With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we bring you this biweekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair well with the latest theatrical releases.
Looking to Captain Phillips, ACOD, and Machete Kills for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of inspiring biopics, wild family-comedies, and over-the-top action flicks.
Tom Hanks stars as the titular captain who made headlines in 2009 after he was forced to confront a gang of Somali pirates. When they boarded the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship, Phillips knew he was the only thing standing between these gun-toting terrors of the high seas, and the safety of his crew. Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener and Barkhad Abdirahman co-star; Paul Greengrass directs. Read our full review.
There’s nothing so inspiring as an incredible true story. For more tales of men who overcame harrowing odds, try this trio about a crippled aristocrat, a former freedom fighter, and a lonely boy named John Lennon.
The Intouchables (2011) An odd couple story that’s stranger than fiction, this biopic centers on the friendship that blossomed between an quadriplegic aristocrat and the stubborn young man from the projects who he hired to be his caretaker. Showing a remarkable warmth and joie de vivre, this French dramedy won praise worldwide, and became the nation’s biggest box office hit. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy star; Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano direct.
The First Grader (2010) When Kenya attempted to revitalize its nation with a new education initiative, it meant hordes of children got access to primary school. No one expected an 84-year-old Mau Mau freedom fighter to show up with a dream to learn to read. No matter the ridicule, threats, and scorn he faces from the controversy-torn community, Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge is committed, as is the young teacher who’ll risk everything to help him reach his goal. Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris star; Justin Chadwick directs.
Nowhere Boy (2009) Before he was an internationally beloved rock star and activist, John Lennon was just a boy living with strict aunt Mimi, and trying to start a band. But his simple life is derailed when his estranged mother shows up and tries to make up—or smooth over—all the years she’s missed. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster co-star; Sam Taylor-Johnson directs.
Adam Scott stars in a comedy about one deeply dysfunctional family. Since his parents’ divorce twenty years ago, Carter has been a go-between carefully trying to keep the peace. But when his baby brother attempts to throw a big family wedding, all hell breaks loose and Carter is forced to pick up the pieces or lose his mind trying. Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, and Jane Lynch co-star; Stu Zicherman directs. Read our full review.
The ties that bind can hold us close, trip us up, or send us sprawling. Whether you’re crushing on your brother’s new girlfriend, enabling his delusion or trying to get him out of a rut, it’s a universal truth that family is complicated. Luckily—as seen in these three titles—it can also be pretty hilarious.
The Vicious Kind (2009) For a darker dose of family comedy, try out this tension-filled indie that also stars Adam Scott. Here he plays Caleb Sinclaire, the ostracized older son of a cantankerous widower (J.K. Simmons). When his kid brother comes home from college with a new girlfriend, Caleb follows. But despite his best efforts to do good, he causes all kinds of trouble. Brittany Snow and Alex Frost co-star; Lee Toland Krieger directs.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007) Ryan Gosling stars as a shy and lonely small towner who stuns his family and neighbors when his introduces them to his new girlfriend, a life-sized sex doll. Initially revolted, his brother and sister-in-law attempt to be compassionate about Lars’ new love interest, and play into his delusion that she’s a real woman. But will the rest of the town follow their lead? Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider co-star; Craig Gillespie directs.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) Jason Segel and Ed Helms co-star as siblings in a comedy from writing-directing brother team Jay and Mark Duplass. Jeff and Pat have little in common but blood. One still lives in mom's basement. The other is struggling to be anything but mediocre in his work and marriage. But on one fateful day they will rediscover their bond as one chases his destiny, and the other chases his potentially adulterous wife. Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer co-star; the Duplass Bros. direct.
Machete is back and this time the President has hired him to take down a deranged arms dealer who has plans to destroy Washington D.C. with a massive missile. But first he’ll have to get past this villain’s super assassin squad. Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, and Amber Heard star; Robert Rodriguez directs. Read our full review.
If you like your action movies ultra violent with a heavy dollop of the completely insane, you’ll appreciate these truly ridiculous features.
Bad Ass (2012) Not enough Trejo in your day? Try this low-budget action thriller that is loosely based on a truly bizarre bus fight caught on tape. (Watch it here if you are so inclined, but be warned it is graphic.) In Bad Ass a bearded brawler is re-invented as a vigilante hero whose viral videos inspire him to live up to the folk hero status he's been granted. Danny Trejo and Ron Perlman star; Craig Ross directs.
The Expendables 2 (2012) The burly action stars from your youth are back and badder than ever. In this sequel, Mr. Church’s burly crew is back together to seek revenge for a murdered member. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Liam Hemsworth star; Simon West directs.
Iron Sky (2012) Lastly, a plotline so crazy it’s sure to entertain. What if the Nazis didn’t fall to total defeat in 1945, but instead sent their remaining forces to the moon to regroup? That is the premise of this crowd-funded action-comedy. When an American model/astronaut lands on the moon and discovers their nefarious scheme to return to earth and dominate, he is humanity’s last chance against…well, space Nazis. Netflix is exclusively streaming this fine feature’s director’s cut. Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Götz Otto, and Udo Kier star; Timo Vuorensola directs.