The 99 best movies under 99 minutes on Netflix Canada

A movie’s runtime is increasingly becoming a major factor in the likelihood of me ever watching it.

Of course, there are directors I love whose work I follow almost religiously. And I, too, get sucked into festival and awards buzz. But when I’m home and want to watch a movie before bedtime (8 p.m., and I’m only sorta kidding) lurks, I’m not looking for epics or films with entr’actes. More than once, I let my The Great Escape (172 minutes) DVD set continue gathering dust in favour of shorter films I had available to watch (The Italian Job – the Michael Caine one – and Run Lola Run – an 80-minute German thriller – come to mind).

The next time you’re looking for a movie to watch and want to make sure you’ll be conscious by the time the credits roll, you don’t have to just fire up another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, like I’ve been doing for the last two weeks. You *can* watch a movie! As Buffy herself sang at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards, “movies kick absolute, total and complete ass.”

Here are 99 great films under 99 minutes currently streaming on Netflix Canada.

(Netflix Canada catalogue @ June 1, 2015)

My favourites

1. Fargo (1996), 98 minutes


Why I’ve even bothered including 98 other films on this list is beyond me. We should all just be watching Fargo 99 times back-to-back. The Coen Brothers classic stars Frances McDormand as the badass, no-bullshit, pregnant detective Marge Gunderson, who’s investigating three murders in her town, all occurring after the disappearance of the wife of bumbling Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy).

2. A History of Violence (2005), 96 minutes

History of Violence

Tom Stall and his family are about to get a rude awakening. After a news story hailing him as a local hero garners some national attention, Tom’s past life catches up with him. Viggo Mortensen stars in Canadian director David Cronenberg’s film, with Mario Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt. One of Cronenberg’s best.

3. His Girl Friday (1940), 92 minutes

His Girl Friday

How far can one man go to try to lure his ex from her new beau? For newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant), the limit does not exist as he tries everything to keep Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), his ex-wife and his ace reporter, in town.

4. 20 Feet From Stardom (2013), 91 minutes

20 Feet from Stardom

The Oscar-winning documentary follows back-up singers who lent their vocals to some of the most famous and popular songs ever, yet are not household names, including Darlene Love, who stole the show at the 2013 Oscars and was a frequent guest on David Letterman’s Late Show.

5. Fruitvale Station (2013), 85 minutes

Fruitvale Station

A haunting portrait of the last day of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area man shot by police on the platform of a train station, that’s become more haunting and poignant since its release. I also highly recommend Roxane Gay’s essay on Fruitvale Station, “Last Day of a Young Black Man.”

6. Stoker (2013), 99 minutes


Chan-wook Park’s first film in English is Stoker, about young India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska, in her best work ever) coping with her father’s death, her mother’s (a bone-chilling Nicole Kidman) grief, and her mysterious uncle’s (Matthew Goode) sudden and creepy interest in her.

7. Blue Jasmine (2013), 98 minutes

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine is the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Jasmine Francis, a role that earned Cate Blanchett her very deserved second Oscar.

8. Mean Girls (2004), 97 minutes

Mean Girls

The endlessly quotable and rewatchable Mean Girls is also only 97 minutes long. Has a shrine been erected in honour of Tina Fey yet?

9. I Am Divine (2013), 90 minutes

I Am Divine

I’d only heard of Divine and knew nothing of Harris Glenn Milstead, the man under her wigs and makeup before watching I Am Divine, the fascinating documentary about the drag icon who was John Waters’ muse and starred as Edna Turnblad in the 1988 film version of Hairspray. 

10. The Cabin in the Woods (2012), 95 minutes

Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is a send-off of every horror movie trope, wrapped in a bonkers, over-the-top horror-comedy of its own, co-written by Judd Apatow and Drew Goddard.


11. Shrek (2001), 90 minutes


Shrek‘s influence on the animated-film landscape is undeniable, even though the series has fallen out of the grace of some fans because of subpar third and fourth entries.

12. Shrek 2 (2004), 93 minutes

13. How to Train Your Dragon (2010), 98 minutes

14. Un chat à Paris (2010), 70 minutes

15. Kung Fu Panda (2008), 92 minutes

16. Ernest et Célestine (2012), 80 minutes

17. Antz (1998), 83 minutes

18. Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), 94 minutes

19. L’illusioniste (2010), 80 minutes


20. Red Eye (2005), 85 minutes

Red Eye

Wes Craven is a true master of suspense, and in the breezy 85-minute Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, Craven builds one of the most gripping thrillers of the last decade.

21. Premium Rush (2012), 91 minutes

22. Dredd (2012), 95 minutes

23. Haywire (2011), 92 minutes

24. Salt (2010), 99 minutes

25. Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007), 91 minutes

26. Big Trouble in Little China (1986), 99 minutes

27. A Company Man (2012), 96 minutes

28. The Matador (2005), 98 minutes

29. Killing Them Softly (2012), 97 minutes

30. The Guard (2011), 96 minutes

31. Blue Ruin (2013), 90 minutes

32. Croupier (1998), 94 minutes


33. Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011), 92 minutes

Page One: Inside the New York TImes

Blame my print journalism bias for the first three documentary picks: Page One, about the behind-the-scenes, production side of putting together The New York Times, with a deep and now-bittersweet look at the work of the late David Carr; Bill Cunningham New York, about a NYT photographer who literally invented street fashion photography; and Stripped, about cartoonists at newspapers discussing how the fall of print media is affecting their craft.

