I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
January 20, 2016
I love Netflix– but one thing I don’t love about it is that it can be impossible to sort through all the ‘meh’ and the ‘eww’ to find truly find the top Netflix movies, documentaries and TV shows. Netflix’s interface is clunky, and unless you know what you’re looking for — you’re pretty much out of luck.
I’ve curated recommendations from hundreds of Facebook friends and fans and consulted a whole bunch of Netflix ‘best of’ lists online to come up with 75 of the best movies, TV series, and documentaries on Netflix that you’ve never heard of.
That’s right. We all know about Making a Murderer. And Breaking Bad. And The Walking Dead. You won’t find those shows here (even though they are all excellent). Most of these picks will probably be new to you — but trust me when I say that they are no less fabulous.
I have cross-referenced every single selection in this post by reading reviews and ratings from both fans and professional critics to make sure that every single thing on this list is freaking amazing. Each pick on this list has gotten raves from viewers and received either four or five stars from viewers on multiple sites.
There is truly something for EVERYONE on this list, whether you’re looking for a family movie night pick, a rom-com, a sports documentary, an action-packed thriller, a British mystery series, or a faith-based movie that isn’t completely cheesy–Whatever it is you’re looking for (short of porn, anyway), you can definitely find something you’ll want to watch right now on this list, no matter your age or interests.
Since Netflix’s website is pretty much worthless, I’ve linked each movie/TV show to its Amazon counterpart, just in case you want to read more about it or see more reviews- or if you don’t have Netflix but you’d like to see it anyway. (Aside: Did you know most DVDs ridiculously cheap now? I didn’t until I started compiling this post.)
And now, without further adieu… 75 of the BEST Netflix Movies and TV Shows You’ve Never Heard Of…
Similar to: Hoop dreams
Great for: Families and anyone else who would enjoy a charming feel good documentary.
Synopsis: The best seven year old golfers from around the world descend on the world famous Pinehurst Golf course in North Carolina to determine the next world champion and who might become golf’s next phenomenon. The Short Game follows eight young golfers vying for the title of world champion. It won the 2013 SXSW audience award.
I say: I chose this for our Family Movie Night one week and everyone moaned and groaned because it was a documentary. Well, guess what? EVERYONE LOVED IT, from my husband right down to my eight-year-old son. The Short Game is a fantastic movie that will make you laugh, bring a tear to your eye, and keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation, no matter your age.
Category: TV Series
Similar to: Poirot, Broadchurch, Sherlock
Perfect for: History buffs, mystery lovers, BBC fans, Anglophiles
Synopsis: The time is the early 1940s; the place is England’s southern coast. As WWII rages around him, duty calls Christopher Foyle. Much to his frustration, however, the stalwart detective’s responsibilities are on the home front, not the battlefront. Michael Kitchen (Reckless) stars with Edward Fox (The Strauss Dynasty) and Robert Hardy (All Things Great and Small) in a fast-paced drama heavy on suspense and somber atmospherics. Netflix has all 9 seasons; each season is made up of either a three or four-part series.
Fans say: “This is the best drama, especially mystery-type of drama, that my wife and I have ever watched. Far superior to Sherlock or Poirot, because you learn about incredible or shocking events & attitudes in WW2 England. Each episode felt like a lesson in history, not just an empty time-filler.”
Similar to: The Spectacular Now
Perfect for: Independent film lovers, fans of dramas about teens.
Synopsis: Short Term 12 follows Grace (Brie Larson), a twenty-something staff member at a foster care facility as she reckons with caring for the teens in her charge and her own past. This lovingly realized film finds truth and humor in unexpected places.
Fans say: “Fabulous film. As paraphrased from Entertainment Weekly, “The Best Film of 2013 You Didn’t See, and Really Should” It’s 90 minutes well, well spent.
Similar to: There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane
Perfect for: Documentary fans, anyone in need of a good cry
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne’s poignant tribute to his murdered childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, tells the story of a child custody battle between Bagby’s grieving parents and Shirley Turner, Bagby’s pregnant ex-girlfriend and suspected killer.
Fans say: “This movie is not only moving, but life changing. I am pretty sure I haven’t cried this much in a long time. Everyone should see this, it will change the way you look at the world around you.”
Category: Animated Film
Similar to: The Secret of Kells, Spirited Away
Perfect for: Families, fans of Irish folklore, anyone who can appreciate a beautifully animated, well-written film.
Synopsis: Saoirse, the last Selkie, escapes from home to help free mythical creatures trapped in the modern world. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
I say: Another one we watched on a Family Movie Night, Song of the Sea was absolutely adored by everyone in the family. It’s like watching a magnificent moving watercolor picture, the story is really lovely, it’s filled with imaginative touches, and it moves quickly.
Category: TV series
Similar to: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Perfect for: BBC fans, comedy fans, Ricky Gervais fans
Synopsis:Ricky Gervais created and starred in this hilarious comedy-drama series about a nursing home attendant who sees only the good in everyone.
Fans say: “Derek is hilarious, but it’s also heart wrenching and heartbreaking. It’s the perfect mix of comedy and drama. There is no other show like it, and everyone should give this show a try.”
I say: I’ve just started this series and I’m hooked. It really is a perfect blend of humor and poignancy and by the end of episode one, you will adore Ricky Gervais’ character.
Similar to: Little Birds
Synopsis: A troubled young man and his straight-laced niece embark on a thrilling odyssey through New York City in this heartrending drama based on an Oscar® -winning short. As his life hits rock bottom, Richie (Shawn Christensen) decides to end it all only to have his half-hearted suicide attempt interrupted by an urgent request from his sister (Emmy Rossum, Shameless) to babysit her precocious daughter (Fatima Ptacek). So begins a madcap tour of Manhattan after dark, as uncle and niece find unexpected bonds in the unlikeliest of places. Co-starring Ron Perlman and Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries).
Fans say: “It captured me, carried me away into its world, and I was unaware of my surroundings until it dropped me off an hour and a half later. There was not one break in character, or script. The acting was superb, the story was off-beat, hilarious, sad, compelling, and very touching.”
Similar to: Into the Wild
Perfect for: Adrenaline junkies, outdoor enthusiasts, armchair adventure travelers
Synopsis: Two men’s thrilling and disastrous climb of the remote and treacherous Siula Grande in Peru. An incredible account of tragedy, friendship and human endurance.
Fans say: “The entire theater was dead quiet throughout the film but you could feel the tension throughout the room. After it was over I felt like I had been holding my breath for an hour and a half – incredible when you consider that, this being a documentary, I more or less knew how it was going to end – and others I talked to in the theater expressed the same feelings. People marching off to see whatever other dreck Hollywood throws at us have no idea what they’re missing in this masterpiece.”
Similar to: Edward Scissorhands, Cold Comfort Farm
Perfect for: Feel good movie fans, Tim Burton fans, anyone who loves quirky, creative, whimsical movies
Synopsis: To get to know the real man behind the myth, a son begins piecing together a true picture of his father from snippets of amazing stories and magical tales of his youth in this brilliantly fantastical movie from the incredible imagination of director Tim Burton.
Fans say: This is an absolutely exceptional film. I really enjoyed it immensely, even though I initially viewed this film most reluctantly, and only after much persuasion by my son. I am certainly glad that I did. This film has made me a fan of Tim Burton. It is filmmaking at its best. Bravo!
I say: This is one of my all-time favorite films. If you’ve somehow missed seeing it, do yourself a favor and WATCH. NOW.
