Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Days of Documentaries on Netflix

Last year, I published a list of notable documentaries that many readers found helpful. In these next few weeks, between eating and unwrapping, I get a chance to catch up on the documentaries that everyone is buzzing about. Netflix has always been a proud home to some of the world’s great docs, and if you’re a fan too, here are 12 great ones that will give you plenty to talk about at those big family dinners.

1. The Invisible War - Director Kirby Dick (This Film Not Yet Rated, Outrage) takes on the sexual abuse of women in the U.S. military in this hard hitting and rage-inducing documentary. The doc is on the short list for a Best Documentary Feature nomination at this year's Oscars, and has already racked up honors around the world since its debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
2. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is another shortlisted 2013 Oscar favorite. Director Alison Klayman explores the complex world of Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei. As the power of social media and art challenge the old guard in China, this film explains the limitations of art and the politics of suppression. Amazing archival footage and Klayman's unparalleled access make this one of the great films of the year.
3. The Queen of Versailles is equal parts “Honey Boo Boo” and “Too Big To Fail.” You will laugh and cry as you look at American consumerism and the complexities of the banking system through the eyes of one family, who happened to be trying to build the largest private home in the world. Lauren Greenfield (Thin) directs this riches to rags story that became an audience favorite at Sundance last year.
4. MarleyPerhaps the finest music documentary ever made, this intimate and fascinating look at the far-too-short life and career of reggae superstar Bob Marley was directed by Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland) and studies the influence Marley has had on music and global politics. If you don’t like music docs, don’t worry, this is so much more than just a music doc. Even big fans of Marley will learn something new about this artist and the mark he has left on the world.
5. Into The Abyss - Famed director Werner Herzog follows up last year’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams with a look into the equally cavernous topic of the human soul. He explores why we kill and why the state kills in this perfectly balanced look at the death penalty. We see crime and punishment from all angles in the style you have come to expect from Herzog.
6. Art of FlightRed Bull Media does for documentaries what it does for soft drinks…adds a kick. The images in this extreme sports doc are drop dead gorgeous and the soundtrack rocks. This is a great one to just relax and watch. It is also a great way to show off that new HDTV to visiting family members. Enjoy!
7. Kevin - Jay Duplass directs this film portrait of his Austin music hero Kevin Gant, who seemingly disappeared from the world he was rocking in 1995. Jay makes no bones about his subjectivity here, he is a Kevin worshiper and wears it on his sleeve. The intimate look at the private life of this nearly unknown artist is artful and direct. Jay and his brother Mark are fine directors who emerged from Austin’s film scene, so he has a pretty interesting view of this near miss/near hit tale.
8. Jiro Dreams of Sushi - This film chronicles the comings and goings of a $300 per meal, 10 seat restaurant in Tokyo that has become a bucket list destination for foodies worldwide. More importantly, it is the tale of a father and son, the pursuit of excellence, and legacy. It is as small as the restaurant itself, but packed with passion and perfection. David Gelb directs.
9. 30 for 30: Jordan Rides the Bus - The 30 for 30 series is packed with great films, most of which are available to stream. Filmmaker Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup, White Men Can’t Jump) directs this film that captures one of the oddest moves in sports history, when NBA superstar Michael Jordan’s came out of retirement to play minor league baseball. It is a deeply human look at an icon from a feature director with style.
10. 30 for 30: The Two Escobars - International soccer star Andres Escobar and drug lord Pablo Escobar might seem as different as two men could be, but this amazing installment of the award winning ESPN documentary series explores the many similarities of these two high profile figures. Michael and Jeff Zimbaslist (Favela Rising) direct this great film.
11. Indie Game: The Movie - We have all heard about indie film and indie music, but this doc is a rare exploration of the world of Indie video games. We meet the people behind games like FEZ, Braid and Super Meat Boy, as well as the people who play them. It is a surprisingly engaging peek at the place where art and technology meet.
12. 6 Days to Air: The Making of SouthPark - This is no bonus feature. Director Arthur Bradford takes you behind the scenes for a week in the life of Trey Parker and Matt Stone as they put together an episode of the long running Comedy Central series “South Park.” It is great fun to look at the unique creative process of these crazy, dirty geniuses and experience first hand how they lampoon pop culture.

Well, there you have it, 12 great docs for the year. You keep watching and we’ll keep bringing them to you.

Happy Holidays!

Ted Sarandos
Chief Content Officer

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Golden Globes Nominees and Winners on Netflix

The glitz! The glamour! The drunken celebs! The Golden Globe nominations come out tomorrow, so we thought we’d share a list of this year’s winners and nominees streaming on Netflix right now! From 2012’s big winners like The Artist and Hugo, to lesser known gems like Machine Gun Preacher and Luther, there are tons of great new movies and TV shows ready to play instantly. So pop some champagne, put on that beaded gown (and slippers) and enjoy some of the year’s best.

