Culture Movies/TV

The 15 Best Spy Movies on Netflix (And A Few TV Shows As Well)

In a secret-filled world, spies can be hiding in every shadow. Whether secret agents are working for governments or acting as solo agents with their own positive or negative agendas, spies have become a backbone in both modern society and cinema. The Cold War in particular, with Americans constantly afraid of Communist agents hiding and operating in the United States, brought the world of espionage to the forefront of people’s minds and has become a go-to topic for filmmakers wanting to explore the world of undercover agents with hidden agendas. 

If your hobbies include spying on your passersby with binoculars or sticking your ear up against a wall to eavesdrop on your roommates, spy movies are right up your alley. I know from personal experience that being a secret agent for the government can be difficult (crap, did I just say that out loud?), and these movies and television shows elucidate different aspects of that tricky world. Read on to discover the 15 best Spy movies (and a few TV series) currently on Netflix!

1. ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

Of course, the most iconic fictional spy of all time was going to kick off this list of spy films and television shows. In the 2006 remake of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig donned a tuxedo and drank shaken martinis for the first time as James Bond.

In this film, Bond is still closer to the beginning of his storied career, and he is assigned with learning more about the financial exploits of terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). With his newly assigned license to kill, Bond has to learn more about Chiffre’s organization and enter a high-stakes poker game to hopefully thwart their newest attempts to bring in massive amounts of money.
2. ‘The Coldest Game’ (2019)

Like I mentioned in the intro, The Cold War is where the world of espionage and secret agents first entered the mainstream imagination. The 2019 film The Coldest Game follows Joshua Mansky (Bill Pullman), an American mathematician who is forced to become a spy for the government during one of the Cold War’s most dangerous eras.

Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie follows the alcoholic Mansky as he prepares and competes in a chess tournament in Warsaw while simultaneously trying to discreetly take in as much information about the Soviets as possible.

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3. ‘The Spy’ (2019)

Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for outrageous comedic roles like Borat and Bruno, but in The Spy, a miniseries co-produced by Netflix, Cohen’s dramatic abilities are on full display.

In The Spy, Cohen plays Eli Cohen (no relation), a Mossad agent who was tasked with carrying out important tasks for the Israeli government in the buildup to the Six-Day War between Israel and Syria in 1967. Based on real-life events, the crux of the story follows Cohen as he disguises himself as a man named Kamel Amin Thaabet and integrates himself into Syrian society, eventually gaining the title of Deputy Defense Minister, in the hopes that the knowledge he gains and actions he takes will all benefit Israel in the long run. 

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4. ‘Inception’ (2010)

Director Christopher Nolan is known for larger-than-life film concepts, and films don’t get much bigger than Inception. The film follows a team of individuals, led by Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), as they embark on a mission inside a businessman’s mind to implant (incept) an idea in his head.

As the squad goes deeper in Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) subconscious, the settings continually evolve and get more dangerous, forcing the dream team to adapt and constantly tweak their plans to get to the next level unnoticed.

An action-packed film, Inception is emotionally charged and ambiguous as hell, meaning audiences will have to pay attention if they want to pick up on everything Nolan is trying to throw at them.  

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5. ‘The Departed’ (2005)

Martin Scorsese focuses on a different kind of gangster in The Departed: Corrupt police officers and federal agents. Starring a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers like Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed follows certain individuals who work as moles within the Massachusetts state police as well as the Irish mob in Boston. Without spoiling the numerous twists, I’ll say that this Best Picture Oscar-winning film is incredibly tense and makes the audience question every individual and their true intentions at all times.

Not only does it have a lot of iconic dramatic moments, but The Departed also has some incredible action to keep viewers hooked throughout the two-and-a-half-hour film.

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6. ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008)

There are literally dozens of James Bond films out there, but Netflix only has Daniel Craig’s first two outings available for U.S. customers. Picking up literally an hour after Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace sees Bond seek revenge for the loss of a loved one. While on the trail of the killer, 007 discovers a shadowy organization called Quantum. It falls to Bond to diffuse Quantum and Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), one of its shadow members, from plotting a coup in Bolivia in order to gain control over its water supply.  Keeping with the gritty spirit of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is an action-packed, bloody film that shows James Bond going MUCH further in fight scenes than he had in the past as he embarks on a personal rather than fully professional mission. 

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7. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (2011)

After the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book series and subsequent Swedish film adaptation, David Fincher released an American adaptation of the series first chapter in 2011. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl 40 years earlier. To help him get to the bottom of things, Blomkvist turns to the complex yet matter-of-fact hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Together, the two of them embark on a dark journey to discover the truth that ends up nearly contradicting everything they first assumed about the situation when they started their mission. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a slick, incredibly well-acted film that will leave audiences both intrigued and entertained from start to finish.

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8. ‘The Angel’ (2018)

The Angel, distributed by Netflix in 2018, tells the story of Ashraf Marwan (Marwan Kenzari), an Egyptian diplomat who was married to Egyptian President Nasser’s daughter and ended up working as a secret agent for the Israeli Mossad. Based on Israeli professor Url Bar-Joseph’s book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, The Angel, explores Marwan’s time working as a spy for Israel and the emotional struggles he went through in an effort to maintain peace between the two countries. Set in the aftermath of the Six-Day War between the two countries in 1967, the film is full of double-crossings, and loose ends that make it clear just how logistically and morally complicated being a spy can be.

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9. ‘The Spy Next Door’ (2010)

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is affiliated with the CIA and used to taking down terrorists and saving the day, but now he has a dangerous mission he may not be qualified for: babysitting his neighbor’s kids. The Spy Next Door follows Ho as he deals with the trouble-making kids, but his old job quickly rears its ugly head as he has to reveal his identity to the kids and work with them to take down a group of bad guys threatening the world’s oil supply. Directed by Brian Levant, the director who brought family-friendly films like Beethoven and Jingle All The Way to the big-screen, The Spy Next Door is a silly, action-packed film perfect for everyone in the fam.

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10. ‘The Spy Who Fell to Earth’ (2019)

Directed by Thomas Meadmore, The Spy Who Fell to Earth is a documentary all about Ashraf Marwan (the subject of the previously mentioned The Angel), an Egyptian billionaire who worked as a secret agent for the Israeli government. Based on a book with the same name, the film tracks Marwan’s life, touching on everything from his life in the UK before becoming a full-fledged spy to his mysterious death. Including archival footage of everyone from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Nikita Khrushchev, a former Premier of the Soviet Union, The Spy Who Fell to Earth is an interesting, time-spanning story that shows the importance and historical context of Marwan’s time as a spy.

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11. ‘Spycraft’ (2021)

Based on the book Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda, Spycraft is a Netflix original docu-series that takes viewers through different key components of espionage and how they have evolved over the years. Released in late January 2021 to limited fanfare (potentially because the powers at be don’t want individuals to know the truth about American spycraft), the eight-episode series has entries on everything from the power of “sexpionage” to how agencies go about recruiting the individuals to become spies.  

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12. ‘A Very Secret Service’ (2015)

The final television series on this list, A Very Secret Service, looks at the world of espionage through a more satirical, comedic lens. A French production, A Very Secret Service, follows André Merlaux (Hugo Becker) after he is called in to be a trainee with the French Secret Services. Set in 1960 during the early days of the Cold War, the French are dealing with calls for independence in their then African colonies, especially Algeria, and a domestic populace growing more liberal every day that makes the government increasingly worried about Communist interference.

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13. ‘Snowden’ (2016)

Few recent American figures are as divisive as Edward Snowden, and that’s exactly why the overtly political director Oliver Stone decided to make Snowden. The film explores Edward Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) life preceding his time as a subcontractor with the National Security Agency and, most importantly, his decision to leak classified documents that revealed espionage and data tracking operations carried out by the American government on its own citizens to a team of journalists. Even though the movie is based on two Snowden-focused books, Stone met with the real Snowden multiple times in an attempt to better understand him as well as a pick-up on some personality traits he could incorporate into the movie. 

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14. ‘All The Devil’s Men’ (2018)

Jack Collins (Milo Gibson) is a former Navy SEAL and bounty hunter who is sent off to London to assist the CIA on a critical mission. All the Devil’s Men, written and directed by Matthew Hope, follows Jack as he becomes a part of a small team of operatives tasked with hunting down a former CIA agent intent on buying a nuclear warhead from Russian gangsters. Full of action and double-crossings, All The Devil’s Men will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they try to put all the pieces together and watch Jack try to save the day and spare the world from a nuclear conflict. 

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15. ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ (2016)

Based on a true-story, Smoke & Mirrors follows the exploits of Francisco Pasea (Eduard Fernández), a Spanish agent who assisted the government fight a Basque separatist organization before ultimately being framed and exiled by the Spanish government. Years later, Pasea is allowed back in the country to assist Luis Roldán (Carlos Santos), the former Police commissioner, with a massive cash cover-up scheme. Still bitter about his past betrayal, Pasea plots how to take the money for himself in a manner that will hopefully leave him free from blame and flush with cash. Directed by Alberto Rodriguez, Smoke & Mirrors is incredibly entertaining as well as illuminating expose on how corrupt governmental institutions can be.

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Culture Movies/TV

The 18 Best Horror Anime Movies and TV Shows

So much horror cinema made in the United States is firmly rooted in a Western tradition, meaning that Judeo-Christian imagery and morality still dominate the genre — and with every generation, these movies become more and more self-referential. But other cultures have entirely different ideas about the afterlife and what demons lurk in the great beyond. That’s probably why so many horror die-hards are so obsessed with Japanese media.

Ever since The Ring, J-horror has deeply influenced Hollywood, but few American fans do a real deep dive on more obscure offerings. To help guide you through the cursed world of haunted cartoons, we’ve curated this (unranked!) list of the 18 best horror anime TV shows and films. Good luck sleeping after you’ve made it through.

18. ‘Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!’

Haunting images of giant sharks crawling on land with insect legs protruding violently from their stomachs became a grotesque meme on a handful of imageboards. The strange iconography of Gyo, one of horror legend Junji Ito’s most bizarre masterpieces, seems silly at first, but the film (based on the manga of the same name) is actually deeply unsettling. The mythos behind how the sea creatures became terrestrial is complicated and obscure, but Gyo’s story evolves into something much more gruesome and nauseating before it concludes.

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17. ‘Perfect Blue’

The late Satoshi Kon, an anime director known for his dreamlike mise-en-scene and intellectual, postmodern twists, was widely celebrated as a visionary before his death. Perfect Blue is often considered his greatest work — and it’s gone on to influence a handful of award-winning Western films like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. 

Perfect Blue tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a fictional pop singer stalked by an increasingly threatening doppelganger. Are Mima’s nightmares coming true, or has she totally lost her grip on reality? Kon’s lovingly detailed and deeply empathetic animations juxtapose horrendously against scenes of sexual violence that slip between waking life and dreams until the audience can no longer tell what a psychotic delusion is and what’s actually happening — reflecting both the young idol’s nervous breakdown and our schizophrenic media culture.

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16. ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’

Jujutsu Kaisen has garnered an impressive cult following since episodes began airing on Crunchyroll in late 2020. The series has already achieved a perfect balance between horror aesthetics and traditional shonen plotting. Ostensibly about a school for young sorcerers, the ultra-violent art direction and stomach-churning monster design keeps this new show from being yet another by-the-books adventure story about a plucky young fighter battling both literal and figurative demons. It’s got exciting action scenes and real heart, but it’s not for the squeamish.

15. ‘Paranoia Agent’

A staple of [adult swim] in the early ’00s, Paranoia Agent is another Satoshi Kon classic which deals with many of the same themes and motifs as the aforementioned Perfect Blue. This 13-episode TV series is a complicated story about the pressures of the animation industry, told from a cartoonist’s perspective driven increasingly mad by her own creation. It’s a self-referential warning about the psychological perils of late capitalism and the flattening of our emotional lives by information technology — expressed through a story about a serial murderer who escaped from a nightmare.