Category: TV series, action drama
Similar to: Goodfellas, Breaking Bad
Perfect for: fans of crime drama, gangster movies
Synopsis: A chronicled look at the criminal exploits of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Fans say: “This is a truly gripping show, one of the best I’ve seen this year. The characters and acting are done well and the storyline moves at a fast enough pace to get your adrenalin pumping for the whole episode. This is truly an original and thoroughly planned out TV show with a whole lot of heart. Maybe the best on Netflix at the moment. Narco doesn’t disappoint with any aspect of the show. It’s exciting and fast paced, but above all, it makes you want to keep coming back for more.”
I say: It’s a current #1 TV pick for many of my friends and acquaintances right now.
Similar to: The Conjuring, The Orphanage
Perfect for: parents who like a good horror movie, offbeat horror fans, indie film fans, Australian cinema lovers
Synopsis: In this terrifying thriller, a mother must protect her son from an evil, supernatural entity that has escaped the pages of a children’s book and is lurking in their home.
Fans say: “What a great film. They stretched a modest budget into one of the best horror films I have seen in years. It is simple, paranoid, and frightening. The film keeps you guessing, which only adds to the anxiety.”
I say: Well acted, beautifully shot, creepy as hell, particularly if you’re a mom with young kids who doesn’t get much sleep. I loved this movie.
Similar to: Schindler’s List
Synopsis: Ordinary British stockbroker Nicholas Winton organized the rescue of 669 children from Prague just before the outbreak of World War II. As a result of his heroic efforts, today there are over 6,000 descendants of ‘Winton’s Children” all over the world. Winton, now 104 years old, did not speak about these events with anyone for more than half a century. His exploits would have probably been forgotten if his wife, fifty years later, hadn’t found a suitcase in the attic, full of documents and transport plans. The children that he saved, their descendants and countless others around the world continue to follow his example to do good, as chronicled in the award-winning film Nicky’s Family.
Fans say: “I have seen many films on the holocaust and by far this is the best. An amazing man who brought and still continues to bring total commitment, grace and humor to the children he saved and the lives he has touched. The darkness of the holocaust is made brighter by the inspiration that embodies you as you watch this film. Humanity shines.”
Category: TV series
Similar to: Gilmore Girls
Perfect for: Rom-com fans, Gilmore Girls fans, Northern Exposure fans
Synopsis: Rachel Bilson (The O.C.) leads a stellar ensemble cast in this fish-out-of-water comedic drama about small-town living, big-city attitudes and complicated love triangles. Aspiring heart surgeon Dr. Zoe Hart (Bilson) must take a job as a general practitioner to secure an important fellowship the following year. Offered a position by a mysterious southern country doctor, this lifelong New Yorker packs her bags, slips on her stilettos and leaves Manhattan for life in BlueBell, Alabama – where no one has ever seen the likes of Dr. Zoe Hart. Zoe feels the culture shock of her new surroundings immediately, but in the South, things aren’t always as they seem… and Zoe might just discover she belongs in this town more than she ever could have imagined.
Fans say: “I was surprised by how light, funny and charming this show is! It doesn’t make you think or teach you anything but pair this show with a glass of wine and a carton of Chinese food and it is the perfect antidote to a crappy week for the professional woman.”
Category: Foreign (French)
Similar to: Mr. Holland’s Opus, My Father’s Glory
Perfect for: Foreign film lovers, Francophiles, teachers, history buffs
Synopsis: The new teacher at a severely administered boys’ boarding school works to positively affect the students’ lives through music. Nominated for two Oscar Awards.
Fans say: “The Chorus is a sweet, gentle, moving film. Everything about it is exceptionaly well done. Remarkable acting, writing, filming, and storytelling make this a film which lingers sweetly in the mind of the viewer, long after the credits have scrolled by.”
Similar to: Roger and Me
Perfect for: Indie film fans, Banksy fans, art fans, hipsters, men with hillbilly beards/man buns, materialists and people who take themselves too seriously.
Synopsis: Shop owner Thierry Guetta’s project to document the underground world of street art takes an unforeseen turn when he meets Banksy, who in turn films the shop owner’s attempts to be an artist himself.
Fans say: “It’s very funny, very introspective, and often very profound, and is only strengthened by the nagging suspicion that the anger at “selling out” isn’t actually anger at all.”
I say: I LOVED this documentary- Or was it a mockumentary? I made my husband watch it (reluctantly) and he ended up loving it too. At turns hilarious and disturbing, it will keep you riveted and leave you guessing at the end- to the point that I still think about it, a year after seeing it.
Category: TV series
Similar to: Once Upon a Time, Heroes
Perfect for: Families with Harry Potter fans, fantasy fans, Renaissance Faire attenders
Synopsis: This family-oriented retelling of the King Arthur legend finds Merlin arriving in Camelot, where he hones his magic skills with the help of an uncle. Merlin ran five seasons on BBC and became a cult hit in the process.
Fans say: “The first season is quite cheesy. But somewhere around the season 2 finale something kicks in. Season 3 makes you wonder if you’re even watching the same show. And from then on out it just gets tenser and more complex and more emotional.”
I say: A series that actually gets BETTER from season to season? I’m intrigued. This also looks like a safe bet to watch with my Harry Potter/LOTR-loving children– It’s so hard to find programming we can all enjoy together.
Similar to: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Song of Bernadette
Perfect for: Classic movie buffs, Gregory Peck fans, families, religious types
Synopsis: After losing his parents and his childhood sweetheart to tragedy, Francis Chisholm (Gregory Peck) joins the priesthood and devotes himself to a life of service and compassion. But Chisholm’s unorthodox beliefs raise eyebrows among his superiors, especially Bishop Angus Mealy (Vincent Price). And when he is sent to the farthest reaches of China to rebuild an abandoned mission, Chisholm faces his greatest challenge of all: to tame a hostile land, win over a superstitious people and save his parish from an invading army. Nominated* for four Academy Awards®, including Best Actor (Peck), The Keys of the Kingdom is a towering film stamped with greatness.
Fans say: “This is a film that will be remembered for a lifetime. Gregory Peck gives us the ingredients for living life in a very rewarding way. We don’t need material things to have a life that is full. His receipe was simple but good: selflessness, humility, strong faith in God, patience, determination, kindness, and above all love. He was able to forgive those who tried to make him feel less than he was, and he always saw the good in those who tormented him. I would watch this movie, and show it to others, over and over again. It is a masterpiece.”
Similar to: Iris
Perfect for: Fashion fans, New Yorkers, documentary lovers
Synopsis: This beloved documentary profiles street photographer Bill Cunningham, editor of the Sunday Times column that every fashion forward New Yorker secretly hopes to end up in.
Fans say: “Prior to watching this documentary, I knew nothing of Bill Cunningham. All I can say now is, the time spent watching Bill Cunningham work…well, not really work, he’s LIVING and enjoying every moment of it, was the best time I’ve spent getting to know someone in a very, very long time. Thank you, Bill Cunningham, for what you do and for touching us…inspiring us…with your honest, simple approach and way of life.”
I say: This is not the type of documentary I’d normally watch, but I’ve heard enough people rave about it that I feel confident I’ll like it– and I’m betting you will, too.
Similar to: Terms of Endearment, Beaches
Perfect for: Those in need of a good cry.
Synopsis: An accomplished pianist is diagnosed with incurable disease ALS and hires a directionless young woman who becomes her full-time caregiver. The two form a life changing bond inspiring each other to live life to the fullest.
Fans say: “Yeah, this movie is “cry porn”, but “cry porn” with a difference, as it features brilliant performances across the board while investigating how sufferers manage their terminal illnesses and how caregivers manage the sufferers. Swank delivers the sort of fully committed and non-showy performance that we’ve come to expect from one our best actors. Ms. Swank, you’ve got Oscar calling on line 2.“
Category: TV series-Mystery
Similar to: The Fall, The Bletchley Circle, Whitechapel
Perfect for: Mystery/detective buffs
Synopsis: Two detectives – the strong yet compassionate Detective Sergeant, Ellie Miller, and the by-the-book Detective Inspector, Alec Hardy – are brought together to solve the murder of an eleven year-old boy on a picturesque beach in a small coastal town. Under the glare of the media spotlight, the two race to find the killer, while the clock ticks and the mystery deepens.
