In which the Midnight Data Department gathers and ranks the 50 best movies about people stuck at home. Warning: silliness and psychosis ahead.
Daylight Savings Time has ended and the snow is flying in Minnesota. This time of year always inspires a mix of melancholy, dread, and baking as we northerners turn our energy inward – and by inward I mean it literally: inside. Because it’s cold out there. But this winter is extra special! With C-19 rates skyrocketing, we’re going to need to brave the long dark season either outside together, or inside alone.
To make sure we don’t all end up like Mary Elizabeth Winstead here, I thought we might need some ideas about movies to watch, and those movies might as well help us 1) generate ideas about how to survive this next phase of quarantine without being consumed by cabin fever, and/or 2) identify what some of the warning signs of psychosis might be.
So get ready to take notes, friends, the 50 best films about people in home quarantine are gathered here for your infotainment!* Films are ranked worst to best based on 9 data dimensions organized into three scoring areas:
- Popularity – 1) Box Office: The amount of money the film made in its theatrical run (adjusted for inflation), 2) General Attention: the number of ratings the film received on IMDB, and 3) Nerd Attention: the number of ratings the film received on Letterboxd (a social platform for film nerds)
- Quality – 1) Critical Reception: The film’s Metascore , 2) Fanaticism: the percentage of Letterboxd nerds who rated the film 4 stars or higher, and 3) General Reception: the average of critics’ and audiences’ ratings on Rotten Tomatoes
- Influence – 1) Moneymaker: the amount of money a film made in profit relative to its budget, 2) Cultural Infiltration: the extent to which a film has permeated film/media culture (i.e. how often it is referenced in other works, whether it inspired sequels/remakes, etc.), and 3) Cinematic Significance: a film’s prestige and/or lasting legacy (awards won, prestigious filmmaker, canonized by Criterion, etc.)
The three data dimensions in each category are averaged and then added up to get the film’s final score (see the math here). If a film scores a top 10% rating in any dimension, it gets a special badge!
Remember: the scoring curve is recreated for every Midnight Data Analytics team list. Compared to Dystopia Cornucopia, I noticed that this list has much higher quality ratings overall and lower popularity ratings – so along with some beloved favorites, you may find some new-to-you classics to add to your watchlist. Enjoy! And remember: winter won’t last forever, even though I’m sure we will all have moments where we doubt that. And playing outside is what snowpants were made for! See you out there.
* Films about forced quarantine – because of haunting or captivity – are ineligible. As are films about quarantines that last less than 24 hours, which can hardly be called quarantines. And also, films by pedophile rapists who flee the country rather than face prosecution, because we don’t support that kind of thing around here.
50. Two Night Stand (2014)
Vudu or Tubi (free)
Post-Tinder hookup, a blizzard forces Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton to hang out. Their quarantine barely stretches to the 48-hour mark, but thank goodness that’s just long enough to fall in love. I remember thinking it was cute, but this film made absolutely no impression on the world through its online release.
49. Nothing (2003)
Not currently available to stream
Vincenzo Natali – best known for his work on Cube and In the Tall Grass – wrote and directed this little weirdo about a couple of down-on-their-luck guys who find one day that everyone and everything in the outside world is gone. All that remains is a big empty white void and their house. And that’s the whole movie! Two white guys, big void. I know there’s a joke about white people in here somewhere.
48. A Dark Song (2016)
This gorgeous, enthralling debut feature from writer/director Liam Gavin deserves so much more adoration than it has gotten. Isolated in a huge old house, the film’s two characters spend their quarantine completing a mysterious, physically and emotionally grueling ritual over a number of weeks (months?). The purpose and intent of the ritual unfold patiently throughout the film. Gothic and haunting with genuine scares and moments of sublime beauty, A Dark Song is a unique treasure – 100% Team Midnight endorsed. If you’re not burned out on Halloween haunts just yet, or even if you are, add this one to your watchlist!
47. Adrift (2018)
Netflix, Vudu (rent)
Adrift is a true story about two sailors in love who end up isolated on their wrecked sailboat after a catastrophic hurricane. Their quarantine is strictly survival oriented. Reception was positive if a bit mild, but Shailene Woodley’s star power boosted the film to a decent box office take. If “people lost in the wilderness” movies are your thing, check it out!
