All hail Netflix! The streaming service is filled to the brim with movies and TV shows that keep subscribers glued to their couches. While Netflix is a haven for much of the media we hold dear, there’s also a great deal that leaves the service every month. This month, Netflix is losing several iconic films, and a few solid TV shows as well.
Among the entries that hurt the most are Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, Amy Heckerling’s brilliant Austen adaptation Clueless, and both seasons of the British version of The Office. There’s still a few days to catch all of the things leaving Netflix (most of these entries depart on February 1st), but time is limited. You can’t watch everything that’s leaving this weekend, so recommendations will probably be necessary, just for the sake of prioritization. With that in mind, here are the 15 Best Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix In February.
15. Star Trek: Nemesis
Star Trek: Nemesis is the tenth and final film in the original Star Trek franchise, and follows the crew that is regularly depicted on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. While the film earned a mixed response from critics, diehard Star Trek fans should definitely be sure to watch (or rewatch!) Nemesis before it leaves Netflix.
Following the crew of the USS Enterprise-E as they are forced to contend with Romulans on their home planet, supposedly in search of peace. Of course, the crew is ultimately betrayed and forced to fight for their lives after a coup shifts control of the planet to an authoritarian presence. Nemesis features some of the series’ best action sequences, in part because of when it was made. It’s also notable for the wonderful performances turned in by Patrick Stewart and the rest of The Next Generation cast. All in all, the movie is a fitting final entry in the original Star Trek canon.
14. Grounded for Life
A well-known early 2000s sitcom, Grounded for Life follows the Finnertys, an Irish Catholic family that lives on Staten Island. Grounded for Life is a typical nuclear comedy, but it comes with one twist. The Finnertys had their first child at a young age, and were kept from leading a childless life for much of adulthood. This of course means that, although their oldest daughter is a teenager, the parents in the family are still relatively young and often act accordingly.
Grounded for Life’s spin on the conventional sitcom gives it a verve that many others lack, which allowed it to appeal to a wide audience. Of course, sitcoms live or die by their comedy, and Grounded for Life’s was always rock solid. Audiences come to sitcoms for comfort and an easy viewing experience. Grounded for Life provides both, and is a great show to throw on, no matter what you may be doing.
If you know the name Frida Kahlo and very little else, Frida is probably the movie for you. The film tells the story of the famed painter’s life, and explains the way her personal struggles mingled with her art to create legendary paintings that are still revered today. Directed by Julie Taymor, Frida captures the sorrows of its central figure exquisitely, revealing the ways in which her injuries and her complex marriage fueled her work.
Selma Hayek gives an excellent performance as the titular Kahlo. She paints a portrait of a complex woman who finds herself overwhelmed by the many events that color her life. Hayek is surrounded by other wonderful performers like Alfred Molina and Geoffrey Rush, and the life each of them brings to their characters reminds audiences of the liveliness of Kahlo’s best work. She’s a complicated woman, but Frida proves she’s definitely worthy of our love and admiration.
12. Failure to Launch
Failure to Launch isn’t great. It’s part of the period in Matthew McConaughey’s career that people like to ignore in favor of the more serious roles he’s taking these days. Still, Failure to Launch is well worth your time. The film follows McConaughey as a 35-year-old man who lives in the comfort of his parent’s home, and has no real interest in leaving. From there, the film follows fairly conventional romantic comedy beats, but there’s a certain comfort in the familiar tropes that the film plays into. It’s also grounded by charming supporting performances by Justin Bartha and Zooey Deschanel.
Although the general consensus seems to be that McConaughey is doing better work in the films he’s made since the McConaissaince, there’s a certain charm in going back to these old, standard romantic comedies and discovering what a convincing leading man he was. Is Failure to Launch a perfect film? Not really by any measure. But it is remarkably entertaining, and a comforting way to spend an hour and change.
11. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape features early work from both Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, and also happens to be a pretty solid film. In fact, this was the film that started Leo’s Oscar hunt, which was only abated with last year’s triumphant victory. Depp stars as Gilbert, who is forced to come home to take care of his mentally ill brother (DiCaprio) and his morbidly obese mother following his father’s death. Once there, he falls in love and has to learn to balance his various roles.
