Happy National Cheer Up The Lonely Day! Yeah, that’s a thing, apparently.
Having recently moved across the country from the place where I grew up and went to school, I feel lonely all the time. I often jokingly say that loneliness is my favorite genre of film. So in honor of this weirdly specific random holiday, I’m going to share my favorite things to watch when I’m feeling especially isolated.
Like many things in life, loneliness is a deeply complex and nuanced emotion. Sometimes you want to escape it, to distract yourself from it as soon as possible, and other times you need to feel it fully and completely before you can move forward. This list (or series of mini-lists, rather) is designed to help you tackle your loneliness in a number of ways. If you’re in the mood to laugh, that’s covered in the Good Old Fashioned Pick Me Up list. If you want to be bitter for a while, try Other People Suck Anyway. No matter what you’re looking for, I hope that you find it here.
Loneliness sucks, but movies don’t. Happy viewing!
Just Let Me Wallow In This Feeling
Sometimes you just want to be sad and lonely and miserable for a bit. Here are some movies to help you.
Inside Llewyn Davis – I’m feeling melancholy just thinking about this Coen Brothers tale of an aspiring folk singer who can’t seem to catch a break. It’s dark and atmospheric, Oscar Isaac has naturally sad eyes, and folk music is almost always something of a bummer. Basically, it’s the perfect lonely movie.
Lost in Translation – Everything about this Sofia Coppola film is rooted in beautiful, poignant isolation. Moody and lonely from start to finish, this film manages to be subtle, funny, and finally, perfectly cathartic.
The Graduate – The acting, directing, and tense central relationship make The Graduate one of the best and bleakest coming of age movies ever made. And that final shot. Ouch.
Magnolia – “Things fall down. People look up. And when it rains, it pours.” Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius when it comes to exploring a myriad of emotional ups and downs. This ambitious film follows characters to the deepest depths of loneliness, and when “Wise Up” by Aimee Mann kicks in, you’ll have no doubt that you’re watching a masterpiece.
How To Die in Oregon – This documentary follows a number of terminally ill patients in Oregon who choose to take advantage of the Death with Dignity Act. It’s one of the saddest movies I’ve ever watched, but it’s graceful and empathetic in its handling of heavy themes. It’ll likely leave you feeling heartbroken and driven to act politically. Bonus!
A Good Old Fashioned Pick Me Up
When you’ve done enough wallowing and you want to feel joy again, these films are a good place to start.
Dumb and Dumber – This comedy about two idiotic best friends is sophomoric, ridiculous, and side-splittingly funny. It’ll also remind you that if these two dumb goofs can be happy and find friendship, then by god, so can you.
Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood – My brother found this nonsensical low-budget film on Netflix late one night. It is honestly the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s so mind-blowingly terrible that it’s also one of the funniest movies ever. I promise that after you watch it, loneliness will be the last thing on your mind.
The Simpsons – Pop on season one and keep right on watching and laughing until you don’t feel down anymore. The early seasons in particular are as clever and humorous as TV gets. Let this silly yellow family distract and entertain you, as they have done for years and years.
Mad Max: Fury Road – Because it isn’t just comedies that can make you feel better. Max Max: Fury Road is essentially a story about two loners working together for a greater good. From a film-making standpoint, this film is unbelievable visually. It will blow you away and inspire you to create something of your own after the credits roll. The story, which is remarkably simple, will leave you with more faith in humanity than you’ve ever expected from any action thriller.
Other People Suck Anyway
Because maybe you’re better off alone.
10 Cloverfield Lane – This follow-up to the found-footage monster flick Cloverfield is all about the dark nature of humans. John Goodman plays a terrifying doomsday prepper who locks a young woman in his basement, won’t let her leave, and insists he’s doing all of this to help her. 10 Cloverfield Lane explores the reality that sometimes, people are the monsters. After watching this movie, you’ll be certain that maybe you’re better off on your own.
The Wolf of Wall Street – Every character in Martin Scorsese’s hilariously filthy film about New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort is a total garbage person. And hey, they’re all based on real people!
The Invitation – I don’t want to say much about this psychological thriller, because the less you know going in, the better. I’ll tell you this much: This smart, scary movie will make you think twice the next time you wish you had an invitation to a dinner party with a group of old friends. (This just started streaming on Netflix, by the way!)
A Miraculous Mix Of All of The Above
The recommendations to end all recommendations: They’ve got it all.
Her – Part love story, part social commentary on the nature of relationships in the digital age, Her is Spike Jonze’s masterpiece about the way we deal with loneliness in a time when people seem to look more at their phone screens than at each other. By the end, you’ll find yourself craving quiet togetherness. You might not immediately feel better, but you’ll be better having seen this movie.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – This bleak yet tender apocalyptic tale features Steve Carell and Keira Knightley as two perpetually lonely people who unite in an unlikely journey before an asteroid destroys the earth. It’s a touching film about what it means to be with someone and to really know them. It’ll make you feel lonely, but hopefully it’ll also make you smile.
BoJack Horseman – There has perhaps never been a movie or show that so expertly explored fame, anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. Netflix’s BoJack Horseman is existential, brilliantly written, deeply sad, and also, somehow, riotously funny. Season one will leave you wallowing in every downer thought you’ve ever had; while season two will make you believe there’s hope for anyone, even you, to get better. It’s a gorgeous mix of everything that loneliness can be, and it’s easily one of the best things being created right now.
Featured Image: Netflix