Netflix movie nights are one of our favorite nights of the week. But not when you can’t find the perfect movie to match your mood, which is sometimes the case. So, we got our best On TV Tonight movie-buffs onto the case with this useful list of the best movies on Netflix right now.
What we think: Here’s another one of those gems, which may have escaped attention, adapted from Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams. Most of us have that urge to sometimes take off and get lost, even just for a few days. In this story Alfre Woodard’s Juanita is fed up with her life and her grown kids who can’t seem to grow up, so she leaves it all behind and hits the road in search of a fresh start. When buying her bus ticket, she decides Butte Montana is the place to go, even though she has no idea where it is. But through a chance meeting with Peaches, a friendly truck driver, she ends up in a small down cooking in the local restaurant and making new friends. Loved this one. Although it is set in Montana, filming actually took place in Petersburg, Virginia. Director Clark Johnson may be known to some viewers from his role in the TV series Bosch. Loved the Blair Underwood cameo throughout the film.
Director: CLARK JOHNSON
Cast: ALFRE WOODARD, ADAM BEACH, LATANYA RICHARDSON JACKSON, ASHLIE ATKINSON, ACORYE WHITE, SAM HENNINGS
What we think: Those in the older generation would have made or been given a mixed tape at some point. They were a very personal gift of music. There are those who no doubt still have their collection packed away somewhere. In this musical journey 12-year-old Beverly finds a broken mixtape belonging to the mother she never knew. She decides to track down each of the tape’s obscure songs in an effort to find out what her mother was like, leading to a reconciliation with her grandmother who raised her, but who could never talk about the daughter she lost. To quote record store owner Anti, “A mixtape is a message from the maker to the listener.” There are some great tracks on this mixtape by Iggy Pop, Cheap Trick, The Blue Hearts, The Quick and Roxy Music. Love this one.
Director: VALERIE WEISS
Cast: GEMMA BROOKE ALLEN, JULIE BOWEN, AUDREY HSIEH, OLGA PETSA, NICK THUNE, STEPH SONG, BEN COTTON
What we think: This is only director Alex Lehmann’s second feature film, and it’s a gem. Just watching Ray Romano in a totally different role to his usual fare is a joy, although the story itself is not always joyful. He is excellent. An unlikely friendship between two misfit neighbours, Michael and Andy, becomes an unexpectedly emotional journey when the younger man is diagnosed with terminal cancer. To procure medicine that Michael needs, they embark on a hilarious, albeit emotional road trip, which enriches their bond. A superb little film.
Director: ALEX LEHMANN
Cast: RAY ROMANO, MARK DUPLASS, ALEXANDRA BILLINGS, DENDRIE TAYLOR, SIERRA FISK, KADEEM HARDISON
7. THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES
What we think: Absolutely loved this family drama performed by a talented ensemble of actors, written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Adam Sandler and Ben Still are superb, which is not something one can always say about his pair. The story centres around an estranged family who gather together in New York City for an event celebrating the artistic work of their domineering, eccentric father, Harold, performed by the much-loved Dustin Hoffman. This is a film that meanders along at its own pace. If you’re not into family dynamics and dramas, this is not one for you.
Director: NOAH BAUMBACH
Cast: DUSTINE HOFFMAN, ADAM SANDLER, BEN STILLER, EMMA THOMPSON, ELIZABETH MARVEL, JUDD HIRSCH, REBECCA MILLER
6. OUTSIDE IN
What we think: Edie Falco shines in this thoughtful drama as Carol, a high school teacher who fights to have an ex-pupil cleared of charges for murder, which he did not commit. As he struggles to readjust to life in the small town where they both live, an intense bond forms between them complicating Carol’s already failing marriage and her fractious relationship with her daughter. Loved this film directed by Lynn Shelton, who sadly died in 2020 from an illness she’d had for some time, which had not been diagnosed.
