Must-Watch Movies and Binge-Worthy Shows

What started off as a less-than-ideal year, soon became the most lucrative time for the online entertainment industry. Streaming platforms started releasing shelved production, using global quarantine as a surefire way to access millions of viewers. And viewers obliged, of course, devouring hours and hours worth of high-quality content within record time.

Here’s our list of must-watch movies and shows. Time to get your binge on!

 

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Where to watch: Netflix

The Haunting of Bly Manor is Netflix’s follow-up of Mike Flanagan’s 2018 horror-series, The Haunting of Hill House. As someone who cannot stomach anything horror, the diversion of horror that Bly Manor chose to adopt is more harrowing than scary.

Set in 1987, the series follows Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti), an American au pair (a governess) hired by Lord Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) to take care of his orphaned nephew Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and niece Flora (Amelia Smith) in their ancestral house – Bly Manor in the English countryside, after the tragic death of their parents and more recently their former governess.

Lord Wingrave is seemingly uninterested to indulge himself in the lives of his niece and nephew. The kids are therefore left under the care of their new au pair, a benevolent housekeeper (T’Nia Miller), a rather reserved gardener (Amelia Eve), and a good-natured cook (Rahul Koli).

The timeline of the story slowly unravels the secrets and fright of Bly Manor and the characters. And when you come face to face with it, you are left to feel emotionally distraught instead of jump scares that one would normally expect in a conventional horror series. The actors have remarkably portrayed their characters, even the kids were ‘perfectly splendid’ with their stellar acting abilities, which I think gave more authenticity to the story.

‘It is not a ghost story, it is a love story’, and it absolutely is. Multiple romantic storylines are the foundation of Bly Manor’s plot. Without giving much away, this series is a sapphic representation at its finest.

 

The Duchess

Where to watch: Netflix

Canadian comedian and actor, Katherine Ryan, created a semi-autobiographical comedy series The Duchess on Netflix following the success of her stand-up comedy shows Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room and Katherine Ryan: In Trouble.

This 6 episode series revolves around the tumultuous life of single mother Katherine (played by Katherine Ryan herself) who, along with her daughter Olive (Katy Bryne), is attempting to have a second child before her age stops her from having one. In this quest, she tries the fertility clinic and also getting impregnated by Olive’s father Shep (Rory Keenan) despite hating each other’s guts (one of the series’s most uncomfortable yet funniest scenes). Katherine does this while dating a sweet Dr. Evans (Steen Raskopoulos) who is kept in the dark until later.

The Duchess has a pretty sincere plot with lots of bits to laugh at. However, it must be noted that the humor here is rude, aggressive, and hit or miss, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The abrasive nod at sex reminded me very much of Fleabag, and the extravagant outfits of Katherine here are to die for! In all, it’s a hilarious series showing parental love and the ‘under-represented business of pregnancy planning as a single woman.’

 

Rupaul’s Drag Race – Season 12, All Stars 5, and Drag Race Canada

Where to watch: Netflix

The doleful year of 2020 was brightened with the handful of Drag Race seasons that was served to us amidst a pandemic. Not only did we get the regular Rupaul’s Drag Race season 12 (and Untucked!), we got – Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5 (again with Untucked!), RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race, Canada’s Drag Race Season 1, and Drag Race Holland. Too much? I think not.

Drag Race is a reality TV competition for Drag Queens who participate for the title of ‘Drag Superstar’ along with a monetary prize (depending on the franchise), a jeweled crown, and sometimes a ticket to LA and some badges (Drag Race UK) or a magazine cover shoot with a custom dress (Drag Race Holland). In each episode, the queens have to compete amongst themselves in the Mini and Maxi challenge. There’s acting, dancing, singing, sewing, comedy, fashion, makeup, lip-syncing, drama, and oh, so much more! After the judge’s critiques, the two bottom queens have to lip-sync against each other in a fierce drag race lip sync battle, leaving one queen to sashay away (ie. get eliminated).

There’s so much happening in each episode that you hardly ever get bored. If the queens aren’t preparing for a challenge, gluing their dresses together or beating their faces, they are somewhere in the middle of a ruckus, fighting amongst themselves. No T, no shade, but the drama is what we all live for!

You don’t necessarily need to watch from Season 1 to get the overall Drag Race experience, but you will naturally do it once you get hooked on to it. As of now, Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 13 has been officially announced as well as Drag Race España and Drag Race UK.

She done already done had herses.

 

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 AND Star Trek: Picard

Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

For any lover of science fiction and the earliest days of its glory through television, Star Trek was the first series that broke through to the masses, combining real science with the aspects of drama and emotion. It set in motion everything that came after it in the world of sci fi and often fantasy, and any Trekkie (Star Trek fan) will be able to support this. The two new series, following a long long legacy of shows and movies, are both set in the future. There is no one who does sci fi the way Star Trek does!

