Ryan Reynolds returns to foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking superhero action with Deadpool 2 this weekend — and if early critical returns are any indication, this could be one of the rare sequels that doesn’t offer a case study in diminishing returns. In honor of the occasion, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the best and brightest moments from Mr. Reynolds’ film career, offering you an opportunity to rank your own favorites in the bargain. It’s time for Total Recall!


Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!

You’ve had your Valentine’s Day dinner, shared some chocolate-dipped delights, and exchanged presents. Now you’re home with your significant other, and you’re looking for something to watch while you cuddle, whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears, and gradually slip into the mood for more intimate activities (like Scrabble). Look no further, you beautiful, darling lovebirds, for we have compiled a list of 50 Certified Fresh and Fresh movies and TV series perfect for the occasion, whether you’re in need of something silly, steamy, sad, or sweet. See below for some excellent Valentine’s Day choices on Netflix.


1. 45 Years (2015) 97%

(Photo by Sundance Selects)

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star in Andrew Haigh’s drama about a married couple dealing with long-simmering tensions on the cusp of their 45th wedding anniversary.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

2. The African Queen (1951) 96%

Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn star in John Huston’s classic, Oscar-winning romantic adventure film about a WWI steam ship captain operating in Eas Africa who falls in love with the missionary’s daughter he’s agreed to transport back to civilization.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon

 


3. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013) 77%

(Photo by Steve Dietl/IFC Films)

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star in this Certified Fresh drama about an imprisoned bank robber and the woman and child he left behind.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


4. Atonement (2007) 83%

(Photo by Focus Features)

James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, and Saoirse Ronan star in Joe Wright’s Oscar-winning adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel about a young girl who sabotages the relationship between her older sister and the man she loves.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


5. Beauty and the Beast (2017) 71%

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star in Bill Condon’s live-action Disney adaptation of the studio’s own take on the classic tale of a young woman held captive by an angry beast who was once a prince.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


6. Before Midnight (2013) 98%

(Photo by Despina Spyrou/Sony Classics)

In the third installment of Richard Linklater’s enduring love story, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are married and hoping to recapture the spark that first brought them together.

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7. Begin Again (2013) 83%

(Photo by Andrew Schwartz/Weinstein Company)

John Carney’s second musical romance stars Keira Knightley as a newly single songwriter who begins an unlikely friendship with the record exec (Mark Ruffalo) who volunteers to help record her album independently.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


8. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) 89%

(Photo by Sundance Selects)

Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos star in this Certified Fresh, Palme d’Or winning coming-of-age drama about a teenager who falls in love with an older art student.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


9. Blue Jay (2016) 91%

(Photo by The Orchard)

Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson star in this romantic drama about a long-separated couple who reconnect after a chance encounter.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


10. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) 89%

Arguably the most celebrated — surely the most widely recognized — Audrey Hepburn film. We just prefer to pretend all the Mickey Rooney stuff doesn’t exist.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


11. Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) 78%

(Photo by Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures)

Renée Zellweger reprises her role as the titular singleton, who must figure out who the father of her child is after a pair of trysts results in a pregnancy.

Stream Now | Also on iTunes

 


12. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) 80%

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant star in this comedy about a brash thirtysomething woman who decides to shape up and meets a couple of eligible bachelors.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


13. Bright Star (2009) 83%

(Photo by Apparition)

Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish star in Jane Campion’s biopic focusing on the romance between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne during the last years of Keats’ life.

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14. Carol (2015) 94%

(Photo by Wilson Webb/Weinstein Company)

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in Todd Haynes’ period drama about an illicit affair between a lonely housewife and a younger woman.

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15. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 98%

(Photo by Tyler Golden/The CW)

Rachel Bloom stars in this Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning CW musical comedy series about a career woman who leaves her job and Manhattan lifestyle to find love in California. Watch seasons 1 and 2.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


16. Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

In this romantic comedy that essentially inspired How I Met Your Mother, Ryan Reynolds stars as a man who recounts his past conquests (played by Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz) to his daughter when his impending divorce makes her insufferably inquisitive.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


17. Drinking Buddies (2013) 84%

(Photo by Magnolia Pictures)

Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Jason Sudeikis, Jake Johnson, and Ron Livingston star in this comedy about two co-workers at a brewery who share an attraction despite being in relationships with other people.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


18. Emma (1996) 83%

Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this adaptation of the Jane Austen novel about a well-meaning woman who takes it upon herself to play matchmaker to those in her life, unaware that she has an admirer of her own.

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19. Holding the Man (2015) 81%

(Photo by Strand Releasing)

Based on Timothy Conigrave’s memoir of the same name, this independent drama from Australia centers on two men whose romance becomes the foundation of their gay rights activist work.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon

 


20. The Incredible Jessica James (2017) 89%

(Photo by Netflix)

Jessica Williams and Chris O’Dowd star in this Netflix original comedy about an aspiring playwright who bonds with a man as they both attempt to deal with painful breakups.

Stream Now

 


21. Jane The Virgin 100%

(Photo by )

Twenty-something virgin Jane has her life turned upside-down when she is accidentally inseminated with her boss’s sperm in this Certified Fresh dramedy with telenovela twists and a strong ensemble cast. Seasons 1 to 3 are available.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


22. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) 95%

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan leads a village cricket squad in a match against their ruthless British occupiers in this beloved 2001 Oscar-nominated epic.

Stream Now

 


 23. Leap Year (2010) 93%

(Photo by Strand Releasing)

This drama from Mexico centers on a promiscuous but lonely journalist who engages in a steamy, complicated affair with a sadist.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


24. Like Water for Chocolate (1992) 87%

(Photo by Miramax)

Based on the novel of the same name by Laura Esquival, Alfonso Arau’s magical romantic tale centers on the forbidden love between a man and a young woman who can make others feel what she feels through the food that she cooks.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


25. Margarita, With a Straw (2014) 83%

(Photo by Wolfe Releasing)

Kalki Koechlin stars in this Indian drama about a woman struggling with both cerebral palsy and matters of the heart.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


26. Master of None 93%

(Photo by Netflix)

In this Certified Fresh Netflix original comedy, Aziz Ansari (who also writes and directs) stars as a 30-year-old actor navigating life and love in New York City.

