As the end of the semester draws nearer, it can be hard to find the motivation to study for finals or write that one last essay. In order to break up the time that I spend pouring over readings and drafting essays, I’ve found that watching movies can serve as a great way to de-stress in the midst of finals. Whereas with TV shows I often fall into the camp of “I’ll just watch one more episode” — which turns into a whole night wasted on binge-watching entire seasons — movies have a final conclusion and there often isn’t the rush to binge-watch a whole series. To encapsulate the wide range of movies that I find comforting, here are a few of my favorite Netflix Original movies.
- Someone Great
In this 2019 film, Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) spends her last few days in New York living life to the fullest as she prepares to leave for her dream job in San Francisco. Jenny’s boyfriend of nine years has just broken up with her, and as her two best friends console her, Jenny realizes the value of their friendship. The film tours various neighborhoods of New York City as Jenny reflects upon her relationship’s beginning as compared to the end that she now experiences. Jenny works as a music journalist, and — fittingly so — the film features an incredible soundtrack with noticeable appearances from Lizzo, Phoebe Bridgers, Lorde, Vampire Weekend, Blood Orange, Frank Ocean, and more. While the rom-com elements of Someone Great might seem predictable, it’s Jenny’s friendships with Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow) that truly shine. The film serves as both a love letter to New York, but also to the importance of friendships in adulthood. Even though I do always cry while watching this movie, I love its simplicity and honesty in dealing with real-world issues.
- The Lovebirds
For more of a comedic take on the rom-com genre, this 2020 film features Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) who have just decided to break up while they’re on their way to a dinner party. As the two drive to the party, Jibran, who’s understandably distracted, accidentally runs a red light and hits a cyclist. Chaos then ensues: the cyclist flees the scene, a man with a mustache carjacks their vehicle, and Jibran and Leilani embark upon a quest for justice throughout the night as they learn more about the cyclist and they attempt to find the man with the mustache. The film is wacky and full of plot-twists and odd connections that make the film a bit ridiculous — but nothing ever strays too far from the realm of possibilities. The film is a fun watch that doesn’t demand too much attention — it’s something to play in the background or something to watch while also scrolling through social media or watching TikToks. Lovebirds was released straight to Netflix in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and during its debut weekend, it was the most-streamed option on Netflix. As we all continue to deal with the stress of the pandemic, Lovebirds offers a sense of escape into a zany rom-com mystery — but it still remains connected to reality through discussions of racial profiling, corrupt law enforcement officers, and references to The Amazing Race.
This summer, after frequently seeing Okja listed as one of the best movies to watch on Netflix, I decided to give it a watch. To introduce a potential solution to issues within the global food and farming industries, the fictional Mirando Corporation has been working on breeding a “super pig” — twenty-six of which will be shipped to farmers around the globe to see which location is optimal for the pig’s development. Nearly 10 years later, at the culmination of this experimental period, we meet Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) — a young girl in South Korea who is the primary caretaker of one such pig, named Okja. Mija and Okja live an idyllic life on her grandfather’s farm. The two have developed their own language and style of communicating. But, as representatives from the Mirando company return to reclaim their property, Mija and Okja’s pastoral life is disrupted. Mija desperately wishes to be reunited with Okja, and the film follows her attempts to show the power of love to this seemingly heartless corporation. More than just a film that idolizes Mija and Okja’s friendship, this film from Bong Joon-ho also tackles issues of environmental theory, eco-terrorism, and the role of animal rights activists. The film is profoundly rooted in philosophical and ethical discussions of humans’ relationships with the natural world, but it’s the love story between Mija and Okja that will tear at your heartstrings up until the very end.
If you choose to check out these films, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!