Star Trek: Discovery made its television aired in 2018, with a third, extremely gripping season traversing space almost 930 years in the future, based on the setting of the last season. The protagonist Commander Michael Burnham is set on a mission with her crew of the Discovery, a spaceship seen previously in Star Trek. Star Trek: Picard released the first season in January 2020, set in the year 2399, almost 30 years after the Next Generation series. Admiral Picard has appeared in six series and movies in the Star Trek franchise before this, including Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and more.

 

Sex Education

Where to watch: Netflix

High school drama? This is not exactly one of those. You see your childhood in any one of these college kids, bringing back a lot of innocent memories, first times, and more. No, this is not really a show meant only for teenagers. The series delves into the life of a socially awkward high school student Otis, whose mother is a sex therapist. This adds no value to Otis’ personal life as he’s torn between worlds, ashamed and shuddering at the idea of even masturbation initially. But the badass Maeve turns up, he uses the knowledge he gained from his mother to team up with her, and open up an underground sex therapy clinic for fellow students struggling with sex in high school, after a pilot session with a high school jock. The second season released this year, diving more into his life, his girlfriend Ola and his struggle when there’s a chlamydia outbreak in the campus. The show also very astutely gives insight on the lives of his mother Jean, the smart, and learned feminist angle in Maeve, Ola’s father, Otis’ best friend Eric who initially struggles with acceptance for being gay, and much more. Highly recommended!

 

Ozark

Where to watch: Netflix

This is one of the most gripping shows by Netflix ever. Ozark first began in 2017 until it ended with a grueling season 3 earlier in March this year. The show is about the Byrds, a family who moved to the Ozarks from the city of Chicago. Marty Byrd played by Jason Bateman, with his wife and kids, are on the run after a money-laundering deal goes wrong. This puts him in debt with a Mexican drug lord who is ruthless and keeps the Byrds in check. He retains them and makes them do his bidding in the remote Ozarks, with more than just their family at play at the show intensifies with every season. There would be a lack of words to say where and how this goes, but leaving off at the third season left fans high and dry, waiting for more. There are so many varied emotions and situations dealing with a wide age spectrum, rational thinking, decisions made based on survival, greed, and much more. While it was announced that a fourth season would be in the making, the biggest disappointment of this show was the canceling of season 4. This is most definitely a must-watch if you haven’t checked it out yet.

 

Ragnarok

Where to watch: Netflix

Drawing heavy influence from Norse mythology, Netflix’s Ragnarok made its debut on the 31st of January 2020 on Netflix’s streaming platform and has since gained mainstream popularity for its storyline, cinematography, and character portrayals.

As of 2020, Netflix has been at the forefront of foreign productions. With users desperately in need of content to fill the DARK-sized hole in their hearts, Ragnarok arrived not a minute too late. This Norwegian fantasy/drama series follows the story of Magne, a teenaged boy who moves to the quaint town of Edda in Western Norway with his mother and brother, Laurits. Edda is plagued with frequent, radical climate changes – the result of mass industrialization. Soon after moving in, strange occurrences begin to take place. For one, local businessman Vidar begins to raise eyebrows for his animalistic behavior; the dynamic between Magne and Laurits seems like that of another famous Norse sibling pair; then there’s the weather in Edda…

Featuring David Sjøholt as Magne Seier, Jonas Strand Gravli as Laurits Seier and Gísli Örn Garðarsson as Vidal Jutul, this 6 episode series will tickle all your Norse mythology itches, and leave some serious questions for Season 2, which will likely have a delayed-release following the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Unbelievable

Where to watch: Netflix

What happens when cops investigating rape do everything wrong? Unbelievable is based on a true crime story. The premise revolves around a serial rapist and the journey of two brave female investigative officers who track down the criminal. What’s best about the show is the realistic portrayal of how police officers, especially males, treat the victims which look uncomfortably familiar and also extremely enraging as a woman. None of the male police officers pay attention to the victim’s emotional status or show any empathy towards them. In the first episode when a detective questions an 18-year-old orphan victim, he revictimizes her, making her narrate the whole story of her attack. Again. And Again. The same victim is then taken to a hospital where the nurse also makes her live through the trauma. Her foster mother and colleagues raise suspicion about her story and its details. The show takes a complete turn when two bold, empathetic, professional female police investigators walk into the scene and do everything right to find the perpetrator. If you love investigative shows, Unbelievable is a must watch!