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14. ‘Hellsing’

A steampunk update of the Dracula mythos, Hellsing uses perverted Christian imagery to tell a story equal parts bloody and campy. It’s not the highest quality animation, but the transgressive pleasures of this frequently juvenile show remain endearing, as does its early 00’s goth aesthetic. Spotting Hellsing’s influence on a plethora of contemporary anime (see: Castlevania) isn’t hard to do once you’ve seen the original show.

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13. ‘Devilman: Crybaby’

Artist Go Nagai created the Devilman character in the early 1970s, and he’s been endlessly reinvented ever since. Crybaby is the latest iteration of this iconic anti-hero, and Netflix’s high-budget adaptation is a great entry point for new fans, even if it is a bit abstract. Ultra-fashionable character design compliments the show’s slick techno soundtrack for an extremely stylish and gorgeously animated adventure that vacillates from sublime beauty to Oedipal terror. 

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12. ‘Promised Neverland’

A serene schoolhouse in the countryside filled with adorable kids belies some truly terrible dark secrets: When the children discover they’re being harvested as meat for demons, they begin to hatch an elaborate escape plan, but their every move is being watched! Emotional drama and psychological fear take center stage in this deceptively cute series with extremely morbid themes. 

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11. ‘Dorohedoro’

A battle between sorcerers and the slums rages in this highly stylized horror/action hybrid series. A citizen of a whimsical skid row one day wakes up with the head of a lizard and no memory of his past, leading him to embark on a grisly quest for both answers and revenge. Each episode gets stranger as more details of the surreal, magical world they inhabit are revealed. Although the show is rendered in CGI, the 3D models are very stylized and extremely expressive in ways reminiscent of more old-school anime.

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10. ‘Berserk’

Berserk is a traditionally gothic fairytale about an orphaned knight betrayed by his impossibly beautiful commander. The Western medieval setting is fairly traditional, and the story is almost Shakespearean in structure — until the last few episodes when the plot suddenly takes an unexpectedly hellish twist. Maybe it’s the nostalgia speaking, but there’s something really special about late 90’s anime, and Berserk is a classic of that era — rife with overt queer overtones and filled with wistfully melancholy. 

The show’s first run lasted 25 episodes and told only a fraction of the original manga’s story. (The series was rebooted in 2016, but the poorly done CGI animation style in this latest iteration is nearly unwatchable. Stick with the original and seek out the books if you get hooked.)

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9. ‘Serial Experiments Lain’

Serial Experiments Lain is a cyberpunk anime from 1998 which uncannily predicted the rise of cyberspace as the defining feature of the new Millenium. Lain is a young student whose interest in hacking slowly takes over her life until she’s no longer able to tell what’s happening online or in reality. Lain’s psychotic break has philosophical ramifications, as she encounters a series of unhinged conspiracy theories on message boards, leading her to an entity that claims to be God — or is she just going insane? The show was way ahead of its time in its predictions about the Internet and its depiction of a mass shooting only a year before Columbine. This is slow burn horror at its best, but the social implications are what is really disturbing.

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8. ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’

Fans of Final Fantasy might recognize the baroque and ornate art design of Yoshitaka Amano in Vampire Hunter D, yet another Japanese twist on the mythology of Dracula. In this breathtaking movie from 2000, the eponymous warrior D battles Carmilla, a sapphic demon based on the real-life murderess Elizabeth Bathory. It’s admittedly thin on a storyline, but the hand-animated action sequences and melodramatic imagery are stunning nonetheless.

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7. ‘X/1999 AKA X: The Movie’

Manga studio CLAMP is best known for dainty romance stories and cutesy magical girl adventures, but their apocalyptic sci-fi book series X is a frightening depiction of a cosmic battle for humanity. They produced a standalone movie of X in 1996, and while it’s nearly impossible to condense an 18 volume manga into a 1.5-hour film, they did a pretty good job of distilling the graphic novel down to its essence. Secret factions of psychic warriors fight to save or destroy civilization unbeknownst to regular people in this shockingly violent and stunningly delicate doomsday tale.

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6. ‘The Short Films of Kago Shintaro’

You may have happened upon artist Kago Shintaro’s images while scrolling through the darker sectors of social media: his fetishistic portraits of schoolgirls with their intestines hanging out and sexy paintings of nude women with their brains exposed garnered a kind of viral popularity amongst goths and otaku. Described as “fashionable paranoia,” Shintaro’s satirical humor clashes extreme gore with erotica in fascinating ways. His short films, many of which are available on YouTube, are much more humorous in nature but are often deeply unnerving in a Lynchian way. Shintaro’s fascinations with human viscera remain the most notable motif, but he plays more with the mundane in his animations.

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5. ‘Dororo’

Osamu Tezuka, often considered the Godfather of Manga, is best known for creating lovable cartoons like Astro Boy and emotionally compelling stories like Budha. One of his lesser-known works is Dororo, a brutal Japanese fairytale about a cursed prince born without limbs or skin. Although the original manga was drawn in Tezuka’s signature Disney-influenced aesthetic, the 2019 reboot adapted the novels into a more adult animation style that showcased the monstrous aspects of the source material — it’s a pretty faithful update otherwise. Hyakkimaru must battle the undead to wrest back his body parts from the underworld, but he’s unaware his unholy quest imperils all of Japan. There’s a lot of emotional depth in these 24 episodes, considering how vicious the actual plot is.

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4. ‘Witch Hunter Robin’

In the near future, witches are a secret criminal scourge hunted by a covert government agency known as the STNJ. Robin Sena is the branch’s newest recruit, hired for pyrokinetic magical abilities. Robin confronts her enemies and herself in this moody and dreamy gothic thriller. It’s not exactly fast-paced, but the story’s unfolding is filled with dark surprises and a fair amount of violence. This series was also part of [adult swim]’s lineup back in the day, meaning older anime fans probably remember encountering it late at night.

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3. ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

From the first few episodes of Madoka, it would be ludicrous to describe this short series as horror, but a major twist in the plot about halfway through casts a different light on the show’s opening moments.

What appears at first as a Sailor Moon ripoff — frilly rainbow transformation sequences and all! — quickly turns into something much darker when it’s revealed that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!) an alien entity disguised as a cute animal companion has actually been parasitically feeding off the magical energies expended by the girls. The extraterrestrial creature is planning on harvesting all of planet Earth as food, forcing the children into a time loop where their ill-fated destiny repeats eternally. This postmodern horror story is filled with experimental animation techniques and a truly devastating existential message: humanity is at the whim of vast and indifferent cosmic forces with a ferocity beyond our comprehension.

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2. ‘Seoul Station’

Seoul Station is an animated film coming out of South Korea intended as a prequel to the cult hit Train to Busan. The film made its way around the European indie cinema circuit in 2016 before landing on a few streaming services. Like its source material, Seoul Station traces the frightening rise of a zombie pandemic that threatens to destroy the world. Train to Busan was praised for its not-so-subtle social commentary that depicted the ramifications of the devastating wealth gap in Korea — Seoul Station is a little less obviously political but is thrilling nonetheless.

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1. ‘Junji Ito Collection’

Although it would be impossible to capture the precise and hideous drawings or intellectually sophisticated plots from horror master Junji Ito’s manga in animated form, this collection of shorts does a pretty amazing job of reducing the major themes and motifs into short, digestible segments. Ito’s stories have little in common with Western horror, so each episode is hauntingly fresh and original compared to the formulaic scares we get on this side of the world. The Tomie OVAs are particularly dismal.

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Culture Movies/TV

21 Best Anime Shows and Movies on Hulu You Need To Watch

The amount of anime currently available on the Internet is absolutely staggering, and sorting the cheaply made tripe out from the avant-garde gold is a gargantuan task. Netflix has curated a pretty impressive selection of original and recycled content, whereas Crunchyroll’s almost endless library is instantly overwhelming. Hulu’s selections are somewhere in between the two: there are definitely hidden treasures hidden amongst the trash.

Fear not young weebs, we’ve got you covered: here’s our (unranked!) selection of the 21 best anime shows and movies currently available on Hulu —ranging from shonen classics to classic magic girls to artsy explorations of Japanese identity.

21. ‘Ninja Scroll’

Ninja Scroll has come to represent the Golden Age of 90s anime: it combined adult eroticis, ultra-violence, and grotesquery for a unique artistic experience equal parts nauseating and titillating. It’s easy to see director Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s influence on a handful of more contemporary animation, but almost no artist since has been able to create something as darkly compelling as this gem from 1993.

20. ‘Afro Samurai: Resurrection’

A continuation of the miniseries of the same name that requires no foreknowledge of what came before it, Afro Samurai is a humorous and bloody hodgepodge of cyberpunk, samurai movies, and shonen anime archetypes. Voice acting from Lucy Lui and Samuel L. Jackson lends cultural legitimacy to what might otherwise be cynically dismissed as silliness. It’s certainly more style than substance — but in a fun way.

19. ‘Akira’

Often considered the greatest animated movie ever made, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo is a true triumph of the art form as much as it is a processing of national trauma. Warnings of another nuclear nightmare and the fear of an impending youth revolt seem even more prescient nowadays despite the movie being decades old — and the surreal, sci-fi imagery remains both powerful and deeply disturbing. It might not be the easiest movie to digest on a first watch-through, but the film will leave an impact nonetheless.

18. ‘Grave of the Fireflies’

Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki is better known for his colorful steampunk fantasy worlds than for emotionally gut-wrenching realism, but Grave obviously falls in the latter category. It’s hard to imagine the cultural devastation wreaked by nuclear warfare, but this frightening story of survival highlights the real human toll of America’s military might. Keep a box of tissues nearby while watching: only the most heartless can make it through this movie without shedding a tear.

17. ‘Akame ga Kill!’

The category is guilty pleasure! There’s almost nothing artistically redeemable about Akame Ga Kill!: the art style is amateurish, the storyline borders on nonsense, the character design is overtly misogynistic — but the show’s a lot of fun if you love all the cliches of anime action. The short series is comparable to Kill La Kill — it’s way worse quality, but it’s also strangely addictive. Some things are just so bad, they’re actually good. 

16. ‘Assassination Classroom’

Although it’s certainly geared for a teenage audience, it’s hard not to be endeared by Assassination Classroom’s squishy yellow protagonist, a mysterious alien who threatens to destroy the planet unless a group of unsuspecting delinquent students figure out how to kill him. There’s a kind of monstrous sexuality throughout that’s all a bit unsettling, but somehow the kids wind up actually learning heartwarming life lessons amidst all the attempted murder. Expect some filler episodes in between the hilarious action sequences that can be skipped, but for the most part, Korosensei’s bizarre journey is harmless fun. 

15. ‘Cowboy Bebop’

Often considered the greatest anime series ever made — and widely thought of as a sci-fi masterpiece — Cowboy Bebop is a wildly successful experiment in genre-mashing: a thrilling space adventure/neo-noir with a rousing jazz score, the show traces a ragtag group of bounty hunters on an interstellar journey. Spike Speigel and his crew capture criminals as they face their own dark pasts. No short description can really capture the artistry and emotionality of this shockingly sophisticated show — and its absolutely heartbreaking ending has left audiences devastated for decades.

14. ‘Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba’

A hyper-stylized shonen anime that hits all the beats of classic Japanese cartoons for boys while still putting a fresh spin on all the prototypical tropes. After his sister transforms into a demon, a plucky young samurai begins his quest to save her soul as he battles a parade of devilish villains. A colorful and fun art style compliments the show’s cutesy character design and adds to the vibrant energy of the series’ fight scenes.

