Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
If you have a Netflix subscription (and of course you have a Netflix subscription), you’re in luck: a lot of good stuff is arriving on the streaming service in February. Here’s what you should find time to watch.
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
2016 was, somehow, the year of the O.J. Simpson trial. The documentary O.J.: Made in America is a masterpiece and somehow, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is as well, tackling the same material from different angles and offering a human, hilarious, and infuriating look at an increasingly definitive moment in American history. A true crime spin-off of American Horror Story shouldn’t this great.
Babe and Babe: Pig in the City
Chris Noonan’s Babe is one of the finest family movies of the ’90s, a sweet and whimsical talking animal movie that puts all of its peers to shame. The whole thing feels downright magical, like a great bedtime story told by a gifted storyteller. At the center of it all is the great James Cromwell, bringing a steadfast dignity to a film that could have felt so crass if the tone wasn’t so perfectly honed. After the credits roll, you should hit play on Babe: Pig in the City, George Miller’s surreal follow-up that feels powered by nightmare fuel. Your kids probably won’t dig this odd, deeply unwell sequel as much as you do, but that’s okay. They’ll learn.
The Blair Witch Project
Now that we’ve seen the new sequel (the very good Blair Witch), it’s time to revisit the original The Blair Witch Project and remember why this remarkable horror film shook and frustrated an entire generation. Long before found footage horror movies were commonplace, this film arrived feeling like an actual found document – it’s often boring and listless and annoying, but that’s also the point. You feel like you’re watching something real, something that you shouldn’t be watching. It is still remarkable 18 years later.
Robert Zemeckis’ Contact belongs on the short list of the greatest science fiction movies of all time. It also belongs in the same conversation as Interstellar and Arrival when it comes to smart, thoughtful science fiction that also finds time to sneak up and punch you in the gut and make you bawl like a little baby. Even though some effects haven’t aged as well as you’d hope, the bulk of the film is built on powerful ideas, strong performances, and conversations that take the idea of communicating with aliens quite seriously. Zemeckis’ direction is often invisible until you actually pause to to take a look…and the you realize how stunning it truly is.
Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper epic isn’t a joyful romp like it (downright miraculous) sequel, but it’s a compelling and often harrowing look at a world that many people never thought they’d care to know about. Soderbergh has always been fascinated by process and how professionals do very specific jobs and Magic Mike offers him one of his most unique subjects. He really digs into it and the results are genuinely thrilling.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Don’t let the fact that Disney has transformed a one-time box office bomb into a cultural touchstone dissuade you from giving The Nightmare Before Christmas a revisit. It’s great stuff, a pitch-dark musical that gleefully stomps all over your favorite traditions before deciding that Halloween and zombies and monsters and ghosts and ghouls are pretty rad. We knew that already, but the reminder is nice.