With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we present this bi-weekly column that highlights now streaming titles that pair nicely with the latest theatrical releases, to help you cut through the clutter!
Inspired by Seven Psychopaths, Argo and Paranormal Activity 4, we've picked some crazy comedies, acclaimed dramas inspired by real events, and haunting horror for your home-viewing pleasure.
For playwright turned filmmaker Martin McDonagh's sophomore effort, the heralded writer-director goes meta, spinning a hilarious story about writing maniacs, while being crowded by them. Colin Farrell stars as a screenwriter who gets pulled into the kidnapping schemes of his demented best bud (Sam Rockwell), when the latter enrages a vicious gangster who'll stop at nothing to get his adored Shih Tzu back. Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson co-star. Craziness and comedy are as great a pairing as chocolate and peanut butter. So embrace your love of hilarious maniacs with these three darkly comic capers.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Cary Grant stars in this Frank Capra classic as a man in love who's eager to introduce his new bride to his darling aunts…until he finds a corpse in their sitting room. Initially, he suspects its his dear demented uncle who's to blame, but is shocked to discover his beloved aunties are sweet but serial killers of lonely widowers. Just a little elderberry wine with a bit of their preferred poison blend, then a no frills burial in their basement. Hysterical old school hijinks ensue! Josephine Hull and Jean Adair co-star.
She-Devil (1989) Roseanne stars a Ruth Patchett, an undervalued wife and mother who is nonetheless content in her lot until her husband runs off with Mary Fisher, a glamorous romance novelist played by Meryl Streep. Like the saying goes: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and so Ruth sets out to destroy her ex by taking away all he values, from his new romance, to his career, and freedom. And hey, if she can destroy Mary while she's at it, all the better! Ed Begley Jr. and Sylvia Miles co-star; Susan Seidelman directs.
Heathers (1989) Winona Ryder stars Veronica Sawyer, a teen who is totally over the popular mean girls named Heather who rule her high school. So, when she spots the brooding loner J.D. she thinks she's met her perfect partner in crime for reputation-destroying revenge. But when the two accidentally spark a new trend of teen suicide, Veronica begins to question their connection. Michael Lehman helms this cult classic; Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty co-star.
Ben Affleck directs and stars in this exhilarating docudrama that unfolds the incredible true story that played out behind the scenes of the Iran Hostage Crisis. Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin co-star. With an incredible ensemble cast, a crowd-pleasing story and a stranger than fiction tale of American ingenuity and heroics, Argo is already scoring plenty of buzz for the fast approaching award season. So, to get you in the mood for talk of Oscar gold, we've plucked three dramas based on real events that scored Oscar notice.
Primary Colors (1998) Argo's journey begins in the backrooms of Washington, D.C., so our first pick is Mike Nichols's political drama that is loosely inspired by Bill Clinton's campaign to secure the 1992 Democratic nomination for president. John Travolta and Emma Thompson star as "the Stantons," a power couple who is not afraid to play dirty if it means winning. Screenwriter Elaine May scored a nomination for her sharp adapted script, while Kathy Bates earned a nomination for her supporting role as a professional spin-doctor. Adrian Lester and Billy Bob Thorton co-star.
Chaplin (1992) To pay tribute to Argo's Hollywood-set section, we suggest Richard Attenborough's heralded biopic about the life of one of early cinema's most enduring screen legends. Along with Oscar nods for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score, Robert Downey Jr. earned a nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of the silent screen legend that dazzled audiences and worried the US government. The massive cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Kline, and the icon's daughter Geraldine Chaplin.
The Thin Red Line (1998) Finally, in honor of Argo's final act that has Americans stuck in hostile foreign territory, we recommend Terrence Malick's poetic exploration of war and the bonds it creates between those trapped within its bounds. Based on James Jones' autobiographical novel, this 7-time Oscar-nominated World War II drama centers on the pivotal battle of Guadalcanal. The expansive cast includes Oscar winners and nominees Woody Harrelson, George Clooney, John C. Reilly, Adrien Brody, Sean Penn, and Nick Nolte.
Paranormal Activity 4
Five years have passed since the events of Paranormal Activity 2. Now, Katie and her nephew Hunter have a new home, and new neighbor to terrorize. Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston and Matt Shively co-star; Catfish helmers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman direct. Since we recently offered a trio of found footage selections, this week we've culled some of the plum picks from Netflix Instant's supernatural horror vault. What are those things that go bump in the night? If it's not your possessed next-door neighbor, maybe it's some vicious ghosts, or a demon hell-bent on bringing about the end of the world, or something real and really frightening that might be lurking in your backyard.
The Innkeepers (2011) The Yankee Pedlar Inn is closing after a hundred years serving the living and reportedly housing the dead. Two employees decide to investigate the inn's haunted reputation before it shutters its doors forever. But this could be a deadly mistake. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy co-star; Ti West directs.
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1994) For something with an edge of macabre humor, check out movie spin-off from HBO's creepy horror anthology series. William Sadler stars as Brayker, the man who literally holds the key to mankind's salvation, one of seven keys that contain the blood of Christ. But the Collector (Billy Zane) has secured the other six, and now he's hot on Brayker's trail, lusting for the final piece that will allow him to unleash chaos upon the world. Jada Pinkett Smith, Thomas Haden Church, and the Crypt Keeper co-star; Ernest R. Dickerson directs.
Paranormal Witness (2011) This Syfy series reveals the bizarre accounts of people who have experienced paranormal phenomena. From ghostly girls to UFOs, poltergeists and a strange beast in the woods, each episode attempts to unlock a supernatural mystery through first-hand testimonials, re-enactments, home movies and personal photos. Season 1 is now streaming.