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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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12. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) 79%

(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.

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13. Bright Star (2009) 83%

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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.

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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.

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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.

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18. Emma (1996) 85%

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.

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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.

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21. Jane The Virgin 100%

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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37. Palm Trees in the Snow (2015) 86%

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.

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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.

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39. A Royal Night Out (2015) 74%

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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48. Wedding Crashers (2005) 76%

(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.

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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. And Your Mother Too (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.

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Few of us will ever have the opportunity to hang out with Mark Ruffalo in real life, but he’s one of those actors whose screen presence feels so honest and effortlessly down-to-earth that you can’t help feeling like you sort of know him. All that charm may not help his latest release, Now You See Me 2, achieve Certified Fresh status, but no matter — we’re using its arrival as our long-overdue excuse for taking a fond look back at some of his brightest critical highlights. It’s time for Total Recall!


Begin Again (2013) 83%

Begin-Again

With 2007’s Once, writer-director John Carney proved himself a deft hand with musically driven romantic drama — and then he went and did it again seven years later with Begin Again. Sunnier and poppier than its predecessor, it finds Carney telling the tale of a record exec (Ruffalo) who’s at loose ends in his personal and professional lives when he happens across a rough-edged singer/songwriter (Keira Knightley) whose gifts inspire him to… well, you get the idea. It’s sweet, crowd-pleasing stuff, and if it hits some of the same beats Carney played with Once, they land with irresistible sincerity. “There are times when the thing you want most is not a big, important movie but a simple, beautiful story told with sensitivity, warmth, humor and a big heart,” observed TheWrap’s Steve Pond. “Times when you don’t need a movie to save your life, you just need a movie to make you feel good.”

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Collateral (2004) 86%

Collateral-Ruffalo

Michael Mann’s Collateral was largely sold as a two-hander pitting Tom Cruise (as a hitman hired to murder witnesses and a prosecutor in a court case) against Jamie Foxx (as the cab driver he hires to drive him to the killings). Really, though, this sleek thriller took more than a couple of big-name stars — for one thing, as in other Mann productions, Los Angeles essentially served as a supporting character, and for another, Cruise and Foxx were ably abetted by a talented ensemble that included Jada Pinkett Smith, Javier Bardem, and (as the cop who ends up on their tail) Mark Ruffalo. It all added up to what the Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter called “The best kind of genre filmmaking: It plays by the rules, obeys the traditions and is both familiar and fresh at once.”

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Foxcatcher (2014) 87%

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Moneyball director Bennett Miller brought his knack for adapting real-life stories to bear on a decidedly darker tale with 2014’s Foxcatcher, which dramatizes multimillionaire heir John E. du Pont’s stranger-than-fiction descent into mental illness — and the terrible impact it had on the lives of Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and his brother Dave (Ruffalo). Joined by Steve Carell as du Pont, Ruffalo and Tatum anchored a film whose painful conclusion can be felt from the first few moments, but still exerts an inexorable grip. As Peter Rainer wrote for the Christian Science Monitor, “It’s rare to see an American movie that explores, let alone acknowledges, the class system in this country, or one that gets so far inside the abyss of the ethic that drives so many men to succeed — and to implode when they don’t.”