Kim’s Convenience 

Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

According to Kim’s convenience, Canada is the land of happiness and a place where people from all walks of life, all ethnicities co-exist, work hard and sort their differences peacefully, laughter being the main element in their lives. This English drama show on Netflix chronicles the life of Mr. Kim, a Korean immigrant who runs a corner convenience store. He is the funniest character on the show; he’s unapologetic, witty, honest, and comes with hilarious quirks that he isn’t ashamed to exhibit. Mrs. Kim is cynical, kind, loves her children, and is also funny in her own right. They speak in thick Korean accents and are pretty much set in their ways. The drama between these two characters and their son, Jung, (who is, by the way, hot as hell) and Janet, (who is cute as a button) is everything you want to see in a breezy yet emotional web series.

 

 

 

Invisible Man

Where to watch: Prime Video

Any Horror/thriller fans in the house? If you are one, this is perhaps one of the best in the genre you’ll see after years of the same old exorcism-driven, new-family-moves-into-lonely-house-and-encounters-ghosts trope in Hollywood. I am going to go all out and say, Invisible Man, is freakin’ awesome! The movie begins with Cecilia, played by Elizabeth Moss, escaping from her violent, controlling, rich scientist boyfriend. Her abusive ex-boyfriend dies but Cecilia does not believe this one bit. She suspects he has staged his death. What’s even more eerie and scary in the film is his ability to be invisible. What you can’t see, can hurt you. I am going to leave you at that.

 

 

 

The Social Dilemma 

Where to watch: Netflix

Do you find yourself embroiled in social media arguments and endless WhatsApp debates lately? Do you think relationships around you have fallen apart due to differences of opinions w.r.t politics? Do you see people going at each other on Twitter, spewing hate and venom? We live in a world of chaos and social media is steadily and surely adding fuel to this chaos taking it dangerously close to a civil war. The Social Dilemma brings to fore the machiavellian planning that goes behind manipulating our thoughts and therefore our actions by social media companies to earn billions of dollars. The docu-movie drives in this point in an unbiased and interesting manner with drama and characters too. What I loved most about the movie is that the people talking to us on the show are the very same people who were an integral part of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and other sites. Even the guy who created Facebook’s ‘like’ button is in the film.

 

Ludo

Where to watch: Netflix

Earlier this year, I had watched Quentin Tarrantino’s Pulp Fiction for the first time and there were several aspects of the film that immensely appealed to me— the interconnected stories, the non-linearity of events, the open-to-interpretation supernaturality in those events, and well, how graphic some of the scenes were. Then Netflix decided to unleash Ludo. I went into it a good few weeks after the online hype of it had died out, and I had gone in not expecting much at all. But immediately after having watched it, I had told my friends that I had found the Indian rendition of Pulp Fiction. Let me explain.

The movie has an overhead narration of four interconnected and unfortunately entangled stories with its analogy based on the board game of the same name. I like to believe that this is a subtle homage to the number of hours ludo had kept Indians company and their sanity intact during the Coronavirus lockdown. The cast features some well known popular culture faces of today, Pankaj Tripathi as Sattu Bhaiya being the main anchor of the ship. There’s Abhishek Bachhan as Bittu, Sattu Bhaiya’s former henchman; Aditya Roy Kapur who plays the voice artist and ventriloquist, Akash; Rajkumar Rao who plays the former goon turned restaurant owner and one-sided lover, Alu. Anurag Basu also features new faces alongside the known ones and every character effortlessly contributes to the main and subplots. My favorite, however, was the little Mini played by Inayat Verma. Even with its non-linear and fragmented storytelling, the movie did a fantastic job of keeping me engaged throughout. The comic timings of the characters were spot-on, and I had several moments of laughing out loud over the course of the movie. Ludo will make for the best movie night with friends or just to have a good time by yourself.

 

The Good Place

Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video

Have you ever wondered about what happens after a person dies? Where do they go? Do heaven and hell really exist, and what even is purgatory? Well, Michael Schur might just have an answer for you. The Good Place is a theological drama/sitcom that explores the concept of life after death— without the unnecessary involvement of religion and God— in a compact four-season-long series. It follows the story of Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, a mean and selfish woman who has been alone all her life and believes that nothing good comes out of being good. After she is dead and goes to the “good place”, she realizes that she doesn’t belong there. What then ensues is Eleanor trying to fit in by learning ethics and philosophy from moral philosophy professor Chidi Anagonye, played by William Jackson Harper. The series also tells the story of philanthropist Tahani Al-Jamil, played by Jameela Jamil; struggling DJ and dancer, Jason Mendoza played by Manny Jacinto who is always considered dumb. Throughout the series, all the characters undergo significant development and you end up developing an emotional connection with them. As difficult as it is to explain The Good Place without giving away the suspense and the emotional roller-coaster of it all, it is far too good to not recommend.

 

Which of these 2020 releases was your favorite? Which ones did we miss? Tell us in the comments!

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