Home Arts & Life 10 must-see movies to watch on Netflix over the break

10 must-see movies to watch on Netflix over the break

by Lara Kuipers
Because there’s nothing better than Netflix on a snowy day
(Netflix/Wikimedia Commons)

With everything going on in the world right now, there’s no better time to spend hours upon hours watching movies on Netflix. And while the search for a good flick can be enjoyable, it can also be excruciatingly frustrating. Some days you find yourself struggling to weed through the good ones and the bad ones, only to settle on Spy Kids 2 for the billionth time. But fear no more, as I’ve created a list of 10 must-see movies to watch on Netflix over the break when you don’t have the patience to sort through the lot. 

DISCLAIMER: Netflix Canada isn’t what it used to be — it’s a whole lot better. It’d be effortless to come up with 10 must-see movies using strictly the classics like Jaws, The Godfather, Grease, and Silence of the Lambs, to name a few. But I’m betting you already know about those films. So instead I’ve curated a list of movies I think may have slipped past you over the past five years or so — ones that definitely deserve your time.

10. I, Tonya (2017)

Director: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Based on the infamous true story, I, Tonya tells the tale of U.S. ice skater Tonya Harding and her journey to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships involving the intervention of her ex-husband. 

Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) is excellent as Tonya Harding, and Allison Janney (The Help, Mom) is arguably even better as Harding’s mother. Janney  won an Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for her performance in the film. 

This film is the definition of the saying, “you can’t make this stuff up.” It has humour, it has drama, and it’s going to make you laugh, cry and be frustrated. But it’s worth it. 

My Rating: 7/10

9. Adrift (2018)

Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin

Genre: Drama, Adventure

My biggest fear in life is the open sea, and I still loved this movie. That’s (almost) all you need to know. Based on a true story, Adrift is about a young couple who sets sail on a trip to San Diego from Tahiti across the Pacific Ocean but are soon met with a hurricane. That’s when the adventure really begins.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent) was the go-to heroine for a book-turned-movie franchise where quality acting was not necessarily the main focus, but that doesn’t mean Woodley isn’t capable of moving performances such as this one. Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games, Me Before You) has a solid performance as well, but Woodley is, without doubt, the star of this flick. 

After you watch this movie, don’t forget to check out the book it’s based on

My Rating: 7/10

8. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Director: Jon M. Chu

Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Looking for a romantic comedy? Tired of re-watching the classics? Try this flick.

Crazy Rich Asians is a quirky, hilarious romance movie based on a novel with the same name, about New Yorker Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu (Hustlers, Fresh Off the Boat) who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family. 

As expected, both Constance Wu and Henry Golding — who plays Chu’s boyfriend — are excellent in this. But what really stood out for me was the comedic performance by Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8, The Farewell) who plays a school friend of Chu’s who also lives in Singapore. The movie also features the incredibly funny Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Community).

My Rating: 7.5/10

7. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018_

Director: Ol Parker

Starring: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried

Genre: Musical, Romance

It’s hard not to feel a little blue some days with everything going on in the world. So, if you’re looking for something to lift your spirits and brighten your mood, this is the movie for you. 

The sequel/prequel to the hit first movie, this film jumps back and forth between a young Donna played by Lily James (Cinderella) while in present-time Amanda Seyfried (Mean Girls, Dear John) returns as Sophie, now five years after the first film. In the scenes with young Donna, we see the stories of how she met Bill, Harry and Sam back in the day. 

If you haven’t seen the first Mamma Mia!, then I would recommend you try to watch that one first (unfortunately, it’s not on Netflix). But don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, as Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again can definitely stand on its own as an enjoyable musical. If nothing else, watch it for the upbeat ABBA hits (they never get old!).

My Rating: 7.5/10

6. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Director: Spike Lee

Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver

Genre: Drama

Spike Lee finally won an Oscar with this movie (best adapted screenplay). 

