Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” service is packed with thousands of movies and TV shows galore, and because of the sheer number of options, it remains one of my few alternatives to paying for cable television. However, loaded as instant Netflix gratification may be, uncovering good movies from the cyber pile can be a bit of a challenge.
A word of warning, though: as with any opinionated piece that involves a form of entertainment, personal bias and movie taste have probably slipped into this Top 10 list in one form or another. So, if you see something you don’t like, or have an addition to this list, let us know in the comments section.
10. The Parking Lot Movie (2010) – I wasn’t expecting much out of this movie, but I’m sure that’s the case with at least half the people that watch it. What I got was an intriguing (and funny) story about a bunch of guys that love what they do, and aren’t really interested in the rat race. Documentary included on Top 10 list: check!
9. Happy Gilmore (1998) – I definitely wanted some good slapstick in the Top 10 list, and it was to decide between Happy Gilmore and Dumb and Dumber, but Happy won. Produced during the golden age of Adam Sandler movies, nothing beats Happy Gilmore for golf comedies (no, not even Caddyshack) or sports comedies in general. Matter of fact, 13 years later, there still aren’t many comedies out there that can hold a candle to Happy.
8. Full Metal Jacket (1987) – With this movie, you get two mini-films in one. Stanley Kubrick, the director, was quoted saying that he wanted to depict pre-war and war, as opposed to condemning it (see Platoon). You almost get to study the characters as they develop on base, then see them evolve in battle. Some viewers are turned off by the abrupt shift in scenery from a military base to Vietnam, but I didn’t mind it.
7. Jackie Brown (1999) – And so we arrive at a Tarantino flick (the best one too, Reservoir Dogs aside). If anybody besides Pam Grier or Robert Forster had been cast to play their respective roles (Jackie Brown and bail bonsdman Max Cherry), the movie would have been a bust.
6. Zombieland (2009) – There’s just something about zombies and comedy that goes well together. Shaun of the Dead is a close second to Zombieland, but Woody Harrellson gave this one the final push. It’s action-packed, and it gives a video game feel to ridding US cities of the pesky undead. Just keep an eye out for Bill Murray, he’ll sneak up on you.
5. Oldboy (2003) – There are a lot of extremely good foreign films out there, but Netflix doesn’t have too many of my personal favorites. It does have Oldboy though, and Oldboy has one of the most unique (and troubling) storylines I’ve ever seen. That’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. Just remember, Oldboy is not for the faint of heart.
4. Casino (1995) – If Goodfellas was still available on Netflix Watch Instantly, it would probably be vying for the #1 spot. However, Casino isn’t much different, apart from a Vegas setting and a darker feel to the story. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Ray Liotta appearances, but DeNiro and Pesci are back full-force, and they have more money than ever. Nobody keeps Pesci out of Vegas!
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – If you’re in the mood for an epic 3-hour-long first installation of a 10-hour-long triolgy, then look no further than LOTR. If you watch movies at all (I’m assuming you do, since you’ve gotten this far into the list), then you’ve probably seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once, but that shouldn’t change anything. Watch it again and again, and if you can, watch Two Towers and Return of the King. Who doesn’t have 10 hours to kill?
2. The Fifth Element (1997) – The Fifth Element is one of the best movies ever made. Seriously. It’s the perfect combination of science fiction, action, and comedy. A gripping sci-fi storyline makes way for really cool scenery and some classic nonchalant Bruce Willis. Who doesn’t want to watch a movie about saving the world from the decks of an intergalactic cruise ship? And I hadn’t even mentioned Gary Oldman’s “epic combover” yet.
1. The Big Lebowski (1998) – Why is this movie number one? Because you (well, I) can watch it over and over and it never seems to get old. The Dude lives a very particular way of life, in a non-particular way, and I think a little part of everybody wishes they could be more like His Dudeness (Duder or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). I won’t even get started on the perfection of the supporting Goodman, Buscemi, and Turturro. This film changed my perspective on life, bowling, White Russians, marmots, and rugs in general. But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.