You know how new DVDs and Blu-rays always come out on a Monday? Netflix laughs in the face of such regimented scheduling and instead releases all of its new TV shows and movies whenever the heck it feels like it.
That can make keeping track of all of the new stuff a first-world nightmare of epic proportions.
But help is at hand: here we highlight all of the best new stuff on Netflix. And yes, that does mean we've left out all of the rubbish, so you won't find the likes of Frontier or Sharknado: The 4th Awakens here.
Instead, allow us to guide you, truffle pig-like, to the finest and freshest streaming fungus.
Note: the newest stuff is at the top of the list, with the shows and movies getting progressively less new as you scroll down and switch pages
The less said about David Ayer’s Bright – Netflix’s big original movie release for Christmas 2017 – the better, but a few years ago the director struck gold (or should that be steel?) with this grit-encrusted action-drama starring Brad Pitt as a tank commander in the last days of World War II.
Featuring some of the most convincing depictions of tank warfare in cinema – you can practically smell the grease, sweat and worse in the cramped confines of Pitt’s Sherman – there’s the occasional sense that Fury holds dramatic aspirations that it can’t quite match up to, but when the action is this electrifying, you’re unlikely to care that this isn’t quite Saving Private Ryan.
The Cloverfield Paradox
A surprise appearance in the Netflix library that’s being hailed as something of a watershed moment for movie distribution – even if the reality is probably not that Netflix’s clout bagged a huge movie that would otherwise be released in cinemas, but that the studio didn’t think this would perform well enough to warrant a full release, so decided to cut their losses by selling it to Netflix at the last minute.
This third film in the burgeoning Cloverfield franchise is an entertaining (if perhaps ultimately forgettable) sci-fi thriller in much the same vein as Danny Boyle’s Sunshine: an international group of scientists is sent into space to harness an unlimited power source that can save the Earth from famine, war and ultimate extinction – and, wouldn’t you know it, things don’t go as planned. At all.
We’re far too kind to spoil anything, but The Cloverfield Paradox also links up nicely with the other two Cloverfield movies, and certainly paves the way for more entries – whether they suddenly appear on Netflix or get released in a more traditional manner.
Whether by luck or design (and we suspect the latter) the original J.J. Abrams’-directed Cloverfield movie has also found itself back on Netflix this month, after a lengthy period away.
Cloverfield was perhaps the zenith of the “found footage” sub-genre of horror – and sure, it’s a patchy one, with every decent effort (1999’s The Blair Witch Project) seemingly matched by a dreadful one (2016’s Blair Witch). But this succeeds by taking the concept and conceit – that the viewer is watching “actual footage” of the events, recovered after the fact – beyond its low-budget roots by setting the movie not in a creepy forest or secluded farmhouse, but in New York during a massive, initially mysterious disaster.
So the viewer essentially gets a first-person view of the apocalypse, complete with gory deaths, collapsing buildings and much, much worse. It’s a fun ride while it lasts, but those who suffer from motion sickness might well have to check out early – Abrams does love his shakicam footage.
Netflix’s big original TV series for the month, Altered Carbon is an eye-popping neo noir journey 300-odd years into the future, where the world is an overpopulated, dirty, decadent, neon-lit Bladerunner-esque mess – and death is a rarity.
That’s because everybody has their consciousness digitally backed up in a “stack”, a dinky disc-shaped computer stored where the skull meets the spine. Fattened by a truck? No biggie: the paramedics can prise out your stack and – provided it hasn’t been smashed – put it in safe storage until a new body (or “sleeve” in the show’s vernacular) is available.
Into this brave new world comes Takeshi Kovacs, released from prison and dropped into a new sleeve after a couple of centuries on ice. Why has Kovacs been brought back from the dead after so long? In order to solve a murder, of course – a mystery that the insanely wealthy victim (who’s now reincarnated in a new sleeve, natch) believes only Kovacs’ unique skills can get to the bottom of.
If you’ve already ploughed through the first two seasons of this critically-lauded anthology crime series, you’ll find the third – broadcast on Channel 4 last year but just recently added to Netflix – maintains the same high supply levels of brilliant acting, black humour, horrifying violence and intricate plotting, not to mention that essential snowbound Minnesota setting.
This time the cast includes Ewan McGregor (in two roles!), Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, an almost unbearably creepy David Thewlis and Michael Stuhlbarg, and concerns an unplanned murder (followed by plenty of planned ones), sibling rivalry, sci-fi novels and shadowy organisations. Give it a chance and Fargo will tightly enfold you in its idiosyncratic grip, never letting up on the entertainment along the way.
Eminem proved himself a more than capable lead actor in this gritty 2002 drama, inspired by the rapper’s own upbringing in a Detroit trailer park. Essentially a hip-hop twist on Rocky, 8 Mile follows wannabe rapper B-Rabbit as he attempts to make a name for himself in the city’s rap battle scene, all the while dealing with his alcoholic mother (Kim Basinger) and her abusive boyfriend (Michael Shannon).
8 Mile stands out from typical “pop star movies” because it feels less like a vehicle for marketing and more like an actual movie – perhaps because it was directed by the late Curtis Hanson, who had already proven himself an Academy Award winner with the screenplay for L.A. Confidential. Hanson’s assured direction ensures that non-fans of Eminem and even non-fans of hip hop will find plenty to keep them enthralled.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
At some points campy to the point of absurdity (Keanu Reeves’ English accent being a prime contender), at others bursting into life with gloriously gothic imagery and tone, Francis Ford Coppola’s faithful adaptation of the best-known of all Victorian horror novels is quite the cinematic feast.
With a star-studded ensemble cast (Gary Oldman! Anthony Hopkins! Winona Ryder! Tom Waits!), lavish costumes, lighting so OTT it might as well spell out “spooky!”, and some of the nattiest haircuts in ‘90s cinema, this version of Dracula feels like something of an unmissable, creepy curiosity rather than an out-and-out horror film. It captures the doomed romanticism of Stoker’s book better than any other adaptation we can think of, and presents the thirsty Transylvanian himself as a complex tragic figure rather than a moustache-twirling villain. A welcome addition to the vampire movie compendium, we say.
Want to see Robert Pattinson shed the last vestiges of his Twilight years’ teen heartthrob persona? Then settle down and stream this dirty-as-dog-food indie movie, in which R-Patz – possibly channelling Vincent Gallo – plays a lean, quite possibly deranged bank robber who winds up having one heck of a day when his brother and partner-in-crime ends up being nabbed by the police.
Written and directed by the Safdie brothers, one of whom also co-stars and provides the incredible electronic score, Good Time is a panic-inducing ride through the bowels of New York, which twists and turns in ways you’ll never expect.
The arrival of every episode of the 1990s’ biggest sitcom on Netflix feels like an occasion worthy of fanfare – even if, let’s face it, you’ve probably seen them all multiple times before.
For the two or three readers that don’t know, Friends is a long-running multi-cam sitcom about a sextet of… well, let’s call them “buddies” living in New York. While it’s tightly packed with great gags and compelling, series-arching plots, the show’s true pull is in its sharply-drawn, likeable characters. Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Monica’s travails as they navigate love, career, life and everything in between are sure to suck you in, even if some of the writing can feel a bit dated at times.
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation
The comedy legend’s second batch of two hour-long standup specials made specifically for Netflix has arrived, and it’s fantastic stuff, with Chappelle effortlessly musing on race, politics, fame, wealth and even the controversy surrounding his last two specials in typically hilarious, insightful fashion. An essential watch for any fan of standup comedy who wants to see a true master at work.