Best movies, TV series, standup specials and books across all streaming platforms

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Michelle Yamamoto

Now that students are stuck inside due to COVID-19, some are wracking their brains with what to do. Consider reading The Cardinal Times’ lists of the best ten shows, movies– or books– across multiple streaming platforms for ideas. Graphic by Michelle Yamamoto

With students stuck inside– possibly for the next few months– The Cardinal Times staff has decided to take it upon ourselves to compile lists of the best movies, TV series and stand-up comedy specials across various streaming platforms. Also included is a list of ten books that we recommend you read. With all of this content, you should be occupied until school re-opens, and maybe even after.

These are opinions of the authors. Please comment below if you have any suggestions or additions to the list.

 

DISNEY PLUS – MOVIES

    1. “Star Wars” movies: (starting with Ep 1): With all due respect to JJ Abrams, the new Star Wars trilogy relied too heavily on old characters, were riddled with plot holes and lacked a cohesive plot arc. That said, Episodes I-VI– along with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”– are excellent and essential for any fans of the big screen.
    2. Any Pixar Movie: From the comedy of “Nemo” to the nostalgia of “Toy Story” to the emotion-induction of “WALL-E,” Pixar has something for everyone.
    3. All Avengers Movies: Be sure to watch them in order (not chronologically, but by release date) in order to fully understand how the stories all come together. 
    4. Remember the Titans”: One of the most classic sports films of all time, it’s a must-see Denzel Washington movie. This movie is an inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary.
    5. “Free Solo”: A documentary chronicling Alex Honnold’s attempt to climb the 900-meter vertical rock of El Capitan. You will have literal chills the entire movie. 
    6. Mulan”: This uplifting movie has a solid, well-written story, and its fair share of comedy. It’s both funny and memorable, making it one of the most classic Disney movies.
    7. “The Lion King” (both the cartoon and live-action): We all know and love the original Lion King. However, the star-studded, live-action movie circles around a kingdom that faces love, lust, betrayal and of course, Beyonce! It’s the perfect complement to the original movie.
    8. Ice Age”: All “Ice Age” movies deliver solid laughs and thrills wrapped up in an infectious sense of character. While definitely created for a younger audience, older fans can still laugh during these films.
    9. National Treasure”: The movie is a fun ride for anyone who can forgive its highly unbelievable plot. While it’s unfathomable, it’s entertaining, and for that, deserves an entry on this list.
    10. The “Frozen” series: The story follows the beautiful sisterhood between princesses Anna and Elsa and their love for nature and their home, Arendelle. Anna and Elsa face new challenges that put both their lives and their people’s lives in danger!
    11. Honorable Mention: “Breaking 2”: The story of Nike and Eliud Kipchoge’s mission to go where no marathon runner has ever gone before– under the two-hour barrier.

 

 

DISNEY PLUS – TV SHOWS

  1. “The Mandalorian”: A refreshing addition to the Star Wars canon, the show follows the title character– a Mandalorian bounty hunter (one of the last of his kind)– fighting to save a small child that he was hired to kill. It is both heartwarming and action-packed, not to mention funny at times.
  2. “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”/“The Suite Life on Deck”: Both “Suite Life” shows brought joy to nine and ten-year-olds around the world. Cole and Dylan Sprouse perform episode after episode almost to the point of exhaustion. Luckily, a short run-time made these Disney shows iconic.
  3. “Wizards of Waverly Place”: Anyone born in the early 2000s most likely has memories of growing up with this show. For its nostalgia alone, we recommend watching it.
  4. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”: It’s every Star Wars fan’s dream- seven seasons of action led by Anakin Skywalker and Co. Plus, the last season was released this year, bringing the series to a satisfying culmination.
  5. “The Simpsons”: If you’re unaware, Matt Groening, Simpsons creator, graduated from Lincoln High School decades ago and went on to create one of the most lauded cartoons of all time. It is still running after 30 years and is also deserving of an entry on this list.
  6. “Phineas and Ferb”: The intricacy and, at times, comedic sophistication of Phineas and Ferb were delightful to children and teenagers alike. Audiences were equally captivated by the hijinks of Perry the Platypus, A.K.A. “Agent P.,” and his nemesis, Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
  7. “Hannah Montana”: Educational value and plot continuity aside, this was another nostalgic show that made it on our list– in part because Disney has failed to create better shows in the past five to ten years.
  8. “Good Luck Charlie”: Follow the crazy life of the Duncan family, with high schoolers Teddy and PJ struggling with typical teenage problems– relationships, friends and family– while younger brother Gabe tries hard to annoy the neighbor, Mrs. Dabney. Parents Ted and Amy work to support their family of six. Although this show is known to be popular within the younger crowd, every episode has something anyone can relate to, even adults!
  9. “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”: Want a revamp of the classic “High School Musical” movies? Check this TV show out. The East High Wildcats put on a production of “High School Musical,” and along with it comes drama, romance and laughter. With clear ties to the original story, this show brings back nostalgia for those who loved the movies while simultaneously putting a spin on the storyline.
  10. “Jessie”:  From a small town in Texas, Jessie Prescott arrives in New York and is immediately thrown into a whirlwind of events. She is hired as the nanny of four kids, children of the famous Morgan and Christina Ross. Jessie must adapt to life as a nanny while at the same time dealing with her own problems. This hilarious, heartwarming show makes it a classic for all ages. 