Stream Now

 


27. Meet the Patels (2014) 87%

(Photo by Independent Television Service)

Ravi Patel’s Certified Fresh documentary chronicles his family’s persistent attempts to find him a spouse.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW

 


28. Middle of Nowhere (2012) 88%

(Photo by AFFRM)

David Oyelowo stars in this drama about a med student whose life is upended when her husband is incarcerated, from Selma director Ava DuVernay.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


29. Midnight in Paris (2011) 93%

(Photo by Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics)

Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and a slew of stars breathe life into Woody Allen’s dreamy romantic comedy about an aspiring novelist who, on a trip to Paris with his fiancée, is transported back to an idealized version of the city in the 1920s.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


30. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 93%

(Photo by Niko Tavernise/Focus Features)

Wes Anderson’s coming-of-age film stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as a couple of pre-teens who fall in love and run away from home together.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


31. My Golden Days (2015) 90%

(Photo by Magnolia Pictures)

This coming-of-age drama follows a French teenager’s troubled family life and misadventures in the Soviet Union.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


32. No Tomorrow 88%

(Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW)

Tori Anderson and Joshua Sasse star in this CW series about a Seattle woman who gets involved with a man who believes the end of the world is near, and decides to join him in completing their bucket lists together.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


33. Nymphomaniac: Volume I (2014) 76%

(Photo by Magnolia Pictures)

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård star in Lars von Trier’s provocative tale of a woman who recounts her violently sexual past to a man nursing her back to health after saving her from a brutal attack in an alley.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


34. Omar (2013) 90%

(Photo by Adopt Films)

This drama from Palestine follows a baker and moonlighting freedom fighter who’s coerced into informing on a friend when he’s wrongly arrested for the murder of an Israeli soldier.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


35. On Body and Soul (2017) 90%

(Photo by Netflix)

Netflix picked up this Certified Fresh drama from Hungary about two people who discover they share the same dream every night and attempt to recreate the emotions of that dream in reality.

Stream Now

 


36. Our Souls at Night (2017) 89%

(Photo by Netflix)

Robert Redford and Jane Fonda star in this romantic drama about a widow and a widower living next door to each other who fin a connection as they enter their twilight years.

Stream Now

 


37. Palm Trees in the Snow (2015) 83%

This Spanish period drama follows a woman who discovers a letter that reveals details about her father’s journey from his island home to Spanish Guinea.

Stream Now

 


38. The Reader (2008) 63%

(Photo by Weinstein Company)

Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes star in Stephen Daldry’s drama about a young man who falls for an older woman who turns out to be a former Nazi prison guard.

Stream Now | Also on AmazoniTunes


39. A Royal Night Out (2015) 75%

(Photo by Nick Wall/Atlas Distribution)

Sarah Gadon and Emily Watson star in this period dramedy about Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret’s adventures out on the town during V Day festivities in 1945.

Stream Now | Also on AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes


40. Rust and Bone (2012) 82%

(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)

Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Jacques Audiard’s drama about a single father who falls in love with a whale trainer after she suffers a tragic accident.

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41. Sense8 86%

(Photo by Netflix)

This Emmy-nominated Netflix original series follows eight strangers from around the world who discover they can psychically travel between each other’s bodies, allowing them to experience each other’s lives. Watch seasons 1 and 2.

Stream Now

 


42. She's Gotta Have It 78%

(Photo by David Lee/Netflix)

Based on Spike Lee’s acclaimed 1986 debut feature film of the same name (which is also available to stream), this Netflix original series centers on a single woman navigating a trio of tricky romances and attempting to balance it with the rest of her personal and professional life.

Stream Now

 


43.Sing Street (2016) 95%

(Photo by Weinstein Company)

John Carney’s Golden Globe-nominated Certified Fresh musical drama centers on a Dublin teen in 1985 who starts a band to impress the girl he has a crush on.

Stream Now | Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


44. Southside With You (2016) 92%

(Photo by Roadside Attractions)

Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter star as the young Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson in a romantic drama that follows the couple around Chicago on their first date.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes

 


45. Suite Française (2014) 76%

(Photo by Bruno Calvo/Weinstein Company)

Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts star in this period romance about a French woman who falls in love with a German soldier when his regiment takes over her town during WWII.

Stream Now

 


46. Two Lovers and a Bear (2016) 84%

(Photo by Philippe Bosse/Netflix)

Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan star in this unique drama about a couple living in the icy wilderness of Canada who embark on a perilous journey south when a stalker threatens their lives.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


47. The Way He Looks (2014) 93%

(Photo by Strand Releasing)

This Brazilian coming-of-age drama revolves around a blind teenager struggling for independence who slowly falls in love with a new classmate.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 


48. Wedding Crashers (2005) 75%

(Photo by New Line Cinema)

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star in this romantic comedy about a pair of cynical divorce attorneys who spend their time crashing weddings until they both meet their match in two very different women.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, FandangoNOWiTunes

 


49. While You Were Sleeping (1995) 81%

Sandra Bullock stars in this romantic comedy about a lonely tollbooth operator who falls in love with one of her customers and is mistaken for his fiancée when she intervenes in a tragic accident that leaves him comatose.

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50. Y tu mamá también (2001) 92%

Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdu star in this coming-of-age road trip drama about a pair of friends who take off on an adventure with a cousin’s estranged wife after their girlfriends leave town.

Stream Now | Also on Amazon, iTunes

 

When the first of January hits, chances are you’ll be stuffed with holiday goodies, full of various meats and/or cheeses, and all partied out. You’ll also probably be looking for something to watch as you recover from all the festivities. Luckily, Netflix is releasing a ton of new stuff, particularly on January 1, that should keep you entertained. See below for the full list of new movies, TV shows, and originals coming to Netflix in January.


January 1 – January 7

 

The Age of Shadows (2016) 100%

Song Kang-ho (The Host) and Gong Yoo (Train to Busan) star in South Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s (I Saw the Devil; The Good, the Bad, the Weird) period thriller about two men on opposite sides of Korea’s fight for independence from Japan.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


AlphaGo (2017) 100%

This documentary chronicles the drama leading up to the historic match-up between a human and an artificial intelligence playing against each other in the ancient Chinese strategy game of “Go.”

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


The Godfather (1972) 97%

Al Pacino and Marlon Brando lead an ensemble cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s mob family epic, widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. All three chapters of the Godfather saga will be available to stream on January 1.

