Culture Movies/TV

The 10 Best British Shows On Netflix

The United States creates some pretty amazing shows, but let’s face it, it doesn’t have a monopoly on quality TV. Some of the best television shows from across the pond, with the best minds in Great Britain backing them, and thankfully, some of these are available to binge-watch on Netflix right now. 

From gritty crime dramas to romantic comedies, the Brits sure know how to make a great TV show. Peaky Blinders will take you back in time to an era where crime ruled the streets of Birmingham, while The Crown peels back the layers of the British royal family. Whatever type of show is your “cup of tea”, Netflix certainly has you covered. 

Check out our list of the 10 best British shows on Netflix right now.

1. ‘Peaky Blinders’

Watch this show, by order of the Peaky Blinders.

Telling the story of the infamous “Peaky Blinders” street gang in Birmingham, England, the first season is set in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The main character is the gang leader and World War I veteran, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), who attempts to establish himself as both a feared criminal as well as a businessman.

This requires some crafty planning on his part, but when a police investigator from Northern Ireland, as well as a spy that embeds herself within Tommy’s life, show up on the scene, all bets are off. 

Featuring a cast that includes Murphy, Sam Neill, Sophie Rundle, Tom Hardy, and more, Peaky Blinders is a show you don’t want to miss a second of.

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2. ‘The Crown’

A show that history buffs and Royal enthusiasts alike have lauded, The Crown has become a smash hit since its premiere. It documents the Briitish Royal family’s story with a focus on the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her coronation to the modern-day. She deals with the difficulties of her marriage to Prince Phillip, the responsibilities of her role as the Queen, and more. It isn’t the most historically accurate show out there, but then again, no one ever said this was a documentary.

Since the story takes place over the course of Elizabeth’s life, the show uses different actresses for not just the Queen, but the other characters as well. In the first two seasons, Claire Foy portrayed Elizabeth and was followed by Olivia Colman for seasons three and four. In the upcoming season five, Imelda Staunton will take over the role.

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3. ‘Bodyguard’

In one of his first major roles following his exit from Game of Thrones, Richard Madden portrays David Budd, the titular bodyguard for the British Home Secretary, who is in the process of introducing a controversial bill that would limit freedoms in the name of national security. 

The series progresses as Budd, a war veteran, not only deals with the increasing threat on the life of the Home Secretary but also his struggles with PTSD, a deteriorating marriage, as well as threats to his own children. 

It’s a tense thriller that is well worth a six-episode investment.

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4. ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Like British TV? Like cooking shows? Love watching people make food that you would never actually make yourself? 

Allow me to “introduce” you to The Great British Baking Show. I say “introduce” because chances are you’ve already heard about or seen this show, but trust me when I say that you’re going to want to check this out if you haven’t already. 

This show is the television equivalent of walking into your grandma’s house after she has pulled a fresh batch of cookies right out of the oven.

Quick tip, though: Don’t watch this show when you’re hungry because you’re going to want to eat literally everything in sight.

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5. ‘Derry Girls’

Growing up is hard. Growing up in a city that is under military occupation and where the threat of terrorist attacks is ever-present is even harder.

Set in Derry (or Londonderry, depending on your political, national, and religious affiliation), Northern Ireland in the 1990s, Derry Girls is based around a group of friends dealing with high school drama, Catholic school, not to mention the aforementioned military occupation. 

It’s hilarious from start to finish, and, considering the setting, it’s a delicate balancing act that the show must navigate throughout, but it manages to do so masterfully.

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6. ‘Sherlock’

Taking the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ mythos and placing it in a modern-day setting, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star as the famous detective and his friend, Dr. John Watson, a war veteran struggling with PTSD.

For fans of the Holmes novels (or any other show/movie/book/etc.) that has featured the characters, this show is a must-watch, with fantastic performances, storylines lifted from the books themselves, and a great script.

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7. ‘Top Boy’

Do you enjoy crime drama series? How about hip-hop? Do you like Drake?

If your answer to these questions is ‘Yes’, then we’re sure that you’ll love Top Boy. Set in a fictional estate in Hackney, Top Boy originally follows the character Ra’Nell as he looks to adapt and survive in his crime-filled neighborhood. Other characters, including Ra’Nell’s best friend Gem, struggle to get by as well, with many living under the thumb of a ruthless drug dealer named Dushane. 

Although it was canceled after two seasons, rapper Drake loved the show and, along with Maverick Carter, signed on as executive producers and teamed up with Netflix to make another slate of episodes happen.

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8. ‘Bridgerton’

One of the newer releases on this list, you can think of Bridgerton as a mashup of Pride & Prejudice and Gossip Girl

Bridgerton takes place in 19th-century Great Britain centered around the Bridgerton family as they navigate the aristocracy of the era with all sorts of romantic drama and intrigue. The show also features a racially-diverse cast, with people of color being featured in not just prominent roles in the aristocracy but as full-fledged members of it. 

Bridgerton is not for a, let’s say, conservative audience, as it features many sexually charged scenes, and when we say many, we mean many. Those aspects are an integral part of the show, and the discussion around them has proven to be one of the things the show has been most lauded for.

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9. ‘Black Mirror’

The show that seems to dominate Social Media and the cultural zeitgeist whenever new episodes are dropped, Black Mirror has been likened to a modern-day Twilight Zone. Black Mirror takes a look at modern society through the lens of new technologies, albeit with a horror and dystopian twist. 

It is an anthology series with new characters and new stories being featured in every episode, which has allowed for big name stars such as Jon Hamm, Anthony Mackie, and Bryce Dallas-Howard to star in some of the episodes. 

Black Mirror is not for the faint of heart, but it is more than worth a watch and will leave you thinking and your mind racing.

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10. ‘Crashing’

Crashing is one part romantic comedy and one part drama, and comes from the brilliant mind of Fleabag creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Crashing follows a group of twenty-somethings as they decide to live in an abandoned hospital since, well, the rent is super cheap. 

Something we can all relate to. 

While it never garnered a major audience and was canceled after just one season, Crashing is a funny, yet serious at times, show that deserves more recognition. Not to mention, the writing from Waller-Bridge, who was as sharp as ever in her first foray into television.

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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

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 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 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

40 Hidden Gems on Netflix You Should Watch Immediately

At this point in the pandemic, we’ve probably all exhausted our Netflix watch lists a few times over.  It gets dark early, nights are long, and there’s nothing to do but be bored in the house. How many rewatches of Stranger Things can one person truly handle?

Luckily, Netflix’s expensive offerings go beyond reruns of mediocre sitcoms: the streaming service actually seems to have a near-endless amount of content despite much of it being hidden by the company’s algorithm.

We’ve picked out 40 films and TV shows that might not pop up on your “Recommended” list if you haven’t been searching specifically for them. From unexpected reality competitions to obscure anime to underground LGBTQ+ cinema, here’s our (unranked!) list of Netflix’s best-hidden gems.

40. Ip Man 1-4

An impeccably choreographed martial arts tetralogy that traces the legendary career of Bruce Lee’s master as he defeats Westerners and Japanese foes alike. Sure, the whole series is not-so-subtle Chinese propaganda, but it’s worth watching for the exciting action sequences.

39. Dark Crystal

Forget Game of Thrones. Dark Crystal is the high fantasy series worth watching. The Jim Henson Company’s high-concept puppet show is a dazzling example of a dying medium. The content is more adult than you’d expect from literal muppets, and the Tolkienesque world’s lore is both dense and allegorical. 

38. Love, Death, Robots

Black Mirror became a viral hit with its prescient predictions about the panoptic power of social media. The short animated film collection Love, Death + Robots covers a lot of the same territory as Charlie Booker’s infamous sci-fi series, but with a bit more humor. Although it’s occasionally juvenile and sometimes overtly sexist, each episode takes on a different aspect of our nightmarish future with a totally different visual aesthetic.

