5 Feel-Good Movies to Watch During Quarantine

Get rid of the social distancing blues with these cozy cinematic titles


Social distancing is certainly helping contain the spread of COVID-19, but it also has negative effects on one’s mental health. Being isolated from family, friends, and your community for this extended period of time can trigger depression and loneliness. Forget about the sadness that quarantine brings by watching these fuzzy, homey films. 


Keep the Change is a refreshingly honest and tenderhearted romantic comedy about an aspiring filmmaker (Brandon Polansky) ordered to attend a self-actualizing social program at the Jewish Community Center. He is assigned to visit the Brooklyn Bridge with the sweetly energetic Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), and they navigate a blossoming relationship, their complicated families, and various friendships. The pair have a witty charm that makes Keep the Change thoroughly delightful. This lovingly crafted film has many moments of genuine, awkward humor. Most importantly, it sheds light on cinema’s underrepresented autism community. Available on Amazon Prime.





Charlie Chaplin’s majestic masterpiece City Lights tells the heart-rending story of his infamous tramp character falling for a blind flower seller. He pretends to be a millionaire and secretly labors to pay for the restoration of her sight. The film is made of excruciatingly hilarious gags and highly emotional lump-in-your-throat moments. City Lights is a sublime tribute to selflessness and philanthropy, messages that we need to hear more than ever. Available on Criterion


It is virtually impossible not to smile during Pick of the Litter, the engrossing tale of a group of puppies-in-training to become seeing eye dogs. Who will graduate? Who will go on to something else? The film follows their fascinating two-year training process while intimately capturing all of their fluffy adorableness. You also learn about the dedicated individuals who train them for this life-changing role. Not only is Pick of the Little absolutely precious, it is very moving and emotional to witness the service the beautiful creatures provide and the lives that are better for it. This perfect family film is available on Swank



Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age dramaedy Lady Bird captures the insecurities of adolescence with sharp humor and lots of heart. Sasorise Ronan gives an impeccable performance as Lady Bird, a confused Catholic school girl looking to shape her identity and break free of her hometown after her senior year. Gerwig crafts a touching and hilarious love letter to mother/daughter relationships. The authenticity of the ensemble’s performances, featuring actors such as Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chalamet, bring to life Gerwig’s nostalgic look on that precarious, tender time between being a kid and an adult. Available on Kanopy




I Wanna Hold Your Hand follows four lovesick teenagers on an obsessive quest to meet The Beatles before the legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This madcap slapstick comedy captures the legendary hysteria of Beatlemania during the early 1960s. It celebrates the once in a lifetime moment when a pop culture phenomenon emerged through the eyes of quirky, wide-eyed characters on the cusp of adulthood. The loveable ensemble makes I Wanna Hold Your Hand a cute, quirky, romp. Available on Kanopy



Teaching Children Through Film

The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak has forced schools to transfer to online classes or extend their spring break, leaving many at-home parents with the taxing job of monitoring their children’s schoolwork or keeping them preoccupied during the day with educational activities. Film is a mind-stimulating and convenient educational tool that parents can use during this period of confinement. Many streaming sites offer intriguing documentaries or hundreds of instructional videos that can keep children engaged with the outside world and expose them to a myriad of subjects they may not have necessarily explored in school.

Kanopy offers an incredible resource called “The Great Courses,” a series of videos on virtually any subject. One of them is “How to Become a SuperStar Student” series, which would be perfect for children currently out of school to brush up on before returning to school. The series features helpful videos to improve classroom and learning skills such as “Thinking Critically” and “Writing Well.” There are literature courses about folklore and fairy tales, history lessons on Aborigine Art, or a “Your Body” class geared to kindergartners through third graders. The choices are endless in this incredible online resource.

Another engrossing documentary is Spellbound, available to watch on Tubi. The film follows the Olympic-level pressures put on eight kids from disparate ethnic, class, and regional backgrounds who travel to Washington D.C. for the National Spelling Bee Finals. A simple story about something that may be considered dull is actually utterly gripping and often humorous. Plus, children can learn a host of new vocabulary words. Read our Video Librarian review here

Dream Big: Engineering Our World is a fascinating peek into the incredible world of engineers and the marvels they make—big and small—from the Great Wall of China to underwater robots, the world’s tallest buildings, solar cars, and sustainable cities. These rousing stories reveal STEM-workers’ grit and intelligence, and the hard work it takes to create better lives. The documentary motivates future generations to change the world. This film offers real world examples of science put into action so parents can plan their next science class around this film on Netflix. Read our Video Librarian review here

To read more content like this, click here to subscribe to Video Librarian.

Video Distributors Respond to COVID-19 with Special Streaming Deals

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many video distributors are offering reduced digital streaming costs as well as lower prices or free streaming for titles owned by libraries on physical media. Gisèle Tanasse, Film & Media Services Librarian for UC Berkeley, has put together a continually expanding list of distributors (currently 30) with information on special streaming offers. Here’s the link to the Google doc: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A2bJoWFHLj_ZVS2Dh1LC40uUupMsl7C99M8c7NvEY8g/edit#gid=0.