Netflix Debuts "Smart Download" Feature As Boost For Binges

The bane of our lives in this modern world of ours is the endless struggle to find something to watch on Netflix. There's just so much content it's hard to know what is worth your while and what's not.

Here at entertainment.ie, it's our day job to sieve through all the best and worst movies and TV shows out there (hey, somebody has to do it) so we've decided to share some of our Netflix tips with you, our trustee reader.

Our choices below aren't based on new content, rather TV shows, movies, documentaries or stand-up specials that we have stumbled upon and enjoyed.

Feel free to let us know any hidden treasures you have discovered too on those binge-watch days (and if you're looking for what's new on Netflix each month, head here).

 

'Fargo Season 2'

By far the best out of the three seasons of 'Fargo' on Netflix, the second season takes the action back to 1979 and follows Keith Carradine's character, Lou Solverson, as a young man played by office favourite Patrick Wilson. There's still the same black humour at work throughout, particularly with the subplot involving with Kristen Dunst and Jesse Plemons, whilst one episode - 'The Castle' - plays out like 'Assault On Precinct 13', except with Minnesotan accents. it does, admittedly, have some dull moments but it's all cushioned between some really excellent television. If you haven't given it a chance, definitely do so now.

 

'Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'

Netflix has an array of classics that everyone should see and among them is the surreal, absurd and ridiculously funny 'Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.' Directed and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, the film stars Peter Sellers in multiple roles, including an insane general who is trying to trigger a nuclear holocaust. Set mostly between a War Room full of politicians and generals, and a B-52 bomber armed with hydrogen bombs, the film comes in at a compact 94 minute running length, and in that space of time is jam-packed with such iconic lines as "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room" and "Mein Führer! I can walk!" Though a political satire from the 1960s, you'd be surprised at how often it resonates with diplomacy today.

 

'Great News'

While the premise for 'Great News' might seem a bit meh (an up-and-coming news producer finds out her overbearing mother hasrejoined the workforce as an intern at her TV station), the important thing to look at with this show is its cast and creative team. Produced by Tina Fey, this is basically '30 Rock' meets 'The Newsroom' and with comedy heavyweights like Andrea Martin and John Michael Higgins starring, as well as Nicole Richie in her first and bizarrely good acting role, the laughs just keep on coming.

Unfortunately NBC didn't see the funny side or the potential of what was on offer and cancelled the show after two seasons but you can watch all 10 episodes of season one live right now, and trust us, it's worth it.

 

'Atypical'

The second season of this series just arrived on Netflix and if you haven't already, it's worth going back to the beginning to watch. It follows Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum as he searches for love and independence. A surprising, funny and touching series you won't regret putting the time into.

 

 

Previous Picks...

 

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'Das Boot: Theatrical Cut'

If you're really into your submarine thrillers, there's a five-hour version of 'Das Boot' and a three-and-a-half-hour director's cut that are definitely worth a look. As it goes, 'Das Boot' is up there as among the finest World War II thrillers ever made and stands as a fascinating examination of the brutal and calculating nature involved in order to win. Jurgen Prochnow plays the embittered, blatantly anti-Nazi captain of the boat who's seen too much and is more interested in survival as opposed to honour or glory in battle. It's a tightly-wound thriller that snaps out with violence every so often, and definitely worth a watch.

'Breathe'

If you're looking for a romantic drama, an inspiring true story, and a weepy that will tug on your heart strings and tear ducts, look no further than 'Breathe.' The film follows Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) who falls in love with and marries the beautiful and graceful Diana (Claire Foy). Their bliss comes to an abrupt halt when Robin contracts polio, paralysing him from the neck down. Given only months to live, Robin becomes depressed but Diana refuses to give up. Eventually, they are inspired to invent the wheelchair which not only revolutionises Robin's life but those of others who are disabled too. 'Breathe' marks the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, and Garfield and Foy both give extraordinary performances in it.

