Binge watching should be considered an Olympic sport. Seriously! I got hooked on several PBS miniseries last year and found it very hard to peel myself away from my laptop for most of 2018. Which, needless to say, often left me cramming to finish 1250-word research papers at 3 a.m..

 So I thought I’d start the New Year off by letting you in on my top five favorite shows and movies that served as delightful distractions throughout 2018. When you’re finished reading my list, please tell me about your favorite distractions that kept you captivated during 2018.

 

Poldark. My parents actually got me hooked on this PBS miniseries. Based on the novels of the same name by Winston Graham, Poldark is set in the late-18th century. The plot follows the very fallible, yet virtuous Capt. Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) as he returns to his estate in Cornwall after serving three years in the British army during the America War of Independence, only to discover his father has died, his estate is in ruins and in debt, and his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth is engaged to his cousin Francis. There is more than enough action, drama, heartbreak, betrayal, jealousy, conniving, and manipulation to keep you hooked and craving for more. Not to mention Ross’s hateful and vengeful foes. Oh, and I have to mention the fiery chemistry between Ross and his gorgeous wife, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson). Theirs is a love story like no other. I can’t wait for the return of the fifth and final season in September 2019. 

Victoria. Jenna Coleman’s portrayal of Queen Victoria is nothing short of brilliant. Although many will argue how true to life the series plays out, you cannot help but agree that Coleman does a magnificent job at showing us how Victoria successfully transcends from a naive and sheltered little princess to the great Queen of England. But I especially loved the chemistry between Victoria and Lord M (Rufus Sewell). His death in Season 2 was heartbreaking.

My apologies to the UK. I know how upsetting it was to hear that Season 3 will air first in the United States.

The Favourite I absolutely love Emma Stone. I will go see any movie she is featured in. Does this make me biased? Absolutely. But in this case, she deserves all the props and acclaim given…and she was absolutely brilliant in this film…as was the entire cast.  The movie was not lacking in wit and memorable quotes: “Look at me! How dare you! Close your eyes.” 

Hysterically funny, this tragicomedy has more than its fair share of juicy sensationalism as we watch the vicious power struggle between Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and her cousin, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) as they vie for the affection of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman).

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You are immediately pulled into the plot of a love story originated through the written correspondence between London author Juliet Ashton (Lily James) and Guernsey Island pig farmer, Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman). Dawsey, who happens to find her copy of Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia in a bookstore, writes to Ashton asking her where he can obtain a copy of Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare so that he may share it with his book club, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The book club, he mentions, was formed out of need to save the lives of its members during the Nazi’s occupation of Guernsey Island. 

 Juliet is intrigued by Dawsey’s story and decides to visit him, with the hopes of publishing the book club’s story. But Juliet soon finds that there is more to the story than Dawsey leads her to believe, especially with the disappearance of Elizabeth, mother to Kit, who refers to Dawsey as “daddy.”

You are going to love this romantic drama – there are secrets about and there is no shortage of romantic tension. Interestingly enough, most of the cast members, whom I might add are spectacular in the film, also starred in Downton Abbey. 

Bohemian Rhapsody I remember listening to Queen as a young girl in the 70s. My friends and I would play their albums in the halls at recess on the record player our teacher let us take outside. Freddy Mercury was a genius. What a tragic end to such a talented man. The movie, surrounded by much controversy, sheds light on the British rock band Queen and lead singer, Freddy Mercury (Rami Malek). The film focuses on Mercury’s life and sexuality and his struggle to be accepted by family, friends, and the public. It was Mercury’s need to be accepted that led to his drug addiction and betrayal by his lover and manager, Paul, and the eventual breakup of Queen. The movie also reveals the history behind their hit songs, which I found  fascinating. 

Malek’s portrayal of Mercury is superb. I can’t imagine anyone playing a more convincing role – and the numerous nominations he has received to date as “Best Actor” more than solidifies his phenomenal performance.

 

 

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