28 TV shows and movies to watch on Netflix Canada this summer

It’s summer, so you’re wondering what to watch on Netflix, right?

We weren’t all made to withstand high heat and humidity, so if your idea of a Not-Bummer-Summer is spending it indoors, here are nine TV shows (six of which are returning soon!) and 19 movies you should add to your Netflix List this summer.

Hannibal – 26 episodes, approx. 44 min. each (full series so far)

Hannibal

Another Hannibal adaptation? Yeah. Another one, and quite possibly the best one ever. The NBC series is two seasons in, and gets more creepy and spooky every week. Bryan Fuller’s reboot is totally enthralling and engaging, with unforgettable performances by Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, who portray the eponymous character and Will Graham, respectively. Laurence Fishburne also does his best work in years. The show’s also shined a light on two incredible Canadian actresses, Montrealer Caroline Dhavernas, as Dr. Alana Bloom, and Brampton’s Lara Jean Chorostecki, as the ruthless and conniving blogger Freddie Lounds. Hannibal returns to NBC/CityTV for Season Three in 2015. (Related: Hannibal, one of the best shows of 2013, is “sinister yet cheeky.”)

The Good Wife – 90 episodes, approx. 44 min. each (four seasons; Season 5 ended on CBS in May 2014)

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“That show’s for suburban white ladies.” – Me, before devouring the first season of CBS’s The Good Wife. Julianna Margulies’ performance anchors and elevates the show to much more than courtroom/law-firm drama. Though it goes the Boston Legal route around Seasons Three and Four (outrageous, ripped-from-the-headlines cases), the drama never falters. The rest of the cast is superb too, especially Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi (it also attracts some top-notch guest stars, like Michael J. Fox, Martha Plimpton, Nathan Lane, Carrie Preston, Dylan Baker, Anika Noni Rose, Anna Camp, Denis O’Hare and Scandal‘s Joe Morton, to name a few). I started watching The Good Wife shortly before Twitter erupted in shock over the surprising and shocking death of a main character. I quickly watched four-and-a-half seasons of TGW and finally got to the episode in question and my worst fears were quashed. This was not a show grasping for relevance or desperate to jolt its narrative; The Good Wife is a confident series, and an addictive one.

The Good Wife returns to CBS/Global for Season Six in September 2014.

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Review: House of Cards – Season 2

House of Cards Season 2

It took me about 10 days to watch the second season of House of Cards, but more than a month to sit down and write about it.

It was less exciting, less scandalous, and more slow-moving and into itself. About midway through, after I’d devoured eight episodes in the three days following its Valentine’s Day première, I needed a break. Finishing the season felt like a chore or, worse, a workout: you put in the time and got a small reward every few, torturous sessions.

I liked the first season of House of Cards but do remember a lull in the middle episodes. Some have written that on closer inspection, even the first season of the show isn’t strong. It has elements of a great show, but it isn’t one. I disagree. I was under no obligation to watch it but did – and quicker than I care to admit – and thought it was exciting, compelling and novel enough for me to even be giddy about the season-two première. I stopped watching Derek, the Ricky Gervais Netflix series, two episodes in, so the notions that people will binge-watch a show just because they can or because it’s available are not true.

Season two of House of Cards picks up where the first left off, with Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) just days from the office of the vice presidency he so cunningly chased in season one. Again, Spacey is marvellous as the sociopathic, psychopathic, cold and calculating Underwood. The whole cast, really, does tremendous work, especially Robin Wright as Claire Underwood and Michael Kelly as Underwood’s chief of staff Doug Stamper. Now that Francis is VPOTUS, there’s only one office – and one man – separating him from ultimate power. It makes sense that a character portraying the VPOTUS seeks the office of POTUS on paper, but in theory and in House of Cards, Underwood undermines everyone he’s around, regardless of whether they are above his pay grade. He already seems more powerful than the president.

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Valentine’s Day: Romantic comedies on Netflix Canada

Romantic comedies get a bad rap, but just last year, releases like Warm BodiesAbout Time, The Spectacular NowEnough Said and Don Jon gave us fresh takes on the genre. It helps that I have a very broad definition of what could be a romantic comedy, but there’ll always be an audience for romcoms and I love a good one.

