As the nights get longer and many restrictions remaining in place, you're probably looking for a new show or film to watch.
But with seemingly endless options, how do you know what's worth your time?
Well, we've got you covered. Screentime's John Fardy has his latest picks from across the streaming platforms...
The Way Back - One of the best movies of 2020
In the madness of Covid and Cinema Closures you may have missed this gem of a movie that sees Ben Affleck bravely play a alcoholic who attempts to find some redemption when he becomes the coach of his old high school’s basketball team.
With Affleck having real-world struggles with the subject matter he brings a real honesty to the role. This is superb.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Burton and Taylor give a master class
Elizabeth Burton and Richard Taylor where a legendary on and off screen couple but their work on this classic movie is the high point of their pairing.
Taylor plays the wife of a college Professor played by Burton and she decides one night to invite a younger couple over for some party games. To say their marriage is volatile is an understatement and Taylor throws words like punches as the younger couple get caught up their cruel parlour games.
Up - Animation to make adults cry
I’ll always remember sitting down to watch ‘Up’ thinking I knew what was in store in a supposed ‘kids’ movie and then being reduced to a weeping mess by the beautiful story of a widower who, with a young boy, travels to South America in his house by attaching thousands of balloons.
This rivals Toy Story for Pixar’s greatest achievement.
Cracker - Robbie Coltrane as one of TV’s great anti-heroes
This gritty ITV drama from the 90’s contained many shocking and scary moments that dealt with everything from sexual Assault to the fallout from Hillsborough. But at its centre was ‘Fitz’ a hard-drinking, hard-gambling criminal psychologist who seemed to have a remarkable insight into the human condition and could unearth the motivation of just about any killer.
The first 6 episodes are the best.
The Kominsky Method – A Netflix gem
Michael Douglas acts his age in this stellar Netflix show playing an actor who starring roles are probably behind him and his mainstay is teaching young acting students most of him he can’t really stand. His agent, played brilliantly by Alan Arkin, is also his best friend and together they try and negotiate life’s continuing ups and down.
A beautiful study of friendship that’s also very funny.
Looking for something else?
Here are John's previous November picks:
The Duchess – A hilarious comedy with a heart
Canadian Comedian Katherine Ryan plays an adoring mother who doesn’t care about much else in her life. The father of her child is a former boyband star now living ‘off-grid’ (played brilliantly by Irish actor Rory Keenan) on a canal boat and Katherine can’t stand him but bizarrely is considering having another baby with him so her daughter can have a sibling.
It’s really funny and occasionally very crude but also sweet and has some nice messages about parenting and family.
The Odd Couple - The greatest comedy ever
Ok so claiming anything is ‘the greatest’ of anything is always a stretch but for my money this late 60’s Neil Simon scripted movie about an uptight neat freak who moves in with his slovenly best friend is the most consistently funny film from start to finish. Walter Matthau’s plays Oscar whose growing exasperation at Jack Lemmon’s Felix is one of the funniest things you will ever see.
Very few comedies keep you laughing the whole way through but the Odd Couple never lets up
The Virtues - Bruised and magnificent television
Nothing quite prepares you for the sheer rawness of this Shane Meadows Drama. Stephen Graham gives the performance of a lifetime playing a lost soul returning to his Irish birthplace to attempt to find some solace from the demons that plague him. There are also great performances from our own acting pool thanks to Niamh Algar and Helen Behan.
This is a haunting show that stays in your memory long after the credits roll.
Always Be My Maybe - A jolly sweet romcom
Ali Wong and Randall Park wrote and star in this wonderfully sweet Romcom about two childhood friends who had a brief romance as teenagers and then reconnect in adult life with funny and heartfelt results.
This is a romcom that holds your attention the whole way through by avoiding enough genre clichés. The extended Cameo by Keane Reeves is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and worth watching the movie for alone.
The Mandalorian- A New Hope for Star Wars fans
Believe the hype; this really is great and any Star Wars worth their salt will love it. Star Wars has often been described as a Western set in Space and the Mandalorian runs with that theme. It centres on an Ethical Upstanding Bounty Hunter who is tasked with minding the much talked about ‘Baby Yoda’ and the adventures they encounter as they fly through the Galaxy.
The magic of it is that nearly episode can be watched and enjoyed by itself even if you haven’t seen the rest.
Girls- The show Sex and the City could have been
Created by the deeply talented Lena Dunham this is Comedy Drama of the highest quality. Dunham plays Hannah , an aspiring writer who doubts her every move and navigates life with three of her friends who are equally as mixed up and often behave more like ‘frenimies’ with their constant snipes. The sex scenes are often very real and frank as are the emotional vulnerabilities of the leads. And it’s also very funny at times.
The Staircase – The ultimate ‘Did he do it?’
One of the complaints often levelled at true crime documentaries is that they are too long and only need half the episodes but the Staircase merits it’s 13. Centring on the trial of the writer Michael Peterson who is accused of murdering his wife there are so many twists and turns that you feel like you are a member of the Jury who can’t make up their mind about the guilt of the accused.
It’s an overused and slightly nonsensical word but this is ‘Binge-worthy’
Up in the Air - A movie about flying that might also be about lockdown
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is happiest when he’s 20,000 feet in the air as he traverses America by plane for his job which is a corporate ‘downsizer’ where he fires people for a living. His mission in life is to rack up a million air miles. But life is starting to get in the way due to a young rookie (Anna Kendrick) coming on aboard and also Ryan’s no-strings Romantic life starting to take its toll. Clooney is suave but also struggling in this underrated classic about being stuck in a box.
The Secret Garden – Perennial tale that speaks to every generation
The Secret Garden has been made into a movie and TV show several times and something about a child overcoming life’s hardships seems to resonate down the ages. In this latest version Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx) is orphaned in India and sent to a stately home run by her laconic and heartbroken uncle play by Colin Firth. Mary’s sad life improves when she wanders into a garden that has wonders and will ultimately save her.
The power of nature to triumph over despair feels very apt for 2020.
The Sopranos - The show that started it all
In a way the current golden age of TV began with the HBO Classic that was more like a Mega movie than a traditional TV Show. Although on the surface a Mob drama it also contains Freudian Psychology and allusion to Proust.
It is, quite simply, one of the greatest televisions ever made and maybe the best. If you haven’t seen it treat yourself; it contains multitudes.