What to watch now that Game of Thrones is over
That's it. There will be no more Game of Thrones episodes — well, until at least next year.
If you are one of the 19 million people going through Thrones withdrawal after Sunday night's finale, though, I have some good news: There is a whole lot more out there that you can watch between now and when the spinoffs arrive. Here are nine films from around the world that will fill that Drogon-sized hole in your heart after Game of Thrones.
If you're going to miss ... the costumes and makeup
Mary Queen of Scots
From Cersei's towering braids to Ellaria Sand's flowing silks to Sansa's maple-embroidered coronation gown, Game of Thrones was a smorgasbord of colors, patterns, and styles that helped bring Westeros to life. For anyone missing the creations of the show's longtime costume designer, Michele Clapton, the historical drama Mary Queen of Scots is a happy substitute. Set in the mid-16th century, the film stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Mary's cousin and rival, Queen Elizabeth I. Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne incorporated styles that were faithful to the era, but wasn't shy about using dirt and water to realistically muck up the gowns when, say, Mary was traveling across the Scottish countryside. While Queen Elizabeth's hair would make even Cersei jealous, the Starks would be able to sympathize with Mary's mud stains. Watch it on Amazon.
If you're going to miss ... the big, realistic battles
War and Peace
My favorite fight scene in all of film and television is the Battle of Austerlitz at the end of the first part of this magnificent four-part 431-minute War and Peace adaptation — it left me quite literally gasping for breath after I saw it in a theater earlier this year. Released in the Soviet Union in 1956 and 1957, director Sergei Bondarchuk was essentially given a blank check by the government to produce his massive, sprawling, nearly to-scale battle sequences — as Vox puts it, it "might have taken approximately the same amount of effort and resources to mount an actual ground invasion." The Battle of Borodino, in the movie's third part, reportedly took more than two years to make and used more than 300 actors, putting the Battle of Winterfell to shame. While the film is not streaming digitally yet, it is being released on DVD and blu-ray next month, with a digital release — likely on the Criterion Channel — to follow. Pre-order it on Amazon.
If you're going to miss ... Game of Thrones jokes on the internet
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
As Game of Thrones got darker and darker over the seasons, the memes got better and better. If you are going to miss making fun of Thrones on the internet as much as me, then it might be time to revisit the greatest medieval-genre parody of all time, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Watching the film after Thrones, you might even find it a little too on the nose — as Digital Spy observes, "the extreme (and protracted) fight between Brienne and The Hound [in season four] totally reminded us of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python," and I couldn't agree more. Plus, what better way to decompress after that oddly depressing season finale than with some good British humor? Watch it on Netflix.
If you're going to miss ... the sweeping on-location sets
The legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa might be better known for Seven Samurai and Rashomon, but it's my belief that Ran was his masterpiece. With a plot inspired by King Lear, the film rivals Game of Thrones' Iceland and Northern Ireland-shooting locations by transporting Shakespeare's classic to feudal Japan, and more specifically to the vistas of Mount Aso. Just as Thrones relied heavily on practical effects, Kurosawa used real castles and to-scale sets for his complicated battles. And while there might not be dragons, there is still a lot of fire. Watch it on iTunes.
If you're going to miss ... Essos
The continents of Game of Thrones can't be pinned down on a real-world map, but if you're missing the distant deserts of Essos, then let the breathtaking cinematography of Morocco in Mimosas fill the void. As roughly as you might describe the "plot" of this meandering and spiritual film, the story follows a mechanic who is asked to help protect an elderly sheikh on his journey with a caravan through the Atlas Mountains. While Game of Thrones sometimes struggled with the representation of the "foreigners" across the Narrow Sea, Mimosas' French-born director Oliver Laxe lives in Morocco and his film offers a more realistic, but no less magical, portrait of a nomadic culture. Watch it on Amazon.
If you're going to miss ... Arya killing people
If you are unacquainted with The Assassin, then boy oh boy are you in for a treat. The film belongs to the genre of Chinese martial arts movies called "wuxia," but the assassin in question is a young woman named Yinniang who was trained in exile to be a cold-hearted killer. In a test of her emotional armor, Yinniang is ordered to kill her her former fiancé, Tian, who holds the title of governor of the Weibo region of northern China. While Arya only got one epic battle in the final season of Game of Thrones — admittedly against the Night King — anyone itching for a little more action will find a new complicated heroine to love in Yinniang. Watch it on YouTube.
If you're going to miss ... the epic fantasy world
Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali: The Conclusion
Described as "The Lord of the Rings of India," Baahubali was the most expensive Indian film ever made at the time of its release in 2015. An epic historic fantasy about a Hercules-like hero destined to save the world from the evil Emperor Bhallaladeva, the film is, in true Bollywood fashion, gorgeously over-the-top, complete with epic battles, fantastical cities, and a flying swan boat. No really, this will make the Eyrie and its moon door look realistic. Baahubali is divided into two feature-length parts, and there is a TV show on the way too. Oh, and all the songs are bangers. Watch it on Netflix.
If you're going to miss ... the military drama based on real history
Game of Thrones might take place in a land full of dragons and magic, but it is at least inspired by real history — specifically, England's War of the Roses. John Woo's massive two-part epic about a Chinese military battle in 208 and 209 A.D., Red Cliff, might be a little more fact-based than George R.R. Martin's creation, but this is no dry history. While sometimes it might be easy to tell that Woo spent time working in video games before returning to movies with this film, Red Cliff is a blast when you let go of caring about realism. And hey, you just finished a TV show with a plot point around a demon smoke baby — that shouldn't be a problem. Watch it on Amazon.
If you're going to miss ... Ghost
If you think Game of Thrones didn't have enough of Jon Snow's direwolf companion in it, then White God is your kind of movie. This Hungarian film is about a literal dog uprising after one Good Boy is separated from his human. Ahem, does that sound familiar, Jon? Watch it on Amazon.