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.
Dir: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
This is the film that arguably defined the careers of both Scorsese and De Niro, and could be the high point of a decades long partnership. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a tortured and emotionally unstable Vietnam vet and the film’s titular taxi driver. The film takes place in the true underbelly of New York, around Times Square with its regular crowd of prostitutes, crackheads, and criminals; it’s far from the glamorous Disney-fied tourist attraction of today. Jodie Foster also stars as Iris, a young prostitute for whom Bickle develops a protective attachment. Taxi Driver is grim and violent, an unforgiving portrait of a twisted soul, a neo-noir psychological drama nominated for four Oscars and a defining film of Hollywood in the 1970s; it’s Scorsese at his best.
Dir: Mike Newell
Starring: Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen
Donnie Brasco is both a classic mob movie and a classic New York movie, set in NYC in the ‘70s in all its seedy glory. The film is based on the true story of Joe Pistone, played by Johnny Depp, an FBI agent who spent six years undercover among the Five Families of the city’s Mafia, namely the Bonanno family. The mob’s seedy criminal exploits are the backdrop for the relationship between Joe Pistone, going by the alias Donnie Brasco, and Lefty (Al Pacino), a low level gangster trying to find his place as a cog in the wheel of the Mafia machine. Both leads deliver strong performances as the pair grows close despite the inherent falseness of their relationship. It’s a classic undercover tale, as Brasco grows to care for his Mafia targets despite the constant threat of being exposed. Donnie Brasco is a realistic and violent portrayal of the New York Mafia.
Dir: Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot
Groundhog Day is probably Bill Murray’s most iconic and memorable film, second to Ghostbusters. Murray plays Phil, a weatherman who gets stuck in an infinite loop of repeating the same day over and over. It’s an existential nightmare and a terrifying prospect, but the film uses the concept for all its comedic potential. Groundhog Day is a film that is both funny and profound, surreal in its concept but not in its execution. Phil makes the most of a bad situation, ultimately using using the fact that he has an unlimited number of chances to his advantage in wooing his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell). It’s rare that a film based on a high concept such as Groundhog Day is successful without relying on gimmicks but this film achieves that goal, and is unquestionably one of the best and most iconic comedies of the past few decades.
Dir: Martin Brest
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton
Fresh off his four year stint at SNL, Eddie Murphy took the role of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, a franchise of three films (with a fourth announced for 2016) that helped to define his career as a comedic actor. Like Groundhog Day it’s a film that exists based around a “what if” concept; what if a tough, street-wise Detroit cop found himself in Beverly Hills? It’s a classic fish out of water story with both action and comedy as Foley investigates the murder of his friend in an attempt to avenge the killing. Murphy’s fast talking, one-liner dropping style is perfect for the role and it’s one of his most memorable characters.
Dir: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is director Guy Ritchie’s first film, a cult classic that is in many ways a prototype for his later films like Snatch. and Revolver. After a plan to make some cash off a card game goes wrong four friends get themselves wrapped up in a dangerous world of gangsters and thugs. The plot is complex and the dialogue is often incomprehensible to American ears, but the film is fun, comedic, and violent. Jason Statham plays one of the four friends in his first ever film role, launching the career of the action movie star as well as his director Guy Ritchie.
– Wil Barlow