Available 1/1: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III


Apollo 13 (1995) 96%

Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon star in Ron Howard’s Oscar-winning historical drama about the ill-fated titular space mission, during which an on-board explosion forced three astronauts to abort a trip to the moon.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Strictly Ballroom (1992) 89%

Baz Luhrmann’s debut feature is an adaptation of his own stage production about a ballroom dancer with a unique vision and his struggle to compete and win a prestigious competition.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


The Truman Show (1998) 95%

Jim Carrey and Ed Harris star in this dramedy about a man who understandably freaks out when he discovers his entire life has been the center of a television production.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Midnight in Paris (2011) 93%

Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and a slew of stars breathe life into Woody Allen’s dreamy romantic comedy about an aspiring novelist who, on a trip to Paris with his fiancée, is transported back to an idealized version of the city in the 1920s.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91%

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella stars Tim Robbins as a wrongly convicted accountant who befriends another inmate (Morgan Freeman) while serving his sentence.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Like Water for Chocolate (1992) 87%

Based on the novel of the same name by Laura Esquival, Alfonso Arau’s magical romantic tale centers on the forbidden love between a man and a young woman who can make others feel what she feels through the food that she cooks.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) 91%

Gene Wilder offers an iconic performance as Roald Dahl’s slightly nutty candy mogul, who welcomes a handful of children to his sweets factory with the intention of bequeathing his company to one of them.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) 89%

Arguably the most celebrated — surely the most widely recognized — Audrey Hepburn film. We just prefer to pretend all the Mickey Rooney stuff doesn’t exist.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Batman Begins (2005) 84%

Christian Bale and Michael Caine star in Christopher Nolan’s beloved reboot of the Batman mythology, a supremely effective but dark and brooding affair that set an ill-advised precedent for DC superhero movies to come.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


King Kong (2005) 84%

Naomi Watts and Jack Black star in Peter Jackson’s update on the original monster movie, about a giant ape on a remote island who is captured and brought back to civilization for the amusement of humans.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


The Italian Job (1969) 81%

Michael Caine stars in the original 1969 heist flick about a career criminal who takes on an eccentric team of accomplices for an elaborate robbery.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Lethal Weapon (1987) 80%

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover star as mismatched partners in this comedy about a pair of cops trying to take down a dangerous drug dealer. Its sequel will also be available to stream.

Available 1/1: Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2


Batman Returns (1992) 80%

For his cold, dark sequel to Batman, Tim Burton gave audiences not one, but two empathetic, pitiable villains: The Penguin (Danny DeVito) and the Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Stardust (2007) 77%

Based upon Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel and featuring an all-star cast, this fantasy follows a young man who embarks on a journey through a forbidden kingdom to prove his love to the girl of his dreams by presenting her with a fallen star.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Caddyshack (1980) 72%

Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray star in Harold Ramis’s directorial debut, a beloved comedy about the unruly, unusual new members of an exclusive country club.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Wedding Crashers (2005) 75%

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star in this romantic comedy about a pair of cynical divorce attorneys who spend their time crashing weddings until they both meet their match in two very different women.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) 74%

Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, and Hugh Laurie lend their voices to this DreamWorks animated film about a group of abnormal creatures who come to the aid of humanity when Earth is invaded by an alien robot.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Batman (1989) 73%

One of the most hyped movies in Hollywood history, Batman found director Tim Burton jettisoning the plots (if not the dark tone) of Bob Kane’s original comics, and utilizing set designs reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and freakish, brooding characters similar to… well, a Tim Burton movie.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Training Day (2001) 73%

Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke star in Antoine Fuqua’s gritty crime thriller about a rookie cop learning the ropes from a veteran narcotics detective with a decidedly questionable moral compass.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

In this romantic comedy that essentially inspired How I Met Your Mother, Ryan Reynolds stars as a man who recounts his past conquests (played by Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz) to his daughter when his impending divorce makes her insufferably inquisitive.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011) 65%

Remember how innocent the Biebz was back in 2011, before all the tattoos and poopy-diaper pants? Watch this naively optimistic documentary about Ju-Bieb’s improbable rise to stardom from the gritty streets of Ontario to the echo chamber of YouTube and beyond.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Bring It On (2000) 64%

Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku star in this tongue-in-cheek look at the competitive high school cheerleading scene that was so acceptable it lead directly to an MCU gig for director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man).

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Love Actually (2003) 64%

Thanks in part to its luminous cast, which includes Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Keira Knightley, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Andrew “CORRRRALL” Lincoln, Richard Curtis’ yuletide romantic comedy has become a seasonal cult favorite.

Available 1/1 on: Netflix


Rotten: Season 1 (2018) 86%

This Netflix original series examines the global scope and impact of some common food items, starting from the plate and following the trail of money and politics.

Available 1/5 on: Netflix


Episodes 80%

Showtime’s show business satire stars Matt LeBlanc as an exaggerated version of himself, tapped to play the lead in a new sitcom imported from the UK, and Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan as the put-upon husband-wife creators of said sitcom.

Available 1/6 on: Netflix


January 8 – January 14

 

The Conjuring (2013) 86%

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star in this supernatural horror story based on true events about a family experiencing unexplained disturbances in their new home who call upon paranormal investigators for help.

Available 1/8 on: Netflix


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) 87%

Kevin Hart and Ed Helms lend their voices to this animated adaptation of the popular children’s books about a couple of young pranksters who hypnotize their principal into believing he is a superhero.

Available 1/10 on: Netflix


Colony: Season 2 (2017) 100%

Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies star in this sci-fi drama about a family struggling to survive during an alien invasion.

Available 1/10 on: Netflix


January 15 – January 21

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) 92%

Matthew McConnaughey won an Oscar for his portrayal of unlikely AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in Jean-Marc Vallée’s drama about the Texas man who was diagnosed with HIV and took matters into his own hands to find treatments wherever he could.

Available 1/16 on: Netflix


Bad Day for the Cut (2017) 92%

This indie thriller centers on a farmer who embarks on a campaign for vengeance through the Irish criminal underworld after his mother is murdered.

Available 1/18 on: Netflix


Grace and Frankie: Season 4 (2018) 100%

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this Netflix original series about two women who are forced to move in together when their husbands come out as gay and leave them for one another.

Available 1/19 on: Netflix


January 22 – January 28

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018) 67%

Will Forte and Domhnall Gleeson star in David Wain’s Netflix original film chronicling the rise and fall of humor magazine National Lampoon.

Available 1/26 on: Netflix


Dirty Money: Season 1 (2018) 100%

This Netflix original series from acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney takes an episode-by-episode look at various acts of corporate greed and misconduct.

Available 1/26 on: Netflix


One Day at a Time: Season 2 (2018) 100%

This Netflix original series remakes and recontextualizes a popular 1970s-1980s sitcom about a divorced mother raising two teenage daughters: this time, they’re Cuban.

Available 1/26 on: Netflix


January 29 – January 31

The Force (2017) 87%

This acclaimed documentary takes a look at the men and women who make up the Oakland Police Department, and the department’s effort to reform itself over a period of two years.

Available 1/29 on: Netflix


Cars 3 (2017) 69%

Owen Wilson returns to voice Lightning McQueen in the third installment of Pixar’s Cars franchise, in which Lightning struggles to stave off retirement and makes one last go at winning the Piston Cup.

Available 1/31 on: Netflix

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to sign up for a sci-fi action thriller in which you’ll pursue something called a Zeo Crystal while wearing a form-fitting green shell — which is exactly what Elizabeth Banks is up to in this weekend’s Power Rangers movie. In honor of Banks’ bravery, we decided to dedicate this week’s feature to a fond look back at some of the brighter highlights from her filmography, and you know what that means…it’s time for Total Recall!


