With COVID-19 confining us to our homes for the majority of our days, binge-watching is at an all-time high. And while you should definitely be taking breaks and move around between episodes and movies, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue to take in as many cinematic masterpieces as you can during this period of heightened down time.

Whether you’re tired of rewatching your go-to shows, trying to fill the void after finishing your favorite new series, have exhausted recommendations from your loved ones, or simply are looking for something to rave about, three professors from UCF’s film department share some suggestions for quality quaranstreaming content.

From Barry Sandler, film professor

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTubeNewlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse have just moved into their new Manhattan apartment when they discover the building is inhabited by some very strange neighbors with questionable motives. This spellbinding, masterful, Oscar-winning classic of mounting horror will scare you and haunt you long after COVID-19.

Goodfellas (1990)
Where to watch: Stream on Hulu or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTubeMartin Scorsese’s wild, furious, frenetic vision of the criminal underworld and the colorful characters who inhabit it — and deceive, betray and kill for it — is a classic in the gangster genre with well-deserved critical acclaim. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Director, Editing, Supporting Actor (won by Joe Pesci) and Supporting Actress (Lorraine Bracco).

Magnolia (1999)
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

Paul Thomas Anderson’s dazzling, hypnotic, extraordinary three-hour epic about a group of desperate, alienated souls living on the edge, searching for human connection, whose troubled lives intersect in the San Fernando Valley, forming a vibrant, complex mosaic of dysfunctional contemporary life.

For a change of pace, Sandler suggests these two touching comedies that will leave you feeling good, even after the credits roll:

Tootsie (1982)
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

Desperate out-of-work actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) takes a wild risk and becomes Dorothy Michaels, the biggest female star in daytime TV, in this riotous satire of television and gender identity. It earned nine nominations for Academy Awards, including Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Picture, Cinematography, Director (Sidney Pollack), Editing, Original Screenplay, Song, Sound and Supporting Actress (won by Jessica Lange).

Jerry Maguire (1996)
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTubeJust-fired sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) scrambles to regain his status and pride with the help of Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) in this sharp, warm-hearted, memorable comedic romance.  It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Actor (Cruise), Best Picture, Editing, Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (won by Cuba Gooding Jr.).

From Timothy Ritter, film professor

25th Hour (2002)
Where to watch
: Rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

The rare Spike Lee film not written by Spike Lee (instead written by Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff in his screen debut), 25th Hour deals with one of the other great crises of our time — 9/11. In fact, it was commonly attributed as the first film to address those terrorist attacks, and it is partially remarkable in that it is not actually about the event, at least not as a centerpiece.

The film’s central narrative about one small-time con getting all his affairs in order before going to prison serves as a potent metaphor of a city and nation devastated by a sudden turn for the worst in its affairs, and forced to re-evaluate all of the things that pull us apart — and can hold us together in a more real, honest way. As we prepare for life after COVID-19, whenever that may come, the film shows a blueprint for honest reappraisal of how we live our lives and where our priorities should lie. And it’s just a great film, with a series of memorable scenes and performances by Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Cox and many more.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
Where to watch:
Rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

We’ll keep the life-after-crisis theme going, with this wonderful underdog story from just a few years back. With no big-name actors and pretty small budget, this beautiful fairy tale creates a fictional world set smack in the middle of the real-life Louisiana bayou, with plenty of texture and grit and humanity to make it feel more real than most real places. As the central character, a young girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), must make sense of her surly father’s sudden sickness, a hurricane that looks a lot like Katrina washes over their clapboard home — and the beasts descend from the north. The film asks fascinating questions about real poverty vs. spiritual poverty and facing our own mortality with grace and dignity.

Fanny and Alexander (1982)
Where to watch
: Rent on Amazon Prime Video or iTunes You’re much more likely to know the phenomenal Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman for his much copied and parodied The Seventh Seal (1957), which is also absolutely incredible. But Fanny and Alexander is something special all its own — a sprawling yet incredibly intimate story of two kids who must adapt when their whole lives are overturned by a shocking event (there’s that theme again). The event would not seem huge in our MCU and Star Wars-dominated cinematic culture, but in a real child’s life, it can be huge. Yet amid the turmoil and fear that suddenly come to dominate their lives, they’re still able to find magic, hope and family. The film is rich in design, performance, and humanity. No explosions, and only the occasional ghost.