Fans say: “The most extraordinary story ever, written & produced by Chris Chipnall, one of the top British writers today. A brilliant cast, featuring the cream of British actors. The best drama of the year, keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire series. The locations for this series are beautiful.”
Category: Foreign (Brazilian with subtitles)
Similar to: Mystic River, Traffic
Perfect for: Anyone who loves gritty drama and doesn’t mind violence
Synopsis: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.
Fans say: “Exploding on the screen with color, violence and a great story, this Brazilian film captures the essence of life in the City of God, a slum of Rio de Janeiro. Based on a true story of a young man who somehow escaped the preordained fate of his companions by becoming a photographer, the director, Fernando Meirelles, uses every modern technique to achieve his razor-sharp scenes of drugs, murders and non-stop violence that spins out of control and just keeps going.”
I say: I don’t know how I missed this film when it came out in 2002, but I finally watched it last month and it. Was. Amazing. If it had been released this year and was an American film, I feel sure that it would have been nominated for an Oscar in every major category.
Category: Thriller documentary
Similar to: Making a Murderer
Perfect for: adrenaline junkies, doc fans
Synopsis: Unforgettable, chilling and emotional, The Imposter tells the gripping true story of a Texan boy who went missing in 1994 and was miraculously found three and a half years later thousands of miles away in southern Spain. Despite glaring inconsistencies in his physical appearance, the boy’s family brought their long-lost “son” home to restart his life in Texas. Questions soon arise: how could the Barclay’s blonde, blue-eyed son have returned with darker skin and eyes? How could his personality and even accent have changed so dramatically? Truth soon proves stranger than fiction as the real story emerges. Universally critically acclaimed and nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, this is a jaw-dropping story about the lies we want to believe and the truths we choose to construct.
Fans say: “Truth is truly stranger than fiction. This is possibly the only documentary I’ve ever seen that features a jaw-dropping “twist” toward the end, just like a real thriller. A sobering look at grief, family, lies, denial, government incompetence, and the universal human need to belong. Watch this.”
Category: TV series, Children
Similar to: Ummm. There’s nothing like Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Sorry.
Perfect for: Kids with big imaginations, adults who like to laugh, Tim Burton fans
Synopsis: Scream along to the SECRET WORD with Pee-wee Herman and his pals: Jambi the Genie, Miss Yvonne, Cowboy Curtis, Reba the Mail Lady, Captain Carl, Magic Screen, Conky, Globey, Chairry, Pterri, Randy and many more! Winner of an amazing 22 Emmy® Awards!
Fans say: “It’s every bit as weird and annoying and fun as I remember it being when I used to watch it as a kid, and it’s good clean fun. A lot of good moral values when it comes to kids learning to use their imaginations as well as accepting those around them (i.e. being friendly to the bully despite his abuse, putting up with needy and or manipulative people, etc).“
I say: This was my favorite show on TV as a kid, hands down, and I’m happy to say that I love it just as much as an adult. Pee Wee’s Playhouse withstands the test of time– My kids and I watch it now and laugh together. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is also on Netflix- Be sure and watch it with your kids- They’ll love it.
Category: Foreign, Horror, Mockumentary
Similar to: Jurassic Park, Blair Witch Project
Perfect for: Horror fans, thriller fans
Synopsis: The government says there’s nothing to worry about it’s just a problem with bears making trouble in the mountains and forests of Norway. But local hunters don’t believe it and neither do a trio of college students who want to find out the truth. Armed with a video camera, they trail a mysterious poacher, who wants nothing to do with them. However, their persistence lands them straight in the path of the objects of his pursuits: trolls. They soon find themselves documenting every move of this grizzled, unlikely hero the trollhunter risking their lives to uncover the secrets of creatures only thought to exist in fairy tales.
Fans say: “Amazing and suspenseful movie. One of the better mockumentaries I’ve seen in the horror genre.”
I say: This movie is surprisingly horrifying-yet-delightful. It shouldn’t work (the trolls are kind of hilarious), but it does and that’s precisely what makes it fun and interesting to watch. If you’re looking for a good edge-of-your-seat movie, you can’t miss with Troll Hunters.
Category: Documentary, Historical, Holocaust
Similar to: Out of the Ashes, Broken Silence, Into the Arms of Strangers
Perfect for: History buffs, Holocaust researchers, documentary fans
Synopsis: October 1942 – Esther Stermer, along with some family members and a group of other families, seek asylum underground to evade being caught by pursuing Nazis. They remain hidden below for nearly a year and a half – the longest recorded uninterrupted underground survival occurrence. Their harrowing story is unearthed by accident when cave explorer, Chris Nicola, stumbles upon remnants left behind by the cave dwellers. Through extensive research and determination, Nicola locates a few of the survivors and has them share their incredible story of strength and perseverance.
Fans say: “The surviving members of the family recount what it was like at the time, with tales of near-misses and periods of living in uncertainty, but the story is one of survival and eventual triumph over adversity. During a time when millions of Jews were slaughtered, this tale of courage, resilience, and survival is one that gladdens the heart.”
Category: TV series, drama, action
Similar to: The Avengers, The X-Men
Perfect for: Superhero fans
Synopsis: After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. Reinventing the DC Comics character for a modern-day audience, the Arrow is not a superhero … but a hero – every bit as dangerous as the criminals he’s hunting. A dark and dangerous crime procedural with edge, intrigue and action, Oliver’s story is told from three perspectives: the Queen family, Oliver’s harrowing ordeal on the island and the Arrow’s adventures in Starling City. Showing all facets of the mysterious loner, this realistic drama follows the charismatic but shallow Oliver that disappeared, the hardened Oliver that returned and the Oliver that has been forged into the weapon against injustice known as … the Arrow.
Fans say: “This series is really well-done, the cast is exceptionally strong considering their lack of fame, the acting is well above average for the genre, and particularly for a television series. It’s dark, often creepy (but not so much that I wouldn’t let a nine- or ten-year-old watch it), plenty of action, with a wonderfully believable set of characters.”
Similar to: 102 Minutes That Changed America
Perfect for: Anyone wanting to know more about what actually happened on United Flight 93 on 9/11.
Synopsis: A defining day in our history. It’s an event that shook the world. Honest, unflinching and profoundly moving, United 93 tells the unforgettable story of the heroic passengers and crew members who prevented the terrorists from carrying out their plans for the fourth hijacked plane on September 11, 2001. As on-ground military and civilian teams scrambled to make sense of the unfolding events, forty people who sat down as strangers found the courage to stand up as one.
Fans say: “Paul Greengrass and the filmmakers spent an incredible amount of time talking with the family members of those who died. They listened intently to the tape recordings on board the plane and messages left behind. I’m sure that hundreds of hours of research went into creating the film and it shows on film. No big name actors were cast in the film and many of the smaller roles were played by people who had actually been involved somehow with United 93 on September 11th. It is an ensemble cast of the truest kind. I was deeply moved while watching UNITED 93. The outcome is already known before even putting the film into the DVD player. Yet, the foreknowledge takes nothing away from the experience.”
I say: I’m leery of watching films like this one- but I’ve heard nothing but good things about United 93. I’m glad it’s now on Netflix.