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Zodiac (2007) 89%

Zodiac-Ruffalo

In the hands of an ordinary filmmaker, any attempt to tell the story of the Zodiac Killer might have been equal parts conjecture and garden-variety gore — after all, the serial murderer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area for years in the 1960s and 1970s, taunting the police with a series of cryptic letters, eventually disappeared, never to be identified. For director David Fincher, though, the truly interesting story didn’t lie so much with the Zodiac as it did with the men and women who devoted themselves to apprehending him — particularly Robert Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), the San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist who broke the Zodiac’s code and eventually became an asset to the investigation led by police detective Dave Toschi (Ruffalo). Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo led the viewer on a darkening spiral of dead ends, wild goose chases, and grim obsession — and anchored a showy cast that included Robert Downey, Jr., Chloe Sevigny, and Anthony Edwards. Unfortunately, the words “David Fincher” and “serial killer drama” sparked hopes that Fincher was returning to his Se7en roots, and the studio’s marketing campaign did nothing to set filmgoers straight; ultimately, despite a strongly positive reaction from critics, Zodiac was a non-starter at the box office, and by the time awards season arrived, this March release was all but forgotten. It deserved better, according to writers like the Toronto Star’s Geoff Pevere, who argued, “It makes you want to study it even more closely, in search of things you might have missed, trailing after leads that flash by in the relentless momentum of going nowhere fast. If you’re not careful, it might make you obsessed.”

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Marvel's the Avengers (2012) 91%

Avengers-Ruffalo

The Hulk is a creature of mindless rage and limitless strength who lurks within a mild-mannered scientist horrified by his own alter ego — all of which sounds like it should be more than compelling enough for its own film franchise. Yet after a pair of somewhat underwhelming attempts at a Hulk movie, it became obvious that it was going to take more than simply hiring a leading man and a fleet of CGI programmers to turn the comics legend into big-screen big green. The answer, as presented by Marvel’s The Avengers, was to turn the Hulk into a supporting player — and one whose human face was played by Mark Ruffalo. Over a pair of Avengers movies, Ruffalo breathed new life into his character’s cinematic fortunes, turning the split-personality brute into something much more than a wrecking ball — and although he’s just one cog in the smoothly running Marvel machine, more than a few fans have clamored for a standalone Hulk feature in the MCU. “Never,” warned CNN’s Tom Charity, “underestimate the entertainment value of the Hulk Smash.”

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The Kids Are All Right (2010) 92%

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Ruffalo received a BAFTA nomination for his work in this Lisa Cholodenko dramedy, which traces the messy fallout after a boy (Josh Hutcherson) enlists his sister (Mia Wasikowska) to find the sperm donor responsible for siring the two of them — thus setting off a chain of events that brings the man in question (Ruffalo) into the domestic orbit of the women who raised the kids (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore). It’s just as messy as it sounds, yet thanks to Cholodenko’s empathetic work — and the fine efforts of her incredible cast — The Kids Are All Right never teeters into indie caricature. As Ann Hornaday wrote for the Washington Post, “Just about everyone who has been a parent, child or partner will find resonance in its bittersweet depiction of the joys and trials of lifelong intimacy.”

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) 92%

Eternal-Sunshine-Ruffalo

Ruffalo’s critically acclaimed turn in 2000’s You Can Count on Me didn’t immediately lead to a major increase in his Hollywood profile — he’d been working steadily for years leading up to the film, and he continued to log supporting turns for a few years after, many of them in ill-remembered efforts like Committed and The Last Castle. He picked a winner, though, in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which found him logging screen time with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet (not to mention Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood) in Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry’s endearingly bizarre drama about love lost and the nature of memory. The result, wrote Owen Gleiberman for Entertainment Weekly, “may be the first movie I’ve seen that bends your brain and breaks your heart at the same time.”

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The Normal Heart (2014) 94%

The-Normal-Heart

Ruffalo earned a slew of nominations (and a SAG Award) for his portrayal of an activist in director Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of the Larry Kramer play, which takes a hard street-level look at the dawn of the public’s awareness of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. Surrounded by a sterling cast that included Julia Roberts and Alfred Molina, Ruffalo helped dramatize agonizing events that impacted real people — some of whom directly inspired the characters in the film. “You should watch,” wrote David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle, “because Larry Kramer’s play is so much more than an agitprop relic from the early years of AIDS — it is a great play that has become an even greater television film.”

