Streaming Picks

Internet Computer Laptop with Image GalleryThe Internet is now the go-to place for catching the smaller movies or even the excellent films of the past.  This page is dedicated to suggesting some of the great movies worth visiting or revisiting on streaming services like Netflix, HBO GO, and others.

March

Sausage Party (Netflix)

SPThis newest film from buddy writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg explores faith, hope, friendship, and a filling dose of filth, all with an incredible cast of comedians and serious actors alike. Looking for an raunchy animated comedy about faith? Look no further.  Like many people, the silly yet relatable characters wonder what’s real, what’s their purpose, and if seeing is believing. This religious theme, or the “Why are we here?” question, is woven deep into the film and quite well. But it’s also full of penis jokes.

February

Indiana Jones Collection (Amazon Prime)

IJHenry Jones in all of his glory…and whatever you call The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Amazon is now streaming all four Indiana Jones films for your viewing pleasure. Watch as Nazi’s faces melt in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant. Shriek with Kate Capshaw as she falls in a pit of snakes. Gasp as Walter chooses poorly. Shrug at Shia Labeouf.

 

January

Captain America: Civil War (Netflix)

CWDuh!

December

JungleThe Jungle Book (Netflix)

One of Netflix’s glaring deficiencies has always been selection of high profile films available. Series-wise, Netflix has been the gold standard, but when it comes to cinematic choices, much has been left to be desired. Now, things are starting to change. With the availability of Disney’s The Jungle Book, just weeks after its 2016 DVD release, it is fair to say that Neflix is throwing its hat into the ring with the best of the subscription-based streaming movie catalogs. This is a faithful retelling of a story that has been told many times over.  So why do it and why is it worth seeing?  From the very start, we are immersed in the jungle landscape with standard-setting visual effects that leave all Jungle Book predecessors in the dust.  Furthermore, that “Favreau bag of tricks” results in style, fun, and pointed humor that makes the film feel fresh and exciting.  Case in point, opening the film with a neurotic hedgehog frantically claiming any object he finds as “mine,” voiced by Garry Shandling in what is likely his final role (the film is also dedicated to Shandling in the end credits).  Additionally, the landscapes are breathtaking and the narrative is full of life despite its having only one human character!

November

The Imitation GameThe Imitation Game (Netflix)

This 2014 drama was nominated for 8 Oscars, bringing home the gold for its screenplay. The Imitation Game is a very fascinating film and one that hinges very heavily on its performances, which are all excellent. Cumberbatch and Knightley are especially great, giving some nuanced touches to roles that could have felt very artificial. Furthermore, the film feels and looks very authentic, especially in its depiction of the many layers of World War II, most notably the pivotal role of intelligence in terms of how the war played out as well as the impossible decisions that must be made as a result. This film also thrust director, Morten Tyldum into the spotlight paving the way for his directing the highly anticipated 2016 film, Passengers with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.

October

FinestThe Finest Hours (Netflix)

As the warm weather wanes away and the fall temps settle in, try this nor’easter of a film. The Finest Hours is  a perfectly enjoyable slice of historical adventure.  These types of films rarely reach for the stars, but they are just good enough to be worthy of an audience. The story at this film’s core is one that was destined to find its way to the silver screen, and in most instances, it is executed very well.  Chris Pine plays the film’s hero, but it is Casey Affleck who is the standout and practically makes this film worth seeing all on his own.

September

ZootopiaZootopia (Netflix)

Still haven’t seen the Disney’s entertaining and progressive animated allegory? Well now you have no excuse. Zootopia is now on Netflix. Zootopia is a major success with beautiful animation, fun humor, and a strong message. Bring the kids, but also take advantage of this film’s empathetic message and have a timely heart to heart with them about tolerance and acceptance.

August

strangerthingsposter

Stranger Things (Netflix)

I set this blog up as a movie review site and have basically stayed true to that vision.  However, in the midst of this site’s evolution, a television renaissance has been happening that is starting to rival the entertainment and relevance of theatrical cinema.  Now Stranger Things is not the best television show to ever exist.  That’s not why I’m breaking from my usual cinematic recommendation.  What it is, is outstandingly cinematic and full of nostalgia for cinematic touchstones of the 80s like Star Wars, Poltergeist, E.T. Stand By Me, John Carpenter, and the list goes on.  For that reason, my streaming pick for August, is the 8 part sci-fi/horror love letter to 80s pop culture, Stranger Things.

July

SpotlightSpotlight (Netflix)

When the year’s best picture finds its way to your streaming service, it’s hard not to recommend it!  Spotlight is a true ensemble project where no one piece stands out, but the final product is outstanding.  When I think about what film really delivered in 2015, I keep coming back to Spotlight.  Michael Keaton leads a phenomenal cast in this true story about a group of Boston Globe reporters who expose a conspiracy to cover up abuse in the Catholic Church.

June

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Netflix)

ESSMRemember when Jim Carrey wanted to be taken seriously and so he made a bunch of dramas and most of them weren’t very good. Well, it was all worth it because he made one that was so epically good that it even makes up for The Number 23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the film that put visionary filmmaker Michel Gondry on the map and tells the story of Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet), two ex-lovers who opt for an experimental procedure to remove the memories of each other from their minds after a bad breakup. This film is beautiful, creative, and astoundingly emotional.

May

The Money Pit (Netflix)

MPThere was a time when Tom Hanks was still on the fringe of fame.  A time before Oscar nominations and the “Nicest Guy in Hollywood” reputation.  Back in in 1986, Hanks and Shelly Long released this little gem about a young couple who purchase what they think is the house of their dreams but quickly becomes the house of their nightmares.  Hanks is genuine and hilarious as a husband and homeowner being driven to the brink of insanity by the worst case of buyer’s remorse ever put to film!  There’s a moment when Hanks’s character suddenly finds himself sinking through the floor made helplessly immobile by an oriental rug.  Notice the simplicity of the comedy here and the effectiveness of Hanks who’s hands are basically tied and voice is nearly silenced but who’s expressions are cutting and hilarious.