13. ‘Digimon Adventure’

Although Digimon is often condescendingly referred to as an inferior analog to Pokemon, the original show’s first run is quite obviously a far more emotionally sophisticated journey than Ash Ketchum’s misadventures. Yes, both shows are certainly aimed at young kids, but Digimon’s cast of multi-dimensional characters tug at the viewer’s heartstrings in ways that Nintendo’s hyper-toyetic TV series never could.

12. ‘FLCL’

This six-episode miniseries is an avant-garde tour de force that’s even made its way into contemporary art museums as an example of the so-called “superflat” postmodernist movement. The plot is a self-referential pastiche of anime tropes that explode in surreal and gorgeously animated sequences, soundtracked by the legendary Japanese punk band The Pillows. Don’t expect to understand what’s happening on your first watch-through, but closer analysis reveals a story about the oppressive isolationism of Japanese culture and the clashes its confrontations with the West produces. If all that intellectual blather doesn’t interest you, there are lots of explosions and outlandish supernatural battles to keep lesser sophisticated fans amused.

11. ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’

So this gets a little confusing: A Fullmetal Alchemist animated series, based on the original manga of the same name, started in 2003 — but the production of the TV show quickly outpaced the speed at which the books were being released. The show’s creators began improvising with the plot, leading the story into a totally different direction than what the original writer had imagined, and the series wrapped up in a super disappointing finale. Cut to 6 years later: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood rebooted the show from the start in order to keep the original plot more intact, and although the opening narrative arc is almost entirely the same as the first anime, the plot takes an entirely different — and much more coherent! — direction as it advances.

FMA: B tells the story of the Elric brothers, two magically gifted siblings who attempt to resurrect their mother in a magical ritual that goes terribly wrong. As they get conscripted by an army and dragged into international warfare, the boys hope to discover how to make things right — while battling a slew of nefarious enemies hoping to take their power.

10. ‘Gurren Lagann’

The studio behind FLCL and the beloved masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t always producing hyper-intellectual action: Gurren Lagann brings Gainax’s signature excellent animation to a plucky and lighthearted story about giant robot battles in outer space. The tropes are all familiar, but the artistry is next-level. The bombastic soundtrack and hilarious styling make this one of the most fun 27-episode runs of any show ever created. It won’t blow your mind in the way that their other works might, but it’ll get your heart pumping.

9. ‘Hellsing’

Hellsing doesn’t exactly hold up as much more than a fascinating cultural artifact from the early 00’s — the animation is a bit lazy, the story is not so coherent, and the characters’ one-liners are impossibly cheesy — but it’s a great time capsule of the kind of goth subculture culture that proliferated at the time. The design of Hellsing has been endlessly copied and there’s some wonderful mise-en-scene. For otaku of a certain age bracket, the nostalgia factor is unstoppable, making unbiased evaluation of this bloody vampire story almost impossible. Japanese interpretations of Western mythology are always idiosyncratic, and this steampunk spin on the legend of Dracula is no exception.

8. ‘Inuyasha’

Millennials will remember the endless reruns of Inuyasha’s never-ending journey playing on Cartoon Network. It’s hard to say how much of the program holds up today, but the show’s delicate balance between shonen and shoujo styles has not been replicated since. Although there’s lots of action, Inuyasha is a magical love story at heart — but beware, there’s a whole lot of filler in between the rousing episodes that actually advance the plot.

7. ‘Kill la Kill’

With an almost aggressively stupid story, Kill La Kill is an example of anime’s campier pleasures: beyond over-the-top fight scenes and absurdly sexualized character design, the show is definitely offputting for audiences looking for something with actual emotional substance. Staunch critics have to admit that the animation throughout is beyond excellent, even if it’s not the smartest program ever made.

6. ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Wing’

MSG:W was the first series of the Gundam franchise to make it to the United States in the mid 90’s, and gained an ever greater following over here than it did in Japan. It would be easy to dismiss the show as a campy collection of giant robot space battles, but the sci-fi plotting is surprisingly sophisticated, and the characters are emotionally complex: the show is an extended meditation on the trauma of war as much as it is an adventure story.

5. ‘My Hero Academia’

MHA is basically Japan’s answer to the X-Men: the show takes place in a near-future where almost every human has developed some kind of special power. Deku, the show’s endlessly endearing main character, enrolls in a school for young superheroes as he battles the nefarious League of Villains and other assorted underworld underlings. The fight scenes are hype beyond belief.

4. ‘Sailor Moon’

The ultimate Magical Girl anime, the original Sailor Moon cartoon is a beautiful time capsule of 90’s girl power. Nostalgic whimsy aside, the bright and delicate art style (even the watercolor backgrounds are breathtakingly pretty) pairs perfectly with iconic character design and lovable writing. It’s no surprise this cartoon is often cited as an inspiration by drag queens and fashion designers alike.

3. ‘Samurai Champloo’

Director Shinichirō Watanabe tried to recapture the genre-mashing magic of Cowboy Bebop with his follow-up series Samurai Champloo, which uses a hip hop score to tell a story about traveling warriors looking for revenge in feudal Japan. The experiment definitely works — and although it doesn’t quite measure up to Bebop (almost nothing truly does!), it’s still one of the most fun anime shows ever made. 

2. ‘Soul Eater’

If the casual misogyny of mainstream shonen anime presents a problem for you, skip Soul Eater — but if you’ve got an insatiable appetite for absurd action sequences featuring bizarre weapons and even more bizarre characters, this show is likely up your alley. The graphic design of the show is impeccably clean, and was likely an inspiration for newer, hyper-stylish shows like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer. There’s not a ton of filler either, meaning it’s not hard to breeze through the whole thing in a week. 

1. ‘Witchblade’

Based on the Todd McFarland-adjacent American comic book series of the same name, the Witchblade anime is an erotic suspense story filled with blood, guts, and a lot of fire. Set in the same continuity as its source material, the Witchblade anime is an entirely original story about the addictive nature of lust and power. 

Culture Movies/TV

30 Feel-Good Movies On Netflix To Watch When You Need A Pick Me Up

Whether you’re stuck sitting inside a home office all day or dealing with bumper-to-bumper traffic on a commute to work, everyone could use a feel good movie right about now. From fairytales to grounded family dramas, anything can be a feel good movie as long as it makes the audience smile and feel some kind of joy as the credits start rolling.

Everything from animated adventures to touching documentaries appears on this list, but it’s up to you to decide which movie you want to watch first when you need a good pick me up. Whenever you’re feeling down, check out one of these fantastic 30 Feel-Good Movies on Netflix!

1. ‘Hook’

Peter Pan, the boy who never ages, finally grows up in Hook. Peter (Robin Williams), now a workaholic who ends up being too busy for his own kids most of the time, is thrust back into Neverland when the dastardly Captain Hook kidnaps his kids. An overwhelmingly silly and heartwarming flick, Hook reminds its viewers to never stray too far from the innocent joy of childhood. With an amazing ensemble- Dustin Hoffman hams it up as Captain Hook- and a touching story, Hook is a must-watch for anyone who needs a dose of wonder.

2. ‘Okja’

Before Bong Joon-ho swept the Oscars for his capitalist-skewering Parasite, he released Okja, a fairy tale-esque story that also slams the modern capitalist consumer culture. A Netflix original, the story follows Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young woman who has an intense bond with a genetically modified super-pig called Okja. When Okja is recalled by the multinational corporation that first created it, Mija is thrust into a world-wide journey to reunite with her friend that sees her teaming up with an animal rights organization. Full of satire, Okja is incredibly charming and will make you smile long after you finish it.

3. ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’

In 2009, writer-director duo Chris Lord and Phil Miller burst onto the scene with the release of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Loosely adapted from a children’s book with the same name, the film sees scientist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) create a device that turns water into food. Unfortunately, Lockwood quickly loses control as tumultuous food weather (think spaghetti and meatball tornadoes) poses a huge risk to the city of Swallow Falls and its inhabitants. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an entertaining film full of puns and heart that also has a poignant message for its viewers: don’t mess with the climate! 

4. ‘Lady Bird’

Growing up in a small-ish city and arguing with your parents can be tough. Still, Christine, a.k.a. Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), isn’t willing to let her current situation define her existence or what is possible in the future. A comedic coming-of-age story that sees Lady Bird try to discover what she wants from life; this Greta Gerwig helmed movie perfectly balances its charming and heartbreaking moments. Like any family drama (or real family squabble), there are moments that lower the characters and make them question their world views. However, Lady Bird still excels at making its audience feel good and empowered in their own decisions as things progress.

5. ‘Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life’

When old friends Steve Martin and Martin Short are together, it’s impossible for viewers not to smile. These two titans of comedy join each other on-stage for a comedy-palooza filled with personal stories, banjo music, and contagiously big smiles. The only comedy special on the list, An Evening You Will Forget, feels like you’re spending some time with old friends who are razor-focused on making you laugh and feel good.

6. ‘Hugo’

Director Martin Scorsese is best known for gritty gangster films, but his adaptation of Hugo proves the maestro can excel in any genre.  Set in 1931 Paris, Hugo follows a young boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who goes to great lengths to unlock a mysterious automated toy after his father passes away. A story about the power of family and friendship, Hugo is a lovely journey about both self-discovery and understanding/empathizing with those around you.

7. ‘Crimp Camp: A Disability Revolution’

A Netflix documentary produced by the Obamas’ new production company, Crimp Camp: A Disability Revolution, is a story about the power of grassroots activism during the disability rights movement. The film opens on Camp Jened, an alternative summer camp that was designed to uplift and care for teenagers who felt ostracized from daily life due to their disabilities. Focusing on the journey of certain individuals who attended the camp, Crimp Camp tracks how they outgrew the ostracization society placed on them and became key activists in the fight for new legislation. A touching and motivating film, Crimp Camp reminds us that everyone is worthy of respect and that anyone is capable of creating real change in the world.

8. ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’

Whether he’s creating films about Norse gods or reformed Hitler youth, writer-director Taika Waititi has an incredible knack for bringing delightful stories to the big screen. Hunt for the Wilderpeople, adapted from a book called Wild Pork and Watercress, sees an unlikely duo—a 13-year-old named Ricky (Julian Dennison) and a grizzled, older man named Hec (Sam Neill)—bond and hide out in the middle of the New Zealand wilderness while Ricky is being searched for by child services. A film chopped full of laughs and misunderstandings, Hunt for the Wilder People will leave you feeling happy to be alive and extra appreciative of the people who bring love into your life.

9. ‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey’

Christmas might have been a few months ago, but that doesn’t mean Netflix’s new original holiday film Jingle Jangle isn’t worth watching any time of year. Written and directed by David E. Talbert, Jingle Jangle was originally designated to be a stage production. Still, Talbert’s vision jumps off the screen thanks to an amazing ensemble and wonderful choreography from Ashley Wallen. Without spoiling too much, the film follows Journey (Madalen Mills) as she tries to help her grandfather Jeronicus Jangle (played by Forest Whitaker for most of the film) preserve his toy factory and protect his newest invention. A fantastical journey full of whimsy and wonder, Jingle Jangle is a new Christmas classic that will leave you wishing it was already December.

10. ‘Miracle’

Few sports stories are as inspirational as Miracle, a 2004 movie about the U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team that competed in the 1980 games. Under the leadership of coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), a group of collegiate athletes came together and did the impossible—defeated the most dominant hockey team in the world: the Soviet Olympic team. A touching and thoroughly entertaining film all about pushing oneself to the limit and not letting other people’s opinions impact one’s abilities, Miracle will leave you feeling inspired and ready to take on the world.

