Netflix is the best sunscreen in July, thanks to a whole new mess of recent and classic shows and movies that could keep you in the shade all month. Several offerings come right from Netflix, such as its animated satire BoJack Horseman, sci-fi series Stranger Things, comedy special Freedumb and documentaries about college football and Tony Robbins. That's only a smidgen of what Netflix is providing, let alone a pile of movies stretching from the 1950s to last year. Our only gripe: Why didn't you do this in February?
BoJack Horseman, Season 3 (July 22)
Netflix's animated, multi-species takedown of Hollywood moves into its third season. Trash-talking horse actor BoJack (Will Arnett) is preparing for the release of his new movie, which could save him from the fate of being just a 1990s TV has-been. And he's rebuilt his friendship with slacker roommate Todd (Aaron Paul) after rescuing him from an improv comedy cult.
Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh, Season 1 (July 29)
Credit: NetflixThis new animated series picks up where the DreamWorks film Home left off. A mischievous alien named Oh lands on Earth and befriends a human girl, named Tip. Jim Parsons and Rihanna, who voiced the lead characters in the film, will not be reprising their roles, and Netflix has recruited smaller-name talent.
Kuromukuro, Season 1 (July 4)
Netflix picked up the rights to stream (with subtitles) this new Japanese anime show about an alien invasion of Earth. The humans' one hope is an alien mecha (warrior robot) and a cryogenically preserved samurai who had fallen to Earth 60 years earlier. What can we say — it's a Japanese cartoon.
Magi: The Adventures of Sinbad, Season 1 (July 14)
This anime series tells the early adventures of Sinbad. It's another subtitled pickup of a Japanese cartoon.
Marcella (July 1)
Anna Friel (Limitless) plays the lead character in this British crime series about a troubled detective returning to work after a failed marriage. Twelve years after leaving London, she's back and chasing the same killer she investigated a dozen years ago. Netflix picked up the exclusive international streaming rights to this show, which recently aired on ITV in the U.K.
NSU German History X, Season 1 (July 16)
Credit: NetflixThis awkwardly titled three-part German miniseries is based on the true story of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a right-wing terror group. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, not all Germans were ready to embrace a multinational future; some resorted to attacks and even murders of immigrants. This series tells the story of three radicalized young killers who eluded capture for a decade because German authorities kept attributing the violence to infighting in the immigrant communities.
Stranger Things, Season 1 (July 15)
In this eight-part sci-fi thriller, a young boy goes missing from an idyllic 1980s small town where (usually) nothing bad ever happens. In searching for her son, the mother (Winona Ryder) starts uncovering a mystery involving supernatural forces and secret experiments, plus a very odd little girl who may have many of the answers. It's an homage to '80s sci-fi films from directors like Steven Spielberg.
The Last Kingdom, Season 1 (July 10)
This BBC historical drama is set in the ninth century, with the Saxons and Vikings fighting for control of the land that would become England. Though some characters and events are true, the story focuses on a fictional hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon) — the son of Saxon nobility who was captured and raised by Danes. His struggle to claim his identity parallels England's to claim its own.
Todd Margaret, Season 3 (July 14)
It's a mini Arrested Development reunion with David Cross in the title role as a clueless temp and Will Arnett as the scammer who somehow sets Todd up to head the UK branch of an energy drink company. Completely clueless, Todd gets himself ever deeper into trouble, ending up the defendant in the UK's crime trial of the century by the end of Season 2. He's completely reinvented himself for Season 3.
Word Party, Season 1 (July 8)
Children learn new vocabulary in this Netflix series created by the Jim Henson Co. The animated show features four baby animals that help kids master new words.
Movies and Specials
Back to the Future I, II & III (July 1)
Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd were one of the great comic teams in cinema; they and director Robert Zemeckis kept the same concept fresh for three movies in a world where sequels usually suck. The first and best film has teenager Marty McFly (Fox) inadvertently traveling back in time from 1985 to 1955, where he has to save his future parents' relationship and figure out how to get back home. The second installment, set partly in 2015, could be the most fun to watch now, to see what they did and didn't get right. (The movie's hoverboards are way cooler.) The final installment is a slapstick adventure set in the Old West.
The Big Short (July 6)
How can one of the biggest global crises be so boring? Because it was designed that way; the financial shenanigans that led to the Great Recession were deliberately complex so that no one would understand how dangerous they were. A few people did, though, and made a fortune by betting against Wall Street. Journalist Michael Lewis made the meltdown relatable by telling their stories in his book The Big Short; and director Adam McKay (best known for his comedies) makes it fascinating, at times darkly comedic, in this movie adaptation with solid performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and many more.