2012 Golden Globe Winners on Netflix:

  • The Artist – Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Music
  • Jean Dujardin, The Artist – Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
  • The Adventures of Tintin – Best Animated Feature Film
  • Martin Scorcese, Hugo – Best Director, Motion Picture
  • Ludovic Bource, The Artist – Best Original Score, Motion Picture
  • W.E. – Best Original Song, Motion Picture
  • Downton Abbey – Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • Idris Elba, Luther – Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story – Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
2012 Golden Globe Nominees on Netflix:

  • Hugo -  Best Motion Picture, Drama
  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs – Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
  • Charlize Theron, Young Adult – Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
  • Berenice Bejo, The Artist – Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
  • Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs – Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
  • Albert Brooks, Drive – Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
  • Rango – Best Animated Feature Film
  • The Flowers of War – Best Foreign Language Film
  • In the Land of Blood and Honey – Best Foreign Language Film
  • Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist – Best Director, Motion Picture
  • The Artist – Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
  • Abel Korzeniowski, W.E. – Best Original Score, Motion Picture
  • Howard Shore, Hugo – Best Original Score, Motion Picture
  • The Keeper, Machine Gun Preacher – Best Original Song, Motion Picture
  • Lay Your Head Down, Albert Nobbs – Best Original Sony, Motion Picture
  • American Horror Story – Best Television Series, Drama
  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad – Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama
  • Mireille Enos, The Killing – Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama
  • Madeleine Stowe, Revenge – Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama
  • Glee – Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical
  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock – Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock – Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation – Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
  • Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey – Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey – Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey – Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

November ISP Rankings for the USA

Our 30 million members view over 1 billion hours of Netflix per month, so we have very reliable data for consumers to compare ISPs in terms of real world performance.

Starting today, we’ll publish monthly rankings of major ISPs based upon their actual performance across all Netflix streams. 

Google Fiber is now the most consistently fast ISP in America, according to actual user experience on Netflix streams in November.

Broadly, cable shows better than DSL. AT&T U-verse, which is a hybrid fiber-DSL service, shows quite poorly compared to Verizon Fios, which is pure fiber.  Charter moved down two positions since October.  Verizon mobile has 40% higher performance than AT&T mobile. 

The average performance is well below the peak performance due to a variety of factors including home Wi-Fi, a variety of devices, and a variety of encodes. The relative ranking, however, should be an accurate indicator of relative bandwidth typically experienced across all users, homes, and applications.


Ken Florance is Vice President of Content Delivery at Netflix

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It’s Always Sunny at Netflix!

When I talk to people about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, they typically tell me one of two things… “It’s amazing!” or “I have been meaning to watch that show. It’s supposed to be hilarious.” You should know it’s both amazing and hilarious, so pull up a barstool and have a drink with Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Dee, and Frank, because all seven prior seasons of Sunny are available for Netflix US members starting today!

This FX comedy is a sort of anti-F.R.I.E.N.D.S., as hilarious as it is completely inappropriate. The group of pals known as “the gang” are some of the most despicable people on the planet, happily serving up drinks at Paddy’s Pub in South Philadelphia. Danny DeVito plays Frank, father to Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson). Along with fellow bar backs Mac (Rob McElhenny) and Charlie (Charlie Day), the group’s harebrained schemes and poor judgment land them in trouble every episode. Here’s a list of some of the office favorites:

Season 2 Episode 5 – “Hundred Dollar Baby” – Frank starts to train Dee to be a fighter in this parody of “Million Dollar Baby," meanwhile Dennis and Mac are working to turn Charlie into the ultimate street fighter by training him to take a beating. Things, of course, take an interesting turn though when Charlie starts taking Dee's steroids.

Season 2 Epsiode 7 – “The Gang Exploits a Miracle” – A water stain resembling the Virgin Mary appears at the back of the bar, and the gang sees nothing but dollar signs.

Season 3 Episode 9 – “Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person” – It should be “mentally handicapped” but it’s exactly like it sounds. Watch and see if you think Lil' Kevin has a little hand, or a little foot.

Season 4 Episode 2 – “The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis” – Selling gas door-to-door, Frank's rape van, figuring out who is the wildcard in the group — what's NOT to love about this episode??

Sunny is a perfect show to start watching when you’re sick of shopping, tired of traveling, and full of food this holiday season. Enjoy!

-Allie Goss, Director, Content Acquisition

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Vampire Diaries Arrive in Canada!

