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7 Great Movies or Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime -- Right Now

Choice overload is a real thing! Marketers tell us that giving a customer too many choices can paralyze them. The wise business will find a way to creatively limit the choices available. Ever been to In-N-Out? They have three combos.

Netflix and Amazon have paralyzed us! Who hasn't wasted an entire evening looking for something good to watch? And ask my wife, I don't like wasting time.

I often resort to Rotten Tomatoes to see how the critics liked a film or show, but the critics can overvalue the ground-breaking, progressive, bleak, soul-crushing stories. Sometimes we need to watch those, but I don't always want to...and they usually aren't appropriate for families.


What I think we need is a curated list of films and shows in which the stories ask important questions, highlight universal humane themes, or delight in a manner good for the heart and soul.

I would want the individual or organization doing the selecting to come from an informed Christian worldview, able to tell us when God's grace shines through a secular work or when a religious work fails to tell the truth.

I'd like this list to be up-to-date, because the streaming platforms add and remove films each month.

Posted on a website that doesn't overwhelm you with video and banner ads.

Is this too much to ask? Maybe.

But Stage & Story would like to work toward meeting this need. So, here are seven stories (movies and shows) that are worth your time and available on Netflix or Amazon Prime as I write.



1. The Twilight Zone: The Original Series (1959-1964)

Streaming on: Netflix

Created by: Rod Serling

Cast: Each episode contains a host of new actors, but some well-known actors starred in this show, such as Robert Redford, George Takei, Robert Duvall, Burt Reynolds, William Shattner, and Carol Burnett

Rated: TV-PG

These stand alone episodes explore a wide-variety of themes through stories that often frighten or shock or surprise. What I love is how thought-provoking they are. The Twilight Zone has also been incredibly influential, inspiring a host of movies and shows (8 Ways The Twilight Zone Influenced Modern TV and Film) ranging from M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense to Lost to Westworld. If you're unfamiliar with The Twilight Zone, start with these great episodes: "The Eye of the Beholder" (Season 2 Episode 6); "Time Enough at Last" (Season 1 Episode 8); "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" (Season 1 Episode 22); "A Nice Place to Visit" (Season 1 Episode 28).

2. Lost in Space (2018-): Season 1

Streaming on: Netflix

Created by: Irwin Allen, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless

Key Cast: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Parker Posey, Maxwell Jenkins, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall

Rated: TV-PG

I'm not sure why, but I didn't have high expectations for this show. I was wrong! This reboot of the 1965 television show impresses on multiple levels. If you're not familiar with the original series, the story is about the Robinson family who set off to start a new colony, but troubles in space set them off on a different trajectory -- light years off course. Now, they must come together as a family to survive and thrive on a foreign soil. The acting, visuals, and storytelling are superb. It may not leave you wrestling with its ideas for weeks, but it's a moving and enjoyable ride through space. Content wise, I'm comfortable recommending the show to my younger middle school students. But don't underestimate that note, it equally engages the adult viewer.

3. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Directed by: Bharat Nalluri

Key Cast: Dan Stevens, Mark Schrier, Christopher Plummer

Rated: PG

This is an excellent film that didn't receive much commercial attention. But if you fit any of these categories you'll love the film. 1. You're a fan of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. 2. You're a writer or storyteller. 3. You like Dan Stevens...of Downtown Abby (who plays Matthew Crawly), of course! Even if you don't check one of those boxes, I think you'll like this film. This unique retelling of A Christmas Carol lets us follow Charles Dickens himself as he writes his classic story. The film shows us how truly difficult the writing process is and still delivers on the elements of A Christmas Carol we'd expect in any adaptation--Scrooge, the ghosts, etc.

4. Cinderella Man (2005)

Streaming on: Netflix

Directed by: Ron Howard

Key Cast: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

Rated: PG-13 (violence, language, some sexual references)

I re-watched this film yesterday. So moving! If you liked the early Rocky films, especially the first installment, you'll enjoy Cinderella Man. This rags to riches drama tells the true story of Jim J. Braddock, a Great Depression era boxer who both humbly and courageously (a rare and admirable combo) fights in and out of the ring to keep his wife and children just a little farther away from poverty. Braddock's determination to sacrificially love his wife and children is only matched by his wife's support of and trust in her husband to provide for them in the best way he knows how. As the cliche' goes, hard times shows our character. Braddock and his wife have character, and that's why when they fight through their fiery trails, they exit victorious, a hope for all who hear their story.

5. The Founder (2016)

Streaming on: Netflix

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch

Rated: PG-13 (strong language and some adult content)

This movie is timely. Our present world is obsessed with the heroic entrepreneur who is fueled with ambition and hustle. We idolize Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk and the other tycoons who stopped at nothing to see their visions come true. It's the American Dream! And this is an American movie. The story follows Ray Kroc -- the once modest salesman who eventually becomes the founder of one of the most iconic fast-food chains in the world: McDonald's. I like this movie because it addresses the question -- is ambition enough? To be great or successful, do you only need ambition and determination to overcome the obstacles that will come? Or, are there other character attributes one needs? The movie's not preachy, so you'll get to consider this question on your own.

6. Bleak House (2005): Mini-series

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Adapted by: Andrew Davies

Based on: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Key Cast: Gillian Anderson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Carey Mulligan

Rated: TV-PG

This dark drama based on Charles Dickens' novel of the same name explores the broken, complicated, and corrupt 19th century English legal system. And in usual Dickens form, this mini-series simultaneously reveals the human heart, revealing greed, love, and ambition. Andrew Davies succeeds in adapting Dickens' longest novel in an engrossing and moving manner. The acting, as expected from our British counterparts, is superb. The mini-series is an 8.5 hour commitment, but -- as with Dickens' works --it is worth it!

7. Sense and Sensibility (2008): Mini-series

Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Adapted by: Andrew Davies

Based upon: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Key Cast: Dominic Cooper, Charity Wakefield, Hattie Morahan, Dan Stevens, David Morrissey

Rated: ​TV-14 (the series opens with a sensual scene -- you can understand the story without it, so feel free to skip the scene. This is the only reason I can see why it's rated TV-14.)

This mini-series, also adapted by Andrew Davies, is a beautifully-filmed and moving story based on Jane Austen's novel. The story follows the Dashwood widow and her three daughters --Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret--as they recover from their dramatic change in status and living quarters accompanying the death of Mr. Dashwood. As you'd expect from Austen, this is also a romantic tale, as the eldest sisters are unmarried and soon introduced to eligible and not-so eligible suitors. My wife and I have watched this mini-series (only three episodes) probably a dozen times. We've seen the Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet version, and we like it, but this adaptation towers over it. With stellar acting, a superb musical score only matched by the wonder of the English coast, you'll want to watch it again and again. And, men, you may not think this film is for you, but not so. In many respects, this story is a study in character and integrity, traits all men need to live life well.

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