There’s a lot that’s been said about the total and complete crappiness of 2016. Sure, the year’s silver lining may have been Netflix constantly pumping new content into our veins, but what did that give us other than heartbreak when we binged entire seasons entirely too quickly? Stranger Things, Lady Dynamite, BoJack Horseman, The Crown, Black Mirror; they were all over before they really started, and that just made 2016 even more difficult to get through.
So after a year that bombarded us with one tragedy after the next, celebrity death after celebrity death, and Netflix series that were too good for their own good, it’s safe to say that we’re all happy the year is finally coming to an end. Bring on 2017! And also, bring on all the new Netflix content that we will inevitably fall in love with, watch way too quickly, and then be depressed all over again that it’s over. It’s a vicious cycle, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. So join us as we Rank The 15 Best Additions To Netflix This January.
15 Hugo (2011) - Jan 1
Sadly, this Martin Scorsese gem of a family film never seemed to get the love it deserved during its 2011 debut. Pushed to release in a crowded Oscar season, many simply didn’t know what the film was; and the marketing didn’t make it that much clearer. By the end of its theatrical run the general public still had no clue what the film was meant to be, but now that it’s on Netflix for all to see its legacy should be made clear; Hugo is a fantastic film, plain and simple.
Visually ambitious and filled with great performances – from Ben Kingsley to Asa Butterfield to Chloe Graze Moretz – Hugo is a love letter to film and technology and all the magical things that happen when the two come together. Now appearing on the ultimate technological film platform, it’s easy to see an audience falling in love with this film in a way that never happened in 2011. With the beauty of Netflix HD or 4K streaming, the impressive visuals of Hugo can be enjoyed on a screen big or pocket-sized, and all the film’s other impressive and often-overlooked elements – from story to music – can be enjoyed by anyone who chooses to click ‘play.’
14 Boogie Nights (1997)
Paul Thomas Anderson was at no point a director of “simple and fun” films, but looking through his last three – There Will Be Blood, The Master, and Inherent Vice – it’s tough to imagine him ever directing anything that isn’t challenging to like. If Boogie Nights is anything (and it’s definitely a lot of things), it’s easy to like. It may not fit the traditional definitions of simple and fun, but compared to most Paul Thomas Anderson movies it’s a walk through a sun-dappled park with a nice breeze in your hair. It’s also a movie about porn stars, the 70s, and a very specific prosthetic body part strapped onto Mark Wahlberg’s body.
For those that have never seen the film, Boogie Nights is everything you could ever want in a movie without ever knowing you wanted it. Though it’s become a cult classic, the film is still under the radar enough to be able to put it up on Netflix when a few friends are over and have the whole room captivated in minutes. Those who have seen the movie will be desperate to watch it again – revelling in its incredible performances by Don Cheadle, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and more – and those who haven’t will be transfixed by a fast moving plot, an incredible comedic tone, and stellar direction that proves Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best directors working today.
13 Degrassi: Next Class (Season 3, Netflix original series) - Jan 3
Who would have thought that when the mega-long-running Canadian teen drama Degrassi was cancelled, Netflix would swoop in and breathe new life into the series? With Degrassi: Next Class, that’s exactly what the streaming giant has done, and three seasons later the famous high school show is as strong and creatively fresh as ever in its new home.
While Degrassi: Next Class may not be for everyone, those who have seen it can do nothing if not admire the series for its daring attitude toward controversial storylines and bold, diverse characters. Though at its core Degrassi: Next Class is still just a high school show, the series has drawn fans from all walks of life for the realism granted to portraying a time in our lives that we’ve all been through. So who knows, if you’re bored one day and nothing else in your Netflix List is doing it for you, try your hand at Degrassi and you may find yourself hooked on the Canadian values of tolerance, diversity, and cinematography that looks just a tad too cheap to be a proper American show.
12 Tarzan and Jane (Season 1, Netflix original series) - Jan 6
We all know the story of Tarzan. Whether it’s from the 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs novel and its 23(!) sequels, the original film, the forgettable films that came after that, the 1999 Disney film, or the 2016 film The Legend of Tarzan (also forgettable), Tarzan is ingrained in our collective storytelling conscious. But the story of Tarzan isn’t done being told yet, because Netflix is bringing us a brand new kids’ series with Tarzan and Jane.
Featuring slick CGI and an equal focus on Jane as well as Tarzan, the new series follows a teenage Tarzan and Jane as they work together to save their jungle home. The twist here is in Netflix’s description, which states that their version of Tarzan will have supernatural powers to aid him in his quest to be the savior of the jungle. So while that may not be the story of Tarzan that we all know, we’re willing to give Netflix the benefit of the doubt and see if their new take on an old classic can unlock some of the potential that seems to have been wasted with various adaptations over the years.
11 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Jan 1
Since we’ve started these Netflix lists we’ve seen a marked shift in the amount of original content that Netflix launches each month. And while the company has repeatedly stated their desire to move away from a library filled with films and series that aren’t their own, we still have a soft spot for coming across an old classic while browsing Netflix. And before Netflix goes fully on-brand, on January 1st we’ll get to enjoy the ultimate old classic with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend (what’s likely to be) a rough New Year’s Day in bed.
