Streaming video has turned our living rooms into an endless video store, with a vast array of titles to choose from.
Netflix has thousands of titles that include everything from rom-coms to action movies, TV shows and documentaries, which that can be a problem. It's called the paradox of choice - faced with an endless array of options, people freeze up and before you know it, you've spent an hour scrolling through the possible choices and you've run out of time to watch a movie.
Fear not, we've worked hard to pick out the cream of the streaming crop. Read on…
Marvel Studios’ latest foray into episodic television is far and away its best - a gritty, street-level crime drama that has more in common with The Wire than Captain America. Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox stars as the costumed crusader Daredevil – blinded in an accident but granted heightened senses and perception.
With an extended running time to play with, and none of the constraints of broadcast TV, Daredevil’s free to explore the ramifications and moral complexities of super-powered vigilantism – with Daredevil's alter ego Matt Murdock working as an attorney by day, there are plenty of moral grey areas to explore. It’s also free to flesh out its supporting characters, including a stellar Vincent D’Onofrio as crime boss Wilson Fisk.
Beasts Of No Nation
Netflix’s first foray into feature film-making is not for the faint hearted. This is the story of a young boy, horribly orphaned as the result of a militia attack on his village, who falls into the retinue of a brutal, yet also charming commander of a band of child soldiers.
It’s violent, visceral and sobering, and features Idris Elba in his most impressive performance to date. But it’s newcomer Abraham Attah who shines brightest of all as the boy at the centre of the drama.
The Netflix/Marvel partnership is fast becoming TV’s equivalent of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez: reliably brilliant but never in a boringly predictable way.
Jessica Jones is the latest product of said partnership and follows the eponymous character (played by the superb Krysten Ritter) as she attempts to set up her private detective business in NYC, battle with her superhero demons and drink every bar in the Big Apple dry.
Oh, and she also has to face her nemesis, the obsessive, abusive and mind-controlling sadist Zebediah Kilgrave, brilliantly played by David Tennant.
But as great as the two leads are, New York City is every bit as integral to JJ’s appeal: it looks simply stunning, with a gritty, stylised feel that is quickly coming to characterise Netflix’s Marvel forays. And that’s all the more true in the 4K stream available to owners of 4K TVs. Stunning stuff.
Master of None
Comedian Aziz Ansari plays jobbing actor Dev in this 10-part series about life, love and tacos. Actually, one suspects Ansari is really playing himself (his real-life parents even play his onscreen parents here) and a big part of the charm is watching him work through various subjects over the course of the series.
It’s very self-obsessed and some will find the whimsy hard to stomach, but it's also funny, charming and occasionally thought-provoking. Well worth five hours of your time.
Orange Is the New Black
Netflix’s second-best original series after House of Cards, this is a prison show that goes its own way: less brutal than Oz, less daft than Prison Break and more compelling than Prisoner Cell Block H, it’s a fish-out-of-water drama (based on a true story) in which a white, middle-class Brooklynite ends up in a low-security women’s jail for a crime committed almost a decade previous.
A character-driven show that uses Lost-style flashbacks to explore the pre-prison lives of the cast, Orange Is the New Black proved such a hit that a second season was swiftly commissioned and a third followed fairly shortly after that. Season 4 is out now.