If you sat through the Daniel Craig version of author Stieg Larsson‘s best-selling book and thought, “I wish there were at least six more hours of this,” then Swedish version of Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy is surely for you. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo recreates the books scene by scene, starting with an investigation into a 40-year-old case and ending with an engrossing murder and government conspiracy. Also, Noomi Rapace’s portrayal of the lead heroine is impeccable.
Director-writer Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie remains the highest-grossing French film released in the United States (and for good reason). It’s the whimsical tale of a shy waitress in contemporary Paris who decides to return a collection of toys she found behind a baseboard in her apartment to their original owner, an act that helps her cope with her own isolation and despair after a difficult upbringing. Still, the film is warmhearted and quirky, with laughs to spare.
There are hundreds — if not thousands — of kung-fu movies on Netflix, but few of them are as good as the film dramatizing the life of Yip Man, one of Bruce Lee’s teachers and the first to teach Wing Chun martial arts in China. Film title controversy racked the film even before its debut in Hong Kong, and though we wouldn’t say the film is historically accurate when it comes to detailing Ip’s life in the city of Foshan during Sino-Japanese War, the spectacular stunts belie its accuracy.
House of Cards isn’t the only Netflix original of merit. Egyption filmmaker Jehane Noujaim’s Oscar-nominated film is a powerful documentary that depicts the rapid series of revolutions and toppling of successive governments in Egypt during the Arab Spring. It’s both troubling and encouraging, a thought-provoking testament of what can happen when an oppressed society attempts to regain its freedom from the corrupt regime moonlighting as a functioning government.
Starring Eugenio Derbez, Instructions Not Included focuses on Acapulco playboy Valentín and his growing relationship with a baby girl thought to be his daughter. The amusing film represents the highest-grossing opening for a Mexican film of all time, and though it often comes off as overly comical, it remains teeming with serious commentary on the nature of life. It features a lackluster supporting cast, but Derbez and Peralta’s film chemistry is a wonder to watch.
The Academy Award-winning Departures is loosely based on the Coffinman, the standout memoir of Japanese writer Shinmon Aoki. The stylistic film directly deals with death, which is often considered a taboo in Japanese culture, following a young man who becomes a ritual mortician after his dreams of being a professional cellist are shattered. The cinematography and score pair perfectly with the film, but nonetheless, it’s the film’s profound and touching examination of love and loss that makes it so memorable. The sly humor and poetic aesthetics help, too.
Films depicting the Holocaust are, understandably, emotional. However, few exhibit the kind of passion and unparalleled love carried out within German filmmaker Anna Justic’s Remembrance. It’s the narrative of a married woman who discovers her former lover, one who previously rescued her from a concentration camp and she believes to be dead, is still alive 30 years down the line. In the end, it’s as suspenseful as it is heart-wrenching, with an unexpected ending many find far from bittersweet.
Chico & Rita may be the only animated feature on our list, but that shouldn’t lessen the film’s appeal to adult audiences. The Spanish film is set against a revolving backdrop of jazz and Cuban music, taking the viewing about the globe as gifted singer and her pianist lover chase their aspirations amid heartbreak and torment. The short film seamlessly blends fiction with historical elements, showcasing a delightful narrative and animation seeped in the Latin tradition.
When a mystical sword is stolen, two warriors and a teenager must go on a journey to get it back. Though the plot — based on a 20th century novel — isn’t anything to write home about, the film’s use of slow-motion and freezing effects gives the wuxia title the welcome feel of a comic book. The ethereal, martial arts shots helped the film win an Academy Award for both the Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography in 2000, even if it lost the other six nominations.
If you like smart, gut-wrenching thrillers, you must watch this movie. Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie plays Roger Brown, an art thief who finds himself in hot water after stealing a rare painting from an ex-mercenary and expert tracker, and his oddball fight to stay alive will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s the highest-grossing Norwegian film of all time, one teeming with dark humor and offering a gritty twist on the familiarity likened to author Jo Nesbø’s novel of the same name.
Due to the fact that some movies are only available on Netflix Instant for a limited amount of time, there’s a chance that some of these movies are no longer available by now. If that’s the case, let us know in the comments and we’ll swap out the movie in question for a flick that’s currently available!