Netflix can be a complicated world. You have thousands upon thousands of films at your disposal, ranging from all types of different genres and categories, so why is it so hard to make up your mind on something to watch? I mean, it can’t just be me, right? It’s quite easy for me to spend hours trying to choose a film, yet I end up watching the same ones over and over again. If you share a similar struggle, I’ve got you covered – at least for the time being. Here are some of the little gems I’ve found throughout my many adventures scavenging the depths of Netflix:
WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY
- DIRECTOR: Tommy Wirkola
- WRITER(S): Max Botkin, Kerry Williamson
- STARRING: Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe, Marwan Kenzari, Christian Rubeck
- GENRE(S): Dystopian, Science Fiction, Thriller
“In a world where families are limited to one child due to overpopulation, a set of identical septuplets must avoid being put to a long sleep by the government and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.”
This one is what I like to call ‘Orphan Black: On Steroids.’ I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan so I don’t have too many recommendations when it comes to the genre, but I wanted to make this list as diverse as possible. What Happened to Monday is one of the better sci-fis I’ve seen lately and Noomi Rapace’s phenomenal portrayal of seven totally different women alone is enough for you to want to watch.
MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI
- DIRECTOR: Claude Barras
- WRITER(S): Celine Sciamma, Gilles Paris, Morgan Navarro, Germano Zullo, Claude Barras
- STARRING: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Raul Ribera, Estelle Hennard
- GENRE(S): Family, Animation, Drama
“After his mother’s death, Zucchini is befriended by a kind police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home filled with other orphans his age. There, with the help of his newfound friends, Zucchini eventually learns to trust and love as he searches for a new family of his own.”
I have wholeheartedly fell in love with animation this year. Of course, I’ve always been a massive fan of the Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks films, but didn’t start really testing the waters with other animations until earlier this year and thankfully I did because I have found some that have become lifelong favorites. This one didn’t come to me as a surprise as it’s written by Celine Sciamma, one of my all time favorite directors and writers. Her storytelling always manages to leave me breathless, and My Life as a Zucchini was no exception. It’s still hard for me to believe that this 70-minute odd, little French film about characters made out of clay provoked as much emotion as it did. Not only is it absolutely stunning and so incredibly well put-together, but also manages to shine a light on some crucial themes and subjects, which will all manage to tug at your heartstrings throughout the entirety of the narrative. Trust me on this and give it a watch, it wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for no reason…*wink, wink*
- DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan
- WRITER(S): Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
- STARRING: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr, Samantha Sloyan, Michael Trucco, Emilia Graves
- Genre(s): Thriller, Horror
“A deaf woman is stalked by a psychotic killer in her secluded home.”
Ready to get a proper scare? Hush is the first movie I always recommend to people when they ask me for Netflix recommendations. It’s always surprising to see just how little amount of recognition it has, and I find that it’s a balanced enough film where lots of different people with all types of tastes will enjoy it. Aside from my obsession with foreign films and female directed and/or written works, another one of my favorite things is finding good stories that center around an underrepresented community and Hush is just that. I do wish they would have used a genuinely deaf lead actress though, but for what it’s worth, I feel like they spent a lot of time and energy making sure that that community was appropriately represented and respected.
- DIRECTOR: Nora Twomey
- WRITER(S): Deborah Ellis, Anita Doron
- STARRING: Saara Chaudry, Noorin Gulamgaus, Soma Chhaya
- GENRE(S): Drama, War, Animation
“A headstrong young girl in Afghanistan disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.”
Another animated masterpiece! Told ya’ I was in love. This one is so special and I’m so excited to share it with you all because it truly deserves every bit of recognition and praise. A story about an independent, brave, completely badass little girl written AND directed by an all female crew? I don’t think it can get any better than that. Oh, wait – it can! Not only does it have great female representation, but it’s also a story focused around a culture typically not highlighted in the film industry. The Breadwinner doesn’t hold much back when it comes to showing the audience the reality of women in these situations – it is terrifyingly harsh in the same way it is deeply moving and real. There is something so refreshing about a film of this nature not being afraid to tackle such sensitive yet jarring issues and I applaud it for doing so in such a heartbreakingly stunning and respectable manner.
- DIRECTOR: Celine Sciamma
- WRITER(S): Celine Sciamma
- STARRING: Karidja Toure, Assa Sylla, Lindsey Karamoh
- GENRE(S): Drama
“Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.”