My selection of five great romantic comedies streaming on Netflix Canada this Valentine’s Day – followed by some anti-love picks for the cynics out there:

Amelie

Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (a.k.a. Amelie)

Nothing short of magical, Amelie might just be the feel-good movie of life. Starring Audrey Tautou in the title role and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amelie tells the story of an imaginative and shy woman who finds love as she does small, good deeds around her community.

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Best of 2013: Best movies of 2013 streaming on Netflix Canada

What’s open in Montreal on New Year’s Day? Not much other than movie theatres, video stores and restaurants.

If you’re brave enough to venture outside – forecasts are calling for a high of -18 in Montreal – you can spend your day at the movie theatre. The Wolf of Wall StreetAmerican Hustle12 Years a Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis are all more than worthy of your time. There’s also a ton of great movies that came out this year that have been released on DVD, so you can rent them online or at a video store.

RELATED: BEST OF 2013: TOP 10 MOVIES 

And if you just wanna stay home, there are some great 2013 releases streaming on Netflix Canada.

It’s a Disaster

It's a Disaster

The indie by Todd Berger clocks in at 88 minutes and follows a group of young couples having brunch when they get word that the world is ending. Stars David Cross, Julia Stiles and America Ferrera.

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Christmas movies on TV and Netflix Canada

Canada.com has a nifty guide for how Canadians can get access to the U.S. Netflix library. It would come in handy if you’re looking for great Christmas movies to stream this week. The selection on Netflix Canada just doesn’t cut it. No White Christmas, no Miracle on 34th Street.

Here are my picks for Christmas movies streaming on Netflix Canada.

Elf

Elf Will Ferrell

A new classic, the Will Ferrell vehicle from 2003 was a hit at the box office and has only grown in popularity since its release. Ferrell is Buddy, a human who was raised by elves in the North Pole. He ventures to New York to find his biological father (James Caan), who Santa tells him is on the naughty list. Elf also stars Ed Asner as Santa, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, Amy Sedaris and a pre-Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage. Directed by Jon Favreau.

Bad Santa

Bad Santa Billy Bob Thornton

While not nearly as crass as the unrated DVD version (the so-dubbed Badder Santa), Netflix’s version of Bad Santa is nonetheless a good bet for laughs on Christmas Eve (Just don’t watch with any children). A department-store Santa (Billy Bob Thornton) plans a Christmas-Eve robbery with his sidekick and meets a bullied kid he wants to help out. Stars Billy Bob Thornot, Bernie Mac and Lauren Graham.

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11/11 Remembrance Day: War movies on Netflix Canada

Tora! Tora! Tora!

You’re on an impossible mission if you’re looking to learn about the history of wars in the world using only your Netflix Canada account. You may need to dig up old-world relics that are your video-store and library cards. Netflix Canada’s selection of war films is sadly incomplete.

The ratio of all First World War to Second World War movies is about 1:100 (unscientific figure, but the Second World War was longer, its effects longer lasting and its narratives more easily dramatizable, which may explain the difference); on Netflix Canada, I’ve been unable to find more than one movie or documentary on the First World War worth sharing (Flyboys, the unrecommendable 138-minute mess starring James Franco, is available if you are so brave. One of the more positive reviews called it “a lot less obnoxious than Pearl Harbor.”)

Where is the Paul Gross-directed-written-starring Passchendaele, a great – and one of the only – Canadian war film? Classics like All Quiet on the Western Front and Paths of Glory? More recent films like A Very Long Engagement and War Horse? And I’m still only on the First World War – the streaming service’s repertoire of Cold, Vietnam and Korea War movies is missing some cinema classics. I can’t fault Netflix for its shortcomings, but if it is going to be the future of media streaming, it has a long way to go.

Here are some of the war movies Netflix Canada has to offer.

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Netflix recommendations: Halloween

The Omen

Watching movies on Halloween > trick-or-treating > parties.

I was the kid who rushed through trick-or-treating to get back home to watch Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? specials on YTV. I was the teen who watched the Wes Craven repertoire instead of going to the parties everyone attended (OK, I wasn’t invited to those).

Though a lot of classics are missing (Nightmare on Elm StreetRosemary’s Baby, Beetlejuice, Rocky Horror Picture Show), Netflix Canada has a good enough selection of movies to stream in the week leading up to All Hallows’ Eve.

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