Cool Shit on Netflix

Netflix is a black hole. You can spend more time deciding what to watch than actually watching. Sometimes the decision is paralyzing – am I the only one who has occasionally just read a damn book instead? Here’s a handy list of stuff that’s worth your time on Netflix. All of this can be found on Canadian Netflix in May 2017, but lots and maybe even most will be available in nearly all markets. Click on any blue title to read more about the film, and stay tuned for another post featuring documentaries, as Netflix is particularly good for those.

Don’t Think Twice: When one person in an improv comedy troupe gets a big break, the rest of the group grapples with jealousy as they realize they’re not all destined for great things. Starring Mike Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs.


Blue Jay: Two former high school sweethearts meet up years later in their hometown and spend the day (and night) reminiscing – the flame is rekindled but so are past hurts. Starring Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass.

Mascots: In this new mockumentary by Christopher Guest, a bunch of low-level sports mascots compete as only adults wearing ridiculous fuzzy costumes could. Starring Parker Posey, Chris O’Dowd, Zach Woods, and the usual suspects.

Grandma: Lily Tomlin gives a career-best performance as the titular Grandma, called upon when her granddaughter needs an abortion her estranged daughter wouldn’t approve of. With Judy Greer, Julia Garner, and Marcia Gay Harden.

Infinitely Polar Bear: A manic-depressive father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take care of their two young, spirited daughters while she goes back to school. Super well-acted by Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana.


Experimenter: About the infamous experiments by psychologist Stanley Milgram that tested people’s willingness to obey authority – with shocking results. Starring Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Anton Yelchin.

Desierto: A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has gone rogue, taking border patrol duties into his own racist and violent hands, man hunting man. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

American Honey: A teenage girl with nothing to lose goes AWOL with a bunch of traveling magazine sales misfits and gets caught up in a perfect storm of hard partying, law breaking, and young love. Starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough.

Cake: A woman becomes fascinated by the suicide of someone in her chronic pain support group while coping (and failing to cope) with her own personal tragedy. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, and Sam Worthington.

The Lobster: A movie only for the most quirky and adventurous audiences, about a world in which single people have 45 days to find love or face the direst of consequences. Starring Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell, and John C. Reilly.

Hunter Gatherer: An indie gem in which an irrationally optimistic man returns home after a 3 year stint in prison only to find his girlfriend and his family have all moved on. Starring Andre Roya and George Sample III.

The Spectacular Now: Young love changes things for an alcoholic high school senior – but even the nicest of girls is no match for addictions. Starring Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller; with Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Bob Odenkirk.

Calvary: Not for the faint of heart. After being threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle some super dark forces in his community. Starring Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd.

Denial: Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall go head to head in a battle of Holocaust denial, based on the real-life court case.

Collateral: A hitman forces a cabdriver to drive him all over the city of Los Angeles as he performs a multitude of sins, while a dutiful cop chases behind them. Starring Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Cruise.

45 Years: A married couple about to celebrate their wedding anniversary (guess which one) receives shattering news that makes them question everything. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.

The Witch: This one scared the bejesus out of me with its dark, suspenseful mood that’ll ring buckets of anxiety out of you when a 1630s New England family is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft…more or less.


Anomalisa: A stop-motion animated movie by Charlie Kaufman, because why not? It charmed the pants off me when a man paralyzed by his unremarkable life experiences something out of the ordinary.

Force Majeure: A family on a ski vacation has their whole world turns upside down when an avalanche hits – everyone is fine, but the fact that Dad ran and left his family to die makes everyone very uncomfortable. A movie that will inspire discussion.



26 thoughts on “Cool Shit on Netflix

  1. Isey

    I saw Collateral but none of the others. Very interested in Blue Jay since I am a nostalgic fool and wonder about those old flings….


  2. J.

    I know that feeling all too well. My list on Netflix is just overwhelming… so much so that the first thing I do is browse and add new flicks. The cycle repeats.

