Work From Home is a new vertical dedicated to life and culture in the strange and unprecedented situation of self-quarantine that many of us are dealing with right now. From what to watch to how to get a fit off and how to not think about anything, this is our guide to the great indoors. For updates on the spread of Covid-19 and how to keep yourself safe and informed, consult WHO and the CDC.
One of the few positives of our present situation is the ample time we have to catch up on movies and shows we’ve been meaning to watch forever. The downside of that is how quickly you catch up on that list. This is when it pays to dig a little deeper.
The last few years have seen a number of excellent film and TV picks, so many that a vast number seem to fall by the wayside, forgotten by many. Now’s the time to give those a shot. All those unlikely finds, wild cards and diamonds in the rough. Not everything here is unknown, but they’re all deserving of a viewing, especially if you let them slip by the first time around.
Here are underrated 15 movies and shows you might have slept on that are worth binging while you self-isolate.
Director: Ali Abbasi
Rotten Tomatoes: 97 percent
Not neatly fitting into any genre, Border is one of the most original stories of the last few years. It revolves around Tina, a Swedish customs officer who possesses an incredible sense of smell that helps her in detecting contraband. With a Neanderthal-like appearance, she doesn’t fit in among humans. She soon meets a mysterious man named Vore, who shares Tina’s facial structure, but is uncertain of his intentions.
Border won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 91st Academy Awards. It’s a unique film and certainly one that’ll stick with you.
Creators: Jody Hill, Danny McBride
Rotten Tomatoes: 83 percent
Picked up by HBO for a run of two seasons, Vice Principals stars Danny McBride as a vice principal hoping to nab the top spot after the incumbent school leader (played by Bill Murray) announces his retirement. However, he has stiff competition from his fellow co-vice principal (played by Walton Goggins, who you might remember from The Hateful Eight) who also wants the job. Things are further thrown into the mix when both are overlooked in lieu of an outside female who’s hired instead. The two vice principals make it their mission to smear her reputation, but in the meantime cause more damage to their own.
Vice Principals is easy viewing and worth checking out if it you missed it a few years ago. While both seasons were well received, the second one is considered much better than the first so it pays to stay in the game.
Director: Lee Chang-dong
Rotten Tomatoes: 95 percent
Based on a short story by Haruki Murakami titled “Barn Burning,” Burning is a pensive thriller about a love triangle in which a mysterious and wealthy stranger named Ben (played by The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun) enters the lives of two childhood friends who recently reconnected.
Universally acclaimed, Burning screened in-competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, taking home the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize. It was South Korea’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the 91st Academy Awards and although it didn’t get nominated, it made it to the top nine shortlist, making it the first Korean film to do so (leading the way for Parasite the following year).
The Last Man on Earth
Creator: Will Forte
Rotten Tomatoes: 85 percent
The Last Man on Earth didn’t get the full attention it deserved when it aired from 2015-2018, but in a bittersweet twist its back on the radar thanks to its prescient storyline regarding our current crisis: A few years after a virus wipes out humanity, the last man on earth (played by Will Forte) wishes for company, but soon gets more than he bargained for as other survivors begin to appear. Let’s hope it’s not too prescient.
The Last Man on Earth is a great show and its second wind is deserved, but the reason it’s worth watching right now is because it’s hilarious and offers a light take on the situation we’re facing. Saturday Night Live alum Forte is joined by other former cast members, with Kristen Schaal playing co-lead.
My Life As A Zucchini
Director: Claude Barras
Rotten Tomatoes: 99 percent
A colorful stop-motion film about a young boy named Icare who’s sent to an orphanage, My Life As A Zucchini contrasts a sober story of life and growing up with vivid visuals and sweet humor. The comedy-drama is a Swiss-French production, however, the English-dubbed version includes voices from Nick Offerman, Amy Sedaris, Will Forte and Ellen Page. It won many international awards upon its release and was nominated at both the Oscars and Golden Globes for Best Animated Feature.
Creator: Tom Edge
Rotten Tomatoes: 97 percent
Originally broadcast on the UK’s Channel 4, Lovesick centers around a group of friends living together in Glasgow, when one of them, Dylan, is diagnosed with chlamydia and must subsequently track down and inform every woman he’s ever slept with. The storyline lends itself to all kinds of funny scenarios, while the friendships at the center of the show carry it forward.
Netflix streamed the first season and then commissioned the second as a Netflix Original, as well as producing the third season. Lovesick is fun and sexy, and feels like hanging out with mates–perfect for this solitary time.
Random Acts of Flyness
Creator: Terence Nance
Rotten Tomatoes: 100 percent
Produced by HBO, Random Acts of Flyness is a variety sketch show created, written, produced, and directed by Terence Nance, who also stars in each episode. A “show about the beauty and ugliness of contemporary American life,” it feature’s skits that are funny yet surreal, and serve to highlight what it means to be black in America today.