Director: LYNN SHELTON
Cast: EDIE FALCO, JAY DUPLASS, KAITLYN DEVER, BEN SCHWARTZ, CHARLES LEGGETT, PAMELA REED, ALYCIA DELMORE
What we think: This is an extremely muddy, wet and very confronting film. In the aftermath of WWII, somewhere in the muddy Mississippi Delta, two families – one black, the Jacksons, and the other white, the McAllans -are forced to share the same patch of land, keeping a frail race-based peace with each other. However, as they both struggle with hardship and dire poverty, the long-awaited return of two war veterans – Ronsel, the Jacksons’ eldest son, and Jamie, Henry McAllan’s younger brother – will unexpectedly nurture a budding friendship that transcends prejudice and race. But, in the end, against a backdrop of fevered Mississippi sunsets and vitriolic racism, life can be hard when the law of the land is still segregation and hatred. This film garnered four Oscar nominations, and deservedly so. It is a good film with an excellent cast. Director Dee Rees became the first African American woman nominated for an Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2018.
Director: DEE REES
Cast: JASON CLARKE, CAREY MULLIGAN, MARY J. BLIGE, JASON MITCHELL, ROB MORGAN, GARRETT HEDLUND, JONATHAN BANKS
4. THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS
What we think: Ben Mendelsohn is always a plus for any film. In this emotional drama he stars as Anders Harris who is feeling trapped in the stifling, wealthy enclave of Westport, Connecticut. He retires from his job in finance and leaves his wife in the hopes that it will renew his lust for life. However, he’s quickly faced with the startling reality of his choices; he spends his days looking for things to decorate his empty shelves, sleeping with strangers and feeling terribly lost. Missing his ex-wife and on the outs with his troubled 27-year-old son, Anders befriends a drug-addicted teen, sending Anders down a path of reckless and regrettable behaviour. His actions cause him to question who he is as a father and, ultimately, who he is as a person. A thoughtful, well-written story from Nicole Holofcener based on the novel by Ted Thompson.
Director: NICOLE HOLOFCENER
Cast: BEN MENDELSOHN, EDIE FALCO, THOMAS MANN, ELIZABETH MARVEL, CHARLIE ASHFORD, CONNIE BRITTON, BILL CAMP
3. THE UNFORGIVABLE
What we think: This is the third feature film for director Nora Fingscheidt, and it is well worth a look. Sandra Bullock excels in the role of Ruth Slater, released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, re-entering a society that refuses to forgive her past. Facing severe judgment from the place she once called home, her only hope for redemption is finding the estranged younger sister she was forced to leave behind, but many obstacles stand in her way. Her sister doesn’t even know she exists. Definitely one for the holiday viewing list.
Director: NORA FINGSCHEIDT
Cast: SANDRA BULLOCK, JON BERNTHAL, AISLING FRANCIOSI, RICHARD THOMAS, VIOLA DAVIS, VINCENT D’ONOFRO, WILL PULLEN
2. SINGLE ALL THE WAY
What we think: Even though we’ve been saturated with Christmas movies, this one deserves a look. It’s lots of fun with this over-the-top Christmas celebrating family. Desperate to avoid his family’s judgment about his perpetual single status, Peter convinces his best friend Nick to join him for the holidays and pretend that they’re now in a relationship. But when Peter’s mother sets him up on a blind date with her handsome trainer James the plan goes awry. And life gets even more complicated for Peter, when the rest of his family decide to intervene with their mother’s arrangements. This is a debut for Philemon Chambers who stars as Nick, and I’m sure we will be seeing more of him in the future.
Director: MICHAEL MAYER
Cast: MICHAEL URIE, PHILEMON CHAMBERS, LUKE MACFARLANE, BARRY BOSTWICK, KATHY NAJIMY, JENNIFER COOLIDGE
1. POWER OF THE DOG
What we think: With the talented Jane Campion at the helm of this Western drama, viewing is a recommended. The film has sparked contention in the streaming arena with complaints of the slow-moving pace and a surprising finale. One must concentrate to pick up the signs throughout the film that point to this. Benedict Cumberbatch is once more on our screens as charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Wonderful to see Kodi Smit-McPhee has moved seamlessly from child actor to adult drama. Although the film is set in Montana, it was filmed entirely in New Zealand.
Director: JANE CAMPION
Cast: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, KIRSTEN DUNST, JESSE PLEMONS, KODI SMIT-MCPHEE, GENEVIEVE LEMON, SEAN KEENAN