If ever you have found yourself scrolling through social media, you will have no doubt stumbled upon a tweet or a Facebook post that goes along the line of: “Why are there no good movies on Netflix?!” Many subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime resort to ploughing through the content for what seems like hours to ultimately decide that nothing is good enough for their viewing. But never fear, I am here to renew your faith in streaming services by providing a list of films that are worth of your monthly subscription.
The Party dir. Sally Potter (Netflix)
I stumbled upon this film after watching Sharp Objects and sought to further my appreciation for the incredibly talented and somewhat underrated Patricia Clarkson. I could talk for days about Clarkson’s talents, but I will keep that for another article. The Party is a British black comedy that is set within – you guessed it – a party between seven “friends” that spirals into an evening of chaos. There are many reasons why you should watch this film and the cast is just one of them. Alongside Clarkson, the film stars Timothy Spall, Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cherry Jones and Bruno Ganz. Each actor brings a different flare to the film, whether it be Murphy’s eccentric “Tom”, or Clarkson’s narcissistic and cynical “April”, these characters all create a dysfunctional group which results in a film that will make you laugh more than you expect. It is an unusual watch, not only because it was shot entirely in black and white, but it does not contain many frills or fuss and has a runtime of 71 minutes. It is definitely one of Netflix’s hidden gems.
The Death of Stalin dir. Armando Iannucci (Amazon Prime)
Armando Iannucci has provided audiences with great work such as The Thick of It and Veep for years now, and The Death of Stalin does not fall short in being another Iannucci triumph. Similarly to The Party, the cast is one factor that should entice you to watch this film. Everybody should have the odd pleasure of experiencing Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev – the former First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Iannucci injects his own flavour of political satire into a somewhat “traditional” representation of the Soviet Union. This results in a film that is somehow full of laughs but will also leave you pondering the bureaucratic dysfunction of the Soviet Union simultaneously. A history lesson and a comedic enthrallment all at the same time – what’s not to love!
Other People dir. Chris Kelly (Netflix)
If you are wanting to watch a film that will manage to make you laugh and cry simultaneously then Other People is the film for you. Chris Kelly – former head writer of comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live – is at the helm in the direction and writing for this profound film. The film features Jesse Plemons as a 29-year-old gay comedy writer that returns home to care for his mother who is suffering from the advanced stages of cancer. The film is loosely based on Kelly’s own personal experiences as his own mother passed away from the disease in 2009. Not only does Plemons’s character have to cope with his mother’s illness, he must also suffer his father’s refusal to accept his sexuality which creates a tension between the two characters throughout. Although a film about cancer may seem odd to recommend, Other People boasts enough comedic influences through Kelly’s writing and a typically hilarious Molly Shannon that results in a film that is as funny as it is devastatingly emotional. Do not watch this film if you are suffering from a post-Sinners hangover as it will only make your suffering worse – but do take the time to watch this incredible film when you are not in such a fragile state.
The Florida Project dir. Sean Baker
If I can give you one reason and one reason only to watch this film, it would have to be to appreciate how visually creative and beautiful it is. Baker chose to shoot in 35mm which allows him to create an intimate setting to tell the story of an impoverished mother and daughter living in Orlando. Baker also opts to use an iPhone 6s to film the final scene in the film which visually contrasts the entire film. Not only does this work beautifully, but it leaves a lasting impression on the audience that may not have been present otherwise. The film concerns six-year-old Moonee (Brooklyn Kimberly Prince) and her “adventures” during her summer vacation from school. It shows the struggles that her mum faces to not only entertain her but to provide for her – food and shelter – in any form. It is a deeply emotional film but the innocence of the child actors and their attitudes towards life in the film renews hope in the enjoyment of the simplicities of life while also reminding audiences of the awful conditions and situations that the least fortunate in society have to face.