Essentially, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is an uplifting story about all the good things that can come from a situation that initially seems horrible. Gilbert has no desire to take care of his family, but through his return to the small town where he was born, he discovers a life worth leading. The film may play into certain clichés and stereotypes, but it’s also a remarkably sweet story enriched by its sensitive performances and direction from Lasse Hallström.
10. Mission Impossible: III
Tom Cruise will probably keep making Mission Impossible movies until he dies, and that’s just fine with us, as long as they’re all as good as Mission Impossible: III turned out to be. The film follows spy Ethan Hunt after he’s entered retirement. He’s happily married, and he’s trying to leave his life as a spy behind him. Now, naturally, Hunt’s retirement is short-lived, and he’s eventually pulled into a mission that endangers not only him, but his wife as well.
Playing opposite a marvelously villainous Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cruise has never been better. We’re engrossed watching his personal and professional lives blur together. J.J. Abrams, fresh off his work on Lost and long before Star Wars entered the picture, gives the film a wonderful verve. He also creates one of the best MacGuffins of all time in the Rabbit’s Foot, which is never even fully described. Like the MacGuffin, Mission Impossible: III is frothy action fun that’s just this side of ridiculous.
Cate Blanchett is among our best working actors, and Elizabeth was one of her first major roles. Starring as Queen Elizabeth I in this biopic, Elizabeth follows the queen as she discovers what will be necessary to rule over her kingdom. While this may seem like a simple premise, the duties of a monarch are fascinating. Under the direction of Shekhar Kapur, Blanchett portrays Elizabeth as conflicted and naïve; someone who has been given great power and must now decide how to wield it.
The most interesting thing about all stories related to monarchy is the conflict that arises between a sovereign’s personal desires and what he or she knows is best for the country. Elizabeth shows us a country in need of strong leadership, and a leader who was unprepared to take on the role that her country requires of her. It’s a story of what it takes to lead, and of the personal sacrifices that every ruler makes, whether they asked for the job or not.
8. Attack on Titan
An anime television series with a wildly inventive premise, Attack on Titan will be a much-missed selection when it leaves Netflix on February 1st. The story follows the human race after they have been terrorized relentlessly by Titans, who mysteriously arrived on Earth one day without warning and began feeding on humanity. These titans are enormous, and they only have one weak spot.
Because of the regular attacks from these Titans, humanity has become a society organized around class that has confined itself to a walled-in society, while also sending troops outside the walls to fight the Titans. As the series progresses, there are a number of intriguing reveals to keep viewers interested, as well as some truly stellar animation. Attack on Titan is an all-around great anime, and it’s one that all fans of the genre should definitely check out. If you do, make sure you get it in before January ends.
7. Black Hawk Down
A brutal war film, Black Hawk Down is a depiction of actual events which took place in 1993. The story follows elite soldiers who are tasked with capturing two top lieutenants of a warlord. Eventually, the soldiers become embroiled in a battle with an enormous number of Somali troops. Directed by Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down is a harrowing film, one that takes advantage of masterful production elements in order to tell an intensely captivating tale.
Featuring Ewan MacGregor and Tom Hardy before they were hugely famous, Black Hawk Down is a true ensemble piece which manages to place importance on every prominent member of the squadron. Scott’s ability to depict violence that’s completely devoid of glamorization has been evident throughout his long career, but Black Hawk Down is one of the best examples of the way film can be used to depict war’s horrors without ever making it seem cool.
6. An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore’s climate change documentary hasn’t gotten any less relevant in the decade since it premiered. In fact, a sequel to the film just premiered at Sundance. In the original film, Gore masterfully ties his own personal narrative into a story about the pressing danger that climate change poses, and manages to make a film that’s both urgent and somehow intimate.
The film ultimately went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2007, and its message comes across just as urgently today. While it feels as though the issue of climate change has been around for decades, it was really Gore who refocused things and encouraged the pressing conversation that exists today. Along with director David Guggenheim, Gore managed to use the documentary form to call attention to an issue that he felt passionately about and that wasn’t receiving enough attention. An Inconvenient Truth is Gore’s tool, and it’s an extremely effective one.
