Paramount has silenced A Quiet Place II for the time being—pushing its March 20 release date to sometime in the indeterminate future. The latest chapter in the Fast & Furious franchise, F9, has been pushed to next April. No Time to Die, the newest chapter in the James Bond Franchise, was shaken all the way down to November. And now, this morning, we’ve gotten word that Disney’s live-action Mulan is being pushed off, as well.
Yep, even if you’re inclined to go visit your local movie theater, the pickings are going to be a bit slim, and one can only see I Still Believe so often. Fill the time with sports? Bah. The NBA (basketball) and NHL (hockey) have suspended their seasons, baseball’s Spring Training is off for now and even your March Madness bracket has been busted for the year.
That leaves us with much of your family’s free time … well, free. Sure, we could fill that time with, I dunno, reading books or singing folksongs around the piano or whatnot, like they did in the olden days. But if you’re visiting us here at Plugged In, chances are you like to spend at least some of your free time watching something.
But it can be hard to find something suitable for you and yours to watch at all, much less watch together. Our culture is awash in movies and television shows. But movies and shows without tons of ooky content? That’s a harder challenge.
Every month, of course, our own intrepid Bob Hoose compiles a list of a few possible entertainment options from what’s new on various streaming networks. (You can find his latest right here.) But if you’re looking for the next cut—some old favorites you might’ve forgotten about, or some good options you might never have heard of, let me offer a list of some highly opinionated thoughts on what might make your semi-quarantine go a little bit faster.
But—and this is an important but—some of these movies aren’t suitable for everyone in your family, so be sure to check out our full Plugged In review before watching.
2020 Plugged In Movie Awards Winners (and Nominees)
Highlighting … Toy Story 4 (PG, 2019, Disney+). For those who didn’t catch the latest ( and last?) chapter in Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story saga—which just happened to win Plugged In’s Best Movie for Kids category—you can find Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and the rest of the gang on Disney+ (along with the other Toy Story movies, too). Hankering for the live-action Aladdin, the Plugged In reader pick? Why, that’s on Disney+, too. In fact, four of the five nominees for Best Kids Movie are on some sort of streaming service: Klaus, a Christmastime fable, is on Netflix. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, can be found on Hulu. Only Abominable isn’t streaming just yet, but you can still buy it for about six bucks on Amazon Prime, YouTube or Google Play.
Also: Avengers: Endgame (PG-13, Disney+), the climactic capper to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first few stages; Togo (PG, Disney+), based on a true story about a man and his very brave dog ; Breakthrough (PG, Hulu and HBO Now), a Christian movie about a boy who miraculously survives a tragic accident.
Newish Stuff (You Might’ve Missed)
Highlighting … The Two Popes (PG-13, 2019, Netflix). One of Netflix’s prime contenders for the 2019-20 awards season, The Two Popes collected just one Oscar nomination, for Best Adapted Screenplay. But this quiet, thoughtful film is anchored by two awards-worthy performances (Jonathan Pryce, playing the future Pope Francis, and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI) and deals with Christianity—including differences of opinion within the faith—with respect if not reverence. These two spiritual leaders believe what they say and practice what they preach, and in a time when pop culture often treats religion cynically, that’s nice to see.
Also: Brian Banks (PG-13, 2019, Hulu), a faith-tinged story about a would-be football player accused of a crime he didn’t commit; Christopher Robin (2018, Netflix), a clever take on an adult Christopher Robin; Solo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13, 2018, Disney+), documenting the backstory of one of Star Wars’ most enduring characters; Where’d You Go, Bernadette (PG-13, 2019, Hulu), a problematic but ultimately heartening depiction of mental illness and family, featuring the acting talents of Cate Blanchett.
Classics (You Might Want to See)
Highlighting … The African Queen (PG, 1951, Amazon Prime). If you’ve seen the trailers for Disney’s upcoming Jungle Cruise, you might notice that Dwayne Johnson is dressed pretty much like Humphry Bogart from The African Queen. It’s not the only similarity between the two, and no wonder: The original ride was based on this classic film, which showcases two Golden Age Hollywood greats (Bogey and four-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn) at their best.
Also: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (G, 1954, Disney+) starring the recently departed Kirk Douglas; Fiddler On the Roof (G, 1971, Amazon Prime), a beloved (if somewhat depressing) movie about a Jewish milkman and his three daughters; Groundhog Day (PG, 1993, Netflix), a funny, philosophical comedy starring peak Bill Murray; Murder on the Orient Express (PG, 1974, Amazon Prime), a star-studded mystery, and the precursor to last year’s clever Knives Out.
Superheroes (Because I Like Superheroes)
Highlighting … Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PG, 2018, Netflix). This film swept our Best Movie for Teens category back in 2019. The movie is creative, fun and pretty clean. Some folks said it wasn’t just one of the best superhero movies of 2018 (which was, I think, a pretty good year for them), but one of the best movies period.
Also: The Avengers (PG-13, 2012, Disney+), the first and, I think, the most fun of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers offerings; Black Panther (PG-13, 2018, Disney+), the first superhero movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar; The Dark Knight (PG-13, 2008, Netflix), the first superhero film that should’ve been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar; Incredibles 2 (PG, 2018, Netflix), a fun little Pixar flick with a great Plugged In message.
Hallmark Movies (Because I Hear They’re Good)
Highlighting … all of them on Amazon Prime. Listen, if you’ve listened to the Plugged In Show, you know that I’m not much of a Hallmark movie watcher. But lots of folks tell me I’m missing out, and Amazon Prime is offering dozens of them, from A Summer’s Romance to Summer in the City to Summer Love … which I’m sure are all great. Really.
Animated Movies (for the Family)
Highlighting … The Emperor’s New Groove (G, 2000, Disney+) OK, so I’m cheating a bit here. You can pretty much watch every animated movie—and lots of classic animated shorts—on Disney+, and lots of them make for good family viewing. That’s why The Emperor’s New Groove just might get lost in the shuffle, given that it was made after Disney’s second Golden Age (filled with movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) and before Pixar changed everything with Toy Story. And it just might be one of Disney’s funniest movies ever.
Also: We’ll steer clear of Disney+ here and mention some other films that can be found on other streaming services, like Chicken Run (G, 2000, Hulu), a Claymation tale from the makers of Wallace and Gromit; The Croods, (PG, 2013, Netflix), a surprisingly resonant caveman fable; The Prince of Egypt (PG, 1998, Hulu), a well-crafted cartoon based on the biblical story of Moses; Wonder Park (PG, 2019, Hulu), a fun-if-somewhat-forgettable tromp through a girl’s fantastical theme park.
Documentaries (That You’ll Actually Like)
Highlighting … Amazing Grace (G, 2018, Hulu). Aretha Franklin is known as the Queen of Soul. But she was raised—and started her path to singing stardom—in her father’s church, singing gospel music. This concert film documents her groundbreaking 1972 gospel recording in Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church that became one of her bestselling albums. It showcases one of the world’s most indelible voices paying homage to the One who made it.
Also: Free Solo (PG-13, 2018, Hulu and Disney+), the harrowing, Oscar-winning story of famous rock climber Alex Honnold (note, we don’t have a review of this on our site, but I recall that we do hear an f-word in the mix); One Child Nation (R, 2019, Amazon Prime), an important but difficult documentary on China’s failed one-child policy; Won’t You Be My Neighbor (PG-13, 2018, Hulu and HBO Now), the story and mission of Fred Rogers.
Stay healthy and safe. And if we’re all still cooped up in a couple of weeks, we might unveil another batch of movies to consider.