11. ‘The Naked Gun’

Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t make comedy movies like The Naked Gun anymore. Starring Leslie Nielson as Detective Frank Drebin, The Naked Gun parodies police films with both massive gags and smaller jokes that may fly right over the audience’s head. In this film, the first of a trilogy, Frank is tasked with defending Queen Elizabeth II from a hypnosis-related assassination attempt. The film isn’t overwhelmingly emotional, but it’s hard to walk away from The Naked Gun feeling anything but overjoyed due to how silly it is.

12. ‘Always Be My Maybe’

Romantic comedies can be a bit of a mixed bag, but the Netflix original Always Be My Maybe is incredibly charming and silly in all the best ways. Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) are old friends who grew distant from each other after one intimate night together as teenagers. Years later, the two bump into each other as Sasha returns to San Francisco to open a new restaurant, and the two become friends once again. Park and Wong, who both have writing and producing credits on the film, have fantastic chemistry together and do a wonderful job of grounding this touching story all about escaping your comfort zone and pursuing life (and love) to the fullest.

13. ‘Chef’

After directing massive blockbusters like Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens, writer-director Jon Favreau was ready to ground his filmmaking in smaller, more intimate stories again. In 2014, Favreau released (and starred in) Chef, a story about a Los Angeles chef who loses his job after a public argument with a food critic and decides to operate his own food truck where he can let his own cooking style shine through. A story about defining your own path, Chef is the perfect film for anyone hungry to take control of their own life.

14. ‘Wine Country’

A group of old friends decides to embark on a weekend getaway in Napa Valley to celebrate Rebecca’s (Rachel Dratch) birthday. A Netflix original directed by Amy Poehler, who is also a member of the film’s ensemble, Wine Country is a funny, sweet film all about rekindling the important relationships in your life and learning to go with the flow. With lockdowns still ongoing, Wine Country is a sweet distraction that reminds viewers how important friendship is in all of our lives.

15. ‘The Muppets’

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are two of the most iconic characters of all time, and the 2011 film The Muppets, fortunately, put the two of them and all their puppet friends back in the spotlight where they deserve. Co-written by Jason Segel, whose love of puppet musicals is evident for anyone who has seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the film sees The Muppets reunite in order to save the Muppet Theater from an evil businessman. Stacked with a great ensemble and some of the best working puppeteers, The Muppets is the joyous, goof-filled movie everyone needs about now. As a bonus, if anyone is a fan of Flight of the Conchords, series co-creator James Bobin directs the film, while Bret McKenzie served as the music supervisor and even wrote four of the original songs in the movie.

16. ‘Stranger Than Fiction’

Will Ferrell movies are normally full of over-the-top humor, but Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction is markedly different. When Harold Crick (Ferrell) suddenly hears a narrator guiding him through his life like a character in a novel, he starts to panic. Things only worsen for Harold when he discovers that the narrator is apparently aware of how Harold will die and guide him right to his end. A story that deals with heavy themes like fate and the inevitability of death, Stranger Than Fiction is an incredibly powerful story that reminds us all to take charge of our own lives and not allow other individuals or institutions to dictate how we should perceive our own existence.

17. ‘Julie and Julia’

If overwhelming amounts of butter and baked goods make you happy, then Julie & Julia will leave you feeling full and delighted. Based on the real-life exploits of food blogger Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, the film follows Powell as she endeavors to cook every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year as a distraction from her own angst living in post-9/11 New York City. At the same time, the film is interwoven with flashbacks that showcase the iconic Child (Meryl Streep) as she attends a French culinary institute and tries to publish her iconic cookbook.

18. ‘Yes, God, Yes’

Normally, stories set in a Catholic school aren’t all about sex, but Yes, God, Yes is a clever, comedic look at how the religion’s strict rules impact the sexual development of its young adherents. It is written and directed by Karen Maine, who makes her feature directorial debut here with a story loosely based on her own experiences as a teenager. Yes, God, Yes is an extremely charming film about self-discovery. Alice (Natalia Dyer) has to maneuver her own sexual appetites, something she is constantly told to feel ashamed about, and survive a stuffy school retreat in this swift and funny tale.

19. ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday’

Few live-action characters are as iconic as Paul Reuben’s Pee-Wee Herman, so when the Netflix original Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday hit in 2016, there was a reason to celebrate. Pee Wee is happy with his life in the town of Fairville, but when actor Joe Manganiello pops up in town and convinces Pee Wee that he should come to New York for his birthday party, Pee Wee sets off on a wacky road trip full of twists and turns to attend the celebration. Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday isn’t the character’s first (nor most iconic) film, but it’s incredibly satisfying and will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.

20. ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Mary Poppins is one of the most iconic characters ever put on the silver screen, but before Julie Andrews brought her to life, she existed only in the pages of P.L. Travers’ children’s books. Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, tells the silly, stressful and emotional story of how the notorious Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) persuaded Travers (Emma Thompson) to adapt her work. A Disney movie about an older Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks, is a must-see for any fans of Hollywood history that leaves audiences appreciative of the things that made their own childhoods so special.

21. ‘Ocean’s Eleven’

In 2001, director Steven Soderbergh released a remake of the 1960s classic Ocean’s Eleven. Stacked with one of the best ensembles ever assembled—including icons like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Bernie Mac—Ocean’s Eleven sees a crew of thieves come together to pull off a massive heist in Las Vegas worth $160 million. Danny Ocean (Clooney) gets out of prison and decides to assemble a crew for one more heist, a decision that leads Danny to come in contact with numerous eccentric and entertaining individuals who all have a particular set of skills. An entertaining and sharp story, Ocean’s Eleven is both hilarious and bewildering as audience members have to pay attention to all the wonderful activity taking place on the screen to grasp the full picture.

22. ‘The Half of It’

Another Netflix original, writer-director Alice Wu’s The Half of It, is a cheeky coming of age story that focuses on two introverted friends falling for the same girl. Ellie (Leah Lewis) is a shy high school student who makes a bit of money by helping her peers write essays, but after Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks her to help him write letters to his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire), everything changes. Not only do Ellie and Aster develop a close friendship, something that helps the two nervous individuals feel more comfortable in their own skin, but they end up both developing feelings for the same girl. A sweet film about accepting yourself and others, this is the perfect film for anyone ready for some sweet laughs and motivation to start a new chapter in their life.

23. ’17 Again’

I personally NEVER want to go back to high school, but for those who sometimes pine after a second chance at their younger days, 17 Again is the perfect movie to watch. When Mike O’Donnel (played by both Matthew Perry and Zac Efron depending on his age) magically transforms into a 17-year-old after hitting a rough patch with his professional and personal life, he decides to make the best of it and go back to high school for a second chance at greatness. Directed by Burr Steers, 17 Again is an incredibly funny story that reminds audiences not to take their life and loved ones for granted even when they may be feeling unworthy of love or success.

24. ‘Into the Wild’

Written and directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is an emotionally charged film about self-discovery and determining one’s own path in life. Adapted from Jon Krakauer’s book about the life of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), Into the Wild sees the recent college graduate walk away from the life he thought he would embark on in favor of a solo cross-country trip to Alaska. As he journeys across the country, he meets new people and pushes through both his physical and emotional limits in order to reach his destination. The film certainly has darker moments as McCandless’s journey becomes more harrowing, but the film’s positive, adventurous spirit is infectious from start to finish.

25. ‘Four Christmases’

The holiday season is the gift that keeps on giving on this list, and Seth Gordon’s Four Christmases is one of the funniest, most delightful Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are a couple who try to avoid their families on the holidays, but after their travel plans are canceled, they give-in and decide to visit their families. Brad and Kate both come from divorced households, making the idea of marriage and kids harder for them to swallow. That also means they have four very separate and very different holiday gatherings to attend. Family drama and crude humor aside, Four Christmases is a love-filled movie that leaves the viewer with a big smile on their face.

26. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

A movie about mental illness may not be the first thing someone thinks about when they want to find a feel-good flick, but David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is full of joy. The film follows Patrick (Bradley Cooper), a bipolar individual after he is released from a psychiatric hospital and readjusting to life with his parents. As Patrick fixates on regaining his old life by hopefully winning back his old wife, he gets closer to another mentally distinguished individual named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawerence). A touching yet smile-filled film about vulnerability and letting new relationships blossom, Silver Linings Playbook is a must-watch for anyone struggling to accept the wrinkles in their own life.

27. ’50 First Dates’

Many Happy Madison films are actually rather mean-spirited, but 50 First Dates strikes a different tone entirely. After Henry (Adam Sandler) meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore), he’s immediately smitten. Unfortunately, Henry doesn’t realize that Lucy has a rare form of amnesia that resets her memory back to right before she was in a bad car accident a few years prior. Although Lucy’s family warns Henry to stay away from her, he commits himself to making her fall in love with him every day so they could have some type of relationship. There are definitely some creepy elements to their relationship, but if viewers can put those things aside and just enjoy the romantic ride, they are in for a treat.

28. ‘Paul Blart Mall Cop’

Starring and co-written by Kevin James, Paul Blart Mall Cop is a heartwarmingly silly movie about a schlubby mall security guard who takes his job – and responsibilities as a single father- incredibly seriously. When a group of criminals infiltrates the mall on Black Friday, Paul has to think creatively and save the day. Paul Blart is big on slapstick comedy, but more importantly, for the sake of this list, it’s a heartfelt movie that shows anyone is capable of accomplishing great things.

29. ‘Tall Girl’

No one makes it through high school without being made fun of a few times, but Jody (Ava Michelle) unfortunately deals with more bullies than most. A 6.5 foot tall junior, Jody has always been taller than her peers- something that has unfortunately made her self-conscious and desperate to blend in. The film has some cute high school romantic elements as Jody juggles her feelings for a tall foreign exchange student and her short best friend, but at its core, Tall Girl is all about accepting yourself no matter how other people perceive you, and nothing makes an audience feel better than watching a movie’s protagonist finally learn to love themself.

30. ‘Death to 2020’

2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief and say that 2020 is OVER! This Netflix original mockumentary, written by Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, sees stacked ensemble parodies and breaks down the tumultuous year’s biggest stories. If saying goodbye to 2020 (and watching Samuel Jackson) doesn’t make you feel good, nothing will.

Culture Movies/TV

The Ten Best 90s Movies on Netflix Right Now

History has a way of repeating itself, and it seems like we always end up making our way back to the 90s. The 90s were a simpler decade—limited internet, no social media, no looking at our cell phones all day because, well, not many people had cell phones to look at, and more real-time experiences. The entertainment industry was at one of its peak heights during the 90s, with some of the best movies ever created in film history. Whether you fully experienced the decade or not, everybody has some form of cultural appreciation for the 1990s.

Since we are still stuck in  the house, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a list of ten movies from the 90s that you can watch during your spare time. Whether you are looking to inject your veins with a dose of nostalgia, or discover these films for the first time, Netflix has a library of must-watch vintage staples that you can binge-watch. So grab some popcorn, and get ready to go deep into the archives.

1. ‘Quigley Down Under’

Starring Tom Selleck as a rifleman cowboy traveling to Australia for a job, he quickly finds himself in trouble after turning down a job that involves killing Aborigines. A fantastic western film with great performances, action storylines, and unusual perspectives on romance, Quigley Down Under is an enjoyable movie for all audiences as it doesn’t involve any swearing or overtly explicit content.

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2. ‘Double Jeopardy’

If you have never watched Double Jeopardy, then you have done yourself a great disservice. Starring Ashley Judd as Libby Parsons, the  film tells the story of a widow (Parsons) fighting for freedom after being framed for the murder of her husband. The movie also stars Tommy Lee Jones, and closed out the 90s with a bang. 

