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The 5 best movies and TV shows Netflix added in February

Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

New titles come and go from Netflix nearly every day, but the service saves its biggest additions and purges for the first and last days of every month, respectively.

Here are five new titles added to Netflix in February that you should watch right now.

Spartacus: The Complete Series

You probably didn't see this thrilling, gutsy series when it ran on TV, because it aired on Starz, where the most-viewed episode hovered around 1.75 million viewers. (Many episodes failed to crack the 1 million viewers mark.) You also might have skipped out on it because the first few episodes are ... rough, to put it mildly, with the tone of barely checked exploitation.

But give this one a half-season, and it starts to snap into place. It's a lusty, thrillingly bloody rocket ride through the Roman Empire, one that sends characters on collision courses and reworks the famous story of revolutionary Spartacus into something filled with pulse-pounding action and big, high-stakes moments. It's also got a healthy dose of sex and violence, though the former is refreshingly equal opportunity, in an age when "sexual content" often has an understood "that will primarily appeal to straight men" appended to it.

Plus, it all climaxes in a glorious series finale, and at just four seasons, you could watch it easily in a week or two.

Check it out here.

M*A*S*H: Seasons one through five

You likely know this show. After all, it's one of the most popular series ever made. Set in the midst of the Korean War and based on Robert Altman's film of the same name, the series dared to make comedy out of war, and it succeeded far more often than it failed.

Though the show ran 11 years, only the first five are coming to Netflix (for now). But that's no matter, as the first five seasons are the show's best. M*A*S*H grew long in the tooth and a little preachy by the end of its run, but for the first five years, it managed an impressive blend of humor and the horrors of war, including some of the most daring episodes of television ever made. (To see what we mean, check out season three's "Abyssinia, Henry," which concluded with one of the biggest shocks in TV history to that point, and season four's documentary-style "The Interview.")

Check it out here.

The Brothers Bloom

You may know director Rian Johnson best for his time-travel opus Looper. Or you might know him as the man who will direct the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII (not even due until 2017). Or if you're really up on indie film, you've probably seen his debut feature, the high-school detective film Brick. Or you've seen his work directing three episodes of Breaking Bad.

What's quite likely, however, is that you're unaware of his second feature, The Brothers Bloom, which came out in 2009. The movie is a caper about two con man brothers (Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo) who try to pull off the perfect score against a wealthy heiress (Rachel Weisz). That's probably all you should know going in to this madcap, twisty film.

Bloom is the least of Johnson's three cinematic efforts, but that doesn't mean it's not worth your time. It's a slightly daffy comedy, filled with solid plotting and some fun characters. It's also got a tone more out of a film from the 1940s than a film from the 2000s. It might be just what you need some night you're snowed in.

Watch it here.


Added at the end of January, Chef was one of the sleeper hits of 2014. Director Jon Favreau (the first two Iron Man movies) gets back to his roots as an indie director with a tiny little movie about, well, just what it sounds like. Favreau plays a chef who leaves behind a top restaurant to open a food truck, in the process reconnecting with his ex-wife and son.

This isn't a terribly deep movie, but it's filled with a love for food and some warm, lovable characters. It's not hard to see why the movie grossed over $45 million, despite being released in the heart of summer, with little promotion.

Watch it here.

The Fall, season two

Okay, this is slightly cheating, since it was added to Netflix in the middle of January. But if you haven't seen this dark thriller about a serial killer and the police superintendent tasked with stopping his slew of killings, you're seriously missing out.

Yes, that sounds like every other show you've seen on this topic before, but The Fall marries that to a forthrightly feminist perspective, turning the whole story into a sort of symbolic assault on the patriarchy, with Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) at the head.

Plus, if you're a Fifty Shades of Grey fan, you can check out Jamie Dornan, who will play Christian in the film, in this. Though, honestly, that might make you want to see that movie less. He's chillingly convincing as the killer.

Check it out here.