Feel lost in options when you cue up Netflix? Want to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest movies and TV shows arriving on the massive streaming platform? Perhaps most important, don’t want to miss the chance to watch something great before it’s gone? Relax. Our critics check all the latest lineups to bring you the best things coming and going, so you don’t have to. It’s all right here.
Coming August 1
8 Mile (2002)
Even if you don’t give a rip about rap, Eminem will inspire you in this old-fashioned, autobiographical a-star-is-born tale directed by the auteur of LA Confidential.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick’s last movie isn’t his best, but Tom Cruise interestingly lets his movie-star guard down as a husband whose wife (Nicole Kidman) and her wandering eye lead him into a ritzy sex-club scene that he (and we) can’t make sense of.
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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
A sweet classic by John Hughes, who died at 59, that convincingly argues school-skipper Ferris’s case that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Men in Black (1997)
Supersecret agents Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith thwart intergalactic terrorists in the most puckish sci-fi flick you ever saw. It’s only 98 minutes, so you’ll want to see a sequel immediately. Skip Men in Black II and go straight to Men in Black 3 (all on Netflix).
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
The greatest novelist who takes comics seriously, Michael Chabon, cowrote this greatest of superhero movies, with Alfred Molina as spectacularly tentacular Doc Ock. The second in director Sam Raimi’s Spidey trilogy is the best; the first one, from 2002, is almost as good; and the third, from 2007, is meh (all on Netflix).
The Town (2010)
Ben Affleck does a crackerjack job directing himself, Jeremy Renner, Titus Welliver and Jon Hamm in a heist picture that pays off.
Coming August 2
Nothing in Robert Zemeckis’ thriller about a drunk, drugged-up airline pilot who saves most of his passengers from a crash is as soaringly superb as the opening action scene and Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance as the tormented, high flyboy. But it’s all pretty gripping.
Coming August 5
There are maybe three other Bond movies as fresh and dazzling as this one with Daniel Craig as 007. Maybe.
Coming August 10
Iron Chef Brazil: Season 1
The cooking competition show spins off another tasty hit in a land with a whole lot of coffee.
Me Time (2022)
In a Netflix original movie, a stay-at-home dad (Kevin Hart) finally gets a weekend without his wife (Regina Hall) and childcare duties, so he lets his wild pal Mark Wahlberg talk him into hijinks, and soon they’re taking a large tortoise to the ER.
Leaving Netflix August 25
Wheel of Fortune: Seasons 35-37
Last chance to spin the wheel.
Leaving Netflix August 26
Taxi Driver (1976)
Inspired by screenwriter Paul Schrader’s youthful dark night of the soul, it’s a haunting Scorsese masterpiece about a cabbie’s descent into obsession over an elusive beauty (Cybill Shepherd) and an underage prostitute (Jodie Foster) he needs to save.
Leaving Netflix August 28
Wind River (2017)
In a thoroughly absorbing mystery by Yellowstone director Taylor Sheridan, set in a Wyoming Native American reservation, grizzled game tracker Jeremy Renner and young FBI agent Elizabeth Olsen hunt a killer.
Leaving Netflix August 30
In the Line of Fire (1993)
Clint Eastwood was seldom better than as a Secret Service agent racing to prevent a president’s assassination, with John Malkovich as an interestingly malevolent malefactor.
Leaving Netflix August 31
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Homicidal wiseacre teen dream haunter Freddy Krueger is such a brilliant villain, they can’t stop making Elm Street sequels. But he was never remotely as good as when he terrified Johnny Depp in his first film role.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Will Ferrell is at his sublime silliest as a TV newsman menaced by a young upstart newsie (Christina Applegate).
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
In Christopher Nolan’s sixth-best flick, Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway excel as Batman and Catwoman, and Tom Hardy’s bad guy Bane speaks in a voice that critic David Edelstein perfectly describes as “a cross between Darth Vader, Andy Kaufman’s Foreign Man and someone trying to sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ while choking to death on a mouthful of muesli.”
The Departed (2006)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon couldn’t be better as infiltrators of, respectively, a gang and a police department, each trying to ferret out the other. Mark Wahlberg is aces as an irascible cop with a gift for nasty quips. Jack Nicholson’s gangster performance is self-indulgent, but he can’t spoil Scorsese’s taut thriller.
I interviewed Henry Hill, the thug who ratted out his mafia pals to the feds, and Ray Liotta perfectly captures his oily, impenitent brio in this utterly entertaining portrait of mobsters. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are tops as wiseguys, but Lorraine Bracco steals the picture as Mrs. Hill. Scorsese never made a better flick.
John Carpenter raises the slasher flick to high art in the influential first film in the series that made Jamie Lee Curtis a star who will not die.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
The plot is not possible to follow, but who cares? Tom Cruise goes off the grid and climbs a Dubai skyscraper to stop a nuke-toting baddie, with help from hilarious teammate Simon Pegg.
Mission: Impossible (1996) and Mission: Impossible II (2000) leave Netflix today, too, but they’re a small loss. Watch this one.
Lovers Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet feel like the king and queen of the world, then get that sinking feeling in a James Cameron epic that works, even if some of its other human dramas aboard seem humdrum compared with the special effects.
Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.