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3. ‘Good Burger’

Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, may I take your order? Have you truly lived if you haven’t seen Good Burger? Kenan and Kel are their usual comical selves as they try to save Good Burger from their new competitor, Mondo Burger. The two suspect that a secret sauce might be the answer, but you’ll have to watch the movie to see whether or not it works.

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4. ‘The Rugrats Movie’

Since we are on the topic of 1990s Nickelodeon, why not give The Rugrats Movie a watch? The arrival of a new sibling can be difficult for young children to adjust to, and the animated comedy finds ‘Tommy Pickles’ trying to return his brother, Dill, to the hospital after receiving a warning from ‘Angelica’ that his parents would no longer care about him once the baby arrived. The mission quickly goes awry, with Tommy and friends getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. This is a fun Friday night movie that you can watch with the whole family.

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5. ‘Basic Instinct’

Basic Instinct is another one of those 1990s staples that you absolutely have to watch at some point in your life. The film stars Sharon Stone as Catherine Tremell, a crime novelist linked to the murder of rock star who tries to use seduction as a tactic to win over homicide detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas). Full of mystery and ‘entanglements,’ Basic Instinct is an introduction to 90s movie culture as a whole.

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6. ‘GoodFellas’

Directed by Martin Scorsese, GoodFellas centers around former mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he recalls his rise and fall in a New York crime family. Also starring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, GoodFellas is the epitome of ‘gangster films,’ and of the best-directed movies of all-time with a brillant storyline, superb cinematography, and outstanding acting. GoodFellas stands out as yet another classic movie in Scorsese’s catalogue, proving his influence as one of the most prominent directors in film history.

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7. ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’

The mid to late 90s saw the rise of teen romantic comedies, and Can’t Hardly Wait was a box office success known for introducing many future movie stars including; Jennifer Love Hewitt, Seth Green, Lauren Ambrose, and Peter Facinelli. The story focuses on a high school graduation party where the characters try to tie up loose ends before going away to college. Filled with love, humor, and revenge, Can’t Hardly Wait remains one of those movies that you have to revisit from time- to- time.

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8. ‘Hook’

I’m a sucker for Robin Williams’ movies. Hook has always been one of my favorite 1990s films with its heartwarming plot. Hook tells the story of Peter Banning (Williams), a middle-aged lawyer who returns to his magical origins as Peter Pan in order to save a group of children kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Hook is full of good moments and great fights making it another fun film that you can watch with the kiddies. 

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9. ‘The Next Karate Kid’

A generational movie worth watching over and over again. Directed by Christopher Cains, the film is focused on Karate master Mr. Myagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) as he travels to Boston for a military reunion. While there he visits the widow of his former commander, and develops a friendship with her young granddaughter Julie (Hilary Swank) who also has a passion for Karate. The storyline is awesome with a few comedic moments scattered here and there, the characters were likeable, and the acting was decent. Maybe not the best in the Karate Kid series, but still very much enjoyable and worth a watch.

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10. ‘Total Recall’

I may be in the minority here, but the remake just didn’t do the original version justice. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker in the year 2084 with dreams of visiting Mars, Total Recall has an unexpected plot twist that will keep you on your toes the entire movie. A masterpiece of a film, Schwarzenegger stepped up his acting chops playing dual roles while still giving his infamous witty one-liners. Total Recall was a well acted and produced film across the board.

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Netflix has around 40 films from the 1990s at the moment, so by no means do you have to watch the ones I selected. Whether you do or don’t, I hope you enjoyed this article!

Culture Movies/TV

The 10 Rarest Lego Minifigures of All Time

Since the LEGO minifigure’s debut in 1978, over four billion LEGO Minifigures have been produced. For perspective, if LEGO minifigs lived in their own country (let’s call it “LEGOLAND,”) it would be the most populous country on Earth! With so many minifigs, surely some are rarer than others, so today, we’ll be taking a look at the top ten rarest LEGO Minifigures of all-time.

In determining which minifigs made this list, I decided to focus on those that are the hardest to come by, not necessarily the most valuable—although those factors often overlap. Value can change over time, especially if a rare figure is factored into a mass-produced set at a later date. Bearing those things in mind, for this list, I’m only looking at rare, one-off figures that were made once and have been sought after ever since. One additional rule: the figures have to have been attainable to the average person, so no LEGO employee exclusives, prototypes, or anything that never had a fair chance to be obtained by the general public and/or non-LEGO employees. Without further adieu, here are the rarest LEGO minifigures of all time:

1. Solid 18k White Gold R2-D2

When the Ultimate Collectors Series Millennium Falcon was released in 2017, those who bought the set early with their LEGO VIP card could be entered to win this ultra-rare 1 of 1 Solid 18k White Gold R2-D2. He comes encased in a beautiful display with a certificate of authenticity. It is one of the only LEGO figures ever made available to the public, a true “1 of 1 produced” piece.

2. San Diego Comic Con Boba Fett Trio

At the 2010 San Diego comic con, two lucky attendees could win a framed LEGO Star Wars giveaway, which included three Boba Fett Minifigures. One was a white Boba Fett figure that was 1/10,000 made, and the other two figures were even rarer than that: a 1 of 2 14K gold Boba Fett and a 1 of 2 sterling silver Boba Fett. Talk about rare and valuable!

3. 14k Gold C-3PO

For the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, LEGO did a celebratory line of sets, which included some amazing promotions. This 14K gold C-3PO was raffled off and limited to just five pieces total, and given that limited production run, it’s always going to remain in the Top Ten list.

If you have an extra $1.2 million lying around, there’s one listed on eBay now…

4. 2012 Toy Fair Captain America and Iron Man

Only 125 of these figures were produced, and they were the first official LEGO Marvel Minifigures ever made (if you don’t count the Tobey Maguire-era Spider-Man sets of the early 2000s). These two figures were given away at the 2012 Toy Fair in pairs of two, so finding one without the other is basically impossible. It’s difficult to find these figures for under $1,200, and even that would be a bargain!

5. Gold C-3PO

In 2007, LEGO promoted where 10,000 gold-chrome C-3PO Minifigures were randomly inserted into various LEGO Star Wars sets. I remember being at Target as a kid and staring at every set, looking up and down in hopes for some hint on finding a box that might be a “winner.” Of course, like most kids, I had no such luck finding one in the wild. If you did find one, you could take home several hundred dollars for it now—especially if it’s still in its original baggie! Come to think of it; I have some sealed 2007 Star Wars sets in my collection now. I wonder…

Feel free to scroll through some current eBay listings to get an idea of the current value.

6. LEGO x NASA Alien Frame

In 2001, LEGO partnered with NASA to send 300 alien Minifigures in a rocket to space and back. After a safe trip to and from the atmosphere, the figures were sealed off in a frame and given to some lucky recipients. I think this one deserves a spot on the list for two reasons: there are less than 300 out there, and IT WAS IN SPACE! There’s one available on eBay right now for a meager $10,000.

7. Red Sox Minifig

This Minifigure is rare because it is one of the few LEGO sports figures ever made outside of the NBA, NHL, Soccer, and X-Games themes from the early 2000s. This minifig was a giveaway for Red Sox game attendees in 1999, and while it’d be easy to remake as a custom, the real ones are very hard to come by. Imagine how easy it would have been to get this at the game and lose it by the time you got home! These are going for somewhere in the three-figure range on eBay.

8. Any SDCC or NYCC Exclusives

Starting in 2011, LEGO put out 1-4 exclusive Minifigures from Marvel, DC, TMNT, and more. Typically, these are figures that you can only get at comic con, but it’s not that simple. You must attend SDCC/NYCC, then enter a lottery for a chance to win the figure, and then, of course, you’d have to actually win! These limited edition Minifigures are highly sought after because, in most cases, the only way to get this specific version of a Minifigure is to obtain one of these holy grails—I’m looking at you, Andrew Garfield Spider-Man!

9. Mr. Gold from the CMF Series 10

To celebrate the 10th series of Collectible Minifigures (CMFs for short) LEGO randomly inserted a gold-chromed character named Mr. Gold into 5,000 blind bags worldwide. This figure is highly sought after for completists and can go for upwards of $1,000. Not a bad ROI for a blind bag that would’ve cost about $4!

10. Cloud City Boba Fett

When LEGO Star Wars launched in 1999, geeks everywhere went nuts trying to collect every set they could. Of course, at first, the only sets available were from the Original Trilogy and The Phantom Menace, but in 2003, LEGO did a Cloud City set that included a Boba Fett with printing on his arms and legs. This figure has held up so well and looks incredible, and nearly 20 years after its release, you can expect to shell out several hundred just for this figure—never mind if you want the complete Cloud City set!

Culture Movies/TV

The 16 Best 80s Movies to Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Beyond

I’ve always been a little jealous that I didn’t grow up in the 80s.  It might have been the oversized sweatshirts and leg warmers, Rob Lowe in everything, MTV being the premiere channel for music videos or those cool transparent telephones with the color inside.  Or it could be that my parents always made it seem like such a cool decade with classics that we still watch today. 

With a million different streaming services to choose from, there are endless 80’s movies you can watch, but here are 16 gems to get you started. 

Warning: there’s going to be a lot of John Hughes.

1. ‘Big’

Think of this movie as the original 13 Going on 30. When 12-year-old Josh wishes that he was no longer a kid and finally “big,” he wakes the next day to find his wish has come true.  He gets an apartment, finds success at his job, and even holds down a romance before he finds himself longing to be a kid again. As someone who has been a full-fledged adult for a while, let me say: I feel you, Tom Hanks. I feel you.

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2. ‘Dirty Dancing’

I sing “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” at least once a week, and this movie is the reason.  Taking place in a resort in the Catskills, young Frances “Baby” Houseman, and her family vacation during the summer as she learns how to dance by a super cool Patrick Swayze. This movie is the classic of all classics, and while the budget was only $5M, it made a cool $215M at the box office. It also led to a prequel and a made-for-TV remake in 2017 (which my boyfriend was in, so check it out), but the original is such a joy and full of lines you’re still quoting in 2021. 

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3. ‘The Breakfast Club’

Often referred to as the blueprint of the coming-of-age movie, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club introduced the world to the Brat Pack, a group of good-looking young actors who played in a series of similar movies in the ’80s. Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, and Ally Sheedy comprised the core of the group, with The Breakfast Club being one of two movies this five actors starred in together. The movie takes course over an afternoon when five very different students are forced to spend Saturday detention together. As they share stories and bond, they discover that “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal” have more in common than they initially thought. 

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4. ‘Risky Business’

The movie that launched thousands of college girls wearing button-up shirts and long socks as a Halloween costume! When rich kid Joel’s parents go away for the weekend, he treats himself to a prostitute who ends up robbing him.  Hilarity ensues! Okay, maybe not hilarity but shenanigans that involve a pimp, a Porsche that sinks into a lake, Tom Cruise turning his parents’ home into a brothel, and displays of white privilege at every turn! Risky Business is considered one of the best films of the 80s and holds a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

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5. ‘Beetlejuiice’

A fantastical cult favorite, Beetlejuice’s cast is full of stars you’ll recognize… but 33 years younger. Alec Baldwin (you might know him as Former Spanish Person Hilaria Baldin’s husband) and Geena Davis play a deceased couple who find themselves haunting their house after the Deetz family (Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones, and Catherine O’Hara) move in. In an attempt to get them out, they summon Beetlejuice, a sneaky poltergeist who has a different idea of what help looks like. 

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6. ‘Stand By Me’

Arguably the quintessential kids-going-on-a-quest movie, this Stephen King film revolves around four young boys looking for the body of a recently deceased child somewhere in town. Yeah, that’s kind of a gruesome plot, but what else could you expect from Stephen King? What makes this movie unique is how it goes one step further into each of the boys’ traumas, grappling with some pretty heavy adult stuff, but always comes back to the strong friendship that carries the story. 