Similar to: Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World
Perfect for: Nature lovers, armchair anthropologists, happiness seekers
Synopsis: With Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Werner Herzog takes viewers on yet another unforgettable journey into remote and extreme natural landscapes. The acclaimed filmmaker presents this visually stunning documentary about the life of indigenous people living in the heart of the Siberian Taiga. Deep in the wilderness, far away from civilization, 300 people inhabit the small village of Bakhtia at the river Yenisei. There are only two ways to reach this outpost: by helicopter or boat. There’s no telephone, running water or medical aid. The locals, whose daily routines have barely changed over the last centuries, live according to their own values and cultural traditions. With insightful commentary written and narrated by Herzog, Happy People follows one of the Siberian trappers through all four seasons of the year to tell the story of a culture virtually untouched by modernity.
Fans say: “Herzog’s distinctive narration covers and colors the life of one trapper through four seasons as he hunts, makes his skis, boat and hunter’s cabin. So much was unsaid, but what was on the screen was mesmerizing. It’s good to be reminded that in our day, part of our human family lives in a world nearly unfathomable to the one we enjoy. Big recommendation.”
Category: Drama, Foreign (Danish with subtitles)
Perfect for: Anyone looking for a complex and thought-provoking film.
Synopsis: THE HUNT is a disturbing depiction of how a lie is taken as truth when gossip, doubt and malice are allowed to flourish and ignite a witch-hunt that soon threatens to destroy an innocent man’s life. Lucas is just starting to get his life back together after losing his job and facing a difficult divorce, when his life is shattered by an untruthful remark throwing his small community into a collective state of hysteria. As the lie spreads, Lucas is forced to fight a lonely battle for his life and dignity.
Fans say: “The Hunt is a difficult film to sit through, but is a rewarding experience nonetheless. Self-deception and mass psychology have been taken up in films, but the result is rarely as chilling as the nerve-shattering story that is realistic and unpredictable. Mads Mikkelsen is simply fascinating as Lucas, a warm-hearted man accused of what he did not do. Thomas Vinterberg (“The Celebration”) directs the film with confidence, building up tension incredibly high as he keeps the story moving along. A must-see.”
Category: TV series, BBC
Similar to: Northern Exposure, Lark Rise to Candleford, Anne of Avonlea
Perfect for: BBC fans, Anglophiles
Synopsis: Meet handsome Archie MacDonald, a reluctant young Scottish laird torn between his trendy London life and the call of his wild Highland ancestry. You’ll be seduced by breathtaking scenery, marvelously original and amusing scripts, and eccentric, thoroughly lovable characters.
Fans say: “Beautiful series. Magical scenery, deeply evocative musical score, characters you can actually care about, and often-sentimental scripts which, even so, are well on the safe side of mawkish or cloying. This is classic “mood” television; even when you become sick of the storylines, the scenery and the music will bring you back to your favourite episodes time and time again. From episode one onwards, it’s clear that this is a program made with heart, as well as style.”
Category: Drama, Indie
Similar to: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Perfect for: Fans of quirky, imaginative alternative cinema
Synopsis: Michael Fassbender stars as Frank, a genius rock musician who performs wearing a giant fake head that he never removes. Things get rocky between his protective bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and newcomer Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who is convinced they’re meant for stardom. The band lands their biggest gig, but are they ready? And is the world?
Fans say: “I was very skeptical about this movie at first. I didn’t really know exactly how I felt after watching it. I have to say now that I am so grateful for the effort put into this film. It really is magical. In this day and age of social media and all that has befallen the music business as a result, this story keeps it on the creative process. They do it just because they NEED to do it. Without regard for success or “hits”. The way it should be. Really a lovely, lovely film.”
Category: Documentary, fashion
Similar to: Unzipped, The September Issue, Ready to Wear
Perfect for: Fashion fans
Synopsis: It’s the most mythic of all American emporiums – and the scene of many an ultimate fashion fantasy. Now audiences get a rarified chance to peek behind the backroom doors and into the reality of the fascinating inner workings and fabulous untold stories from Bergdorf Goodman’s iconic history. The legend, the parties, the fashion idols, the windows, the women, the buyers and shoppers – and most of all, the quintessentially American dreams of New York’s high-fashion hot-spot – all come to life in an ode to a realm where creativity and commerce reign equally supreme.
Fans say: “Having no particular pre-existing interest in Bergdorf Goodman, I still found this to be an amusing and lighthearted entertainment. If you aren’t a fashionista, you can still enjoy the movie. But if you are, you won’t want to miss it! “
Category: TV series, comedy
Similar to: Seinfeld
Perfect for: Louis C.K., Chris Rock fans
Synopsis: From the uproariously unrestrained mind of comedian Louis C.K. comes the year’s most outrageously original comedy! As a newly-divorced, well-meaning father raising two young daughters, Louie struggles to cope with his strenuous mid-life shake-up, and his stand-up comedy provides a gleefully warped reflection of his hectic, everyday reality. There are disastrous first dates, indecent proposals, high school bullies, booze-addled play dates—and more. Featuring stellar guest stars such as Matthew Broderick and Ricky Gervais, Louie is unfiltered, off-kilter, and hilarious!
Fans say: “If you’ve seen Louie’s stand up you know what to expect, laugh till you’re in pain humor. But more than the gleeful excess of serious and honest gut laughter this show provides, there are also some really painful moments in which we find Louie put into an awkward or terrible situation. These scenes are so tense and gut wrenching it’s almost painful to watch, but in a good way. It’s not like the stressful wacky scenarios of Seinfeld, but situations that evoke real feelings of discomfort and embarrassment that’s I find really compelling, and an excellent partner to the in your face comedy of the inappropriate. I think this show is a good example of what a real genius in the field can do with complete control of a production. Its unique, shameless, and most importantly insanely funny, much like Louie himself.”
Category: Melodrama, Classic, 60s
Similar to: Mommie Dearest, All About Eve, Funny Face
Perfect for: Soap opera fans, lovers of camp and kitsch, historic fashion buffs
Synopsis: Lured by their dreams of fame and fortune, three ambitious young women enter the world of show business and discover how easy it is to sink into a celebrity nightmare of ego, alcohol and ‘pills’ – the beloved “dolls.” A prim New Englander (Barbara Parkins) unexpectedly skyrockets from her job as secretary in a talent agency to a glamorous TV model. A determined singer (Patty Duke) finds that Hollywood success can also spell self-destruction. And a beautiful sex symbol (Sharon Tate) is torn between the money commands and the shame of feeling exploited. Based on Jacqueline Susann’s phenomenal best-seller about the underside of Hollywood, this fascinating melodrama was once seen as a shocking behind-the-scenes look at how show business creates instant stars, destroys romances and changes personalities forever.
Fans say: “The acting is pure cheese, the script is a paler, watered-down imitation of Susann’s text and the songs are God-awful. But there is something about this little gem that draws me in time after time. I could easily watch it once or twice a day and never get bored with it.“
I say: If you’ve somehow missed seeing this movie, you really owe it to yourself to watch it. Valley of the Dolls falls solidly into so-bad-it’s-good territory and it’s a true guilty pleasure, from the over-the-top acting to the great sixties costuming and imagery to a rare sad glimpse of Sharon Tate before she became known as Charles Manson’s most famous victim.
Category: Thriller documentary
Similar to: Making a Murderer
Perfect for: True crime fans
Synopsis: In 1976, Randall Adams was wrongly sentenced to death for the murder of a Dallas policeman. Errol Morris’ stunning documentary exposed the truth of the case and is credited with overturning Adams’ conviction.
Fans say: “It’s a documentary that plays like a murder mystery, but it is frighteningly true. If you’re looking for violence, sex, car chases, or explosions – stay away, you’ll hate this. But if you can handle a movie that is more seductive than explosive, this is for you. The final scene will chill you to the bone. It makes me shiver even now.
