Netflix is a magical service. It has hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows you can binge to your heart’s content. But, you can also get stuck in no man’s land, which is where you search and search and can’t decide on what to watch; you end up just turning off the TV and look for something new to do. I have ten movies that will put an end to that struggle.
These movies feature a little bit of everything: romance, action, adventure, drama and comedy. There are some big budget spectacles and indie dramas in there, but I can safely say that these selections will keep you occupied for some time. You won’t be disappointed if you chose to watch any of these movies.
The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau’s live-action adaption of The Jungle Book was one of the biggest movies of 2016. Thanks in part to Netflix’s deal with Disney, you can now watch the front-runner for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. And saying it looks good doesn’t do it justice. The visual effects work is eye-popping and looks fantastic. Favreau blends a worthy story with Avatar-esque visual effects for what is considered one of the best movies of the year. This is all the more impressive when you consider that only one human actor is on the screen, newcomer Neel Sethi, and was shot on a backlot in Burbank, California. The Jungle Book features the voices of Bill Murray, Idris Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley and many more.
Before Armageddon and Transformers, Michael Bay was still viewed as a stylistic director but in a good way. How times have changed, but even so with a reputation for style over substance, his first couple movies were really enjoyable. The Rock, his second feature film, stars Sean Connery, Ed Harris and a Nicolas Cage in his prime, fresh of a Best Actor win at the ’96 Oscars. It revolves around a renegade military General who threatens to unleash nerve gas on San Francisco from the hijacked Alcatraz Island. This forces a chemist and convict to join forces to save the city by the bay.
The Big Short
Adam McKay’s financial drama was an awards darling last year, and it’s available to stream on Netflix this year. The ensemble movie stars Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Gosling. It tells the story of a few notable business people who foresaw the 2008 financial crisis brought about by the bursting of the bubble of the housing market. The Big Short took home Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2016 Oscars while also vying for a few others categories, including Best Picture.
Sing Street is the latest musical film from director John Carney, who also directed Once and Begin Again. Once has one of the best movie soundtracks of all time and Begin Again starred Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. It’s safe to say Carney knows what he’s doing. Sing Street follows in the same spirit, which is about a young boy who is removed from his private school and forced to attend public school due to financial reasons. To escape the dysfunction of his family, he begins a band in hopes of impressing the girl he likes. Sing Street currently has a five-star rating on Netflix and a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score, making it one of the best-reviewed movies of the year.
Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, is one of the most groundbreaking films of the 90’s. Its storytelling through unchronological vignettes is still copied and mirrored to this day, but the same Tarantino moxie and style is impossible to replicate. With terrific performances from Samuel L. Jackson (Jules), John Travolta (Vincent Vega), Uma Thurman (Mia Wallace), Bruce Willis (Butch Coolidge), Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace) and Harvey Keitel (The Wolf), if you like movies, you won’t be disappointed in giving Pulp Fiction a try. Quentin Tarantino took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 1995 Oscars.
The Fundamentals of Caring
This Netflix original movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and premiered on the streaming service in June. The movie follows Ben (Paul Rudd), who is an aimless retired writer who still grieving the death of his son. Needing a job, Ben takes up a crash-course as an in-home nurse and is soon assigned to Trevor, an 18-year-old (Craig Roberts) who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and is stranded to a bed or wheelchair. They soon decide to go on a road trip as many roadside attractions as they can, where they encounter a rambling teen (Selena Gomez) who joins them on their adventure.
Danny Boyle’s look into the seedy world of heroin addiction sprung forth Trainspotting, one of the most influential British films in the past 25 years. The cast includes Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Kelly Macdonald. This was McGregor’s first breakout performance as Mark Renton, a heroin addict who tries to kick the habit only to find himself in a deeper hole than before after he inadvertently sleeps with a 15-year-old who begins to blackmail him, pushing Renton and his mates down the path of addict even more.
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Cohen brother’s comedy Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of their most influential works and loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey. The movie stars George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and John Goodman and follows three escaped convicts on the search for a lost hidden treasure as they are chased by a committed officer. The comedy was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography at the 2001 Oscars. George Clooney and John Goodman’s performances stand out from this groundbreaking film, which was the first to use all-digital color grading.
This moody monochromatic film stars indie actors Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson as Jim and Amanda, two high school sweethearts who run into each other by chance in their old hometown. Jim is back in town looking to renovate and sell his mom’s old house when he runs into Amanda, and they reconnect over their old adventures. As their nostalgia fades, old feelings of guilt and anger are revisited and they’re left with new choices to make. Duplass wrote the script for Alex Lehmann’s directorial debut.
Not feeling the New Year yet? Larry Crowne is the feel-good movie to get the year started off on a good note. It stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer and a fresh-faced Rami Malek before Mr. Robot. The movie follows Larry Crowne, a recent divorcee who loses his job and is forced to start over with a part-time diner job and a trip back to college. Along the way, he befriends a free-spirit, finds economic enlightenment and possibly more with a shrill yet beautiful Speech professor.