Best Netflix movies to watch now
Can't decide what to watch on Netflix? The huge selection of movies available with just a few clicks can be overwhelming. The good news: We've scanned the new arrivals so you don't have to. From "The Birdcage" to "Mean Girls," here are our picks for the best films new to Netflix as of August 2014.
THE IMMIGRANT(Credit: AP / Anne Joyce)
Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner star in the rich 1920s drama "The Immigrant," about a Polish woman forced into prostitution shortly after her arrival in New York City, and it's available on Netflix.
THE BIRDCAGE(Credit: Lorey Sebastian)
One of the best films to remember Robin Williams by: He's a gay man pretending to be straight (alongside partner Nathan Lane) in "The Birdcage," a 1996 adaptation of the French comedy "La Cage aux Folles."
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS(Credit: MCT)
Directed by J.J. Abrams (the filmmaker behind the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot) with increased confidence and muscle, 2013's “Into Darkness” is fast and fun, zipping along on all thrusters while everyone on the bridge settles comfortably into an agreeably lighthearted vibe (and into ever-slimmer outfits).
WORLD WAR Z(Credit: AP)
Brad Pitt's battle vs. zombies is "culturally behind the curve, but this big-budget, globe-hopping flick still works as solid doomsday entertainment," Newsday film critic Rafer Guzmán said in his three-star review of the summer 2013 release. Bonus: Netflix offers a new, unrated cut.
WAYNE'S WORLD(Credit: AP / Richard Drew)
1992's goofy spin-off of Mike Myers' and Dana Carvey's "Saturday Night Live" characters needs little explanation.
PAIN & GAIN(Credit: Paramount Pictures)
Michael Bay's action-comedy won't be for everyone: It's a bloody and nasty-humored satire, based on the true story of three bodybuilding morons (Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie and Dwayne Johnson) who stage a kidnapping that goes hideously awry. The big surprise here is Johnson, playing a hulking monster with the mind of a child. His comedic timing -- who knew he had any? -- is downright masterful.
MEAN GIRLS(Credit: Paramount Pictures)
There's something poignant now about this 2004 Lindsay Lohan comedy, in which the actress captured our hearts as a smart, likeable teenager with a good head on her shoulders. In public, she's since played the opposite role. Amy Poehler, Rachel McAdams and Tim Meadows also star. Tina Fey wrote the screenplay.
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY(Credit: Prokino Fox)
Jean-Dominique Bauby was a well-dressed, womanizing and generally high-living editor of French Elle magazine until 1995, when at the age of 43 he suffered a stroke that left him almost completely paralyzed. He had one remaining ability – blinking his left eyelid. In that way, he dictated a best-selling memoir that eventually became this dreamy, poignant 2007 film directed by Julian Schnabel. The terrific Mathieu Amalric (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) plays Bauby. Also with Emmanuelle Seigner and Marie-Josée Croze.
DON JON(Credit: AP)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's debut as a writer-director (he also stars) tells the story of a handsome young ladykiller whose new girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson) doesn't know he's addicted to pornography. It's crude, raw, insightful, sensitive and thoroughly unpredictable, especially when Julianne Moore shows up as a non-judgmental older woman.
BRAVEHEART(Credit: AP / Paramount Pictures)
If you liked “Noah,” you'll love this 1995 Mel Gibson epic about a Scottish warrior who rises up against English rule. The films have little in common thematically, though both take liberties with well-known stories and use big, burly, bellicose tones to make their points. “Braveheart” won five Oscars, including Best Picture. The cast includes Sophie Marceau and Patrick McGoohan.
AMISTAD(Credit: AP / Matt York)
Before he played the real-life kidnapping victim Solomon Northup in the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave,” Chiwitel Ejiofor played James Covey, a rare black man in England's Royal Navy, in Steven Spielberg's 1997 drama about a slave mutiny. Coincidentally, both films are inspired by events that took place in 1841. With Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins and Matthew McConaughey.
THE ICE STORM(Credit: AP )
Ang Lee's 1997 drama about suburban families in the enervated 1970s will send a shiver of recognition down the spine of anyone who remembers the decade. Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Joan Allen play the adults; Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire and Elijah Woods are the children. Based on Rick Moody's acclaimed novel.