Brahman Naman (July 16)
For most of history, geeks were not cool, and they certainly aren't in this comedy about college quiz bowl champs in India desperate to stop being virgins. It's like Revenge of the Nerds meets Superbad, in India. Brahman Naman made a splash at the Edinburgh and Sundance film festivals in 2016, and now Netflix is giving it a wide release.
Cinderella Man (July 1)
Who doesn't like a good comeback movie — especially one based on a true story? Russell Crowe plays Jim Braddock, a once promising boxer whose career crashed in the 1920s, who struggles working the docks to support his wife, Mae, (Renée Zellweger) and kids. But he manages to get another shot in 1935 with help from trainer Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) and has a chance of going all the way. Ron Howard directs the film, so you can expect the slick cinematography and hearty helpings of inspirational music.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (July 1)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell glide through this gorgeous 1953 Technicolor musical comedy based on the Broadway hit. It preserves most of the stage version's brilliant musical numbers, including "Bye Bye Baby" and, of course, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."
Gladiator (July 1)
If you're happy to see some awesome fighting scenes, pull up a chair for Ridley Scott's sword-and-sandal extravaganza, which won three Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for lead Russell Crowe. He plays Maximus Decimus Meridius, a brilliant (fictitious) general with a shot at the throne, until he's cut down by the emperor's jealous son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). But Maximus rises again as a superstar gladiator, forcing Commodus back into the fight — literally.
Insomnia (July 1)
Director Christopher Nolan brilliantly adapted this 1997 Norwegian thriller as an equally tense 2002 U.S. film. Al Pacino plays Los Angeles detective Will Dormer, dispatched to far northern Alaska to investigate a teen girl's gruesome murder. He faces two adversaries: a cunning villain played by Robin Williams (nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), and extreme sleep deprivation from day after day of 24-hour sunshine in the Arctic summer. Hilary Swank plays the local detective who starts out in awe of the LA pro but finds herself witnessing his steady breakdown.
Jim Jefferies: Freedumb (July 1)
Australian comedian Jim Jeffries has a frank, left-leaning style reminiscent of his Commonwealth cousins in the UK. His first Netflix special, Bare, was a mix of crude humor and politics; in Freedumb, he focuses on the comical contradictions in American politics and culture.
Last Chance U (July 29)
Credit: NetflixA surprising number of Division 1 college and even pro football players have emerged from the tiny East Mississippi Community College — a powerhouse in its little corner of the sports world. Based on a GQ article of the same name, documentary series Last Chance U profiles the players who are struggling to overcome disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed on the field and in the classroom. To tell the story, Netflix tapped Greg Whiteley, who also directed its original documentary Mitt, about the vanquished Republican presidential candidate.
Lethal Weapon 1-4 (July 1)
Whether or not Mel Gibson really is crazy, he certainly plays it well as a suicidal cop mismatched with a tired, middle-aged partner (Danny Glover) in one of the biggest film franchises. Lethal Weapon has fantastic, over-the-top gunfight and fisticuff scenes, but its enduring strength is the comical repartee between the unlikely buddies. Netflix offers the entire series this month. So if you like this one, you can keep watching the Gibson-Glover pair in Lethal Weapon 2, 3 and 4 (although it starts going downhill after the second).
Mean Girls (July 1)
Tina Fey's just slightly absurdist take on the pettiness of popularity-craving teens is hysterically funny, with great performances by Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, among others. It's also a pertinent reference point for how people everywhere identify themselves and treat each other. The map of subcultures in the high-school cafeteria applies disturbingly well to the adult world.
Mustang (July 9)
Turkey is a paradox — perched between Europe and Asia, secular modernity and religious conservatism. Mustang is the story of five young sisters virtually imprisoned by conservative parents who fear that the free spirit of youth jeopardizes their moral purity. As the older sisters are paired off in arranged marriages, the younger siblings rebel.
Rebirth (July 15)
Netflix has been funding a string of indie films, the latest being this dystopic view of self-help seminars. Fran Kranz (Bloodsucking Bastards) plays office drone Kyle, who's persuaded by high-energy old college buddy Zack (Adam Goldberg, Fargo) to attend a self-actualization seminar called Rebirth. His sojourn is meant to be for only a weekend, but it looks like an intense few days await him in what Netflix calls "a bizarre rabbit hole of psychodrama, seduction and violence."
Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru (July 15)
It's a massive understatement to call Tony Robbins a "motivational speaker." For fans who read his books, listen to his talks and, especially, attend his sensationalist seminars, he's practically a messiah. Netflix goes on the road with Robbins, showing how he thinks, how he prepares and how he's perceived. The clips Netflix has released have a celebratory air, so you may not get the full, unvarnished view.
What Else to Stream
Already seen everything on this list? Check out our list of the best shows to binge watch to keep the stream going.