Movies and Music for Your Sunday Nights

If you frequently find yourself browsing for movies and music to consume on a Sunday night, you may know a few things to be true. First, you’re going to need something to validate just how in your feelings you are, because I for one have never experienced a Sunday night without at least a touch of sadness—and no, I will not be using the term “Sunday Scaries,” I’m not a horrible human being. So, the music and movies that you’ve designated for the evening have to be just melancholy enough for you to feel ~understood~ without, like, sparking an existential crisis or anything. Next, it’s gotta feel familiar to you. Heading into a new week filled with uncertainty, the promise of new experiences, and also maybe (probably) dread, you’re going to need your songs and films to feel a bit like home, even if you haven’t listened to or watched them before. And finally, they should be, you know, actually good. Whatever reality TV shows or Top Ten singles that you swear you take in ironically have no place for your Sunday nights. Get it together.

Okay, so semi-pretentious checklist aside, here are my recommendations for music and movies that I think deserve a place in your Sunday nights. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. However, based on how nuanced I’m making myself seem in sadness and crisis, you should probably trust my curatorial judgment here. Here we go:

turned on LED movie projector Photo by Alex Litvin from Unsplash

Movies:

Booksmart

Genuinely one of the most criminally underrated movies of the 2000s. There, I said it. This movie is simultaneously hilarious and heart-wrenching, depicting two wildly clever and self-admitted nerdy high school seniors as they embark on a journey to their first high school party on the night before their graduation. Critics dubbed it the female version of Superbad, but honestly, Superbad is the male version of this movie. The message of bittersweet endings and new beginnings encapsulated in this coming-of-age triumph resembles the emotions of a Sunday night on a much, much smaller scale. Like, a lot smaller. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Do I sound like a snob for including a Wes Anderson movie this early on my list? I promise I’m not trying to show off that I watch Wes Anderson movies. My Wes Anderson knowledge, apart from my obsession with this movie, pretty much starts and ends at Fantastic Mr. Fox. But seriously, this movie is perfection. It’s slow-paced enough to make for a relaxing evening of feeling like an aspiring film major, all while containing chase scenes down ski slopes, priceless stolen art, and full-on murder. Plus, the whole aesthetic of a snowy, formerly bustling mountainside resort is just…chef’s kiss.

Almost Famous

Okay, so remember how I said that the ideal movie for a Sunday night has to be both sad and feel like home? Remember it or not, I said it, and now I’m saying it again. This movie is exactly that: You will cry, but you will also feel like these tears are occurring in your childhood bedroom while you’re wrapped in a knitted blanket and drinking hot chocolate. If that makes any shred of sense. I would say this movie is the closest thing to a total cinematic embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll that I’ve ever encountered. So, if that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what else will. 

The Dark Knight

I’m throwing an action movie in here because I don’t just watch movies that sound like they’re ripped straight out of a sad indie teenager’s IMDb watchlist. Also, because this is genuinely the greatest superhero movie of all time. It has all of the cathartic punching and kicking needed to channel your Sunday stress, enough psychological thrill to transport you past your less thrilling Sunday night worries (no offense), and also Morgan Freeman. 

Dead Poet’s Society

If you don’t think the movies that I’ve included on my list are sad enough to fill my previously mentioned criteria, your disappointment stops here. This movie will probably make you feel every possible emotion, so if you’re looking to suffer while being immersed in poetry, laughter, and a swelling sense of camaraderie, then search no further. The late Robin Williams puts on an utterly genius performance of an inspiring and unconventional English teacher in this 1989 coming-of-age classic. Watching him help his students to become freer thinkers and better people is genuinely unmissable. 

Orange LED sign that says Photo by Mohammad Metri from Unsplash

Songs:

“Dreams Tonite” by Alvvays

Get it, because dreams, and night time? Actually, though, this is a beautiful song. Alvvays is one of my favorite bands—their songs make you feel like you’re floating, and adding to their whole ethereal thing is the lead singer’s utterly breathy and hypnotic voice. The lyrics implore, “if I saw you on the street, would I have you in my dreams tonight,” and honestly, I ask myself the same thing.

“Sleeping Lessons” by The Shins

There might be a bit of a theme going here with my song choices, but this is the last sleep-related one, I promise. The Shins are as close to contemporary pop rock as you can get, with less sex and drugs and more swelling lyrical imagery and surrealism. This is my personal favorite Shins song (sorry, “New Slang”), possibly because it makes me want to both curl up in bed and play air guitar. 

“Make Out in My Car” by Moses Sumney & Sufjan Stevens

I had to continue with the whole mainstream-indie vibe that I curated in my movie list by tossing some Sufjan Stevens in here. His haunting and soft vocals layered over a simple guitar riff define this acoustic and effortless love song. You simply will obsess about love and/or that special someone while listening to this song, whether you like it or not, making it an excellent fit for your Sunday night, moody pining.

“L$D” by A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky is pretty objectively a prolific musical artist and a defining rapper for our generation. That being said, I did not want to include any of his, um, faster-paced songs in this list because I doubt they would make you feel either relaxed or sad. Save ‘em for your Fridays. L$D, which stands for Love, Sex, and Dreams (okay I lied, one more sleeping reference for you), is trippy, smooth, and entirely mesmerizing. Even non-rap fans can appreciate this song for what it is: a cross-genre masterpiece. 

“Slow Dancing in the Dark” by JOJI

Ending my list by circling back to the previously mentioned mainstream-indie vibe seems fitting. This song has shot to popularity among people my age, and I can see why. I could add in a joke here about how I knew this song before it was famous, but a) no one would care/believe me, and b) I don’t want to be that person. The instrumentals make you feel like you’re being lifted into outer space and then carried right back down over and over (no joke, listen to this song with your eyes closed and the lights off and tell me you don’t feel transported). JOJI’s voice is rich and his heartbreak is palpable. I don’t even have that many jokes to throw in while talking about this song, so it truly deserves credit for procuring enough of an emotional response in me to shut down the sarcasm. 

List, over. Enjoy your subsequent (and or sad) Sunday nights!