Yet another Celine Sciamma mention. Are you really surprised though? She’s just so good. I swear everything Celine touches turns into pure and perfect cinematic heaven. I have watched and re-watched her entire filmography and could genuinely recommend every single one of her films, but sadly, most are not on Netflix. Good news is that Girlhood is and gosh, is it great! There are so many great coming-of-age stories out there, but I had never seen one focus on the lives of young Black women in a poor French neighborhood. It’s stunning, intimate, thrilling, heartbreaking. I simply couldn’t recommend it more.
UNDER THE SHADOW
- DIRECTOR: Babak Anvari
- WRITER(S): Babak Anvari
- STARRING: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi
- GENRE(S): Thriller, War, Drama, Horror
“As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war torn Tehran of the 80s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.”
I absolutely adore horror films – actually, they’re my number one favorite – and I love war films almost just as much. Now, combine those two elements with a mother/daughter story and a well-developed cultural commentary sprinkled in here and there, you’ve basically got one hell of a horror movie. It’s a simple concept with a marvelous and atmospheric execution that will surely leave you spooked.
- DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler
- WRITER(S): Ryan Coogler
- STARRING: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer
- GENRE(S): Drama
“The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.”
Let’s be honest, we all know that everything the Michael B. Jordan/Ryan Coogler duo does turns out great, and this is no exception. It’s so absolutely heartbreaking and Michael’s performance is one of his best. I loved how they included real footage of Fruitvale – it made it all that more powerful and striking. Most importantly though, I think it was a beautiful and respectful nod to Oscar Grant III, whose tragic death is what this film is based on.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR
- DIRECTOR: Abdellatif Kechiche
- WRITER(S): Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix
- STARRING: Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche
- GENRE(S): Romance, Drama
“Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, finds herself.”
Blue is the Warmest Color is so beautifully hypnotizing that sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s even real. I love my French films, as you can probably tell from this list, and I think one of the reasons I love them so much is because French filmmakers tend to be so daring when it comes to their art. It’s like poetry coming to life on screen and it is simply stunning in every way. This depiction of a boldly passionate coming-of-age story is one of the most raw and painfully honest I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
- DIRECTOR: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
- WRITER(S): Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour
- STARRING: Gunes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan
- GENRE(S): Drama
“In a Turkish village, five orphaned sisters live under strict rule while members of their family prepare their arranged marriages.”
Talking about powerful coming-of-age stories, this has got to be my absolute favorite, by far. I watched it for the first time about a few months ago and I still manage to think about it quite often. I’ve never seen a film tackle such a serious issue in such a tasteful manner. The movie doesn’t stray away from being terrifyingly real and unapologetically honest, yet it balanced itself utterly well by allowing the audience to feel these young girls’ hopeful spirits. There are highs and there are lows, there are heartbreaking moments just like there are lighthearted ones. There’s not a single character you don’t react to in an emotionally striking way, whether it’s a positive or negative reaction. The fact that there are five main characters that are all taking separate life routes also allows for the story to be seen from five dissimilar perspectives which I thought was so clever of Deniz. Also, I dare you to watch the movie and not fall completely head-over-heels in love with little Lale. Go on, try to prove me wrong.
- DIRECTOR: Julia Ducournau
- WRITER(S): Julia Ducournau
- STARRING: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
- GENRE(S): Horror, Drama
“In Justine’s family everyone is a vet and a vegetarian. At 16, she’s a gifted teen ready to take on her first year in vet school, where her older sister also studies. There, she gets no time to settle: hazing starts right away. Justine is forced to eat raw meat for the first time in her life. Unexpected consequences emerge as her true self begins to form.”
Okay, my French film obsession is clearly getting out of hand, but c’mon, how could I possibly go through an entire recommendations list without mentioning one of my favorite directors, Julia Ducournau? Raw is yet another film that I never fail to recommend to everyone around me. It is a bit tricky because it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s so great, both narrative and directing wise, and I just feel like everyone should at least give it a try. This film’s so odd that I’m not quite sure what to even say about it except for, give it a chance! I promise it’s great! In all honesty though, I (clearly) love coming-of-age stories and the more unique, the better. What more unique than a disturbing, cringe-inducing tale of cannibalism? I guess I’ll leave it at that.
Okay, so there you have it! Now that you know some of my favorite Netflix films, let me know some of yours. Don’t leave me hanging!