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7. ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’

Another classic starring a different configuration of the Brat Pack (take out Ringwald and Hall, add dreamboat Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, and Mare Winningham), we meet a  group of recent college grads figuring out adulthood. Yeah, this is a pretty common trope, but did I mention a super attractive Rob Lowe is in it?

My parents love St.Elmo’s Fire. Ask your parents. They probably love it, too.

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8. ‘Footloose’

Sometimes you’ve got this feeling that time’s just been holding you down. You’ll hit the ceiling or else you’ll tear up this town. Now you gotta cut loose.

No movie from the 80s used music quite so efficiently as Footloose.  Kenny Loggin’s “Footloose”, Deniece William’s “Let’s Hear It For the Boy”, Foreign’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You”, Moving Picture’s “Never” and Mike Reno and Ann Wilson’s “Almost Paradise’” (you know the song from Bachelor in Paradise, and I’m embarrassed for you.) 

The premise: Ren, a teenager from the big city, moves to a small town where dancing and rock music have been banned. Watch to see how he turns things around.

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9. ‘Eddie Murphy: Raw’

My dad hates watching movies with me that include any raunchy behavior or language. He still views me as his little girl, and I can feel his body cringe when there’s even something SLIGHTLY uncomfortable on the screen. However, my father made an exception for Eddie Murphy’s Raw because it’s that good. This 1987 blockbuster shows Murphy at his best, nailing impression after impression and securing his place in comedy history.

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10. ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’

A whole generation was reintroduced to Fast Times at Ridgemont High last year when Dane Cook pulled together an impressive amount of stars to do a table reading for COVID relief efforts. The actual movie is a coming-of-age (I know, I know, another one) film about a group of high schoolers in Southern California and is probably best remembered for Sean Penn’s performance. 

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11. ‘Heathers’

Heathers, like many other movies of this era, is about high schoolers and their daily lives, but that’s where the similarities end.  Intended to be the antithesis of the popular John Hughes coming-of-age films, this movie centers around a popular clique of girls who attend a school where people start dying.  

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12. ‘School Daze’

One of the most iconic movies to shed light on Greek life in historically black colleges, Spike Lee based some of this movie on his own collegiate days at Morehouse University. Featuring a very young Lawrence Fishburne and Tisha Campbell, School Daze grappled with race, colorism, college politics, beauty standards, and identity (to name a few.) Even in 2020, this movie doesn’t feel dated. 

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13. ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

Another John Hughes classic, Matthew Broderick plays an unmotivated high schooler Ferris who skips school one day by playing sick. The Vice-President of his school does not believe him and spends the majority of the movie trying to catch him, which in hindsight, seems like a lot of effort to bust one kid. The movie’s charm comes from the unique breaking of the 4th wall to hear Ferris’ thoughts; it went on to be one of the top-grossing movies of the year.

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14. ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’

The movie that launched a thousand sequels (okay, it was just a few) is one of those sweet and warm films that you watch years later, and somehow, it still manages to hold up. When an inventor shrinks his kids, as well as the neighbor’s kids, they have to navigate the much larger world in hopes of getting back to normal size.

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15. ‘The Goonies’

Something about the ’80s bred groups of misfit kids going on adventures. The children in The Goonies find themselves in possession of an old map that leads to a treasure hunt, complete with pirates, caves, monsters, and skeletons. 

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16. ‘Princess Bride’

If you like fairy tales (especially modern takes), The Princess Bride will quickly be a favorite. The story is told through the narrative stylings of a grandfather telling his grandson a bedtime story; the bedtime story revolves around a farmhand and the hurdles he must go through to be with the one he loves

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Culture Movies/TV

The 20 Best Indie Horror Movies to Watch When You Need a Good Scare

The days may be stretching a bit longer now as the sun finally starts to set a bit later every night, but there is still plenty to be scared about right now. With armed riots and COVID potentially around every corner, horror is still an ever-present part of all our lives. Fortunately, horror movies provide a safe platform for all thrill-seekers to get their shrieks and screams in without actually having to put themselves in harm’s way.

Thanks to production companies like Blumhouse and A24, independent horror is currently undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Filmmakers who grew up watching some of the earliest independent horror films are now out there creating their own grim worlds for audiences to lose themselves in. Whether it’s supernatural or psychological horrors that tickle your fancy, read on to learn more about 20 of the Best Indie Horror Movies if you dare!

1. ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’

The granddaddy of slasher films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released in 1974, is one of the infamous horror movies ever released. Directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, the film follows a group of traveling friends who fall prey to a family of torturous cannibals. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre has so much going for it, but it’s impossible to mention this film without mentioning the granddaddy cannibal of them all: Leatherface. This chainsaw wielding madman has become one of the most iconic figures in horror and his first appearance perfectly displays why he is still such a creepy, terrifying force today. Texas Chainsaw Massacre made its mark as a violent and messy film, but it also deserves praise for its realistic feel and solid ensemble performances. 

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2. ‘Night of the Living Dead’

George A. Romero isn’t the first director to utilize zombies in his films, but he certainly popularized and enshrined the brain-eating creatures in modern pop culture. With 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, Romero’s first foray into zombie film-making, he follows what happens when a group of seven individuals are stranded and locked inside a farm together while being attacked by mindless monsters. Loosely inspired from Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Night of the Living Dead is both tense and creepy but also comical and excellently paced.

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3. ‘Martyrs’

If you like horror movies to make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, then Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs might be for you. A French film that follows two young women as they try to seek revenge for a past crime, a decision that leads them straight into the torturous and sadistic hands of a cult-like organization that believes pain brings people closer to god. Tense and incredibly bloody, Martyrs has a spiritual and philosophical throughline that adds a interesting layer of depth to the project. Even though Saw predates Martyrs by four years, Martyrs doesn’t hesitate to show people being mutilated and tortured in a much more severe and squirmish way than its American rival; in fact, it revels in the misery that it inflicts upon its characters.

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4. ‘Climax’

After being quarantined for what feels like an eternity, a psychedelic dance party sounds pretty damn good right about now. Climax, an ensemble film that features a lot of improvisation and interesting motion, sees a group of dancers come together for a good-old-fashioned 90s warehouse afterparty. Unfortunately, the night takes a turn for the worse when everyone starts acting angry and confused as it becomes clear that the party punch was spiked with acid. Written, directed and co-edited by Gaspar Noé, the film is highly technical, featuring a lot of long, jarring takes, and isn’t afraid to put the camera right in the middle of incredibly uncomfortable, sometimes violently shocking moments.

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5. ‘Eraserhead’

Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks knows David Lynch is no stranger to creepy, atmospheric film-making, but this quality dates all the way back to Lynch’s feature-film debut Eraserhead. A twisted metaphor about the horrors of parenthood, Eraserhead follows a man named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) as his life is turned upside down upon learning that his “girlfriend” gave birth to a grotesque baby. Silly at moments due to the uncomfortable tension hanging over everything, the film is both surreal and disturbingly sexual in a way that makes it hard to stop watching. The character work and industrial setting are certainly alarming, but Lynch also excels at creating ghastly soundscapes that make everything creepier and harder to comprehend in the best way.

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6. ‘Green Room’

Writer and director Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room doesn’t deal with supernatural entities or grotesque body-horror, but it is still an incredibly tense, horrifying watch. A touring punk band takes a last-second gig without realizing they accidentally agreed to perform at a neo-Nazi club. Instead of avoiding a hostile scene, the punk rockers escalate the situation during their performance and find themselves locked in the green room scared for their lives. The film has a lot of fantastic performances, but Patrick Stewart’s turn as Darcy Banker, the intimidating and loyalty-demanding neo-Nazi leader, proves the classical thespian still has a hard edge. In 2021, the thought of being locked in a room with a bunch of angry skinheads is more relevant and terrifying than ever, and Green Room is an adrenaline-fueled ride about this group’s desperate struggle to escape with their lives.

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7. ‘Get Out’

When comedian Jordan Peele made the transition to mainstream writer and director with Get Out, he took the cinematic world by storm. Structurally, the film is a romantic-comedy gone very wrong, but the racially-charged satire and tense conversations make it feel more like a psychological thriller. Full of fantastic performances, the most memorable being Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, someone who is understandably nervous to meet his girlfriend’s family who gradually realizes things aren’t as they appear, Get Out is both charming and funny while also being intensely dark and dripping in poignant societal criticism.

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8. ‘Hereditary’

Writer-director Ari Aster’s debut feature film, Hereditary, is the perfect blend of psychological and supernatural horror. After the secretive matriarch of the Graham family dies, things slowly start to unfold for everyone else in the family. As the Grahams lose their grip and start to grasp their grandmother’s dark secrets, things quickly spiral out of control. This is definitely a situation where the less scare-seeking viewers know going into the movie the better, but just know that Hereditary knows how to take its time and get under the viewer’s skin. Full of incredible performances, Toni Collete in-particular was sorely overlooked at the 2019 Academy Awards for her work in this movie.

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9. ‘Train to Busan’

Zombies have evolved a lot since Romero re-introduced them in Night of the Living Dead, and no movie ups the zombie-ante quite like Train to Busan. A Korean film mostly set on a singular train that is making the journey to the port city of Busan, Train to Busan is set in the earliest moments of a zombie outbreak. As the passengers travel, the country slowly starts breaking down and the outbreak becomes present on the sealed train. Hectic and claustrophobic at the same time, the film is heavy on emotions, effective jump scares and action packed moments that make it one of the most entertaining twists on the undead genre in a while. 

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10. ‘The Witch’

Part period piece and part supernatural horror, Robert Egger’s feature-film debut, The Witch (also known as The VVItch), is best described as an incredibly detailed nightmare. Set in a New England settlement in the 1630s, the film focuses on a Puritan family who are trying to build a successful life while they come into contact with demonic forces. Inspired by Eggers’ own fascination with witches, the film doesn’t deliver direct scares per se, instead it makes the viewer sit in the unknown and uncomfortability of each moment as the family is slowly torn apart. Heads up for anyone who may not be aware though, part of why this film can be described as “incredibly detailed” is due to Eggers decision to use painstakingly accurate dialogue and dialects, something that can take a moment to get used to.

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11. ‘Goodnight Mommy’

Goodnight Mommy, a psychological horror from Austria, knows how to make its viewers stir in their chair. Co-Directed and co-written by filmmaking team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the film follows two boys (brothers Elias and Lukas Schwarz) after their mother returns home from a surgery. Since she is adorned with full facial bandages that make it impossible for her kids to confirm whether or not it’s really their mother under there, the two begin to suspect that it’s actually an imposter in their home. A tense and bloody ride, Goodnight Mommy turns into a full out war between the young boys and their “mother” as they struggle to learn the truth and survive being trapped inside with her.   

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12. ‘Funny Games’ (2007)

It’s rare that people truly get second opportunities in life, but writer-director Michael Haneke completely remade his own 1997 movie Funny Games in 2007 with brand new performers like Tim Roth and Naomi Watts. Pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original except for the fact that it’s in English, the film is the perfect meta encapsulation of why you don’t talk to strangers. When the Farber family visits their lake house, they come into contact with two young men who quickly turn from awkward conversations to sadistic games. Rather than simply rob the family and escape quickly, the two young men- played wonderfully by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet- take their time embarrassing and torturing the family, making it clear that sometimes normal people are worse than monsters. 

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13. ‘The Lighthouse’

Spending time with Willem Dafoe alone on a lighthouse sounds terrifying by itself, but Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse turns that uncomfortable scenario into a manic nightmare when a new lighthouse keeper (Robert Pattinson) comes aboard right before a powerful storm. Like Eggers’ other entry on this list, The Witch, the film pays careful attention to details, making sure everything from dialects to set decoration is as authentic as possible as the two men spiral out of control in the isolated setting. Shot in black and white with a squared, 1:1 aspect ratio, the old-school aesthetic adds to the film rather than serve as flashy techniques that muddle or distract the audience. 