46. Color Out of Space (2019)
Shudder, Vudu (rent)
Strange things start happening at the Gardner family farm after a purple meteor crashes in their front yard. The Gardners will need to overcome their rural isolation, rapidly changing environment, and deteriorating mental states in order to survive. Part Annihilation, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this is the 2nd film based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name – the first was 1987’s The Curse starting Wesley (aka Will Wheaton) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Richard Stanley’s 2019 update scored Nicolas Cage!
45. Housebound (2014)
Sentenced to house arrest at her parents’ house, Kylie spends her quarantine watching TV, being annoyed by her parents, and trying to ignore the unsettling feeling that she’s being watched. A fantastic small-budget New Zealand horror-comedy, Housebound goes all sorts of places you won’t expect and is a total blast. Free to stream (with ads) on Tubi!
44. Queen of Earth (2015)
In Alex Ross Perry’s claustrophobic film, Catherine (a deeply unnerving Elizabeth Moss) is attempting to recuperate during a dark time in her life by getting away with her best friend to a lake house. Unfortunately, the isolated setting and Catherine’s unraveling psyche turn the tender spots in their friendship into malicious, gaping psychological wounds. It’s tense and unpleasant and completely riveting. Definitely worth watching, though you may want to wait until you’re having one of those good pandemic days.
43. The One I Love (2014)
Elizabeth Moss vacation getaway double whammy! This time, she and Mark Duplass are a married couple in a rut, and their therapist recommends a romantic retreat at a cottage that he guarantees will restart the spark. The place does turn out to be transformative, just not how they expect. If you’re coupled up and running out of things to talk about in quarantine, this twisty trip could be a good conversation starter.
42. Safe (1995)
I mean there’s quarantine and then there’s THIS. In Todd Haynes’ 2nd feature film, Julianne Moore stars as an affluent housewife whose lifestyle makes her chronically ill – an affliction that her loved ones insist is in her head. Typically quite submissive to her family and friends, she goes to greater and greater extremes to pursue treatment for what is eventually diagnosed as her “environmental illness.” Haynes – who went on to make bangers like Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven, and who won the Palme d’Or for 2015’s Carol – directs the shit out this movie, which reads both as a straightforward story of suburban ennui and a multi-layered allegory about the invisible perils of contemporary life. It is elegant and purposeful at every turn, and earned both a spot in the Criterion Collection and a Cinematic Significance star from the Midnights.
41. Bug (2006)
After seeing a performance of Bug as a stage play, celebrated filmmaker William Friedkin called playwright Tracey Letts and insisted that they make the film together – and cast Michael Shannon, who was largely unknown at the time, to reprise his lead role. Centered on two lonely people who find love and then hole up in an Oklahoma apartment to dig what they believe are government-implanted bugs out of their bodies, no one quite knew what to do with Bug when it hit theaters. Studio execs marketed it as torture porn, Friedkin described it as a black comedy, but Shannon believes it is, more than anything, a love story. Whether the bugs are real or the characters are just desperate and paranoid is up to you – but Bug is certainly an unforgettable experience. And, it may inspire you to clean your apartment! Because, you never know. Maybe they are watching us.
40. The Room (2003)
Not available to stream
I admit that I’m stretching the quarantine idea a bit to include this movie, but it is WORTH it. The Room is a surreal experience of independent filmmaking. Concepts like “bad” and “good” just don’t have a place in a conversation about this movie. Though the film didn’t get close to making back its $6M budget during its theatrical release (how did Tommy Wiseau spend $6M on THIS movie!? and where did he get $6M!?), The Room is infinitely quotable and has emerged as the Rocky Horror Picture Show for a new generation. It ranks top 10% in Cultural Infiltration influence, referenced in a whopping 341 other works and inspiring The Disaster Artist, a 2017 comedy about the process of making The Room based on the bestselling book of the same name. Anyway, you have nice pecs. I definitely have breast cancer. And 17 years later, The Room is still the best.
39. Stoker (2013)
Mia Wasikowska plays a Wednesday Addams-esque potential psychopath in this luscious coming of age family drama triangle. Grieving the loss of her father, she confines herself (well, mostly) to her home and the surrounding grounds by choice, though the mysterious re-emergence of her long-lost Uncle Charles may have something to do with it too. Elegantly presented by Cannes-jury-prize-winning South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden, Oldboy), with fantastic performances from Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode, Stoker is a dark, dreamy delight.