37. Lady Dynamite

Comedian Maria Bamford uses surreal humor to explore a recent nervous breakdown in this honest, creative, and self-reflexive series about living with bipolar disorder. Your average comedy aficionado might find Bamford’s aesthetic too off-beat, but there’s a lot of smart commentaries and earnest emotionality in this show.

36. Cuties

Cuties faced a bizarre media cycle after receiving backlash from American conservative critics who objected to the sexual content of the film, and then it faded into semi-obscurity. That being said, it’s easily one of the best films of 2020 — dealing with the complex emotional lives of teenage girls navigating a deeply misogynistic world.

35. Little Miss Sumo

A beautifully shot short documentary film about female Sumo wrestlers and their commitment to their sport. It’s only about 20 minutes long, but it’s impossible not to form an immediate attachment to the impossibly strong and impossibly adorable protagonist.

34. Shot in the Dark

Although the content is extremely disturbing, Shot in the Dark is a fascinating delve into the lives of stringers: videographers who capture footage of car crashes and violent crimes to sell to news stations at frighteningly high prices. The rogues gallery of people featured are patently deplorable, yet absurdly compelling. 

33. Disclosure

Laverne Cox is a heavily featured talking head in this exhaustive and insightful exploration of the history of transgender people in Western cinema. The movie traces specific tropes of anti-trans violence and how they developed within a culture that is largely intolerant of sexual difference — but it also shows how there’s hope for the future as more trans people take to the big screen.

32. The Platform

This ultra-violent, dystopian thriller serves as a poignant metaphor for the inhumanity of capitalism. A student voluntarily enters a near-future disciplinary complex, but it seems likely he won’t survive the impossible cruelty of this system. It’s a frightening allegory and a warning about the power of unchecked greed.

31. The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka play students at a private Catholic school becoming increasingly oppressed by Satanic forces. It’s a bit on the nose for the two starlets — both have played devil-worshipping witches in other franchises — but their acting here is surprisingly subtle and the plot structure is fascinatingly poetic.

30. Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

The ebullient and colorful Walter Mercado was the most beloved astrologer in Latin America before disappearing from the public eye. This earnest documentary traces his career with deep love and respect, positioning the fortune-teller as a queer legend and a beacon of kindness.

29. Circus of Books

How, exactly, did a married heterosexual couple come to own one of the most infamous gay porn shops in the entire United States? Circus of Books tells the story of unlikely homosexual icons, Barry and Karen Mason, at the final moments of the eponymous adult shop’s closing. The story shows the conflicted morality of the Masons and is directed by the duo’s daughter as she explores the psychology of her parents who stunningly rejected their own gay child before seeing the error of their ways.

28. Blown Away

It would be easy to dismiss glass sculpture as a kind of decorative kitsch but Blown Away, a competition reality show about glass blowing, showcases the artistry, talent, and intellectual thought put into this misunderstood art form. 

27. Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts

Trixie Mattel is the second most popular drag queen in the world — right behind Mother RuPaul — who forged her own path as a country singer after snatching Drag Race’s giant bejeweled crown. This documentary follows her post-show career and investigates fans’ deep attachments to their unlikely hero. It’s a shockingly humanizing film that explains the power of gender performance as a kind of emotional healing.

26. What Did Jack Do?

David Lynch interviews a very creepy monkey in this 17 minute, black and white, non-narrative short. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the beloved auteur, whose noir-influenced surreal works have spawned a cult following amongst arthouse cinephiles. Don’t expect a coherent story, just spooky vibes.

25. The Perfectionist

A twist-filled horror-thriller, The Perfectionist is a very strange revenge story filled with deeply unexpected moments and extremely bizarre celebrations of bloodshed. It somehow feels like eight movies are packed tightly into this 90-minute nightmare, and the ending is sure to leave you both nauseated and satisfied. 

24. Velvet Buzzsaw

What begins as an extremely caustic critique of the high art world devolves into an unsettling supernatural thriller. Starring an inexplicably buff Jake Gyllenhaal as a bisexual art dealer haunted by murderous painting, Velvet Buzzsaw combines smart satire with campy thrills.

23. Behind The Curve

Oddly endearing and only somewhat condescending, Behind The Curve follows the friendships forged between Flat Earthers — yes, people who believe (despite the entire history of science) that the earth is flat. It’s an interesting thesis on the dangers of misinformation and demonstrates how communities are formed through shared delusions.

22. Food Wars!

Shonen anime (Japanese cartoons meant for teenage boys about plucky fighters learning new skills to defeat outsized foes) can be somewhat predictable — Food Wars! switches up the formula by using cooking battles instead of samurai sword fights as its main set piece. Many scenes are absurdly sexual (sometimes misogynistically so) but the culinary combat is both exciting and mouth-watering. 

21. Catwalk: Tails from the Cat Show Circuit

A few clips from this eccentric documentary went viral — who could resist a very mannered old man brought to tears by the beauty of an absurd looking cat! — and the film itself is actually quite sweet and sincere. The heartwarming bonds made at cat shows are matched only by the cut-throat competitiveness of the feline-obsessed protagonists. 

20. Cam

A young sex worker’s life begins to unravel when she spots her doppelganger gaining popularity on cam shows. Is she losing or mind, or is someone trying to destroy her life? Both erotic and extremely frightening, Cam is intelligent feminist horror for the 21st century. 

19. Lupin The 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki made his directorial debut with this jaw-droppingly gorgeous adventure anime from 1979. Beyond charming characters chase each other through lush fantasy steampunk scenery in hand-animated action sequences. Castle of Cagliostro is quite possibly one of the greatest animated movies ever made.

18. Ares

When a struggling student accidentally finds herself accepted into a secret society, she begins unfurling a series of mysteries about the cult’s practices and her own lineage. This Dutch horror series is masterfully suspenseful and beautifully shot. You don’t need to pick up on the social criticism pertaining to the villainies of colonialism to be enthralled by the show’s dark story.

17. Tokyo Idols

Japan is known for its abundance of micro-subcultures that exist nowhere else. This includes the vibrant — and somewhat problematic — world of teenage idols: young female pop stars with rabid male fanbases. Tokyo Idols is a documentary that looks into the obsession with these cute singers and treats the fans who adore them with both curiosity and humanity.

16. Big Flower Fight

It’s hard to imagine that the frivolous world of flower arranging could be even remotely exciting, but The Big Flower Fight uses the formula of The Great British Baking Show to display the immense skills and aesthetic power of landscaping and floristry. The diverse cast are imminently lovable and you’ll absolutely have a favorite by the finale — even if you don’t care about plants at all.

15. Gerald’s Game

One of Stephen King’s lesser-known works was transformed into a deeply eerie horror movie by director Mike Flanagan in 2017. In it, a married couple’s experiments in BDSM are interrupted when the husband suddenly dies, leaving the wife handcuffed to her bed. As she struggles to escape, she is visited in the night by wolves and giants: Is she going insane or is she being stalked?

14. The Great British Baking Show: Holidays

The Great British Baking Show became a viral sensation in the USA: the kind and gentle approach to reality competition was so starkly different from the bitchy, drama-filled spectacles we have on this side of the pond. Beloved contestants return for one-off Holiday-themed episodes in this spinoff showcase. Even viewers who vehemently oppose Christmas cheer can’t help but be charmed.

13. Casting JonBenet

The true crime genre is often mind-numbingly violent and thoughtlessly sensationalist, but Casting JonBenet provides a sensitive and intelligent, postmodern twist on the standard formula. This documentary about the actors who play victims and murderers in true crime reenactments hits on the human element of crime stories in ways few other movies really can manage.