Everyone knows the story of the Reece’s Pieces loving gray guy who just wanted to phone home, and those who don’t need to drop everything and stream E.T. immediately. No matter how many times you’ve seen the film, there’s no cure on earth – or anywhere in the solar system – for a tough year as good as E.T. It’s chicken soup for your soul, it’s a band-aid for your eyes, it’s a warm hug on a cold day, and streaming it on Netflix is the surest way to get your 2017 off to the best start possible.
10 Clinical (Netflix original movie) - Jan 13
Everyone loves stumbling across a good B-movie and watching it with zero expectations. It could be argued that that’s how Netflix survived, back when streaming was a radical concept and the company’s library was packed to the brim with B-movies no one’s ever heard of. So perhaps it’s poetic that with Netflix’s release of their original film Clinical they seem to have moved back to a B-movie approach. Or perhaps it’s nothing but business. Either way, we’re excited for Clinical.
Featuring a largely unheard of cast and a premise that has the potential to be delightfully campy, it would be unfair of us to call Clinical a B-movie before we see it; but that’s what it looks like at first glance. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Described as the story of a psychiatrist that is plagued with horrible flashbacks as he treats a horribly disfigured patient, whether Clinical turns out to be the year’s biggest surprise or just another mildly-entertaining movie that passes the time, we’re willing to go on the blind journey to find out. And we really mean blind; to this point not a single trailer or promo image - aside from the foggy black image above - has been released.
9 Superman: The Movie (1978) – Jan 1
It should be made clear that all the Superman films up to 2006’s Superman Returns are hitting Netflix on January 1st, but, could there possibly be a reason we’re only mentioning the original? Could it be that Superman II and III are underwhelming, Superman IV is best left unmentioned entirely, and Superman Returns… Well, what about Superman Returns?
Sure, critics panned the film when it came out, but in 2017’s landscape of generic superhero films, the bright and colorful punch of optimism that Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns provided might actually be preferable to how the Man of Steel was portrayed in Man of Steel. And don’t make us mention Batman v Superman.
Essentially, what we’re telling you with this entry is that Superman: The Movie is a very good film. Not only is it the grandfather to the blockbuster superhero genre, but it holds up well and still provides quite a few thrills considering all that CGI throws in our face these days. Whether you watch the other films is up to you, but no matter your taste – whether you like good movies, bad movies, or divisive movies – the five Superman films hitting Netflix this month will have something for everyone.
8 Bill Burr Stand Up Special (Netflix original comedy special) - Jan 31
This isn’t Bill Burr’s first rodeo; a phrase that Bill Burr would understandably hate and criticize for fifteen minutes. Having said that, it’s true. The creatively titled Bill Burr Stand Up Special is actually the comedian’s third Netflix special, and at this point it’s not a matter of hoping it’s good, it’s only about how much we’ll hear over our own laughter.
Sure, Bill Burr isn’t for everyone, but he doesn’t want to be. Content with his adoring fans that will follow him down the darkest path for any joke, Burr holds nothing back in his attempt to make people laugh. Following Burr’s artsy black and white 2014 special I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, this newest act should get the comedian where he rightly belongs; at the forefront of everyone’s mind when they think of “best living comedians.” So turn this special on, turn your socially acceptable hearing-aids off, and be prepared to laugh.
7 Bates Motel (Season 4) - Jan 21
Something funny happened on the way to peak TV; everything gets an adaptation. Whether it’s a buddy cop movie from 30 years ago, a 15 year old critically acclaimed sci-fi, a movie franchise that started less than a decade ago, or a horror film from 1960, everything gets an adaptation. Most are cheap ploys to attract and audience, most bad, and most get cancelled immediately. Enter Bates Motel, the exception that proves the rule.
Driven by two of the best performances on television in Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel was a stylish thriller from day one that dared to be different from anything else on television. Bleak, uncomfortable, and as twisty as anything, the past four seasons of the series have been a joy to watch unravel. But perhaps better than watching the series one week at a time would be binging it all at once on Netflix, letting the craziness wash over you while blasting through the more boring, procedural bits with blunt force. By streaming Bates Motel on Netflix you’re not only watching a great show, but you’re watching a great show in a great way; a way that makes it infinitely better. Isn’t that right, mother?
6 Coin Heist (Netflix original movie) - Jan 6
As it turns out, not every movie made these days needs to be a gritty superhero film or set in an interconnected film universe. Thanks to Netflix, there’s still room for a fun and light heist story, and they’re set to deliver it in the form of Coin Heist, their latest original movie.
The trailer for the film makes it out to be the cure to our wintertime blues, as sometimes all a person needs is a high concept hook with a simple execution to shake off the Seasonal Affective Disorder (or at least the crappy movie franchise disorder). When a group of teens faces a crisis at their high school, it’s up to them to break into the U.S. Mint and steal $10 million. Now doesn’t that just sound like the type of throwback movie we’ve all been searching for? Of course – as always happens in these types of films – things go wrong, drama as well as hilarity ensues, and we have ourselves a Netflix Original to look forward to.
