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December 09, 2010

Jon's Best of Netflix 2010

If you're at all familiar with my weekly Netflix Minute feature, you probably know that I love watching films on Netflix's Instant View service. I started writing these articles as a way to let people know a little more about the diamonds in the rough on a service they might not even know they have. However, Instant View has come a long way since the summer of 2010, offering plenty of genuinely excellent movie and television experiences without too much looking. As a result, I thought I'd highlight some of the titles that have truly made Netflix one of my favorite things of the past year.

Rashomon (and a bevy of other Akira Kurosawa films) - It's fairly difficult to go through life without seeing at least one Kurosawa. Rashomon was my second brush with this iconic director and it left such a strong impression on me that it seems crystalized in my memory even though I watched it about nine months ago. Beyond that, Netflix has done a great thing in offering a huge chunk of the Japanese director's whole catalog, including Yojimbo, Ikiru, Hidden Fortress, and High and Low.

This American Life (Seasons One and Two) - If you know me, you probably know that I'm a podcast fanatic who prides myself on the fact that I managed to reduced my number of subscribed podcasts from 40 to 30 in the past month or so. Keeping that in mind, This American Life is probably the best synthesis of a storytelling audio podcast into a television show that tells a story through both words and pictures. If you're as big of a fan of Chicago Public Radio's crowning jewel as I am, you need to check this out.

Zombieland - This zombie comedy hit Netflix soon after its release on DVD, helping signal the way for a wave of relatively new releases that make the platform even more interesting. Jesse Eisenberg delivers one of his best comedic performances here along with co-stars Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson. Zombieland also has one of the best cameos of 2009, which I'd be remiss to not keep secret.

Veronica Mars (Complete Series) - I have no idea how this awesome television show managed to slip under my radar when it was originally airing and I'm even more regretful that I wasn't able to contribute a little to the ratings so this could have made it into a fourth season. This teen mystery serial manages to delve into some of the issues that a teenager might have to face on a daily basis while telling the story of a sleuthing daughter of a private investigator in levelheaded yet humorous way. Veronica Mars is easily one of the best shows I've discovered through my time using Netflix.

The Chaser - Foreign films are always difficult for me to penetrate for the simple fact that I love to multitask. 2008's popular Korean crime thriller provided a solution to that problem, wrapping me up in an expertly told story that's worth paying attention to the subtitles for. Action scenes don't need slow motion or expert choreography to get the job done when the high stakes of a given situation are so clearly crystallized, which is something that The Chaser's director Hong-jin Na obviously understands.

Louis C.K.: Chewed Up - Some of the unsung heroes of Netflix Instant View are the members of its stable of stand up comedy performances. With a huge archive of shows by comics like Zach Galifianakis, Jim Gaffigan, David Cross, and many more, there's no shortage of laughs to be had. Louis C.K's Chewed Up stands out for me in particular, striking the perfect chords of self-loathing and lingual analysis that speak to me on a whole other layer. Keep an eye out for his television show that's also on Instant, Louie.

Stargate (All of it. Yeah.) - I find it appropriate to wrap things up with one of the biggest franchises I managed to discover. Netflix is the best place to get all things Stargate, including the entirety of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, the first season of Stargate Universe, Stargate: The Ark of Truth, and Stargate Continuum. There really is no better example of a total black hole of content you can get yourself wrapped up in, considering the total runtime of the entire catalog is about 10 days (240 hours).


ATC 1982 said...

I would say for me The girl with the dragon tattoo and the girl who played with fire should have been on this list ... Other then those two I would have to say Quantum Leap and I am disappointed that Bebe's kids is not on insta que library ...

Tom Heistuman said...

Veronica Mars started airing just as I had moved to San Diego and it definitely helped me feel at home. With that and Lost, our tivo was getting a workout. How I do miss my Ronnie Mars. :-(

Alex R. Cronk-Young said...

I've been watching Louie on Netflix and really enjoying it. Louis CK has quickly become one of my favorite comedians. I'll need to check out that stand-up special as well. I have the two TAL seasons on DVD already and thoroughly enjoyed them.

@ATC1982 - Keep an eye on the site for something "The Girl..." related. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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