12. Pee Wee’s Big Holiday

We all remember the cultural shunning of Paul Reubens following a series of overblown non-scandals, but Pee-Wee gets the last laugh with this triumphant return. The wacky world of perpetual childhood remains heartwarmingly innocent even decades after the eponymous hero’s Big Adventure.

11. Gothika

Widely considered one of the worst horror movies ever made, Gothika is pure camp: a so-bad-it’s-actually-good classic that succeeds because it’s a total failure. Halle Berry does her best at playing a psychiatrist who one day wakes up to the realization that perhaps she was beyond sanity all along. Absurd dialogue and nonsense plot twists abound.

10. Snowpiercer

Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece Parasite rightfully snatched Oscars in 2019, inviting a rewatch of some of the auteur’s earlier works. Snowpiercer definitely holds up as social commentary despite the film’s absurd premise: as the world freezes over following an attempt to regulate the planet’s temperature, the only survivors are trapped on a train in which occupants are separated by economic class — that is, until an ill-fated uprising.

9. Enter The Dragon

Considered by many to be the greatest martial arts film ever made, Enter The Dragon was Bruce Lee’s final film before his untimely death. Both extremely exciting and intellectually sophisticated, it’s fine to watch this movie for the action or for its implicit critique of post-World War II colonialism.

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is best comparable to Howl’s Moving Castle, and although it’s probably not quite as culturally important as Miyazaki’s high fantasy, it’s a welcome escape into a brightly colored steampunk kingdom. 

7. I Am Divine

The drag queen Divine was punk before punk was invented: as the Filthiest Person Alive she attracted an international cult following through her raunchy performance art and iconic anti-fashion. This documentary showcases the life of Harris Glenn Milstead and the ragtag group of rebels that helped him become, well, Divine. 

6. The Babysitter

In this wild horror-comedy, a sexy babysitter is revealed as the leader of a Satan-worshipping crew of ghouls. The only hope for their defeat is a pre-teen boy who must outsmart the demonic gang — but can he overcome his crush on his governess to thwart the devil? Director McG’s penchant for eye-popping visuals and Tarantino-esque hyper-stylization help uplift the movie’s extremely silly story.

5. Ainori: Love Wagon

Japanese reality dating shows are far quirkier than the endless slog of Western romantic travesties like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. In Love Wagon, singles have their phones taken away during weeks of international travel. The socially awkward men and women navigate competing crushes while visiting tourist attractions, complete with over-the-top narration and absurd commentary.

4. Carol

Slow-paced lesbian dramas aren’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but if that is what you’re seeking, Carol is probably the pinnacle of that sub-genre. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara dealing with sapphic sexual awakenings, the movie considers the emotional destruction a culture of homophobia left in its wake. 

3. Good Burger

At this point there’s probably nothing more tired and expected than 90’s nostalgia — and quite frankly a lot of the things we loved as kids don’t hold up. Good Burger is an exception: Keenan Thompson and Kell Mitchell are iconic in their roles as good-natured fry cooks caught up in various fast food hijinks.

2. Dorohedoro

Anime purists might balk at the 3D CG animation of this science fantasy series but the fight scenes and endearing characters make a few questionable stylistic decisions forgivable. It’d be impossible to explain the show’s absurd and whimsical story in this summary. Suffice it to say, the main plot point is a magical battle between high-class sorcerers and the slums.

1. The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola returns to her favorite themes and motifs (opulence, decadence, depression) in this slept-on excoriation of the morality of reality TV. Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga play a pair of sisters whose endless quest for glamor turns them into petty criminals who bungle their way into robbing the home of Paris Hilton. Based on the real-life crimes of Alexis Neiers and Tess Taylor, Coppola uses the thievery to show just how corrupting fame really can be.

Culture Movies/TV

The 20 Best Anime Films on Netflix

Demon Slayer just became the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan, surpassing the previous record-holder, Spirited Away. Anime movies are only getting bigger and bigger. With that in mind, we compiled a list of the best anime movies on Netflix for you to watch right now. Although Spirited Away isn’t in the catalog, there are some great options for everyone out there, from Hayao Miyazaki diehards to people looking to dip their toes in the genre. Without further ado, these are the 20 best anime movies on Netflix right now. 

1. The Castle of Cagliostro

While movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke have firmly found their footing as some of the greatest animated movies of all time, some older movies of Hayao Miyazaki’s go overlooked. The Castle of Cagliostro was the legendary director’s feature film debut, and it tells the tale of master thief Arsène Lupin III. The movie is thematically different from many of Miyazaki’s later entries, but still features his telltale beautiful portrait shots and witty characters. The Castle of Cagliostro is a must-watch for Studio Ghibli fans, as it provides amazing insight into the genesis of Miyazaki as a filmmaker. 

2. A Whisker Away

This is one of the most recent entries on the list; A Whisker Away released in English on Netflix this past June. The film depicts the story of Miya Sasaki, an unhappy middle school girl who receives a magical Noh mask from a mysterious seller, which grants her the miraculous ability to transform into a cat. As she spends more and more time as Tarō the cat, Miyo has to face numerous questions regarding the self and who she truly is. The animation is beautiful and the film poses questions about what makes us who we are. It’s introspective, colorful and adorable; you’ll come away from the movie with a totally new perspective on relationships and the self. The film was directed by Sailor Moon director Junichi Satoh and written by Anohana writer Mari Okada.

3. Flavors of Youth

Flavors of Youth is an anthology film, so it actually covers three seemingly disparate stories: “The Rice Noodles”, “A Little Fashion Show”, and “Love in Shanghai”. All of the segments of the film, which was a Japanese-Chinese co-production between CoMix Wave Films and members of Haoliners Animation League, take place in China, beautifully highlighting the country’s distinct cityscapes. Flavors of Youth is only 75 minutes long, with each segment making up roughly a third of the runtime. But directors Li Haoling, Jiaoshou Yi Xiaoxing and Yoshitaka Takeuchi manage to pack in tons of sentiment and commentary on family dynamics in the film’s short runtime.

4. A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice, which is based on the manga of the same name, is an incredibly heartfelt teen drama from 2016. The film investigates the horrors of teen bullying, invoking characters who have been both the perpetrators and victims of harassment. In this way, director Naoko Yamada (and original manga writer Yoshitoki Ōima) provides a less black and white narrative of teenage trauma. It’s a thematically dark film, rendered beautifully by Kyoto Animation. This movie is truly a must-watch; you will come away from it a different person than when you began.

5. Okko’s Inn

The 2018 film Okko’s Inn is based on the series of children’s novels of the same name, released between 2003 and 2013. The film tells the tale of young Okko and her grandmother Mineko (and a ghost or two) as they manage the Hananoyu Inn. It’s a beautiful movie, which includes scenes of cutting sadness peppered in amongst moments of pure joy. Unlike some of the other options on this list, Okko’s Inn is a great choice for children and adults alike. 

6. Expelled from Paradise

Expelled from Paradise is another great entry for fans of science fiction. The film, directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Gen Urobuchi, tells the story of agent Angela Balzac, who works on the space station DEVA. The inhabitants of the station have no physical bodies; their minds have been inputted into a virtual reality environment. This is a super cool movie for fans of science-fiction world-building and post-apocalyptic/dystopian futures. The animation, from Toei Animation and Graphinica has a cool, paler color palette, but the complicated sci-fi narrative is what makes this 2014 film really stand out. 

7. Children of the Sea

Children of the Sea is a 2019 film from director Ayumu Watanabe and producer Eiko Tanaka (of Studio 4 °C). Like many of the entries on the list, this movie is also based on a manga of the same name, written by Daisuke Igarashi—who also wrote the screenplay. As the title suggests, the movie is set near the ocean and uses the backdrop to interrogate numerous questions regarding the relationships between humans and nature. The film follows the relationship between junior high student Ruka—and her two new friends, brothers Umi and Sora—and a series of aquatic supernatural phenomena. 

