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 Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and A Madea Christmas for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of fantasy adventures, showbiz comedies and Christmas movies perfect for the holiday season!
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Having secured a magical ring that can turn him invisible, hobbit Bilbo Baggins continues on his quest with Gandalf the Grey a band of dwarves to reclaim Erebor from the fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage star; Peter Jackson directs. Read our review here.
Of course the closest comparison to the forthcoming Hobbit trilogy is The Lord of the Rings trilogy Jackson previously released. However, none of these titles are streaming. So instead, let us suggest a string of fantasy stories that take the genre in strange and exciting new directions, boasting stories of mighty monsters, dangerous legends, and noble warriors.
Trollhunter (2010) This Norwegian adventure tale centers on three college students who unexpectedly stumble across a government cover-up and the world-rattling realization that some fairy tales are true when their documentary project lures them into the dark woods, following a enigmatic poacher. Imagine Jurassic Park with trolls, and you've got this inventive found footage feature. Otto Jespersen, Glen Erland Tosterud, and Johanna Morck star; Andre Ovredal directs.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) You think you know the story of Santa Claus. Fat guy, jolly, with a penchant for cookies and giving kids toys. Yeah. Well, sometimes lovely stories cover a twisted truth. In this Scandanavian thriller, a little boy and his father are forced to hunt down a psychotic, scrawny Santa Claus before it's too late. It's a Christmas quest unlike any you've seen before. Per Christian Ellefsen, Peeter Jakobi, and Tommi Korpela star; Jalmari Helander directs.
The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011) For a more Eastern-influenced take on fantasy, check out this monsters and magic stuffed epic from China. Based on a legend of a young man who unwittingly falls for a giant white snake who has taken the form of a lovely girl, this action adventure stars Jet Li and boasts angels, demons, the aforementioned snake lady, and lots of wild action. Shengyi Huang co-stars; Siu-tung Ching directs.
A Madea Christmas
Madea's back with loads of sass and some holiday spirit, and she's taking all of it to the country to help a friend reconnect with her daughter. Tyler Perry, Chad Michael Murray, Tika Sumpter, and Larry the Cable Guy star; Perry directs.
The holidays are upon us! The snow is piling up, the days to Christmas are counting down. So get yourself a glass of cocoa (I'll have my with peppermint schnapps!) and curl up with some comedies of family holidays gone delightfully awry. These hilarious features cover every holiday travesty--from frustrations of decorating and unwelcomed guests, to the perils of last minute shopping and the tricky etiquette of office holiday parties--to remind us why it's for the best Christmas comes only once a year.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) This contemporary classic stars Chevy Chase as the ever-flustered Clark Griswold, a family man whose been working hard to create the perfect Christmas for his wife and kids. Too bad everyone from his neighbors to his boss, extended family and nature itself seems to be against him. Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, and Johnny Galecki co-star; Jeremiah S. Chechik directs.
Jingle All the Way (1996) You don't know the true insanity of the holiday shopping season until you've had to search for a "must have" toy in its midst. This is the central plot of this Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that has him playing a dedicated dad who will do anything to get his son the hot toy of the season Turbo Man. Unfortunately for him, he's crossed paths with an insane mailman (Sinbad), a lecherous neighbor (Phil Hartman), and an army of opportunistic mall santas. Brian Levant directs.
Love Actually (2003) This London-set romance shares the highs and lows of love and the holiday season through ten interweaving tales about friends, family, lovers, crushes, and the crushed. Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Rowan Atkinson, Martine McCutcheon, and Bill Nighy star; Richard Curtis directs.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
The golden era of the '70s has come and gone, but the legendary Ron Burgundy is about to step into a new age of news coverage on a network dedicated to it 24/7. Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell star; Adam McKay directs. Read our review here.
Show business is an industry full of big egos and absurd situations, making it the perfect place for comedy. Whether it be a beautiful but brain dead model trying to save the world from a nefarious fashion designer, a soap opera star whose real life is even more outrageous than her show's storylines, or a song and dance team whose heads get turned by a lovely sister act!
Zoolander (2001) Ben Stiller stars as Derek Zoolander, a male model who is much more than a pretty face. He's also a total idiot tasked with stopping a long-running conspiracy of turning obedient male models into unwitting assassins. Will Ferrell co-stars as the evil fashion mogul Jacobim Mogatu. Owen Wilson and Christine Taylor co-star; Stiller directs.
Soapdish (1991) Sally Field fronts this outlandish comedy about the cast and crew of a hit daytime soap opera. With an ambitious rival trying to get her written off the series, longtime star Celeste Talbert (Field) must fight for her place in the spotlight. But that becomes complicated when her niece and spurred ex-lover join the cast, and begin to flirt with each other. Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Cathy Moriarty, Elisabeth Shue, and Whoopi Goldberg star; Michael Hoffman directs.
White Christmas (1954) And one last holiday movie for good measure. In this charming musical Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star as a song and dance team who falls for a sister act while putting on a show to save their friend's lovely Vermont inn from going out of business. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen co-star; Michael Curtiz directs.