 

'Steven Universe'

With shows like 'The Handmaid's Tale', 'The Walking Dead' and 'Westworld' bringing us dystopia after grim dystopia, and Netflix churning out dark true-crime documentaries like there's no tomorrow, there's definitely room in your life for some pure, unadulterated joy. 'Steven Universe' may have a target audience of children but it's become a worldwide hit with adults as well, with awards nominations and wins following in fast pursuit. Tackling themes that aren't usually dealt with on Cartoon Network, the show follows a young boy named Steven and a group of magical aliens known as the Crystal Gems who are sworn to protect him and the Earth as he learns about his own place in the universe. If that sounds mad, it's because it is but it's so full of heart and humour that it's the perfect antidote to brains wracked with Trump-heavy doom and gloom.

 

'Mad Men'

If you haven't done so already, it's about time you binged on this iconic series which brought the world Don Draper. 'Mad Men' follows a New York advertising agency through the shifting tides of '60s America. It takes in some hefty subject matter, including racial relations in America, women's role in both business and society, how we deal and interact with advertising and of course, there are amazing costumes and fantastic music along the way.


 

'Jackie'

If you haven't yet seen the film that earned Natalie Portman her third Oscar nomination, you really have to check it out, as the performance she delivers in 'Jackie' is truly a high point of her career. The movie also features one of the last on-screen roles of the late, great John Hurt. 'Jackie' is orientated around an interview the First Lady partook in regarding her husband President John F. Kennedy's legacy. We see her fight through grief and horrific trauma in the immediate aftermath of the President's assassination, and observe how she manages to stay strong and dignified in the most impossible of circumstances. It's an impressive account of the extent of this historical figure's commitment to her husband, children and nation.

 

'American Psycho'

You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little New Wave for my taste, but when Sports came out in '83, I really feel they came into their own. Commercially and artistically. The whole album has a crisp, clean sound of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humour. In '87, Huey released Fore! - their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is Hip To Be Square, a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics, but they should! Because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, it's also a personal statement about the band itself. HEY PAUL!

 

'Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life'

Longtime pals and comedy icons Steve Martin and Martin Short team up for this one-off Netflix special featuring musical sketches and conversations about their lives in show business and stand-up. The pair prove why their friendship and indeed their careers, have stood the test of time and is a must-see for fans of either or both of the duo.

 

'Alex Strangelove'

High school senior Alex Truelove (yes, really, that's his name and if it's a roadblock for you, you're better off jumping ship now) has plans to lose his virginity to his lovable girlfriend Claire but things start to take a different tack once he meets the equally lovable Elliot, and you can probably see where this is going but thankfully that's not an issue here. 'Alex Strangelove' succeeds because of its cast, and while the story is very similar to the recently released 'Love, Simon', its more realistic (read: smutty) conversations and instincts make it stand out and puts it firmly amongst the great new generation of high school coming-of-age stories.

 

'Apocalypto'

Mel Gibson directs this blisteringly fast thriller that's not for the faint or the squeamish. The story centres around Jaguar Paw, a Mesoamerican hunter who goes on the run after his village is invaded by Mayans who intend to sell them into slavery or use them as human sacrifices in the hopes that the disease and famine ravaging the land will be sated because of it. Like 'The Passion Of The Christ', the dialogue is all in an ancient language and subtitled, but don't let that put you off - this is up there as one of the best thrillers on all of Netflix.

 

'Final Space'

Have you watched 'Futurama' so much your eyes bled and you can now recite the entire series in your own one man show? Well 'Final Space' could be just the thing for you.

Produced by Conan O'Brien, the show follows an astronaut named Gary and his planet-destroying sidekick Mooncake as they embark on serialized journeys through space in order to unlock the mystery of where the universe actually ends and if it actually does exist. Featuring a host of familiar voices, including O'Brien, Fred Armisen, David Tennant, John DiMaggio, Gina Torres, Shannon Purser and Keith David, it should definitely give you your animated sci-fi fix.

Pace yourself though, there are only 10 episodes (although a second season was commissioned for 2019 so don't worry about being left on a cliffhanger like some other series).

 

'Dark Tourist'

If you like your documentaries with a side of quirkiness and a healthy helping of the macabre, this is a good one to check out. Admittedly, Kiwi host David Farrier occasionally comes off as a poor man's Louis Theroux crossed with 'Flight of the Conchords' (the accent doesn't help), but each episode - which focuses on a certain part of the world - is nonetheless intriguing. In Japan, Farrier meets the people who are fascinated by the radiation zone around Fukushima and others who are drawn to the notorious 'Suicide Forest'; in Latin America, he meets Pablo Escobar's hitman and in America, meets some a strange woman who is obsessed with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The only annoying thing about it is that each segment feels a little too brief when crammed into a half-hour episode - but it's definitely worth a watch.

