The new year is almost here and that means it's time for one of Netflix's ceremonial killing sprees. The streaming service is taking out its big, streamy chainsaw and dicing up some of your favorite films. Come January 1, these classics will be gone. De-Netflixed. De-available from The Big Red Website. So snatch them up and at least pretend to watch them so that you don't look dumb when a bow-tied homosexual approaches you at a New Year's party with his quips about “Kramer Vs. Kramer.” He needs validation and your genuine, informed laughter will appease him.
Here are the 11 most important titles to stream before 2015.
Kate Winslet at her most Alex Kingston. Leonardo DiCaprio at his most Jodie-Foster-at-age-14. Iceberg at its most January Jones.
“12 Angry Men”
Though Henry Fonda is a towering film icon, it is shocking how almost none of his films are discussed anymore. Maybe “The Grapes of Wrath” is sometimes shown in high schools, but otherwise, your only chance at experiencing The First Fonda's legacy is “12 Angry Men.” More compelling as a movie than play, I think. As a play it feels like every sitcom with a hung jury episode, and yes, I'm including “Family Matters.”
“The Grapes of Wrath”
Watch Jane Darwell tear it up as Ma Joad (unless you went to a good high school that already aired this for you).
“Guess Who's Coming to Dinner”
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton. Tag team deathmatch.
“Big Trouble in Little China”
I think I'm prepared to call it: This is THE most '80s movie of all time. Ripped, rad Kurt Russell. Kim Cattrall as a lithe paramour. Communist intrigue. The phrase “Big Trouble” being used in earnest. It's all here in tight Dungarees.
“The Brady Bunch Movie”
Watch this now. It's important. Seriously up there with “Addams Family Values” in terms of hilarious one-liners in an askew feature adaptation of a '60s TV classic. Weep at the lovely Ann B. Davis cameo.
“The Breakfast Club”
Ally Sheedy is so much better than everyone else in this movie, it is astonishing.
“Kramer vs. Kramer”
This is probably the best-acted '80s TV movie of the 1970s. You read that all correctly. The plot of “Kramer Vs. Kramer” isn't especially novel, but Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep are so tender, believably adversarial, and ultimately loving. Meryl deserved the Oscar alone for being chalk-white and daring to wear so much beige. That's called risk-taking, ladies and gentlemen.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Another courtroom drama, this one a classic from the magical Oscar year of 1939. I would rank this fifth among the 10 Best Picture nominees. “Gone With the Wind” is #1, “The Wizard of Oz” is #2, “Ninotchka” is #3, the gnarly blindness drama “Dark Victory” lands at #4, and “Mr. Smith” is fifth. Should I see “Stagecoach”? Imagine me watching a John Wayne movie. I just don't know.
Remember when we remade “Carrie” like total jerks? And we told poor Julianne Moore to dress up in her Piper Laurie togs and pretend it's OK? The original “Carrie” is not flawless, but it is certainly the version of Stephen King's classic book you deserve to see. Sissy Spacek > Chloe Grace Moretz, in case you needed that math spelled out to you.
“Boyz 'N the Hood”
This movie is so, so good. And that's all there is to say about that.