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Mary and the Witch’s Flower was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a former animator for Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. That much is clear when you watch his 2017 film. Yonebayashi certainly takes cues from legendary Miyazaki in its tale of young Mary Smith, who discovers “fly-by-night”, a curious flower which grants her the ability to become a witch for one night. This film is incredibly cute, and a great option not only for scratching your Miyazaki itch, but for anyone interested in discovering an up-and-coming auteur in the anime genre. 

9. Mirai

Mirai is an extremely cute movie that finds its biggest strengths in its simplicity. From legendary writer/director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, the critically acclaimed anime (it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, among numerous other accolades) tells the story of young Kun Ota as he adjusts to having a newborn sister. The screenplay was inspired by Hosoda’s own experience with his three year old son and explores family dynamics and coming-of-age, told through numerous invocations of fantasy and time travel. 

10. The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is widely considered to be one of greatest anime television series of all time. The television show tells the tale of Shinji Akari as he pilots the massive humanoid mecha Evangelion Unit 101 in a series of battles against the hostile alien race, the Angels. The End of Evangelion serves as a parallel ending to the TV show; it picks up where the 24th episode of the show ended and answers some of the questions posed in the series’ 25th and 26th episodes. You honestly can’t consider yourself a diehard anime fan if you haven’t seen this landmark film. 

11. MFKZ

MFKZ (Mutafukaz) is a French-Japanese co-production between Ankama Animations and Studio 4°C from 2017, directed by Shōjirō Nishimi and Guillaume “Run” Renard. MFKZ is a deeply chaotic and turbulent science fiction movie, which takes cues from many great films of the sci-fi canon. The English dub cast also includes some bigtime names, from legendary actor Giancarlo Esposito to Long Beach rapper Vince Staples. The film features a super unique animation style reminiscent of sketched-out video games like Borderlands. It’s truly worth a watch just for a glimpse of the unique animation style. 

12. Naruto Blood Prison

Naruto requires no introduction. Although this movie was met with semi-mixed reviews upon its 2011 release (2014 for North America), Naruto diehards are desperate for any content we can get with our favorite nine-tailed demon fox Naruto Uzumaki. Blood Prison depicts the story of iconic protagonist Naruto after he is wrongly arrested and sent to prison for attacking the Fourth Raikage. 

13. Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You

Unfortunately there aren’t a ton of Pokemon movies available on Netflix right now, but of the limited selection, I Choose You is certainly a cute entry to the franchise. Released as part of a 20th anniversary celebration of the anime series’ initial release, the film (based loosely off of the anime’s pilot) tells the story Pokémon Trainer Ash Ketchum and his pals, Pikachu, Verity, and Sorrel, on their quest to meet the Legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh. It’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but certainly a fun watch for any big time fans of the franchise. It’s also exactly 1 hour and 37 minutes long, so we had to include it. 

14. The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words is only 46 minutes long, but manages to pack in a lot of narrative and themes of maturity and loneliness. The film was written, directed and edited by Makoto Shinkai and animated by the studio CoMix Wave Films. The narrative focuses on Takao Akizuki, a 15-year-old aspiring shoemaker, and Yukari Yukino, a 27-year-old woman, as they keep bumping into each other at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Rain, poetry and the Japanese garden are motifs throughout the film, contributing to the film’s overall aesthetic which highlights the beauty in traditionally gloomy spaces.

15. Lu Over the Wall

Lu Over the Wall, directed by Masaaki Yuasa (of studio Science Saru) and written by Yuasa and Reiko Yoshida, is a really cute entry on the list. The film tells the tale of Kai Ashimoto and his burgeoning friendship with ningyo (a fish creature from Japanese folklore) Lu. It’s a beautifully eye-catching and colorful film with a fairly simple narrative, making it an easy and fun watch for any fans of the genre.

16. NiNoKuni

NiNoKuni is a film adaptation of the renowned video game series of the same name. The games, which have been released since 2010, include animated sequences produced by legendary Studio Ghibli, and most of the games’ music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, the composer for all of Miyazaki’s films. The magic-filled adventure that is the 2019 film may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a solid watch for any fans of the franchise.

17. Evangelion Death (True)

This film is another followup to the legendary anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. This iteration is an edit of the film Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, which was released as the first installment of the film series following the anime. The film consists of a recap of the series’ first 24 episodes as well as a substantial amount of new animation, setting up the events of The End of Evangelion, mentioned above. You could hypothetically watch this movie as your first entry into the franchise, as it explains many of the events of the series. However, the anime series is truly a masterpiece, so there’s good reason to binge it before diving into the films. 

18. Sol Levante

Sol Levante is only 4 minutes long, but it’s still technically a film, albeit short. It is the first hand-drawn anime using 4K HDR technology, which allowed the artists to provide even more detail than traditionally permitted, giving the film an entirely fresh visual style. The film tells the story of a young warrior on a quest for a place said to grant wishes. The narrative aside, Sol Levante is an immensely innovative film for anime as a whole and the technological capabilities opening up to the genre.

19. Fireworks

Fireworks is a 2017 anime based on the 1993 live-action Japanese film, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? It tells the story of a romance between Norimichi Shimada and Nazuna Oikawa. Although the film doesn’t break any barriers from a narrative perspective, the gorgeous music (composed by Satoru Kōsaki) and beautiful animation (who doesn’t love animated fireworks?) make it a great choice for fans of romance movies looking to get into anime. 

20. Berserk: Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King

The first entry from the Berserk: Golden Age Arc is such a banger. Based on the Berserk manga series, the first film tells the story of mercenary Guts in the war against Midland’s rival kingdom. The series is set in medieval pseudo-Europe dark fantasy world, and follows the tale of Guts and Griffith, the leader of the mercenary band called the “Band of the Hawk”. All three movies (released between 2012 and 2013) from the series are available to stream on Netflix, so this trilogy is a great option if you’re looking to binge. 

Culture Movies/TV

The 25 Best Foreign Films On Netflix Right Now

Care to insert a little culture into your next binge-watching sesh? Well, if you’re not afraid of a few subtitles, you can open yourself up to a whole new world of cinema without having to leave your couch – or, for that matter, your Netflix account. Everyone’s favorite streaming service is full of hidden gems of the international variety, hosting an impressive selection of celebrated flicks from around the globe. Whether you’re in the mood for haunting fantasy, dark comedy, or some straight-up action, check out our genre-spanning list of the best foreign films on Netflix right now.

And you thought you’d run out of great movies to watch…

1. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006)

Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish-language masterpiece is hailed as a dark fairy tale that illustrates the real-life horrors of war and political strife. The film, which won three Academy Awards, centers around 10-year-old Ofelia, who has moved to a remote forest compound along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a brutal military captain who has been assigned to flush out rebels after the Spanish Civil War. After discovering an ancient stone labyrinth, Ofelia encounters mythical beings and is tasked with three quests to determine if she’s the reincarnation of Princess Moana of the underworld. The visual effects alone are worth watching for, as del Toro is famous for creating fantastical creatures.

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2. ‘Okja’ (2017)

Written and directed by Bong Joon-ho (the cult-favorite director behind 2019’s Parasite), the film is a heartwarming action-adventure tale about a young South Korean girl who fights to protect her best friend, a genetically-modified super pig named Okja, from an evil corporation. It features a star-studded ensemble cast, which includes Hollywood celebs Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Lily Collins, with South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun in the starring role.

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3. ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013)

Another must-watch by Bong Joon-ho (and his English-language debut), Snowpiercer is a gnarly exploration of class divide, depicting a post-apocalyptic future where survivors of the new ice age ride around endlessly on a train. While the upper classes are treated to luxury living in the front cars, the poor inhabitants reside in filth and squalor. Then they decide to rebel. The action-packed sci-fi flick stars Hollywood A-listers Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton in some very memorable performances.