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14. ‘Halloween’

Directed and co-written by horror legend John Carpenter, Halloween sees a deranged serial killer escape from an “insane asylum” and return to his hometown to wreak havoc on Halloween night. Six-year old Michael Myers killed his sister, and now, 15 years later, he’s ready to kill some more. A classic slasher film full of tense moments, Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance in the movie as high school student Laurie Strode, proves exactly why she has earned the title scream queen. At this point Michael Myers is one of the most infamous Halloween costumes, but the original movie is definitely still worth seeing for anyone who wants to know why he’s such an iconic killer.

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15. ‘Enter the Void’

Life can be strange, but it can be even STRANGERwhen you’re on psychedelics. Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, structured after the infamous Tibetan Book of the Dead, sees Oscar have an out-of-body experience after being shot by the police during a drug sale. Heavy on neon lights and flowing camera movements, the film excels at making the audience also feel like they are in the middle of an uncomfortable, world shattering trip. Enter the Void is more of an avante garde art film than pure horror, but it is still incredibly unsettling and takes the audience on a wild, memorable ride. 

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16. ‘Bone Tomahawk’

A horror-western set in the 1890s, Bone Tomahawk is writer S. Craig Zahler’s directorial debut feature-film. Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russel) has to put together a group in order to rescue some individuals who have been kidnapped. The only problem is, they weren’t kidnapped by outlaws looking for quick cash, they were taken by cannibals. Unafraid to get grotesque, Bone Tomahawk is truly one of the most brutal films I’ve ever seen as Sheriff Hunt and his gang struggle both physically and mentally to survive and get the job done. Despite its B-movie qualities, the film is actually stacked with an amazing ensemble of actors like Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox whose performances elevate the entire thing.

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17. ‘Let the Right One In’

When people think of vampires, adult figures like Dracula and Lestat are probably the first thing that pop to mind. Let the Right One In, a Swedish film written by the man who wrote the 2004 novel it’s based on, inverts things by having the central vampire be a young girl. Equal parts comedic, kiddy romance and dreadful exploration of how dark people can be, Let the Right One In is both shockingly violent and heart-achingly sweet that sticks with viewers for a long time. While the film did have an entertaining American remake hit theaters in 2010, the original is far superior at creating both tense and loving atmospheres. 

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18. ‘Little Monsters’

Sometimes, horror movies need a shot of cuteness and positivity to really land, and Little Monsters has both of those qualities in spades. Written and directed by Abe Forsythe, the group follows a group of quirky characters, led by Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad, as they try to protect a group of young students from a hectic zombie outbreak taking place around them. The zombies in Little Monsters are deadly and terrifying, but the way the film blends in comedy makes it a unique, must-watch. 

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19. ‘The Human Centipede’

The two-girls-one-cup of the horror world, 2009s The Human Centipede is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. A Dutch film that follows Lindsay (Ashley Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two American tourists on a European vacation, things quickly turn south when the tourists are kidnapped by a good-old-fashioned mad scientist who is working on a comical yet extremely dangerous torture method that sees people sewed together anus-to-mouth. It’s hard to call Human Centipede a good movie with a completely straight face, but the way it excels at making viewers uncomfortable makes it a one-of-a-kind horror experience that everyone needs to see at least once.

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20. ‘The Invitation’

With Covid still ripping through people’s homes, a big, group dinner sounds terrifying for a lot of reasons right now, but director Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, which focuses on a group of old friends reuniting over dinner two years after a traumatic experience, makes it a terrifying get-together for a whole different kind of reason. Unafraid to take its time and make people second guess all of the confusing, tense actions taking place on the screen, The Invitation is an explosive film that also does a wonderful job at exploring the emotional and psychological damage trauma can have on one’s life.

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Culture Movies/TV

The 8 Best Marvel Movies and Shows Still on Netflix

Netflix subscribers who are fans of Marvel’s television series and movies may feel a bit left out in the cold since the launch of the ever-popular Disney+ streaming service back in November of 2019. But fear not, we come bearing good news! What if we told you that you could scratch your Marvel itch without adding another subscription service to your seemingly never-ending list of monthly expenses? That’s right! There are still plenty of ways for you to tap into the Marvel Universe without the need for a Disney+ membership.

Netflix continues to feature a variety of original shows and movies for viewers of all ages to enjoy. In this article, we will explore all that remains of Marvel on Netflix so that you don’t have to go another day without some serious superhero satisfaction in your life. So, let’s put on our masks and capes and figure out which kick-butt shows you’ll be adding to your Netflix “My List” today!

1. ‘Ghost Rider’ (2007)

We’ll be honest with you; this is the only Marvel movie that remains on Netflix after the recent migration of all their movies to Disney+. While that may not be the news you were hoping to hear, it gets better as we go down the list, we promise!

Ghost Rider follows Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage), who is a daredevil biker and stuntman by day, and a walking, talking, motorcycle riding, flaming-skulled bounty hunter of the damned by night. How did he get into this mess, you may ask? Good question! In exchange for his soul, a demon named Mephistopheles promises to cure Johnny’s father of cancer. Well, he ends up dying due to significant burns all over his body, but the demon considers his end of the bargain upheld and now has Johnny’s soul and services forever. What a rip-off!

Johnny, aka Ghost Rider, is then called upon by Mephistopheles to defeat his demon son Blackheart. If he does this, Johnny gets his soul back. I won’t spoil it for you, but it has a crazy plot twist in the end and is worth at least one watch if you haven’t seen it yet. As the only Marvel movie on the board, you’re not left with many options, so do what must be done and give it a chance if you’re a fan of action, adventure, sci-fi, or fantasy. Plus, it’s Nick Cage! You know you’re tempted…

2. ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ (2013-2020)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is, by far, the Marvel television series with the most episodes on Netflix. Spanning seven seasons, the show is based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D., which stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division.

That’s a mouthful! Thank goodness for acronyms, huh? Basically, this group is a spy agency that was put together to keep the peace in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The series was the first-ever in the MCU and is considered canon, meaning that it is officially a part of the MCU you know and love from the movies and other media. So, if you enjoyed the Avengers movies, this ties right in and helps to broaden and expand that world. We would say it’s worth checking out if you’re ready to commit to seven seasons of superhero fun!

3. ‘Daredevil’ (2015-2018)

Continuing the chronological timeline of Marvel movies and shows on Netflix, our next stop is the series Daredevil. This show is certainly more on the dark and gritty side, as is indicated by its rating of TV-MA. If you’re looking for more of a mature Marvel experience, look no further.

For three seasons, we follow Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), aka Daredevil, a blind lawyer from 9-5, but a masked, crime-fighting vigilante at night. Daredevil possesses heightened senses due to being blinded as a young boy and combines this with extensive martial arts training to take down New York City’s worst of the worst. This is the first in a series of shows that tie into The Defenders miniseries, but more on that later!

4. ‘Jessica Jones’ (2015-2019)

Another Marvel Netflix series to take the dark and gritty approach, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), is a private eye with a haunting, traumatic past. The show touches on topics such as rape, assault, and PTSD, to name a few, so this one is definitely intended for an older audience. Jones is a former superhero who uses her superhuman strength, healing factor, and flight powers to aid her in her everyday work as a detective. She gave up her life as a superhero after an incident where a villain named Killgrave caused her to kill someone against her will. Let’s say that Killgrave is back, and Jessica Jones will have to stop him. Start with Daredevil, then watch this, as this show is the second of four that tie into The Defenders miniseries. This brings us to the next show…

5. ‘Luke Cage’ (2016-2018)

As part of the Netflix Black Lives Matter Collection, Luke Cage tells the story of an ex-con who is fighting to clear his name while saving his neighborhood in Harlem, New York. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) has some badass abilities to back up his 6’6 hulking physique as well. Among them are bulletproof skin, damage immunity, superdense body mass, healing factor, superhuman strength, hand-to-hand combat skills, and superhuman durability! Whew, what a list! Good luck stopping this guy!

Will Luke Cage get the redemption story that he seeks? Does he use his powers for good to save Harlem from the crime and corruption that’s been plaguing it? Well, you know I can’t tell you all that, so you’re going to have to tune in to find out! Luke Cage is the third series in the lead-up to The Defenders, so make sure to watch them in order. You’ll thank us later.

6. ‘Iron Fist’ (2017-2018)

Can you imagine being presumed dead for 15 years, only to resurface with incredible powers? That’s exactly what happens to Danny Rand (Finn Jones) in the Marvel series Iron Fist. It took us a minute to place Finn Jones, but we finally figured it out. You may know him from Game of Thrones, where he played Loras Tyrell, brother of Margaery. Anyway, he’s a great actor and doesn’t disappoint in this role either.

Rand shows up out of nowhere like Schwarzenneger in The Terminator-looking to reclaim the family business from Harold Meachum and his kids. But as always, a threat emerges, and Rand is torn between securing the family legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist. I have a funny feeling that he’ll be using his martial arts training, pyrokinesis, healing factor, and ability to harness spiritual energy in this two-season series. If you watch the three shows before this one, well, you had better watch this one too. It all leads to the crossover show we’ll be talking about next.

7. ‘The Defenders’ (2017)

Finally! The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The hype is real, folks, but when Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist squad up, how can you not get excited? The events of this miniseries are set a few months after Daredevil season two and a month after the first season of Iron Fist. The group of superhero vigilantes team up in New York City to fight the Hand. That’s right, the antagonist’s name is the Hand. We know what our heroes can do, but what about the Hand? It turns out that the Hand isn’t just a singular person or thing; it’s an order of evil mystical ninjas involved in organized crime and assassination plots. *Gulp* Business is about to pick up y’all! 

It’s a shame we may never see another season of The Defenders, but as I mentioned before, if you’re planning on taking the journey through Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, you better add this on to your Netflix “My List” as well.

8. ‘The Punisher’ (2017-2019)

And last, but by no means least, we have everyone’s favorite ex-Marine turned arbiter of pain, Frank Castle. Yes, the man better known as The Punisher has been a favorite amongst Marvel fans for quite some time now due to his creative techniques to get people to spill the beans among other things. He doesn’t have glowing fists, the power of flight, or the ability to heal himself, but he does possess peak strength for a human, skills in unarmed combat, superior marksmanship, and immunity to pain.

This two-season series follows the tortured soul that is Mr. Castle as he seeks revenge against those who killed his family. He quickly earns the moniker “The Punisher” in the city of New York while uncovering a larger conspiracy in motion. It’s a wild and violent ride showcasing a man on a mission who takes on the criminal underworld by any means necessary, with no regard for human life. If you like the John Wick movies, then this should be right up your alley. The Punisher and popcorn: it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Culture Movies/TV

Spencer Paysinger on How His Story Inspired the Hit Show, ‘All-American’

The CW hit series All-American will be premiering its third season later tonight. The show, based on the life of a former seven-year NFL veteran and Super Bowl Champion Spencer Paysinger, has become a hit with audiences everywhere.

Paysinger grew up in South Central Los Angeles but went to high school in Beverly Hills. After graduating, Paysinger attended the University of Oregon playing for Chip Kelly, who is now the head coach at UCLA.

Following his time in Eugene, he had a chance to play in the NFL. He went undrafted in 2011 but was signed as a free agent and went on to win a Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

Paysinger recently sat down with ONE37pm to discuss All-American‘s upcoming season, supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, his thoughts on Nipsey Hussle’s passing, and how his personal story sparked a pop culture hit.

