The year dwindles to a close, the remaining hours of sunlight totalling less than one whole day. Either you’re back at your home, not working, or back in your home, half-working, or still at a family member’s, pretending to have work in order to avoid socializing. Maybe you are a member of the odd family who is on day six of playing Jackbox Games together, but most likely, you are bored, and feeling weird, and if not hopeless, then adrift as December 2022 settles into January 2023 with whatever horrors await you.
I can’t fix your problems — those are inherent and cannot be fixed, not even with the help of a trusted therapist within a dozen years of your age — but I can make you a watchlist full of recommendations for the remaining days of the year and the weirdest week in the whole calendar.
Notes on a Scandal
Richard Eyre’s (no relation to Jane) 2006 film Notes on a Scandal has had something of a resurgence of popularity the past few years for its manic, lurid tone and great dual performances from Judi Dench and Tár herself, Cate Blanchett. The film is set in a public high school where an older teacher, played by Dench, becomes obsessed – romantically, sexually – with a new younger teacher, played by Blanchett, who is, in turn, having an affair with an underaged student. The movie has a miserable, but undeniably juicy tempo, and features one of the great screenshots in 21st century cinema.
The first three seasons of Game of Thrones and then the one random episode where the guys have to fight all the guys in the snow
Remember in the early days of the pandemic when everyone was watching The Sopranos or The Wire, and then people would be like, “Isn’t it crazy how no one is rewatching Game of Thrones?” Chill. It had only been a year. But now more time has passed, and you, like others, want to kill a lot of time, but not, like, eight seasons’ worth of time.
Chuck & Buck
Fans of The White Lotus may be curious to check out one of creator Mike White’s earliest works, an extremely feel-bad dark comedy starring White himself and director Chris Weitz. The two play once-childhood friends, but Buck (White) has developed something of an unhealthy fixation with Chuck (Weitz), trailing him to Hollywood where the latter has had some success. What follows is some of the most painfully uncomfortable writing I’ve ever seen committed to screen. A guaranteed bad time.
The Twitch stream of the Geoguessr guy
Earlier this year, I wrote about Trevor Rainbolt, who is probably the world’s best Geoguessr AKA Google Maps speedrunner. For those who can’t get enough of his TikToks or Youtube videos, you can watch literal hours of Rainbolt zooming his way across the globe in record time, all but ensuring you don’t have to go downstairs and talk to anyone in your family.
Olivia Colman Oscar acceptance speech
This time of year, I find I’m both always hungry but cannot give in to constantly eating lest my doctor get mad about my cholesterol (again). The greatest saving grace is a film like Tampopo: worshipful of and lusting for food. For those who think that logging onto the Criterion Channel to watch a movie is like having to do planks for your brain, consider this one of the most accessible, feel-good forays into international cinema.
Only season one of Killing Eve
I feel sad for all of the lesbians forced into writing harsh, disappointed thinkpieces at the end of Killing Eve’s four-season run. Oh well. Enjoy revisiting the early days of this espionage comedy before it goes full-tilt off the rails.
Reread The Secret History
Okay, not something to watch, I know, unless you think of “reading” as “watching words with your eyes.” (Sort of? Whatever.) Donna Tartt’s novel is an all-time favorite and soon-to-be classic that features an intense segue in which its main character nearly freezes to death over his winter break at college. Many I’ve spoken to think that this is the one part of the book they’d cut. WRONG. Richard nearly freezing to death practically makes the novel, and cements The Secret History as a winter staple.
A better New Year’s Eve rom com than When Harry Met Sally.