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.