 

'Okja'

'Okja' will move you to tears and leave you shook like no other Netflix original film. With an incredible cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lilly Collins, The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun, and newcomer Seo-Hyun Ahn, the film is comparable to 'E.T.' or 'Pete's Dragon' but far more sinister. Storywise, the world has become overpopulated so large, hippo-like creatures called 'superpigs' are developed to provide a new food source. Okja is a superpig raised by a young girl named Mija (An Seo Hyun) in a South Korean forest. When Okja gets taken away from her, Mija runs away in order to save her friend. The simplicity of Mija’s character and her unrelenting drive to get Okja back are a constant inspiration. The final scenes will have you concurrently on the edge of your seat in anticipation as well as anxious and outraged.

 

'Maze'

One of Ireland's best movies of 2017 was the gritty prison drama 'Maze', based on the true story of the 1983 mass break-out of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland.

Love/Hate's Tom Vaughan-Lawlor played Larry Marley, the chief architect of the escape, who schemes his way towards pulling off this feat. Along the way he must deal with prison warden, Gordon Close (Barry Ward) who initially are firm enemies, born on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide, but when Larry realises that Gordon may be unwittingly useful for his escape plan, he slowly tries to win him over. What follows is a tense, and intriguing drama in which an unlikely relationship is forged between two enemies that will have far reaching consequences for both of them.

 

'The Vietnam War'

A 10-part documentary series that charts the beginning of the Vietnam War right through to its lasting impact on both America and the world at large, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's direction and interviews contextualise the harrowing and horrific visuals beyond just a simple retelling of the facts. If you love documentaries, this is essential viewing.

 

'Absolutely Fabulous'

If you didn't know the iconic comedy series was on Netflix, you're welcome, and if you've never seen an episode then strap yourself down and prepare for an absolutely wild ride. Although it's only five seasons long (with some specials thrown in for good measure), 'Absolutely Fabulous' spans decades and has gained a cult following as it follows the adventures and misadventures of London PR exec Edina Monsoon and fashion director/general high-end delinquent Patsy Stone through the years. Featuring guest appearances from Emma Bunton, Twiggy and Miranda Richardson, this mad-cap comedy will always put a smile on your face, even if it's just watching Eddie's kitchen change on a whim over the years.

 

'Big Mouth'

With 'Bojack Horseman', 'Rick and Morty', and 'F is for Family' among others available on the streaming service, Netflix is no stranger to adult-themed animated sitcoms. While 'Big Mouth' has a lot to compete with, it manages to hold its own through its totally original high concept and strong sense of humour. The show follows a group of pre-teens who upon hitting puberty, have to endure the many horrors and embarrassments that come with it - including Hormone Monsters (yes, really). 'Big Mouth' is hilariously relatable but it's also brilliantly bonkers and irreverent. The voice cast packs a punch as it includes co-creator Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jason Mantzoukas, Jordan Peele, Maya Rudolph and Jenny Slate.

 

'Wild Wild Country'

The six-part series details what happened when an entire commune of people moved from India to the United States, near the sleepy Oregon town of Antelope in 1981. The community's leader was guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later referred to as Osho) but the person heading the invasion of maroon-clad worshippers was his secretary Ma Anand Sheela. The arrival of the community, called Rajneeshpuram, caused quite the stir in God-fearing Oregon however and Sheela soon found herself up against a great deal of opposition from the people of Oregon and beyond. Each episode of this documentary takes a unexpected turn ahonestly, the mad story of Rajneeshpuram needs to be seen to be believed.

 

Previous Picks...

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'Scarface'

Brian DePalma's gory, garish, operatic crime saga may not have aged well in how it deals with the drug underworld, but who cares? It's still endlessly quotable and Al Pacino's over-the-top performance still holds up for what it is - and who doesn't love a good montage with money-counters and Giorgio Moroder blaring over it?

