While Christmas has come and gone, there’s still one significant celebration remaining in 2023: New Year’s Eve. Unlike many holidays, New Year’s Eve spans the entire day and night, dedicated to continuous revelry. This typically entails dressing up, acquiring some refreshments like alcohol or food (even if it’s just Ring Dings and Pepsi), and navigating through bustling crowds as they bid farewell to 2023 and welcome the arrival of 2024.
Digital Trends has a unique celebration idea: a movie party. Why bother with going out when you can stay in the comfort of your home, log into your Netflix subscription, and virtually hang out with stars like Timothée Chalamet, Julia Roberts, or Jennifer Lawrence? The curated list features films spanning genres such as sci-fi, thrillers, and comedies, offering a mix of recently released titles and timeless classics from the ’80s and ’90s. It’s an ideal and cost-effective way to ring in the New Year.
10 Best Netflix Movies
No Hard Feelings (2023)
Eagerly anticipating the return of summer vibes? The perfect way to immerse yourself in the sun-soaked season is with Jennifer Lawrence and Netflix. One of the most uproarious summer comedies from the previous year was “No Hard Feelings.” The storyline revolves around Maddie Barker (Lawrence), on the brink of losing her childhood home due to unpaid property taxes. In a twist of fate, she agrees to an offer from a wealthy couple to guide their introverted teenage son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman, a Broadway veteran making his film debut) into adulthood.
While “No Hard Feelings” embraces its bawdy humor and rightfully earns its R rating, it also surprises with its sweetness and moments of touching sincerity. Lawrence and Feldman share great on-screen chemistry, and the bittersweet conclusion will leave you with a warm feeling as you step into 2024.
One of the standout movies of 2023 was David Fincher’s noir thriller, “The Killer,” featuring two-time Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton. The storyline revolves around the eponymous character, who initiates an international manhunt after a failed hit in Paris.
Sleek and sophisticated, “The Killer” caters to aficionados of action films, particularly those who enjoyed “John Wick: Chapter 4” or Fincher’s previous masterpieces like “Se7en” and “Zodiac.” Fassbender excels as the lead assassin, infusing the movie with deadpan humor. Unpredictably witty, bitingly funny, and intense, with exhilarating moments that etch it into the annals of timeless action cinema, “The Killer” is destined to be a contemporary classic.
“If you build it, he will come.” This iconic line is synonymous with “Field of Dreams,” the quintessential dad movie. Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) is an Iowa corn farmer who experiences a mysterious message while tending to his field. A foreboding voice echoes, “If you build it, he will come,” accompanied by an apparition of Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta).
Despite facing financial challenges, Ray plows a segment of his field and constructs a baseball diamond. The field transforms into a playground for the spirits of renowned baseball players, engaging in games under the night sky. However, Ray soon realizes that baseball is just the initial phase, as the guiding voice propels him on a journey of self-discovery across the country.
While the original “Ouija” film falls short, “Origin of Evil” stands out as that rare prequel surpassing its predecessor. Set in 1967, a woman striving to enhance her séance act inadvertently summons malevolent spirits. As one of her daughters becomes possessed, she faces a relentless battle to save her child and banish the spirits back to their otherworldly realm.
Despite adhering to a somewhat predictable plot, Mike Flanagan, known for “Fall of the House of Usher,” employs sharp direction that sets the movie apart, achieving a level of unsettlement often elusive in horror films. It’s genuinely chilling and provides an effectively eerie way to welcome the new year.
“Oppenheimer” stood out as one of the most popular and critically acclaimed movies of 2023, although it’s not yet available on Netflix. If you’re seeking a comparable experience, “The Imitation Game” is a worthy substitute. Much like Oppenheimer’s treatment in the United States, Alan Turing faced unfairness and adversity post-World War II in England. Turing, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, played a pivotal role in the Allies’ victory through his codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park during WWII.