 

NETFLIX – MOVIES

  1. “The Shawshank Redemption”: In perhaps Morgan Freeman’s best film ever, a Portland, ME banker is wrongfully accused of a double murder and is sent to Shawshank Prison, where he finds friendship and a home that he could never have had on the outside. This brutal, dramatic and eventually heartwarming story has riveted audiences for over 25 years, which gives it a worthy ranking of No. 1 on our list.
  2. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This message is conveyed by the classic ‘80s movie that defined an iconic generation of teenagers. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is a perfect time.
  3. “Inglourious Basterds”: WARNING: VIOLENCE– this Quentin Tarantino classic is not for the faint of heart. Starring Brad Pitt, it delves into the exploits of an imaginary band of Jewish mercenaries during WWII who are tasked with one mission: ending the war.
  4. “Indiana Jones” series: The heroic Harrison Ford cemented his legacy as one of the greatest actors of his generation with the Indiana Jones series. Live every minute of it, from the iconic “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” from your living room.
  5. “Black Panther”: Widely regarded as one of the finest Marvel movies, this film packs in action, culture, drama and comedy into one cohesive act.
  6. “Step Brothers”: Possibly one of Will Ferrell’s best movies, “Step Brothers” is a great movie that will make you laugh during a year where we have found it hard to laugh about anything. John C. Reilly’s hot-headedness is the perfect complement to Ferrell’s performance as a fearful adult-child. It is probably the best comedy on Netflix.
  7. “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse”: This animated movie makes up for all the transgressions committed by the Spiderman movies of the last ten years. A star-studded cast including Nicolas Cage, Mahershala Ali and John Mulaney puts you through a whirlwind of emotions.
  8. “The Irishman”: WARNING: VIOLENCE– With a lot of time on your hands for the next two weeks, settle into your seats for this 3-hour, 30-minute Martin Scorsese masterpiece chronicling the life of the infamous mobster Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro).
  9. Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy (“Batman Begins”/”The Dark Knight”/“The Dark Knight Rises”): Although these movies are very long, they are probably the best version of the Batman movies there is. Christopher Nolan has made them not just more than a superhero movie, but a truly entertaining and beautiful trilogy. You will find yourself completely speechless.  
  10. “Okja”: Another brilliant movie directed by the amazing Bong Joon-Ho. The film circles around the insensitive, money-grabbing meat industry, their many harms to farmers around the world and the vigilante group of nature lovers that want to put an end to all of it. 

Honorable Mention: “Space Jam”– this nostalgic classic starring Michael Jordan and the Toon Squad will make any basketball fan crack a smile.

 

