c/o brand.netflix.com

c/o brand.netflix.com

“It’s getting kind of hard to believe things are going to get better / I’ve been drowning too long to believe that the tide’s going to turn / And I’ve been living too hard to believe that things are going to get easier now / I’m still trying to shake off the pain from the lessons I’ve learned.”

When Jason Segal wrote “Dracula’s Lament” for the 2008 romcom “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” I wonder if he knew that was writing for the ages. The vampiric power ballad, sung in a Dracula impression, sent me into a fit of laughter when I first watched it. At the time, I was alone and feverish, and tucked under the covers in my bed. When you’re feeling rotten, it feels good to laugh.

I spent much of the winter and most of spring and summer fighting off an aggressive illness, and for weeks at a time I split my days between my bed and the couch. I had an abundance of free time, but absolutely no energy. So, I did what anyone with a streaming service membership would do: I watched movies. 55 of them, to be exact.

I was a sickly girl on a mission to watch, catalog, and rate as many movies as I could. I started a page in my journal to write down each movie I watched and made a color-corresponding key to rate them. For example, “Leap Day” and “27 Dresses” had a blue line next to them, which meant they were okay. But “500 Days of Summer” and “Captain Fantastic” had yellow lines, meaning they were 10/10. I hope with all my heart that whoever is reading this never has enough illness-caused free time to watch and rate 55 movies. But someone has to do it. So, here are the best and the worst of the movies I watched in the past eight months.


The Best:

  1. “About Time” is the best movie of all time. The beauty of this film just transcends reality and brings you into a realm of light and contentment when you watch it. And it’s topped off with Rachel McAdams. What more could you ask for?
  2. “The Farewell” was insanely beautiful. Made me cry.
  3. “Captain Fantastic” turns the idea of a family fun movie on its head. The soundtrack also made me cry. 
  4. “500 Days of Summer” stars Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the ultimate male gaze satire film. 10/10.
  5. “The Blues Brothers” because it’s just pure silliness topped off with great music and iconic cameos. 
  6. “When Harry Met Sally”—the romcom archetype. Need I say more?
  7. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” made me laugh out loud. 
  8. “Silver Linings Playbook” was intense. And brilliant. 
  9. “Promising Young Woman” is a must-watch. Months after seeing it, I still think about the movie all the time.
  10. “The Lion King” was a movie I’d never seen before, and I’m so glad I saw it! It’s awesome and beautiful, and made me feel like a kid again. (And on the note of animated children’s films, another unforgettable bonus: “Shrek 2”.)

The Worst

  1. The absolute WORST movie I saw was “You’ve Got Mail.” It’s creepy and stalkerish and gross. I can’t believe Nora Ephron, the genius behind “When Harry Met Sally,” wrote this dumpster fire of a film. 0/10.
  2. “Twilight: New Moon” was not great. The one and only highlight was the iconic line “Bella, where the hell have you been, loca?”
  3. “To All the Boys: Always and Forever Part Three” is a movie I honestly can’t even remember. I just know it was bad. 
  4. “Sleepless in Seattle” was also a no for me. Why is Meg Ryan being so creepy? Two strikes against Nora Ephron. 
  5. “What Happened to Monday” was one of those Netflix-clickbait-dystopian-action movies that’s featured for like a week and then disappears into the abyss. It was kind of entertaining, but I couldn’t follow the plot and didn’t care about the characters. I think they killed off all the main ones anyway.
  6. “Twilight: Eclipse”—why can’t Bella just get a human boyfriend like a normal teenager? 
  7. “He’s All That” starring Addison Rae was probably one of the worst movies I’ve seen to date. So why was it so entertaining???
  8. “Bo Burnham: Inside” was a comedy special that did not make me laugh. I just thought it was kind of weird. Also, after seeing “Promising Young Woman,” it was strange to see Burnham again.
  9. “It: Chapter Two” was a real letdown. I loved the first movie, but the sequel did not remotely measure up. The only highlight was Bill Hader. 
  10. “Virus,” which stars Jamie Lee Curtis, was a miss for me. Spoiler: it’s too violent and everyone dies. 


Movies I’d Recommend:

  1. “Athlete A” (not a feel-good movie but a must-watch nonetheless)
  2. “Knives Out”
  3. “The Shining” (Again, not a feel-good movie! There are always so many references to this movie and I feel smarter now that I’ve seen it.)
  4. “Lady Bird”
  5. “Stardust”
  6. “What a Girl Wants”
  7. “Crazy, Stupid Love”
  8. “Nomadland” 
  9. “A Star is Born” (Lady Gaga? Singing in a movie? Yes please!)
  10. “Rent” (Because, again, who doesn’t love a musical?)


Speaking of music, some bonuses:

  1. “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” (Beyoncé)
  2. “Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour” (Taylor Swift)
  3. “The Sound of Music” (Julie Andrews and co.)


Now that you have read these lists, you know that I am not a Wesleyan film bro: sure, I could’ve watched “Pulp Fiction,” but guess what? “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” beats movies like that any day. Feel-good movies always have happy endings, and all follow the same plot arc. As I dealt with the uncertainties of being sick and continuously getting sicker, I clung to the patterned fantasy worlds of Netflix and Hulu. 

As Paul Rudd says in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”:

“When life hands you lemons, just say, ‘Fuck the lemons,’ and bail.”

While you can’t “bail” on an illness, or make it suddenly go away, you can bail on reality for a little while by watching a movie. For an hour and a half, you can get away from the fevers and body aches, and enter a world of punch lines and silly love stories. As I reflect on the past months and the movies I filled them with, I’m grateful for even the worst of movies for existing. Having a world to immerse yourself in is a gift. 

Halle Newman can be reached at hnewman@wesleyan.edu. If you have any feel-good movie suggestions, email her. 

Comments are closed