It’s lovely to know what is worth watching on Netflix but equally, it can also be useful to know what offerings from the steaming platform are absolutely not worth your time. This is not a list of Netflix Original films that are notoriously bad like The Kissing Booth or After. Instead, these are movies that you might scroll past and think that they could be great or at least, enjoyable. You would be sorely mistaken but fortunately, there are better options out there.
Avoid: American Beauty
When ‘Parasite’ was awarded the Best Picture Oscar in February this year (yes, that actually did happen this year), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences correctly chose the best and most timeless film of the year. But often the Academy does not choose the best film and ‘American Beauty’ is a perfect example of this. Maybe it made sense in 2000 for this film to win Best Picture but, by now, the film has long been dated – even before Kevin Spacey’s on-screen appearance, which nowadays leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. In this film, Spacey plays Lester, a man in the throes of a midlife crisis. His wife is a nightmare. Somehow, his teenage daughter’s friend seems like a good alternative to the woman he married. It is impossible to empathise with this sexist and creepy main character. In fact, it is difficult to root for any of the characters or to care about any of their outcomes. Don’t be fooled by how many awards this film won 20 years ago. It has not stood the test of the time at all.
What to watch instead: As a more recent film about the breakup of a relationship, Marriage Story (thankfully) includes a lot less sexism.
This film is very beautiful to look at, but that is one of its only merits. The classic tale is about the woman who remarries an aristocratic widower and how the mystery surrounding his widow presses down on the second wife. Armie Hammer is woefully miscast as Maxim; his English accent is not convincing nor is he ever as mysterious or threatening as the character is meant to be. Lily James fares reasonably well as the lead but she does not capture the insecurity of the character as Joan Fontaine did in the 1940 adaptation. Comparisons to the famous Hitchcock adaptation might seem unfair but they are inevitable. The Hitchock film makes more sense- the plot was more logical and the characters were more believable. But as well as that, that film was relevant when it came out. The filmmakers behind this new adaptation never convincingly convey what is relevant about this story in 2020.
What to watch instead: Crimson Peak is a gothic romance film worth your time.
Avoid: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
I think we should pretend that there were only ever two Bridget Jones movies; the original and the surprisingly delightful 2016 sequel; Bridget Jones’ Baby. For some reason, the worst Bridget Jones film is the only one available on Netflix at the moment. This film is the epitome of an unnecessary sequel. There is no new ground to cover; the film focuses on the same themes as the first film but with a bigger budget and more international locations. The love triangle between Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver is renewed. Bridget is still incredibly insecure. At the climax of the film, the love interests have another outlandish fight. The original is redone on a grander scale and it is not nearly as smart nor as charming. I promise that you can just skip to Bridget Jones’ Baby and you won’t have missed a thing.
What to watch instead: The Mamma Mia movies and 13 Going on 30 will you give you much more joy.
Film and TV Correspondent