10. Lovely, Still (2008) 73%

Elizabeth Banks is no stranger to big-budget filmmaking, but even after breaking through to the A list, she’s continued to seek out parts in smaller-scale productions. Case in point: 2010’s Lovely, Still, in which she plays a woman whose neighbor (Martin Landau) pursues a relationship with her mother (Ellen Burstyn) — thanks in part to some encouragement from his boss (Adam Scott). It’s the type of setup that often leads to overly aggressive tugs at the heartstrings, but critics credited debuting writer-director Nik Fackler with largely resisting cheap sentiment while imparting poignant observations on aging and the human condition. As Prairie Miller wrote for NewsBlaze, “It was Bette Davis who said ‘growing old ain’t for sissies.’ And this film reiterates that notion from which no human being lucky enough to survive that long is exempt, framing old age as perhaps the greatest superhero screen manifestation of all.”

Watch Trailer


9. Invincible (2006) 72%

He isn’t a household name, but Vince Papale is a legend among hardcore football fans — particularly in Philadelphia, where he overcame the odds to earn a spot on the Eagles’ roster and became one of the oldest rookies in the history of the NFL — as well as a living embodiment of the team’s scrappy, blue-collar image. That legend was brought to life in 2006’s Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg as Papale, Banks as his eventual wife Janet, and Greg Kinnear as Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. The movie’s fairly boilerplate arc — fully embraced by the Disney execs bankrolling the film — might have prompted a few eyerolls from more cynical critics, but the end result still enjoyed a sweaty leg up on the many inspirational sports dramas in theaters at the time. “There’s a sugar coating to the way Papale’s story unfolds,” admitted the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips, “but not so much that you’ll spoil your dinner.”

Watch Trailer


8. Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

A romantic comedy with a twist, Definitely, Maybe finds its protagonist looking back on the love affair that led to marriage and a child — by telling the story to his young daughter, with some names changed and facts adjusted, while in the midst of a divorce. Thanks in part to those narrative curveballs, most critics applauded Maybe — and even if it still ultimately traced a rather familiar arc, it was difficult to find too much fault with a resolutely charming production that made smart use of a likable ensemble cast that included Banks, Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. “As the movie is about a character’s growing into his own truth rather than discovering some preordained truth, Definitely, Maybe is hard to outguess,” wrote Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle. “For once in a romantic comedy, you won’t be able to tell after five minutes who will end up together.”

Watch Trailer


7. Seabiscuit (2003) 78%

The horse took top billing, but Banks played a pivotal role in Gary Ross’ Oscar-nominated biopic about the Depression-era thoroughbred racing sensation, appearing as Marcela Zabala, whose wedding to Charles S. Howard (Jeff Bridges) turns Howard’s life around before he enters the horse-racing world. Part of an ensemble that also included Chris Cooper as expert trainer Tom Smith and Tobey Maguire as scrappy jockey Red Pollard, Banks helped round out the cast responsible for one of the year’s bigger critical and commercial successes, and an inspirational drama that managed to transcend its easily predictable (albeit fact-based) arc. “[It] may be too airbrushed for its own good,” wrote David Ansen for Newsweek, “but in the end nothing can stop this story from putting a lump in your throat.”

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6. Role Models (2008) 77%

Strictly speaking, the world probably didn’t need yet another comedy about grown men acting like children when Role Models came along — yet there’s no denying Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott made the most of this 2008 comedy’s fairly standard story about a couple of knuckleheads sentenced to community service. Along those lines, there’s certainly been no shortage of disapproving girlfriend roles in these movies over the years, and it’s a part that doesn’t necessarily call for someone with Banks’ estimable talent — but her presence brought a little extra depth to the movie, not to mention added dimension to what could have been a shrewish one-note character. “A formulaic movie can be lifted out of its built-in rut by making it look like it invented the formula,” argued Dave White for Movies.com. “Almost everything works here.”

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5. Pitch Perfect (2012) 81%

Loosely inspired by author Mickey Rapkin’s nonfiction look at the collegiate a cappella circuit, 2012’s Pitch Perfect raked in more than $115 million — and Banks, who co-produced and played a small part as competition commentator Gail Abernathy-McKadden, took on an even more impactful role for the sequel, making her feature directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2. Critics weren’t quite as entranced by the second installment, which reunited much of the original cast (including Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson) while adding new arrivals like Hailee Steinfeld, but it made even more money, guaranteeing a Pitch Perfect 3 — and earning the praise of critics like Tony Hicks of the San Jose Mercury News, who wrote, “Pitch Perfect 2 actually is more enjoyable than the original. First-time director Elizabeth Banks manages to move the story forward and wrap it up nicely without killing the concept.”

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4. The Hunger Games (2012) 84%

The blockbuster adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games books arrived at a moment in which a flood of YA novels were being made into movies, but this saga differentiated itself on a number of key fronts — including acting, thanks to a powerfully talented cast that included Jennifer Lawrence in the central role and a supporting ensemble that included Banks (as the outlandishly garbed Effie Trinket), Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, and Stanley Tucci. Acting under garish makeup and a series of distracting wigs, Banks acquitted herself admirably — and saw her character take on an expanded role in the penultimate film, Mockingjay Part 1. “Book’s good. Movie’s better,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr after the second installment, Catching Fire. “Wait, what?”

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3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) 85%

Technically, Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year-Old Virgin didn’t feature every comedy star to come out of the woodwork over the next decade — but watching the Steve Carell-led hit now, it can definitely feel that way. Banks shows up here in a supporting role as Beth, the bookstore employee whose flirty banter with Carell’s sexually inexperienced protagonist leads to some unexpectedly raunchy shenanigans — and making her mark in the midst of an expertly assembled ensemble that also included Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, and Kevin Hart. “If you’re looking for a successor to There’s Something About Mary and American Pie, look no further. It has arrived,” decreed James Berardinelli for ReelViews. “And, if I may be so bold, this is more enjoyable than either of them.”

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2. Slither (2006) 86%

There’s nothing like a good creature feature — at least partly because solidly entertaining entries in the genre can seem like they’re so few and far between. Years before his work on Guardians of the Galaxy gave him name recognition with mainstream audiences, writer-director James Gunn wowed genre fans with Slither, a smartly written thriller about a car salesman (Michael Rooker) who becomes infected with a sluglike alien and passes it along to his mistress (Brenda James) before beginning his final transformation — and setting his sights on his wife (Banks), who’s turned to the local sheriff (Nathan Fillion) for help. If this sort of thing is your bag, you’ll find Slither hard to resist — and even if it isn’t, you may be compelled to agree with the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum, who wrote, “Gross-out horror comedy is my least favorite genre, but this movie’s so skillful I have to take my hat off to it.”

