Five Favorite Films You Can Find On Netflix (That You Probably Haven’t Seen Yet)

As an avid consumer of film, friends often ask me for recommendations. Rather than tell all of you one at a time, I’ve compiled this list with links to the respective items on Netflix. I watch a ton of Italian films, so this list could’ve been a lot heavier in that genre. I limited my picks to only two for diversity, but if you’d like to know my other favorites, just ask me.

5. Layer Cake (L4yer Cake)

A flat-out cool crime drama.

A seasoned British drug dealer (Daniel Craig) longs to ditch his illegal trade. But he can’t do that without wrapping up just one more job involving the drug-addicted daughter of an influential criminal and a gargantuan stash of purloined ecstasy. The cache’s original owners are after him as well, leaving him with no other choice but to run for his life. Matthew Vaughn directs this intricate drama, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

4. My Brother Is an Only Child (Mio fratello è un figlio unico)

From the writers of my favorite film (see #1), here is yet another Italian film about brothers not getting along. Set in the politically charged 60s, it’s a nice period piece offering a glimpse of a past in a country that’s not ours. Beautifully shot and you get that cool Roman dialect. Aoh!

In a small Italian town, two disparate brothers come of age during the 1960s and ’70s. Accio (Elio Germano) and Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) remain close despite their opposing political views, but when they both fall for the same woman, the rift between them grows. Taking place over a 15-year period, this comic drama directed by Daniele Luchetti explores Italy’s changing sociopolitical landscape through the brothers’ turbulent relationship.

3. Moon

Sci-fi at its best, it serves as a parable of humanity and a tour de force on the part of Sam Rockwell.

As he nears the end of a lonely three-year stint on the moon base Sarang, astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) begins to hear and see strange things. It’s not long before Sam suspects that his employer — the conglomerate LUNAR — has other plans for him. Featuring Kevin Spacey as the voice of a robot, this sci-fi thriller also stars Matt Berry and Kaya Scodelario. The film was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

2. City of God (Cidade de Deus)

One of the best films I’ve ever seen. Totally gripping. It’s like Slumdog Millionaire with more action, grittier drama and less dancing. The sequel, City of Men, is also pretty good.

Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues) is frightened he’ll end up like the countless others around him — troubled, violent or dead. But his saving grace is his photographer’s eye, through which the stories of several people who live in his forsaken Cidade de Deus unfold. Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund direct this sobering look at life inside a Rio de Janeiro housing project, reputed to be one of the most dangerous parts of an otherwise magical city.

1. The Best of Youth (La meglio gioventù)

By far my favorite film of all time. I speak about it ad nauseam. I wrote about it in this blog post.

This sprawling drama that originally aired as a miniseries on Italian television sweeps from the 1960s to the 21st century, tracking the journey of two brothers, Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and Matteo (Alessio Boni), who strain their family bond by taking two totally different paths. After traveling, Nicola becomes a successful psychiatrist, while Matteo becomes a policeman intent on catching criminals. But they also wind up at odds politically.

I think Roger Ebert said it best in his four-star review:

The film is being shown in two parts, three hours each, with separate admissions. You don’t have to see both parts on the same day, but you may want to. It is a luxury to be enveloped in a good film, and to know there’s a lot more of it — that it is not moving inexorably toward an ending you can anticipate, but moving indefinitely into a future that is free to be shaped in surprising ways. When you hear that it is six hours long, reflect that it is therefore also six hours deep.

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