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4. ‘The Platform’ (2019)

A nightmarish social and class commentary whose real horror is found in its exploration of human nature forced to its limits, The Platform is a Spanish film that takes place in a towering futuristic prison where prisoners are fed via a descending platform. The prisoners at the top are provided with a feast too big to finish themselves, but selfishness and desperation ensure that the bounty never reaches the people at the bottom, leading to stomach-churning results. In a few words, its premise could be described as, quite literally, the cannibalism bred by capitalism.

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5. ‘I Lost My Body’ (2019)

While the concept of a severed hand searching for its body may sound more macabre than moving, this profoundly unique French animated film manages to interweave its strange premise with a dreamlike meditation on love, fate, and the human condition. Of course, there’s also the stunning artistry of the animation to take in. Consider it a highbrow cartoon movie for grownups.

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6. ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ (2004)

Now considered a modern classic of the martial arts genre, this 2004 action-comedy hailing from China is jam-packed with epic fight scenes and fun special effects. Set in 1940s Shanghai, it stars Stephen Chow (also the film’s writer and director) as a petty crook who dreams of joining the notorious Axe Gang… until he accidentally pisses them off and finds himself in the midst of an explosive battle between secret Kung Fu masters.

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7. ‘Roma’ (2018)

Praised by critics and viewers alike, and earning Alfonso Cuarón the Oscars for both Best Director and Best Cinematography, Roma is an intimate, semi-autobiographical drama depicting the life of a middle-class family living in Mexico City in the early 1970s. It presents a moving portrait of characters including Cleo, an Indigenous live-in maid, and Sofía, the matriarch of the family Cleo works for, who learns of her husband’s infidelity. Between its artistry and plotlines, it’s a film that stays with you.

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8. ‘#Alive’ (2020)

An almost too-relevant take on the “zombie” genre, this South Korean film portrays a young gamer who is forced to barricade himself in his apartment and communicate through social media as a virus spreads among the world outside, turning his fellow citizens into flesh-eating monsters (classic!). Although he struggles with isolation, he is determined to survive, especially after he connects with a female neighbor living across the way. While it may not be the most original story, it’s definitely a fun must-watch for fans of zombie flicks.

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9. ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ (2001)

Alfonso Cuarón’s clever coming-of-age film has been a fan-favorite for nearly two decades. It stars actors Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal as two teenage friends who embark on a saucy road trip with an older woman through the Mexican countryside, melding comedy, drama, and sexual themes. It reimagines the American “road movie,” setting it among the social, political, and natural landscape of Mexico.

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10. ‘Happy As Lazzaro’ (2018)

This Italian-language flick is a dreamy drama with a fairytale-like twist that traverses time while staying grounded in real issues like the class divide. It tells the story of Lazzaro, a good-hearted young peasant in rural Italy who lives and works on a farm run by a cruel landowner. When the landowner’s son, a rebellious nobleman, asks Lazzaro to help him stage his own kidnapping, the innocent worker experiences a freak accident that leads to him waking up in the future. The film was a hit at Cannes where it debuted in 2018 and where it won the prestigious title of Best Screenplay, so you know you’re in for a unique ride.

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11. ‘The Night Comes For Us’ (2018)

If you like your movies like you like your video games, and you like your video games action-packed and full of gory fight sequences, good news! The Night Comes For Us, an Indonesian gangland thriller, should check all of your boxes. Crime, violence, and masterfully choreographed martial-arts battles ensue after a Triad enforcer spares the life of a young girl and turns his back on the gang. Warning: the use of fake blood is gratuitous, but hey if you’re into that sorta thing…

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12. ‘Verónica’ (2017)

Horror fanatics, this one’s for you. The Spanish supernatural chiller, Verónica, involves many elements signature to the “teen possession” genre: an ouija board, a creepy nun, an attempted seance that goes horribly wrong. But when Paco Plaza’s terrifying take on the familiar theme hit Netflix back in 2018, it was described by many viewers as “the scariest movie ever.” The fact that it’s based on a true story only adds to the goosebumps. Watch at your own risk.

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13. ‘Atlantics’ (2019)

As for a supernatural drama that goes in the decidedly opposite direction, there’s Atlantics. A mesmerizing tale that takes place in the shadow of development and exploitation in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal, it combines serious political commentary with magical realism to culminate in a ghostly story of love and revenge. The director, Mati Diop, made history in 2019 when she became the first Black woman to direct a film in competition at Cannes.

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14. ‘The Lobster’ (2015)

An international co-production of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Greece, France, and the Netherlands, 2015’s The Lobster is the first English-language film by acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. An instant art house hit, the “absurdist dystopian black comedy” stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as characters who must navigate love in a world where single people are given a certain amount of time to find a partner before being forced by the state to turn into an animal. The deep-cutting (and disturbingly hilarious) satire plays on the commentary plenty of single people in the real world are probably used to hearing.

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15. ‘I’m No Longer Here’ (2019)

After a Mexican teenager named Ulises gets mixed up in local gang violence, he is forced to flee to Queens, New York, where he finds himself living an alienated and lonely life. The film uses flashbacks to tell the story of what happened to Ulises, a member of the Mexican youth subculture dubbed Cholombiano, which is marked by baggy clothes, eccentric hairstyles, and a love for dancing to manipulated cumbia music. While the story and social commentary paint somewhat of a dismal picture, the actual film work is breathtaking.

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16. ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ (2016)

Coming out of New Zealand, Hunt for the Wilderpeople perfectly embodies writer/director Taika Waititi’s brand of quirky, semi-sweet comedy as it follows a troubled teen and his grouchy foster father through mishaps and adventure in the New Zealand wilderness. It’ll leave you with plenty of laughs and probably some inner warm-and-fuzzies.

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17. ‘Swimming Pool’ (2003)

This erotic French thriller makes psychological suspense rather sexy. A crime novelist experiencing writer’s block escapes to her publisher’s luxurious country house in the South of France for some peace and quiet to work on her next book. But then a mysterious young woman claiming to be his daughter suddenly arrives, and drama is soon to follow. The much-talked-about ending has spurred controversy thanks to its multitude of interpretations – and if that’s not reason enough to watch, we don’t know what is.

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18. ‘Divines’ (2016)

“Get rich or die trying” is the overarching theme of this fresh French drama about a scrappy teenage girl from the rough “banlieues” of Paris stumbling into a life of drug-dealing and street-hustling. It’s a raw illustration of urban youth and the tragic consequences of dabbling with crime to overcome one’s circumstances. As it was her first feature film, director Houda Benyamina won the Caméra d’Or prize for Divines when it debuted at Cannes in 2016.

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19. ‘Everybody Knows’ (2018)

Starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, Spanish crime drama Everybody Knows takes place in a small town just outside Madrid, where a woman named Laura (Cruz) returns home for her sister’s wedding. When her daughter is kidnapped for ransom, the secret she’s kept for years begins to unravel and family tensions reach a boiling point. Juxtaposed with the mystery surrounding the kidnapping, the storyline makes for an intricate and interesting watch.

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20. ‘On My Skin’ (2018)

Based on the true story of a case that rocked Italy in 2009, this gritty Italian drama recalls the last days of Stefano Cucchi, a young Roman man who was arrested on drug possession charges and mysteriously died in police custody a week later. The powerful narrative explores the all-too-relevant (and universal) themes of police brutality and corruption within the criminal justice system.

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21. ‘Burning’ (2018)

The title of this South Korean psychological thriller makes sense for plenty of reasons related to the plot, but it is, as a whole, best described as a slow burn drama that intensifies until its shocking conclusion. After a young man, Jong-su, is tasked with taking care of a female friend’s cat while she’s away, he unwittingly gets pulled into a fiery love triangle with his friend and a mysterious, Porsche-driving Korean playboy. When it was released in 2018, the film was a hit on the festival circuit and made just about every Best Movie of The Year list, so both critics and viewers agree that it’s a must-see.