34. Bill Cunningham New York (2010), 84 minutes

35. Stripped (2014), 85 minutes

36. Side by Side (2012), 98 minutes

37. Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show (2014), 88 minutes

38. Blackfish (2013), 83 minutes

39. The Imposter (2012), 99 minutes

40. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013), 81 minutes

41. From One Second to the Next (2013), 34 minutes

42. The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (2013), 38 minutes


43. Bicycle Thieves (1948), 89 minutes

Bicycle Thieves

Netflix’s catalogue of classic films is sometimes lacking but often changing based on which studios it inks deals with. The 1948 Italian film Bicycle Thieves is a heartbreaking and hopeful film about a man and his son searching for a stolen bike that is crucial for the father’s job. Honorary Oscar winner in 1950 for foreign-language film, before the competitive category was established in 1956.

44. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), 93 minutes

45. Omar (2013), 98 minutes

46. Wadjda (2012), 98 minutes

47. Blue Caprice (2013), 93 minutes

48. Tiny Furniture (2010), 99 minutes

49. Diego Star (2013), 87 minutes

50. Rabbit Hole (2010), 91 minutes

51. My Week with Marilyn (2011), 98 minutes

52. The Station Agent (2003), 89 minutes

53. Love Is Strange (2014), 94 minutes

54. Punch-Drunk Love (2002), 95 minutes

55. Short Term 12 (2013), 96 minutes

56. Smashed (2012), 81 minutes

57. The Bling Ring (2013), 90 minutes

58. Moon (2009), 97 minutes

59. Carnage (2011), 79 minutes

60. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), 94 minutes


61. The Strangers (2008), 85 minutes

The Strangers

There’s a fine line between “predictable” and “hits exactly the right note exactly when it’s supposed to.” That is The Strangers, a 2008 horror-thriller starring Liv Tyler as a woman being taunted by three masked assailants at her and her husband’s isolated vacation home.

62. Teeth (2007), 94 minutes

63. The Descent (2005), 98 minutes

64. Carrie (1976), 98 minutes

65. The Fly (1958), 93 minutes

66. Frailty (2002), 99 minutes

67. In Fear (2013), 85 minutes

68. The Woman in Black (2012), 95 minutes

Comedy, Romcom, Dramedy

69. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), 99 minutes

Grand Budapest Hotel

The latest film by Wes Anderson was a surprise hit, and a rare early-in-the-year release that was able to sustain its momentum come Oscar time, taking home four awards in technical categories and being nominated in nine overall. The film stars Anderson regulars and has a most impressive cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, and Tony Revolori, in a memorable breakout film role.

70. Baby Mama (2008), 98 minutes

71. Zoolander (2001), 89 minutes

72. Office Space (1999), 89 minutes

73. Wet Hot American Summer (2001), 96 minutes

74. Bring It On (2000), 98 minutes

75.  Liar Liar (1997), 86 minutes

76. Intolerable Cruelty (2003), 99 minutes

77. Dan In Real Life (2007), 98 minutes

78. 13 Going On 30 (2004), 97 minutes

79. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), 85 minutes

80. Midnight in Paris (2011), 94 minutes

81. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), 96 minutes

82. Enough Said (2013), 92 minutes

83. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009), 97 minutes

84. Hamlet 2 (2008), 92 minutes

85. Frank (2014), 95 minutes

86. Gayby (2012), 88 minutes

87. Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012), 92 minutes

88. Easy A (2010), 92 minutes

89. Your Sister’s Sister (2011), 90 minutes

90. The Full Monty (1997), 91 minutes

91. Clueless (1995), 97 minutes

92. The Addams Family (1991), 99 minutes

93. Fever Pitch (1997), 98 minutes

94. Alan Partridge (2013), 90 minutes

95. Harold and Maude (1971), 91 minutes

96. But I’m A Cheerleader (1999), 85 minutes

97. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), 92 minutes

98. Frances Ha (2012), 85 minutes

99. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999), 81 minutes


2014: The movies I watched

At the movies

My final tally for 2014 was 262 movies, at a total runtime of 28,025 minutes – or 467 hours and 5 minutes, or 19 days, 11 hours and 5 minutes.

Why I did this (watched this much and kept this diary), I’m not entirely sure, and I’m surprised I kept it up all year. First, I wanted to know just how many movies I was watching. Then I wanted to know how much time I was wasting spending watching movies. Then I thought it would be neat to know the medium on which I was doing my movie watching (of the 262 movies I saw in 2014, 99 were on DVD – my own, the library’s, friends’, video-store rentals – and 57 were theatrical releases. I saw 39 movies on Netflix and 67 in “other” ways – mostly these were films that were on TV, or screeners, or movies I watch at other people’s houses, or movies I watched at/for work when I worked for a subtitling company. Side note: I spend way too much money every month on my cable package, but I am making the most of it.)

I hadn’t set a goal for myself when I started this thing, though I was on course for a 400-movie year. In January and February, I’d easily average eight to 11 movies a week. But then I stupidly got myself a full-time job (I was in grad school at the beginning of 2014), then a part-time job, then another. Employment gets in the way of spending 22 hours a week watching movies.

I never went to film school and I’ve always felt like a bit of a fraud keeping up with current releases but not delving deep enough into film history, including the silent era. I’ve become re-acquainted with my library card, which I use almost weekly for my DIY film school. But I’m not done. Not even close. That’s the great thing about cinema: As much as you watch, you’re never, ever done.

My 2015 movie wish list: quality over quantity; that Montreal’s movie theatres’ schedules become double-feature friendly again; go to more film festivals; watch more foreign films; watch more classics; keep a diary, again.

Here’s my 2014 film diary:

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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)


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)


“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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Christmas movies on TV and Netflix Canada 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 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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