2012. Goodness, gracious. Another year gone. Another new beginning. Another excuse to pretend we will all “start over” on various personal projects. Another hollow reason for optimism. Another 12 months to navigate through. And most importantly, another calendar to find (though considering I wandered my way through 2011 with an Audrey Hepburn calendar as a guide, it’s hard to think a better calendar for 2012 even exists).
But with another year comes another month. And with another month comes another collection of five possibilities you, the fantastically intelligent reader, could consider when surfing through the instant streaming function on Netflix. Yes. This is all out of love.
Expect a “let’s get back into the groove” potluck-type post later in the week, as I know the four of you who read this thing might have been wondering where the fresh material has been (year-end best-of lists, the holidays and an infatuation with “In Treatment” can really get in the way of things, you know).
Still, after clicking on that link above, be sure to think about the following five picks for the month of January as the snow eventually ends up falling and the temperatures force those of us without a winter coat to bundle up with multiple hooded sweatshirts and homemade hats and gloves. Keep in mind that of all the months a year can bring, this is presumably the month that most of us will spend the majority of our time indoors, craving heat and entertaining television pictures made for us to look at. So what are we waiting for? Below are five suggestions for you to cuddle up with as the heating bills increase and the countdown to spring begins to come into focus.
Remember, it’s all out of love.
Onward and upward …
1. “My Left Foot” — Every couple years, Daniel Day-Lewis comes along and decides to be in a movie, and every time he does so, the movie universe is just a little better off for it (with the exception of “Nine,” of course). This 1989 film based on the true story of Irishman Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy and had the ability to control only his left foot, is one of the most powerful flicks you could ever see. Day-Lewis’ startlingly authentic turn as Brown is easily one of the best individual performances in film over the last 30 years. It was his first Best Actor Academy Award, and even though the film as a whole didn’t share that same success, it was still nominated for best picture, losing to “Driving Miss Daisy.” If nothing else, you should deem it essential to carve out 103 minutes of your time over the next 30 days and sit down with one of the most captivating characters cinema has ever provided. Heck. Forget the next 30 days. Write “Watch ‘My Left Foot'” down on that growing list of new year’s resolutions. You’ll be better for it.
2. “Family Guy” — Seasons one through eight are here to stream, and why not? Yes, it goes a little far sometimes, and yes, to say it’s merely crass would be a grand understatement. But even so, it’s funny. Yes. It’s still funny. I know the show isn’t currently at the height of its popularity that it enjoyed about five years ago when it burst back into our dark-humor conscious, but that doesn’t mean Stewie, Brian and the gang can’t make us laugh.
3. “True Grit” — Both versions are available to stream, though in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit I have only watched the most recent film version starring Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin and written and directed by the Coen Brothers. That said, stop everything you are doing, cancel all of your plans for this evening, and watch this. It’s a movie that is fueled by three leading men, but the true star in the 2010 release was and is Hailee Steinfeld, whose Mattie Ross was and is Oscar-worthy. Sure, Jeff Bridges turns in a great performance, and yes, even Josh Brolin, someone who is hard to like at times, offers a pretty likable Tom Chaney. But Steinfeld rises above them all with her startling command and adorable ignorance. I’m sure the 1969 film is fine, but it’s hard to think a performance as spectacular as Steinfeld’s is turned in by anybody throughout the John Wayne-led version. It’s funny. It’s dramatic. It’s quirky. And it’s indicative of every reason the people who like Coen brothers films like Coen brothers films. Or in other words, it’s most definitely worth a couple hours of your time.
4. “No Strings Attached” — OK. OK. I know. This flick made a lot of “worst movies” lists last year. And yes, I don’t even like Natalie Portman all that much, let alone the detestable Asthon Kutcher. But I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, and yes, this is a romantic comedy. Besides, the owner of the funniest Twitter account known to mankind, Mindy Kaling, appears throughout the film, making me smile for each of the 14 minutes she is featured. For a mindless tiny film that could be streamed while making dinner or entertaining guests, this isn’t all that bad. Is it Academy Award material? Of course not. But it could be fun with a few bottles of wine and a third date with someone you just met. I mean, what else do you have to do? Watch the pretentious “Black Swan” for a sixth time?
5. “Precious: Based on the novel by Sapphire” — It’s great. It really is. Gabrielle Sidibe is terrific and Mo’nique deserved her Academy Award for this 2009 independent drama. It gets a little arty and it gets a little silly at times, but Sidibe’s performance can’t be ignored or forgotten. That said, here’s your warning: You will shed a tear, the movie will end, and you really won’t have any idea on how to perceive life for about eight minutes, until you somehow force yourself to go to sleep for the night. Heck, even Mariah Carey shows up and somehow convinces you she’s a social worker who’s never heard of eye liner. All told, it’s probably the best thing the singer has been a part of since this …