Look, we’re not going to mince words: We are epically bummed-out. Some of you might be celebrating a Trump win, but the rest of us are feeling a little bleak.
We’re afraid. Some of us feel our rights, even our safety are no longer protected. Of course, we won’t know exactly how bad things are going to get until January, but that only leaves two months for our imaginations to run wild. And we already know, now, that half the country hates the other half enough to undo all the progress we’ve made over eight years of Obama.
We don’t have any tips on how to makes things better. But sometimes a little distraction helps. Here are 14 films now streaming on various services that will make you feel better. Some are relevant to your current concerns, healthy reminders that other people feel or have felt your pain. Others are pure diversions. Instead of lying on the floor in a fetal position, pick yourself up, curl up in a ball on the sofa or in your bed and let the movies make things feel OK, if only for a bit.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (Netflix)
You think you got it bad? Well, you do. But so did the people in the 1930s South, particularly if they weren’t white. Watch as a little Caucasian girl named Scout (Mary Badham) learns the power of doing right for others from a father (Gregory Peck) so decent, so good that we’re still shellshocked that author Harper Lee turned him into a racist in last year’s superfluous sequel. But Atticus Finch will always be a hero, if you only watch the film version.
‘The Big Short’ (Netflix)
Our President-Elect might as well be one of the villains in this shockingly entertaining comedy about the events that led to the 2008 economic apocalypse. Frankly, all the numbers talk and jargon is still confusing, even when delivered by Ryan Gosling in a bad hairpiece, or Margot Robbie in a bathtub. But Adam McKay (“Anchorman”) tries his best to make unspeakable tragedy fun, and anger-making.
‘Fruitvale Station’ (Netflix)
Black lives do matter, even if half the country thinks they don’t. To remind you that we still have to fight against deep-seated prejudice, you might as well bawl your way through the film about Oscar Grant, shown in the lead-up to his accidental assassination by trigger-happy police. It also boasts the power duo of star Michael B. Jordan and filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who would prove with “Creed” that their first team-up was no fluke.
Add trans people to the list of groups whose hard-won rights will be in jeopardy soon enough. Let’s stay positive, though, or at least take in Sean S. Baker’s raucous comedy, which trails two trans sex workers (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor) on a crazy Christmas Eve, not just trying to get by, but screaming and hollering and raising Cain as they do it.
Ignored upon release then reclaimed as one of Broadway’s biggest draws, John Waters’ 1988 comedy is a social issue movie his way, even if it scored him his first (and, to date, only) PG. Ricki Lake is the bright-eyed teen who battles racism in 1960s Baltimore, learns the joys of miscegenation and shows what a bunch of backwards morons most white people can be when they’re in power.
‘In the Loop’ (Netflix)
Frankly, any time’s good to feel bad about the government. So howl through this British black comedy — a spin-off of the brilliant government show “The Thick of It” that finds spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) all but breathing fire as he guides England through the lead-up to a war with an anonymous Middle Eastern country. The writing staff includes a “swearing consultant." He earns his keep, and how. You’ll be creatively cursing for days after.
‘Four Lions’ (Amazon Prime)
OK, bear with us here: This is a black, black, coal black comedy about four Muslim would be-terrorists who plot to blow up a marathon. It sounds like the stuff of a Trump voter nightmare. But the film — from Chris Morris, England’s most savage satirist — is the opposite of anti-Muslim, and peerlessly perceptive about what’s really fueling the other side of the War on Terror. And it’s hilarious: It’s telling of the film’s sense of humor that the best joke, of many, involves the accidental shooting of an innocent bystander — dressed as Chewbacca.
‘An Unmarried Woman’ (Netflix)
Hailing from the good old second wave of feminism, Paul Mazursky’s 1978 character study portrays a tough, independent woman (an Oscar-nominated Jill Clayburgh) as she reshuffles her life after her caddish husband (Michael Murphy) abruptly dumps her. It’s all a fantasy, set in a New York City that’s basically a rich person’s playground. But its portrait of a woman who does right by herself is nothing if not timely.
The new, cinephile-centric streaming service FilmStruck boasts untold goodies, including most of the Criterion Collection. It also contains this vital doc/concert movie from 1973, which hangs at a music concert honoring the 1965 Watts riots. In between killer sets by Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes, it sneaks in bracing chats about race with, among others, a lacerating Richard Pryor. And it’s improbably directed by the guy who made “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”!
‘Tanner ’88 (FilmStruck)
We’re cheating a bit here: This is technically an 11-episode TV show that once aired on HBO. It’s also a Robert Altman production. Written on the fly by Garry Trudeau, it threw a fictitious Democratic candidate (Michael Murphy again) on the actual 1988 presidential campaign trail, watching him as he brushes shoulders with the sometimes flabbergasted likes of Bob Dole, Gary Hart and Pat Robertson. That was a crazy election year; revisited now, it looks almost serene.
‘Basic Instinct’ (Netflix)
Once upon a time, Paul Verhoeven’s steamy, twisty thriller was enemy number one for the likes of GLAAD and Queer Nation. They were right to be peeved that the fourth biggest film of 1992 boasted a killer bisexual. But Verhoeven is a tricky one, and you can always read it this way: The hero is Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell. She’s the smartest person in any room, and it’s great fun watching her lay waste to a legion of stupid, horndog, old school man’s men. Too bad she didn’t destroy all of them.
‘Dazed and Confused’ (Netflix)
Here’s a story: Once we saw a double feature of “Batman v Superman” and Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” The first was a chaotic drag that made our heads hurt. Then we walked into the Linklater, which had no plot and simply hung with some fun-loving bros. Instantly we felt better. It was like the film was fast-acting aspirin lifting away a migraine like a veil. Right now, the best thing you can do for yourself is turn on that film’s “spiritual” predecessor, which does nothing but roam around with a bunch of Austin high schoolers, partying on the last day of classes. Watching Parker Posey ream out some incoming freshmen girls makes everything better.
‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ (Netflix)
We’re not going anywhere near the Midwest until Trump is out of office. But we will watch movies about it — movies where the people are nice and kind and not horrible. Drink in the sights and sounds of an idyllic small town life that never existed in the first big movie for both Tim Burton and Paul Reubens’ Pee-wee Herman. All Pee-wee wants is his bike back, and to find it he’ll roam the country, meeting kind, eccentric souls who would never vote for a demagogue that wants to banish Mexicans to Mexico.
‘Bringing Up Baby’ (Amazon)
Unlike the other titles here, you'll have to pay to stream Howard Hawks’ primo screwball comedy, with Katharine Hepburn as a socialite meticulously and relentlessly destroying the life of paleontologist Cary Grant. But fork over the four bucks: When pressed, we say this is the funniest movie ever made, and beholding its non-stop parade of insanity is 102 minutes not spent thinking about how we’re all doomed.