As the air gets cooler, more and more of us find ourselves spending our time inside. During our self-quarantined downtime, the struggle of finding something worth watching on Netflix grows more and more frustrating. For your benefit, I have compiled a list of ten recommendations to help you spend less time browsing, and more time watching.
The Absolute Must-See: The Place Beyond The Pines
There are few films out there that can tell a story quite like The Place Beyond The Pines. This independent drama from a few years ago is one of the most captivating tales I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t really want to tell you what it’s about, as I went into it blindly and left it in absolute awe. The movie is truly phenomenal, with excellent performances and a masterfully written script. I’d highly recommend checking this one out if you have an hour or two and desire to be taken on a ride you’re not prepared for.
The Personal Favorite: Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko is a difficult movie to describe. I guess it’d be safe to say it’s one of the most legendary indie flicks released in this century. Trust me, the cult following behind this film is absolutely massive. The plot centers around Donnie, a disturbed teenager played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who starts having images of a giant rabbit telling him to do some…interesting things. I love this movie and will genuinely never get tired of its quirky, creative story. This is definitely the sort of experience where if it clicks for you, you’ll want to watch it again as soon as it’s over.
The Heart-Breaking Documentary: Newtown
This might just be the most difficult movie I’ve ever watched. It’s certainly in the top three. But even though it is an emotionally devastating film, I was absolutely glued to the screen for its entire runtime. This is a documentary following the families effected by the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. You get very personal with their stories and really feel what it’s like to be a part of that community. And while this film is remarkably difficult to watch, it is one of the most important movies made in the past few years. I believe this should be required viewing for everyone living in this country that has all but forgotten this tragedy that afflicted us only five years ago. It’s opened my eyes to things that I’ve never considered before, and likely will affect you in ways you’re not going to expect.
The Quirky Good Fun: Frank
The word unique gets thrown around a lot in the independent space. Well, if it’s ever been true, it’s when applied to the movie Frank. Frank is the unusual story about a young Irish man, played by indie darling Domhnall Gleason, who gets involved with a bizarre band with an unpronounceable name. What makes the band all the more strange is the main singer, an enigmatic man played by Michael Fassbender, who always wears a Papier-mâché head. It’s all very odd, but in the best way possible. If you’ve got a few minutes, hit this one up. It’s worth it.
The Movie For Everyone: My Life As A Zucchini
This is the most adorable movie I’ve ever seen. You know how when the Oscars come around and there’s always those random animated movies nominated that no one’s ever heard of before? Well this was that one last year. My Life As A Zucchini is a beautiful little French film about a young boy who arrives at a foster home. It’s got all the charm of a French movie and the odd magnetism of stop motion filmmaking combined into a wonderfully idiosyncratic little movie that will put a smile on your face from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.
The Incredible Horror Parody: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil
Tucker and Dale is a positively hysterical movie making fun of classic horror conventions in a lively and original way. The idea is that these two good-natured hillbillies accidentally become the villains in a horror movie through a cavalcade of mistakes and miscommunication. It’s brilliant, witty, and just a blast. If you want a fun movie to watch with friends, or even just by yourself, this is the one to pick. It’s just that entertaining.
The Foreign Thrillride: Oldboy
Oldboy is a maddeningly creative and suspenseful film from the visionary mind of legendary Korean director Park Chan-Wook. This movie is visceral and intense and positively enthralling. It’s the Revenge Story to end all Revenge Stories and will leave you shell-shocked for days after watching it. Fair warning, it is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. This is one of the most audacious films I’ve seen in my entire life. Like seriously, approach with caution.
The Hidden Horror Gem: The Eyes of My Mother
There is an absurd amount of horror movies on Netflix. What’s even more absurd is how positively terrible they nearly all are. I mean seriously, the task of finding a horror movie worth its salt in the sea of mediocrity is like trying to find a four leaf clover in the woods while blindfolded. The Eyes of My Mother is this very unsettling story following a creepy girl named Francisca, with an eerie penchant for death. This movie is over pretty quick, but the time you spend with it will keep you on the edge of your seat. At the very least, check it out for the stunning black and white cinematography.
The Surprisingly Fun Family Film: Goosebumps
Trust me on this one. If I was a kid when Goosebumps came out, I would probably never watch anything else. This movie is just so much fun. It’s got some crazy charm to it, as well as just being a goofy way to spend ninety minutes. If you’ve got some kids in your house, spend the evening watching this one with them. They’ll have a blast and you’ll likely have a pretty good time too.
The Weird One: Trollhunter
Trollhunter is one of the most bizarre and entertaining rides I’ve ever been on. This is a strange semi-satirical found footage film from an independent team in Norway. It’s making fun of the Blair Witchesque horror films about Bigfoot or the Skunk Ape or whatever, but instead of tackling anything even remotely frightening, they’re hunting trolls. They take it all so seriously and deliver it all so deadpan that you can’t help but laugh while watching this ridiculous movie. It is a perfect 2 am watch.
Bonus: Halloween Classics from previous editions of Navigating Netflix
The Modern Horror Hit: It Follows
If you’re more of a fan of the modern horror sensibilities, It Follows is definitely the movie for you. It took the film world by storm a few years ago when it exploded its way into becoming an instant cult hit. This film tackles horror in a new and unique way while still playing to the classic techniques. In other words, it bridges the gap between old and new while feeling fresh and classic at the same time.
The Movie For Everyone: Young Frankenstein
Young Frankenstein might just be Mel Brooks’ best. It’s timelessly funny, iconically memorable, and legendarily classic. It’s a movie everyone should see at least once in their life and is a movie that can appeal to anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race or creed. Make sure to catch this one before it leaves.