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Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass in <i>The One I Love</i>.
Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass in The One I Love.
Radius - The Weinstein Company

17 great, underrated movies to watch on Netflix during the blizzard

It's cold out. You're off from work and/or school. You've stocked up on junk food and other life necessities in advance of the blizzard hitting the whole Northeast. The only question remaining is what to watch. Here are 17 recent Netflix releases to get you started.


    Comedy

  1. Frances Ha

    A tale of Millenial heartbreak and delusion, Frances Ha follows a New York woman (Greta Gerwig) as she tries to balance living her life in an expensive city with mainting her fragile relationships. The movie is shot in black and white, which adds a starkness to Frances' already frustrating existence: she has no real apartment, she is not really qualified for her dream of being a dancer, and she has no life plan. What makes Frances Ha great is that in the midst of all of her brokeness, Gerwig transforms Frances into not only a likeable character, but a totally relatable one.

    Watch here.

  2. In a World

    In a World was written by, directed by, and stars Lake Bell, who portrays an aspiring voice actor held back by the sexist norms of the industry. That may feel like a slight premise, but Bell really sells it. The highlight of the movie is the marriage of her character's sister (Michaela Watkisn) and brother-in-law (Rob Cordrry). Both parties are decent people, and their relationship survives when one of them screws up.That kind of thing is rare in just about any movie, and a hard trick to pull off, but Bell's script is subtle and surprisingly moving.

    Watch here.

  3. The Trip and The Trip to Italy

    Both The Trip and The Trip to Italy are about two hours of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing themselves) hanging out. In the first one, they hang out in the north of England while Coogan reviews restaurants on a newspaper assignment, while in the second they trace the steps of the great British Romantic poets (Byron, Shelley, et al) in Italy for a piece Brydon's writing. But that's all window dressing. The films are really showcases for Coogan and Brydon to riff on each other, to one-up with impressions (including the legendary Michael Caine-off seen here), and to mock each others' careers and personal lives. Incredibly, they're good enough at that to sustain two excellent full-length movies — in fact, two full BBC miniseries, of which the movies are abridged versions.

    Watch here and here.


  4. Dramedy

  5. Beginners

    Beginners is a romantic comedy directed by Mike Mills that questions how to start over a life after the person you care about most dearly is gone. Ewan McGregor plays Oliver Fields, a man racked with grief after his father's death, who reveals on his death bed his last secret: he's gay. The movie is structured in a series of flashbacks that reveal slowly the kind of man Hal was and the decisions he made that affected Oliver. There is also a great dog actor.

    Watch here.

  6. Happy Christmas

    For most of her career, Anna Kendrick has been pigeonholed as a type-A striver, who's as industrious and ambitious as she is deeply sad. She's really good at playing that character (Up in the Air and Rocket Science being the best examples), but it's refreshing to see her play a total wreck in Happy Christmas. At the start of the movie, her character Jenny moves in with her brother Jeff (Joe Swanberg, who also writes and directs), his wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), and their two-year-old. A worse movie would cast Jeff and Kelly as responsible but boring yuppies who teach Jenny to be an adult as she teaches them to loosen up a little. But Jeff and Kelly are actually interesting people with rich, rewarding jobs — Jeff makes movies and Kelly writes novels — and Jenny's inability to get her own life in order doesn't stop her from becoming a valuable, loving member of the household. It's a movie that deals in nuances that most of its peers neglect.

    Watch here.

  7. The One I Love

    A broken marriage is a terrible place to be. In The One I Love Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss play Ethan and Sophie, a couple whose marriage is rapidly falling apart and who have been sent by their therapist on a weekend retreat to find the best in each other. Only once they arrive, they realize how scary the best versions of them can be. The One I Love is a story about struggling to revive a marriage that feels like it's passed on. It also might give you severe cabin fever, so watch with caution.

    Watch here.


  8. Drama

  9. Blue is the Warmest Color

    First love is a messy experience that can't be forgotten or ever completely abandoned. No movie captures the fear, the difficulty, and the excitement of a first love quite like Blue is the Warmest Color, a story about a young woman's journey to self-discovery through her relationship with an older, blue-haired woman. It's a whispy film about young adult love and how difficult breaking up can really be.

    Watch here.

  10. Carlos

    Carlos the Jackal was the preeminent terrorist of the 1970s, a sort of guerilla consultant who hopped from sponsor to sponsor: first the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine, then East Germany, then Saddam Hussein's Iraq, then Syria, then Sudan. Through it all, he professed to be an idealist. He was doing it for the people of Palestine. To end capitalism. To liberate Third World countries being oppressed by the West. But Olivier Assayas' biopic — starring Édgar Ramírez as Carlos — shows just how farcical that notion became. He had a talent for big, violent gestures. He shot his way out when French police cornered him in a Paris apartment. He stormed OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, taking much of the delegations present hostage. But he never did anything to advance the causes he professed to care about. The OPEC raid amounted to nothing. His comrades gradually realized what they were doing was pointless and abandoned him. By the end, he was hopping from dictatorship to dictatorship, doing their bidding, serving masters worse than those he wanted to fight. When he's finally caught, it's not a daring last stand. It's a pathetic last whimper.

    Watch here. There's also a full miniseries, from which the film is adapted, here. It's worth the extra three hours. Really.

