Best things to watch and listen to during the pandemic

The pandemic has ravaged many industries, including film and theater, but for the streaming and podcast industries, the opposite has occurred. Stay-at-home orders have ballooned consumption, so we wanted to present some of the best options to watch and listen to. The following are several films and podcasts I’ve viewed.

IN THEATERS & ON DEMAND

TENET – From the brilliant Christopher Nolan, “Tenet” follows a long line of mind-blowing films. This is not a film to watch lightly or while distracted. With a $200 million budget, this is by far the biggest release during the pandemic, and it officially made its money back worldwide, totaling over $250 million. It may take a couple viewings to fully process all of the details and storyline, but everyone is recommending it. John David Washington, Denzel’s son, is following in his father’s footsteps and is a beast.

THE WAY BACK – Ben Affleck’s almost too real portrayal delivers a compelling story and continues to educate and bring awareness to alcoholism. The basketball action is also good and definitely falls into the list of good films for Affleck.

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC – Tons of caveats come with this one. First, if you didn’t like the first film, don’t watch this one. Second, if you didn’t like the second film, “Bogus Journey,” you probably won’t like this either (my mom can vouch for that). BUT, if you like both of those films, I think the third has a solid story, and the time travel element features some really cool characters. There’s also a new character (I won’t give away any spoilers here) that adds a lot of comedic relief. Overall, the film was a solid sequel in the series.

SCOOB! – The Scooby Doo origin-type animation story was also quite interesting and a solid family fun entertainment option. According to rumors, there are more films that could be spawned from the Hanna-Barbara universe, but as far as Scooby Doo goes, it was solid. Would have loved some callbacks to the original series, but it was still worth the watch.

THE TAX COLLECTOR – From director David Ayer of “Fury” and “End of Watch” fame, this film falls in line with those who like that “Training Day” vibe in a film. This one wasn’t a powerhouse, but I ultimately enjoyed it.

KING OF STATEN ISLAND – Judd Apatow, from “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin” fame, directed and co-wrote this film with Pete Davidson from “Saturday Night Live,” which is loosely based on his life. Bill Burr delivers a tremendous performance along with Marisa Tomei. The story starts slow but comes through by the end with a compelling and touching film about maturity and coming of age.

THE NEW MUTANTS – This film was the last one Disney acquired in the Fox deal, and there were supposed to be bigger plans for it, but for a horror-type “X-Men,” it has a different but cool concept. Not perfectly executed, and you can sense why this film has issues with its release, but I think this is a concept that could work in the future with more consistent leadership from the top. A decent “popcorn” flick type of film.

STREAMING

The streaming world is going through a revolution as multiple new platforms have launched during the pandemic to include HBO MAX and Peacock, so I highlighted each platform’s best film and several from Netflix, since they’ve released so many during the pandemic.

HBO MAX – “American Pickle” – From the comedy writing team of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, this comedy, with Rogan playing duo roles of a Russian immigrant and his great grandson, finds Rogan’s immigrant character waking up in the modern world after being accidentally preserved by pickle brine. A solid story and humor from Rogan.

DISNEY PLUS – “Mulan”–a no-brainer–moved from theaters to Disney Plus Bonus subscription, proved to be worth the hefty price tag of $30. This was an epic on many levels and is arguably one of the best animation-turned live-action Disney pics to come out.

AMAZON PRIME – “My Spy” was supposed to be released in March but was quickly swooped up by Amazon and made available to its subscribers. The film has some solid action and comedy and was well worth the watch. Dave Bautista of “Guardians of the Galaxy” fame delivered a second-straight solid performance after “Stuber.” If not a fan of “Stuber,” then you may not be into this film.

APPLE TV – “Greyhound” was also scheduled for theaters before Apple swooped it up for its platform. Tom Hanks both directed and starred in this WW2 epic. I admit, I haven’t seen the film at the time of this writing, but my parents did and they loved it, so hopefully, you will too.

NETFLIX

Netflix has several films worthy of watching, so I didn’t limit them to just one.

EXTRACTION – This adrenaline-packed action flick starring Chris Hemsworth didn’t disappoint. Word on the streets is that a sequel is in the works.

THE WRONG MISSY – This comedy starring David Spade and newcomer Lauren Lapkus (“Big Bang Theory”) was really funny with some heart. Happy Madison Productions made it, so if you’re a fan of Adam Sandler or David Spade, it should be a good watch for you.

SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL – Mark Wahlberg stars in this action comedy from director Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor”). I love the character Wahlberg plays and the film is entertaining. Solid combo of action and humor.

PROJECT POWER – Starring Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this is an entertaining film with a cool concept.

THE OUTPOST – If you like military films, this one is solid as well. It’s based on a true story and the fast pace and tension makes this a pretty good thrill ride.

THE OLD GUARD – Full disclosure, I haven’t seen this one yet, but my friend loved the film and highly recommends it. Starring Charlize Theron, this one is probably worth the watch.

FINAL WORD

I haven’t really gotten into series here, but I mention a few that I’ve watched during the pandemic:

BOSCH (Amazon Prime) – This series is simply awesome. I zoomed through the six seasons of this and everybody I recommended it to loves it as well. If you like good ol’-fashioned detective stories, this one may be the best ever.

OZARK (Netflix) – Directed by and starring Jason Bateman, this series involving money laundering is really good and has plenty of twists and turns.

FOR ALL MANKIND (Apple TV) – This alternate history about the space race delves into a world where the Russians are the first to the moon and the impact it has on the American Space Program. Really interesting.

HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix) – If you haven’t seen this series yet, it’s a really good behind-the-scenes look at the political world.

I’m sure I missed some other good ones. Please feel free to comment and share.

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