What to watch when you want to feel good in a time of crisis

by Megan Bianco

In addition to everything else happening in the world right now because of the global pandemic, the film industry is basically going on hiatus until at least May. Not only are major releases such as “A Quiet Place Part II” and the new “Mulan” being postponed, all studio productions are being postponed as well. This is truly an unprecedented event in pop culture and human history.

Especially as a film critic, this means going long periods of time without any new movies to discuss.

For home viewing recently, Steven Soderbergh’s sci-fi thriller “Contagion” has blown up on streaming sites this past month with eerie relevance to current events. As good as the movie is, I struggle to see the appeal of wanting to watch something like that in the middle of a real-life health crisis. The same goes for other dystopian films like “Perfect Sense” and “Children of Men.”

Instead, I recommend some more light-hearted and feel-good movies, starting with some basics like films that always cheer me up when I’m down. My favorite movie of all time is the classic romantic comedy “Annie Hall,” which unfortunately has been tainted by the personal life of its writer-director-star, Woody Allen. I can still “separate the art from the artist” – though that might not be true of every viewer. This is also the case for other Woody Allen comedies I love, including “Love and Death,” “Manhattan,” and “Midnight in Paris.”

The rest of my top 10 includes classics like Disney’s “Beauty & the Beast,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “ET: the Extra-Terrestrial,” and “A Hard Day’s Night.” Musicals, especially family appropriate ones, are generally good for pick-me-up material. Faves like “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Mary Poppins,” and “The Sound of Music” are usually popular for this reason. While “Chicago” isn’t necessarily family-friendly, it’s high up there for me, as far as movie musicals go.

Comedy is another perfect genre for light content, whether classic comedies like “Bringing Up Baby,” “Blazing Saddles,” and “Caddyshack” or cult classics like “There’s Something About Mary,” “Zoolander,” and “Horrible Bosses.” Or teen movies, which are often a rather nostalgic comedy subgenre with hits such as “Clueless,” “Bring It On,” and “Superbad”; and romantic comedies like “The Philadelphia Story,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

The next eight weeks are going to be interesting, to say the very least, but maybe we can distract ourselves from the chaos with some upbeat films.

Megan Bianco

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