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1. Love & Mercy (2014) 89%

The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy tells the story of the mercurial Beach Boys co-founder’s often tortured journey, but it’s also a love story — one poised on the fulcrum of Wilson’s relationship with Melinda Ledbetter, who entered his life in 1986 and was part of the lengthy process of getting Wilson away from controversial therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. And although director Bill Pohlad’s film earned a lot of attention for the way it divided Wilson’s life into two discrete arcs — one in which he’s played by Paul Dano, and another starring John Cusack — Banks shouldered a lot of responsibility with her performance as Ledbetter; for the movie to work as more than a standard redemption story, the people on screen needed to feel more like their real-life counterparts than characters. “Love & Mercy might not go as deep, or as dark, as it could,” admitted the AP’s Lindsey Bahr, “but it’s a commanding and artful film, that’s full of excellent and worthy performances whether you’re a student of Brian Wilson or just a curious tourist.”

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Summer is just about over, and the arrival of this weekend’s The Light Between Oceans — a period romance starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz — offers elegant proof. In honor of this year’s exodus from our annual buttery blockbuster season, we decided to dedicate this column to a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from the Oscar-winning Ms. Weisz’s estimable filmography. It’s time for Total Recall!


Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

A sort of How I Met Your Mother for the big screen, Definitely, Maybe stars Ryan Reynolds as an about-to-be-divorced dad whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) demands to hear how her parents met — and who responds by concocting a romantic mystery of sorts, leading her (and the audience) on a rom-com odyssey starring Reynolds alongside the kid’s potential moms: Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. Setting aside the absurd beauty of that putative gene pool, this bubbly hit has loads of charm, and easily wooed the majority of critics despite a rather ordinary list of narrative ingredients. “Is this movie the best romantic comedy of the year? Maybe not,” admitted the Miami Herald’s Connie Ogle. “Do you walk out with a smile on your face? Definitely.”

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Runaway Jury (2003) 73%

John Grisham will never be regarded as a quote-unquote Serious Author, but his legal thrillers can make for great paperback fun — and a few of them have been turned into pretty good movies, too. For example, here’s 2003’s Runaway Jury, a boilerplate legal thriller enlivened by a crackerjack cast that included John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and (surprise!) Rachel Weisz. All that star wattage didn’t add up to a major box office hit, but between the talent on display and director Gary Fleder’s deft hand with all the assorted courtroom shenanigans, most critics were duly impressed; as Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote for Entertainment Weekly, “Although the twists are pulpy and the legal foundations feel wildly porous, Fleder, a practiced hand at TV-cop stuff and movie thrills, makes the film a faster, more agile bundle of entertainment than the book.”

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Sunshine (1999) 74%

This list should offer ample proof that Rachel Weisz is about more than sweeping, romantic period epics. But if that’s the genre that comes to mind when you think of her, there are more than a few excellent reasons why — and Sunshine, a sweeping, romantic period epic from director/co-writer István Szabó, is among them. Here, Weisz helps anchor an ensemble cast for a story following three generations of life in a Hungarian Jewish family (each of which features Ralph Fiennes in a different role), unfolding from the turn of the 20th century into the aftermath of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The movie’s three-hour length and Szabó’s fondness for melodrama annoyed a handful of critics who couldn’t get into it, but for others, the end result was well worth the investment. “This is a movie of substance and thrilling historical sweep,” wrote Roger Ebert, “and its three hours allow Szabó to show the family’s destiny forming and shifting under pressure.”

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Youth (2015) 71%

A great cast isn’t always enough to make a movie worth viewing, but it gives a director a pretty good head start — and when that cast includes Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, and Rachel Weisz, you’ve just about sealed the deal even if your film includes a handful of head-scratching interludes that include floating monks, dozens of cowbells, and a guy dressed up as Adolf Hitler. Oddball ingredients aside, writer-director Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth offers some fine actors an opportunity to play well-rounded characters grappling with getting older and contemplating the loss of opportunity and the consequences of their choices. Calling it “Quixotic, idiosyncratic, effortlessly moving,” Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “It’s as much a cinematic essay as anything else, a meditation on the wonders and complications of life, an examination of what lasts, of what matters to people no matter their age.”

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The Whistleblower (2010) 75%

Director/co-writer Larysa Kondracki searched for nearly a decade before securing funding for The Whistleblower, a fact-based drama about an ex-cop (Weisz) who took a job with defense contractors training police in Bosnia and Herzegovina, only to discover the company was running a sex trafficking ring — and the UN wasn’t doing anything about it. Fired after pursuing her investigation, she took her findings to the media, prompting promises of a full-scale UN inquiry… which, based on the real-life public record, may or may not have made much of a difference in the end. Not the kind of movie that necessarily makes a person feel good about the human race, in other words, but definitely the type of role that can bring out the best in a performer — and according to critics, Weisz delivered. As Bob Mondello wrote for NPR, “It’s a thriller sobering enough in its graphic portrayal of forced violence against women that it would be tough to watch if not for the controlled fury Weisz brings to her performance as a down-to-earth avenging angel.”

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The Deep Blue Sea (2011) 80%

Director Terence Davies drew from distinguished source material when he decided to adapt Terence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea — and he honored it by rounding up an outstanding cast, led by Rachel Weisz as a woman drifting through a comfortable yet passionless marriage and Tom Hiddleston as an ex-Royal Air Force pilot whose thrill-seeking streak awakens her to a life of passion. The moral of the story might seem somewhat retrograde to modern viewers, but it remains heartbreakingly well-written and performed; the end result, as Jeannette Catsoulis wrote for NPR, is “A shimmering exploration of romantic obsession and the tension between fitting in and flying free.”

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The Constant Gardener (2005) 83%

There’s no political thriller quite like a John le Carré political thriller, and The Constant Gardener presents Oscar-winning proof. Weisz took home a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her work in the role of Tessa Abbott-Quayle, a woman whose marriage to a British diplomat stationed in Kenya (Ralph Fiennes) comes to a sudden and tragic end — sparking an investigation that reveals startling truths about the nature of their relationship and who she really was. “This is not a movie that will shock you or thrill you or rock your world,” wrote Tom Long for the Detroit News. “Instead, it will move you, it will stick with you, it will give you pause and affect you in ways not easily described — which is something the best films always do.”

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The Lobster (2015) 87%

We’ve all seen countless couples fall in love onscreen, and at this point, it takes a truly special movie to raise the stakes for a relationship in any memorably meaningful way. Enter Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, which imagines a weirdly dystopian world in which lonely hearts congregate at a hotel for 45 days to find a match — and if they don’t find one, they’re magically turned into the animal of their choice. Our protagonist (Colin Farrell) chooses a lobster, and for a time, it looks like he might just end up gaining a pair of claws and spending the rest of his life in the sea; fortunately, his journey takes an unexpected turn involving a near-sighted woman (Weisz) who… well, we don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say you may never look at courtship rituals the same way. “The Lobster is a droll piece of work lashed with grim humor,” wrote Stephanie Zacharek for TIME. “For every moment that makes you laugh, there may be another that leaves you with your mouth hanging open.”

