Help me get back in the loop!
September 11, 2010 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Dear friends of the internet, I don't go out to the movies. Now I have Netflix and it's time to catch up! What do you suggest I watch?

What I'm really looking for are the most awesome movies of the last 10 years or so. I've seen some of the really popular movies that friends get on DVD and show me or things that are on TV all the time. What are some of the smaller movies I may have missed? I like pretty much everything except the Will Ferrell-esque silly humor.

posted by chatongriffes to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 95 users marked this as a favorite

Also, it's really worth it to spend a few hours going through and improving your recommendations by rating movies you've seen.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:56 AM on September 11, 2010

Obscure British film filter: Funny Bones.

I liked it. YMMV, of course.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:00 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Actually, if you love movies, but have been out of the loop for 10 years, Netflix will do a pretty good job of giving you good suggestions if you spend a bit of time rating movies you like, movies you don't like, etc.

That said, three random favorites of mine of the last decade are Children of Men, Michael Clayton, and I Heart Huckabees.
posted by artlung at 8:15 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you enjoy Science Fiction and want to save your DVD slots for other things, Moon is available on instant watch. One of my favorite films of last year. (You can also watch Contact, another of my all-time favorites, although that's much older.)

Instant watch also has an excellent and extensive collection of documentaries, including The Cove, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Helvetica.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:16 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Maid -- currently available for instant viewing.
posted by whiskeyspider at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2010

I watched The Man Who Wasn't There a couple weeks ago and really liked it. If you like the Coen brothers and/or film noir, you might want to try that. Plus it's a "Watch Instantly" movie, so you don't have to use up one of your 2 or 3 DVD's.
posted by cottonswab at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2010

I've rated about 700 movies and I'm still not really that happy with the suggestions it's giving me. I think the problem is that I've seen mostly old movies, therefore rated old movies, and thus old movies are suggested to me. I do rate the new movies I see, but they are still heavily outnumbered.

The movies you guys have suggested so far look great!
posted by chatongriffes at 8:24 AM on September 11, 2010

Here you go. These are my personal favourites from the last decade. Enjoy! There's some foreign films thrown in there for some variety.

Antichrist (2009) - I watched this alone at night and couldn't sleep thinking about how awesome it was.

City of God (2002) - Set in the slums of Rio. Shot with lots of flair and energy. You really feel for the characters.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - Spanish Civil War with fantasy elements thrown in.

Hunger (2008) - Beautifully shot. Meditative with an explosive dialogue right in the middle for contrast.

What Time is it Over There? (2001) - Taiwanese director. Works like a silent film. Nothing really happens but very telling of modern urban disconnect and loneliness.

Synecdoche, New York (2008) - Director Charlie Kaufman took on the biggest theme of them all; the human condition and does justice to it by introducing multiple paradoxes into the timeline.

There Will Be Blood (2007) - No one really makes character studies like these anymore.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) - Gritty Romanian film about illegal abortions and friendship.

Oldboy (2003) - Representative of New Korean cinema. Stylish, fast-paced and ultra-violent.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) - First part of the trilogy that includes Oldboy. Much more subtle.

Hidden (2005) - French film by Austrian director Michael Haneke. Exploration of the family unit and racism.

The Lives of Others (2006) - German film about a spy with a lot of heart.

Dead End (2003) - Underrated horror film. The sense of claustrophobia and impending doom in palpable.

Dogville (2003) - Nicole Kidman's best performance. Done in the style of a stage production. Depressing and makes you lose hope in the notion of human kindness.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - This one made me cry. Just after a break-up, you see.

Infernal Affairs (2002) - The Departed is a remake of this Hong Kong cop drama.

Mulholland Dr. (2001) - Fun to watch and discuss with friends later. Very multiple theory friendly.

Last Life in the Universe (2003) - Thai director. I think of this as a better version of Lost in Translation.

Memories of Murder (2003) - Korean character study. You have your impressions of the characters at the start but forces you to reevaluate them by the end of the film.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Tarantino's best film. I like the climax of the film and the cognitive dissonance that it produces in the viewer; we are just like the Nazis!

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) - Deadpan humour that tickles me more than it should.

The Prestige (2006) - The only good film that Christopher Nolan has made.
posted by ianK at 8:43 AM on September 11, 2010 [13 favorites]

Best in Show
Little Miss Sunshine
Burn After Reading
Lars and the Real Girl
The Brothers Bloom
posted by ootandaboot at 8:49 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Excellent question!

I just saw Fantastic Mr. Fox, and enjoyed it immensely. Also, if you don't mind subtitles (and if you can access this film, I'm not sure if it's out on DVD in North America yet) and you like a good mystery, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was pretty suspenseful (also graphically violent, so be warned).

If you are the documentary/BBC miniseries sort, check out Michael Palin's Sahara or Himalaya .
posted by torisaur at 8:59 AM on September 11, 2010

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Little Miss Sunshine
Michael Clayton
Get Him to the Greek
The Departed
posted by Exchequer at 9:15 AM on September 11, 2010

Seconding pretty much everything ianK listed (just a few I disagree with him on).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was also quite good, and is available for streaming.

