5 Interesting Movies to Start The New Year With on Netflix

Every year it’s the same story: Christmas comes to a close and we welcome the new year with resolutions, new friendships, and a slew of terribly schlocky “movies” flooding the theaters, making it difficult for fans of film to get their weekly fix. As an alternative (and more economical) choice, here are the 5 most interesting and innovative films that will still be on Netflix during January.

5. City of God (2002)

This Brazilian drama is one of greatest crime films of its decade. Following the life of a boy growing up near Rio Brazil whose friends all grow up to be gangsters. Its imagery and characters pull at your heart and pick your brain. May sound painful but City of God is an enlightening experience.

4. Waking Life (2001)

Richard Linklater is an inspiration to any filmmaker who got in the game a bit late. After making two of the most memorable films of the 90’s (Slacker, Dazed and Confused), Linklater went on to make arguably the best film of his career and of the 00’s with Waking Life. Traveling through the dream of a man who can’t wake up we, are taken through memory, imagination and even past Linklater films in a constant dialogue of what it means to live moment to moment. It was the reason some film buffs got a chuckle out of the hype surrounding Inception.

3. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a Thai filmmaker who has a Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago. Mixing excellent craft with a very Eastern spiritual sensibility creates (to a Western audience) a completely bizarre albeit wonderful experience. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives follows a man who is near death and recalls his previously reincarnated lives, as well as being visited by the spirits of people from his life. The perfection of craft and beauty instill a level of trust in the audience so that when things get strange, we know everything has a purpose. One would be well rewarded in multiple viewings of this masterpiece that went completely under the radar.

2. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

Continuing the trend of hidden gems, this is possibly the most innovative film so far this decade. Following a pencil doodle named Bill, director Don Hertzfeldt narrates this fragmented story. Beginning as an image of what it is like to live in today’s society, we quickly start to see a much more tragic tale unfold. Bill suffers from an unnamed disease which slowly occupies more and more of his life. Presented entirely in pencil cartoons, photographs and brilliant sound design creates an entirely unique viewing experience.

1. Russian Ark (2002)

When shooting a movie on film the size of each reel allows about 11 minutes of shooting before it needs to be replaced. Hitchcock attempted to cheat this in Rope by cutting on close ups of furniture with matching transitions. The 2014 film Birdman used new and improved digital technology to simulate a continuous shot. But in 2002 Aleksander Sokurov released Russian Ark, the first ever full length feature film shot and presented in one continuous take.

With months of preparation the film was shot in one day with hundreds of extras painstakingly choreographed. Being the biggest achievement in digital filmmaking and one of the most massive technical films ever made is not all Russian Ark has going for it though. Filmed in the first person on a journey in the Russian State Hermitage Museum through over 200 years of history and literature creates a beautiful experience that will not soon be forgotten.

Honorable Mention: The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011)

The Story of Film sits here because it technically is not a movie, but is so important it can not go unmentioned. This 900 minute documentary miniseries split between 15 episodes tells the history of film in a way that would make most college professors jealous. For anyone interested in filmmaking or history who wants to take their knowledge to the next level this is the most accessible place to start. Reminding us within the first 10 minutes why we love film so much.


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Categories: Lists and Editorials, Movie

Author:Oliver Gelleni

Check out more thoughts on movies new and old here: I am an Austin based filmmaker with a passion and an eye for quality cinema.

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2 Comments on “5 Interesting Movies to Start The New Year With on Netflix”

  1. 01/20/2015 at 10:04 AM #

    City of God is so good. I remember one Sunday watching that and then Oldboy in one sitting. I think the excruciating hangover I had at the time somehow made them even better!

  2. 01/20/2015 at 8:22 PM #

    If you liked both of those I imagine you have a taste for foreign crime films and would highly recommend “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance” and “Drug War” in addition to this list. Both on Netflix.

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