17 New Acclaimed & Noteworthy Netflix Movies Added for 2014
Netflix is always adding and removing a variety of content from its instant streaming service. Here’s a list of some of the new titles that have been added for 2014. Some of these have been on Netflix before–some very recently (in one or two cases, films only being absent for a month or two), and some not for a long time. We picked out our favorites for you, and we’d recommend seeing all of them.
1. The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain
Amélie is an award-winning French romantic comedy from 2001. It’s not like most other romantic comedies. The humor in Amélie is refreshingly quirky and infused with just the right amount of child-like whimsy.
The titular character, Amélie, is adorably awkward and sets out to better the lives of the humans who surround her, and while doing so learns how to live her own life. If you’re the type of person who understands how satisfying it can be to pop bubble wrap or skip the perfect stone, then you need to watch Amélie. If you aren’t that type of person, you are still likely to enjoy it and should watch Amélie.
Amélie hasn’t been on Netflix in a long while and is a welcome addition. It was originally added on the first of January but then was almost immediately removed, due to subscriber complaints about the lack of subtitles. Amélie has since been re-added with English subtitles. It is a French film which does very well with subtitles; even those who are reading-averse during movie-viewing should definitely give it a chance.
2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
This is one of the only movies I’ve watched that has managed to feel so crushingly anachronistic in one moment, and then so quizzically modern in the next. Breakfast at Tiffany’s debuted in 1961.
Audrey Hepburn is lovely; she had once said that her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was one of her most difficult because she had to portray an extremely extroverted character.
The film is about Holly Golightly, a flippant glamour girl fashionista who lives on her own with her nameless cat, escorting men and dropping them when they give her money and other gifts. Her independent nature is shaken when she meets struggling writer Paul Vrajak, played by George Peppard.
Please be aware before watching that there is some ugly racism and use of yellow-face. I’m not going to say “if you can look past this, it’s a charming movie,” because it shouldn’t be looked past. It should be recognized for what it is, what it was, and as an important example of Hollywood’s historical stereotyped portrayal of East-Asian characters that were played by white actors. The relative lack of East Asian Hollywood stars demonstrates that this isn’t an issue of the past. One need look no further than the film adaptation of The Last Airbender to see that truth.
The film changed quite a few things from the novella by Truman Capote that it was based on, which was a forward-thinking story about how people of different backgrounds can form unorthodox family bonds. In that version, Paul is instead the unnamed narrator who is almost certainly gay, and he forms a strong non-romantic bond with bisexual pot-smoking Holly. Hollywood cleaned that up in a hurry. It’s a shame. Especially that they replaced the ambiguous ending with a conventional Hollywood one. Regardless—both the film and the novella are probably worth your time. Moreso the novella.
3. Thelma & Louise
Released in 1991, Thelma & Louise is the iconic gender-reversed road adventure film about two women who go on a road trip together. Almost everyone seems to know how their adventure ends without seeing the film, so if you somehow haven’t been spoiled, you should go watch it immediately. Or it will happen soon. Even if you have been “spoiled,” the film is still very enjoyable. At the risk of sounding too cliché: it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Susan Sarandon does a remarkable job of playing snarky Louise, and Mensa member Geena Davis plays a charmingly ditzy (albeit at times incomprehensibly frustrating) Thelma. The pair are truly wonderful together.
Thelma & Louise brings up some important concepts about women that are still relevant today, such as the whole “she was asking for it because she…” bullshit. It’s much more than a film with a few woman-positive concepts, though. It’s an endearing and wild adventure story that kept me entertained more than any other in that genre.
Some have argued violence and revenge are too prevalent for it to be a feminist film, but at least it does pass the Bechdel test. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a test of gender bias in fiction. The criteria are laughably simple. There must be 1) at least two women, 2) they have to talk to one another, 3) about something other than a man. Most present-day films still manage to fail it.
It’s a movie worth checking out, even if you don’t consider yourself a feminist. Or perhaps, especially if you don’t. It isn’t preachy and doesn’t seem to deliver a real message; it’s just a great ride. And Brad Pitt makes an appearance as a sexy cowboy. So that’s a thing, too.
4. Planes, Trains, And Automobiles
Steve Martin starred in this comedy film from 1987. It’s about an uptight executive traveling home for Thanksgiving, and the misadventures that occur when he meets a happy-go-lucky salesman along the way who can be both endearingly sincere and amusingly obnoxious.
5. Big Trouble In Little China
This cult favorite from 1986 comes complete with copious amounts of mullets and bad blowouts. This action-comedy references Chinese and Hong Kong Kung fu movies from the 1970’s, and brings along all of the problematic mystical Chinese stereotypes. The characters and their stereotypes are never ridiculed, however—the ridicule is saved for the starring white guy.
Big Trouble In Little China subverts the action hero genre by having its truck-driving macho leading man be essentially useless other than for comedic effect. I can’t say it better than director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell—”This is a movie about a guy who thinks he’s the action hero, when he’s really the comic sidekick.”
The film is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Kurt Russell plays Jack, the aforementioned truck driver who gets caught up in a kidnapping which turns out to be a battle between two Chinese sorcerers. Lots of cheesy special effects, campy plot-lines, and over-done combat scenes are included—as should be expected of any worthwhile action-comedy Kung fu flick.
Oh, and fun fact: Sex and the City‘s Kim Katrell starred in it alongside Kurt Russell. So there’s also that.
Genre mashup Ghost from 1990 features a well-stacked cast of Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore, and Patrick Swayze. Drawing from comedy, romance, horror, and mystery, the film sets up an engrossing story. Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen are a young couple in love in New York City. One night the two are mugged, and Sam is murdered. Sam continues to linger in the physical world; the reason for this becomes unearthed gradually.
Ghost gets off to a bit of a slow start, but as soon as Whoopi appeared as a medium, I was hooked. It’s no wonder she won an Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actress. The three leading stars are all excellent in this blockbuster hit. The film also won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Fun fact: it was remade in Japan a few years ago as Ghost: Mouichido Dakishimetai, and the newer Japanese version gender-flips the couple. That is, the woman is the one who dies in the Japanese remake.
7. The Talented Mr. Ripley
Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow star in this 1999 psychological thriller. The Talented Mr. Ripley is a film adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. It’s one of those movies that has you sympathize with the villain, and even despise some of the victims.
Mr. Ripley is working in New York as a bathroom attendant when he is mistaken by a shipping tycoon for a Princeton graduate who graduated with the tycoon’s son. The very wealthy Mr. Greenleaf sends Tom Ripley to convince his son, Dickie Greenleaf, to leave Italy and come back to America. Tom befriends Dickie and the two develop an intense friendship. Ripley becomes more and more obsessed with his new lifestyle.
The cast does a wonderful job, and not just because Matt Damon and Jude Law strip down. Although Law does display some particularly nice tan lines. They make the butt look very perky. Ahem.
Overall, The Talented Mr. Ripley is an enjoyable journey for many more reasons than just the semi-naked men. There was an earlier French film adaptation from 1960 called Plein soleil or Purple Noon, which was also reviewed very highly. Like, 100% RottenTomatoes.com highly.