Ten drama films to watch during coronavirus self-quarantine

Clinton Bigelow, ChicagoPride.com
April 15, 2020

We're all stuck at home, so now is a good opportunity to take a cinematic break while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the month of April - to keep us from complete boredom - GoPride.com photographer Clinton Bigelow will be compiling "Top Tens" of films in different categories. Each list is rated purely on personal opinion. Without spoilers for films you may not have seen, Clinton will be making a short case for each film on his list. 

Image: Alec Secareanu (left) and Josh O'Connor in "God's Own Country." (Courtesy: godsowncountry.film)  

About Clinton Bigelow: Filmmaker and photographer Clinton Bigelow has been freelancing for several years in film, television and theatre. He has been living in Chicago for five years and is truly in love with the city. You may recognize his photography on GoPride.com from Chicago Pride Fest, Market Days and Pride in the Park. 

We're all stuck at home, so now is a good opportunity to take a cinematic break while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the month of April - to keep us from complete boredom - GoPride.com photographer Clinton Bigelow will be compiling "Top Tens" of films in different categories. Each list is rated purely on personal opinion. Without spoilers for films you may not have seen, Clinton will be making a short case for each film on his list. 

Image: Alec Secareanu (left) and Josh O'Connor in "God's Own Country." (Courtesy: godsowncountry.film)  

About Clinton Bigelow: Filmmaker and photographer Clinton Bigelow has been freelancing for several years in film, television and theatre. He has been living in Chicago for five years and is truly in love with the city. You may recognize his photography on GoPride.com from Chicago Pride Fest, Market Days and Pride in the Park. 

10

Director - Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring - Steve Carell, Toni Collette

A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW Bus.

Introducing the world to Carell's dramatic side of acting, Little Miss Sunshine draws you in to love and adore this slightly-less conventional family. You've got the self-help author father, the struggling mother, the withdrawn teen, the bright and hopeful daughter, the eccentric grandfather, and the uncle struggling with mental health. Also introduced in this film is Abigail Breslin, the youngest of the family and her grandfather manage to bring her family closer together and lead them down the path to new self-discovery.

9

Director - Stephen Chbosky
Starring - Logan Lerman, Emma Watson

An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.

Entering high school may not be easy for many, even less so for Lerman's socially withdrawn Charlie. Already suffering from mental health issues, it's just so warm to watch these two older students, Watson and Erza Miller, help introduce him into the world and discover himself. This film delves heavily into mental health and those who are willing to help lift these people in need into the person they can become. The messages spoken in this film will change your view of both the world and yourself. Wonderfully written and beautifully shot; writer, director, and author Stephen Chbosky crafts a charming and deep coming of age tale.

8

Director - David Fincher
Starring - Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield

As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea.

Jesse Eisenberg's Zuckerburg is intoxicating with the audience constantly chasing to see what really goes on inside his head. David Fincher is one of my favorite directors, and his work really shines through here with his pacing, cinematography, and the spell-bound soundtrack, from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, that keeps the viewer mesmerized. As we watch the rise of Facebook, we also see the change of its creator Zuckerburg into a darker side. This is where the film cleverly crafts the question into the audience's mind of "where the influences of power and the wrong people lead this man down such a dark path or was he always this person deep-inside?"

7

Director - Francis Lee
Starring - Josh O'Connor, Alec Secareanu

Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

This independent breakout entrances the viewer into a world of self-hatred and the path of self-discovery. O'Connor's performance of Johnny brings forth the angst and inner-suffering of a closeted gay man stuck in a cycle of mental decay with nowhere to go. Secareanu's Gheorghe, one of my big crushes on an actor by the way, pulls you in with his quiet charm and warm presence. You, as a viewer, really feel held personally and comforted by Gheorghe as he helps Johnny the best he can.

 

6

Director - David Fincher
Starring - Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his research for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

I vastly prefer this adaptation of the best-selling Swedish novel over the first film in 2009 of the same name, also the second David Fincher film on this list. Where this adaptation shines over the first is the true immersion into the tone and feel of the novel itself. Mara's performance as Lisbeth Salander is completely transforming and addicting. Watching these characters, Mikael and Lisbeth, come together to fight corruption, abuse, rape, and many other atrocities is captivating on its own. It's the acting from the two leads under Fincher's direction that really pulls you in as a viewer in this mystery drama.

5

Director - Martin Scorsese
Starring - Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon

An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Scorsese's remake of a Chinese trilogy, 'Infernal Affairs,' is a wonderfully acted drama powered by the performances of DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, and the countless rest of the starring cast. The viewer is sucked into a crime world within Boston and the police struggle to contain the violence and bring those to justice. Watching scenes of Nicholson's unpredictable and unnerving Costello with DiCaprio's improvisational and unsteady Billy is nerve-wracking and uneasy. While was also watch Damon's egotistical Sullivan get away with anything we are left screaming at the others "it's him! Get him!" as we struggle watching these characters navigate their way through these troubbled waters.

4

Director - Same Mendes
Starring - George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman

April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.

This film took me into so many places. Rich with horror, drama, misery, and dread, we as viewers and kidnapped into this world. Director Mendes and Cinematographer Deakin's work transforms our experience as the production is entirely choreographed around presenting the film as a single camera movement. You are put into the shoes of these two British soldiers struggling to survive and save those from tragedy. One moment at the end of the film's journey, acting performed by Richard Madden, managed to completely unravel myself and the audience and brought us all directly into the struggle and mourning of the film's journey.

3

Director - Alfonso Cuaron
Starring - Clive Owen, Julianne Moore

The world's youngest citizen has just died at the age of eighteen, and humankind is facing the likelihood of extinction. Set in and around a dystopian London fractious with violence and warring nationalistic sects, a former activist and his former wife struggle to smuggle an illegal immigrant out of the country.

This politically and human-driven drama envelopes you into this dystopian world with a small glimmer of hope. Cuaron's directing and pacing around Owen's Theo brings you close into his head and makes the viewer question just what we would fight for. Haunted by his past, Theo is just trying to live day-to-day as the world is literally ending around him. When we watch Theo reunite with his former wife, Moore's Julian, to protect the fate of a young illegal, it is captivating and inspirational to see just what we can do to truly help the world be a better place.

2

Director - Alfonso Cuaron
Starring - Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

A year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970's.

Aparicio's role as Cleo is completely enrapturing and encompassing. We fall in love with her and follow what is possibly the most challenging year of her life. We ride with her on this journey of struggles, love, and pain as she is slowly adopted into the family and children she is hired to care for. The second Cuaron film on this list, and one of the films he set out to make when he was a small child. This is a semi-autobiographical tale of Cuaron's experience growing up with Cleo, whom he considered as his second mother. We can see the love and the true craftsman's ship that Cuaron tirelessly created to tell this love letter to a dear figure of his.

 

1

Director - Matthew Heineman
Starring - Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan

One of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time, Marie Colvin is an utterly fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the frontline of conflicts across the globe to give voice to the voiceless.

This film has made me completely second-guess my own career path as a filmmaker. This film makes me want to become a photographer following those who struggle to be themselves and be free in many dangerous and troubled places in the world. Pike's true-to-life performance as Marie Colvin shook Colvin's best friend Paul Conroy, a consultant for the film, to his core, played by Jamie Dornan in the film. Pike's intoxicating acting here deserves much more respect than we can give her. We are taking on Colvin's journey to be the voice of those who can't speak while navigating the haunting mental health troubles of experiencing war and suffering first-hand. This film is truly powerful and inspirational for everyone.

 

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