 

'God's Own Country'

If you're in the mood to have your heart battered and bruised, this indie drama from 2017 should do the trick. Set on a remote farm in Yorkshire, the film follows a young sheep farmer on a self-destructive path whose life is given a glimmer of hope and change when a migrant worker arrives to help out. Made for having the lights out and the curtains drawn, Francis Lee's directorial debut draws you in and breaks you down slowly and is a visual and aural feast as the landscape of rural England is captured spectacularly. If we sound evangelical it's because we are. You won't regret watching.

 

'Good Time'

Having done that silly franchise that was the 'Twilight' series, it's easy to forget that Robert Pattinson can actually act. If ever you wanted a film that proved the matter - and at the same time provides a crime thriller that is adrenaline-fuelled with a kick ass soundtrack - 'Good Time' is unmissable. The film follows the aftermath of a heist undertaken by two brothers, played by Pattinson and the film's co-director Benny Safdie. One of the brothers, who is developmentally disabled, gets caught and the other, Pattinson's character, has just one night to get the money to bail him out. Along the way he comes across different characters played by the likes of Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Philips), but this is all Pattinson's show - and it's an powerful, electrifying one at that.

 

'Atypical'

This show really took us by surprise recently. It's a comedy that follows the story of a teenager on the autism spectrum called Sam. Genuinely funny but smart too and has a real heart to it. There's only eight half-hour episodes so you will fly through it and honestly, be all the better for it afterwards.

 

'Happy Valley'

It's by no means a new addition to the Netflix catalogue, but having re-watched both seasons of 'Happy Valley' recently, it remains one of our favourite British dramas/thrillers in recent years and is undoubtedly worth a watch if you loved the likes of 'Broadchurch' et al. Sarah Lancashire excels in the best role of her career as put-upon police sergeant Catherine Cawood, who is dealing with her own troubled personal life - and then the man who raped her daughter (who later committed suicide) is released from prison. There are so many twists and turns that the tension is almost unbearable at times, but it'll keep you gripped the whole way through. If you haven't seen it yet, get on it.

 

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'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

This isn't 'Glee'. We feel we need to say that at the start so that when we tell you this is a musical comedy you don't run and lock yourself in a bunker so saccharine singing teenagers can't get at you. From the mind of star Rachel Bloom, 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' follows one woman as she throws away her seemingly successful life in New York after a chance encounter with her first big love and moves to his town of West Covina (only two hours from the beach) to start a new life. So where does the musical come in? Well, all in our characters heads which, yes, sounds awful but when the songs are parodies of Nicki Minaj and other very recognisable staples of the charts and cinema history, you know you're in for a good time.

 

'Set It Up'

Getting heralded as the film that has rejuvenated the rom-com, and sitting (at the time of writing) at a very content 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 'Set It Up' is well-worth a watch. Laugh-out-loud funny and so sweet it will give you a toothache, it features 'Everybody Wants Some!!' (which is also on Netflix, fyi) co-stars Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell as two PAs who are sick of working long hours for their demanding bosses (played by a truly fabulous Lucy Liu and devilishly charismatic Taye Diggs). They decide to set their employers up in the hopes that a romantic relationship will distract them enough that they get some down time. Of course, their plan doesn't work out quite as they'd hoped. 'Set It Up' really does have the feel of the heyday of romantic comedies. It is funny and charming with great star-making performances.

 

'Wind River'

Directed by Taylor Sheridan and starring Elisabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner, this neo-Western is definitely a hard watch in parts but is ultimately rewarding for both the incredibles performances by Renner and Olsen - and the fact that it's telling a story not told too often in modern movies. Olsen is an FBI agent who's sent to investigate a murder that takes place on a Native American reservation, with Renner charged with helping her navigate both the terrain and the deep rifts between the local Native Americans and workers on an oil drill site.

 

'Love'

Created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust, 'Love' stars Rust alongside Gillian Jacobs as two fairly irritating 'will they/won't they' friends called Gus and Mickey, that you'll eventually start to like and in between times will at least be kept entertained by Birdy (Claudia O'Doherty). It's definitely worth the watch, and with just three seasons it's perfect Netflix binge material.

 

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'Dark'

Netflix's first German production is a science-fiction thriller that is equal parts 'Broadchurch', 'IT' and 'Lost' and eerie AF but in a good way, we promise. With a slew of character names and faces to remember it can feel a little 'Game of Thrones' at the start but as the mysteries of the German town of Winden reveal themselves, and become central to both the current and past lives of its occupants, it all clicks into place.