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22. ‘Brahman Naman’ (2016)

For some lighthearted, good ol’ fashioned sex comedy in the Western tradition of raunchy movies like American Pie and Superbad, there’s Brahman Naman. The commercially-angled Indian feature takes on the familiar, yet always-funny, plot of a group of nerdy college guys on a booze-soaked quest to lose their virginities. While there are some India-specific touchpoints related to classism and sexism, it’s definitely a pick that can be enjoyed by bros across the world. Trust, you won’t soon forget the ceiling fan scene.

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23. ‘First They Killed My Father’ (2017)

History buffs who can stomach the harsh realities of war and political strife won’t want to miss this harrowing true account of a child soldier in Cambodia, surviving the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Based on the memoir of the same name by activist Loung Ung, the film was actually directed by Angelina Jolie, who also worked alongside Ung to write the script. It’s shot in the Khmer language of Cambodia and was made with the help of a completely Cambodian cast and crew.

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24. ‘A Fortunate Man’ (2018)

This Danish period piece, adapted from the famous novel Lucky Per by Nobel Prize-winning author Henrik Pontoppidan, follows the epic rise and fall of Peter, a poor but ambitious engineering student who has the chance to rise up in Copenhagen society thanks to his modern, grand-scale ideas. All signs point to the good life until the inner demons stemming from his past emerge. It’s a dramatic and complex character study that reinforces the detrimental effects of unresolved trauma.

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25. ‘Wadjda’ (2012)

The first-ever feature film by a female Saudi director (shout out to Haifaa al-Mansour!) and the first film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, Wadjda is an uplifting story centering on a rebellious, spirited young girl on a mission to buy her own bicycle – despite the fact that riding a bike is a frowned upon activity for girls. It’s been celebrated for its accurate depiction of the challenges faced by women in the region due to culture and religion while leaving enough room for the hopeful potential of progress.

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Culture Movies/TV

The 5 Best Zombie Movies On Netflix

In the wake of Halloween, the ghosts, goblins, and witches may have returned to the netherworlds from whence they came, but since there’s no more room in Hell, the dead still walk the earth! 

Because zombies have become a sort of ubiquitous motif in horror cinema, it’s easy to forget the zombie sub-genre’s deep political roots. Director George Romero didn’t invent zombies, but his groundbreaking film Night of the Living Dead is often credited for creating most of the tropes that would be repeated in subsequent horror films. Romero’s speculative sci-fi story somewhat accidentally became an allegory about race relations in America when the director decided to cast a Black man as the protagonist — thus changing the cultural context of the events depicted in the frightening film. Suddenly, the final scene in which the movie’s hero is shot by a roving gang of hunters took on a much different meaning. Romero would continue exploring anti-capitalist and subversive themes in the film’s follow-up, Dawn of the Dead, which depicted a suburban mall’s invasion by hordes of festering corpses. The zombies there were supposed to represent the mindless consumerism, which he saw driving American culture in the late ’70s.

Since the ’70s, horror filmmakers have used zombies to convey a plethora of political messages — but zombies have since somewhat lost their teeth. Movies like Warm Bodies or  Life After Beth and TV series like The Walking Dead have rendered the critical component of zombie film somewhat obsolete: Nowadays, zombies are often used as material for saccharine twee musings or another meaningless image in banal action sequences.

Although Netflix’s horror selection has significantly declined in quality in recent memory (especially now that Shudder has been gaining traction amongst horror die-hards), there’s still a handful of hidden gems tucked away in their spookiest sections. Here’s five can’t-miss zombie movies ranging from politically incisive to absurdly campy to family-friendly.

(Warning: some spoilers throughout)

5. Cargo (2017)

Martin Freeman (best known for playing Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy) stars as the oddly rugged and handsome protagonist of this Australian post-apocalypse narrative filled with socio-political overtones. Cargo takes its doomsday conceit quite seriously — there’s pretty much no sense of humor to be found anywhere in this dire and bleak movie — and some of the film’s images of racialized violence are extremely disturbing. Viewers with certain sensitivities may need to stay away.

Cargo tells the story of a recently infected father, hoping to find living humans to take care of his daughter before he turns undead. I’m not really sure what’s been happening in the popular zeitgeist over the past 5 years that suddenly stories of men wandering through barren wastelands while protecting helpless children have become so ubiquitous (see: The Mandalorian). Still, Cargo uses this motif as the set up to a fable about xenophobia and racism.

The zombies in Cargo, who are mostly reanimated white people, go into what one character calls “hibernation” — they’re often found putting their heads in the sand or walking into walls as if to shield their eyes from seeing the horrors around them. Meanwhile, the film’s antagonist (also a white man) begins trapping Aboriginals in cages and using them as bait to hunt the hordes of rotting somnambulists. If the movie is a commentary on race, it seems to be saying that white people purposefully look away from the violence other whites commit against people who don’t look like them. Of course, it’s ultimately a roving band of Aboriginals who wind up rescuing the child from certain doom.

4. #Alive (2020)

Don’t let the misleadingly corny title fool you, #Alive is a deceptively frightening South Korean film that uniquely works in the year 2020: when a stylish, streetwear clad gamer named Oh Joon-Woo (played by Yoo Ah-in, whose acting is truly Oscar-worthy throughout) successfully barricades himself in his apartment as a mysterious virus infects everyone around him, he begins to lose his grip on reality. His attempts to call for help by streaming pleas to be rescued on social media are met with an endless cycle of news reports urging him to stay inside as hunger and loneliness slowly destroy his sanity.

The first 45 minutes of the film are truly terrifying, and Yoo Ah-in’s acting really captures something fundamentally nightmarish about either a zombie apocalypse or a global pandemic. After Joon-Woo meets a second survivor from the apartment complex across the street, the latter half of the movie plays out like a more standard pre-Covid survivor story. 

The movie’s moral message says something a bit ambiguous about the nature of solitude in the age of social media. On the one hand, no one ever really connects with each other anymore. On the other hand, social media is the only thing keeping us from feeling so bitterly alone.

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3. Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

Silent Hill: Revelation is in no way a good movie, but it’s gratifying. The first film adaptation of the avant-garde video game series of the same name took several interesting and ingenuitive creative liberties with the source material — but this sequel to the relatively successful adaptation goes totally off the rails. 

The Silent Hill video games take place in the eponymous fictional town, which exists on the border between the worlds of the living and the dead: Silent Hill is a kind of cosmic purgatory where the sins of its denizens manifest as hideous monsters; each demon represents the unconscious conflicts of the various protagonists. The Silent Hill 2 video game specifically is considered a masterpiece of the medium and single-handedly created an argument for the legitimacy of video games as art. Unfortunately, Silent Hill: Revelation wholly abandons both the concept and chronology of the original games (SH: R is technically an adaptation of the third Silent Hill video game, but honestly, don’t worry about it) — the film opts instead for schlocky 3D effects and an entirely incoherent plot. 

But it’s not all bad: although the story is a total mess, the art design of SH: R is exquisitely grotesque, filled with creative, putrid devils and delightfully bizarre set design. Revelation isn’t a traditional zombie movie per se. Still, there’s plenty of undead creatures skulking about the burnt-out suburb, including the series’ beloved, buxom baddies known as the Bubble Head Nurses. The movie crescendos into a strange kaiju battle between the franchise’s main antagonist, Pyramid Head, and his new gynoid rival, The Missionary. Sci-fi legend Malcolm McDowell makes a hilarious and nearly non-sequitur cameo. Whereas the video games were understated and unnerving, SH:R is bombastic and campy — a silly Halloween funhouse set in an existential Hellworld.