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You Can Count on Me (2000) 95%

You-Can-Count-On-Me

Ruffalo found relatively steady work during his early years in Hollywood, but mainly via roles in films like The Dentist and a couple of Mirror, Mirror sequels. It wasn’t until he developed a working relationship with writer-director Kenneth Lonergan that things started to pick up — most notably with 2000’s You Can Count on Me, a small-scale, character-driven drama, written and directed by Lonergan, that eventually served as a critically lauded calling card for himself, Ruffalo, and Laura Linney (who earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her work). Ruffalo doesn’t get to smash in this story about a ne’er-do-well brother whose sudden reappearance proves a mixed blessing for his sister and nephew, but his performance is infused with the same quiet soulfulness that Joss Whedon has relied on to help ground some of the Avengers movies’ more meaningful moments. Observed Michael Dequina for the Movie Report, “Linney and Ruffalo’s rapport is warm but raw and unsentimental, capturing the unconditional tough love dynamic that can only exist between siblings.”

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Spotlight (2015) 97%

Spotlight-Ruffalo

Investigative reporting isn’t typically exciting work, but you’d never know it from watching Spotlight. Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy commanded an imposing ensemble cast for this Best Picture Academy Award winner — including Michael Keaton, Liv Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, and (of course) Mark Ruffalo — to tell the sadly fact-based tale of the Boston Globe reporters who fought their way past systemic corruption and indifference to unearth decades of child abuse at the hands of the city’s Catholic priests, all allowed to continue while the church turned a blind eye or actively covered it up. Despite the inherently uncinematic nature of the work, and the fact that most filmgoers knew the end of the story going in, Spotlight proved positively gripping stuff — and a critical and commercial hit that racked up nearly $90 million at the box office on its way to earning six Oscar nominations (including Best Supporting Actor for Ruffalo).

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Judd Apatow isn’t just a producer, of course; he’s also a director and writer, and many of his movies find him occupying all three chairs. Still, it’s his list of production credits that runs longest – and may contain a few surprises for those who haven’t been following his career closely – so we thought this weekend’s Apatow-produced Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping would be the perfect time to give them the Total Recall treatment. We did get a little technical, and cut out the films where he served as an executive producer (bye bye, Heavyweights, Celtic Pride, Kicking and Screaming, and The TV Set) as well as associate producer (thus excising 1992’s Crossing the Bridge), and popular favorites like Anchorman, Pineapple Express, and Step Brothers didn’t make the cut. Don’t worry, though – that still leaves us plenty to discuss. Ready to get started? It’s Total Recall time!


Get Him to the Greek (2010) 72%

Get-Him-To-The-Greek
Before he launched a second career as an agitator for social justice and economic equality, Russell Brand was a pretty funny guy — and although his particular shtick definitely wasn’t right for every role, it could be quite effective in the proper context. For example, there’s Brand’s scene-stealing supporting turn in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which he played the cheerfully hedonistic rock star that the title character hooks up with after dumping poor Jason Segel — a role he reprised a couple years later for Get Him to the Greek. Here, Brand’s Aldous Snow must be shepherded to a crucial gig through a landmine of bad decisions and irresponsible behavior, with responsibility for his whereabouts falling to an increasingly overmatched label rep (Jonah Hill). “The movie’s a good, rude commercial comedy,” argued the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “How many good movies have we even seen this year?”

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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) 74%

Walk-Hard
Judd Apatow productions are known for their skillful use of humor that feels real — sometimes squirm-inducingly — so the news that he was co-writing and producing a mock biopic of a legendary musician named Dewey Cox (and that Cox would be played by the mercilessly funny John C. Reilly) was greeted with enthusiasm by critics and fans hungry for more 40-Year-Old Virgin-style laughs. Ultimately, expectations for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story proved slightly unreasonable; although critics applauded the film, moviegoers chose not to follow Apatow down this particular path, and it failed to recoup its budget. Still, despite being one of Apatow’s rare commercial misfires, Walk Hard is one of the better-reviewed entries on his resume, and boasts the approval of no less a critical luminary than Roger Ebert, who applauded its restraint when he wrote, “instead of sending everything over the top at high energy, like Top Secret or Airplane!, they allow Reilly to more or less actually play the character, so that, against all expectations, some scenes actually approach real sentiment.”

