What Mark McEwan, Heather Ogden and other notable Torontonians are bingeing in self-isolation

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What Mark McEwan, Heather Ogden and other notable Torontonians are bingeing in self-isolation

Photo by Erin Leydon

A bloody masterpiece
Recommended by Mark McEwan, chef

Photo by Getty Images

“My favourite movies definitely bring me comfort. I love The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. So many of the scenes and lines are iconic. There’s one intense and grisly scene set in a classic Italian restaurant in the Bronx. The two corrupt cops are eating bowls of pasta with napkins tucked into their shirts. For me, they’re more than just mob movies. There’s depth to the story, and the stellar cast brings it to life.”


Photo courtesy of the CBC

A livestreamed piano maestro
Recommended by Amanda Parris, journalist and host, CBC

“James Blake gave a glorious impromptu piano concert on Instagram Live—and he’s saved the entire thing on his account. He performs some of his own classic songs including my faves, ‘The Colour in Anything,’ ‘I’ll Come Too’ and ‘Retrograde,’ as well as covers like Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You.’ The moment that almost made me collapse was when Mr. Blake began playing his cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Godspeed.’ Another good reason to watch: his partner Jameela Jamil’s enthusiastic applause after each song in the background.”


Photo by by Karolina Kuras, courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada

A revisited dystopian classic
Recommended by Heather Ogden, dancer, the National Ballet of Canada

“Juggling a career and two young kids hasn’t left much time for reading in my life, but I’m diving into The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. My husband, Guillaume Côté, and I watched The Handmaid’s Tale on full-binge mode months ago, so I’m looking forward to getting back to this fascinating world.”


Photo by by Christopher Wahl

A small town to yearn for
Recommended by Matthew Loden, CEO, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

“In these disjointed times, there’s no better exposé of the human condition than The Walking Dead. On the other hand, Lorelai and Rory in Gilmore Girls make Stars Hollow feel like a particularly distant universe these days, where the daily coffee at Luke’s Diner brings witty banter, lovable misfits and small-town life that we now can only dream about.”


Photo courtesy of the Power Plant

A South African opera revelation
Recommended by Gaëtane Verna, director, the Power Plant

“Pretty Yende is a soprano who has achieved great recognition within the opera world, with a voice that immediately made me want to see her perform live. She’s an artist to keep following as she undoubtedly continues to expand her mastery. I’m also listening to 12 Little Spells by Esperanza Spalding, who is an innovative and incredibly versatile jazz musician. In this recording, she expands the scope of what it means to produce an album. Esperanza is an incomparable talent and a true creative mind and musician, as well as an author and poet.”


Photo by Vanessa Heins

A greener outlook
Recommended by Sarah Harmer, musician

“I recently watched Inhabit, a documentary on permaculture. It’s beautifully shot, with lots of aerial footage. A wide range of teachers and farmers discuss everything from biodiversity to solving stormwater flooding. It focuses on the need for us to work with nature to help plants and living systems do what they naturally want to do.”


Photo by Mark Raynes Roberts

A gorgeous Austen adaptation
Recommended by Kenneth Oppel, writer

“There’s plenty of dross in the streaming universe, but the 2020 screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma is pure gold. Director Autumn de Wilde sets a puckish and spritely pace from the get-go, making excellent use of music and getting the most out of her charming leads.The ever-mesmerizing Bill Nighy can do more with a single twitch than most actors can do with a whole punchline.”


Photo Courtesy of the CBC

A sketchy Canadian classic
Recommended by Jean Yoon, actor

“Everyone is talking about bingeing on Netflix, but have you looked at what’s on CBC Gem? There’s a wide array of fabulous films, TV series and web series, and a whole bunch of great Canadian oldies. Right now, I’m rewatching The Kids in the Hall and finding that their sketches are as fresh, funny and provocative as they were in the ’80s. Buddy Cole, Crushing Your Head Guy, Chicken Lady, oh it’s all so damn good. I’ve also watched Sandra Oh’s breakout film Double Happiness, directed by Mina Shum. Brilliant, funny and heartbreaking. A milestone Asian-Canadian project.”


Photo by Erin Leydon

A supermodel’s YouTube talk show
Recommended by Kirk Pickersgill (left), co-founder, Greta Constantine

Photo by Getty Images

“Naomi Campbell is a friend, so of course I was drawn to her YouTube show. No Filter With Naomi is absolutely divine. She has an unrivalled ability to draw honest answers and fabulous anecdotes from each individual she speaks with. Anna Wintour was a recent guest and she carries herself with such poise and speaks with an impressive authority, both necessary tools if we are to navigate this new normal.”