2. ‘Paranorman’ (2012)

The artists at the animation studio Laika are absolute masters of stop-motion cinematography, and Paranorman is their zombie-filled, kid-friendly treasure. The movie is a showcase of offbeat, twisted whimsy, and while the story and action aren’t exactly scary, the movie’s message is heartwarmingly kind. 

Norman is an outcast in his eccentric hometown, Blithe Hollow (loosely based on Salem, Massachusetts). Preferring the company of the dead, Norman faces his conservative family’s constant disapproval due to his habit of convening with ghosts. His vaguely schizophrenic uncle tasks him with quelling a legendary witch’s curse. Still, Norman’s mystical quest goes awry, leading to a zombie invasion by the undead pilgrims who founded the suburb. After begrudgingly accepting the help of a ragtag group of sidekicks, Norman winds up saving the village not with magic but with empathy for those who hurt each other out of panic.

There’s a not-so-subtle message about queerness weaved in and out of this tale: Norman’s father fears his son will become a “limp-wristed” freak because of his innate supernatural sensitivities. Despite the hurt his patriarch causes him, Norman realizes that peoples’ cruelty is often the result of their fear. (It’s no surprise the film garnered a nomination for a GLAAD Movie Award thanks to its positive and honest portrayal of queerness.)

Zombie movies are often morality tales in disguise, and Paranorman is a moving love letter to the genre: it’s a family-oriented film about the power of forgiveness and tolerance wrapped up in a magical story of the dead rising from their graves.

1. ‘The Evil Dead’ (1981)

The Evil Dead will likely be remembered as director Sam Raimi’s magnum opus and is often considered a zenith of zombie films writ large. Although it lacks the moral or political complexity of comparable zombie films like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, the bonkers visuals, over-the-top acting, and unhinged cinematography is beyond inventive and almost unparalleled in the contemporary horror landscape.

The plot feels almost formulaic now — the movie’s been endlessly parodied or re-imagined in more post-modern contexts (think Cabin Fever and Cabin in the Woods): Four students discover and then read from a mysterious evil book while on a weekend getaway, thus accidentally catalyzing a series of demonic possessions and summoning a horde of reanimated rotting corpses that attempt to drag the kids to Hell. Protagonist Ash Williams, a wisecracking, catchphrase-spewing anti-hero, has since become a cultural icon and a punk sex symbol — thanks to genius characterizations from the strong-jawed Bruce Campbell.

Although Campbell is the star, the movie really shines thanks to astounding special effects from Tom Sullivan, whose meticulous and detailed work with prosthetics, practical effects, and stop motion animation brings Raimi’s gruesome vision to life. It’s almost depressing how horror movies these days rely so heavily on CGI considering the brutal beauty of Evil Dead, which ironically feels far more alive than the endless slew of uncanny computer graphics that have become more widely used in the new millennium.

By the way, the 2013 reboot of Evil Dead (also titled Evil Dead) is absolutely incredible as well — it’s not streaming on Netflix right now, but it’s worth seeking out!

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Culture Movies/TV

The 25 Best Documentaries on Netflix

Welcome to what feels like day 932729292 of quarantine/social distancing/slowly unraveling in our apartments and parents’ homes! Whether your body has melted into the couch and now you are living as one entity or you’ve avoided the TV to do more active things (you weirdos), this is your reminder that there are a million great documentaries still waiting for you on Netflix!  Many of these were just released this year so put your food order into UberEats, put on your learning pants, and let’s go! 

1. ‘Immigration Nation’

Trump’s 2016 campaign promise hinged around the construction of a wall on the border of the United States and Mexico, quickly catapulting the issue of immigration into the forefront of the news, yet the actual duties and responsibilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have remained shadowy, at best. The directors, Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz used their prior relationship with an ICE spokesperson to give us inside access into the world of assaults and attacks on undocumented immigrants, from enforcement techniques, filling arrest quotas, racial profiling, and (sometimes) illegal tactics that ICE officers employ. Immigration Nation reveals a heart-wrenching look at families who have experienced trauma and loss at the hands of some of the cruelest policies that the U.S. has in place. 

2. ‘Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia’

Told through a multitude of interviews, Fear City examines the five major New York crime families during the 70s and 80s (Genovese, Gambino, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo) but with a major focus on the FBI agents who sought to remove them from power. If you’re looking for a sexy and glamorized view of the mafia, Sopranos-style, you won’t find it here. The focal point of this documentary is the minutiae of police work, from painstaking research to setting up wiretaps to unpacking surveillance transcripts.  It all leads up to the Mafia Commission Trial, the 1985-1986 trial that brought down the heads of these ruling families, and referred to as the “Case of All Cases”.

3. ‘Love on the Spectrum’

If you’re tired of shows like Love is Blind and Too Hot to Handle, let me introduce you to a much kinder Love on the Spectrum. Exploring the world of dating and love for adults with autism, viewers get to experience first dates and relationships that celebrate love and acceptance. It doesn’t do much to educate the watcher on autism, nor does it feature a particularly diverse cast (it’s super white, but does have one queer relationship), but it is free of the snark and condescending comments that usually accompany reality dating shows. 

4. ‘Unwell’

I’ve never met a health and wellness trend I didn’t love.  Okay, that’s not entirely true, but I’ve never met a health and wellness trend that didn’t at least interest me.  CBD, air purifying devices, collagen powders, crystals…all of it is my jam.  The global wellness industry is currently valued at $4.5 trillion so it seems as if it’s many people’s jams. (Un)well was an immediate must-watch for me but should come with a warning: while the task of the documentary is to investigate wellness trends and debunk misleading claims, we don’t walk away exactly clear on where we stand. It does cover some pretty interesting subjects like intermittent fasting and essential oils so if you have even a passing interest in wellness, it’s an engaging watch.

5. ‘Athlete A’

For over 20 years, there have been hundreds upon hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in gymnastic programs across the United States. The IndyStar has reported that ‘at least 368 child gymnasts have alleged sexual assault by gym owners, coaches, and staff working for gymnastics programs across the country’ which has been a ‘rate of one every 20 days.’  This gut-wrenching documentary explores the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, concentrating on Larry Nassar, the team doctor that was named in hundreds of lawsuits. Athlete A applauds the countless brave women who spoke out and brings the focus on the culture that allowed this abuse to remain unchecked for years.

6. ‘The Last Dance’

You’ve most likely heard of this sports documentary that recounts Michael Jordan’s time with the Chicago Bulls and their final championship during the ‘97-’98 NBA season. There are interviews with over 100 people connected to the team (including many notable basketball players) and never-before-aired footage, making it an enjoyable and captivating watch. The best interviews are the ones with Jordan himself; his sheer willpower and dedication to winning are on display, but it’s the transparency and honesty in his answers that make this a must-watch.

7. ‘The Speed Cuber’

The Rubik’s Cube is a surprisingly newer toy; it was released on the market in 1980, with the World Cube Organization forming over 20 years later, in 2004. Sue Kim, the director of The Speed Cuber wasn’t even aware of this world until her son picked one up a few years ago and was instantly obsessed. A fun and surprisingly emotional film, we are even introduced to Feliks Zemdegs and Max Park, the “Michael Jordan of cubers…[with the later] possibly the Lebron James.”

8. ‘Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich’

Do you ever feel like it’s too late in the game to ask a question about something that you feel like you should know already? That exact sentiment is what led me to watch this documentary on Jeffrey Epstein. I knew he was a rich sex offender who had a reportedly suspicious death while in jail, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. The real story is so much worse.  We meet some of his victims and hear the truly heinous acts of this well-connected yet almost untouchable man. Although the story is highly captivating, expect to leave with a million more questions and a nauseous feeling in your stomach.

