Video-streaming service Netflix gives you a vast number of films, TV shows and documentaries to choose from – and that can be a problem.
More often than not, you find yourself spending your entire evening shuffling through the selection trying to pick something to watch – before realising that you no longer have time to actually watch a film.
Never fear; we've rifled through the Netflix catalogue to bring you our top picks, from chucklesome comedies to action-packed adventures. Let Stuff be your guide on your cinematic odyssey.
If you're after the best new stuff on Netflix we've also got you covered with our New on Netflix India feature, and if you want to get a bit more specific, try these:
DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY
A riotous comedy-drama-thriller loosely based on Hitch-Hikers' Guide... author Douglas Adams' novels, Dirk Gently's... is like nothing else on TV. In fact it's like nothing else in the world - and is all the better for it.
The plot is way too convoluted to go into here, but that's actually the point: as a 'holistic' detective, Dirk Gently simply investigates crimes he happens across randomly and follows the most obscure and seemingly unconnected of leads as he does so. What transpires is a gloriously muddled mess of offbeat diversions, Technicolor characters and bizarre events taking in psychic powers, cats, dogs, homicidal angels, torture, some really lovely leather jackets and Elijah Wood.
Best mainlined in a couple of lengthy sittings - it's too confusing, and too good, to watch piecemeal.
A big-budget US series involving Kiefer Sutherland, international terrorism and the White House – but 24 this ain’t.
Designated Survivor is a new Netflix-exclusive series in which Sutherland plays a nondescript, under-qualified cabinet member thrust into the presidency when most of the US government is wiped out in a bombing. With the country in chaos, he must step up into a role he never wanted and respond to the atrocity’s perpetrators – whoever they might be.
It's definitely more Olympus Has Fallen than The West Wing - although better than that makes it sound - so don't expect too much in the way of nuanced US political theory, but if nothing else it'll take your mind off what's really going on in the White House right now.
Only 80s kids will understand this. Actually that’s not true at all, but Stranger Things is a love letter to many of the movies, TV shows and books that children who grew up in that decade will cherish: it’s replete with references to E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goonies, Stephen King,Dungeons & Dragons and Poltergeist, and the mood and feel is sure to dredge up nostalgia aplenty.
Take away the retro vibes though, and the show can still stand on its own as a decent sci-fi drama-thriller. And it doesn’t mess about too much – unlike a lot of Netflix Original Series, its episodes are reasonably tight (around 40 minutes each), and there are only eight of them in the entire first season. Expect a second to arrive at some point in 2017.
While there's a growing sensation that Marvel's cinema outings are getting steadily less appealing, its output for the small screen continues to impress, with Daredevil remaining the finest example.
Blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox) turns crime-fighter by night, taking on the slum lords and gangsters that populate Hell’s Kitchen – but where the Avengers sketches in its four-colour heroics with a broad brush, Daredevil’s vigilantism is painted in shades of grey.
Murdock’s nocturnal outings sit uneasily alongside his legal profession, while the show’s big villain in the first series (Vincent D'Onofrio) wants to raise Hell’s Kitchen out of the dirt by any means necessary.
Making the most of its extended running time, the show’s able to show the wider consequences of its hero’s actions – not all of which are positive. And as of 18 March 2016, there's a second series of the show to watch, introducing new Marvel stalwarts to Murdock's murky world in the shape of Elektra and The Punisher.
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.
MAKING A MURDERER
While the filming of this 10-part documentary clearly started a long, long time ago (it's been 10 years in development), one suspects that the success of the Serial podcast is what got Netflix to buy and promote it as much as it has.
The comparisons are almost too easy and obvious, but there are differences and - more importantly - Making a Murderer stands up on its own. Steven Avery served 18 years in prison for a horrible crime that he didn't commit, and the revelations about the police handling of that case could be a 10-part series of their own, but here that's just the start. You see, just two years after his exoneration, he's charged with a new crime: the brutal murder of a young woman. Given the circumstances of the previous case, the local Sheriff's involvement is under serious scrutiny, and to say there are suspicious inconsistencies is a massive understatement.
It's a long, often slow series, but it's also fascinating, deeply troubling, and will send shivers down your spine.
The most critically acclaimed Netflix original series of 2015 tells the bloody story of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the man tasked with taking him down. Sounds like a laugh riot, right?
While Narcos lacks much in the way of light-relief, watching American DEA agent Steve Murphy submerge himself in a viciously amoral cesspit is a constant thrill. What could well be a high-minded exercise in true crime melodrama is elevated to nerve-shredding nirvana via some classy performances and the disturbing use of archive footage. Escobar’s brutal legacy lives on through your telebox, and the horror of it all will make you wince in anguish.
Black Mirror has made the move from Channel 4 to Netflix in sumptuous, unsettling style.
Not only has the platform given Charlie Brooker and his team the freedom to tell more stories (this run has six episodes rather than the usual three) and let each one run without ad breaks for as long as it needs to, it's also given them a budget big enough to expand the scale, scope and special effects.
The feature-length final episode, Hated in the Nation, is a perfect case in point. What hasn't changed is the overall theme. Each episode may tell a standalone story, but they're all connected by the threads of modern humanity's relationship with technology, the internet and social media.
Make no mistake, this is unnerving stuff, enhanced by the fact that the stories are generally set in a very near future that's all too recognisable. But fear not, the trademark blacker-than-black humour has also been retained, so you'll guffaw almost as much as you'll squirm. This is must-see television for anyone who's obsessed with tech. And as a bonus, the first two seasons can be found on Netflix too.
Has there been a more high-profile murder case this millennium than that of ‘Foxy Knoxy’ – the American student arrested as a 20-year-old in Perugia for the murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher?
Nearly a decade later she’s back home in Seattle having been acquitted by an Italian court. But if she didn’t do it, who did? Considering the amount of coverage the case received at the time – coverage that the film is keen to criticise for being OTT – it’s probably not surprising that it doesn’t reveal anything particularly new, although it does introduce us to tabloid journalist Nick Pisa, a man who makes Piers Morgan look like a shining example of his profession.
Knox’s one-to-one interviews are the most compelling part of the film, revealing a thoughtful, articulate woman who’s had plenty of time to think about what happened that day. It’s just a shame the film spends so long going over old ground, rather than examining what it’s like to live in the shadow of such a distressing crime.
A Netflix exclusive, this animated series features Arrested Development’s Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a, er, “horse man” who enjoyed success while in a popular 1990s sitcom but now lives in a haze of booze and self-loathing as a washed-up former star.
Set in a skewed version of Hollywood in which humans live alongside anthropomorphic animals, BoJack Horseman features a strong cast (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul plays BoJack’s best friend Todd) and strong writing, and the 26 episodes available now (two seasons plus two specials) will be supplemented with a third season, due to arrive later in 2016.