young people. This show teaches you a lot of important things surrounding sex, intimacy, emotions and it teaches you all this in an incredibly entertaining and comedic way.”
Dobrev is best known for her role on the CW’s “Vampire Diaries.”
“My wife and I have been watching ‘Big Mouth,’ which makes us laugh so so hard. I’ve also found great comfort in David Chang’s ‘Ugly Delicious’ and like just about every basketball fan on the planet have been eagerly watching (and re-watching) ‘The Last Dance.'”
Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes.”
“On TV, ‘Unorthodox.’ I loved this series, was so sad there were only four episodes. The cast lead by Shira Haas is spectacular, the story is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I’ve ordered the book it was based on and can’t wait to read it. I hope there is a second season.
For film, ‘Knives Out.’ Great whodunit film for the whole family. We loved it. Ana de Armas is such a delight to watch, Daniel Craig is fantastic, all the cast wonderful and the story by Rian Johnson so good and original. I was so happy to see Jamie Lee Curtis, she is perfection in this film. Highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.”
Margulies is known for “ER” and “The Good Wife.”
“‘Tiger King.’ It’s been on my mind. It’s insane. And I finally caught up on ‘You.’ That was a whirlwind.”
Viswanathan, who starred in the 2018 comedy “Blockers,” was recently in HBO’s “Bad Education.”
“We binged ‘Schitt’s Creek’ and ‘Unorthodox,’ had the obligatory viewing of ‘Tiger King,’ enjoyed the first two parts of ‘The Last Dance’ and, for 12 seasons, I’ve kept my appointment every spring with my weekly dose of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ I’ve also had ‘The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch’ because every view counts when you want a Season 2. We’ve sprinkled in movies; ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ ‘Just Friends,’ Ron Howard’s ‘Rush,’ ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon.’ Our algorithms are all over the place.
But every night, around 8 p.m., we hunker down and power watch four to five episodes of ‘Mad Men.’ As I watch, all I keep thinking is how handsome Don Draper is but how, in real life, he would have been the dirtiest, most bloated gross-out office creep, broke from child support payments to all the random women he slept with on his lunch breaks. But for now, his world is a distraction; the ability to slop shotgun sugary old fashions without passing out in his own vomit behind an air-bag-less wheel while smoking like a, well, I guess literally every doctor in the 60s, has become my nightly panacea.”
Shlesinger is a stand-up comedian known for Netflix’s “Spenser Confidential,” “The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch.”
“I can throw on any episode of ‘Golden Girls’ and immediately escape to the lanai in my mind. The writing and acting on that show is sitcom perfection. I’ve practically chomped clear through my fist trying to nail Bea Arthur’s signature move.
I watched ‘Heartburn’ for the first time and I have to say, it’s just my opinion, but personally, and again this is just my opinion, I think Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson are good actors. Nora Ephron movies are so smartly written and feel so relatable, even if you’ve never found the incriminating receipts from your husband’s affair.
I love ‘Friends From College.’ I didn’t personally make any long-lasting friends at my college but this show makes it seem like that could’ve been cool. Great cast and fun storylines, very bingeable.”
Lapkus’s credits include “Jurassic World,” “Crashing,” “Orange Is the New Black” and Netflix’s comedy “The Wrong Missy.”
“My guilty pleasure is ‘Property Brothers.’ I watch all of them really. I just put it on HGTV and just let it play sometimes. I’m always online looking for old cabins, lake side cabins that I could buy one day and maybe restore.”
Holland was in “Moonlight,” “The Eddy” on Netflix, “American Horror Story: Roanoke” and “Castle Rock.”
“I watched ‘Unorthodox’ late at night and then I kept thinking of her and I’m dreaming about her, where she is and what it’s like.”
Avant, a former United States ambassador to the Bahamas, produced “The Black Godfather” for Netflix.
“It’s quite embarrassing because I hadn’t watched it, but I’m now binging ‘Broad City.’ I’m ashamed that I’m watching it just now. I should stay in quarantine as a punishment for not watching it until now. But I am in love with everything, it’s so good. It’s so hard to make you laugh at home in front of a screen, and they’re doing it so easily. It’s effortless and I’m bursting out laughing all by myself. This is my quarantine show.”
Rahav stars in “Unorthodox” on Netflix.