Category: TV, mystery drama
Similar to: Broadchurch, The Bletchley Circle
Perfect for: Mystery/Detective fans
Synopsis: Emmy and Golden Globe winner Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) smolders as a British detective summoned to Belfast to solve a high-profile murder. She quickly recognizes the signs of a serial killer, but the culprit (Jamie Dornan, Once Upon a Time) has already targeted his next victim.
Fans say: “The acting is subdued and deep. There’s a menacing atmosphere pervading. For my own taste, I prefer less violent and graphic crimes. However, the series was so well-done and the acting riveting by Gillian Anderson as Stella that I couldn’t not watch. The plot and denouement is original and I will sample the next installment in the series. 5 stars if you are okay with the violence and some nudity.”
Category: Family, fantasy
Similar to: Stardust
Perfect for: Families, fairytale/fantasy fans
Synopsis: After being orphaned, young Maria Merryweather leaves her luxurious home to live with her eccentric uncle at Moonacre Manor. There, she discovers a magical world inhabited by outlandish characters and mythical beasts. Now, Maria must unearth the secrets of her past before the 5000th moon rises and Moonacre Manor disappears into the sea forever. Based on the classic novel by Elizabeth Goudge, The Little White Horse, which J.K. Rowling has called “my favorite childhood book.”
Fans say: “The Secret of Moonacre is perfectly suited for children. I would say for ages 8-15, more for girls than boys, but there are elements to the film that boys, too, will enjoy. The special effects are superb. Moonacre is a love story and Moonacre is a joyous fairytale. It is a film with a female lead heroine who challenges a world she faces that is filled with obstacles. Moonacre comes complete with lessons taught (i.e. how jealously and hate are destructive and yet they can be overcome). It is a film definitely worth repeating as its filled with small details that only repeat viewing will expose.”
Perfect for: Sushi lovers, foodies, feel-good documentary fans, Japan fans
Synopsis: Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world and as a loving yet complicated father.
Fans say: “A fascinating documentary. You don’t have to be a fan of sushi to appreciate but if you are, you will find it even more interesting. It’s really more about understanding the culture of Japan, the attention to detail and dedication to achieving perfection.“
I say: I loved this documentary on several levels. For one, sushi is one of my favorite foods and my mouth was watering the entire time I watched Jiro. It provides a fascinating look behind the scenes at Japan’s upscale sushi market and the effort it takes to become a top-ranked sushi chef. On another level entirely, Jiro is an inspiration in terms of taking a job and turning it into a true calling. At the same time, his obsession caused him to emotionally fail his own children. Jiro Dreams of Sushi will leave you with MUCH food for thought, long after the movie is over.
Category: TV, thriller, foreign (French with subtitles)
Similar to: The Walking Dead
Perfect for: Anyone who wants to be thoroughly creeped out.
Synopsis: In an idyllic French Alpine village, a seemingly random collection of people find themselves in a state of confusion as they attempt to return to their homes. What they do not yet know is that they have been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. Buried secrets emerge as they grapple with this miraculous and sinister new reality, struggling to reintegrate with their families and past lovers. But it seems they are not the only ones back from the dead. Their arrival coincides with a series of gruesome murders that bear a chilling resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past…
Fans say: “Don’t let the fact that it is in French deter you as this series is totally watchable with subtitles. The acting is superb, the characters simultaneously ordinary and compelling, the storyline intriguing and the atmosphere deliciously creepy.”
Similar to: Girls, Kicking and Screaming, Short Term 12
Perfect for: Indie fans, 20-something urban women and the people who love them.
Synopsis: Greta Gerwig is radiant as a woman in her late twenties in contemporary New York, trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and, above all, her tight but changing bond with her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Meticulously directed by Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming) with a free-and-easy vibe reminiscent of the French New Wave’s most spirited films, and written by Baumbach and Gerwig with an effortless combination of sweetness and wit, Frances Ha gets at both the frustrations and the joys of being young and unsure of where to go next. This wry and sparkling city romance is a testament to the ongoing vitality of independent American cinema.
Fans say: “The movie is charming from start to finish, yet never gets silly or sentimental. It’s a slice of life as experienced by this young woman with big dreams and little or no money.”
Category: Sports documentary
Similar to: Undefeated, Murderball
Perfect for: Friday Night Lights fans
Synopsis: Filmmaker Steve James follows the steps of two inner-city-Chicago NBA hopefuls from age 14 to 18.
Fans say: “I can’t recommend this too highly — it’s one of the best movies (documentary or otherwise) I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter if you care about basketball, or what your race or politics or gender may be. This three-hour documentary will enthrall, engage, and move you more than almost any Hollywood movie in theaters.”
I say: This movie was just THE BEST, and it really helped put sports documentaries on the map. If you somehow missed it back in the 90s, don’t hesitate to watch it as soon as possible. You will never forget it.
Category: Adventure, Drama, Travel
Similar to: Wild
Perfect for: The woman who’s trying to find herself.
Synopsis: From the producers of THE KING’S SPEECH comes this remarkable true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who leaves her urban life to trek through the sprawling Australian desert.
Fans say: “Tracks is both sublimely poetic and ruggedly authentic – it’s emotionally raw. I didn’t find one false note in the movie – no melodrama or stereotype characters that you see in most Hollywood films. Mia Wasikowska’s performance demonstrates that old line from Keats, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” – it’s a great performance, the epitome of soulful.”
Category: TV Series, comedy
Similar to: Fawlty Towers
Perfect for: BBC fans, British comedy lovers
Synopsis: BAFTA Award winner for best comedy and best writing. Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) and Toby Jones (The Hunger Games) strike comedic gold in this critically adored series about two oddballs scouring the English countryside for treasure. If only their characters, Andy and Lance, could be so fortunate. These amateur metal detectorists have an unhealthy fixation on uncovering a fabled trove of Saxon loot. Unfortunately, the world of high-stakes metal detecting is surprisingly turbulent, as are their personal lives.
Fans say: “Well-acted, excellently scripted and funny, but not in an overheated manic way.”
Category: Foreign, horror
Similar to: The Walking Dead
Perfect for: Anyone looking for a truly horrifying, slow-burn vampire movie
Synopsis: Oscar, a 12-year-old fragile and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl he befriends, who moves into his building. When Oscar discovers that Eli is a vampire it does not deter his increasing feelings and confused emotions of a young adolescent. When Eli loses the man who protects and provides for her, and as suspicions are mounting from her neighbors and police she must move on to stay alive. However when Oscar faces his darkest hour, Eli returns to defend him the only way she can.
Fans say: “If all you want in your vampire/horror movies is frantic action and buckets of blood, this is not your movie. However, if you want a movie where the pacing of the film fits the story perfectly and where the horror (both physical and emotional) is one component in a complex (both heartbreaking and uplifting) story of loneliness and growing up, this is a movie for you. Special kudos to the acting of the two young leads – both show a range of emotion that most Hollywood “stars” can only dream about.”
Category: Sports documentary
Similar to: Hoop Dreams
Perfect for: Families, sports fans
Synopsis: This OSCAR-winning documentary chronicles three underprivileged students from inner-city Memphis and their volunteer coach who tries to help them beat the odds on and off the field.
Fans say: “I have never been so thoroughly and completely in a movie’s vice grip. There’s a scene at the end that is so gripping, so profound, that it’s almost unbearable to watch. Incredibly stirring. Wow.”
Category: TV series, sci-fi, horror
Similar to: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Perfect for: X-Files fans
Synopsis: In the tradition of interweaving character drama and the supernatural in such hits as “Smallville,” a completely new kind of thrill ride takes viewers on a journey into the dark world of the unexplained in “Supernatural.” Bound by tragedy and blood to a dangerous, otherworldly mission, two brothers travel from the Colorado wilderness to the Nebraska farmlands and on to the isolated Wisconsin lakes, encountering creatures that most people believe only exist in folklore, superstition and nightmares.