Some that I have enjoyed.

The Royal Tenenbaums
This American Life (Documentary series by the same folks that do the radio show of the same name).
Audition (Probably the creepiest movie I've ever seen).
Thank You For Smoking
District 9
posted by arcticbluejay at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2010

aside from movies, you can also netflix tv shows. I recommend The Wire
posted by p1nkdaisy at 9:19 AM on September 11, 2010

1. O Brother, Where Art Thou? ...Good in so many ways.
2. Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Saw it almost a year ago and I still think about it on a fairly regular basis. It has a lot of interesting things to say (observe?) about relationships.
posted by aintthattheway at 9:20 AM on September 11, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo. Just makes me giddy thinking about it.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2010

The last 10 years, you say? Hm...

L'ecole (Innocence)
Let the Right One In
I'm Not Scared
Mulholland Drive
Russian Ark
Jesus Camp
28 Days Later
The Power of Nightmares
Brotherhood of the Wolf
In the Mood for Love
Y tu mama tambien
Amores Perros
Inland Empire
Before Sunset
No Country for Old Men
Coffee and Cigarettes
Spirited Away
The House of Mirth
George Washington
All the Real Girls
Punch-Drunk Love
Triplets of Belleville
Gosford Park
The Piano Teacher
24 Hour Party People
Love Liza
A History of Violence
Guys and Dolls
Capturing the Friedmans
Man on Wire
Anvil!: The Story of Anvil
The King of Kong
Our Daily Bread
Etre et Avoir
49 Up
Legally Blonde
The Hurt Locker
Herb and Dorothy
Yi Yi
Pan's Labyrinth
Born into Brothels
Slumdog Millionaire
Funny Games
There Will Be Blood
The Lives of Others
Eastern Promises
Paranormal Activity
Talk To Her
Synecdoche, New York
The Incredibles
The Fountain
Grizzly Man
The Squid and the Whale
posted by ifjuly at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, and Peur(s) du noir and Mysterious Skin.
posted by ifjuly at 9:42 AM on September 11, 2010

Capturing the Friedmans
The Fog of War
Ghost World
The Pianist
About Schmidt
Match Point

I was extremely disappointed with I Heart Huckabees, Synecdoche, NY, and Lost in Translation, even though I felt like they were targeted at people like me.
posted by John Cohen at 10:00 AM on September 11, 2010

Every episode of Columbo. That show was just perfect.
posted by WhiteWhale at 10:05 AM on September 11, 2010

Here are all the non-blockbuster movies from the '00s that I've given five stars on my Netflix account. YMMV, of course.
  • Downfall (2004) (Yes, you've seen that one scene multiple times. The rest of it is good too.)
  • Spirited Away (2001)
  • There Will Be Blood (2007)
  • Primer (2004)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
  • The Rape of Europa (2007)
  • The Wrestler (2008)
  • Up In The Air (2009)
  • You Can Count on Me (2000)
  • High Fidelity (2000)
  • Persepolis (2007)
  • No Country for Old Men (2007)
  • Paprika (2007)
  • Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Synechdoche, New York (2008)
  • V for Vendetta (2005)
  • Sunshine (2007)
  • Once (2006)
  • Memento (2000)
  • Hero (2002)
  • The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
  • Before Sunset (2004) (But watch its predecessor, "Before Sunrise", first)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  • Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Also, do yourself a favour and watch the entire Pixar catalog (with the possible exception of "Cars", which is merely pretty good rather than great.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:38 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding all Pixar movies.

If you like sci-fi, see Firefly and Serenity.
posted by sninctown at 11:08 AM on September 11, 2010

Un Proph├Ęte (A Prophet) only just became available on Netflix; I think it belongs on your queue. It's an epic bildungsroman that belongs in the canon with the Godfather films.
posted by Spinneret at 11:33 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Metacritic is a good resource for filling up a Netflix queue. You can sort movies from each year by their score, which is a calculated aggregate of critics' reviews. Here's the list for 2009.
posted by farishta at 11:43 AM on September 11, 2010

comments were tl;dr but you can "friend" people thru netflix like you would on facebook and twitter. if people you know use common usernames, (like i'm ChefJoAnna EVERYWHERE) look your friends up and invite them to friend you. (or just post on FB & T that you want them to friend YOU) You can, if you want, look ME up and invite me to friend you on netflix too. good luck and happy viewing!
posted by ChefJoAnna at 12:37 PM on September 11, 2010

Netflix actually disabled the Friends feature last week.
posted by maqsarian at 2:40 PM on September 11, 2010

This is such a broad question that I'm not sure sure how much good the answers will do you. Some of the recommendations in this thread I wholeheartedly agree with, some are "meh," while others I would violently disagree with. (I still want back the time I wasted on The Royal Tenenbaums.) Taste varies so much you mileage will vary.

