A very comprehensive list of films to watch while you’re self-isolating

Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

Because self-isolation doesn’t have to be boring.

Stab in the dark here: you’re probably sick of hearing the words ‘self-isolation’ right now.

But between government announcements, handy Instagram survival guides and an avalanche of fresh memes, the advice we’re receiving in the time of coronavirus is that the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus is to spend as much time as possible at home.

Less social contact can cut down your chance of contracting COVID-19, as well as reducing the number of people you could pass it onto if unwittingly affected. Besides staying healthy and symptom-free yourself, this can really help protect already vulnerable groups like the elderly, chronically ill or immuno-compromised.

So it’s time to take cues from the introverts among us and embrace the quieter side of life. Make fewer dinner dates, plan ahead and start thinking of ways to keep yourself entertained (read: sane) while spending more time with your housemates or your own mind.

Read a book, clean your entire house, take a bunch of baths, or just start making your way through your ever-growing movie ‘to watch’ list.

No matter what your quarantine mood is or how well you cope being cooped up inside, here are a few flicks to help while away the hours.

If social distancing is starting to get to you

Sure, you’re less likely to pass the virus back and forth with your nearest and dearest, but it’s inevitable while isolated to start missing your friends. Step number one is to make sure you have a healthy group chat ready to go, so you can keep up with your pals’ wellbeing, quarantine meal plans and every lonely thought. If that doesn’t soothe your aching heart, watch a movie about friends and pretend you’re there with them instead of alone in your room.

Booksmart (2019)

Two do-gooders realise they’ve missed out on essential high school experiences by never partying or breaking any rules and decide to remedy that fact immediately. Going to a party is a no-no in a world of social distance, as is making out with a fellow hot person in a pool, a bathroom, or on stage at your graduation. But that’s where the pretending comes in. It’s your party now, and you can get up to as many imaginary yet heartfelt hi-jinx in one night as you and your imaginary friends please. 

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

This film follows ridiculous heroines Romy and Michele as they prep for their high school reunion by inventing fake, theoretically impressive lives. But the real message here is true friendship in the face of off-the-walls adversity – sound familiar? You’ll get a similar effect from a film like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), with both showing that no matter how weird life gets or how deeply flawed you are as a person, at least one person will always stay by your side. The coincidentally common theme of time may also be reassuring if you look at it as a reminder of your post-isolation future.

Game Night (2018)

If daydreaming about the adventures you and your buddies could be having in a corona-free world stops working, try thinking about all the terrible things that could hypothetically happen if you were together. Like, for example, a game night that goes horribly awry when one of your friends gets kidnapped. Sure, you’ll all have to work together to solve the problem and you’ll probably bond like there’s no tomorrow, but you could have avoided the whole situation if you’d been home alone watching movies. 

If you actually miss work

While the threat of businesses shutting their doors and workers making do from home is a very real concern for a lot of people – we’ve still got rent to pay, after all – spending time in your scarcely-used home office might have you yearning for days by the water cooler. Whether you’re missing your co-workers, your paycheck or just a slightly more reliable internet connection, here are some picks about workplace relations to quench your thirst.

Set It Up (2018)

One of my favourite modern rom-coms also happens to fit the bill for zany office antics and a reality check for when you start romanticising your job too much. This workplace offers it all: crappy bosses to rant to your friends about, unexpected whirlwind adventures and the chance to find love where you least expect it.

Empire Records (1995)

This one is for the folks out there who really, really love their jobs. As you watch a bunch of teens and teen-adjacents go about a day in a beloved but endangered record shop, I advise just pretending you work there, too. Ignore how little they’re likely getting paid and just let yourself get swept up in the drama and the on-the-clock dance sessions.

Office Space (1999)

Undoubtedly the paramount example of office-related satire (yes, this claim includes both versions of The Office), Office Space follows the lives of dissatisfied white-collar workers at a software firm. Its 1999 release date only increases its appeal for a mid-crisis watch, allowing you to have a laugh in a whole other era – one where technology, the workforce and the world, in general, are just retro enough to make them refreshing.

If you just wish you lived in a different world

I’m not saying we should all pretend nothing bad is happening, because that’s not going to help anyone long-term. But when you’re already tucked away at home doing the responsible thing, you can afford to indulge in a little escapism. Pop on a movie set in a world, realm or dimension that’s never even heard of COVID-19, and vacate reality for an hour or two.

Stardust (2007)

Yes, there are curses and witches and royal families with deep-seated issues running rampant in the world of Stardust. But there’s also love to be basked in and lessons to be learned and lightning to be caught, so it’s not all doom and gloom. The film’s world-building is solid and inventive enough to slip into with ease. Unfortunately, this does mean you might not want to leave it and return to your quarantine couch when the runtime is up.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

This film is the OG escapist fantasy as far as I’m concerned. What’s more appealing in times like these than a magical wardrobe capable of removing you from a world in turmoil? Yes, you’ll have to make do with just watching the Pevensie children visit the expansive, delightful and sometimes terrifying world of Narnia, but isn’t that better than nothing?

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

I’m aware these are all children’s movies, but that’s where the feel-good worlds live. Admittedly, The NeverEnding Story is one of the saddest movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and also heavily centred around a mysterious new illness – the sickness befalling the Empress, for which Atreyu is hunting down a cure. But if you’re looking to escape while also subconsciously working through your anxieties, then Godspeed.

If you want to prepare for the worst

No, the Coronavirus is not going to cause the apocalypse. But faced with a problem of this scale, sometimes it’s nice to think about bigger, more daunting problems we could hypothetically be dealing with. I’m talking zombies, alien invasion, animals rising up to take back the Earth. The kind of full scale, end of the world, no turning back scenarios that make for terrible potential futures but killer action movies.

Zombieland (2009)

Laugh a little, then learn how to protect yourself from hordes of nightmare creatures. Zombie films are an art form, in that they serve as both entertainment and cautionary tales. If you’re feeling sensitive, I’d opt for a comedy (or zomedy, if you will) over something heavy and bloody. Shaun of the Dead (2004) works just as well, and might even reflect more appropriate survival tactics for many Australian apocalypse-attendees.

War of the Worlds (2005)

This is the first disaster film I ever remember watching, and it has stuck with me ever since. No matter how many alien invasion narratives I eagerly consume, they’re consistently creepy – largely because, if you’ll allow me to get tin-foil-hatty for a moment, they could all feasibly happen. We could be dealing with aliens in giant war machines right now, trying to keep our loved ones safe despite our own personal failings. We could be Dakota Fanning’s dad.

Snowpiercer (2013)

We need a hero, and that hero may very well look like Chris Evans. A climate change ‘what if’ tale where the last of humanity is trapped on an eternally-moving train is quarantine-adjacent in a way that could be unsettling – fair warning – but there’s also a great sense of hope in its focus on the common man coming together to fight back against injustice. It’s poignant, sad and gritty, and Mr Evans is so big, handsome and brave.

As you’re no doubt already aware, coronavirus has well and truly taken hold in Australia, and an increasing number of us will be self-isolating or working from home. We’re living through a scary, uncertain time right now, and it’s easy to get swept up in the neverending cycle of negative news. Over the coming weeks, we hope to provide you with a little reprieve from all the heaviness, and lots of ideas for how to fill all that time you’ll be spending at home. Take care out there and don’t be a stranger. We’re all in this together. Love the FJ team xx


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