Fans say: “As a horror fan, I thought I’d seen it all. However, in the near infinite myriad of programming vying for one’s attention, Supernatural stands out as something both unique and refreshing. If I could sum up the show in one word, it would be: SPECTACULAR! The beauty of the show is it takes a simple premise: “the great American road trip” and it twists and turns it into a whole new entity and places it in the same category as some of the other great shows in the genre such as the ‘X-Files’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, yet it still retains its own identity.”
Similar to: Beautiful Girls, Rounders
Perfect for: Feel good comedy fans
Synopsis: Winner of 2003 Sundance Film Festival awards, The Station Agent stars Emmy Award winner Patricia Clarkson (TV’s Six Feet Under, Far From Heaven), Peter Dinklage (Elf) and Bobby Cannavale (TV’s 24, Third Watch) in a comedy about friendship that will have you smiling long after the final credits.
Fans say: “This is one of the year’s best films because it dares to raise a true, deep, and honest voice amidst the glitzy schlock that Hollywood still cranks out to rake in the millions. This is a film that should not be missed for its depth of characterization and emotion, its courage, its honesty, sensitivity, and above all, its deep understanding of what being human really means. Very highly recommended.”
I say: Peter Dinklage! Love that guy.
Category: Documentary, Travel
Similar to: Soul Surfer
Perfect for: Families, teen girls, feel good documentary lovers
Synopsis: 14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out – camera in hand – on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. In the wake of a year-long battle with Dutch authorities that sparked a global storm of media scrutiny, Laura now finds herself far from land, family and unwanted attention, exploring the world in search of freedom, adventure, and distant dreams of her early youth at sea. Jillian Schlesinger’s debut feature amplifies Laura’s brave, defiant voice through a mix of Laura’s own video and voice recordings at sea and intimate vérité footage from locations including the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, and South Africa.
Fans say: “t is also a powerful coming-of-age story and character study, the story of a teenage girl becoming a woman while living on the edge. Over the course of her year-and-a-half maritime trip, Laura wrestles with numerous Thoreau-worthy questions of identity and purpose as the monetary-centric daily routine of the Dutch suburbia she left behind becomes an ever more distant memory. She also endures (and learns to enjoy) substantial periods of absolute and profound isolation, ultimately inspiring her to consider whether other humans are more trouble than they are worth.”
I say: I can’t wait to watch this one with my daughter.
Similar to: Fargo
Perfect for: Jack Black fans, anyone who can appreciate dark comedy
Synopsis: n the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow.
Fans say: “Bernie is the new masterpiece by Richard Linklater. The fact that he could turn such a difficult premise to such a successful black comedy/drama is remarkable. This may be one of the greatest works on small-town America in this decade.“
Category: TV series, mystery
Similar to: Murder, She Wrote, Cagney and Lacey
Perfect for: BBC fans, mystery lovers, gardeners
Synopsis: The hit British series that combines glorious gardens with classic whodunits. Stunning gardens provide the backdrop for this hit British mystery series starring Felicity Kendal as Rosemary Boxer and Pam Ferris (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Matilda) as Laura Thyme, professional gardeners and amateur sleuths. From their former careers as a university plant biologist and a police officer, Rosemary and Laura bring unique investigative talents to their horticultural and human mysteries. Great fun for mystery fans and green thumbs alike!
Fans say: “Most mystery series have big tough longtime cops or lovably eccentric oddballs as their detectives. So it’s a bit refreshing to see a pair of utterly ordinary detectives in the light mystery series “Rosemary and Thyme” — one a cop-turned-housewife, and one a feisty horticulturist. You won’t find any mind-blowing mysteries, just solid whodunnits and likable characters… and plants. Lots and lots of beautiful plants.”
Similar to: About Schmidt
Perfect for: Young adults, road trippers
Synopsis: Vincent (Robert Sheehan), a young man with Tourettes Syndrome, just lost his mom. As his symptoms get worse, his dad (Robert Patrick), a frustrated politician, sends him to a behavioral clinic run by an unconventional doctor (Kyra Sedgwick). But Vincent made his mom a promise, and with the help of a rebellious anorexic (Zoe Kravitz) and his withdrawn OCD roommate (Dev Patel), the three embark on a life-changing race to the sea that includes car theft, shoplifting, fights, self-discovery, and maybe finding a new way to live.
Fans say: ” I highly recommend this movie. I saw it as a touching and hopeful portrayal of 3 young people trying to free themselves from the perceived boundaries of their mental illnesses.”
Similar to: Still Alice
Perfect for: Anyone who wants to see a sensitive topic handled extraordinarily well.
Synopsis: In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. As a result, any individual whom two physicians diagnose as having less than six months to live can lawfully request a fatal dose of barbiturate to end his or her life. Since 1994, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In HOW TO DIE IN OREGON, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether and when to end their lives by lethal overdose. At the heart of the film are the patients themselves, their families and friends, as they grapple with the legal option they are allowed in Oregon. Through their stories, Richardson examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. What emerges is a life-affirming, staggeringly powerful portrait of what it means to die with dignity.
Fans say: “A masterful, sensitive, powerful documentary about a difficult subject. Peter Richardson shows how truly great a thoughtful, compassionate documentary can be. Quite a contrast to the sort of fear-mongering, hectoring, histrionics, and rabble-rousing you’ve come to expect in recent popular documentaries.”
Category: TV series
Similar to: Gangs of New York, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire
Perfect for: Fans of gangster series that include both violence and heart
Synopsis: An all-star cast, including Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight, Inception), Helen McCrory (Skyfall, Harry Potter films), and Paul Anderson (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), head up this gangster family epic set in 1919 Birmingham. Peaky Blinders follows the notorious gang, who got their name from sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, and their fierce boss Tommy Shelby, a man dead set on moving up in the world, no matter the cost.
Fans say: “I adored this show on every level. I was gripped from the first scene. I am in awe of the production the sets, streets and costumes. It is dirty and gritty, you can almost smell it. Sam Neill is incredible in this. So utterly unlikable at times a monster and yet you feel a sort of tenderness for him. I felt absorbed and invested in this series in every way. A new favorite show. “
Category: Foreign, comedy
Similar to: Frank, Welcome to the Dollhouse
Perfect for: Teens, Indie film lovers
Synopsis: WE ARE THE BEST! is a story of three young misfit girls growing up in the early ’80s Stockholm. Pixieish, mohawk-sporting Klara and her best friend Bobo are 13-year-old rebels looking for a cause. Despite having no instruments-or discernible musical talent-the two put all their energy into forming an all-girl punk band, recruiting their shy, classical guitar-playing schoolmate Hedwig as a third wheel. With tender affection for its young characters, WE ARE THE BEST! paints a joyous and sharply observant portrait of the rebellious spirit of youth and growing up different.
Fans say: “When the film ends I’d be surprised if you don’t want to rush out immediately and share it with everyone you love or like. Subsequently if you do, and they happen to dislike this film, drop them…they cannot be human or have ever been young.”
Similar to: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Perfect for: Anyone laid up in bed with the flu. It worked for me, anyway.
Synopsis: A ferocious, funny, and poignant portrait of the one-of-a-kind Broadway legend still belting out Sondheim numbers at age 87, this documentary tribute showcases the brash, uncompromising Tony and Emmy winner both onstage and off. The film captures her immeasurable charm, acerbic wit, and impressive accomplishments with candid footage and interviews with friends and collaborators, including Sondheim, Tina Fey, and Nathan Lane. Sparkling with Stritch s delightful character, this film is an inspiring portrait of an American treasure.
