The evenings have well and truly drawn in, so it’s time to get cosy and watch films. But what is there for you on Netflix UK?
At first it can be quite a daunting search for something you’re in the mood to watch. All the suggestions and ‘popular’ lists are full of horror films from Halloween, and you’re done with those.
You want films that aren’t TOO challenging or difficult to watch, but you don’t want something insultingly dumb or predictable. You need likeable stars, thought-provoking themes and something that goes well with a hot chocolate and some popcorn.
Here’s 12 suggestions for you:
For When You Just Want Something Nice – Just Like Heaven
Yeah, it’s a romcom (with more rom than com), but you’ve got to try really hard to dislike Just Like Heaven. Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo are very likeable leads and the ghostly love story does plenty to make you want there to be a happy ending for them. There’s some laughs, and lots of warm, cosy feelings. And it’s named after a song by The Cure.
For When You Can Read Subtitles – Amelie
The ultimate in socially acceptable frothy indulgence, Amelie is one of my favourite films and is as feelgood and saccharine as any Richard Curtis film, BUT IT’S IN FRENCH. So it’s ok to like it. And Yann Tiersen’s score is sublime, while the quirky French bits add to, rather than detract from proceedings. Basically, if you don’t like it, you’re dead inside.
For When You Want Something For Men AND Women – As Good As It Gets
A Helen Hunt romcom doesn’t sound like something a man would want to watch unless he’s very confident of what will happen after the credits roll. But this Oscar-winning flick has got Jack Nicholson in it in one of his finest performances of the last few decades. There was a bit of a backlash against it credibility wise after the Oscar, but it’s good fun all round.
For When You Want To Be A Hip Slacker – Ghost World
A cult favourite, based on a comic book and starring Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson, this is an easy sell to any guy, but with two strong and unconventional female leads (this is teenage Johansson before her sex symbol status was, erm, endowed) it’s a film any girl can enjoy too. Thora Birch is the star and does such a good job that it becomes even less believable that her career faded so badly, and there’s a subtle blend of sarcasm and empathy at work throughout.
For When You Want A Man’s Romcom – High Fidelity
There’s any number of romcoms out there for women, but precious few that are aimed at men. That makes sense, it’s also why there’s not many action flicks made for women. But this adaptation of Nick Hornby’s book is definitely a romcom and is definitely for men (and women too), with it’s obsessive list-making, mentions of The Beta Band and presence of Jack Black. John Cusack is brilliant and it doesn’t even come into it that the story was transplanted to America.
For When You Want To Be Free – Into The Wild
When you’re snuggled up on the sofa and it’s windy and wet outside and you’ve got a cold and know you’ll have to battle against the elements to get to work the next day, it’s tempting to just pack it all in and go travelling. Into The Wild shows you the exciting and magical parts of that as well as the dark and tragic possibilities, while Eddie Vedder’s wonderful songs and Sean Penn’s direction make it a journey well worth taking. From the sofa.
For When You Want To Be A Kid Again – Dumbo
A good cry and a happy ending is all you really need from a cosy film in Autumn and Dumbo delivers both. Sure, the gut-wrenching separation from his mum might be a bit hard-going, but you know how it ends. And those crows might be negative racial stereotypes, but shut up and eat some more popcorn, they’re not that bad and it’s ‘of its age’. When you see an elephant fly, none of it will matter and this is one of the best films you watched as a child that you’ll ever see as an adult.
For When You’re Glad You’re Not At Work – Office Space
Work sucks. It doesn’t matter what job you do, when it gets to November, you’re shuffling to work in the near-dark and returning home in the actual dark, with just a blur of desks and PCs and meetings in between. So what better film to chill out to in the evening than Office Space, which gets more popular with each year since it was released to general apathy. If someone’s recently stolen your stapler, it’s particularly cathartic.
For When You Want To Be Grateful For Who You Live With – The Odd Couple
You’re stuck together in the house/flat more with your wife/husband/partner/flatmate/family at this time of year, so little niggles can become huge issues. Chill the hell out and stick on The Odd Couple. You’ll all be grinning as soon as the theme tune starts, even if the film has a near suicide in the opening minutes, and Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau are just perfect. Simple, classy fun and a barrel of laughs.
For When You Want Some Old-Time Country Chillaxing – O Brother Where Art Thou?
If you want some songs to go with your light-hearted entertainment, you can’t go wrong with this Coen Brothers classic, which combines George Clooney’s finest comedy performance with a soundtrack that brought bluegrass out of the history books and back into the modern world. It looks sepia-toned-fantastic and sounds amazing.
For When You Want Something To Wash Over You And Also Make You Feel Sophisticated – Powaqqatsi
Netflix is a bugger for having sequels to films on there without the originals, making them kind of pointless. But you don’t need to have watched Koyaanisqatsi to enjoy Powaqqatsi. It’s not as easy-going, unfortunately, with the message about ‘progress’ in the Third world a bit heavy-hitting at times, but the dialogue-free footage and hypnotic Philip Glass score will soon have you under its spell. You can put as little effort in as you want and still feel pleased with yourself afterwards…