NETFLIX – TV SHOWS

  1. “The Office”: The genius of Michael Schur– who also plays Dwight’s cousin Mose– is on full display on this nine-season orchestra that makes the most mundane aspects of office life exciting and gut-bustingly hilarious. Granted, the show goes slightly downhill in seasons eight and nine but is salvaged by the nostalgia and connection so many audience members feel towards the characters.
  2. “New Girl”: “New Girl” gives us genuine characters that are imperfect in hilariously relatable ways. It is the gold standard for sitcoms nowadays, and, even though it ended a few years ago, its popularity remains. 
  3. “Sex Education”: The story takes place in a local high school in England where students are facing sexual and relationship challenges. The son of a sex therapist takes advantage of the situation and offers advice to his friends and peers while also dealing with his own adolescence.
  4. “Gilmore Girls”: The perfect mother-daughter story that is full of comedy, drama and coffee, taking place in the fictional small town of Stars Hollow that comes with its own fun and quirky characters. The show comes from the brilliant mind of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who also created “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”  
  5. “Breaking Bad”: A recently diagnosed cancer patient and overqualified high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, finds himself desperate for money, so he turns to his old students, Jesse Pinkman, to become the next drug lord in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 
  6. “The Circle”: Follow the contestants through a social media competition, where people can take on any profile they desire on the social media platform The Circle. With the contestants living in social isolation, their only source of communication being through screens, watch the contestants battle to become influencers and win the $100,000 prize. 
  7. “Jane the Virgin”: A telenovela taking place in Miami about aspiring writer, Jane, who discovers she’s pregnant despite being a virgin. The show definitely proves that the unexpected is always possible.  
  8. “Big Mouth”: From brilliant minds like Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, starring amazing comedians like Jordan Peele and Fred Armisen. The comedy cartoon show circles around two middle schoolers, Nick and Andrew, who are struggling with the new concept of puberty and hormones. 
  9. “Black Mirror”: This modern-day version of “The Twilight Zone” is terrifyingly astute with social commentary and important messages. While on the surface, episodes may seem like simple horror stories or thrillers, they tell unsettling stories about the collective unease of the modern world.
  10. “Parks and Recreation”– From the creators of “The Office,” “The Good Place” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” the story takes place in the backwater town of Pawnee, Indiana, where Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a dedicated civil servant, and her co-workers at the Parks and Recreation Department, work tirelessly for their town. The excruciating hilarity and outrageousness of this show make it a must-watch- after you finish “The Office,” that is.

Honorable Mention: “Schitt’s Creek”: From the minds of a father-son team, Dan and Eugene Levy (also playing father and son in the show), came Schitt’s Creek. This show follows the Roses, a wealthy family who just lost all of their money, and their stay in a motel in Schitt’s Creek. The transformation the Roses undergo tells an inspiring, funny, raw story of how all people are capable of change.

 

NETFLIX – STAND UP COMEDY SPECIALS

  1. John Mulaney- “New in Town,” “Comeback Kid,” “Kid Gorgeous”: John Mulaney’s simultaneous excellence and awkwardness on stage captivates audiences in each of his three Netflix specials. Additionally, his “Oh, Hello: On Broadway” special with Nick Kroll is hilarious.
  2. Hasan Minhaj- “Homecoming King”: Hasan Minhaj is the son of immigrants, a Daily Show correspondent and an acclaimed Pizza Hut actor who made it big on Netflix. Also, don’t miss out on his Netflix series “Patriot Act,” which is equal parts funny and socially conscious.
  3. Trevor Noah- “Afraid of the Dark,” “Son of Patricia”: The accomplished Daily Show host never fails to disappoint through either of his two specials, where he tackles immigration, racism and above all else, President Trump. Noah is unsurprisingly relatable (if you’ve ever seen the Daily Show) and these specials only add to his acclaim.
  4. Ali Wong- “Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife”: The second of Wong’s specials, “Hard Knock Wife” received a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and rightfully so– her genius is on full display.
  5. Tiffany Haddish- “Black Mitzvah”: The only word that can be used to describe Haddish, who is also a successful actress, is “unapologetic.” Haddish is a role model in her own right, and, though she only made it big in 2017, this special is a testament to her long career of hard work. 
  6. Seth Meyers- “Lobby Baby”: From Weekend Update at SNL to his own late-night talk show, Meyers has the reputation as one of the funniest people alive. “Lobby Baby” proves just that– Meyers is still going strong.
  7. Wanda Sykes- “Not Normal”: 30-year comedy veteran Sykes isn’t done yet. She delivers a smart and hilarious commentary on the state of the world, diving into her thoughts on the current political and cultural climate, which can only be described as, well, “not normal.”
  8. Demitri Martin- “Live, At the Time,” “The Overthinker”: While not among the most popular Netflix stand-up comedies, Demitri Martin brings a true simplicity and originality. 
  9. Maz Jobrani- “Immigrant”: An Iranian-American, the hilarious Maz Jobrani shares his experiences and thoughts on politics, relationships and social issues. 
  10. Ellen Degeneres- “Relatable”: With her return to stand-up after several years, DeGeneres, despite her massive success, proves she is relatable to the average person. From driving in traffic to ordering in a restaurant, she makes anything funny and understandable.

