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 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Nebraska and The Delivery Man for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of YA-inspired adventures, independent comedies, and funny foreign features.
Alexander Payne's follow-up to the Academy Award-winning The Descendants follows the road trip of a booze-adled old man (Bruce Dern) and his son (Will Forte), to claim a million dollar prize from the dubious Mega Sweepstakes. June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk co-star; Payne directs.
Despite having a heralded reputation, Payne chose to make Nebraska independently, giving him more control over casting and creative choices like presenting it in black and white. For more independent comedies that taking daring risks, check out this trio about late bloomers, unlikely friendships, and a Faustian deal.
Frances Ha (2012) Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, this spirited collaboration is directed by the former, and stars the latter as the title character. Frances is a twenty-something New Yorker who is struggling to get her career in dance going, and to keep a roof over her head. But as she bounces from own squat to another, Frances begins to understand what fuels her and what she needs to do to get her dreams to align with her reality. Adam Driver and Mickey Sumner co-star.
Robot & Frank (2012) Frank Langella stars as a retired cat burglar whose plagued by boredom and loneliness until his son sets him up with a helper robot. Soon, the enterprising old man decides this robot can be more than a friend, it could be a partner in crime! James Marsden, Liv Tyler, and Peter Sarsgaard co-star.
The Brass Teapot (2012) Juno Temple and Michael Angarano front this dark comedy as a pair of young lovers so dedicated to each other that they'd do anything to keep their partner happy, even if it hurts. When a chance encounter gives them a teapot that fills with cash whenever one of them feels pain, these two poor lovers find a dangerous path to everything they've ever wanted. Aliza Shawkat, Bobby Moynihan, and Alexis Biedel co-star; Ramaa Mosley directs.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Since winning the Hunger Games with their clever strategy, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have become targets of the Capitol. Rebellion is on the rise, and the vile President Snow believes the best way to quench it is a Quarter Quell unlike the world has ever seen. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson star; Francis Lawrence directs.
When you're a teenager, it's easy to feel like the world is out to get you. Well, in the case of the heroes and heroines of these YA-inspired movies, that's not teen angst making them feel that way. It's just the way their worlds work. Whether it's class warfare, generational differences, or alien invasion, each of these protagonists is forced to fight for their lives as the world around them crumbles.
The Hunger Games (2012) Based on the first novel in Suzanne Collins' wildly popular YA trilogy, this thriller introduces huntress Katniss Everdeen as a resourceful and guarded young woman who must use all her skills to live when she's hurled into the cruel Hunger Games. A spectacle arranged by a tyrannical government, these nationally televised games pit children from across the country of Panem against each other in a kill or be killed battle that not only threatens their lives, but also their sense of humanity. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth star; Gary Ross directs.
Battle Royale (2000) For something similar in concept but more graphic in its execution, this Japanese cult hit based on Koushun Takami's novel should please. In a dystopian future, a heinous government forces a classroom of ninth graders to turn on their friends and fight to the death. Where the Hunger Games' contenders at least get some advanced notice on their battle, the kids in this movie are thrown into the fray abruptly and without any training. The results are mayhem and murder. Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto, and Takeshi Kitano star; Kinji Fukasaku directs.
The Host (2013) Based on the sci-fi novel by Stephanie Meyer, this adventure story focuses on the battle for mankind's survival following an invasion by a parasitic alien race that use people as their hosts. One such alien called Wanderer is put into the body of teen rebel Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan). But Wanderer finds Melanie is still there, though she can't speak to anyone but this intruder. Warring for ownership of Melanie's body as well as the future of Earth itself, this extraterrestrial and human are forced into a quest that will change how they see their enemy. Max Irons and Jake Abel co-star; Andrew Niccol directs.
Vince Vaughn stars as a hapless underachieving man-child who must confront the possibility of fatherhood as he discovers his plethora of sperm donations have resulted in more than 500 children, 142 of who are seeking to get to know their bio-dad via lawsuit. Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders co-star; Ken Scott writes and directs.
Before it was a New York-set comedy, Delivery Man was a French-Canadian crowd-pleaser called Starbuck. To celebrate its origins, we suggest that cheeky title as well as a pair of funny foreign features that also push their protagonists out of their ruts and comfort zones.
Starbuck (2011) Quebec-born Patrick Huard fronts this charming comedy as David "Starbuck" Wozniak, the lovable oaf whose identity is desperately sought by the press and 142 teenagers seeking to meet their biological father. A man-child who frustrates his girlfriend and only has a job because of his father's patience, David is not ready to face fatherhood. So instead he flirts with it, trying to intervene in their lives as a kind stranger. Julie LeBreton and Antoine Bertrand co-star; Ken Scott directs.
The Closet (2000) In this funny French feature, Daniel Auteuil stars as François Pignon, a divorced man considered uninteresting by his ex, his son, and his bosses at a condom-making factory. With his job hanging in the balance, this bland pencil pusher gets a second chance when a well-meaning neighbor starts a rumor that François is openly gay. Soon, he's a MVP at work, but it all depends on him keeping up the ruse. Gérard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, and Michèle Laroque co-star; Francis Veber directs.
Happy Happy (2010) Set in rural Norway, this Scandinavian comedy centers on Kaja, the wife of a loveless man and a bullying child. But when a cool urban couple moves in next door with their adopted African son, a whole new world opens up to Kaja, who learns happiness can extend beyond her little home. This delightfully daffy film features infidelity, crude comedy, and a winsome sense of humor. Agnes Kittlesen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Joachim Rafaelsen, and Maibritt Saerens star; Anne Sewitsky directs.