Navigating the Netflix Streams

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Now that Netflix streaming movies are available to Mac users, far greater numbers of Columbia students have begun exploring the wonderful “Watch Instantly!” world.

They’re also probably learning — as PC users did months ago — that Netflix’s catalog of streaming content is largely a grab-bag of B-movies and obscure television series sprinkled with the occasional big-budget film. That’s fine if you’re into Ballykissangel marathons, of course, but it’s hardly a replacement for Kim’s or even Blockbuster.

So then what is worth watching on Netflix streaming? Well, some quality films are actually tucked away in the catalog, but you’ll have to spend some time searching them out.

Bwog knows you have a busy weekend, though, so after the jump are three film picks just waiting for you to press the blue “Play” button.


Humphrey Bogart delivers what may be his career’s best performance in this 1954 World War II drama. Bogart plays the iconic Captain Phillip Francis Queeg, a respected-but-stern Navy officer tasked with the job of restoring the U.S.S. Caine and its sailors to peak condition. When Queeg’s command style ventures into the cruel and unusual, a mutiny is staged to remove the captain from power. The uprising results in the courts-martial of two Caine officers for their parts in the mutiny, and the ensuing courtroom battle explores the limits of duty in time of war.

This film may be older than your parents, but don’t pass it over for that reason. It’s a must-see for its influence on popular culture, in particular by Bogart’s brooding portrayal of the paranoid Queeg. (On a tangential note, actor Maurice Mickelwhite took his stage name from the film’s title to become Michael Caine, later of Dark Knight and Cider House Rules fame.)


Two astronauts on a mission to Jupiter must confront their ship’s on-board, intelligent computer when it threatens to murder them. It’s more than race for survival, however, as the winner of this battle between humans and their technology stands to achieve the next step in evolution.

A science fiction masterpiece, Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of an Arthur C. Clarke short story easily ranks among the best films ever made. Its hallmarks on pop culture are everywhere: think of how many times you’ve heard the film’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra” theme, for instance. But, for all its impact, surprisingly few can say they have watched the whole thing – it’s one of those movies that everyone knows about but has never actually seen. Increase your cultural literacy and see 2001: A Space Odyssey, but do be prepared to brave a few dull stretches of plot and a rather abstract, trippy ending.


Animation blends with film noir in this 1988 Spielberg-produced comedy starring the greatest characters from the golden age of Hollywood cartoons. After Roger Rabbit is falsely accused of murdering of the owner of the Acme Corporations, private investigator Eddie Valiant reluctantly agrees to help clear Roger’s name. The case takes the pair into the underbelly of Toontown as they search for the real murderer, who may also be plotting to commit cartoon genocide.

Who cares if the plot isn’t especially deep in this film? The twist of seeing classic cartoons thrust into the sultry film noir genre is what makes this movie fun, and the groundbreaking feat of combining animation with live action is what makes this movie worth watching. Its artistry and technological innovation inspired later mixtures of real and imagined in films like the WALL-E and Sin City, and without Roger Rabbit, there would be no Jar Jar Binks, Dobby, or Gollum. For a film from the pre-digital days of 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and its visuals hold up amazingly.

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  1. Yep

    I love streaming Netflix. Don't forget the Dr. Who Seasons 1 and 2 now, Fawlty Towers, Sci Fi Horror classics The Thing, low budget surpriser Primer...the list goes on. It's worth it to pick up the 1 movie a mailing netflix now just for the sake of watching instantly.

  2. Anonymous  

    is an awful boring movie. Sure at the time it may have appeared revolutionary for its special effects, but it does not stand the test of time. The story line is obtuse and boring, the movie drags, and the characters are about as dynamic as a computer. Skip it!

  3. more TV series...  


  4. i have a mac!  


  5. other good movies  

    some other films on watch instantly:
    full metal jacket
    man on wire
    the wind that shakes the barley
    the diving bell and the butterfly
    blame it on fidel
    bonnie and clyde (1967)
    crimes and misdemeanors

    etc etc etc...woooo

  6. dear Bwog  

    please give cliff's notes for the latest Bollinger email.

    They're alway very long and boring, so I never read them. I do, however, alway read your ... analyses!

  7. mac user  

    also the office is available!!!

  8. Anonymous  

    I watch my movies with my TV and my Xbox 360.

    It's awesome for when alot of people want to watch at once :)

  9. hater  

    wait wait wait, this article is simple wrong. there are tons of great movies that are available for instant viewing. double indemnity? eyes wide shut? vertigo? oedipus rex? bwog obviously knows jack shit about movies, stick to pretentious statements about john updike. also, please stop sucking.

  10. Great News

    My darling mother is actually a very big fan of Ballykissangel.

    However, the only thing she knows how to do on a computer is send me a "Did you know..." e-mail that always ends with some American flag clip art.

  11. holllld it  

    be careful. when you stream from netflix, it automatically determines your video quality. which is great, because you get great quality at first. but then halfway through your movie, CUIT throttles your bandwidth.....which sucks

  12. Excuse me...  

    The film's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" theme? No, Bwog, Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathustra," based on Nietzsche. You're a Columbia blog? Why trivialize when there's no need?

    Also, add Casablanca and to the list of other lovely movies available for screening. There's also a pretty delightful selection of documentaries to choose from, if one feels the need to be educated in one's procrastination efforts.

  13. yeah...  

    does anyone else go over internet quota extremely easily with netflix? how the hell do u prevent that?!

  14. what about

    weeds seasons 1 and 2???

  15. Oh no!  

    Where did Watch-Movies go?!

  16. For David Lynch Fans...

    Inland Empire is also up. The picture quality is not great, which makes a difference in both experiencing the visually stunning effects of Lynch's movies as well as finding clues to figure out what the hell the movie is about. In any case, great movie.

  17. Watch the movie  

    "Downtown 81" on watch instantly to learn about the real New York City in the 1980s

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