ONE37pm: When you get that first phone call from Warner Brothers after writing your one-sheet detailing what All-American could be, did you see the series headed into its third season?

Paysinger: I honestly couldn’t see that far ahead at the time. I had one foot out of the NFL mentally, and I was actively pursuing things off the field to have that transition. But, when they called, and I set up that initial meeting, it was one of those we will see where this can go. At the time, I knew for the most part how hard it was to get a show off the ground. However, it was not until we were in the weeds of it; I completely overshot my understanding of it. It is ten to 20 times harder to get a show off the ground, and going into the third season, and it wasn’t even on my mind.

ONE37pm: From your perspective, why do you feel that not only your personal story but the show has clicked with pop culture?

Paysinger: One, it’s great; two, it lets me connect with a lot of fans out there and even connecting with old teammates. I did not realize some of the things that were going on in my life when we were playing together. This was cool because it allows us to reconnect in that capacity and be a part of a show like this going into its third season that has come to the forefront in pop culture.

I always said, and this was when we were shooting the pilot playfully, saying every seven to ten years, there is this high school phenom show that grabs different demographics. Whether it is stories, representation, or that salaciousness of it and I felt at the time, we had all the pieces to be that show. So, you fast forward, and I would argue that we are that show.

That you can look back in 10 to 15 years, we will be aligned with The OC, Friday Night Lights, and maybe Gossip Girls, and whatnot. So, I am happy to shepherd this project through, but this show would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for our showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll and our amazing writers’ room.

ONE37pm: How much do you think it helped the show that it was listed under Netflix’s top-ten shows to watch?

Paysinger: Yeah, even going back to the first season, I chose to believe that if we didn’t pop off on Netflix after that first season, we might not be entering our third season.

Netflix gave us a huge bump in viewership and reach. So, the fact that we hit at excellent times, in my opinion, and I think we hit Netflix after two or three weeks of the pandemic. It gave a lot of people time to take in our show.

ONE37pm: This season will showcase Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) and Billy Baker (Taye Diggs) at South Crenshaw High School after winning the state championship twice at Beverly Hills High School the past two seasons. When your parents informed you that you would be attending Beverly, what push back did you get from your friends back then?

Paysinger: Honesty, the real story is that I was always supposed to go to Beverly Hills. Billy Barker’s character is somewhat loosely based on my uncle Carter Paysinger, who was the coach of Beverly at the time. So, I went to Beverly straight out of middle school. Crenshaw had been my home school, but I was already out of the district. I lived right down the street from Crenshaw and was officially enrolled there for two weeks.

They literally called every day and said Spencer is not in attendance until my mom informed them that he is not going anymore because he is at Beverly.

So, leading up to that point in the seventh and eighth-grade, at that age with friends that you have been in school with for years, you start to figure out what school in LA you are going to attend. During this time, I was literally the only kid that knew for a fact I had to go to Beverly. I wanted to go to other schools with my friends, such as Inglewood High School and Clover High School, where some of my closest friends were going, but jokily at the time, I got a called an Oreo.

After middle school graduation, I knew that a lot of friends would die because I was going to play across town because of it. However, it also allowed other friendships to become stronger.

ONE37pm: In the series, you play against Crenshaw. Did you get to face them in the championship in real life?

Paysinger: No, that is when we allowed creative freedom with the show.

I tell them to listen when creating a CW hit show; you must allow for creative freedom. It made sense to have Spencer have one foot in both worlds in South Central and Beverly.

We were like we need to put these two schools together, and technically, both schools are in different districts and never overlap.

ONE37pm: Nowadays, you must have a note or special reason to attend school out of the district. How did it work back then for you to attend Beverly?

Paysinger: I attended Beverly because of the multi-culture program, which was started in the late 1960s early 70s.

My uncle was like the second generation of black students to integrate Beverly High School. In the late 60s, the students petitioned the school to integrate the school because it is the 60s.

They felt like they didn’t have a realistic view of the world at the time and petitioned to integrate Beverly Hills High School. In the 70s, that started my trajectory to going to Beverly because all of my uncle’s family on my dad’s side went to Beverly and all my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side went to Crenshaw.

ONE37pm: In the series, Tamia’ Coop’ Cooper and Patience showcased their talents as actresses and artists. Are there any artists you grew up with or attended Beverly Hills High School with you that made it in the music business?

Paysinger: I went to school with Romeo Miller (Lil Romeo). I think he was one or two years under me, and that was when Hurricane Katrina happened.

Many of those kids migrated to the west coast, and it got to the point where you got excited to see Master P (Percy Miller). He was a very involved parent, which I think is dope.

Leighton Meester went to Beverly, and I think she was a year or so beneath me. There were some others, but more so actors than artists.

ONE37pm: This season touches on the Black Lives Matter Movement and sexuality. Why did you guys feel that it was important to showcase these two topics in the third installment of the series?

Paysinger: I think it goes back to being a part of that show that deepens route in pop culture today. I do not think you can discuss anything in pop culture without turning on a light and seeing what is happening in this country. So, what we did with All-American is read those headlines and naturally integrate those in our show. You will see stories about Black Lives Matter, and the intersection of sexuality in our show.

We have been showcasing, and this season, we are discussing what mental health means in the black community. The reason All-American has become a hit beyond the football, drama, and the twist and turns that come with creating a dynamic show like this is that we are talking about issues that kids are actually dealing with today. I can’t tell you how many people hit me and say they can relate to a specific character.

ONE37pm: When you and Michael Evans Behling were interviewed by Complex, you shared that you just read the sixth episode for this year’s season. As of today, how many episodes are completely filmed and ready to go?

Paysinger: We are a little down the road from it, and I can’t tell the exact number just because of confidentiality reasons and with our shooting schedule up in the air because of COVID. With the starting and stopping restrictions that we have to deal out here in Los Angeles, I would say we’re down the road, and hopefully, come next week, and beyond, we can roll out without a hitch.

ONE37pm: Over the last three years, what has it been like being able to grow with all the cast and the rest of the crew?

Paysinger: What I have learned from this crew is how badly they want this show to not only do well but to resonate across the country and the world. A lot of our actors really tried to understand their roles at a deeper level.

Even when you looked at Daniel Ezra when he was creating Spencer James’s identity, he was walking around South-Central listening to Nipsey Hussle for weeks. He wanted to put himself into that mentality, which I think was great.

So, it is just these guys commenting on the role with the significance they have in this role and literally hitting out of the park every episode.

ONE37pm: Like Nipsey, you had to grow up with navigating through gang violence. What were your first thoughts when you heard he passed away?

Paysinger: Ironically, I was waking up from a nap when I saw that I had a text from Rob Hardy, who directed our pilot episode. He sent me a video and a small article about it and said, “Is this real?” And mind you, I live right around the corner from where it happened. I am two days away from going on a trip on vacation, and essentially my neighborhood was ripped apart. Literally, one of the icons was taken away from us. It was cumbersome on my heart because as a father, he left behind kids; as a husband, he left behind a wife.

The fact that he had such an impact on the world, but specifically South Central, and he did rep anything other than South Central, is why we all loved him. It was a gut punch, and even when I was on vacation, and I could not enjoy myself at the time. I know I am fortunate enough to have this type of life, but things are happening in South Central, and I could not do anything about it.

Unfortunately, I was not able to meet Nipsey Hussle; he was supposed to be in the season finale of episode one, but we got rained out, and our schedules and he could not commit our extension. However, I think his legacy will live on.

ONE37pm: You went undrafted after four years at the University of Oregon, however, you signed as a free agent with the New York Giants and went on to win a Super Bowl. What were some of the things that you were hearing from NFL scouts before the draft?

Paysinger: Yeah, I heard mid to late-round to undrafted, and by mid, I mean anything after the fifth round to me, you might as well go undrafted. Because at that point, you might have a little more power in where you go.  So, my expectations were not high but come draft day, and mind you, we were in a lockout. I was always reading what was happening in 2011; I was not able to have conversations. However, on draft day, I got phone calls from seven or eight-teams, but I ended up not getting drafted. Fast forward three months, I received phone calls from teams, including the New York Giants, and literally off a five-minute conversation and presentation, I picked the Giants.

ONE37pm: How much did you learn from Eli Manning and Michael Strahan?

Paysinger: I didn’t play with Michael Strahan, but he was at the facility a lot, but I did play with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Antrel Rolle, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Deon Grant. Those were the guys. When you play on an NFL team, especially as a rookie, you seek guidance from older guys. I have been on teams where the older guys are not necessarily the best leaders on the team, but they are able to drive the team in whatever direction they want it to go. And by far, the Giants and Panthers were the two teams where those vets had it down pat.

They came in, and I remember Justin Tuck and Tyler Sash, who was a safety with us, and you can see the New York Skyline from our practice field. He says, “look at that city, it’s undefeated, and if you try to go up against that city, it will eat you alive.”

You need to respect it, the fans, the people in the city, and do whatever you can to bring a championship to this team.  Just taking that and always know my place on this team. Each team has a high expectation of knowing what your job is, knowing what you are supposed to do, and your teammates know their job you are going to win.

By the time we got to the playoffs, no one was messing with us because we were so locked in.

ONE37pm: You played for Chip Kelly, while at Oregon. What are a couple of positive things about coach Kelly that does not get talked about in the media?

Paysinger: Yeah, Chip really took a hit from the media when he was in Philly for cleaning the house. I always understood the perspective that it is a team sport. There is no one player bigger than the team.

In his specific system at the time, I do not know how much it has changed, but at the time, it could thrive without superstars. So, when you have some of those people who think that they were potentially bigger than the team and mind you, I was not in those locker rooms. I am not speaking for anybody, but from my understanding, there were a lot of guys that thought they were bigger than the team and need x amount of whatever to produce. Chip was like, this can run with or without you, and if you do not want to be here, we can send somewhere else. So, I had that understanding in college of him allowing his players to think bigger. I am not going to speak for him with the NFL, but in college, he was the first guy that openly talked about winning a national championship that I played for. Before it was, we are going to win the PAC 12, but he was like, we can do that, or we can win a national championship. I think that is the type of energy that put Oregon to where it is today.

ONE37pm: There are reports of a possible All-American spin-off, which would focus on Jordan Baker’s girlfriend, Simone Hicks. Is that something that you might be apart of as well in terms of the creative team?

Paysinger: Nothing has been finalized on that right now. My team is working to potentially be part of that because it came from All-American, and I loved to be a part of that project. We are currently in talks to do so, but yeah, they will present the story, and I can’t talk about it outside of what has been reported. I think the stories that we’re presenting allow our spectrum to be a little bit bigger in telling black stories.

ONE37pm: CW just greenlit a nine-part series highlighting stories similar to yours. Why did you feel this thing to pitch to them?

Paysinger: All the credit goes to my co-host Yogi Roth, Blue Ox Films, and Rain Management. They put it together and came to me and said, do you want to be part of this. Once I watched what they had and understood the angle they were trying for, it was a no brainer. I feel like All-American has put me into a position as an ex-professional athlete to tell stories. If All-American was not what it was, nobody would care what my story was, but it shed light on how many different athletes and what they must go through to get where they are going.

ONE37pm: Outside of your work in Hollywood, what other business ventures are you involved with?

Paysinger: I am a co-investor and owner in a coffee shop called Hell-Top and Kitchen. It is co-owned by Issa Rae and other public figures in LA and it is blacked owned, and it is in Inglewood, and we have three locations out here in Los Angeles and are eyeing our fourth and fifth locations.

A dear friend, AJ, came to me the same year we were thinking about developing All-American. He wanted to have something that was black-owned outside of Starbucks, and I jumped at it and was the first investor and been a part of the process for three-years. Outside of that, I’m an angel investor with some other NFL athletes in companies and pouring it back into the community.