The presents are open. Dinner is done. Now you've got some free time to kill, and there's one obvious place to look: Netflix. Marco Polo may not have turned out so well, but Netflix has still added a pretty great selection of new and classic movies over the past month. Here are 10 favorites for you to consider when you're searching for something to watch.
The one for when all the other sci-fi isn’t dark enough for you: Black Mirror
This is the British sci-fi series that has everyone talking. Black Mirror just hit Netflix this month, making the holidays your perfect chance to catch up. It’s a show about our obsession with technology and how the effects of that can easily get out of hand. Things get pretty crazy, pretty quickly. Just watch it.
The one for when you’re trying to convince your parents that climate change is getting out of hand: Snowpiercer
If you aren't familiar with director Bong Joon-ho, now's the time to make your introduction. Snowpiercer, his first English-language film, came out this summer and is now on Netflix. It's a smart, energetic, and action-packed sci-fi picture with great directing and a cool enough world (literally just a giant, futuristic train) to keep you onboard for the entire ride.
The one for when you could use more Kevin Spacey: American Beauty
If you don’t care for ponderous meditations on plastic bags wafting in the breeze, you at least have to give Kevin Spacey his due for his incredible performance in this movie. American Beauty follows Lester Burnham, a suburban milquetoast who falls in love with his underage daughter’s friend, catalyzing his need to reinvent himself. It’s stylistically striking, funny, and heartbreaking in ways you’ve heard all about before, but should experience if you’ve never had the opportunity.
The one for when you’ve had too much to drink: The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese's latest film is a wild one. Like, seriously, parents: don't watch this with your kids, and kids: don't watch this with your parents. But maybe find someone you're comfortable with and take a look. It's a strange, overlong send-up of everything that's wrong with Wall Street, and it's all at once alluring and infuriating to watch.
The one for when you think rock and roll is dead: Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe's classic about rock and roll and growing up, Almost Famous is a must-watch if it's somehow still on your to-watch list and an obvious re-watch if you just haven't seen it in a while. Just check out that soundtrack and cast. What's not to like?
The one for when you could listen to Queen anywhere: A Knight's Tale
A Knight's Tale is both terrible and delicious. In fact, the reason it's delicious is every bit a product of how terrible it is. The constant rock music — and dance breaks to rock music — in the middle of Medieval England are key, but so is Heath Ledger's haircut and Shannyn Sossamon's anachronistic fashion. After all, A Knight's Tale isn't a drama. The love story and Ledger's quest to win a jousting tournament are important, but they ultimately takes a backseat to the comedy. No one watches A Knight Tale to be serious. You watch it for the fighting, for the early 2000s heartthrobs, and for Alan Tudyk's brilliant slapstick comedic performance.
The one for when you want something a little more serious: Ida
Ida follows a woman who is just days from becoming a nun when she discovers that her birth parents were Jews. It's a film about life in Poland years after the Holocaust, but it's also about one woman, Ida, figuring out who she is and what her vows really mean. It's easily among the most beautiful films you'll see this year.
The one for when you need something spooky to binge on: American Horror Story: Coven
For many AHS fans, this is where things started to go off the rails, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t incredible moments and performances. As with previous seasons of this anthology series, Coven follows the descendents of Salem witches who wield powerful and deadly magic. As with all Ryan Murphy shows, there’s plenty that’s over the top, but Kathy Bates, who won an Emmy for this season, makes up for it.
The one for when you’re a bit of a foodie: The Trip to Italy
In this sequel to 2010’s The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on a trip through the Italian countryside, enjoying food and joking along the way. You could easily say "That’s it," but the comic dynamic between the two is infectious. You can’t help but laugh at them riffing off each other, and you almost wish you were along with them for the ride.
The one for when you’re hanging with old friends: Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
For many of us, the high school reunion is the time to either show off or just not show up. Romy and Michele are in the same boat in this film, but concoct new identities to show off to the popular kids that tormented them in school. Of course, the dance scene to Cyndi Lauper’s "Time After Time" makes the film. Watch this and relive the memories.