There's no truly objective way to answer this, of course, but we can open it to a broader audience: Here's the 50 highest rated movies from 2000-2009 at IMDb.
posted by pmurray63 at 2:48 PM on September 11, 2010

Ahh, farishta and pmurray beat me to the metacritic and imdb link. If you're also interested in older movies, check out AFI's 100 Years...100Movies. These are the creme de la creme of American cinema (not definitive by any means but a good start).
posted by vilandra at 5:02 PM on September 11, 2010

Moon and Let the Right One In were two of my favorites in recent years. Both are amazing, even if you're not particularly a fan of genre films.
posted by paulg at 5:45 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should consult the web sites for the New York Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Dig around and you can probably find descriptions of the films. Also look at the New York Times and Village Voice reviews of films playing at those festivals. Those are curated festivals with reputations for finding the best new films each year. There are many other festivals but those two would be the most helpful.
posted by conrad53 at 6:59 PM on September 11, 2010

Deliberately repeating a few I saw upthread to emphasize how much I recommend them:

Let the Right One In

Serenity (but much better if you watch the measly 13-ep run of Firefly first)

The American President (and, if you like that, The West Wing television series and everything else by Aaron Sorkin)

Heathers (which is much better, IMHO, than its so-called descendant Mean Girls)

Inception (supposedly, the movie Christopher Nolan wanted to make, for which his Batman movies and The Prestige were practice runs)

10 Thing I Hate About You (drops some of the ickier bits of Taming of the Shrew; and try reading the original script, too)

Star Trek (but much better if you've seen some of ST:TOS)

Are you interested in watching televisions series also? Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The West Wing, and (believe it or not) Justice League/Justice League Unlimited were some of the better series of the last ten years.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:05 PM on September 11, 2010

Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The West Wing, and (believe it or not) Justice League/Justice League Unlimited were some of the better series of the last ten years.

I just realized that this was a blatant lie. ST:DS9 ran from 1993-1999 and Babylon 5 from 1994-1999. 1993 was not ten years ago!
posted by d. z. wang at 10:07 PM on September 11, 2010

To find great stuff on netflix to instantly watch, I like to go to, and sort by NY Times picks and rotten tomato rating.
posted by Terheyden at 11:02 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love horror, sci-fi, and documentary:
The Strangers was amazingly scary (and not in a slasher way)
Children of Men
Inside Man (on a related Clive Owen note)
Dear Zachary
Haute Tension & The Hills Have Eyes
The Crazies was surprisingly awesome
Darkness (the darkness)
The Descent
For the Bible Tells Me So
Grizzly Man
Man on Fire
Zoolander is in the 10 year time-frame & is the best comedy ever!!
posted by Kronur at 7:02 AM on September 12, 2010

Wow guys, looks like I'm going to be holed up in my apartment for the next several months watching all of these! I found it really amusing that I've seen almost all of the foreign films recommended and only a handful of the rest. I watched a ton of them in my language classes.

I thought about asking for TV shows in my question, too, but decided against it because I didn't want the question to get hazier than it already is--I'm glad a few snuck in.

Thanks everyone--I'll be a pop culture maven in no time!
posted by chatongriffes at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2010

here is a similar previous thread with a lot of great recommendations, and it was made into a handy spreadsheet.
posted by St. Sorryass at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2010

As a side note, if you'd like to discuss the films, head over to the MetaFilter Film Club. We're still taking ideas for a movie/movies for September..!
posted by starman at 7:25 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some that weren't mentioned yet--

Igby Goes Down
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (not on netflix yet, but with all these listed you'll be plenty busy!)
Three Kings
Out of Sight
Drag Me to Hell
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2010

Bit late to the party, but just wanted to add a couple of suggestions that I don't see anywhere:
500 Days of Summer

Stranger than Fiction - please please don't let the Will Ferrell casting scare you off, this movie is *nothing* like his usual schtick. There's very little of WF's usual zaniness, and a whole lot of black humor, adorable romance, and an interesting premise. I usually can't stand Will Ferrell, but this movie made me reconsider, just a little bit.

Nthing High Fidelity, The Fountain, and everything done by the Coen brothers, specifically Fargo, A Serious Man, O' Brother Where Art Thou, and The Big Lebowski; some of those aren't really within the last 10 years, but are worth seeing nonetheless.
posted by ashirys at 11:19 AM on September 14, 2010

Inception was the biggest hit of the year, and I did love it. But I'd probably say that Scott Pilgrim vs the World was the movie I enjoyed most this year, even though it didn't do so well at the box office. Scott Pilgrim had me on the floor laughing at the comedy, and stunningly entertained by the incredible fight scenes. It was just a very quirky and fun movie.

I don't care to go hunting through all my saved ticket stubs, but a few other excellent smaller movies of the last decade that come to mind are:
V for Vendetta(probably my favorite movie ever)
The Fantastic Mr Fox
Bridge to Terabithia
posted by Ryogen at 9:57 PM on September 16, 2010

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