    Anyhoo, I’ve seen a few of these and it just so happens that the others haven’t appeared here yet. Calvary and Blue Jay are brilliant movies, I also thought Mascots was good fun.


  3. reocochran

    I loved the Mark Ruffalo movie, even though it gets sad in the middle there is hope in the end for the Polar Bear. His manic side is crazy but his girls love him anyway. I also liked Grandma a bunch! Wow, Lily Tomlin is great in her television or computer show which I don’t have on my cable. She is amazing and fun with this granddaughter who does change. Although not at all alike, just in case anyone wants to see Cameron Diaz play a “brat” with a grandmother played by Shirley Maclaine, I loved “In Her Shoes.” Great other characters. I would recommend “Cake” to see a whole other side to Jennifer Anniston. Oh, on your list of movies people may have missed, Those who are attracted to actors who you can forget are handsome includes the “too young for me” Zac Ephron. I do believe he played a doctor in the movie, “Parkland” about JFK, Jr going to the Parkland hospital. It showed such a surreal setting, trying to revive a President but so many goosebumps on my arms. Maybe it is my age, having seen the black and white television coverage with no school and watching it all unfold. . .
    I liked the one with Julia Louise Dreyfuss in one of the last ones with James Gandolfini. I may have forgotten the title. Hmm. . . not at home to look it up and scared to leave wordpress on library computer and try to meander back, Jay.
    Happy weekend, happy netflix and other channels with cool movies with real acting! Take it easy and will try to get back here on my phone, when I have a break in a busy weekend schedule. Thanks for visiting my shaved ice post and making a fun comment! 🙂


    1. Jay Post author

      The Julia\James one is Enough Said and I agree – it’s a really great film, sort of a romantic comedy but more grown up, more authentic, more bittersweet. And smart.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. reocochran

        So glad you had the title and liked it,Jay. I am one of those who put foot in my mouth people, which is how Julia’s character ends up creating a situation. Won’t really give the details, since I hope movie fans will try it anyway. 🙂


      1. ninvoid99

        For its exclusivity and the fact that they’re presenting movies that won’t be seen in theaters like the new film by Bong Joon-Ho that just played at Cannes but won’t be shown in any other theaters which I think is bullshit.


  4. Carrie Rubin

    Wow, I didn’t realize Cake, The Lobster, and Denial were streaming on Netflix. I’d like to see all of them. Thanks! I tend to watch series more than movies on Netflix. I’m working my way through Black Mirror–too intense for me to binge–and I’m also loving the first season of Life in Pieces. Such a funny show.


  5. raysofsunshine779

    I liked this post…i agree that the choices on netflix, or rather the wide array of such, can be anxiety inducing. From your description of infinitely polar bear, which i have not read…i feel as tho it is just like Mrs Doubtfire without the hilarity….am i wrong?


  6. Wendell

    It’s so true that Netflix is a black hole. I spend way way way more time scrolling through it than actually watching it. Though I’ve seen a few of these this list will be extremely helpful. Thanks.



    Great list! There’s a few on there I still need to see. Thanks for focusing on a lot of character films (over concept driven ones) and helping us all discover some new hidden gems. Looking forward to the documentary article next 🙂


  8. Indah Susanti

    ” You can spend more time deciding what to watch than actually watching.” that’s true! it happens to me – lol. Thanks for the tips! Certainly, I will watch them. Currently, I just chose their TV Series and leave it unfinished if they are not good.


  9. Gabe Burkhardt

    This is very impressive Jay! I’m pretty new to Netflix (it wasn’t available here in Romania until Jan of this year) but think I already have a burgeoning addiction. So I chuckled when you described the Netflix surfing that I thought was a far more uncommon habit.
    But I haven’t heard of a single one of these shows! Very impressive!


  10. StephLove

    Thanks for the list. The only one I saw in the theater was Don’t Think Twice and I liked it a lot. N and I had the hardest time picking a movie this weekend while B & J were away, but we ended up watching Harold and Maude, an old favorite of mine.



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