If you don’t know who Lee is, he’s the director behind Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and so much more. He also was overdue to win an Oscar. 

The film is based on a true story, about Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer in Colorado who infiltrates the local Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington (Ballers) plays Stallworth, and if that name sounds familiar it’s because Washington is the son of Denzel Washington (Fences, The Equalizer). But ultimately, it’s Lee’s masterful, artistic writing and directing that really makes this movie special. After you watch the movie, check out this amazing clip of Samuel L. Jackson presenting Lee with his Oscar.

My Rating: 7.5/10

5. Captain Philips (2013)

Director: Paul Greengrass

Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman 

Genre: Drama, Adventure 

I’ll admit, it took me way too long to finally give this movie a try, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m so happy I have. 

The movie is based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips, whose cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Forrest Gump) has a gripping performance as Captain Phillips, but the real star is Barkhad Abdi (Castle Rock), who plays the leader of the Somali pirates in his breakout role. 

Some of the best movie lines are ones that are ad-libbed, and once you’ve seen Captain Phillips, you won’t believe that the best line (you’ll know it when you watch it) in the film was made upon the spot. 

My Rating: 8/10

4. Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb

Director: James Tovell

Starring: Ahmed Zikrey Abdellhak, Ghareeb Ali Mohammed Abushousha, Nabil Eldaleel

Genre: Documentary

If you’re into history, this needs to be on your list. This documentary takes you on a journey with Egyptian archaeologists who discover a 4,400-year-old tomb in Saqqara, Egypt in 2018. I don’t want to say too much, because the unexpected is what makes this documentary so gripping. What I will say is that whatever you think you’re getting yourself into, it’s even better. With twists and turns, and incredibly likeable, interesting people explaining the discoveries, Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb is an enlightening, fascinating story. 

After you watch this documentary check out the latest news on the on-going Saqqara discoveries

My Rating: 8/10

3. Interstellar (2014)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

Genre: Drama, Adventure, Sci-Fi

This movie was directed by Christopher Nolan…. need I say more? 

If you aren’t aware of who Nolan is, he’s the man behind Dunkirk, The Dark Knight trilogy, Memento and Inception. His forte is big, loud blockbusters. 

On the outside, Interstellar looks like just another space science-fiction film. And while it is very much that, the movie also takes you on a unique adventure that’s captivating from the very beginning. 

Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Dallas Buyers Club) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada) give performances at a level that you’d expect from Oscar winners. But it’s not the acting that makes this film so special — it’s the visuals. And rightly so, it won an Oscar in 2015 for best visual effects. 

My Rating: 8.5/10

2. The Imitation Game (2014)

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley

Genre: Drama, Historical Fiction

Based on a true story, this film tells the story of the efforts of Alan Turing and a team of mathematicians to break the German Enigma Code during the Second World War. 

Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Sherlock) does exactly what he does best: playing a genius. Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride & Prejudice) does exactly what she does best: playing a character in a period piece.

This is another movie where knowing less is more before you get into it. But, to help you out a little, consider this: it was nominated for eight awards at the 2015 Academy Awards, including best picture, and it won for best adapted screenplay.  

My Rating: 9/10

1. Lion (2016)

Director: Garth Davis

Starring: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara

Genre: Drama

If you want to get a good cry in, watch this movie. But also, just watch this movie. 

Based on a true story and starring Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Skins) Lion is about a boy who becomes separated from his family in India and is then adopted by an Australian couple. Now grown up, he searches for the birth-family he lost all those years ago. 

With a cast such as this one, it’s really not hard to believe the acting would be captivating, and they don’t disappoint. But as great as the acting is, it’s the story itself that’s the most incredible part. If my opinion isn’t enough to convince you to watch this movie, know that it was nominated for six awards at the 2017 Academy Awards including best picture. 

After you finish the movie, be sure to check out the book that the movie was based on. 

My Rating: 9/10



This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

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