38. The Lake House (2006)
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock reignite their Speed chemistry in this transdimensional romance about a magical mailbox and two good-looking, successful, wealthy white professionals. One IMDB user used the phrase “heaven breaks time” to describe this movie. I don’t know what that means but I am intrigued. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this!
37. August: Osage County (2013)
Look at that cast! Good lord. Is that Benedict Cumberbatch back there in the corner? Come for the acting, stay for the acting. It’s an Oklahoma family drama! Secrets, arguments, tension, inappropriate remarks, scalding looks, all that. If you are missing extended family right now, check this one out – you may find renewed gratitude for your solitude.
36. The Money Pit (1986)
Showtime, Vudu (rent)
If the pandemic has driven you to home improvement and you’re in over your DIY head, The Money Pit is for you. I remember as a kid listening to my Mom giggle out loud, covering her mouth, as she enjoyed the misfortunes of peak-80s Tom Hanks and Shelley Duvall, and I remember something about a bathtub falling through the floor. It’s an 80s screwball comedy! Enjoy.
35. Hamlet (1996)
Or, maybe you’re spending your time brushing up on classics? Perfect! Hamlet spends his quarantine entertaining ghosts, brooding, contemplating suicide, appreciating theater, humiliating his mom, making fun of idiots, and exposing his uncle as his father’s murderer. All the while, managing to ignore the invasion of his country by Norway. Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 version comes out on top in our ranking – beating the 1990 Mel Gibson version (still can’t believe Mel Gibson played Hamlet) handily, because that one really sucks. (The Ethan Hawke/Michael Almereyda 2000 version didn’t qualify – too many locations). I love this version of Hamlet – its setting is vast and beautiful, with commanding performances and skillful deployment of Shakespeare’s clever iambic pentameter. Just lovely.
34. It Comes at Night (2017)
It Comes is a desolate beauty, but disclaimer: anxiety and dread are its defining features… with a little distrust of others sprinkled in there for kicks. Isolated in their off-grid forest home after an unexplained earth-shattering disaster, this tight family unit spends their days trying to survive and stay safe from an unnamed threat. (Spoiler: it’s a super-contagious disease. Yeah, oof). This is for the days you really want to wallow in your own dread, or for when you need a cathartic cry. Pretty spooky – not for the faint of heart. I just love this movie, though. I can’t help but recommend it, even though it may be the darkest on the list.
33. Gerald’s Game (2017)
Unhappy couple Gerald and Jessie escape to a lake house and get kinky in an attempt to spice up their marriage – but their role play goes horribly wrong, and most of the film’s duration is a bedroom mash-up of 127 Hours and Repulsion. But, you know, Stephen King. Apparently Director Mike Flanagan works miracles with the flawed source material – though the film’s shocking coda continues to divide audiences.
32. The Beguiled (2017)
Sofia Coppola won the award for Best Director at Cannes for The Beguiled, based on the novel of the same name. Isolated and vulnerable at a Virginia school for girls during the civil war, the unexpected arrival of an injured Union soldier disrupts the lives of 7 women. So much lace, such good manners, so much candlelight — The Beguiled is equal parts thriller, romance, and horror film, wrapped up tight in the satin bow of a period drama.
31. Dogtooth (2009)
Shudder, Mubi, Tubi (free)
In Dogtooth, psychotic parents isolate their three teenage children at a rural country estate, where they exert absolute control over their lives through psychological terror and manipulation. Arguably the film that launched writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos into his award-winning streak as an auteur, folks describe Dogtooth as disturbing and brilliant–the kind of film that gets under your skin. If you start making up your own language or attacking innocent pets while in quarantine, you may want to check out this movie. Perhaps it is shake-up you need to snap out of it already.
30. Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
HBO, Vudu (rent)
Just like any good wedding, Shakespeare’s beloved comedy is romantic, unpredictable and suspenseful. Its protagonists are both so clever that they regularly talk themselves out of their obvious affection for one another. Fresh off mega-blockbuster The Avengers, Joss Whedon gathered up his favorite people and made this movie at his own home on a microscopic budget. Though its box office take wasn’t huge ($6M in 2020 dollars), the film made back more than 25x its budget in profit. This version just barely edged out Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded 1993 film, which earned a 6.25.