One big tip: watch it with the original German audio and subtitles, the English dub loses a lot of the performance (and the sync with their mouths is just bad).

 

'Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee'

Jerry Seinfeld is a pretty recognisable name to anyone who's even had a passing interest in comedy over the last twenty years, and 'Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee' is essentially his passion project post-'Seinfeld'. The premise is all in the title - he drives truly amazing cars around Los Angeles or New York and talks candidly and openly with the likes of David Letterman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Larry David and Carl Reiner (which eventually sees him hanging out with Mel Brooks in the process.)

The episodes are nice and short, but it's fascinating to see these people with their guard down and clearly enjoying each other's company rather than it being just a bog-standard interview like everyone else does.

 

'Iliza Shlesinger: Freezing Hot'

Female comedians are taking over the world right now and stand-up provides an area where many are making a name for themselves. Iliza Shlesinger is one such success story with three of her comedy specials now available on Netflix. Of them, 'Freezing Hot' is probably the best and sees her relate anecdotes about the ridiculous and hilarious habits of girls on nights out, the madness of Pinterest (or as she refers to it, "porn for white women"), and the battle arena that is dating.

Discover exactly what a 'Party Goblin' is and your life will never be the same again.

 

'The Meyerowitz Stories'

Yes, we know, a film that stars Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller usually has us running for the hills too these days, but brace yourselves, this one is actually getting good reviews. Some are saying it's one of Sandler's best performances yet, up there with 'Punch-Drunk Love' in 2003. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, it tells the story of siblings (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel) contending with the long shadow their strong-willed father (Dustin Hoffman) has cast over their lives.

It's earned itself a solid 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and got a four-minute standing ovation at Cannes, so curiosity alone is reason enough to give this one a watch.

 

> 'The Alienist'

Based on Caleb Carr's brilliant novel first published in 1994, this is the show for those who like their crime fix muddled up with a period drama. Set in New York in 1896, it follows Daniel Bruhl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans as a thrown-together team of investigators (a criminal psychologist, a newspaper illustrator and a police secretary) intent on solving the mystery of a serial killer who is preying on street children. It's fictional, but real-life historical characters of the day – like then-police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt – pop up. It's entertaining and well-made; you'll burn through its ten episodes in no time.

 

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'Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23'

Before she was Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter was the roommate from hell with a heart of, well, not gold but certainly something approaching it in this short-lived comedy that also starred Dreama Walker as a new to New York small town girl with big dreams and a malleable moral compass, and James Van Der Beek as James Van Der Beek. Yes, actually.

Mercilessly cancelled after 26 episodes, this half-hour comedy goes to places you didn't think TV shows would go in the most bizarre and hilarious ways.

Our advice? Pace yourself, because once it's done, it's done.

 

'Ali Wong: Baby Cobra'

Having recently dropped her new Netflix special 'Hard Knock Wife', loads of people are going back to watch Ali Wong's first stand-up show for the streaming service - and with good reason. 'Baby Cobra' sees Ali Wong go into hilarious detail about the unglamorous road to motherhood, the downsides to feminism, and the crassness of her sexual exploits.

 

'Maron'

If you know the incredibly popular podcast 'WTF With Marc Maron', there's a good chance you already know who Marc Maron is. For those who don't, 'Maron' follows standup comedian and quasi-celebrity podcaster Marc Maron throughout his daily life. He interviews famous people, picks apart his own life, and then tries to fumble through relationships while battling his own demons. It's funny, it's weird, it's sad in parts and not unlike the podcast, you're hooked once you're on it.

'Lovesick'

This show wisely changed its name from 'Scrotal Recall' to 'Lovesick', in case you know it only as the former. It follows a bloke called Dylan who finds out he has an STD and then must tell every girl he has ever been with about it. (Stick with us here.) Each episode then follows the story of his relationship with that particular lady, although pretty early on it becomes clear that the love of Dylan's life may actually just be right under his nose.

A great modern will they/won't they, as comedies go, this one is actually worth your time, and makes for an excellent weekend binge-watch.

 

 

 

 

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