If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's the value of spending, really spending, quality time together. We're forced to do it over video for now – HouseParty, Zoom, take your pick – but movie nights with friends and family take on a bittersweet, nostalgic feeling now. Watching together, while staying apart is our new temporary normal and to dull the ache, these six, endlessly watchable films were made for your next Saturday night in
When Harry Met Sally
A film that portrays the complexities of love in all its weird, moving glory. A performance best from a seemingly odd pairing, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, their chemistry makes the movie, and we see ourselves in them with Harry's cynicism and the infectious doe-eyed hopefulness of Sally.
Everything about the movie works from the script — simple banter has almost never been written as well — to the supporting cast. The late Carrie Fisher has some of the best lines in the film and the ending pulls on the heartstrings every single time. Everyone has a favourite line, a favourite scene – and Meg Ryan's fashion choices are worth the watch alone.
Margot Robbie brings the right amount of grit and humour to the almost unbelievable true story of Tonya Harding, one of the best figure skaters in the world in the early 1990s. She came from humble, working-class beginnings but her athleticism and power on the ice meant she was in a league of her own (she was the first woman in the world to complete a triple axel in competition).
She was always inconsistent however and an incident involving her key competitor Nancy Kerrigan getting attacked just as she was due to skate against Harding at a major national competition, saw her fall from grace. It's the kind of film that you won't believe is based on true events – but it really is. Allison Janney's Oscar-winning role as Tonya's hugely problematic, yet hilarious mother also steals every scene.
Julia Roberts took the Oscar for this quiet and powerful dramatisation of the true story of Erin Brockovich who fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). She was a single mother to three children and down to her last $64 in the bank when she got a job at a local law firm. A legal assistant in Hinkley, California, she becomes enamoured with a case when she discovers PG&E has positioned the city's water supply. Local residents are getting sick and Brockovich, who has no legal background herself, is determined to see them brought to justice.
PG&E hid the crisis and misled the community on the effects of that specific type of chromium (one that's good for you versus one that can potentially kill you) and its possible connection to health problems in the town.
Roberts is savvy, snappy and full of brilliant comebacks and Albert Finney shines in one of his best-ever roles. A highlight: "As long as I have one ass instead of two, I'll wear what I like," she snaps at the hapless Masry when he suggests rethinking her wardrobe, adding: "You might wanna rethink those ties." It's an easy, entertaining enjoyable watch.
This salon-centred tale is a gut-wrencher in the best possible way. An unexpectedly complex study in the power of female friendship, you don't expect the emotional impact when you start to watch, but you'll be hooked until the end. The women are each headstrong and unique in their own way: young-to-be-married Shelby, played exquisitely by Julia Roberts pre the Pretty Woman gloss, Sally Field as M’Lynn, the mother of the bride-to-be, Truvy (Dolly Parton, beauty salon owner and luminous as ever), with new employee Annelle (a perfect Daryl Hannah). And who could ever forget the brilliant Shirley MacLaine?
It isn't worth saying much more, the characters do all the work, but it's one to watch with tissues, cocktails and your closest BFFs, if only as a reminder of how important it is to have your own group around you.
La La Land
Damien Chazelle's whimsical movie musical; a homage to the golden years of Hollywood, won the hearts of critics and movie-goers alike when released — it had 14 Oscar nominations, a record only held by Titanic — and stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as two love-struck artists, trying to make it big in Tinseltown.
It's almost old-fashioned in its charm with singing, dancing and a bittersweet ending; it has everything that the old-fashioned, Hollywood classics are so famous for and it's a welcome antidote to the real-life events that have made our hearts heavy these past few months. It takes you somewhere else with its yearning for a different time and place – and these days, it hits you right where it should.
Novelist and hiker extraordinaire Cheryl Strayed embarked on an amazing 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in the United States in 1995 as a journey of self-discovery following her mother's death, and this had a profound effect on her life. Her experience formed the basis of a best-selling novel and film Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon which more than does justice to Strayed's writing; raw, brilliant and emotive.
She's at a crossroads; distraught and looking to start again as she begins her redemptive trek and by the end of it all, her life outlook has completely changed. It's gorgeous, riveting and perfect for those, 'Now what would YOU do if you went on a solo trek?' conversations with your friends. It might seem a strange choice for this list but watching it now, when we can go no further than 2km from our front doors, makes Strayed's journey alone seem all the more profound.