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 Prisoners, Enough Said and Rush for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of missing person thrillers, heartfelt comedies, and captivating sports stories.
In Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s chilling follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Incendies, Hugh Jackman stars as a man whose world and moral compass are thrown out of whack when his six-year-old daughter goes missing. When he thinks the local police force is mishandling the case, he takes the rescue of his daughter into his own hands. Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, and Melissa Leo co-star. Read our full review here.
In Prisoners the apparent abduction of his daughter makes one father feel hollow and helpless, a feeling he tries to overcome by being arguably psychotically proactive in the search to recover her. Missing persons leave an terrifying emptiness behind them, and each of the following films features people who try to make sense of seemingly senseless disappearances.
The Lady Vanishes (1938) This thriller from master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock stars Margaret Lockwood as Iris Henderson, a young woman who's mystified when an elderly governess called Miss Froy, who she meets aboard a transcontinental train journey, vanishes—seemingly into thin air! More troubling, when Iris attempts to form a rescue party to find her missing friend, all the other passengers claim to have never seen the governess at all. Was there ever a Miss Froy? Or has Iris gone off the rails? Michael Redgrave and Dame May Whitty co-star; Hitchcock directs.
The Silence (2010) Based on the crime novel by Jan Costin Wagner, this German drama begins in the summer of 1986, when an 11-year-old girl went missing, only to be found brutalized and murdered. Twenty three years pass with no one collared for this heinous crime, then a 13-year-old girl disappears, leaving her bike in the spot the long-dead girl’s was abandoned on that tragic day. What does it mean? A retired investigator and a grieving detective team up to find out. Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Mohring, and Katrin Sass co-star; Baran bo Odar directs.
The Imposter (2012) This last missing person tale is the most disturbing, as it’s real and stranger than fiction. Three years after a teen boy went missing in Texas, his family got a strange call claiming he’d been found in Spain. Overwhelmed, they rushed to reunite their family, but when this boy came home there was something that didn’t add up. Why were his eyes a different color? Where did this French accent come from? But the question the audience is asked is how could this family fall for such an imposter? Bart Layton directs.
In celebrated writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s latest comedy, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss stars a divorcee who gets caught in a tricky situation when she discovers her new love interest is the hated ex-husband of her enviable new BFF. James Gandolfini and Catherine Keener co-star.
Holofcener has a special skill for crafting onscreen relationships that feel real, relatable and lived-in, which makes for profound and hilarious movies. For more funny features that walk the line between the highs and lows of personal relationships with a dose of comedy and drama, check out these tales of friends, family, and lovers.
Walking and Talking (1996) Dig into classic Holofcener with her breakthrough directorial debut. Catherine Keener and Anne Heche play childhood friends who are growing apart as their lives take different paths. While one prepares for her fast-approaching wedding, the other flails to find a potential boyfriend who doesn’t infuriate or embarrass her. Can friendship last through love in the ‘90s? Liev Schreiber and Kevin Corrigan co-star.
The Kids Are All Right (2010) This four-time Academy Award-nominated dramedy from Lisa Cholodenko centers on how one family’s dynamic shifts after an unexpected addition, not a baby but a bio-dad. Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson play siblings who decide that though they love their moms (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) it’s time to meet the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) who makes up half of their DNA. But none of the above are prepared for what a shakeup this will be to family harmony. Cholodenko directs.
Our Idiot Brother (2011) Paul Rudd stars as Ned, the titular dopey brother at the center of this charming comedy that is positively stuffed with stars. After Ned gets busted for selling marijuana to a cop in uniform, his three sisters are forced to help him get back on track. But while he’s endlessly kind and thoroughly guileless, he proves a total wrecking ball to each of their lives for better or for worse. Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Emily Mortimer, Kathryn Hahn, Rashida Jones, T.J. Miller, and Adam Scott co-star; Jesse Peretz directs.
Ron Howard recounts the incredible rivalry that formed between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, detailing how it nearly got one of them killed, but inspired both to greatness. Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth co-star; Howard directs. Read our full review here.
Sports fans will tell you there’s nothing like the adrenaline that pumps through your veins during an incredible game. But movie fans know that if a director is on his game he can get audiences to care about a sport they may never have thought twice about before. In the picks below, you can discover the wonder of Nascar, hockey, and football, and cheer along like a long-time fan.
Days of Thunder (1990) Tom Cruise fronts this fast-paced drama as Cole Trickle, an up-and-coming racer on the NASCAR circuit. But while Cole tends to keep cool under pressure, he loses his head as a rivalry with another racer heats up, leading to a collision that could prove the end of his career. Nicole Kidman co-stars; Tony Scott directs.
Goon (2011) Based on the true story of an unlikely hockey hero, this crass comedy stars Seann William Scott as Doug “The Thug” Glatt, a sweet-hearted bouncer who is not too bright but knows how to brawl. After a bloody fight at a hockey game grabs the notice of the team’s coach, Doug is thrown into the spotlight as a professional goon. But as he makes sense of his role on the team—and how to skate—he is being inevitably pulled to a showdown with the game’s biggest and most merciless bruiser. Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, and Liev Schreiber co-star; Michael Dowse directs.
Friday Night Lights (2006) Never understood what the fuss about football was all about? It doesn’t matter. This beloved Emmy-winning series will tell you all you need to know while weaving a complicated web of stories of the teens and parents of Dillon, Texas, a town completely obsessed with football and in particular the local high school team the Panthers. In case you’ve somehow held out on binge-watching this series, let me assure you it is as good as all your friends say. (Well, season 2 gets wonky, but hang in there.) All five seasons are now streaming. Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton and Aimee Teegarden star.