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 rom-coms to superhero movies to obscure documentaries. Let Stuff be your guide on your cinematic odyssey.
House of Cards
Netflix has amassed an impressive library of TV shows, but HBO – home of top-tier drama like Boardwalk Empire and Game Of Thrones – has always spurned its advances.
Netflix's solution? Level the playing field by throwing money at its own prestige series. House Of Cards is the jewel in its crown, with David Fincher behind the camera and Kevin Spacey in front of it as scheming Democratic Majority Whip Frank Underwood. Its depiction of the White House as a cesspool of self-interested career politicians is light years away from The West Wing – and seeing Spacey's Machiavellian plots unfold is a delight.
Once you've finished that, you might want to check out the 1990s BBC drama that it's (loosely) based on. Where Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood is all smooth Southern charm, Ian Richardson's Francis Urquhart is positively reptilian – a Shakespearian villain in a post-Thatcher Britain.
The Thin Blue Line
Errol Morris’ seminal documentary follows the story of one man’s wrongful imprisonment for the murder of a Texas police officer in 1976.
Although it’s best remembered as the film that saved a man from Death Row, The Thin Blue Line also pioneered many documentary techniques that are now commonplace, including reconstructions of the events leading up to the murder (recounted several times, from contradictory viewpoints) and avoiding narration.
One key shot, in which an interviewee reaches up to scratch his nose and reveals that he’s wearing handcuffs, brilliantly demonstrates how editing can be used to manipulate the viewer.
More after the break...
Audrey Tautou stars in this charming French rom-com, playing a gold-digger who mistakes a barman for a multi-millionaire. He's only too happy to play along – and when he's found out, she offers to teach him how to become a gigolo.
Inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany's, it has something of the feel of 1960s Blake Edwards about it, with its whirl of parties on the Côte d'Azur. Gad Elmaleh's Jean makes for an excellent foil to Tautou's Irène; their comic timing transcends the language barrier. Watch with a glass of wine, or several.
Print the Legend
3D printing is making waves in the manufacturing industry, with dozens of start-ups duking it out against established companies. This documentary, then, has come along at just the right time – as scrappy start-ups are expanding into corporate powerhouses, with all the behind-the-scenes drama that implies.
The documentary focuses on two such companies. MakerBot Industries has already made the transition from its founders' garages into a slick, Apple-style outfit; its CEO Bre Pettis is often called the Steve Jobs of 3D printing. Formlabs is more of an up-and-coming contender; but both companies are experiencing the same growing pains, as open-source ideals are sacrificed on the altar of commerce.
While the corporate rivals are duking it out, others see this disruptive technology as a chance to wrest control away from the government and other established interests. They're represented in the documentary by anarchist and free-marketeer Cody Wilson, who's created and fired the first 3D printed gun. As the 3D printing industry shifts ever farther from its anarchic Maker roots, figures like Wilson are challenging the growing corporate orthodoxy; it's a fascinating example of the tensions in this young industry.
This documentary's an excellent primer for this increasingly important field.
Toy Story 3
Has there ever been a trilogy as consistently superb as Toy Story? We can't think of one. The third instalment follows Woody, Buzz and the gang as they cope with Andy's departure for college and find themselves discarded in a daycare centre with a dark secret. Somehow, it manages to surpass the first two movies, adding genuinely moving moments alongside all of the funny, clever and thrilling bits. Kids will love it, but really, it's wasted on them - only an adult could truly appreciate its message about the horrible inevitability of growing up.
READ MORE: The 15 best sci-fi movies on Netflix