April

Fading Gigolo (Netflix)

Fading GigoloI admit my bias beforehand.  Yes, Woody Allen is in this film, but my streaming picks are not meant to just recommend films I liked, but also help an audience discover some hidden gems that were surely missed in theaters and are now available at the touch of a finger.  Fading Gigolo fits that description.  Fioravante (John Turturro) has been watching his bills steadily rise as his days at the flower shop are being cut like the stems of his roses. That is until his friend Murray (Allen) approaches him with a wild idea. Murray too is in financial woe, having to close his rare bookstore and trying to contribute expenses for his roommate (Jill Scott) and her four young boys. After overhearing that his sexy dermatologist (Sharon Stone) is interested in having an affair, Murray instantly suggests his friend Fiorvante for the job at the low, low price of $1000. And just like that, Fiorvante and Murray are the world’s unlikeliest pair to be employed in the world’s oldest profession.Woody Allen fans will enjoy this obvious nod to Allen’s style and subject matter by star and director,Turturro.   However, some may not find this movie very appealing, but I assure you it’s smarter than it sounds.

March

Life Itself (Netflix)

file_592200_life-itself-posterNow that the Oscars are over, it is a great time to check out this excellent documentary about the late, great film critic, Roger Ebert.  Life Itself is one of those movies that is exactly what it is supposed to be.  Ebert commissioned this documentary to be made by one of his favorite documentarians, Steve James (Hoop Dreams).  It is inspirational, dramatic, funny, and heart breaking.  James’s film does a great job of balancing the outstanding career of Ebert with his courageous battle with Thyroid Cancer that eventually left him unable to speak.

February

The Naked Gun (Amazon Prime)

the-naked-gun-posterEverything 80s/90s is new again!  I know you won’t believe me, but I was sitting around skimming through Amazon’s list of films and stumbled on The Naked Gun the Saturday before the death of the great George Kennedy who played Ed Hocken in this hilarious spoof on cop films.  From the brilliant mind of Jerry Zucker emerged the gag film genre that began with Airplane and very well may have reached its pinnacle with The Naked Gun. Leslie Nielsen is at his tongue-in-cheek best as Detective Frank Drebin who must foil Ricardo Montalban’s attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.  And don’t forget, O.J. Simpson’s role as Nordberg is eerily bazaar!  Watch it after an episode of American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson to see what I mean.

January

Stand Up Guys (Netflix)

Stand up guysIt seems like no one liked this film when it came out.  It turns out it is way better than anyone every painted it to be.  Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin are three aging stick-up men looking to pull off one last job.  The dream cast does not disappoint and while maybe it’s not a “go to the movies” type of movie, it is totally a “sit in your living room and watch Christopher Walken and Al Pacino trade dialogue type of movie.”

December

sleepwalk with meSleepwalk with Me (Netflix)

Comedian Mike Birbiglia expertly adapts his stand-up special of the same name into a hilarious and entertaining look at comedy, relationships, and of course, sleepwalking.

November

glengaryGlengary Glen Ross (Netflix)

The holidays may be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean your viewing habits have to be consumed with constant joy and laughter.  Glengarry Glen Ross  is writer, David Mamet’s 1992 masterpiece of mood and dialogue.  If you love sharp dialogue and amazing acting, than you can’t miss Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, and Ed Harris in this intensely dramatic human drama about real estate salesmen trying their damndest to find success without losing their humanity in the process.  It might change your mind about your Black Friday plans!  After watching the famous Alec Baldwin “Motivation” scene, you must watch this SNL parody from Santa’s Workshop!

Intouchables

The Intouchables (Netflix)

The Intouchables is a classic reminder of why Netflix has been able to show such marketable and tremendous growth; they are now a multi-billion dollar company.  This reason being, the ease to discover such terrific films that were given limited theatrical releases and even more limited DVD availability.  The Intouchables is a heartwarming and uplifting comedy about friendship.  On the surface, it is not entirely original.  Phillipe is a handicapped millionaire and Driss is his new caretaker, also an ex-con.  The personalities between the two could not be more different, however a strange friendship develops between the two that is not at all corny, silly, or melodramatic.  This is a wonderful film with truly comedic moments and truly touching moments.  Well worth a look.

October

The GreyThe Grey (Netflix)

Joe Carnahan’s “biting” film The Grey is a masterpiece of cinematic Naturalism.  Like many films before it that pit man against the elements, The Grey features Liam Neeson with yet another “particular set of skills.
Unlike in Taken,   here Neeson must fend off all that the Alaskan wilderness has to offer after surviving a plane crash.  This is a dark and fascinating look at the human spirit as well as a sobering look at mankind’s limited control over his own destiny.

September

Room 237 Room 237 (Netflix)

Just in time for Halloween, Rodney Ascher’s obsessive documentary about the various interpretations that have surfaced about Stanley Kubrick’s cult-horror adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining is available to watch at home.  This film is driven by interviews with several cultural and film experts who find the Kubrick film makes statements far beyond those of traditional horror cinema ranging from the faking of the moon landing to the Holocaust.  While some theories seem far-fetched, the analysis is rich and entertaining.  The film itself is also very moody with an almost dreamlike quality that delves not just into The Shining into many other Kubrick films.

2 responses to “Streaming Picks

  1. Pingback: Now on DVD and Streaming | The People's Critic·

  2. Pingback: What to Watch at Home | The People's Critic·

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