It’s no secret that the past few days/weeks/months have been stressful. But the absolute best genre for when you need a pick-me-up is the humble rom-com. Movies about beautiful people solving relationship problems in 90 minutes are pleasures about which no one need feel guilty. This month, HBO Max subscribers are treated to, in our opinion, one of the greatest rom-coms ever made in 13 Going on 30, while Netflix gets the hilarious, sweet teen adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, Easy A.
Of course, if you’re a lil freak who winds down by being scared out of your mind, two fantastic horror movies are headed to new streaming services in November. Danny Boyle’s zombie movie that introduced the concept of fast-moving undead, 28 Days Later, is heading to Amazon Prime, while the creepy film credited with reviving the found footage genre, The Blair Witch Project, heads to Hulu.
And if that’s not enough to look forward to, Disney Plus’ Lego Star Wars Holiday Special drops on November 17, and before you ask, yes it does feature everyone’s favorite green, big-eared infant.
13 Going on 30
Were one to claim that 13 Going on 30 is the best romantic comedy ever made, there’d be slim argument against it. The movie is a charm on all fronts, from its cast — the winning Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo — to its premise, which involves Garner’s 13-year-old self wishing to become “thirty and flirty and thriving” is magically granted. Part of the fun is watching Garner embody a teenager in an (high-powered corporate) adult’s body, but the real appeal is, of course, in watching two people who have always loved each other finally work up the courage to realize it. —Karen Han
13 Going on 30 is streaming on HBO Max.
28 Days Later
Written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) and directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), 28 Days Later reinvigorated the zombie-apocalypse genre for the new millennium. Bike messenger Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find London deserted, and soon gets attacked by humans infected by a rage-inducing virus. Jim eventually links up with some fellow survivors, who attempt to escape London after hearing about a potential sanctuary a few hours away. If that sounds familiar, it’s very similar to the opening of The Walking Dead (though creator Robert Kirkman promises it’s a coincidence).
28 Days Later is streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Blair Witch Project
A seminal work of the found footage genre, The Blair Witch Project wrings maximum scares out of a minimal budget. It’s framed as the recovered footage from three film students who disappeared while filming a documentary about an urban legend called The Blair Witch. The footage shows creepy things happening to them (stones stacked around their camp, stick figures hanging from trees, hearing laughter and screams at night) before they’re attacked by an unseen force and drop their cameras. Writer-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez came up with the idea — where else? — in film school, and reportedly spent around $60,000 on production.
The Blair Witch Project is streaming on Hulu.
Boyz n the Hood
John Singleton’s feature debut is a loose adaptation of his own experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles. It stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Tre, a smart-but-angry kid who’s sent to live with his dad when he gets into a fight at school. Ice Cube (who wrote the N.W.A. song that gives the film its title) plays Tre’s friend Doughboy. Singleton died of a stroke last year, but his legacy will live on with Boys n the Hood. The film earned him two Oscar nominations — making him the first Black Best Director nominee — and it now sits in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Teen comedy adaptation of classic literature is one of my favorite genres. From Clueless to 10 Things I Hate About You, they’re always so fun and fresh and just a joy to watch! Easy A takes on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, starring Emma Stone as a slut-shamed teen who leans into her new reputation. The supporting cast is fantastic, from Amanda Bynes as the prudish Marianne, Penn Badgley as Olive’s love interest, and Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s kooky parents, Rosemary and Dill.
Easy A is streaming on Netflix.
The Elephant Man
David Lynch’s weather reports have been one of the things sustaining us through quarantine, but did you know he’s also an accomplished filmmaker? His second feature film stars John Hurt as the famous Elephant Man, John Merrick (well, his name was actually Joseph). Shot in black-and-white, and with immense empathy for its subject, The Elephant Man isn’t as surreal and trippy as some of Lynch’s other work (Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks).
The Elephant Man is streaming on the Criterion Channel.
The Iron Giant
Before Steven Spielberg repurposed the towering hunk of sentient metal as the ultimate weapon in Ready Player One, The Iron Giant was the late-’90s answer to E.T.: an unknown from the great beyond who fell into the right youth’s hands. While the Giant’s oversized learning experiences and heroic acts are the real joys of Brad Bird’s 2D animated film, it’s Hogarth Hughes — the epitome of uncool comic-book reader, the antithesis of 1950s manliness and an ideological adversary to everything happening in the Cold War — who makes this one of the final sci-fi masterpieces of the 20th century. —Matt Patches
The Iron Giant is streaming on HBO Max.
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
Rey gets a visit from
Christmas Life Day Past in Disney Plus’ Lego Star Wars Holiday Special. The trailer for the upcoming celebration shows Rey finding a force crystal (?) that gives her the ability to travel through time and land in iconic moments from the franchise’s history. (Yes, Baby Yoda included.) If this new Holiday Special it’s anything at all like the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special we’re in for a fun time.
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special will stream on Disney Plus on Nov. 17.
Also known as “that other movie about an illusionist, no not The Illusionist,” The Prestige is quietly Christopher Nolan’s best film. Starring Christian Bale (fresh off of Batman Begins) as a stage magician trying to one-up his rival (Hugh Jackman), The Prestige has everything you could want from a sci-fi-y thriller: double crossing, magical set pieces, and David Bowie playing Nikola Tesla.
The Prestige is streaming on Hulu.
Wild Wild West
Anything I could say about Wild Wild West would pale in comparison to Will Smith’s music video for the song he wrote for Wild Wild West. So, here ya go.
Wild Wild West is streaming on HBO Max.