What Movies to Watch on Netflix

A few drama movies you should add to your May binge list for Netflix.

Rosewater

Not everyone thought comedian and satirical news anchor John Stewart would leave behind his primetime charades to direct a film, especially one as dramatic and heavy-hitting as Rosewater. The turbulent film, which is based on Maziar Bahari’s memoir (Then They Came for Me), recounts a London-based journalist who is imprisoned, tortured, and interrogated in Iran for nearly four months as an alleged U.S. spy. Stewart seamlessly captures the overwhelming tension of the whole ordeal alongside lead actor Gael García Bernal, and moreover, does so while shedding light on political absurdities of it all and upholding the utmost respect for the Iranian people.

Beasts of No Nation

The inevitable release of Beasts of No Nation was a long time coming. The Netflix-distributed film, the streaming service’s first, simultaneously premiered on the service and in limited releases throughout the globe to widespread critical acclaim in October. Lauded director Cary Joji Fukunaga penned and shot the entire feature, which traces the harrowing life of a child soldier (Abraham Attah) who falls in line with a group of mercenaries and their larger-than-life commandant (Idris Elba). The latter actor is a powerhouse, both terrifying and charismatic, while the rest of the film tackles the brutal atrocities of war with just the right amount of impact and implication. It’s certainly not an easy watch given the film’s more bold and bloody moments, yet, why should it be given the nature of its content?

City of God

Although the 2014 World Cup may have depicted otherwise, Rio de Janeiro isn’t the most hospitable of places. Adapted from author Paulo Lins’ semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, City of God follows a young boy named Rocket as he attempts to skirt the drugs, gang violence, and crime plaguing the Brazilian slums he calls home for three decades. It’s both breathtaking and terrifying, with excellent character development, camerawork, and authenticity.

Dope


Director Rick Famuyiwa’s comedy-meets-crime movie centers on a trio of high-school students — aka Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori), and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) — living in a rough neighborhood in Inglewood, California. The self-described geeks are obsessed with ’90s hip-hop and punk music, yet, they’re looked upon as outsiders by the rest of their peers. Malcolm is working hard to get into college and is confident his SAT scores and straight-As will get him into Harvard, his dream school. When a drug deal dupes Malcolm into taking several pounds of MDMA at a party, however, he quickly finds himself in the middle of a trafficking scheme. Malcolm, who’s already busy enough with college applications and potential romances, must then find a way to distribute the drugs without jeopardizing the rest of his life. Oh, and did we mention the ensemble cast includes the likes of A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples, Zoe Kravitz, and Chanel Iman?

Lee Daniel’s The Butler


Director Lee Daniels has been on a roll as of late, first with Precious and again with the acclaimed Empire. With The Butler, he helped hone a melodramatic tale regarding a White House butler who served under eight U.S. presidents during his 34-year career. The understated Forest Whitaker shines as butler Cecil Gaines despite the film’s uneven narrative, which slowly unfolds alongside dramatic shifts in politic perspective and American culture. It’s sentimental in a Forest Gump kind of way, with a host of historical anecdotes that tie one generation with the next. And to think, President Barack Obama teared up just thinking about it.

Track


Underrated director John Curran’s Tracks is particularly known for its high-octane excitement and penchant for action, but more so its sprawling cinematography and actress Mia Wasikowska’s exemplary performance as real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson. The film is based on Davidson’s novel of the same name, which chronicles her 1,700-mile trek across the Australian outback during the late ‘70s with little more than four camels and her dog. Adam Drivers plays a National Geographic photographer charged with periodically capturing her journey along the way, and though it never achieves the widespread acclaim of similar titles such as Wild, it remains an inspiring tale of one steely broad who just strives to be alone

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