With nearly 7,000 films available on Netflix, picking something to watch can become an anxiety inducing ordeal. If you’re anything like us, you’ll scroll through every genre without finding anything you’re really in the mood for. Your “My List” would better off titled “Things I Might Watch, Eventually,” luckily, MoviefiedNYC is here to help. Here’s our pick of the best films that were recently released on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
“When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real, or does he?”
Total Recall was one of the most expensive films ever made at the time of its release in 1990, with a budget of about $60 million. In this film director Paul Verhoeven follows up his previous film, Robocop (1987), with an equally cynical take on society’s not too distant future. In the year 1984, a man has nightmares of life on Mars which are revealed to be fragments left behind when his memory was wiped. The man, named Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must learn who erased his memory and why, and figure out his true identity. The film is complex in concept, which was taken from a Philip K. Dick short story, and its visual effects round out a bleak but thought provoking future world made up of by mutated creatures, corporate conspiracy, and extreme consumer laziness. Like its leading man, Total Recall is an intense juggernaut of a film.
Directed By: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
“An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.”
Nebraska is a melancholic drama that focuses on the troubled relationship between a father and son in midwestern America. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is an elderly alcoholic man who becomes fixated on a piece of mail that claims he has won $1 Million. His son David (Will Forte), although he knows this it is just a scam to sell magazine subscriptions, takes an opportunity to bond with this father and gives in to Woody’s insistence that they take a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his prize. Director Alexander Payne shot the film in beautiful black and white, adding to the somber tone of the film as it explores the effects of age and the power of family ties. Nebraska can be hard to watch at times, as Woody is an intensely sympathetic character who seems disrespected or taken advantage of at every turn. Bruce Dern gives the performance of a lifetime, defining Woody as headstrong with a shuffling gait and slightly childish stubbornness. Other performances add a light comedy to the film that redeems its inherent bleakness, and June Squibb in particular steals the show as Woody’s nagging wife. Nebraska is full of heart and nostalgia and is an emotional triumph.
Directed By: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
“The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.”
The timing is apt for Batman to appear on Netflix as Keaton is currently on the big screen as an actor trying to break free from the role of a superhero for which he is known in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. This was the first serious Batman film, and Keaton proved his doubters wrong by breaking free from his typecasting as a comedic actor and delivering a star performance as the dark knight. Jack Nicholson gives a delightfully insane performance as Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, and this film is arguably the Joker’s story as much as Batman’s. The story draws from popular Batman comics The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns and will please Batman purists as Tim Burton adeptly translates comic book energy to the film, with the film’s Oscar-winning art direction crafting a richly dark and violent Gotham City.
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck
“Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.”
Looking back on Robin William’s legacy, his performance in Good Will Hunting may be overshadowed by his more popular comedic roles in Aladdin, Jumanji, or Mrs. Doubtfire, but this is the film that won the versatile actor an Academy Award and is almost inarguably his best. Williams plays Sean Maguire, a therapist who takes on the challenge that is Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a young man with incredible intelligence whose emotional hangups leave him working dead end jobs in construction and as a janitor and getting into frequent trouble with the law. Ultimately he is forced to consent to seeing a psychologist after an altercation that ends in him punching a police officer, and after scaring away several others he finds Sean determined to help rather than abandon him as most others in his life have. The film has both incredible dialogue and monologues, and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck received an Academy Award for the script (Affleck appears in the film as Will’s loyal but dull best friend Chuckie). The unlikely friendship between Will and Sean is one of the best screen relationships in recent history.
Directed By: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly
“The cross-country adventures of two good-hearted but incredibly stupid friends.”
The fact that the Farrelly brothers reunited with stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels 20 years later to make Dumb and Dumber To, which will be released on November 14th, proves the enduring popularity of this incredibly silly film. It has all all the best things a low-brow comedy can offer; it’s endlessly quotable, filled with bathroom humor and crude slapstick jokes as best friends Harry and Lloyd embark on a cross country journey to return a briefcase full of money to its owner. Carrey and Daniels play their characters with enough charm that all their misbehavior is found to be in good fun, and the film’s gags, in bad taste though they may be, are always entertaining.
– Wil Barlow