In the last two issues, I provided a total of 23 films and TV series to add to your Netflix watch list. In the interest of even numbered lists, this time I’m recommending 7 more titles to bring the number of “films you’ll spend more time deciding between than watching”, to a grand total of 30.
- A Mighty Heart (2007)
A Might Heart centers on the tragic true story of the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl by terrorists. Angelina Jolie plays Mariane Pearl, Danny’s wife, as she searches for her husband and deals with the international attention this event has attracted. Jolie delivers a powerful performance as the pregnant, stoic, and determined Mariane Pearl. It is worth noting that this casting choice stirred controversy of whitewashing, as in this film Jolie plays Pearl a, French-born woman of Afro-Caribbean and Dutch heritage.
- Precious (2009)
Based on the novel Push by Sapphire and set in 1980s Harlem, Precious’s titular character Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) finds herself pregnant for the second time by her father. While she is looking to improve her life by joining an alternative school, she is faced with countless obstacles: her illiteracy, poverty, and an abusive mother (Mo’Nique). Precious is directed by Lee Daniels and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry (among others). This film sports an impressive cast as well. Receiving her acting debut in this picture, Gabourey Sidibe’s career took off after Precious and she has since appeared in projects like Empire, American Horror Story, and The Big C. Seasoned actor, Mo’Nique won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress her raw performance, and even received a standing ovation during the ceremony. Other notable cast members include Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, and Lenny Kravitz.
- Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
Does this one even need an explanation? In case, you need anything other than “this show is on Netflix” to convince you to watch Gilmore Girls, here you go: great acting, quick-witted writing, comedy, drama, relationships, a quaint town, nosy townspeople, and of course the most powerful force of all…nostalgia. Gilmore Girls follows Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory in the small Connecticut town of Stars Hollow. Lorelai and Rory have a unique, close relationship (Lorelei got pregnant with Rory at just 16) and almost a language of their own. With an eclectic cast of characters, Gilmore Girls is smart, funny, and touching.
- Wild (2014)
Wild is based on based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. The film chronicles Cheryl’s journey of self-discovery. Following her divorce, the death of her mother (Laura Dern), and self-destructive behavior, Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon), a woman with no previous outdoor hiking experience, embarks on a solo hike of one of the United States’ longest and most difficult trails, the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese Witherspoon is exquisite in this film she also produced, and Laura Dern is great as always; both actresses received Academy Award nominations for Wild.
- Still Alice (2014)
Alzheimer’s is a disease sometimes featured in films, but one that rarely afflicts the protagonist. In this way, Still Alice is unique in its premise. The film is about Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) a Columbia University linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50. Alice and her family must learn to cope with her symptoms as new trials arise each day. Still Alice is based on neuroscientist Lisa Genova’s novel of the same name which Genova wrote after witnessing her grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, and Kate Bosworth also star.
- Riverdale (2017-)
Based on the Archie Comics, Riverdale is about a small town of carefully hidden secrets rattled by the death of its star athlete. Riverdale is a part of this trend of teen shows trying not to be a stereotypical teen show with its stock characters, love triangles, and flawless cast, and still ending up… you guessed it being a typical teen show. Like many shows, Riverdale does that thing where it points out when it’s being unoriginal but still continues to do it. It has Veronica make fun of the “gay best friend” trope in the pilot, but consistently continues to reduce Kevin to being just that. You might be asking why I’m recommending this show when I have so many grievances with it. The thing is, this show is entertaining enough and has some strong suits. The cinematography is spectacular, even if it’s absurd that everywhere, and I mean everywhere (even indoors, I’m talking living rooms), in Riverdale is alarmingly foggy with cool-colored mood lighting. Seriously, someone needs to check the air quality in that town. The actors are talented enough, and quite a few of the characters have compelling stories and/or the potential for much more, notably fan (and personal) favourite Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and the Blossom family. I must applaud Riverdale for deciding against its iconic love triangle (as teen shows commonly beat these love triangles to death), but the possibility that it might be on the horizon is unsettling. On a final note, something about the pacing of this show makes it more suitable for binging. If you watch episodes as they air, you, like me, might find yourself feeling like not much has happened after the hour long episode. Thus, this show might be better served in larger doses.
- Chocolat (2000)
Vianne (Juliette Binoche) and her young daughter go wherever the wind blows, quite literally. Drifters and chocolatiers, Vianne and Anouk blow into a new French town and have an overwhelming effect on the people and principles there, especially one Roux (Johnny Depp). With Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, and Alfred Molina, Chocolat’s cast is stellar and its score whimsical.