What separates a good movie from a classic one? Whether you're seeking high art, unforgettable thrills or just something you can watch again and again, Netflix hosts dozens of movies with well-earned reputations for excellence. Wind the clock back a few years and discover which films, across a wide variety of genres, have captivated audiences for years, and will most likely do so for years to come.
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Donnie Yen stars as Ip Man, a real-life Wing Chun master, in Wilson Yip's film named after the legendary martial artist. During the Sino-Japanese War of 1937, the Japanese occupy a Chinese town with a martial arts school. When an occupying colonel wants Ip Man, a gifted fighter and instructor, to teach Japanese soldiers, Ip faces both internal and external struggles for his honor.
At times, Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds feels like two different movies that share a character or two. The beauty, though, is when the storylines crash into one another, bringing Brad Pitt's Lt. Aldo Raines and Melanie Laurent's Shosanna into the same venue. Their target is Nazi Col. Hans Landa, played by Cristoph Waltz, who hasn't last this long on charm alone.
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Based on a Neil Gaiman novel, the wondrous stop-motion animation film Coraline captures the feeling of being a kid and wishing there was a better world to escape to. Its titular protagonist Coraline Jones finds this world in Ashland, Oregon of all places, thanks to a doll that convinces her to open a door in living room. Beyond that door, Coraline meets alternate universe versions of everyone she knows that convince her to stay, until she discovers the price for crossing over.
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A farcical comedy exposing ineptitude at the CIA, Burn After Reading now reads as ahead of its time. Starring John Malkovich as Osbourne Cox, an Agency analyst who doesn't handle his firing well, the film is another hilarious romp into the absurd from Joel and Ethan Coen (The Big Lebowski), and unravels an inside-industry affair gone wrong. Frances McDormand, George Clooney and Tilda Swinton also star, and the film features a ton of memorable moments from Brad Pitt, which have been immortalized in GIF form.
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Before you hit stream on this critically adored documentary, check that nobody in the room suffers from vertigo. Clearly, Philippe Petit (the subject of this documentary), didn't, as Man on Wire tells how he got arrested for spending an hour dancing on a rope connecting the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. While his insane feat took place 34 years before the film's release, director James Marsh does a masterful job working with the archival footage to turn it into an amazing nail-biter.
Leave it to the Brits to provide a pitch-perfect send-up of over-the-top American buddy-cop films. Edgar Wright directed Hot Fuzz, which stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as English policemen Nick Angel and Danny Butterman, respectively. When a terrorist starts blowing up high-profile citizens, Angel and Butterman will use every weapon at their disposal to find the criminal — even if they probably shouldn't.
Cleaning up the loose ends of corporate greed and malfeasance is all well and good, until you yourself become the last loose end. That's the story at the center of Michael Clayton, which stars George Clooney as the the titular "fixer," who has to choose between right and wrong, and decide if he can grow a conscience.
Credit: Warner Bros.