This list is updated monthly to reflect recent availability and to showcase films currently streaming on Netflix, whether talking classics or modern gems.
Netflix offers roughly a gazillion different movies available through its streaming platform — well, approximately a gazillion. However, while the landmark service might become surprisingly accurate with its suggestions once you’ve been using it for a while, it’s still often tough to find something worth watching amid the trove of terrible choices.That being the case, we’ve taken the time to wade through the ridiculous amount of content in order to bring you a list of some of the best films currently available on Netflix Instant. Planning your weekend has never been easier.
New for June
Right in the middle of the counterculture era, a group of brave, young individuals proclaimed to dedicate their lives to rock climbing. Set in Yosemite National Park, Valley Uprising tells the story of these young pioneers, who paved the way for the next generation of alpinists. But don’t think you need to be a climbing enthusiast to enjoy this unique historical account. The directors masterfully utilize both vintage footage and digitally-animated archival photography to keep you on the edge of your seat, while incorporating a host of enlightening interviews with climbing legends such as Yvon Chouinard, Royal Robbins, Lynn Hill, and John Long. Many contemporary climbers, such as Dean Potter and Alex Honnold, also make an appearance. With fingers of steel, these scofflaws transformed climbing from a “fringe activity” to the respected sport it is today.
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, and Jerry Stiller all start in the star-studded film about a dimwitted male model who finds a iconic fashion mogul to be behind an assassination plot to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The film is saturated with notable cameos from everyone from David Bowie to Donald Trump, with memorable one liners — i.e. “Hansel, so hot right now” — that perfectly compliment the cast and the film’s surreal take on fashion.
Believe it or not, Almost Famous is essentially the story of director Cameron Crowe’s early years. It chronicles William Miller (Patrick Fugit) as he sets out to cover the fictional band Stillwater in an effort to produce his first cover story for Rolling Stone — much like Crowe did while touring with the likes of Poco and Led Zeppelin during their heyday. Sure, it bombed at the box office, but its excellent casting and honest, offbeat scenes make it more than a movie about friendship and unbridled love.
There are plenty of films about journalism, most of which are highly romanticized, but Spotlight is one of the few that gets it right. Based on the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into child abuse in the Catholic Church, the film follows the principle members of the Globe’s Spotlight team as they delve into allegations against various priests in Boston. The team in question is a group of distinct personalities played by an all-star cast, including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams. There is no flashy direction nor pyrotechnics here; director Tom McCarthy keeps things simple, focusing on the grim work of the investigators as they move forward inch by inch, connecting the various tiny pieces they need to craft their story.
The Fundamentals of Caring
Netflix is quickly become a tour de force on multiple fronts. Not only does the company now produce its own content, but quietly been snatching up distribution rights to an array of lesser-known indie films that have been floating around the film festival circuit. The Fundamentals of Caring is just one of the standouts. The film is based on Jonathon Evison’s novel of a similar name, and as such, it follows a grieving caregiver (Paul Rudd) and the disabled boy he cares for (Craig Roberts), as they embark on an impromptu road trip to see some of America’s, ahem, finer landmarks. The resulting film effortlessly takes the surrogate father-son bonding at its core and infuses it with wit, charm, and more sarcasm than Matthew Perry in Friends — which is a good thing.
Just like the Michael Crichton novel of the same name, Jurassic Park takes place on a remote island owned by businessman John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), where a group of scientists have used cloning and genetic manipulation to bring several species of dinosaur back from extinction in attempt to create safari-like theme park. Hammond invites his grandchildren, and a trio of scientists — paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and eccentric mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) — to visit the park and witness the biological marvels up close. What begins as an awe inspiring tour through history suddenly becomes a struggle for survival, however, when one mischievous employee releases the carnivorous dinosaurs. Spielberg’s landmark film remains a beloved classic, with captivating special effects that look just as good today as they did in ’93.
The Sandlot is one of those movies that, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, always contains a forgotten scene or line that instantly kick-starts the ol’ memory. Set in the San Fernando Valley in the summer of ’62, the film follows an ensemble of kids as they attempt to go from a ragtag group of misfits to a real, bonafide baseball team. The movie is as much about baseball as it is the antics of adolescent boys during the literal dog days of summer, however. When the kids aren’t perfecting the 6-4-3 double-play and attempting to reclaim their lost baseball from the menacing mastiff next door, they’re out on any number of reckless adventures, including the pursuit of the untouchable Wendy Peffercorn. As a quintessential modern coming-of-age story, The Sandlot is always worth a second — or ninth — glance.
R.L. Stine’s bestselling horror tales were the staple for many a child, but only now has a proper film adaptation made it to the big screen. Director Rob Letterman (Gulliver’s Travels) rendition focuses on a young boy (Dylan Minnette) who moves in beside the writer in question, played by Jack Black. Eventually, the boy unleashes the monsters contained within Stine’s books, which culminates in a meta-narrative that spans some of the writer’s most well-known creations. The nostalgic plot isn’t any more complicated than that, though, and features entertaining performances from everyone involved. It’s breezy, carnival-esque nature is sure to spook your kids without keeping them up at night.
Appearing out of nowhere at South by Southwest, director Mike Flanagan’s Hush is a surprising thriller, one that adds a unique twist to the classic slasher formula. The film follows Maddie young (Kate Siegel), a deaf author who lives in a house out in the woods. Maddie’s peaceful existence is disrupted one night when a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) kills her neighbor and then proceeds to stalk her. Although the killer tries to toy with her at first, Maddie is clever, and they swap roles in a game of cat-and-mouse over the night. Hush is a simple film, focusing more on tension than actual twists, and remains a must-see for horror fans who have grown tired of blunt thrillers that try too hard to be shocking.
Few directors have ever captured the joys, angst, and absurdity of teenage life better than John Hughes. In Sixteen Candles, Hughes focuses on the highs and lows of young love and unrequited affection. Molly Ringwald stars as Sam Baker, a high-school sophomore whose 16th birthday has been overshadowed by her older sister’s wedding. Her grandparents have come to stay for her sister’s wedding, bringing with them their foreign exchange student, Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe). The day becomes much more complicated when Baker’s crush, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), winds up in possession of a note detailing her sexual history — or lack thereof — and, worse, her feelings for him. Meanwhile, Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), a young freshman, enters a wager with his group of geeky friends that he will sleep with Sam, but after several failed attempts, ends up aiding Sam in her quest to win Jake’s affection. While Sixteen Candles is a nostalgic jaunt back to the mid-’80s, its story and humor are familiar and timeless to anyone who’s ever experienced high-school romance.