Does this sound familiar: you’re looking for something on Netflix, but keep coming across films with titles like Smokin’ Aces 2? Isn’t there a better way to find good movies that are streaming? Perhaps you tried to Google “What are the best movies on Netflix right now?” Allow us to help! Every month, a different Cut Print Film writer will be there to guide you towards the best of the best streaming titles on Netflix.
What a phenomenon streaming is, huh? You could cap each of the glowing reviews that follow with “…and all you have to do is click on it!” Go ahead, try it. We dare you!
1. Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino’s career swerved from the near-miss that was Death Proof and was reborn into a new age with Inglourious Basterds, his long awaited WWII epic. It tells at least three intersecting stories. In one, a French Jew named Shosanna is the lone survivor of a Nazi attack on her farm. In another, Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine leads the titular crew of amoral warriors who do guerilla battle with the Germans. Both are opposed by the charismatic “Jew Hunter” Hans Landa, played with inimitable relish by Christoph Waltz in his American breakthrough role.
The film is a historical fantasy, breaking from real events to concoct a satisfying “what-if” scenario; so don’t go in expecting a faithful reenactment! What you can expect is a series of incredibly tense interrogations and stand-offs filled with colorful characters, that signature crackling dialog, and over-the-top violence. Somehow this brazen flick manages to be the most mature and accomplished achievement of Tarantino’s storied career.
2. Galaxy Quest
Fan culture has only exploded and expanded since Galaxy Quest was released in 1999. The internet allows everyone a haven to explore and celebrate their niche, and there are more cult properties filling up conventions than ever before. So it should come as no surprise that this sci-fi comedy skewering Star Trek and its surrounding culture is more relevant than ever.
The film stars Tim Allen (stay with me!) as a smarmy, washed-up actor famous for playing a Captain Kirk-like character on the TV show Galaxy Quest. What he doesn’t know is that a race of extra-terrestrials have interpreted the Galaxy Quest TV shows as historical document and based their whole society around them. He and his crew of has-been actors must become the people they pretend to be in order to save themselves and the aliens. The movie is adventurous, clever, hysterically funny, and features a deep bench of supporting talent including Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell.
3. Moonrise Kingdom
The movie that came out of nowhere and made me a Wes Anderson fan. If you’ve ever been put off by Anderson’s obsessive staging and mannered style, well… it’s here too, in spades, but there’s a red-blooded rebellious spirit in it too that feels very human. Featuring top-notch work from two young actors in the leads, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of a 12-year-old scout who abandons his troupe to rendezvous with a young girl he’s met. It’s a tale of foolish abandon as the two naïve youngsters try to escape their families and responsibilities to strike out on their own, yet it’s contrasted against the adult world around them that’s every bit as dysfunctional.
The film features a very funny Edward Norton performance and plenty of weird, dead-pan humor (Tilda Swinton’s character’s name is “Social Services”), and it has the gorgeous storybook aesthetic that Anderson fans have come to expect. It’s a sweet romantic adventure that I’d recommend even to those who are not fans of the genre.
God bless the 80’s, and Stuart Gordon, and this bat-shit mad scientist movie. It’s reductive to call it a zombie movie although it technically is one. Re-Animator is a wild, campy sci-fi/horror flick that throws everything at you, then throws the kitchen sink, then the kitchen sink puts itself back together and attacks you with a hair curler.
Jeffrey Combs plays Herbert West, a medical student who has created a serum that can bring back the dead. He hasn’t perfected it, of course, and every time he tests it something seems to go horribly wrong. He eventually involves his roommate Dan, Dan’s girlfriend Megan, her father and her father’s colleague in a demented quest to prove the reagent’s ability to defeat death. The finale is brilliant, uncompromising chaos you have to see to believe.
5. Frances Ha
I can’t think of a better movie about slightly lost 20-somethings looking for direction. It’s a “sistafection” (girl version of “bromance”) about two friends and the circumstances that pull them apart, as well as that universal search for meaning, for actualization, to somehow find the balance between the dreams you chase and those pesky life necessities. Greta Gerwig is turning into one of my favorite performers thanks in part to her luminous presence in this film, which she co-wrote with director Noah Baumbach. The script is quirky without being precious, optimistic but not saccharine; and the black and white photography is gorgeous. This may be the most honest, joyful movie about my generation, of my generation.