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 Frozen, Oldboy and Inside Llewyn Davis for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of classic Disney musicals, twisted crime dramas, and movies about musicians.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "Snow Queen," the creators behind Wreck-It Ralph and Surf's Up teamed up to tell the story of a fearless princess who goes on a dangerous journey into a wintery wilderness to save her sister and her kingdom. Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff lend their voices; Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee direct.
Between the vivid color palates, whimsical song numbers, and unforgettable characters, there's just some special magic to the movies of Disney. And you can revisit some of the House of Mouse's most fun-filled musical adventures from past and present below.
The Sword in the Stone (1963) Inspired by the legends of King Arthur and his magical friend Merlin, Disney animators crafted a story of wonder and transformation with a small boy called Wart at its center. At the film's start, he's just a slip of a boy with gangly limbs and a clumsy carriage, but Merlin the wizard sees something special in this boy, and so takes him under his wing to learn about the world by trying out new roles within it, like a fish and squirrel! Sebastian Cabot, Karl Swenson, Rickie Sorensen, Junius Matthews, Ginny Tyler, Martha Wentworth, Norman Alden, Alan Napier lend their voices.
Robin Hood (1973) Sure, you know the story of Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. But Disney's interpretation of this tale gave kids a little more to sink their teeth into by recasting all the roles of Robin, his merry men, and villains like Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham as animals! And of course, animals who sing. Roger Miller, Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Brian Bedford, Monica Evans, Phil Harris, Andy Devine, Carole Shelley, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey lend their voices.
The Emperor's New Groove (2000) Inspired by the cultures of South America, Disney unfolded the story of a selfish young emperor whose transformation into a llama unexpectedly teaches him the true value of friendship. Teaming up with a peasant he's infuriated, Emperor Kuzco must travel back to his palace to overthrow the plot to steal his throne! David Spade, John Goodman, and Eartha Kitt lend their voices. Mark Dindal directs.
The American remake of the South Korean revenge thriller that turned many Western eyes East follows a man whose thrown into a uniquely torturous prison for 20 years without any idea why. But the real mystery arises when he is abruptly set free. Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharlto Copley co-star. Spike Lee directs.
Craving more crime stories with dramatic twists? Well Netflix has plenty to pick from. Whether you want to revisit the original Oldboy, check out a Lee landmark, or dig deep for a classic so iconic that it helped define film noir forever.
Oldboy (2003) A drunken mess of a businessman is unexpectedly abdupted off the streets of Korea and thrown into a solitary prison for 15 years without a word as to why. When he is finally set free, this mystery haunts him not so much as the demand for revenge, which he'll wreak with a crazy eye, and insatiable thirst for blood, and a hammer. Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji, and Dal-su Oh star; Chan-wook Park directs.
Do the Right Thing (1989) Set in a wickedly hot summer in Brooklyn, New York, this outrageous dramedy is perhaps the best known of all of Lee's joints. In a neighborhood where race informs identity and fuels rage, a young man is about to learn how small actions can lead to something big and terrible. Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Paul Benjamin, Frankie Faison, Samuel L. Jackson, and Rosie Pérez star. Lee directs.
Double Indemnity (1944) Writer-director Billy Wilder defined wit and noir for a generation, and with this film he made a legend of Barbara Stanwyck. The leggy leading lady stars as a femme fatale who seduces an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray in a role that defied his casting niche) to help her murder her husband and make it look like an accident so she might collect a hefty life insurance check. Of course, she'll share her winnings with her new lover/co-killer. Of course she will. Wilder directs.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Inspired by the folk music scene of the early 1960s, writing-directing duo Joel and Ethan Coen crafted a story set in the Greenwich Village of the time, weaving it around the exploits of a stubborn musician named Llewyn Davis. Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, and Justin Timberlake co-star; the Coens direct.
There's something especially exhilarating about movies centered on musicians. For one thing, they inherently come accompanied by a soundtrack that allows the story to live in another medium, singing out story points and character motivations in subtle or showy ways that play with the heartstrings and tease the imagination. For more movies with mesmerizing music, check out these titles that boast something bold, something classic, and something totally contemporary.
Velvet Goldmine (1998) This drama revels in the glory and garishness of glam rock. It's a heady cocktail that mixes elements of Oscar Wilde, the life and times of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, the story structure of Citizen Kane, and performances by Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys, Meyers, Toni Collette and Christian Bale with loads of free love, regret and heaps of drugs and glitter. When a journalist (Bale) seeks to out whatever happened to a glam rock god who fell out of the spotlight after faking his own murder on stage, he uncovers a story full of heartbreak, sex, and scintillating music, as well as the most shocking secret of them all. Todd Haynes directs.
Topsy-Turvy (1999) This celebrated musical drama aims to demystify how composers Gilbert and Sullivan rebounded from critical scorn to take on something frightfully new and deeply daring in The Mikado. A version of that musical is also streaming, but this one takes you behind the scenes of how these grandly mustachioed musicians shook up England's theater scene with a play unlike the Western world had ever seen before. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner star; Mike Leigh directs.
One Direction: The Only Way Is Up (2012) Harry. Liam. Zayn. Niall. Louis. You've heard their names screeched by enthralled little girls, you've heard their songs on the radio, at GAP Kids and the Build A Bear Workshop. Now learn how One Direction became an overnight sensation with this concert doc that features interviews from the boys as well as with Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan, Zac Efron, and Kelly Rowland. Tara Pirnia directs.