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Page Eight (2011) 93%

With this BBC-produced political thriller, Weisz found herself in some pretty stellar company: in addition to her own formidable gifts, the cast included Judy Davis, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Tom Hughes, and Bill Nighy — and it was written and directed by the playwright Sir David Hare, stepping behind the cameras for the first time since 1989’s Strapless. The plot revolves around an MI5 agent (Nighy) whose involvement with a Syrian-born activist (Weisz) dovetails with his efforts to undermine a Prime Minister (Fiennes) who’s been in collusion with another agent (Davis) — vintage British espionage fare, in other words, especially when you factor in a subplot involving classified information surrounding Weisz’s brother’s death. “I’d happily watch this cast read the phone book,” wrote Maureen Ryan for the Huffington Post. “But fortunately the script by David Hare (who also directed) is intelligent, engaging and generally makes good use of this singular cast’s talents.”

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About a Boy (2002) 93%

What could be better than whiling away your hours in unearned leisure, cashing royalty checks for a song you didn’t even have to write, and idly pursuing a life of serial monogamy? On the evidence of About a Boy, we’d have to answer “dating Rachel Weisz,” because that’s what ultimately cures independently wealthy layabout Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) of his terminal lack of ambition — but only, of course, after he’s lured out of his complacent solitude by an unexpected friendship with a 12-year-old boy (Nicholas Hoult) and his mom (Toni Collette). “Mainstream comedies,” argued David Edelstein for Slate, “should all be this funny and tender and deftly performed.”

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After years of fan outcry, Ryan Reynolds finally gets the chance to topline a solo Deadpool movie this weekend — and if early critical returns are any indication, it was well worth the wait. In honor of the occasion, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the best and brightest moments from Mr. Reynolds’ film and TV career, and the results add up to a list that includes big box-office hits and left-field choices from across the spectrum. It’s time for Total Recall!


Two Guys and a Girl (1998-2001)

TwoGuysAndAGirl

After getting his first big break in the Canadian soap Hillside, Reynolds picked up a handful of TV appearances (including a gig on Sabrina the Teenage Witch) before landing a co-starring role on the ABC sitcom Two Guys and a Girl, which lingered on the network’s lineup for an 81-episode run between 1998-2001. Initially part of a Wednesday comedy block that included The Drew Carey Show, the series was initially something of a midsized hit, but it was eventually doomed by a move to the Saturday TV graveyard — not to mention a glut of Friends-inspired shows about the travails of twentysomething urbanites. Still, for fans wanting an early glimpse of Reynolds (not to mention a pre-Firefly Nathan Fillion), it’s worth a look.


National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002) 18%

VanWilder

There’s no denying that Ryan Reynolds is genetically well-qualified to play feckless, handsome charmers — or that, by 2002, the world was ready for a fresh take on the slobs-vs.-snobs story that National Lampoon perfected into an art form with Animal House — so National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, starring Reynolds as a legendarily shiftless college student scrambling to preserve his cushy lifestyle after being cut off by his dad, could have been a lot of fun. The problem, as most critics saw it, was that instead of being a schlubby, disadvantaged outsider with an axe to grind against the Man, Reynolds’ character was simply lazy, and thus inherently hard to root for. Still, it gave him an early chance to carry a film, and it’s become something of a cult comedy classic — which is just fine with John Patterson of the L.A. Weekly, who called it “An effervescent campus gross-out comedy that’s true to the amoral, anarchic spirit of Lampoon founder-editor and screenwriter Doug Kenney.”

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The Nines (2007) 64%

TheNines

Whatever problems The Nines might have, lack of ambition isn’t one of them. This heady sci-fi fantasy, which marked the feature directorial debut of screenwriter John August, stars Reynolds in a triple role as three men struggling to understand the truth behind unusual occurrences in their lives — lives that occasionally intersect — while in the midst of fraught encounters with mysterious women (all played by Hope Davis, in another triple role). It’s the type of trippy metaphysical drama that demands a viewer’s complete concentration, and even then, the answers to the questions it poses are open to interpretation. Still, if you’re in the mood for a less-than-straightforward film, you could do far worse. “Confusing? Yes, and intentionally so,” wrote Christy Lemire for the Associated Press. “But it’s never boring.”

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Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

DefinitelyMaybe

A romantic comedy with a twist, Definitely, Maybe finds its protagonist looking back on the love affair that led to marriage and a child — by telling the story to his young daughter, with some names changed and facts adjusted, while in the midst of a divorce. Thanks in part to those narrative curveballs, most critics applauded Maybe — and even if it still ultimately traced a rather familiar arc, it was difficult to find too much fault with a resolutely charming production that made smart use of a likable ensemble cast that included Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. “As the movie is about a character’s growing into his own truth rather than discovering some preordained truth, Definitely, Maybe is hard to outguess,” wrote Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle. “For once in a romantic comedy, you won’t be able to tell after five minutes who will end up together.”

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The Proposal (2009) 45%

Proposal1

It’s a special occasion when critics really go nuts for a romantic comedy — or when rom-com fans care enough about critics’ opinions to stay away from the cineplex even when a new entry in the genre is supposed to be subpar. For proof, look no further than 2009’s The Proposal, which endured a heap of critical brickbats on its way to theaters, yet still managed to roll up an impressive $300 million-plus gross — thanks in no small part to the chemistry between stars Sandra Bullock (as a publishing company’s abrasive editor-in-chief) and Reynolds (as the hapless assistant who’s browbeaten into marrying her to keep her from being deported). It definitely isn’t revolutionary stuff, and you know exactly where the movie’s taking the relationship, but that formula is a big part of the romantic comedy’s appeal. “The Proposal is just a good old-fashioned romance, one in which people actually bring out the best in one another rather than the worst,” wrote Betsy Sharkey for the Los Angeles Times. “How novel is that?”

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Buried (2010) 87%

Buried

It takes a special kind of creativity and filmmaking discipline — to say nothing of actorly chutzpah — to pull off a film centered around a single person in a single space, and when Reynolds read the script for 2010’s Buried, he had to know he was facing an immense challenge. Both he and director Rodrigo Cortés deserve a ton of credit, then, for making the most out of screenwriter Chris Sparling’s tightly focused story about a military contractor who wakes up imprisoned in a coffin, and turning its seemingly limited premise into a 95-minute white-knuckle race against time. As Rex Reed argued for the New York Observer, “Nothing this underrated actor has done previously measures up to the emotional diversity, focus and self-control required of him in a one-man exercise in underground suspense that Alfred Hitchcock would envy.”