Fans say: “I have never seen a more candid and honest portrayal on screen. Elaine Stritch shows her strengths, and vulnerabilities in a style unique to Elaine. A must see film for everyone, and a must have DVD for fans!“
I say: This documentary is delightful and entertaining. Plus? NO PANTS.
Category: TV series, Reality
Similar to: Chef’s Table
Perfect for: BBC fans, cooks, bakers, and foodies
Synopsis: Follow the trials and tribulations of passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be named the U.K.’s best.
Fans say: “Wonderful, informative and witty describes this awesome program from across the pond. I absolutely fell in love with this show because not only are the hosts and judges funny and helpful in their critiques, the contestants bring all sorts of ideas and personalities into the mix. I have learned so much about classical cakes and baking techniques just by watching the episodes. I love learning about the history of dishes and this show mixes in a little history with each new competition.”
I say: Everyone I know is talking about this show right now. Check it out.
Category: Animated, musical, family, kids
Similar to: The Corpse Bride
Perfect for: Families, Francophiles, Animation buffs
Synopsis: Paris, 1910. Panic sweeps the city as floodwaters rise and a monster is on the loose! Meanwhile a wacky inventor, his camera-crazy best friend, and a madcap monkey are on a mission to protect the beast, Franc, as he holds a rare and special talent. With the help of the beautiful but feisty singer Lucille, the team harbors the monster to keep him from the ghastly wannabe Mayor, Commissioner Maynott, who has a plan to capture Franc and reveal him to be nothing more than a monstrous danger to the people of Paris. From former DreamWorks animator Bibo Bergeron and starring Adam Goldberg, Jay Harrington, Bob Balaban, Sean Lennon, Vanessa Paradis, Danny Huston and Catherine O’Hara, A Monster In Paris is spectacular fun for the whole family.
Fans say: “The movie is fun to watch and an absolute joy to listen to. The music is phenomenal, mixing both the English and French languages. The animation is on par with anything from Dreamworks or Pixar and the characters, specifically Lucille and Francoeur (the flea) are cute and at times mesmerizing. If you’re hunting for a new animated movie that’s very easy on the eyes (and ears), give this one a go.”
Similar to: Life is Beautiful, Schindler’s List
Perfect for: Anyone with a full tissue box handy who’s in search of a great movie.
Synopsis: Based on the best-selling novel by John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the tale of curious 8 year-old Bruno. Bored in his new home, Bruno wanders off into the nearby woods where he discovers an unusual fence, behind which is a boy strangely dressed in “black- and-white pajamas.” Bruno embarks in a most unusual friendship with the boy, one that proves both ordinary and remarkable, both inspiring and tragic in this “unforgettable motion picture experience.
Fans say: “At the end of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS, I did not speak and could not think. It took perhaps 48 hours before I could “begin” to think clearly. I cannot tell you the end – it would be wrong – but you must see it. And, right after I purchase SCHINDLER’S LIST for all 15 of our grandchildren, I will need to purchase another 15 copies of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS. Saint Ambrose of Milan once said: “Not only for every idle word, but for every idle silence shall we be called to account.” These two movies mentioned here need to be in every library known to man. Don’t miss seeing THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS and know it could be your son, your grandson or your great grandson.”
Category: TV Series, Drama
Similar to: Kids
Perfect for: Anyone looking for the real deal on life as a teenager in England.
Synopsis: A British drama follows a group of raucous teenagers who get high, get drunk, get laid and get up for their A levels. Tony (Nicholas Hoult, About a Boy) is the best looking boy in town. His sidekick Sid is less successful with the ladies, much less until bonkers anorexic case Cassie turns up. But Sid’s in love with Michelle, the school fittie, who goes out with Tony, of course. Then there’s sassy musician Jal, party animal Chris, Maxie and best mate Anwar, who manages to combine the pills, the thrills and the spills with his faith, well sort of.
Fans say: “”Skins” is one of the best “teen dramas” in existence, and one of the few for which this label isn’t actually an insult. Intelligent, gritty, unpredictable and sporting one of the most likable casts in existence, it’s a must-watch, no matter what type of shows you normally like.”
Category: Family drama
Similar to: The Sandlot, The Mighty Ducks
Perfect for: Families with older children (It’s PG-13 and there is some swearing.)
Synopsis: Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane and D.B. Sweeney score in this uplifting story of triumph over adversity that “hits an emotional home run.” Conor O’Neill (Reeves) is a down-on-his-luck gambler in debt to dangerous loan sharks. Desperate for cash, Conor reluctantly takes a job coaching a youth baseball team. The “team” turns out to be a ragtag group of tough-talking kids from Chicago’s inner city. Secretly, Conor plans to desert the team after he wins a big bet. But the stakes are higher than Conor imagined: The kids need someone to believe in. As Conor wrestles with his past, the kids start to teach him some lessons that will forever change his future-that responsibility and trust must be earned and hope can appear in the most unlikely places.
Fans say: “All in all this is a terrific little movie. Reeves and the children are truly a joy to watch. The story jerks your emotions all over the place but it never feels cloying or fake.”
Category: TV series, drama
Similar to: Law and Order, The Shield
Perfect for: Those who love crime, drama, and intrigue.
Synopsis: For five extraordinary seasons, this critically acclaimed legal thriller broke all the rules and made its own. Film legend Glenn Close won two Emmys for her stunning portrayal of relentless litigator Patty Hewes, who commands the courtroom and the screen, doing battle with ambitious protégée – turned-adversary Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) in cutting-edge cases with devastating consequences, both professional and personal. High-stakes drama at its most intense
Fans say: “Glenn Close is amazing, along with Rose and all the character actors. Ted Danson has NEVER been so good. It’s the perfect blend of greed, control, hearbreak, violence, and backstabbing. Who could ask for more?”
Category: Feel good adventure documentary
Similar to: Living on One Dollar
Perfect for: anyone who questions whether there are still good people in the world.
Synopsis: When the country’s economy and sense of community was crumbling, one guy left everything behind to see if he could survive off the goodwill of America’s new town square: Craigslist.
Fans say: “A sleeper movie to tell friends about. Nice surprise. Never heard of this before, but it is engaging, fascinating, heartwarming.A great discovery. If you like road movies, kindness of strangers theme, a sensitive, aware protaganist — don’t miss it!”
Category: Family, Faith
Similar to: Secondhand Lions
Perfect for: Family Movie Night.
Synopsis: In a heartwarming tale of faith, hope and love, a little boy tries with all his might to achieve the impossible: bring his father home from war.
Fans say: “Easily the very BEST faith based movie of 2015. This movie will rip your heart out of your chest and grow it 2 times ira size before putting it back to do with what you will.”
Category: Documentary, faith
Similar to: Blind Side
Perfect for: Family Movie Night with older kids.
Synopsis: One frigid winter, a pastor finds an abandoned infant on his church steps and builds a heated hatch to rescue any others. The Drop Box documentary tells the true story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak and his heroic efforts to embrace and protect abandoned children. It is a story about the forgotten, the disabled, the discarded, and the man who gives everything to protect them.
Fans say: “You’ll be touched in so many different ways through this story. From the Pastor who rescues abandoned babies to the children themselves. Pastor Lee has a severely disabled son himself and the way he interacts with him is just amazing. They’re not vegetables; they have a response to the love shown to them. Get a box of tissues and a group of friends and be prepared to be changed.”
Category: Movie, Biopic, Family
Similar to: The Cutting Edge
Synopsis: Moving away from her hometown and family in 2010 to pursue training with a world-renowned Olympic trainer, Gabby Douglas was selected to compete with the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. There, Douglas became the first African American to win gold in the individual all-around event.
Fans say: “I loved the movie. It was very family-centered and faith-centered. The movie wasn’t just about Gabby but her family as well and their struggles as a family to help her achieve their dream together. Very heartfelt and encouraging. “
Category: TV series, comedy
Similar to: Seinfeld, Arrested Development
Perfect for: Anyone who appreciates quick dialogue and often politically incorrect humor.