29. Crimson Peak (2015)
Oscar-winning Director Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror-romance follows Edith, who falls in love and then moves across the ocean to her husband’s magnificent but rotting family home. She spends her quarantine being unknowingly poisoned by her sister-in-law as she tries to solve the mystery the ghosts keep telling her about. It’s ghoulish and bloody, but deeply committed to classic romanticism – and somewhere along the way transforms into a unique experience, fantastic and beautiful, as del Toro’s films tend to become.
28. Woman in the Dunes (1964)
Criterion Channel, Amazon/AppleTV (rent)
In Woman in the Dunes, an entomologist becomes trapped in a small house at the bottom of an ever-crumbling mountain of sand with a strange widow. They spend their quarantine digging all day every day, as the sand continually swallows up the modest home. The folks at Criterion describe Woman in the Dunes as “one of cinema’s most unnerving and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of everyday life as a Sisyphean struggle”. They’re not alone in their praise – the films gets top marks for quality across the board. Though a Metascore isn’t available, 86% of raters on Letterboxd gave it 4-stars or higher and it earned 100% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics. Pretty impressive for a not-entirely optimistic artsy Japanese film from the 60s.
27. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Hulu, Tubi (free)
Kids can be real creeps. Imagine if your child acted on every creepy thing you heard them say out loud but add more torture and that’s basically what this movie is. Apparently this fear resonated with lots of parents, because the Austrian horror film made more than 35x its miniscule budget back in profit.
26. Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Criterion channel, Vudu (rent)
My personal favorite psychological horror classic, celebrated Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf is the only horror film he made. And it is one powerful simmering pot of gothic dread. Fixated on the last hour of the night before dawn, the film follows a troubled artist who is haunted by his past while on a windy island retreat with his young, pregnant wife. They also have some serious encounters with the creepy neighbors. Well, I think they do? Maybe not? It’s great.
25. Disturbia (2007)
Under house arrest, bored teen Shia LaBeouf spends his quarantine spying on his neighbors and that never ends well. LaBeouf was still warming up for superstardom when Disturbia came out, but the charisma was in the air: Transformers would be released just 3 months later and Indiana Jones 4 just a year after that. Though it did well at the box office when it came out, Disturbia really shines with the general populace, with nearly 220,000 ratings on IMDB to date (top 10% in that dimension!).
24. Mustang (2015)
Criterion channel, Vudu (rent)
After being seen playing innocently with boys on the beach, 5 orphaned sisters are locked up by their psycho-conservative guardians as their marriages are arranged. Delicate, fierce, and very specifically Turkish, Mustang was Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s first feature film, and earned her a prestigious European film prize at Cannes. It’s on my watchlist!
23. mother! (2017)
Love it or hate it, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a film worth talking about. Inspiring countless thinkpieces, online spats about feminism and arguments about metaphors and genius, mother! is nothing if not polarizing. The film follows Jennifer Lawrence as she spirals through time and around and around the home she cares for so lovingly as it transforms from tranquil hideout to unexpected party space and eventually to a full-out war zone and beyond, mother! is a pretty amazing film. Check it out, then YOU can argue with people about it too!
22. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Hulu, Vudu (rent)
Intimate and deeply moving, reading folks’ reviews of Portrait of a Lady on Fire on Letterboxd is like reading journal entries about that one great love from everyone in the world, each with their own mix of bliss and grief. Sharp and tender, Portrait appropriately received top marks in all three quality categories: a 95 Metascore from critics, a 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and 88% of Letterboxd raters gave it 4 stars or more. It also won Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm award at Cannes, as well as earning entry into the Criterion Collection. Because of art and patriarchy, two young women meet and, while confined to a large, austere estate, fall in love. Pretty good way to spend quarantine. By that I mean: falling in love and/or enjoying this film. Do both, I say.
21. A Ghost Story (2017)
Truly haunting – but not at all in a scary way, more of a “life is so fleeting and beautiful and nothing is guaranteed and the scope of history is so large and time is eternal and our lives don’t matter at all but actually they matter the most because we matter to one another” kind of way. A Ghost Story follows the ghost of a man who died suddenly in a tragic accident, as it wanders passively around its former home, present in but dislocated from the life it left behind.