It's about time this Regan-era blockbuster entered the modern on-demand era! Jennifer Grey plays teenage Frances "Baby" Houseman, who falls in love with Catskills dance instructor Johnny Castle (an iconic Patrick Swayze). More than 25 years after its release, you'll still have the time of your life.
CAPOTE(Credit: AP )
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an apparent drug overdose in February, won the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of the author Truman Capote. Set during the writing of "In Cold Blood," the movie is a well-made and unsparing biopic, and a reminder of Hoffman's extraordinary talent.
An animated movie about a little snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who longs to be a race-car driver. That's counterintuitive, see, because snails are slow. Get it? Well, even if you're tired of these kiddie-film cliches, “Turbo” squeaks by with some sharp humor and an appealing cast of ethnically diverse characters. The voice cast includes Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Maya Rudolph, Luis Guzman and Samuel L. Jackson.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR(Credit: AP)
This French movie about a high-school girl (Adele Exarchopoulos) who discovers her lesbian sexuality with an older artist (Lea Seydoux) became a cause celebre for its graphic and rather vigorous sex scenes (one reportedly required 100 takes). Actually, it's the clothed moments that are most memorable. The two actresses, both phenomenal, create a convincing portrait of a tender, passionate, life-altering romance. In French with English subtitles.
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY(Credit: AP)
This haunting dramatic thriller from director Anthony Minghella is easily one of the best films of the 1990s, with Matt Damon in a career-best role as a charming sociopath worming his way into the lives of the wealthy during the 1950s. Note the supporting cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and a then-rising Philip Seymour Hoffman. The cinematography, by John Seale, is so gorgeous you could drink it.
JACK REACHER(Credit: MCT)
Get a large pizza and a sixer, and this C-grade actioner will complete your empty-calorie evening. Tom Cruise plays the title role, one of those wandering, military-trained pacificists who keeps having to beat the bejeezus out of bullies and goons. The plot is lousy and the talent wasted (Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, even filmmaker Werner Herzog), but the fight scenes have snap and you can make fun of the dialogue.
DRINKING BUDDIES(Credit: Handout)
Even if you hate movies about hip 20-somethings, give this one a chance. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson play flirty colleagues who work at a microbrewery -- stay with me -- while Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick are their respective mates. Who will end up with whom? Joe Swanberg's indie charmer works because it never pretends to be anything big, profound or dramatic, just a sketch of ordinary, recognizable people. Fine, natural performances all around, including from the suddenly-active Livingston ("The Conjuring," "Parkland").
FLIGHT(Credit: Paramount Pictures)
Denzel Washington plays Captain Whip Whitaker, whose magnificent handling of a distressed passenger jet may not be the heroic act it appears. Gripping direction from Robert Zemeckis (“Cast Away”) and a daring turn from Washington made this one of the best films of 2012.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary on Tilikum, a SeaWorld orca who was involved in the deaths of three people, has raised some hard questions about the amusement park and about the entire notion of keeping the species in captivity.
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN(Credit: AP)
While waiting in vain for a decent “Die Hard” sequel, this entertaining rip-off will do. It stars Gerard Butler as a former Secret Service agent who must defend the White House against Korean terrorists. Low expectations should guarantee a good time.
LOVELACE(Credit: Dale Robinette)
A respectful and nicely crafted biopic of Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried), star of the blockbuster porn film “Deep Throat.” The excellent supporting cast includes Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor.
Nicholas Jarecki’s gripping mystery-thriller, about a slick financial mogul who becomes a convenient scapegoat for a murder rap, features a terrific performance from Richard Gere. Intentionally or not, the movie’s odd ending makes for thought-provoking entertainment.
FRANCES HA(Credit: AP)
Actress Greta Gerwig and her partner-director Noah Baumbach (“Greenberg”) wrote this sharp, lively comedy-drama about a young slacker ill-prepared for adulthood. It’s what you might call brutally funny and howlingly honest — a rare combination for a film of its genre.