  11. The Hunt

    Mads Mikkelsen plays a teacher in a small town in this Danish thriller. Mikkelsen's character, Lucas, is accused by one of his students of an unforgiveable act right on the heels of a messy divorce and the loss of his last job. Because the town is small, the lie spreads quickly across the small town, leaving Lucas's life shattered. The Hunt will haunt you for days.

    Watch here.

  12. Short Term 12

    Brie Larson plays Grace, a supervisor at a California group home who is struggling with a mess of her own problems, in Destin Daniel Cretton's 2013 movie Short Term 12. Grace is trying to do her best as a counselor to kids who need her, but her own demons begin to surface as she prepares for marriage. Short Term 12 ventures, at times, into the very dark, morose places of Grace and her charges' upbringings and struggles, but it's a movie that ends hopefully.

    Watch here.


  13. Documentary

  14. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

    Before power pop and indie rock, there was Big Star. The Memphis band only lasted three years (from 1971 to 1974), and released two albums as a full three-piece band. Both albums were critically acclaimed, but the band never saw success. Big Star: Nothing to Lose is a feature-length documentary about how it feels to be a band that influenced R.E.M, Wilco, and The Posies without ever being anything more than a cult classic.

    Watch here.

  15. Let the Fire Burn

    In 1985, the Philadelphia police department dropped four pounds of C4 explosives on a row house in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood. Eleven people living in the house, including five children, died, and and 61 houses (mostly inhabited by black families) were destroyed after the police decided to "let the fire burn." The bombing was a culmination of a years-long conflict between the city and a primitivist black liberation group called MOVE, which was, as this extraordinary documentary about the incident makes clear, something like a cult, but also the target of wholly disproportionate and unjustifiable violence from the Philadelphia PD. Director Jason Osder eschews present-day interviews and voice-overs, telling the whole story through archival footage, using testimonies before the panel appointed to investigate the incident to frame the story.

    Watch here.

  16. Somm

    Somm, a documentary about four sommeliers trying to pass the Master Sommelier exam, is like Iron Chef on steroids. The Master Sommelier exam requiers somms to have a full understanding of wine and wine pairings, and in the 40 years since the test's inception, only 200 people have passed. This documentary takes you through the grueling studying and testing process required to become a Master Sommelier.

    Watch here.


  17. Standup

  18. Aziz Ansari, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening

    All three of Ansari's specials are on Netflix, but I still like his first one, recorded in 2009 three months after he began starring on Parks and Recreation, best. It's less personal than his more recent stuff, but it's full of smart meta-jokes. Take the bit excerpted here, which begins as simple mockery of his old roommate ("If you approached me on the street and were like 'Hey Aziz, what's the most disgusting thing you could catch a new roommate doing?'") and then immediately turns into an extended riff on the joke's own format ("I'd be like 'drinking the tuna juice at the bottom of a StarKist tuna can.' And you'd be like 'Man, that's a really specific answer.'") The back half of the special turns into longer-form stories, and impressively manages to make trolling his 13-year-old cousin on Facebook sound as exciting as hanging out at a nightclub with Kanye West.

    Watch here.

  19. Maria Bamford, The Special Special Special

    Maria Bamford is good at a lot of things — talking about mental health, impersonating Target employees, leaving voicemails as the Baby Jesus — but she's really good at making fun of her parents. It's a huge part of her act (they're the targets of the Baby Jesus calls, for one thing). So, naturally, Bamford decided to record a whole special with two audience members: her mom and her dad. They're silent much of the time, which makes the moments they crack up — often at their own expense — all the more endearing.

    Watch here.

  20. Louis CK, Hilarious

    Picking just one Louis special is tough, but Hilarious stands out as the moment he went from being beloved by comedy nerds to being one of the most popular comedians on the planet. The most famous bit — previewed in a famous appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien — is an extended mocking of rich Americans' frustrations with their phones and flying ("'I had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes.' Oh my God, really? What happened then, did you fly through the air like a bird?"). But the best segment might be the bit that gives the special its title, a long rant against how words like "genius" and "hilarious" have gotten watered down ("Hilarious means so funny that you almost went insane when you heard that shit. It's just so funny that it almost ruined your life.") And throughout there are bizarre tangents and digressions ("Ray Charles was black. Hitler was not.") that seem extraneous but wind up pulling it all together.

    Watch here.

  21. John Mulaney, New in Town

    It's been a rough year for John Mulaney, as his self-titled sitcom on Fox tanked with critics and drew dismal ratings. But the man puts together one hell of a live set, as New in Town makes abundantly clear. It's extremely polished, with nary a pause or improvisation, and even the bits that build on standup clichés — like the one about Delta Airlines' awful customer service — wind up getting twisted so that they're absurd enough to feel new ("'Can I please go home on an airplane?' 'No! In fact, we're going to frame you for murder, and you're going to go to jail for 30 years!'"). The best part is his recounting of a high school rager. Apart from a twist at the end, which I won't spoil, the basic story is fairly mundane: parents go out of town, kids throw party, kids get drunk, cops come, kids flee. But Mulaney is able to squeeze jokes out of even the smallest details ("He says to me, 'Hey were you at my party on Saturday?' And I said no. You know, like a liar.")

    Watch here.

Credits

  • Writer Dylan Matthews
  • Writer Kelsey McKinney
  • Editor Lauren Williams
  • Developer Yuri Victor
  • Cover photo Radius - The Weinstein Company

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