20. Cries and Whispers (1972)
Criterion channel, Amazon/AppleTV (rent)
Fixated on grief, death, and how badly human beings fail at loving one another, Bergman’s Cries and Whispers may be salt on the pandemic wound. But what exquisite salt! Maybe you need that sting right now to remember your own aliveness. The film follows Agnes, who spends her quarantine slowly dying of cancer, and her two sisters, who come to visit.
19. The Exterminating Angel (1962)
Criterion channel, Amazon (rent)
After a fancy dinner party, a group of rich people find themselves inexplicably unable to leave the room. For days and days. They snipe and bicker and critique each other’s etiquette, even as their desperation increases and their primal barbarism begins to emerge. Celebrated surrealist Luis Bunuel explores all sorts of interesting ideas within this structure, continuing what Criterion refers to as his “wicked takedown of the rituals and dependencies of the frivolous upper classes” – all the way to the film’s conclusion, when the partygoers just decide to leave and then walk out the door. An eerie comedy masterpiece with bite, The Exterminating Angel is perfect quarantine food for the noisy mind.
18. Melancholia (2011)
Hulu, Tubi (free)
This film is really two quarantines in one: first, a wedding (which is a bit short to qualify – though the affair clearly felt eternal to Justine), and second, the quiet days preceding the end of the world. Kirsten Dunst’s protagonist is the mysterious, depressed planet the film orbits around, and she very deservedly won the prize for Best Actress at Cannes for the role. Saturated with striking classical images that flow like living oil paintings and popping with Lars von Trier’s black humor, Melancholia‘s ethos of anticipation and dread rings true to this moment without, somehow, being oppressive or bleak.
17. The Innocents (1961)
Not available to stream
In this classic psychological horror story, a young woman is hired to care for two orphaned children in Victorian England – and then spends her quarantine with them becoming convinced something is very wrong. She is either going crazy OR the children really are possessed by some malicious local ghosts. It’s unclear. But it is very disturbing.
16. Grey Gardens (1975)
Criterion channel, Vudu (rent)
Two eccentric woman, an elderly mother and middle-aged daughter, both named Edie, live a reclusive life in a decaying East Hampton mansion. They spend their quarantine collecting cats and dwelling on the past. They are definitely funny – sometimes intentionally – but the humorous elements of their lives can’t fully penetrate the sheen of sadness and regret on the whole film, which sometimes dips into uncomfortably exploitive territory. Grey Gardens was a sensation. It has been referenced in 40 other works and inspired both a “more footage” sequel and a TV movie starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Might be a good choice if you’re struggling to get motivated to take care of the yard.
15. The Big Chill (1983)
My personal cinematic comfort food, watching The Big Chill is about as close as we can get to a weekend-long reunion with best friends right now. These guys spend their quarantine making meals, drinking and enjoying drugs, eating ice cream, going for long walks, having sex, grappling with middle age, smoking cigarettes, exercising, making fun of each other, grieving, and helping each other out. It is THE BEST. Created with loving attention to authentic relationships and characters, this film was a passion project for writer/director Lawrence Kasdan and the amazing cast, who lived together in the same house for weeks before filming began in order to get the authentic, deep familiarity with one another that comes through so strongly in the film. Also in the Criterion Collection, The Big Chill was a hit, making back more than 6x its budget in profit and leaving a long-term impact on cinema; in the nearly 40 years since its release (!), it has been referenced in 110 other works.
14. The Lighthouse (2019)
I’m not totally convinced that Robert Eggers’ “thing” is quite as impressive as the nerds think it is (and Justin is beyond suspicious), but I feel like any movie that is about Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe drinking, arguing, being super horny and slowly going crazy while isolated in an old-timey lighthouse is really going to be SOMETHING. Plus I read somewhere that Pattinson punches a seagull, and maybe also an octopus? And there’s something about mermaids?
13. Gosford Park (2001)
Wealthy brits descend upon a country estate with their entourage of personal servants for a weekend of hunting, feasting, country air…. and MURDER. Everyone’s a suspect and no one’s leaving till we sort this out. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Screenplay along with a cavalcade of other awards, Robert Altman’s whodunit masterpiece earns an impressive 90 Metascore. The cast is shockingly stacked (Ryan Phillipe notwithstanding – it was 2001 after all) and the visuals and dialogue elevate the unfolding mystery with wit and style.
12. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Criterion channel, Vudu (rent)
Bette Davis is genuinely terrifying in this intense drama about two sisters, both formerly successful actresses, who now live a reclusive life in an old Hollywood mansion. Competitive and resentful, their relationship transforms from bitterness to psychological torture to actual terror as they downward spiral during quarantine.
Baby Jane made a deep indent in our cultural psyche – it has been referenced in more than 200 other works and inspired two TV movie remakes.
11. The Thing (1982)
Showtime, Vudu (rent)
John Carpenter’s The Thing barely made a profit and didn’t impress critics when it premiered in 1982, but the now-classic horror film has proved its awesomeness many times over in the last 38 years. For sheer attention, it is top 10% of films in this project on both IMDB and Letterboxd, and an extremely high 92% of film geeks on the latter social platform rate it 4 stars or higher. It has also been greatly influential culturally – referenced in 431 other works and inspiring a 2011 remake.
Peak 80s Kurt Russell rocks a beard and some truly inspiring hair as part of a research team who live and work together in Antarctica. Unbeknownst to them, a mysterious something that can look like anyone gets released from the ice and infiltrates their base… so they spend their quarantine being suspicious, tying each other up, being horrified as they watch their friends transform into hideous monsters and generally panicking while trying not to freeze to death outside. The Thing is mandatory viewing for some cold evening this quarantine winter – it’s creepy, the effects are incredible, it looks fantastic, and the soundtrack kicks ass. If you have never seen The Thing, now is the time.
10. The Handmaiden (2016)
Visually delicious, unexpectedly audacious and downright wild, Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden was a dominator of prestigious film awards internationally. Unfortunately the Oscars-so-white hashtag hadn’t yet started trending back in 2016 and The Handmaiden was completely left out of the big film awards in the U.S., though according to many, it was no less deserving than Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite, which swept everything in 2019. So it’s time to catch up! A twisty erotic thriller of power, oppression, and deception, the titular character is a Korean pickpocket hired by a Japanese swindler to help him seduce a wealthy heiress in occupied 1930s Korea. But these gals spend their quarantine getting to know one another REAL well, which puts a kink in the plan in more ways than one.
9. The Others (2001)
On a remote island in post-WW2 New Jersey, Nicole Kidman is holed up with her two children in a house that they keep very dark. She spends her quarantine becoming convinced that the house is haunted and that her children are in danger. Also inspired by The Turn of the Screw (see The Innocents), although The Others fully relies on scares and twists, it doesn’t ever get silly, instead leaning quite effectively into classical suspense-building tropes: a big empty house, creaky floors, dim candlelight, old-timey nightgowns, that kind of thing. It crushed at the box office ($311.8M – adjusted for inflation) and has maintained steadfast popularity over time.
8. Ex Machina (2014)
Showtime, Vudu (rent)
In Alex Garland’s fantastic directing debut, Domhnall Gleeson wins a private getaway/hangout with his tech company’s eccentric CEO, Oscar Isaac. But he finds, once he gets there, that he was hand-picked not to hang out, but to test the sentience of the groundbreaking robot artificial intelligence Isaac has created while working in solitude. The robot turns out to be very pretty and Oscar Isaac is pretty creepy and it all goes very haywire in that isolated concrete and glass mansion. Ex Machina has no business being as interesting as it is, and remains popular with both film nerds and audiences in general. A great pick if your quarantine needs some sci-fi flavor.
7. Beetlejuice (1988)
Barbara and Adam are confined to their beloved country home because, well, they’re dead – unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that some fancy New York nitwits can’t move in and make a mess of the place! Unsure how to effectively haunt-scare their new roommates into leaving, they turn to an expert they don’t fully understand: the incredible Michael Keaton as he-who-shall-not-be-named, who really makes a mess of things. Tim Burton’s delightful comedy did well at the box office back in 1988 and its popularity has endured with audiences over time. It also made a real impact in the cultural firmament, referenced in 341 other works. The film inspired not only a ton of merchandise and toy sales, but also its very own Saturday morning cartoon. Remember that weird cartoon? It was pretty obnoxious actually. But the movie is still the best!
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Oooh, the scores are getting so tight up here in the top! Less than a point separate #6 from #12. Wow. So exciting!