I love long films, so I usually indulge in the five-hour TV version (when are you going to have more time on your hands than in a quarantine?), but the three-hour domestic version should serve well enough in its own right. Bergman and Fellini films are like a four-course meal, especially in a modern cinema scene dominated by junk food (hey, I love junk food too, but a real meal lasts a little longer and gives a little more. Try it!).

From Zachary Beckler ’11 ’14MFA, film professor

Tremors (1990)
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

Stuck at home? Could be worse… could be underground with sandworm monsters. A classic 90’s monster movie starring Kevin Bacon that has our characters entrapped by an unseen terror. Sound familiar? Funny, scary, inventive and full of truly seamless practical monster FX, all under the amazing production management of UCF’s own associate film lecturer Lisa Peterson ’12MA.

Interior (2014)
Where to watch: Stream on TubiTV or rent on Amazon Prime Video

All cooped up? How about a horror movie about a man stuck in a house? My debut feature, shameless self-promotion, let’s move on.

Rear Window (1954)
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

An injured Jimmy Stewart is trapped at home looking outward at the lives of his neighbors when he sees what might be a murder. The ultimate in quarantine suspense, and my personal favorite Alfred Hitchcock film. Just when you think you’re safe in your home…

If you’re looking for an escape, Beckler suggests these flicks, and the one he deems most effective might surprise you:

Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood (2019)
Where to watch: Stream on Starz or rent Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube

My favorite film of 2019. This movie has been a song I can’t get out of my head, a vibe I want to keep returning to and revisiting it has just served to make it even more irresistible.

A celebration of facades, as an aging Western actor finds himself lost and insecure in an industry moving more and more towards gritty realism. His best friend, appropriately, is his out-of-work stunt double, a real-life cowboy in charge of maintaining the illusion of his fame. Throughout the film, we sense a ticking clock of the horror to come, as scenes of a truly radiant Sharon Tate (Margo Robbie) seem both thematically appropriate, shown with glimmers of the same insecurities that cloud every character), and oddly disconnected. Numerous driving scenes and one of the most exciting, gnarly and oddly affecting home-invasion sequences in film history make this the best and worst thing you can watch while quarantined inside.

Magic Mike XXL (2015)
Where to watch: Stream on Vudu or rent on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes and YouTube

Hear me out…. Remember hanging out with friends, going on road trips, and discovering your inner truth again? This is the perfect distillation of that feeling. MMXXL is a linear film, but nearly plotless, taking long excursions to hang out with a new character, or show three routines in a row. This is in no way a criticism, because it never loses any kind of momentum.

While this is NOT a family film, it is one about positivity; There is no unnecessary conflict, no character stays mad at another character for long, no situation is deemed hopeless, nothing is demonized, and there is no villain. It is simply an episodic journey from one place to the next with a bunch of characters that enjoy being around each other. These characters just happen to participate in expertly choreographed and wonderfully shot routines.

But most importantly, it is one of the most progressive studio films of the decade, because it shows things that other films just talk about. It is not about feminism, it IS feminist; it is not about diversity and representation, it IS diverse, in casting, in form and in content.

There are films about right things.

There are films that say right things.

There are films that mean right things.

Magic Mike XXL is more effective than all those films for the most revolutionary reason: it just is the right thing


Enter into another dimension of sound, sight and mind with two episodes of The Twilight Zone that Beckler are perfect for quarantine.

The Invaders (1961; Season 2, Episode 15)
Where to watch:
Stream on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Netflix

One of the finest episodes the original series, penned by Richard Matheson with an iconic score by Jerry Goldsmith, stars Agnes Moorhead (Citizen Kane) as a mysterious woman isolated in a small cabin receiving a visit from a small flying saucer with tiny aliens that terrorize her. This is a completely wordless exercise in sustained tension with one of the most giddily campy-yet-profound twists in the show’s history.

The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (1960; Season 1, Episode 22)
Where to watch: Stream on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Netflix

A normal day in a small neighborhood is interrupted by a large shadow and a roar of light that kills all electricity. Is it a sunspot? Is it aliens? No one knows, but that doesn’t stop the paranoia, accusations and rioting from taking hold of everyone… is there a larger truth? It’s The Twilight Zone, of course there is.