Synopsis: Three best friends own a Irish Pub in Phili and get into sticky situations resulting from bad judgment.
Fans say: “Anybody can make a comedy about a gang of hard-drinking idiots who get into amusing situations. But it takes genuine perspective and brains to make that kind of humor work on more than one level, to make it pay off with any kind of irony, to make it say something about culture and society and that old cold cruel finger of fate. Time and again, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” pulls off those mean feats.”
Category: Romantic comedy
Similar to: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Moonstruck
Perfect for: Date night in
Synopsis: In this hilarious romantic comedy, Molly Mahoney (Aubrey Dollar) is flying home to Chicago for her mom’s wedding and tells her family she is bringing a Mystery Man. When she discovers her Mystery Man has a Mystery Wife, she dumps him curbside. In shock, she runs into childhood friend Josh Shiffman (Shane McRae) who is flying to the same event. Molly cries until she falls asleep. While she is passed out, Josh gets a call from his parents and finds out his father, Max (Daniel J. Travanti) is dying and his only regret is he will never meet the woman his son will marry. Desperate to fulfill his dad’s final wish, Josh says he has met that woman, close family friend Molly Mahoney! Josh convinces a reluctant Molly to play fiancée for a few days. As the lie grows, the two boisterous families begin to plan what is really a phony wedding and somewhere in the chaos Molly and Josh may actually be falling for each other.
Fans say: “I admit that I usually dislike romantic comedies, but this movie really surprised me. It was funny, clever and the acting was great. It was one of those movies that make you think and really care about the characters. I wish Hollywood made more movies like this one, two thumbs up.”
Similar to: Hmmm. Conan the Barbarian?
Perfect for: Anyone looking for a good laugh at The Terminator’s expense.
Synopsis: In 1977, an independent documentary movie shone a light on the world of bodybuilding, becoming a huge box office hit and creating an international sensation. It launched one man’s multi-million dollar career and changed the world of bodybuilding and physical exercise forever.
Fans say: “One of the most entertaining documentaries ever made, this film follows Arnold Schwarzenegger in his quest to become the Mr. Something-or-Other of international body-building. As he gradually drives his major competitor [Lou Ferrigno, the “Incredible Hulk”] crazy with his brilliant psychological tactics, you will be both amused and come away with tremendous respect for Arnold’s intelligence. Great fun!“
I say: I saw this one in college and remember it being thoroughly entertaining.
Category: TV series, comedy
Similar to: The Office
Perfect for: fans of offbeat, cleverly written comedy
Synopsis: Have you tried turning it on and off again? In the gleaming high-rise offices of Reynholm Industries, powerful executives oversee billion dollar business deals. But in the dark and shabby basement, the company s IT Support Team bitter slacker Roy (Chris O Dowd), socially inept Moss (Richard Ayoade), and their new boss, computer illiterate Jen (Katherine Parkinson) rule their own domain of professional irresponsibility, mega-nerd ecstasy, and random acts of personal insanity. Producer Ash Atalla (THE OFFICE) and writer/director Graham Linehan (FATHER TED), present the most critically acclaimed comedy series of the fall television season and a 2008 International Emmy Award winner for Best Comedy.
Fans say: “I was shocked and bewildered at how ridiculously funny and entertaining The IT Crowd is! I have not laughed this hard in years! I would love to find new ways to communicate just how much this show rocks, and I would love to emphasize to everyone just how much you NEED to check this show out! Stellar and amazing, The IT Crowd gets my absolute highest recommendation, and my highest rating of approval.”
Category: Drama, Foreign (French with subtitles)
Similar to: Charlotte Gray
Perfect for: History buffs, historical fiction fans
Synopsis: May 1944. A five-woman commando unit parachutes into occupied France on a daring and dangerous mission to protect the secret of the D-Day Landings and eliminate Colonel Heindrich, the head of German counter-intelligence.
Fans say: “Powerful story and very well made movie. Excellent acting and directing.”
Category: Documentary, fashion
Similar to: Grey Gardens, Shoot Me
Perfect for: Ladies’ Night In.
Synopsis: From legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (GREY GARDENS, GIMME SHELTER), IRIS pairs the late 88-year-old filmmaker with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how a soaring free spirit continues to inspire.
Fans say: “I was enthralled by this story of this amazing woman told so beautifully here. She’s a completely unique individual and the film maker obviously loved his subject. “
Category: TV series
Similar to: Gossip Girl, by way of John Hughes
Perfect for: Teens and young adults, SATC fans
Synopsis: Pulsing with the explosive energy of the unknown and the exciting urban setting of 1980s New York, The Carrie Diaries stars the enticing AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer) as Carrie Bradshaw, an inquisitive and thoughtful teen coming of age in the suburbs, who is beckoned by the glamorous and gritty distant Manhattan as she maneuvers high school and asks her first questions about sex, love and loss.
Fans say: “Despite the focus on the kooky 80’s fashion and the rad 80’s soundtrack the show manages to create characters that you root for; AnnaSophia Robb is winning as the daughter who’s trying to keep her family together, and her friends and family are each unique, charming characters that tug at the heart. The Diaries are more like Everwood and Sixteen Candles than the many rich-teen soaps on the CW.”
I say: Fans aren’t the only ones enthralled by this serious- It also got rave reviews from critics — even those at the Wall Street Journal and LA Times. I’m giving it a try.
Category: Horror, foreign (Iranian with subtitles)
Similar to: Let the Right One In
Perfect for: Foreign film buffs, Indie film fans
Synopsis: Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps, and other sordid souls, is a place that reeks of death and hopelessness, where a lonely vampire is stalking the towns most unsavory inhabitants. But when boy meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom…blood red.
The first Iranian Vampire Western, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave. Amped by a mix of Iranian rock, techno and Morricone-inspired riffs, its airy, anamorphic, black-and-white aesthetic and artfully drawn-out scenes combine the simmering tension of Sergio Leone with the surrealism of David Lynch.
Fans say: “I didn’t expect this movie to make me giddy with happiness. I expected some horror, plenty of blood, and maybe even some boredom–but never pure delight. But that’s what I got. Maybe I’m just a romantic, our lovebirds’ chemistry, so innocent and so sweet, completely sweeping me away. Amirpour paints a picture that has elements of David Lynch, old spaghetti westerns, and my personal favorite, Elia Kazan.”
Category: Documentary, fashion
Similar to: Elaine Stritch: Just Shoot Me, Iris
Perfect for: Women, fashion fans
Synopsis: Based on the his popular blog and book, street photographer Ari Seth Cohen and director Lina Plioplyte dive into the personal lives of New York City’s most fashionable seniors. In an industry obsessed with youth, these older women dispel conventional ideas about beauty and aging and prove that with age comes grace and confidence.
Fans say: “Charming – beautiful portrait of aging. Sends other women the message that you are special no matter what age you are.”
Similar to: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Perfect for: Anyone looking for an Oscar-nominated, well-acted, well-directed, engaging film.
Synopsis: When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) was sent to the convent to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again, she nonetheless spent the next fifty years secretly searching for him, unaware that he was searching for her from across the Atlantic.
Fans say: “Highly, highly recommended as an engaging film on every level, a very human story worth hearing, and for the wonderfully mismatched chemistry between Dench and Coogan’s characters.”
And here are a few more I also can recommend (Look. I had to stop somewhere!):
A Royal Affair
Secrets of War
Tell No One
The Hurt Locker
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Got more great Netflix shows/docs/movies? Please share them with us in the comments!
All reviews came from Amazon.
Header image via JVC America/Flickr Creative Commons. Image was modified for this post.<