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Safe House (2012) 53%

SafeHouse

Reynolds got the chance to go toe-to-toe with Denzel Washington in 2012’s Safe House, an action thriller from director Daniel Espinosa about a rogue CIA operative (Washington) whose interrogation is interrupted by a team of mercenaries that attacks and sends him back into the wind with a low-level field agent (Reynolds). It’s a premise rich with possibilities for cool set pieces and odd-couple bickering, but Safe House never really takes full advantage of those possibilities, settling instead for frenetic editing that can’t quite move fast enough to mask the clichéd plot developments along the way. Still, when the movie gets going, it does have its pleasures; as Colin Covert wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “I won’t deny that the movie hooked me with sheer brute energy and dragged me along with it most of the way.”

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The Voices (2014) 75%

Voices

For most films, making your main protagonist an employee at a bathtub factory would more than fulfill the weirdness quotient. But for 2015’s The Voices, that’s just the beginning of a surreal odyssey into bloody violence and black comedy — oh, and talking pets. Directed by acclaimed graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi by a script from Paranormal Activity 2 co-writer Michael R. Perry, The Voices gives Reynolds free rein to indulge in all manner of strange behavior, but for the most part, critics agreed that the movie stays on the right side of the line between refreshingly different and quirky for quirky’s sake, and while its main character’s warped descent into a bleak, chaotic psychological abyss definitely isn’t for all viewers, those with a taste for the strange might find the end results intoxicating. As Sara Stewart wrote for the New York Post, “Ryan Reynolds is chillingly perfect as a nice-guy factory worker struggling with schizophrenia and murderous impulses in this tonally wild indie, which is nearly too horrifying to be funny — but not quite.”

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Woman in Gold (2015) 57%

WomanInGold

Woman in Gold has an awful lot going for it, including a fascinating real-life story and a talented cast topped off by the mighty Helen Mirren. Unfortunately, while there’s plenty of drama to be wrought from the tale of a Jewish refugee battling the Austrian government for ownership of a Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt, much of it went missing on its journey to the big screen. Although critics were quick to praise Mirren’s work, and had kind words for Reynolds’ portrayal of a rookie lawyer enlisted to help win back the painting, many critics felt Woman in Gold lacked the depth and dramatic pull its story deserved — which is not to say the movie didn’t have its fans. “Sometimes you know a movie is going to work in about the first three scenes,” wrote Wesley Morris for Grantland. “This one really works.”

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Mississippi Grind (2015) 91%

MississippiGrind

A number of his more successful films have found him playing characters that might be described as blandly pretty, so the idea of Ryan Reynolds playing an emotionally stunted drifter with a gambling problem might seem like a bit of a stretch. With his work in Mississippi Grind, however, Reynolds offered an excellent reminder that when given the right script, he’s more than capable of delivering a finely layered performance — and going toe-to-toe with Ben Mendelsohn in a melancholy road movie about a pair of aging losers who can’t quite seem to grow up no matter how many chances they’re given. “Mendelsohn plays Gerry as a stringy, sweaty hunk of pure desperation,” wrote Mike D’Angelo for the A.V. Club, “while Reynolds, as the ostensibly more stable partner, demonstrates yet again that he’s much more than a ridiculously pretty face.”

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You thought the Sex and the City DVD collection was expensive? Start saving up for the ultimate Sopranos box set, coming this fall. Also look for a DVD spin-off from last weekend’s Get Smart, and find out what new robot character Pixar might have planned to keep WALL-E company! Plus, this week’s new releases after the jump.


A Sopranos Box Set To Die For…

HBO is already preparing for Christmas with a gift box that would melt any would-be mobster’s heart: the ultimate Sopranos DVD set. All six seasons will be spread across a whopping ten pound, 28-disc collection (which also includes three soundtrack CDs), and will include 16 “lost” scenes, cast and crew interviews, and an interview of creator David Chase by super fan Alec Baldwin. Learn behind-the-scenes stories, like how Anthony La Paglia almost appeared in a show-within-the-show as a fictionalized version of Tony Soprano in Season 1, that Edie Falco auditioned for the role of Carmela only days before shooting the pilot (and wearing in-line skates), and that several fake final scenes were actually filmed to conceal Tony’s controversially peaceful series exit. The price for reliving all this Sopranos glory? Four hundred bucks. Start saving those racketeering dollars now.

Third Futurama Movie To Be Fantasy-Themed

With the second Futurama DVD movie, The Beast with a Billion Backs, hitting shelves this week, co-creator David X. Cohen revealed just what breed of geek the forthcoming third Futurama movie will serve: the fantasy nerd.
“The third one is a big move into the world of fantasy, magic and dragons and castles and that kind of stuff,” he told Movie Web. “So you’ll get to see the fantasy versions of all of our characters and I think it will be the most visually spectacular of the four.” The fourth and final film, Cohen promises, will give fans yet another big finale in a more classic science-fiction style; read on for what Cohen calls their “best DVD extra ever” in this week’s new releases!

Smart Sidekicks Getting Their Own DVD Movie

$39 million worth of moviegoers went to see Get Smart last weekend; will those same fans put down cash for a DVD spin-off movie starring supporting CONTROL nerds Bruce and Lloyd? Warner Bros. is betting on it, giving CONTROL gadget guys Bruce (HeroesMasi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) their own direct-to-video adventure, in stores July 1. The story of Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control will run parallel to that of Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell), which is in theaters now; purchase the DVD and get $7 off admission to Get Smart in select theaters.

Pixar Planning a WALL-E Spin-off Character?

In other DVD spin-off news, it looks like Pixar will double the population of adorable on-screen robots when they introduce a second character to accompany WALL-E‘s eventual DVD and Blu-Ray release. Over at /Film, director Andrew Stanton had vaguely described a “sci-fi short that is very connected to WALL-E” that had been produced at the same time. Later, in an unconfirmed report from Upcoming Pixar, an orchestra scoring musician divulged that the DVD extra is in fact titled BURN-E, about a robot named BURN-E. While the report remains as yet unconfirmed, be on the lookout for clues and sightings of the rumored BURN-E when WALL-E hits theaters this Friday!

Click for this week’s new releases!

10,000 B.C.

Tomatometer: 9%

Roland Emmerich, king of the high concept film (Universal Soldier, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) strikes yet again with a big-budget spectacle of prehistoric mammoth hunts, giant killer chickens, and deadly tribal warfare. At nine percent on the Tomatometer, anyone with a taste for camp can’t afford to miss this. Everyone else, beware!