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Pee-wee's Big Holiday (2016) 80%

Pee-Wees-Big-Holiday
Pee-Wee Herman entered the 1990s as a fairly tired joke (and an unwillingly dirty one at that), but given enough time and nostalgia, almost everything old is new again. Herman’s creator, Paul Reubens, discovered as much after exhuming the character for a series of public appearances that led into a revival of his stage show — and a lengthy development process for a third Pee-Wee movie. Reubens ultimately hooked up with Apatow to produce Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, a 2016 release that bowed on Netflix alongside its theatrical run. While the movie’s rollout might have been cutting edge, the story — and Pee-Wee himself — remained substantially the same as his heyday, adding up to a film offering a high-grade flashback to a franchise many critics remembered so fondly they were willing to let its narrative deficiencies slide. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand put it, “After all these years — his and ours — Pee-wee Herman is still a Peter Pan who can lead us back to innocence with a corny joke or a childish jape.”

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Begin Again (2013) 83%

Begin-Again
Judd Apatow isn’t the first person you’d think of to produce a movie from the guy who gave us the tenderly mournful indie drama Once, but that’s just what we got with 2014’s Begin Again — and it was pretty darn good, too. Admittedly, the movie offered something of a slicker spin on Once‘s story of two damaged souls connecting through music, but while there were similarities between the two films, they weren’t overwhelming. And as he had with his previous outing, Carney showed a tremendous flair for following the tentative, skipping beat of a developing relationship — not to mention a knack for assembling a fine cast (led here by Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and Adam Levine) and a soundtrack worthy of repeat listens. “Carney deserves great credit for the movie’s clever, layered structure, and for resisting a few obvious plot turns along the way,” wrote Moira MacDonald for the Seattle Times. “Lightning doesn’t strike, but sunshine works, too.”

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) 83%

Forgetting-Sarah-Marshall
As the title of his latest feature suggests, Judd Apatow knows funny people — and he has a knack for working with his comedic leads at exactly the right time. After helping Steve Carell and Seth Rogen cross over to superstardom, Apatow added his magic producer’s touch to Jason Segel’s breakout feature, 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which deftly combined the elements we’ve come to expect from Apatow-branded comedies (painfully real humor, uncomfortable nudity) with utterly unique ingredients (singing vampire puppets). The results proved, once again, that if they’re assembled properly, movies that skirt the rim of lowbrow humor can squeeze a couple of hours’ worth of laughs out of even the most highfalutin critics. In his review, the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern echoed Sarah Marshall‘s many accolades when he wrote, “Halfway through I realized that I’d lost most of my standards, maybe under my seat, and was enjoying the erratic evolution of the nonsense.”

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

40-Year-Old-Virgin
Judd Apatow seemed to come out of nowhere with 2005’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, his directorial debut — but the reality, of course, is that his ascension was far more gradual; he landed his first associate producers’ credit with 1992’s Crossing the Bridge, and his name surfaced throughout the 1990s and early aughts in connection with projects both well-received (The Larry Sanders Show, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared) and, well, not (Celtic Pride, The Cable Guy). But Apatow’s signature brand of comedy didn’t really reach full bloom until Virgin — and its awkward pauses, creative profanity (“Kelly Clarkson!”), and off-the-wall pop culture gags (Asia! Michael McDonald!) arrived at the perfect moment for a moviegoing public starved for smart adult humor. The result left Steve Carell with a new level of fame, made Judd Apatow a household name, and helped resurrect the R-rated comedy. It didn’t do too badly with critics, either; Bill Muller of the Arizona Republic was solidly in line with the sentiments of his peers when he wrote that Virgin was “a nostalgic, sentimental and wholly bawdy comedy that will make you laugh until your sides hurt.”

