Anyone with a Netflix subscription knows those "Netflix classics" that everyone reverts to in times of need. The ones that pop up on your home page all the time, like they're not already watched enough, thank you. Unless you want to go digging (which takes time and energy, because a good movie on Netflix is like a needle in a haystack, not because it's rare, but just because there's so much hay oh my gosh), the same old TV shows and movies over and over again can get boring pretty quickly. Next time you're in the mood, search for one of the titles below instead of your default.
Political Drama TV
Okay, so you've already finished "24." Twice. Now try "Hostages," a one-season CBS show about a plot to assassinate the president. While it lacks the iconicity of Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer, Dylan McDermott more than makes up the difference. "24" was long-running and subsequently long-suffering, and I honestly believe I took years off my life while I was obsessed with that show. At least with "Hostages," you know there's an end in sight. And don't worry, the dirty politics you love are still there. Just with a lot less torture.
Is anyone else a wee bit tired of "How I Met Your Mother"? Like, I know it's hysterical. But you can only re-watch it so many times. Instead of marathoning the series for the fifth time this year, opt instead for "Mixology," a snarky comedy along the same lines. "How I Met Your Mother" extends beyond the characters' frequented bar into their personal lives, but "Mixology," with only one season, barely gets beyond its own bar where the band of strangers meet. The mass of characters makes for multiple story arcs as well, which requires more thought to keep track of everyone—but in the end, it's just all the more characters to love.
There's only so much savagery you can watch, especially knowing it was based on real events. If "Rosewater" didn't already hit your limit, I applaud you. But from here, tread carefully. I made the mistake of streaming "The Snowtown Murders"—based on Australia's most infamous serial killer, John Bunting—late one night last Christmas break. I don't know how to communicate how bad of an idea that was. I did not sleep that night. I still think about that movie, frequently. Like the claustrophobic, suffocating interrogation scenes of "Rosewater," "Snowtown" too gives you a close-up look at torture's effects on a human. But unlike "Rosewater," which hides most of the physical abuse, in "Snowtown," you are shown everything. And you are constantly reminded that at one time, this was real. (*Please use discretion if you are considering watching this; explicit rape, mutilation, and murder are shown repeatedly.)
I know, I know, "Would You Rather" took your soul and extracted it from your body and you are never, ever watching it again. I don't blame you. But what happens when you've got the itching one night to get your blood pressure rising without getting off the couch? Stream "13 Sins," another almost-B-horror-but-not-quite movie about a guy in desperate need of a thousand bucks and another guy willing to give it to him—at a price far more unsettling than money. Like "Would You Rather," "13 Sins" takes you through a rollercoaster of a story only to leave you in the end winning the emotional equivalent a Phyrric victory. And for some reason, we keep coming back.
Psychological Thriller Movie
Alright, you watched "Nightcrawler." And it was awesome, of course; Jake Gyllenhaal was perfect in his role, so wonderfully creepy. If you're into that kind of frightening sociopathy, next time settle in with "The Good Doctor." Like "Nightcrawler," this movie does not rely on scares or gore to unsettle its viewers. Orlando Bloom pulls off the charming-but-terrifying, morally-bankrupt central character flawlessly, drawing you to him before leaving you disgusted and still, somehow, intrigued. The exploitation of humans' inhumanity is a trope that is becoming more and more evident in mainstream media, but never, ever doubt the ability of it to creep up on you when you least expect it.
First things first: You're pissed that Netflix removed "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Right? Same. Okay, second: What are you going to do about it? Marathon more hopelessly hipster flicks, of course! To match the romantic, sci-fi vibes found in "Eternal Sunshine," go with "The One I Love." Just a disclaimer: Most likely, you will either love this movie or you will hate it. The twist in the middle is not for everyone, and it took me a second watch to appreciate it. But just as "Eternal Sunshine" leaves you wondering what is real, so does "The One I Love," and the least you can say is that it's intriguing.
So, "Shakespeare in Love" had you lamenting doomed devotion, did it? The angst never ends, I'm afraid, so go ahead and move onto "Copenhagen," another movie about a romance that can never—in any way, shape, or form—work out. Like Viola as Shakespeare's muse, "Copenhagen" also uses the "manic pixie dream girl" trope to connect its two star-crossed lovers. And it works, too—in the end, you're pulling for these characters, even if you don't exactly know why, only that it's a lost cause. (Keep in mind, there's quite a bit of an age gap between the couple in "Copenhagen," so don’t say I didn't warn you!)
Netflix can be tricky to navigate sometimes. I joke with my parents constantly about how there are no good movies on Netflix, but the truth is, there are so many good movies, it can be overwhelming. Hopefully you haven't seen many of the ones on this list so you have an ample "to watch" list for the coming weekend. (But the ones you have seen, drop me a line—I'm always into chatting about films!)
Next time while you're browsing Netflix, before taking one look at the endlessly scrolling list of movie genres or graphic covers, look for a movie a little closer to home. And from there, branch off—and from those branches, and so on, and so on. The world (er, Internet?) is your oyster.
A previous version of this article was published on Odyssey Online.