This list is updated monthly to reflect recent availability and to showcase films currently streaming on Netflix, whether we’re talking classics or modern gems.
Netflix offers roughly a gazillion different movies available through its streaming platform — well, approximately a gazillion. 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. Such 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 movies currently available on the platform, whether you’re into found-footage films or those that take place in the depths of the Pacific ocean. Planning your weekend has never been easier.
New for February
The Nightmare Before Christmas
It’s difficult to overstate the overwhelming success of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s long been heralded for its exemplary use of stop-motion animation and creative storytelling, revolving around Halloween Town resident Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) and his ploy to play Santa Claus after kidnapping the real deal in what he sees as an act of good will. Burton has always had an eye for creepy yet charming imagery, and The Nightmare Before Christmas is perhaps the most impressive of his visions, one set in a world of beautifully-rendered phantasms. It’s also timeless, with Grinch-like parallels and a host of memorable songs courtesy of Danny Elfman, rendering it as entertaining to adults as kids. And to think, it all started as a mere poem from ’82…
Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will sense something immediately familiar about its spiritual successor, Corpse Bride. Like that classic film, Corpse Bride uses stop-motion animation to tell a tale set in a creepily beautiful gothic world. The plot concerns one Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp), the son of a pair of fish merchants, who is engaged to the aristocratic Victoria Everglot (Emily Blunt). Nervous, Victor decides to practice his wedding vows in a secluded wood, placing the ring on the finger of a corpse. Unfortunately, the corpse — that of a murdered woman named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) comes back to life, eager to have found a husband. Corpse Bride is a gorgeously animated fairy tale, with a lovely soundtrack from long time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman.
Sequels to beloved films always arouse at least a little trepidation; after all, so many of them come across as cash grabs, failing to capture the spirit of the original. Thankfully, Pixar’s Finding Dory is a worthy successor to 2003’s Finding Nemo. Set a year after that film, Finding Dory finds the titular fish (Ellen Degeneres), a victim of memory loss, suddenly remembering her youth. Setting out in search of her long-lost family, she is accompanied by Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) on her journey across the ocean. Like its predecessor, Finding Dory is a lovely film, offering a well-animated vision of the world beneath the sea. As expected of Pixar, the film exhibits a warm humanistic philosophy, using animals to tell a story that should resonate with many viewers.
The Blair Witch Project
The story of three college students who end up lost in some very haunted woods, The Blair Witch Project is notable for two big innovations: First, it popularized the now-ubiquitous found-footage genre — a trend which seems destined to end with Paranormal Activity…in Space! Secondly, it served as the first major example of viral marketing, with fake police reports and interviews dispersed around the Internet to make the film appear to be authentic. Today, the mystique surrounding the film is gone; what’s left is a grim horror movie that achieves a sense of terror by leaving just enough to the imagination. In contrast to more recent imitators, which often show off the monsters and strange phenomena, Blair Witch keeps things simple and obscure: strange stick figures dangling from the trees, the occasional spooky sound at night. The film is never overt in its attempts to scare, preferring to keep the protagonists (and the audience) guessing.
Every actor or actress deserves credit when credit is due, and in the case of Milk, that would be Sean Penn. His portrayal as late politician Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay activist to be elected to public office in California, is nothing short of mesmerizing, owing largly in part to Penn’s ability to convey Milk’s kindness and draw the pragmatism from Dustin Black’s engaging screenplay and research. What this all amounts to is a film that, for better or worse, functions as a multi-layered history lesson regarding Milk’s rise to prominence and subsequent assassination at the hands of city supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin). Director Gus Van Sandt adds his own touch to the fractured narrative as well, further interspersing it with long-tracking shots and experimental techniques designed to add emotional gravity to a story that already teams with it.
This raucous animated comedy is not for the faint of heart, or the young of age. A star-studded cast — including Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, and more — brings the grocery store to life, in an extremely adult manner. Foods and grocery items dream of being placed in a shopping cart and transported into the “great beyond” — that is, until they realize what human beings are actually doing after leaving the store. Don’t accidentally show this movie to your kids. Just… don’t.
Michael Cera and Jonah Hill made a name for themselves in this hilarious 2007 teen comedy, directed by (who else?) Judd Apatow. Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera) are high school seniors looking to end their pre-college days with a bang. The film somehow combines ridiculous circumstances with relatable humor, as the two attempt to navigate their way to an end-of-year party with mountains of booze and attractive women. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass) steals the show as geeky friend McLovin, who spends much of his night with two deadbeat cops.
Released in 2012, Magic Mike follows Adam “The Kid,” played by Alex Pettyfer, as he learns the ropes of male stripping under the tutelage of Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) a seasoned veteran of the business. While Adam is lured in by glitz of the industry, Mike on the other hand has his own entrepreneurial dreams he hopes to pursue after stripping. That being said, Magic Mike is not as much a “Tale of Two Strippers” as it is a 21st century retelling of a diluted American Dream (albeit slathered in body glitter and baby oil.) It’s part love story, part Sunshine State of Mind with just the right amount of Pony by Ginuwine. A ragtag cast anchored by none other than a leather chap festooned Matthew McConaughey keeps the narrative flowing without overselling the script. The film was a ‘uge success, grossing $167,221,571 worldwide from a modest seven million dollar budget.