Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to the worthwhile titles currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.
This Friday an ingénue assassin battles a besotted billionaire, a one-armed surfer, some mislead settlers and a flock of baby animals for your movie-going dollars. Thanks to Instant Watch, you can continue your viewing experience at home, pairing one of the above with a panoply of pictures that offer pulse-pounding action, sidesplitting slapstick, or heart-soaring tales of hope.
Joe Wright busts out of the period piece genre with this action-packed espionage thriller that stars Saoirse Ronan as a 16-year-old assassin trained by her father (Eric Bana) to infiltrate a brutal intelligence agency to murder his former handler (Cate Blanchett).
La Femme Nikita (1990) If you like she-spies, check out the iconic French thriller that put Luc Besson on the map! Anne Parillaud stars as a junkie-turned-spy, and Jean Reno co-stars as a hit man who inspired a whole new movie about a little lady killer. (See what I did there?) Sadly, The Professional is not available on Instant Watch, but Nikita packs an unforgettable punch.
Paper Moon (1973) If you like tales of criminally inclined father-daughter duos, pair Hanna with this lithe and classic comedy in which Ryan and Tatum O’Neal grift their way through depression-era America. Notably, Tatum became the youngest Oscar winner for her performance as the precocious Addie Loggins. Peter Bogdanovich directs.
The Bourne Identity (2002) The feature that reinvigorated the espionage genre stars Matt Damon as a spy with amnesia. Like Hanna, his journey to elude those who seek to capture him leads him to uncover a past littered with dark secrets. Franka Potente, Chris Cooper and Clive Owen co-star!
This remake of the 1981 Oscar-winning comedy stars notorious Brit wit Russell Brand as a infamously drunken and misbehaving playboy whose inheritance is put at risk when he falls for a daffy young woman (Greta Gerwig) his posh family disapproves of. Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner co-star.
Arthur (1981) Dudley Moore cemented his place in film history as the madcap millionaire with an endless thirst for booze and fun. Liza Minelli plays his wild child love interest, and John Gielgud won an Oscar for his stern but loyal valet Hobson. It’s a charming tale of love and getting caught between the Moon and New York City.
Brewster’s Millions (1985) The go-go ’80s were a time where we as a nation loved tales of wily millionaires! In this screwball comedy Richard Pryor stars as a washed-up baseball pro who in order to secure an inheritance worth $300 million dollars has to spend $30 million dollars in 30 days without having anything to show for it! John Candy co-stars. (For a Pryor double-feature, pair Brewster’s with another tale of money gone mad: The Toy.)
Nights and Weekends (2008) Arthur 2.0 marks the highest profile role indie darling Greta Gerwig has garnered so far. She’s a compelling onscreen presence and a delightfully offbeat leading lady, and you can see her mumblecore roots in this unwieldy but appealing tale of love and sex.
Based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, this inspirational drama centers on a teen surfer who was the victim of a vicious shark attack that left her with one arm. Sport movie meets spiritual journey as Hamilton’s faith and family help get her back on the board. AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt co-star.
Eat Pray Love (2010) Julia Roberts stars in this sentimental globetrotting journey based on the best-selling memoir. Along the way she beds James Franco and Javier Bardem, eats all kinds of drool-worthy treats, and discovers herself.
The Endless Summer (1966) Possibly the ultimate surfing movie, this documentary follows two wave-chasers around the globe in search of the perfect curl. Writer/director Bruce Brown made a career of crafting surf-centered cinema, and with its gripping footage and colorful characters, it’s easy to see how.
More Than a Game (2008) If you like sports stories, I recommend this doc which centers on a high school basketball team and what happens when an intense spotlight is thrown on their star player, a teen-aged LeBron James. A story of family, friendship, and fame, this true tale is daring and inspiring.
Inspired by a true story, indie auteur Kelly Reichardt reveals the treacherous journey of settlers traversing the Oregon Trail in 1845. Michelle Williams, Zoe Kazan, and Paul Dano co-star.
Wendy and Lucy (2008) This Spirit-nominated drifter drama marks Reichardt and Williams first collaboration. Williams stars as a young woman whose life is thrown into a spin when she loses her only friend, her dog Lucy.
Stagecoach (1939) If you want to revel in tale of the West, we suggest this quintessential John Ford Western. A young John Wayne stars as the Ringo Kid, a noble cowboy seeking vengeance who crosses paths with a diversely peopled stagecoach that’s tearing through perilous Apache territory.
The Donner Party (2009) Also based on a real journey, this drama follows the infamous trail of the Donner party, a group of pioneers who resulted to cannibalism once stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter of 1846. Crispin Glover stars.
Born to Be Wild
This animal-centered documentary was born to be in IMAX, unveiling stunning footage of animal orphans interacting with their human rescuers. Morgan Freeman narrates.
Oceans (2009) In this nature doc, Disney takes you under the sea! Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, it’s a stunner with jaw-dropping shots of animals in their natural habitat.
March of the Penguins (2004) This Oscar-winning doc grabbed worldwide notice for its expansive storytelling. Following the life cycle of a flock of emperor penguins, documentarian Luc Jacquet reveals a touching portrait of a penguin family that makes them seem almost human.
The Cove (2009) This eco-issues doc takes you behind the locked gates and under the waves to reveal the grisly secret of Taijii, Japan’s fishing community: the brutal slaughtering of dolphins en masse. Not for the faint of heart, this Oscar-winner invokes the best of the heist genre (detailing the obstacles, building the team, a heart-pounding suspense sequence) to create a compelling and ultimately haunting feature.
This week we offer a new feature on Now Streaming: our Wild Card Pick, a movie recommendation that has no noteworthy tie-in with a new release, but is just too good to miss on Instant.
This week’s Wild Card pick comes from regular TFS contributor Anthony Vieira:
Night Moves (1975); Bonnie and Clyde director Arthur Penn’s moody 70’s noir stars Gene Hackman as Harry Moseby, a former football player now resigned to his life as a second-rate LA private eye. He leaves his failing marriage and heads to the Florida Keys to track down the runaway daughter of a faded Hollywood star. The plot thickens and Harry is caught in the steamy backwoods underbelly of sun-kissed Florida. Night Moves features one of Hackman’s best performances as Harry goes through the motions of being a detective and finds himself over his head without realizing how he got there. An undervalued gem.
Can you think of a connection/suggestion we missed? Share them in comments.