9. ‘High Score’

If you played video games growing as a kid (or even now) High Score feels like an addicting hit of nostalgia. Narrated by Charles Martinet, the voice behind Nintendo’s Mario, we explore the history of video games; from the visionaries and designers who conceived some of the most loved games like Pacman, Mortal Kombat, and Sonic to the designers who treat each visual and audio element as a work of art. Witnessing the beginning of this multi-billion dollar industry and seeing how video games have evolved over the years is a colorful adventure in storytelling. 

10. ‘Holy Hell’

I am fascinated by cults.  Not in a creepy “will-join-once-I-find-one-that- ”feels right” type deal, but I’ve always been curious about how sane and logical people decide to give up everything to follow leaders that I, personally, never found too charismatic. Holy Hell investigates the Buddafield cult, which started in Hollywood in the 19080’s, led by “a vaguely Ramon Novarro-Esque failed actor named Michel”. What’s most unique about this documentary is that the director, Will Allen, is uniquely situated to do this exposé, as he was a member of the cult for over 20 years, and can offer an insider’s look.

11. ‘Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything’

If you’re a fan of passionate storytelling (possibly on subjects you don’t know too much about), science journalist Latif Nasser has got a show for you. Exploring the connections of a vast array of subjects to each other and the universe, Nasser’s infectious enthusiasm and goal to be a lifelong learner makes complex subjects downright enjoyable.

12. ‘Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything”

The rise of singer/rapper Gustav Elijah Åhr, more commonly known as “Lil Peep” was cut short due to a tragic accidental overdose in 2017 on his tour bus. Everybody’s Everything recounts the life of Lil Peep, as he made his way from Long Beach, NY to Hollywood. This is a heartbreaking look at a young artist who was so much more than a “SoundCloud rapper” whose music connected with so many people across the globe.

13. ‘Knock Down the House’

If you were wondering where the political documentaries were, here’s the only one you need to watch this year. Knock Down the House chronicles Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s journey from the Bronx to politics. The hardworking and charismatic AOC isn’t the only woman featured; we also meet three other Democratic mainstays: Missouri’s Cori Bush, Nevada’s Amy Vilela, and West Virginia’s Paula Jean Sweareng. 

14. ‘Becoming’

Based on the bestselling memoir of the same title, Becoming follows former First Lady Michelle Obama on her 34-day city book tour.  Through her warm demeanor, genuine interactions with others, and stories about her first date with Barack or her “high school guidance counselor who didn’t think she was Princeton University material”, it’s hard not to fangirl Michelle Obama.  She’s motivational, a strong champion of women, and just a lady I’d like to grab drinks with. 

15. ‘Night on Earth’

Narrated by Samira Wiley, Night on Earth uses state-of-the-art new technology to follow nocturnal animals around in their natural habitat. You get to see some unique creatures and learn interesting tidbits, but what’s truly astonishing is the beautiful footage. It’s nature porn in all its glory, and sometimes real porn, with clips of animals mating and ya know, sometimes killing each other. Watch for the visuals alone.

16. ‘Rise of Empires: Ottoman’

For any history buffs out there, Rise of Empires: Ottoman unpacks the Ottoman Empire’s rise to power with a documentary-meet-over-the-top-reenactment lens. Tywin Lannister does the narration (I mean, actor Charles Dance) as we follow Mehmed II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, engage in some cool kickass battles. I’m not sure how true to history this doc remains, but I’m half Turkish (Turkey = modern-day Ottoman Empire) so I’m a little biased. Okay, a lot biased. ​​​​​

17. ’20 Feet from Stardom’

20 Feet from Stardom won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and currently has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and for good reason: the background singers featured are all phenomenal. Singing backup for some of the most influential musical legends in history, these (mostly) women all deserves to be known and celebrated. Full of intimate interviews, we learn about their lives and careers and amazing vocal abilities through raw and enthusiastic storytelling. You can’t help but root for each and every one of them. 

18. ‘Rotten’

The description Netflix put out for Rotten is pretty intense for a show about food supply and production: “Local farming is fading as profit margins decide what food makes it to our plates. The new Netflix documentary series Rotten exposes the fraud, corruption, and the consequences on our health of today’s global food industry. Nobody’s hands are clean.” Each episode focuses on a different food industry issue with the main takeaway being that everything is corrupt. If you want to know more about the secret dangers of chicken harvesting and bee pollination, this is a good place to start.

19. ‘A Secret Love’

How long could you keep your relationship a secret? For Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, try 7 decades. After meeting in 1947, these two ladies met and fell in love in Chicago, where Donahue played catcher for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League…yup, the same team that was the inspiration for the movie A League of Their Own. What followed was a 72-year love story, with neither of their families knowing a thing until both women were in their 80’s.  A super sweet and heartfelt relationship will make you smile and bring you hope (and can’t we all use some more of that right now?) 

20. ‘Brené Brown: The Call to Courage’

Are we still obsessed with TED Talks?  I hope so because The Call to Courage which depicts Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame should be mandatory watching.  A research professor in social work at the University of Houston, Brown shares what she’s learned about relationships, difficult and uncomfortable situations, and bridging the divide and why being vulnerable is the bravest thing we can do and why we should choose courage over comfort.  

21. ‘Senna’

This eight-episode series is a poignant documentary focusing on the life and death of Aryton Senna. Senna covers the time period from the beginning of Artyon’s racing career, all the way up to his tragic death in a 1994 crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy. Senna’s family was heavily involved in the production of the mini-series, giving it that authentic feeling (nobody knows you better than your family). The documentary also gives a deeper look into Senna’s life and career, showing us that while some people are only here for a short time, what they accomplish in those few years are worth a lifetime.

22. ‘Miss Americana’

When you think of Taylor Swift, your brain automatically goes to her career as a singer. So it would be natural to assume that a music documentary about her would be like a lot of the other music documentaries we’ve seen over the years. Except it’s not. Produced by Swift herself, Miss Americana is actually focused more-so on the singer’s life as opposed to her music career. The documentary includes Swift’s journey of growth, self-reflection, and her decision to publicly express her political opinions. Miss Americana shows Swift in a different light, allowing viewers to connect to Taylor Swift the person and not the “brand.”

23. ‘American Factory’

The first production under Higher Ground (a production company formed by Barack and Michelle Obama), American Factory gives a look at the cold hard truth of the factory industry. The documentary focuses specifically on the now-defunct General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. The film walks viewers through the manual labor and working conditions required of employees, and details how workers often fell victim to the rich and powerful in hopes of achieving “The American Dream.” The documentary also covers the transition of General Motors, as a Chinese billionaire went through the process of personally investing in it for his company Fuyao. If you ever wanted to learn more about the factory industry during that time period, this is the film for you.

24. ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’

Abducted in Plain Sight is a documentary based on the real-life story of the Broberg family, whose daughter, Jan, was abducted twice by their neighbor Robert Berchtold. Director Skye Borgman tells the disturbing story of how Berchtold single-handedly disrupted the Broberg family in the attempt to kidnap Jan not once, but twice. Borgman goes into each specific abduction detailing the sick and twisted methods used by Berchtold in both kidnappings. It’s rare that you hear the story of somebody getting abducted by the same person twice, and while the documentary is indeed dark, it’s certainly an informative piece one should watch. 

25. ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness’

Whether you’ve watched Tiger King or not, chances are you have at least heard of this popular documentary. Tiger King was the talk of “early quarantine,” and now interest has surged again with the recent appearance of Carole Baskin (another “character” in this story) on Dancing with the Stars. The seven-episode series follows the strange and crazy tale of Joe Exotic as his zookeeper job somehow leads him into a whirlwind life full of crime, and well, more crime. Murder, Mayhem, and Madness are definitely the right words to describe Tiger King, and viewers should check it out if they haven’t already had the chance.