The arctic chill in the Northeast kept me hiding inside more than usual. Long story short: short on shows, I turned to some more highbrow stuff — which I loved. What I’ve Been Watching this (Freezing) Winter Part I includes shows and movies with a lot of period drama, LGBTQ romance, feminist themes, and awesome music. Find out more below!
Around here it’s been freezing over the past month. And more cold weather and more snow are coming.
Not surprisingly, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, streaming and going to the movies.
I’ll tell you what I’ve been watching and loving this (freezing) winter, and I hope you will tell me what you’ve been watching (either in a comment or a link to your own post) so I can find new things to check out!
When I watched the Golden Globes, I was kind of shocked that I’d seen so many of the movies and shows being honored. That doesn’t always happen to me, so thanks, cold weather!
If there’s a movie that I’ve seen recently that screams “YA,” this is it. Christine “Ladybird” MacPherson is a girl dealing with friendship problems, boy problems, parent problems, applying-to-college problems, all in Sacramento in 2002. While this movie is R-rated, it features an intergenerational cast (Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet — more on him soon) and a story that anyone can relate to. I went with a group that ranged from teens to adults and we all loved it. Highly recommended for YA readers!
Awards: Won Best Picture/Musical or Comedy and Best Actress and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes.
Soundtrack blasts from the past: Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake) Hand in My Pocket (1995) by Alanis Morisette.
The rest of my family ‘s motto is “In Rotten Tomato ratings we trust” so I was able to use this film’s ridiculously high 96% Tomatometer rating (plus the subzero wind chill factor and the film’s summer in Italy setting) to get them to join me. I didn’t realize this film was written by James Ivory which explained why it was very long and leisurely. Very. But hey, who wouldn’t mind pretending they were in Italy for over two hours rather than walking around in the cold? This was a beautifully-told romance about a teenage boy living in his family’s Italian summer house who falls in love/lust with his professor father’s handsome (male) graduate student. I loved that this was set in the early 1980s. I thought Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet (from Ladybird!) did an amazing job. I thought the running time should have been a little shorter but this was still a beautiful and moving story of first love and self-discovery.
Awards: Nominee for Best Actor, Best Supporting actor and Best Picture/Drama at the Golden globes.
Soundtrack blasts from the past: Love My Way by the Psychedelic Furs (1982).
I enjoyed PP 1 a lot and PP 2 well enough. But because this film’s Rotten Tomato rating was a rotten 31% on the Tomatometer, I had to bribe someone to join me. Perhaps because my expectations were so low, I actually enjoyed this weird mashup of an Austin Powers movie and a chick flick. I don’t believe this is the last in the franchise. I’m fully expecting to watch Pitch Perfect 52: Assisted Living Center Sing-Off from my rocking chair.
Soundtrack blast from the past: Toxic by Britney Spears (2003) Freedom ’90 by George Michael (1990).
I’m the worst tennis player ever, but my husband begged me to watch this with him. I had no idea who Bobby Riggs was or that Billie Jean King played tennis with him, but overall I enjoyed this. I feel like one (admittedly momentous) tennis game got stretched pretty thin to make a plot, and I wondered if King’s coming out story really did dovetail so neatly with the tennis side of things. But I thought Emma Stone and Steve Carrell were excellent. On the other hand, his movie really depressed me when I thought about this in light of the #metoo movement. Women’s rights haven’t progressed all that much since 1973.
Awards: Nominee for Best Actor and Best Actress at the Golden Globes.
Soundtrack blasts from the past: Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells (1968) (I only knew the Joan Jett version!); Rocket Man by Elton John (1972).
I resisted watching The Crown for the longest time because I thought it would be dry and boring, but I was wrong. I was familiar with King George V’s sons Edward and Albert (and watched The King’s Speech, which covered Edward’s abdication). Then I grew up watching and reading about Princess Diana and Fergie and Camilla and Charles. But I didn’t know anything about Queen Elizabeth. The Crown had me completely fascinated by the story of a young woman who is unexpectedly thrust into the role of monarch. A woman who takes on this role feeling uncertain and unprepared. A woman who has to balance the monarchy with motherhood and other family responsibilities. I binge-watchd both seasons and was frantically Googling to find out how closely this series aligned with actual history.
Awards: Nominee for Best TV Series/Drama and Best Actress, Golden Globes.
This was another show I resisted because it sounded a little … dull. A 1950s housewife who does stand-up comedy? But I had gone through every single “best of Netflix streaming” list on the internet and decided to give it a try. I think this is by far Amy Sherman-Palladino’s strongest show. Okay, it’s only the first season, and Gilmore Girls started out strong but really deteriorated. (Though Bunheads was a dud from the get-go.) Ironically, like the first two seasons of The Crown, this is also set in the 1950s and features a wife with far more talent and mettle than her husband (who has a wandering eye and other wandering body parts.) I loved all the 1950s fashion, plus the family and feminist themes in both The Crown and MMM!
Awards: Won Best TV Series/Musical or Comedy and Best Actress, Golden Globes.
I’ve been watching this spin-off of the Archie comic books since the beginning. (I’ve never read the comics.) I love that Riverdale is campy and humorous yet also dark and suspenseful. Sometimes it feels like the show has strong elements of female friendship and empowerment, and then you get a cringe-y objectifying scene like Betty’s pole dancing. Sometimes the romance is really sweet and other times it’s skeevy, like the plot with Archie and Miss Grundy. In the end, I guess I like that the show is toying with me. Is there really a Dark Betty who’s going to burn the whole town down? I vote yes…
Help me out — the weather is still pretty cold. What are you watching lately? Let me know in comments!