 

AMAZON PRIME – MOVIES

  1. “Forrest Gump”: This movie provides us with endless memorable moments and covers the history of basically the entire second half of the 20th Century. At times, it is uplifting; at other times, it is melancholic and depressing, but overall, movie history would not be the same without “Forrest Gump.” 
  2. “Top Gun”: Tom Cruise stars as the hotshot fighter pilot Maverick in an adrenaline-pumping film that is infinitely rewatchable. While it may not be exactly a cinema classic, it has become a cultural icon.
  3. “Anchorman”: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Christina Applegate star in possibly Ferrell’s silliest and most iconic comedy. It is an extremely quotable film and you’ll be gasping for air the entire time.
  4. “The Report”: WARNING: VIOLENCE– Adam Driver stars as FBI agent Daniel Jones, who investigates the CIA’s use of torture on suspected terrorists after 9/11. More than just dramatic, it’s a psychological thriller that takes viewers on a ride through the terror and violence that American institutions have incited in the past.
  5. “It’s a Wonderful Life”: WARNING: SUICIDAL THOUGHTS– Although the film was released in 1947, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is still a classic that touches on relevant themes like sacrifice, friendship and greed. On Christmas Eve, George Bailey is contemplating suicide when he is rescued by his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows George the positive effects his actions have had on his town. Although most people watch this film around Christmas, it’s perfect to watch any time of year.
  6. “Raging Bull”: This boxing movie teaches us about the human condition and the importance of expressing one’s emotions and not letting bad tendencies take over your life. A classic Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro, it tells the biographical tale of boxer Jake LaMotta. It is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made and is preserved in the National Film Registry. While it might not strike quite the chord with younger viewers today, it is still an important film to watch. 
  7. “A Quiet Place”: While it was a great movie by itself, “A Quiet Place” was perhaps one of the best movies ever made for watching in a theater. Moviegoers were reluctant to eat their popcorn– or even move during this post-apocalyptic thriller starred in and directed by John Krasinski, where even the smallest sound could mean death. While you can only watch it in your house, we recommend doing so with the utmost silence.
  8. I, Tonya”: Another movie with a Portland connection, this movie chronicles the life of Tonya Harding, professional figure skater, and the many personal turmoils that followed her throughout her career. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone explains that “[t]he movie cuts deeper, holding a mirror up to the class-conscious America most of us tend to ignore or dismiss – and makes us see ourselves reflected in it, too.”
  9. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”: The sixth Mission: Impossible movie to be released, “Mission Impossible– Fallout” is yet another action-packed film starring Tom Cruise. After a mission goes wrong, Ethan Hunt and his team are forced to work with CIA agent Augustus Walker to continue their assignment. This two-hour, 30-minute movie will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what happens next.
  10. “Can’t Buy Me Love”: More of a guilty-pleasure 1980s coming-of-age movie with Patrick Dempsey than anything else. After striking a deal to date the most popular girl in school for a month, a teen realizes that social success isn’t everything.

Honorable Mention: The Long Green Line– This made it on this list due to its Lincoln connection. A documentary about York HS Cross Country’s 2003 season in which their team won their record 25th-state championship amid turmoil such as arson and underage drinking. Lincoln cross country head coach Eric Dettman was the No. 1 runner on that team.

 

HULU – TV SHOWS

  1. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”: Lighthearted police comedy in Brooklyn’s ninety-ninth precinct feels like a breath of fresh air, adding laughs to the largely predictable plots of this police series.
  2. “Saturday Night Live”: Forty-five years and running, this timeless sketch-based show has launched the careers of practically half of Hollywood’s talent, including Eddie Murphy, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey. It’s a must-watch.
  3. “How I Met Your Mother”: Ted is a hopeless romantic who is eagerly trying to find “the One” with the help of his friends in New York City. Neil Patrick Harris’ desperate magnetism and Alyson Hanigan’s and Jason Segal’s comic relief help vault this show to the top.
  4. “30 Rock”: Tina Fey’s and Alec Baldwin’s dynamism was ahead of its time. An extremely smart comedy with a strong friendship at the center and a cast of eccentric and lovable characters, “30 Rock” is not only the best standalone comedy ever, but it is a show that influenced a generation of comedy. (FUN FACT: Based loosely on the shenanigans that happen behind the scenes on Saturday Night Live, SNL cast members make more than a few recurring appearances.)
  5. “Rick and Morty”: A mad scientist goes on wild adventures with his grandson. Of the most popular cartoons on television, “Rick and Morty” is unique and a show rarely seen today.
  6. “Friday Night Lights”: One of the most popular dramas of all time, this show centers around the coach and players of a high school football team in a small Texas town. Offering a realistic glimpse into small-town life and the social issues that accompany it, it’ll be hard to stop watching once you start.
  7. “The Office (UK)”: While not as laugh-out-loud funny as the U.S. version, the original series creates the basis of the plot of the U.S. version, and, for that, we have to thank it. Plus, Ricky Gervais gives us a multitude of hilarious moments on the show.
  8. “The Good Place”: Possibly the most cheerful post-mortem story ever devised, “The Good Place” follows Eleanor Shellstrop, who dies and wakes up in what she believes to be ‘heaven.’ The only catch- she’s definitely not supposed to be there. As the series progresses, it gets continuously existential and forces us to confront our own mortality.
  9. Spring Baking Championship”: Chefs Duff Goldman, Lorraine Pascale and Nancy Fuller make for the perfect trio of judges on the “Spring Baking Championship,” bringing comedy and comfort to your living room. Watch as contestants have both triumphs and failures as they compete to win $50,000 and the title of Spring Baking Champion.
  10. “Adventure Time”: A coming-of-age cartoon disguised as an epic hero’s journey that takes place on Earth thousands of years in the future. “Adventure Time” is just strange enough to captivate anybody who will watch, both out of intrigue and shock at its outrageousness.