With a poignant message that’s delivered via off-kilter comedy, Random Acts of Flyness is one of the most singular and elevated comedy shows in recent memory. Slick production values up the game further, while a few celebrity guest stars, including Whoopi Goldberg, Lakeith Stanfield, and Jon Hamm, appear to maximum effect.
Director: Eliza Hittman
Rotten Tomatoes: 85 percent
Eliza Hittman is one director to watch out for this decade. Fresh off winning the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlinale for Never Rarely Sometimes Always, her poignant portrayal of teen pregnancy, Hittman belongs to a new generation of directors making films that speak directly to younger audiences. Her sophomore film Beach Rats revolves around a Brooklyn teenager who’s caught between a pressured home life, his delinquent friends, a new girlfriend, and his secret meet-ups with older men for sex and drugs.
Beach Rats is a nuanced look at teen sexuality that doesn’t rely on outdated binaries. Hittman won the Directing Award at Sundance for the film, while lead actor Harris Dickinson’s portrayal was highly acclaimed.
Bored to Death
Creator: Jonathon Ames
Rotten Tomatoes: 79 percent
Jason Schwartzman plays Jonathan Ames, a writer who fills his boredom and writer’s block by moonlighting as an unlicensed private detective on Craigslist. Each episode features a new case and also stars Ted Danson and Zach Galifanakis as Jonathan’s best friends. This trio is the cast you didn’t know you needed. Each actor holds their own while the chemistry and humor between them is amazing. On top of that, the show features a killer list of guest stars including Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate, Zoe Kazan, Patton Oswalt and more.
Created by author Jonathan Ames (yes he named the lead character after himself), the show is funny, silly, and full of recurring jokes that not only pay off but make you feel as though you’re one of the gang. Considering you can’t be outside right now, following Jonathan’s adventures through New York is a worthy replacement.
Director: Carlos López Estrada
Rotten Tomatoes: 94 percent
Written, produced by, and starring lifelong friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, Blindspotting was helmed as a love letter to Oakland where the pair grew up, and centers on friendship, race and class. Specifically, the plot follows a convicted felon with three days left of his probation when he witnesses a police shooting that threatens to turn his life and friendship upside down.
Written over a period of nine years, the pair felt that there was always “something missing” from films set in the Bay Area, and aimed to capture the “heightened reality” that shapes life in Oakland. Critically acclaimed, the movie was also included by Barack Obama in his favorite movies of 2018.
In A World…
Director: Lake Bell
Rotten Tomatoes: 92 percent
Set in the film voice-over world, In A World… (whose title references voice actor Don LaFontaine’s ubiquitous catchphrase used in trailers) is a comedy about a female voice coach who wants to break into the big leagues of trailer voice-over work. Overshadowed by her legendary voice actor father, Carol (played by writer and director Lake Bell) attempts to land a lucrative upcoming trailer, but competition is fierce.
In A World… is a charming look at an often overlooked part of the entertainment industry. Bell proves her skill as a writer and first-time director, while an excellent cast of comedy regulars, including Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, and Fred Melamed, round out the supporting roles. Bigger names also make appearances, such as Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, and Eva Longoria playing herself.
Creator: Mackenzie Crook
Rotten Tomatoes: 100 percent
Created by one of British comedy’s most famous faces, Mackenzie Crook (who played Gareth in the UK version of The Office), Detectorists is about a pair of metal detectorists in a sleepy town in Essex. Crook stars alongside veteran British actor Toby Jones and they make a perfect mismatched pair. The show is a slow burner, but for those patient enough it’ll pay off.
Director: Julius Onah
Rotten Tomatoes: 91 percent
A stellar cast featuring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Octavia Spencer, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (who also starred in last year’s indie hit Waves), Luce is a complex thriller about a high school athlete who’s praised by his community and adoptive parents. But after the titular Luce turns in a disturbing essay condoning political violence, his true identity is questioned. Suspenseful and brilliantly acted, Luce is a sharp thriller with a unique take on timely themes.
The End of the F***ing World
Writer: Charlie Covell
Rotten Tomatoes: 93 percent
Based on a graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman, The End of the F***ing World is a British dark comedy series about two outsider teens: James, who thinks he’s a psychopath and wants to finally kill someone, and Alyssa, a rebellious girl who wants to escape her life. They decide to embark on a road trip albeit with differing motives. The show has been praised for its writing and themes, as well as both leads’ performances.
Creator: Dave Holstein
Rotten Tomatoes: 88 percent
Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry team up for the first time since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with an off-kilter series about Jeff Piccirillo AKA Mr. Pickles, a beloved children’s TV host who anchors a multimillion-dollar brand empire as he faces a personal tragedy. Kidding’s strange, dreamlike quality makes it vastly different from other shows being made right now, but that’s exactly why it’s great.