Directed by Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game” unfolds Turing’s story as a British mathematician and computer scientist recruited by the government in 1939. Driven by his interest in cryptography, Turing and a team of cryptanalysts are assigned the daunting task of deciphering the Enigma machine, the Nazi cipher device used for secret communications. Boasting an engaging premise, stellar performances by Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and a well-crafted Oscar-winning screenplay, “The Imitation Game” is an intelligent WWII thriller sure to satisfy fans of “Oppenheimer” or historical thrillers.
Leave the World Behind (2023)
If you’re more in the mood for vague, end-of-the-world-maybe movies, we have just the film for you. Adapted from Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel of the same name, Leave the World Behind stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke as Amanda and Clay, a couple on vacation on Long Island. But their vacation takes a turn when two strangers (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la) arrive in the middle of the night seeking refuge from a cyberattack. In their little refuge, the four people must come to terms with a world that is rapidly collapsing around them.
Already one of Netflix’s most popular movies ever, Leave the World Behind is enjoyably absurd. As usual, Roberts is great, and Hawke once again displays a boyish charm that’s made him into one of the most enjoyably low-key actors around. Just leave your common sense, and your Tesla, at the door.
With “Dune: Part Two” slated for release later in 2024, now is an opportune moment to revisit the original, widely regarded as one of the best modern sci-fi films. Set on Arrakis, the pivotal world in the Galactic Empire, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) faces the Herculean challenge of fostering peace with the native Fremen while upholding the spice flow vital for human space travel. Betrayed by the emperor and handed over to rival House Harkonnen, Leto’s son, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet from “Wonka”), and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), must escape for their lives into the harsh deserts of Dune.
Despite being only three years old, “Dune” retains its visual and visceral impact. The cast, including Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Dave Bautista, is even more remarkable now, having starred in subsequent hits like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” “Dune” remains an excellent means to transport yourself to another world without leaving the comfort of your home.
Ignored when it was first released last year, Reptile is an intense crime thriller that never lets the audience get too comfortable with its main character, Detective Tom Nichols (played by Benicio del Toro). In the film, a young woman named Summer (Matilda Lutz) has been killed, and her body is discovered by her boyfriend, Will Grady (Justin Timberlake, taking a break from singing pop songs). And it seems like several men in Summer’s life could have meant her harm, including Grady himself.
As he delves further into the case, Nichols shares some of the details with his wife, Judy (Clueless star Alicia Silverstone). But even Nichols’ relationship with Judy may not be what it seems as he is forced to reexamine his own life while looking for the answers that could bring a killer to justice. Reptile is a great showcase for lead star del Toro, who makes for an ideal noir hero: conflicted, brooding, and just ever so slightly dangerous.
This recommendation is tailored for those seeking a nostalgic trip or a compelling coming-of-age story. “Stand by Me,” widely regarded as one of the best Stephen King adaptations, unfolds in 1959 in Castle Rock, Oregon. When 12-year-old Gordon “Gordie” Lachance (played by Wil Wheaton before his “Star Trek: The Next Generation” days) and his friends Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) discover the location of a missing boy’s body, they embark on a journey in the hope of earning hero status.
Their expedition is fraught with challenges, including aggressive dogs, malicious bullies, and unexpected encounters with slugs. Unlike many of King’s works, “Stand By Me” eschews the supernatural, delving into something even more daunting— the complexities of growing up and the process of letting go. The film’s last five minutes boast one of the all-time great movie endings, and the title song will linger in your mind well into 2024.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Amidst the lamentations over the dwindling presence of theatrical rom-coms, there’s little reason to complain when one of the genre’s classics resides in your Netflix queue. In “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” Julia Roberts assumes the roles of both the hero and the antagonist in a unique twist on the timeless tale of a girl yearning for a boy already engaged to someone else. As Julianne Potter, Roberts endeavors to thwart the impending marriage of her best friend, Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney from “Scream VI”), to the charming Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz), despite the seemingly perfect match they make.