What’s that old saying about what too much choice can do to a man? Whatever it was originally written for, it finds fresh relevance as we look ahead to another diverse month on the world’s most popular streaming service. Netflix has once again cast its net wide to reel in some of the world’s best films, TV shows and documentaries — as well as bringing us more of its award-winning original content.
From the long-anticipated return of Mindhunter, to a chance to revisit some Oscar winners — here’s what you should be adding to your Netflix must-watch list this month. And, as the UK’s summer forecast continues to keep us guessing, it’s a good idea to keep a wet weather option in reserve for your weekend plans.
Ex Machina (1st August)
Released in 2014, Ex Machina marked Alex Garland’s directorial debut. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac, the film follows a programmer who is invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot. With shades of Spike Jonze’s Her, this science fiction thriller was met with a brilliant critical reception, and set Vikander on a path to super-stardom.
Expect some seriously trippy twists, and a storyline that will stick with you for days.
Midnight Cowboy (1st August)
If you’re yet to see Midnight Cowboy, we advise that you send it straight to the top of your must-watch list. In what might be the quintessential American buddy drama, the film follows the story of Texas dishwasher Joe Buck (Jon Voight), as he quits his job and heads for New York City in search of a rich older woman. Joe soon finds himself living in an abandoned building with layabout Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo. The two form a rough alliance and together they kick-start Joe’s hustling career just as Ratso’s health begins to deteriorate.
Whilst some of the films attitudes (particularly toward women) don’t wear the years well, Hoffman and Jon Voight’s performances remain electric 50 years on.
I Am a Killer Season 1 (3rd August)
A big one for true crime junkies, I Am a Killer gives a fascinating and in-depth insight into the stories of prisoners awaiting their fate on death row in America. Showing that there are multiple sides to every story, each one-hour episode profiles ten prisoners convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The series features never-before-seen footage with extraordinary access to prisons across America.
Each convicted prisoner recounts the events that led up to their crime as well as often shocking details of the crime itself. We discover their motivations, their expectations and, ultimately, how they now view the crime after time spent on death row. A sometimes challenging watch, the documentaries offering differing viewpoints and highlight the impact of split-second decisions on the course of the killers’ lives, throwing into question the viewer’s opinion towards capital punishment.
Inside No.9 Season 4 (6th August)
It’s a good thing this programme originally aired on BBC Two and not BBC Nine because if you believe the (fictional) stories featured in the episodes, the number nine might be considered something of a bad omen. The anthology show features darkly comic tales, each of which take place inside a building that has the number nine on it. Whether it’s a grand country house where an innocent game leads to chilling revelations, or a primary school teacher’s one-bedroom flat, the buildings are the sites of tales with unexpected twists and turns that in many cases fall under the heading of horror.
All of the stories come from the minds of writers Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, who also star in some episodes.
The Naked Director (August 8th)
Inspired by a true story, Netflix’s The Naked Director follows 1980s Japanese porn director Toru Muranishi as he attempts to build a revolutionary empire after been fired from his job. Starring Takayuki Yamada (of Isle of Dogs fame), Shinnosuke Mitsushima, and The Vulture’s Tetsuji Tamayama, the 10-episode series profiles Muranishi and his quest to revolutionise porn in Japan.
Set in Japan’s ’80s economic boom, the show chronicles the director’s rise to fame, his ambitions, and often awkward setbacks.
Mindhunter Season 2 (16th August)
Off the back of a remarkably successful first season, Mindhunter returns this month with more chilling cases that will have you sleeping with one eye open. Set in the late 1970s, two FBI agents expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters — in an attempt to figure out how they think.
This crime drama has a strong pedigree behind the camera, with Oscar-nominated director David Fincher and Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron among the show’s executive producers.
Psycho (16th August)
OK, we might have to go back on what we said about Midnight Cowboy, if you haven’t seen Psycho yet then please promise us you’ll drop whatever you’re doing and grab some popcorn ASAP. Hitchcock’s masterpiece follows Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she goes on the run after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin).
Travelling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates, a young man with an interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother. We hope it won’t spoil anything when we tell you things don’t end well.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (24th August)
With the exciting news that a third Kingsman film is not too far away now, there could be no better time to revisit the film which kicked off the franchise (and sent Taron Egerton flying into super-stardom).
The film follows Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Egerton), whose late father secretly worked for a spy organisation, who seems headed for a life behind bars. However, dapper agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) recognises potential in the youth and recruits him to be a trainee in the secret service. Meanwhile, villainous Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) launches a diabolical plan to solve the problem of climate change via a worldwide killing spree.
Blade Runner 2049 (28th August)
In this latest film of the legendary franchise, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years.
Blade Runner 2049 received five nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, winning Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. It also received eight nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, including Best Director, and won Best Cinematography and Best Special Visual Effects.
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