Mary Elizabeth Winstead wakes up in an underground bunker with two men who claim the outside air is unsafe to breathe because of a recent attack of some kind. She spends her quarantine trying to figure out whether or not this is true. Pretty fun overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is very popular with nerds and with audiences in general, and John Goodman is fantastic as a creepy authoritarian Dad figure. Great pick for a cold snowy day when you’re struggling to get motivated to go for a walk – this one will make you crave the fresh outdoors, no matter how crisp the air.
5. The Favourite (2018)
In an 18th century British palace, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz spend their quarantine maneuvering and manipulating to be the closest companion of Queen Anne, who is over her head in political gymnastics, chronically unhealthy, and desperate for love. Olivia Colman won an Oscar for her portrayal of the feeble Queen in the critically beloved (91 Metascore), exquisitely designed, very funny film from Yorgos Lanthimos. Even if lace collars and powdered wigs aren’t your thing, consider giving The Favourite a chance; it is smart and intriguing and its humor has real bite!
4. Home Alone (1990)
Eight-year-old Kevin McAllister’s epic adventure being accidentally left home to eat pizza and fight burglars with pranks after his huge family leaves for Christmas vacation in Paris is forever ingrained in the psyche of my generation. It completely blew up at the box office, raking in $477.1 million in 1990; when you adjust for inflation, that’s the equivalent of $984.7 million – or close to a BILLION – in 2020 dollars, more than 26x what the film cost to make. Its popularity has persisted over time, and Home Alone is in the top 10% of all three popularity measures. It also made a huge cultural impact, referenced in 658 other works and inspiring 5 sequels/remakes. Wow!
3. Sunset Blvd (1950)
The epic Norma Desmond, faded star of the silent film era, lives protected from the world in her fabulous Hollywood mansion, alone with her butler. She uses her quarantine to sink deeper and deeper into her delusion of a return to stardom that definitely isn’t going to happen. Gloria Swanson’s powerhouse performance and Billy Wilder’s incredible screenplay, together with the film’s iconic noir visual style, made Sunset Blvd a born legend. The film won the Academy Award for best screenplay in 1950 (among many other awards) and still earns top marks from audiences and film nerds. It also has left an enduring legacy: referenced in 455 other works and inspiring a 1991 Andrew Lloyd Weber broadway musical that has run, off and on, for the past 26 years.
2. The Shining (1980)
Frustrated writer Jack Torrance – along with his wife and his son Danny – take up residence on Colorado’s snowy peaks at the Overlook Hotel for the winter, where Jack is the caretaker. The family spends their quarantine rambling around the creepy old hotel, while Jack is going crazy, being haunted, and possibly possessed – it is unclear – as he gradually shifts from boredom to hostility to terrorizing his wife and son.
Although The Shining did decently at the box office (especially considering that it premiered the same weekend as The Empire Strikes Back), Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel received mixed reviews at the time of its release. Over time, however, the film has come to be regarded as a masterpiece of cinema and one of the greatest horror movies ever made, inspiring countless social and literary interpretations and conspiracies from its many memorable ambiguities. It has been referenced in a truly staggering 1,590 other works and inspired both a sequel (2019’s Doctor Sleep) and a 2012 documentary, Room 237, that details its many interpretations.
1. Rear Window (1954)
I mean, spying on the neighbors and commenting on their habits is something pretty much ALL of us are doing right now. Right!? Feels appropriate that Rear Window takes the top spot on the quarantopia list. Injured photographer L.B. Jefferies, stuck in his apartment during a heatwave, spends his quarantine spying on his neighbors through his glorious back window with his incredibly elegant lady friend, Grace Kelly. It’s all voyeuristic fun until he begins to suspect a neighbor of murdering his wife. Fresh off the success of Dial M for Murder from earlier that yer, Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful drama was an overwhelming success, making the 2020 equivalent of $354M, more than 37x its budget – and it is universal beloved by critics (a perfect 100 Metascore), audiences in general, and nerds. Unsurprisingly, the film has deeply infiltrated our consciousness, referenced in 392 other works and inspiring 2 remakes.
As always, feel free to add any films I may have missed in the comments and I’ll gladly score them for you. Stay healthy!
Not sure if this would qualify based on the fact that she leaves, but last year at TIFF I watched Love Me Tender, by Klaudia Reynike. It’s in Italian. I enjoyed it.
Good call, Avye! Will check it out – Quarantopia score forthcoming. 🙂