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Trainwreck (2015) 84%

Trainwreck
Apatow has proven himself a reliable incubator for young comics over the years, and although he can’t take credit for the rise of Amy Schumer, there’s no denying the sharp eye for talent he again displayed when he hitched his wagon to her star for the 2015 hit Trainwreck. Directing from a script written by Schumer, Apatow once again helped assemble a picture offering a distaff twist on the boundary-pushing comedy he’d turned into big business a decade before — and although the story was basically just a gender reversal on the same old story about a lovable lout who finds happiness by growing up and embracing commitment, the end result was charming and well-written enough for the vast majority of critics to forgive the familiarity. In fact, argued the New York Post’s Sara Stewart, “Trainwreck is a corrective to a lot of outdated clichés. It’s very funny and sweet and even a little weepy, and it has maybe the best scene ever filmed of dirty talk gone wrong.”

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Superbad (2007) 88%

Superbad
Having been a staunch supporter of Seth Rogen’s from their days together on the set of Freaks and Geeks, Apatow was already well acquainted with Rogen’s comedic talents even before they teamed up to make a ton of box office cash with Knocked Up — which doubtless had a lot to do with why Apatow was interested in producing Superbad, a high school loss-of-virginity flick in the grand tradition of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and American Pie. Superbad‘s premise, which teamed Jonah Hill and Michael Cera with newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse on a quest to secure booze for a house party, may have been embarrassingly familiar, but Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, nonetheless managed to squeeze fresh laughs (and plenty of ticket receipts) from it — not to mention kudos from critics like the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle, who wrote, “for pure laughs, for the experience of just sitting in a chair and breaking up every minute or so, Superbad is 2007’s most successful comedy.”

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Knocked Up (2007) 89%

Knocked-Up
Schlubby dudes that inexplicably manage to score with babes have been a comedy staple for decades, on screens both small (Newhart, According to Jim) and silver (everything Woody Allen has ever done). Into that rich tradition stepped 2007’s Knocked Up, Apatow’s wildly successful directorial follow-up to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which paired rumpled slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) with gorgeous E! Network employee Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) for a look at what can happen when you head to a club, have a few too many drinks, and don’t give a lot of thought to who comes home with you. (This is Hollywood, of course, so what ends up happening is everlasting love, but not before a lot of funnier, more unpleasant consequences.) An enormous box office success, Knocked Up kickstarted Rogen’s career, cemented Apatow’s standing as a purveyor of fine adult comedies, and earned the adoration of critics such as Stephanie Zacharek of Salon, who called it “Hilarious from moment to moment, but leaving behind both a warm glow and a sting. This is a picture that refuses to fetishize either the ability to conceive or the significance of our place in the universe once we’ve done so.”

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Bridesmaids (2011) 90%

Bridesmaids
Apatow made a name for himself with crass humor largely brought to life by man-child protagonists, but the bros took a back seat for 2011’s Bridesmaids, in which director Paul Feig corralled a crew of hilarious ladies — including Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, and Kristen Wiig (who co-wrote the script with Annie Mumolo) — to depict their bawdy misadventures during the days leading up to a wedding. After helping make the box office safe for R-rated comedy, Apatow helped prove audiences were just as willing to turn out for grown-up laughs of the female-driven variety — and nearly $300 million in receipts later, the end result looked like the beginning of a paradigm shift in Hollywood. “It’s not a movie for people looking for a decorous night at the movies,” admitted the Newark Star-Ledger’s Stephen Whitty. “It is a film, though, for folks eager for some good dirty jokes, some refreshingly real female characters – and, just maybe, a new comic voice.”

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Netflix usually adds a lot of new titles at the beginning of each month, and this May is no different, so here are all the Certified Fresh selections, just to narrow down your choices a bit. Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy, a heavy drama, some dark intrigue, or a little romance, there’s a good chance something here will spark your interest. Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix

 

To Catch a Thief (1955) 94%

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly star in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic romantic mystery about a retired thief who sets out to clear his name when a copycat begins preying on tourists in the French Riviera.

