If you’re like most people, you might think a library card only grants you access to the materials offered inside the walls of your local library, however the streaming service Hoopla offers thousands of movies and music that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. All you need is an internet connection and a library card. With most of us being stuck at home, finding entertainment can be somewhat of a challenge so, I took the time to wade through Hoopla’s entire digital library so you don’t have to. I have found what I think are the best/most entertaining movies on the streaming service.
- What We Do In The Shadows: This mockumentary comedy co-directed and starring Taika Waititi, who recently took home the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, asks the question: What would life be like for four vampires living in modern day New Zealand? I promise you are guaranteed to laugh as the camera crew follows the vampires handling mundane things such as doing the dishes, navigating roommate disputes, and going out for a night on the town. This is one of my favorite comedies because of its unique premise and characters.
- The Florida Project: This drama set in Orlando, Florida follows the life of 6-year-old Moonee as she spends a summer living in a hotel located in the shadow of Walt Disney World. Co-starring Willem Defoe, this film explores themes of poverty and family dynamics in the world just outside the “Happiest Place on Earth.” I found this movie extremely captivating as it shows a side of Orlando that is separate from the shiny tourist attractions and delves into the daily struggles of those living in poverty.
- The Soloist: Set in the city of Los Angeles, a successful newspaper reporter (Robert Downey Jr.) attempts to help a homeless and extremely talented musician turn his life around. By confronting the realities of homelessness and mental illness, both Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr.’s performances left me thinking about the movie’s message for days, and will be sure to impact you as well.
- Across the Universe: Another film involving music, however this time it’s The Beatles! Across the Universe tells the story of a young man from Great Britain attempting to follow his American love interest “across the universe” during the Vietnam War. This timeless love story is strung together using the music of The Beatles, and makes sure to use classic imagery every Beatles fan will know and love. This touching love story backed by some of the best music of all time will leave you impressed and have you humming the tunes until your family asks you to stop. P.S. an added bonus of Hoopla is that the soundtrack to the movie is available on the site. Check that out as well.
- Blackfish: Blackfish is an engaging, dynamic and sometimes heart-breaking documentary based around the life of a famous SeaWorld orca named Tilikum, whose life in captivity has been plagued with sorrow. This documentary explores the lives of killer whales and how destructive captivity can be for these beautiful animals. If you are sensitive to animals in peril be forewarned director Gabriela Cowperthwaite does not shy away from showing the harsh realities of a life of confinement. This documentary significantly changed my view on animals living in captivity for entertainment and is something I think about frequently.
- The Wailing: Directed by Hong-jin Na (Yes, this movie is in Korean, but easily watchable with subtitles) The Wailing is a horror movie set in a small village in South Korea that is suddenly overcome by sickness. Linking the onset of the mysterious illness to the arrival of a strange Japanese man, a policeman is forced to find a way to stop the sickness once it begins to impact his personal life. With a run time of over two and half hours this film does not disappoint and will keep you engaged for the entire time. If you are into supernatural horror and mystery look no further. Be warned this is not a movie to show the little ones, best kept to just the adults in the house.
- Gone Baby Gone: The Directorial debut of Ben Affleck this investigative mystery follows a Boston detective (played by Affleck’s brother, Casey) who attempts to solve a little girl’s kidnapping, which ultimately takes over his professional and personal life. This movie will hold your attention as the kidnapping plot unfolds in one of America’s oldest cities and is ultimately just a good watch featuring great acting, as well as an interesting setting and story.
- All Good Things: Based on real-life events of the now infamous real-estate heir Robert Durst, this movie is about a man, played by Ryan Gosling, whose wife goes missing in the early 80s. Although he immediately becomes a suspect, he is never convicted. Watch as his life unravels as the truth begins to be revealed. The documentary “The Jinx” on HBO features in-depth real life interviews with Durst and is a fantastic watch as well if you have access to it but this dramatization is just as compelling.
- Dark Places: Based on a novel by Gillian Flynn (Author of the popular book, “Gone Girl”) this movie follows lead actress Charlize Theron who stars as the lone survivor of a massacre when he was a child. Follow along as she attempts to find out the secrets of her family’s murder all while flashing back to the past. This is one of my favorite Gillian Flynn adaptations and I also highly recommend the book which you can access on the OverDrive app with your library card.
- Good Will Hunting: Starring Robin Williams this 1997 drama revolves around the life of a janitor at MIT whose mathematics’ skills allow him to cross paths with a psychologist who wants to help him confront his past while working towards bettering his future. “Good Will Hunting” is technically not a hidden gem, for most people have heard about it, however both Williams’s and Damon’s’ performances are worth a re-watch. If you’re looking for an inspiring story to fill your heart during these times, this is the movie for you.
I hope this list will provide you with some interesting content to view while we all do our part by social distancing. P.S. if you are interested in more on any of these films (including in depth parental guides) I recommend IMDb.com.