Late November means Thanksgiving here in the US, a holiday which between the eating, shopping and mandatory in-law face time typically unleashes at least four of the Seven Deadly Sins in most folks (perhaps even more if your love of Thanksgiving Day football and/or Black Friday shopping borders on 'lust').  

'Pride' is technically considered to be one of those sins, but I must say it is with great pride that I bring you the news that now, for the first time, Seasons 1 and 2 of The Vampire Diaries are live in Canada, exclusively on Netflix!  We know this is exciting news for the show's many fans all around the country, but f
or the uninitiated, the critically-acclaimed series takes place in Mystic Falls, Virginia, a fictional small town haunted by supernatural beings. The series is driven by the love triangle that emerges between Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and vampire-brothers Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder).  Over time, the show begins to shed some light on Mystic Falls' mysterious past, including the family of Original Vampires, which have their own evil plans.
So while your American friends down south fight over the last turkey leg or slowly drift into tryptophan-induced food comas, sit back, relax and dig into The Vampire Diaries!
- Jerry Kowal, Director, Content Acquisition

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exciting New Relationship with Disney

I’m incredibly pleased and excited to tell you that Netflix will be bringing you exclusively, starting in 2016, theatrically released movies from The Walt Disney Company and its renowned studios, including Disney, Pixar and Marvel.  In the meantime, we’ll have an amazing selection of Disney movies including Disney classics, catalog movies, and popular non-theatrical movies for the whole family featuring beloved characters like Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, to name a few.

For us, this is a really big deal – for the first time in our largest market -  new Disney movies will be available when and where you want to watch them on Netflix rather than on a premium cable channel.  Our popular “Just for Kids” section, which is especially programmed for children under twelve, will now have such beloved Disney theatrical classics as “Dumbo,” “The Aristocats,” and “Pocahontas” and new favorites like “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and the “Air Bud/Buddies” franchise on top of the incredible range of Disney Channel, ABC Family and Disney XD shows already available to stream on Netflix.  

For the older set, later today we'll have Tim Burton’s incredible holiday favorite “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and in the months and years to come, the epic “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl,” an array of M. Night Shayamalan movies, including the supernatural thriller “The Sixth Sense” and other really great Disney movies including “National Treasure,” “Phenomenon” and “Quiz Show.”

Through this new partnership with Disney, one of the best known global names in family entertainment, Netflix is giving our members even more high quality films to enjoy.  That’s on top of such great movies as “The Lorax,”  “Paranorman,” and our first new releases from Dreamworks Animation, “The Croods” and “Turbo,” all coming to Netflix.

We’re so proud to be teaming up with Disney and to be offering you even more fantastic entertainment in the months and years to come.  Let the fun begin!

Pauline Fischer - Vice President, Content Acquisition

PlayStation 3 Leads Living Room Netflix Viewing

We’re proud to stream TV shows and movies from Netflix onto nearly every Internet connected screen, from pocket-sized screens on phones to very large HDTVs. We’re also passionate about product innovation and continually investing in making the Netflix viewing experience better for our users.

Historically, gaming consoles have been a popular way for consumers to enjoy Netflix. Today we wanted to recognize the PlayStation 3 in particular as a leader in Netflix streaming. In the US and globally, PS3 is the largest TV-connected platform in terms of Netflix viewing. This year, at times, PS3 even surpassed the PC in hours of Netflix enjoyment to become our No. 1 platform overall.

Every PS3 owner can access Netflix directly via the free PlayStation Network and sign-up for Netflix directly from their PS3. The engagement enabled by this easy access combined with the powerful PS3 system capabilities makes PS3 a natural fit for Netflix to develop and deploy our most advanced features first on PS3.

PS3 was the first computer entertainment system to offer Netflix in full 1080p video resolution with 5.1-channel Dolby Digital Plus™ surround sound and to offer post-play, second screen controls, on device sign-up, alternate audio options including subtitles. PS3 is currently the only platform to experience a new voice user interface called “Max” that’s currently being tested.  We’ve been able to easily update these features to existing users of the application and continue to update and test new features on a continual basis.

Our sentiment for delivering great living room viewing experiences is shared by Sony:

Jack Tretton, CEO and President of Sony Computer Entertainment America had this to say: “The PlayStation and Netflix communities both share a strong passion for high quality entertainment. Netflix provides a fantastic experience for watching TV shows and movies on PS3, and our joint development will continue to produce innovations for our customers that further demonstrate PS3 as the true home for entertainment in the living room.”

We now have more than 30 million members globally who stream more than a billion hours a month, making us the world’s leading Internet subscription service for enjoying TV shows and movies. We come to work each day dedicated to improving the streaming experience of each member and helping you find and view more great content from Netflix.