Available now 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 now on: Netflix


There Will Be Blood (2007) 91%

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic drama stars Daniel Day-Lewis as pioneering oil man Daniel Plainview, who strikes oil in southern California at the turn of the 20th century and promptly begins to build an empire.

Available now on: Netflix


Almost Famous (2000) 89%

Cameron Crowe’s idealized self-portrait of his time as a young Rolling Stone correspondent is a funny, insightful look at the excitement and chaos surrounding a successful rock band.

Available now on: Netflix


Meek's Cutoff (2010) 86%

Michelle Williams stars in this Western about a group of wagon families who struggle to survive perilous terrain during the early days of the Oregon Trail.

Available now on: Netflix


Pleasantville (1998) 85%

Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon star in this satirical comedy about a pair of siblings who are transported into a 1950s-era TV show, where they help the residents of a small town break free from their repressed lifestyles.

Available now on: Netflix


Begin Again (2013) 83%

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

Available now on: Netflix


Into the Wild (2007) 83%

Emile Hirsch stars in Sean Penn’s Oscar-nominated account of Christopher McCandless, a college grad who abandoned a privileged life to embark on a cross-country adventure in search of personal enlightenment.

Available now on: Netflix


While You Were Sleeping (1995) 81%

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

Available now on: Netflix


Braveheart (1995) 79%

Mel Gibson directs and stars in this multiple Oscar-winner as William Wallace, a Scottish folk hero from the 13th century who led his people against the English in the First War of Scottish Independence.

Available now on: Netflix


The Machinist (2004) 77%

Christian Bale stars in this psychological thriller about a factory worker with an acute case of insomnia who begins to suspect he might be losing his mind.

Available now on: Netflix

Actor Chris Pine, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams announced today the nominations for all 24 Oscar categories at a live news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Read through for the full list of nominees.

BEST PICTURE

DIRECTING

ACTOR in a Leading Role

ACTRESS in a Leading Role

ACTOR in a Supporting Role

ACTRESS in a Supporting Role

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

CINEMATOGRAPHY

COSTUME DESIGN

FILM EDITING

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

MUSIC – Original Score

MUSIC – Original Song

  • “Everything Is Awesome”; Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory”; Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn from Selma
  • “Grateful”; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren from Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”; Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond from Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
  • “Lost Stars”; Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois from Begin Again

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Maria Djurkovic (Production Design); Tatiana Macdonald (Set Decoration) for The Imitation Game
  • Nathan Crowley (Production Design); Gary Fettis (Set Decoration) for Interstellar
  • Dennis Gassner (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for Into the Woods
  • Suzie Davies (Production Design); Charlotte Watts (Set Decoration) for Mr. Turner

SOUND EDITING

SOUND MIXING

  • John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin for American Sniper
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga for Birdman
  • Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten for Interstellar
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee for Unbroken
  • Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley for Whiplash

VISUAL EFFECTS

WRITING – Adapted Screenplay

WRITING – Original Screenplay

    • Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo for Birdman
    • Written by Richard Linklater for Boyhood
    • Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher
    • Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness for The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Written by Dan Gilroy
      for Nightcrawler

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

SHORT FILM – Animated

SHORT FILM – Live Action

There aren’t many big new releases available this week on home video, but we’ve at least got one seasonally appropriate release (Deliver Us from Evil), along with a well-received indie dramedy and a handful of smaller films. In addition, we’ve got the complete series of a classic sitcom and a couple of noteworthy releases from the Criterion Collection, including a Jacques Tati compilation. Read on for details:



Deliver Us from Evil

29%

Scott Derrickson has recently chalked up a number of scary movies as writer and/or director, including 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2012’s Sinister, and Devil’s Knot, which premiered earlier this year. Sinister is his best reviewed work thus far, and his latest offering, Deliver Us from Evil, posed no threat to that title. Eric Bana stars as a police officer named Ralph Sarchie who begins investigating a series of mysterious crimes that all seem to be linked. As he digs deeper, he uncovers the supernatural cause of the city’s strange occurrences and teams up with a local priest to fight it. Critics agreed that Derrickson got some mileage out of his knack for chilly atmosphere, but also felt the film unwisely relied on overly familiar scare tactics, resulting in a mediocre 28 percent Tomatometer score. Special features include a commentary track, a profile of the real life Ralph Sarchie, whose experiences inspired the film, and a few making-of featurettes.