Bonus Features:

A handful of additional scenes and an alternate ending are the only extras here, although many of these feature unfinished digital effects; no doubt Warner Bros. is holding out for a buffer special edition release down the line. Rent it, if you must.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Tomatometer: 80%

Well, it wasn’t the huge hit that Nickelodeon/Paramount were hoping it would be, especially given the instant megabucks that any children’s fantasy books-turned-film franchise rake in these days. But Mark WatersSpiderwick Chronicles, about a trio of siblings who discover a magical world of goblins literally in their backyard, got solid backing from critics, which means if you missed it in theaters you should definitely give it a chance on DVD.

Bonus Features:

Pick up the two-disc Field Guide Edition for tons of making-of featurettes with the cast and crew, concept art and character details, an interactive guide to the film’s characters while you watch, and deleted scenes.

Definitely, Maybe


Tomatometer: 73%

Earning 73 percent on the Tomatometer is darn impressive these days for a romantic comedy, so it’s with great happiness that this Ryan Reynolds vehicle comes to DVD. In a year of Fool’s Golds, 27 Dresses, and Mades of Honor, this romantic whodunit tale told by a single father (Reynolds) to his daughter (Abigail Breslin) surprised critics by being sophisticated, well-written, and clever. Check out our exclusive clip from the DVD release here.

Bonus Features:

Reynolds and writer-director Adam Brooks (French Kiss, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) appear on a commentary track alongside a few behind-the-scenes features and deleted scenes. Download a coupon for $5 off the DVD at the film’s official site.

Charlie Bartlett

Tomatometer: 54%

Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) stars as the titular teen, a privileged kid at a new public school who becomes a de facto shrink to his fellow classmates; Robert Downey Jr. and teen dream Tyler Hilton co-star. After numerous theatrical release date delays, Charlie Bartlett split the critics with mixed reviews, so now’s the time to check it out on DVD and see which camp was right.

Bonus Features:

First time director Jon Poll, Yelchin, and co-star Kat Dennings provide a commentary track, and a music video from the film finds its way onto the bonus menu.

Persepolis

Tomatometer: 95%

This coming-of-age story of an Iranian girl not only won over critics with its emotional and enthralling black and white animation, it went beyond its genre to win acclaim as a great film. Telling the story of her own life, co-director Marjane Satrapi (with Vincent Parannaud) earned an Oscar nomination for adapting their original graphic novel to the screen. Recently banned in Lebanon, Persepolis comes to DVD as one of the most acclaimed films of 2007.

Bonus Features:

The movie itself is worth purchasing the release alone, but it is bolstered by a full menu of bonus features. You can watch Persepolis either in its original French or in an English dubbed version; renowned actresses Catherine Deneuve and her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, provide voices for both, while American stars Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands, and Iggy Pop join the English voice cast. Satrapi and Parannaud provide commentaries and appear in the making-of the French and English versions of their film. The 2007 Cannes press conference, scene comparisons, and more also appear.

Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs

Tomatometer: N/A

In the second of four planned DVD movies, the Futurama cast and crew is back with another madcap space adventure with the staff of the Planet Express. Directly after the events of Bender’s Big Score, a tear in the universe, an inter-dimensional monster comes to Earth and installs Fry as the new Pope; Brittany Murphy, David Cross, and Stephen Hawking guest star.

Bonus Features:

In an interview with Movie Web, David X. Cohen reveals what he calls the best Futurama DVD extra ever: a full-length “lost” episode previously only revealed in parts in the Futurama video game, animated completely in 3D CGI. Be on the lookout for a preview of the upcoming third movie, the fantasy-themed Bender’s Game.

Unnecessary Re-release of the Week: Xanadu: Magical Music Edition

Tomatometer: 35%

What do you get when you mix 1980s pop music, Greek mythology, roller disco, and Olivia Newton-John? You get Xanadu, one of the worst movie musicals ever made and the winner of the most unnecessary re-release of the week award. With re-mastered picture and sound and an all-new featurette, the so-called “Magical Music Edition” also comes with a full soundtrack CD of songs by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra and retails for only $14.99. For anyone even thinking about buying this disc, consider the following: sure, Xanadu was adapted into a Tony-nominated Broadway show, but it was also the last feature appearance of song-and-dance legend Gene Kelly; do you really want to remember him this way?


‘Til next week, happy viewing!

It hasn’t even been a month since Isla Fisher dazzled Ryan Reynolds in the Valentine’s dramedy Definitely, Maybe, but she’s already at work on her next film — and she’s got company.

Variety reports that Joan Cusack and John Goodman have joined Fisher in the cast of Confessions of a Shopaholic, the P.J. Hogan-directed adaptation of the bestselling Sophie Kinsella novel that’s currently filming in New York and Connecticut. From the article:

[The film] centers on a woman who must deal with the stresses of mounting credit card debt while trying to navigate the New York magazine world. Goodman and Cusack will play the parents of Fisher’s character. Hugh Dancy and Krysten Ritter also star.

Before appearing in Shopaholic, Cusack will be seen in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery; Goodman will next surface in Speed Racer.

Source: Variety

This week's UK Box Office Top EightAnother week, another dumb action picture goes straight to number one at the UK box office. Last week it was daft archaeological fluff National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and now its air-headed sci-fi nonsense Jumper that’s topping the money table.

The film stars Hayden Christensen, a man famous both for playing Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels and for inspiring critics to think up wood-related puns to describe his performances. He plays a man who can teleport anywhere he wants, but soon gets into trouble with Samuel L. Jackson’s sinister government agency. But, hey, it’s high-concept, flashily expensive, and looks good in the trailer. The fact it only has a 14% on the Tomotemeter, and been critically savaged for having a silly plot and terrible acting, hasn’t stopped Joe Public shelling out his hard earned scratch to see the film.

Indeed the post-Christmas, pre-Spring period; traditionally home to a flurry of Oscar hopefuls and a succession of small and crappy films studios don’t know what to do with, has this year been a lucrative period for blockbusters, with Cloverfield – out on 1st February – still riding high at number 5 in the chart, having taken a healthy haul of £16m.

It’s heartening, though, to see the critical darlings also doing well against their pumped-up, meat-headed cinematic brethren. Preg-tastic teen drama Juno only slips one place to third in the table, with a £2.6m haul for the first three days of week. Meanwhile those distributing There Will Be Blood seem to have gone back to the old school; slowly releasing the film on more and more screens, letting word-of-mouth gradually get more bums on seats. This practice – commonplace ’til Jaws and Star Wars came along and showed how much money could be made by massive simultaneous launches nationwide – seems to be working well for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s film. It opened on a 100 more screens this week, rose to 7th place in the charts, and made more per theatre than any other film except Jumper and Bollywood effort Jodhaa Akbar.

That film, which carried on in the strong Bollywood tradition of doing well in specific geographically targeted theatres, was much more successful than the weeks remaining new release – The Bucket List – which is, by all accounts, is a bucket of (We get the point – Ed). Not even the combined and considerable star wattage of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson could give it a leg up on the charts, with the film coming in at a disappointing 6th place.