5 It Follows (2014) - Jan 13
Whether we’ve seen It Follows or not, we’ve all heard about It Follows. It was pretty hard to be a movie fan in 2014 and not hear about It Follows, the indie horror movie that took everyone by storm by – gasp! – actually being good. Featuring one of the best scores on this side of the decade, as well as powerfully unnerving direction and a genuinely simple concept, It Follows threw the movie world for a loop when it debuted.
Now our prayers have finally be answered, because the movie is coming to the masses in the form of Netflix streaming. Perfect for the cold and lonely days of January when nothing of substance is released in theatres, It Follows has everything you could want in a film. Whether you’re a film buff or just a person looking for a good way to kill time, stream It Follows and you’ll be awestruck. And while it’s not the type of horror movie that requires a disclaimer warning for jump scares, it does require this disclaimer: It Follows will follow you around for a long time, instilling in you a simple wish for quality films.
4 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 11) - Jan 3
There are not enough words in the universe to describe the joys of watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. To explain to someone who has never seen the nonsense perpetuated by Frank, Charlie, Dennis, Mac, and Dee would be to explain nothing at all. No one can convey the lunacy, the debauchery, the controversy, the shamelessness, the pure disgusting reality that Always Sunny occupies in our TV landscape. No one can convince someone of the perfection of this television series; that someone has to watch it for themselves.
Still going strong after an insane amount of seasons, Season 11 of Always Sunny was – yes, believe this – one of its all-time bests. Featuring a two-part finale and a bird-law filled courtroom episode that was nothing if not the best three episodes of television all year, the gang of Always Sunny has become the heart and soul of half-hour TV. Debuting before its record breaking 12th season on January 4th on FXX, there’s no way around saying this; everyone – EVERYONE – needs to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
3 Voltron: Legendary Defender (Season 2, Netflix original series) – Jan 20
It seems that not enough people know about Netflix’s great reboot of the 1980s cartoon series Voltron. When the animated series debuted back in June, only a percentage of the proud nerds and 80s cartoon geeks of the world seemed to be talking about it. The first eleven-episode season was beautifully animated, action packed, and a spectacular whirlwind of nostalgia for those that were fans of the original series – or just well-made animation in general.
Now back for a second season, Voltron: Legendary Defender will look to grow its audience and become the much-hyped show that it deserves to be. Adult while still remaining kid-friendly, comedic and yet perfectly dark, retro with a splash of modern, the new Voltron has everything that anyone could ask for in an animated series, and so much more. If you’re looking for good old-fashioned fun on Netflix and a half-hour show that doesn’t require a huge commitment, look no further than Voltron.
2 Frontier (Season 1, Netflix original series) - Jan 20
Netflix is set to get a burst of high-caliber star-power in the form of Khal Drogo himself, Jason Momoa. Appearing on the brand new original series Frontier, Jason Momoa is going to light up our Netflix subscriptions with a six-episode dose of brooding stares and brutal fights. With this new original drama, Netflix is looking to capitalize on the historical-epic genre that now needs massive filling with company’s cancellation of its own Marco Polo.
While Frontier isn’t going to be as boldly expensive or expansive as Marco Polo was, you can look for the show to provide cinematic storylines bursting from a brand new world that we haven’t seen that much of on television. Set in the fur-trading world and already renewed for a second season, the series features ambitious storytelling tools such as multiple perspectives, bloody fights, and themes of cooperation and betrayal between Europeans and Native tribes. Essentially, it looks to be The Revenant: The TV Show, and we couldn’t be any more excited.
1 A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1, Netflix original series) - Jan 13
This is the big one that we’ve all been waiting for. And we mean waiting; because while we only find out about most Netflix Originals a few months before their debut at best, A Series of Unfortunate Events has been teasing us with its existence pretty much since Netflix started making their own shows. And now, after literally years of waiting, sifting through casting reports, fake (or real) teasers, and set-photos, it’s finally here.
Some of us may have been kids when the Series of Unfortunate Events books came out, some of us may have been parents, and some of us may have only discovered the books recently. But no matter what kind of fan you are of the Lemony Snicket book series, the new Netflix show is set to cater to us all. Explained by series star Neil Patrick Harris as dark and just as much for adults as children, the series is looking to follow in the path of this summer’s breakout hit Stranger Things and become a cultural phenomenon. From all we’ve seen – with the show’s standout set-design, delightfully over-the-top performances, and wickedly twisted costumes – we have no doubts that A Series of Unfortunate Events will be the main even that everyone flocks to Netflix for this month. And perhaps the best Netflix Original of the year.
But to find out if that’s really the case, you’ll just have to join us back here next month when we do our rankings all over again. See you then!
Which of these new releases are you most excited about? How would you rank them? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see you on Netflix! (Disclaimer: No we won’t, that would be creepy.)