Begin Again

83%

Back in 2007, director (and former bassist for Irish band The Frames) John Carney scored a surprise indie hit with Once, a thoughtful, melancholy drama about two musicians who share a brief time together. This year, he brought us Begin Again, another story about a pair of musical souls who meet, connect, and make music, but with a lighter touch. Keira Knightley is struggling and newly single songwriter Gretta, who impresses record exec Dan (Mark Ruffalo) so much that he signs her to his label. Faced with opposition from his partner (Mos Def), Dan suggests he and Gretta record her album independently, and the two begin an unlikely friendship. Begin Again was Certified Fresh by the critics at 82 percent; though many felt the film didn’t quite hit the high notes of Once, they were charmed by the chemistry between Knightley and Ruffalo. The only two special features available are a making-of doc and a few music videos, including co-star Adam Levine’s rendition of one of the film’s songs, “Lost Stars.”

Also available this week:

  • Life of Crime (66 percent), starring Jennifer Aniston and Will Forte in an ensemble caper comedy about a kidnapping gone awry when the corrupt land developer being squeezed decides he’d rather not pay the ransom.
  • Zach Braff’s famously crowd-funded Wish I Was Here (46 percent), starring Braff and Kate Hudson in a dramedy about a thirtysomething man coming to grips with his adult life.
  • James Franco’s Child of God (37 percent), starring Scott Haze and Tim Blake Nelson in an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel about a Tennessee man whose life misfortune isolates him from society.
  • Good People (12 percent), starring James Franco and Kate Hudson in a thriller about a couple in debt who discover a bag of cash and keep it, running afoul of the thief who stole it in the first place.
  • The Prince (0 percent), starring Bruce Willis and John Cusack in a thriller about a retired assassin who jumps back into action when his daughter is kidnapped by his old rival.
  • Shout! Factory is releasing the Complete Series of WKRP in Cincinnati for all you fans of classic sitcoms. The Emmy-nominated series, which ran from 1978-1982 and followed the eccentric staff at a struggling radio station, aired successfully in syndication for years after its cancellation.
  • And lastly, two rereleases from the Criterion Collection: George Sluizer’s 1988 thriller The Vanishing (100 percent) is available in a new DVD and Blu-ray; and a DVD and Blu-ray box set of The Complete Jacques Tati, which contains all six of the French director’s films, including Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (100 percent) and Playtime (100 percent), as well as seven of his short films and a ton of special features.

This week on streaming video, we’ve only got a few noteworthy choices, headlined by a popular DC Comics TV show and a Certified Fresh musical romance from the director of Once. Then, we’ve also got William H. Macy’s latest directorial effort that’s also currently playing in theaters, and one of Paul Walker’s final performances. Read on for details:


Begin Again
83%

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo star in John Carney’s follow-up to Once, another Certified Fresh tale of relationships and music.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu


Rudderless
64%

William H. Macy directs an all star cast that includes Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Felicity Huffman, Selena Gomez, and Laurence Fishburne in a drama about a man who copes with his son’s untimely death by playing music.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


Arrow: Season Two

The popular and critically respected superhero series is back for third go-round this month, so get all caught up by streaming the complete second season.

Available now on: Netflix


Hours
61%

In one of his final performances, Paul Walker stars in a drama about a man trapped in a hospital with his newborn son just as Hurricane Katrina strikes.

Available now on: Netflix

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