 

BOOK LIST

  1. Fangirl (Young adult)/Carry On/Wayward Son (Fantasy) → Rainbow Rowell→ Start with Fangirl, a book about Cath and her college experience as an aspiring writer. With her social awkwardness, she is extremely relatable. Follow Cath through her obsession with the Simon Snow book series, written by fictional author Gemma T. Leslie, and her other life experiences. If you like Fangirl, be sure to read Carry On and Wayward Son, the spinoff series from Fangirl. 
  2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Trilogy)(Romance)→ Jenny Han→ Lara Jean, a high school girl with almost no dating experience, fake dates athletic, handsome Peter Kavinsky. And, guess what? It gets complicated. Follow her throughout their relationship, with the trilogy narrating her times in high school. Once you finish the books, make sure to check out the first two movies on Netflix (Fun fact: the movies take place in Portland, OR!). 
  3. Fountains of Silence (Historical fiction)→ Ruta Sepetys → See Spain in the 1950s, during Francisco Franco’s rule, through the lens of Daniel Matheson’s camera. This historical fiction book helps readers fully immerse themself in a turning point in history. Check out Ruta Sepetys’ other historical fiction books, Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy. 
  4. Loveboat, Taipei (Romance)→ Abigail Hing Wen→ Ever Wong is being pushed into a career she doesn’t desire because her parents want her to have the life they weren’t able to have. They send her to a camp with the hopes that she will learn more about medicine, but she meets new friends and creates unlikely relationships instead.  
  5. They Both Die at the End (Fiction)→ Adam Silvera→ Follow last friends (friends that meet on the Last Friends app) Rufus Emeterio and Mateo Torrez through a journey on their final day on Earth. Both try to live fully on their last day, taking risks they would not ordinarily take. 
  6. All the Bright Places (Young adult fiction) → Jennifer Niven (WARNING for suicide) → Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet each other in an unconventional way, on the ledge of a clocktower. An unlikely friendship stemming from this experience marks the beginning of their journey across Indiana. WARNING: This book covers very heavy topics including suicide, mental health and relationships. 
  7. This Mortal Coil (the first book of the trilogy)(Science fiction)→ Emily Suvada (local author!)→ Caterina Agatta is living through a virus that is making people implode. This book highlights her survival story and the future of genetic coding. With aspects of hacking, science and romance, this book makes for a perfect read. If you like this, read This Cruel Design and This Vicious Cure (two other books in the trilogy).
  8. Again, But Better (Young adult fiction)Christine Riccio → 20-year-old Shane Primaveri attempts to socially branch out on a semester abroad in London, but, by 2017, she still hasn’t accomplished all she hoped she would. In a mishap, she ends up back in time, 2011 on her semester abroad, and she gets to do it over again. 
  9. One of Us is Lying (YA/Murder-Mystery)Karen M. McManusA group of high school students from different social groups in their community are forced to come together, as they are all suspects for the murder of a popular boy at their school. Unexpected friendships are made when they have to figure out who is framing them for the murder and why. 
  10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Psychological Thriller)→ Steig LarssonAn investigative journalist gets hired by an old millionaire to solve the mystery of his niece’s disappearance. He seeks the help of a socially isolated, goth, genius girl who helps him discover a serial killer who has been in hiding for years.  

Honorable Mention: Of course: the Harry Potter series. If you haven’t already read the books, this is your chance to be able to call yourself a true Potterhead!

 

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