5. The Machinist
Christian Bale is deeply committed to his work as an actor, and that was never more true than on The Machinist, where Bale lost an alarming amount of weight to play Trevor Reznik, a machinist with insomnia and other psychological issues. After a serious accident at work causes Trevor to lose his job, he spirals into psychological decline, with potentially dangerous consequences.
The Machinist is a can’t-miss experience, if for no other reason than Bale’s transfixing and manic performance. Bale is never uninteresting, and his work as Trevor is among his best. The film is an intense psychological thriller, and director Brad Anderson delves deep into Trevor’s mind to confront his many mental issues. The film never loses sight of the man at its center, and manages to be both disturbed by Trevor and sympathetic toward him. On top of all of that, The Machinist never lets up. It’s a thrilling experience from beginning to end.
Clueless has been christened a cult classic, and for good reason. The movie’s take on the dynamics of high school are great on their own, and they’re even more impressive when you consider the fact that they’ve been adapted from Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Featuring a stunningly hilarious performance from Alicia Silverstone, Clueless follows a high school student who attempts to boost the popularity of a new classmate, but ultimately becomes entangled in romantic drama of her own.
Clueless is one of the very best teen comedies, and it works so well because it’s able to simultaneously lambast and care for Silverstone’s Cher, who is both ridiculous and completely loveable. The direction from Amy Heckerling makes every moment hilarious without cheapening the characters, and she’s helped by a wonderful supporting cast that also includes a very young Paul Rudd. Clueless is, to put it simply, a complete and utter triumph.
3. The Office (UK)
Although most Americans are more familiar with the show’s stateside incarnation, the original The Office has its own special brand of awkward humor, and it’s often much more biting than its American counterpart. Starring Ricky Gervais as the wonderfully horrible David Brent, The Office follows office workers who are faced with the impending closure of their branch after widespread downsizing.
While the premise is remarkably simple, it’s one that allows fully developed characters to emerge, including Tim (played by a younger, pre-Sherlock Martin Freeman) and Dawn, who function as the sole voices of sanity inside of the office, and Gareth, an odd, sniveling salesman. The show capitalizes on an incredibly awkward form of humor, and is also largely responsible for the wave of mockumentary television shows that dominated much of the 2000s. Of those, the UK Office is definitely one of the best. Gervais clearly wasn’t ready to let go because he reprised his role as Brent in last year’s David Brent: A Life on the Road.
Although there’s a sequel coming in March, if you want to get caught up on the original Trainspotting you’ll need to do it soon. The hugely influential Danny Boyle film that follows drug addicts in London has been given cult status in the years since its release, and with good reason. The film defined an entire era of young people, and told the story of those on the margins of society.
Trainspotting is also noteworthy for its frank and often horrific depiction of the perils of drug addiction. Trainspotting shows its audience exactly what addiction can do to your relationships, and exactly what’s at stake every time these addicts shoot up. Featuring an iconic soundtrack filled with soon to be classic songs, this film gave an entire generation of dejected twentysomethings a creed to live by. The film lashes out against materialism, and the very idea of fulfillment. Trainspotting, to put it simply, is a blast.
1. There Will Be Blood
Paul Thomas Anderson’s enormous and sprawling film almost defies description. There Will be Blood follows an Oscar-winning performance from Daniel Day Lew as Daniel Plainview.
Plainview is a ruthless oil baron who values his own wealth above all else, and ultimately drives away everyone who once cared about him. There Will Be Blood is brilliant from top to bottom, and it’s among Anderson’s best films.
The film taps into the idea of the corrupting power of capitalism, and is also interested in the ways fathers and sons live together. There Will Be Blood is filled with iconic scenes and moments, the most memorable of which is likely the “I drink your milkshake” exchange that will live on in cinema for years to come. It’s the kind of movie that grips the viewer from the opening moments and refuses to let go. Despite its almost three hour run time, it’s one of the best films on Netflix. When it leaves at the end of the month, subscribers will lose access to a true masterpiece.
What will you be binge-watching on Netflix this weekend? Let us know in the comments?