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15 Best Philosophical Movies on Netflix Right Now

March 12, 2019
12 min read

We live in circles, in loops, to be precise! We are moving from one instant, one action or one place to another, only to return to that instant, that action or that place again. In other words, the world functions in closed, fast-moving, infinite loops. There are moments you want to slow down or pause and reflect on this loop structure of our lives. The best way to do this mental exercise is to step into some movie house showing a ‘philosophical movie.’ Yeah, we are discussing those movies today that might have a life-changing effect on you. Scroll down through this list of really good philosophical movies on Netflix available for streaming right now.

15. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ takes the internal world of a former teacher, Pat Solatano, played by Bradley Cooper. He has just released after spending eight months in a mental institution. Nothing left in his life like job, home and his wife. He returns to where he came from, to his parents. But, living back with his mother, played by Jacki Weaver, and father, Robert DeNiro, is not a cakewalk for him. Moreover, he had to deal with the emotional trauma of missing his ex-wife. Pat is aware of life’s loop structure and determines to escape it. He tries to reconnect with his ex-wife.

Then, Pat meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, in right time, at the right place. Being a mysterious girl, Tiffany offers to support Pat to reconnect with his wife, but he had to do something in return. The deal is on and their life is never the same again. ‘Silver Lining Playbook’ has David O. Russell at his directorial best, with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence deliver one of their career best performances.

14. Amanda Knox (2016)

amanda knox

The Netflix Original Documentary ‘Amanda Knox’ explores the notorious case of Amanda Fox. The trial of Amanda Knox made headlines in the international press for its dramatic appeal of the paradox, whether Amanda is a psychopath of a naive girl trapped in a plot in a foreign country! Amanda Knox is an American woman who was convicted with the murder of her roommate, another exchange student and spent four years in an Italian prison.

She was acquitted after four years and the documentary retraces the proceedings of the trial, media coverage and Amanda Knox’s life in those terrible days. The narrative often reminds us of the pathetic human plight in the face of utter helplessness and how the systems of power deal with such an individual. Knox’s bizarre behavior during trial leaves the movie open-ended without a conclusion.

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13. Cloud Atlas (2012)

‘Cloud Atlas’ qualifies all the mandates for a movie to be a mind bender. Based on the award-winning novel by David Mitchell, the movie has Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis at the helm! The movie spans across six stories which stretched from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future. Known for their interest in bending storylines, the director trio, weave action, mystery and romance in a particular cinematic pattern. The plot explores our simple actions and their reactions influence individual lives throughout the past, the present and the future. The movie brilliantly portrays an action of kindness in the distant past causes a rebellion in the distant future. We come across the same cast, but in a different role, space and time as the narrative moves forward along cinematic time. ‘Cloud Atlas‘ makes us rethink about our concrete concepts of time, space, freedom, art, love, and their absoluteness.

12. Mr. Nobody (2009)

‘Mr. Nobody’ is an introspection of the last member of the human race, played by Jared Leto, on Earth about the multiple choices he could have taken in his life. The year is 2029 and we see Nemo Nobody as an ordinary man leading a mundane life with his wife and 3 kids. Breathtakingly designed, the movie takes us to the time loops for a dizzying ride. ‘Mr. Nobody‘ generated acidic reviews upon its release for the complexity of plot and non-linear narrative. But, the movie has earned cult status over the years for its unique portrayal of space, time continuum to reflect upon human existence as an ever-changing coordinate. Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael has been hated and lauded alike for making the viewers think that why time only goes in one direction, and the possibility of smoke forms back as a cigar!

11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Stanley Kubrick’s violent drama ‘A Clockwork Orange’ unfolds in the near future or maybe in our present. The unsettling movie follows Alex, a reckless gang leader who spearheads a series of crimes like rape, mugging and murder. He has a group of followers called ‘Droogs.’ After a night of ultra-violence, Alex is caught and goes through the Ludovico behavior modification technique

Alex is tamed and conditioned to the norms of the new world by binge-watching horror and violent movies. He starts to hate Beethoven’s music which was once his favorite. After the therapy, Beethoven’s Ninth inflicts the excruciating pain in him. When released to the world as a new person, Alex becomes the victim of the same victims of his past, now taking over his place. The movie reflects upon a sadist’s existence under an overtly authoritarian ruling machine. Even though the movie generated controversy upon its release because of the portrayal of graphic violence, many hailed Kubrick for foreseeing such cultural violence in the future.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ unfolds in a futuristic backdrop in which people are capable of erasing unwanted of unpleasant memories from their brains. Joel Barish, played by Jim Carrey, a young man becomes heartbroken when learned that his girlfriend Clementine, played by Kate Winslet, has gone through a memory-erasing procedure to get rid of him. Joel, with a wounded heart, decides to do the same, erasing her memories from his brain. As Dr. Mierzwiak and his assistants guide Joel through the erasing procedure, he realizes with a shudder that his love for Clementine holds the memories firm, resisting the erasing process.

Joel struggles to save the memories of Clementine from being deleted. However, the procedure can’t be reversed and he had to find a solution, with the help of a brain with every memory of Clementine wiped off from it. Directed by Michel Gondry, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘ ponders deeply on the vulnerability of the human mind and our dependence on memories, or in other words, time. The movie also shows the recurring nature of our mistakes and emotions.

9. The Truman Show (1998)

When it comes to playing characters with a couple of pieces missing from their totality, Jim Carrey is a sure bet! ‘The Truman Show’ has the actor operating in his top form. The movie follows Truman Burbank, a simple man who learns the shocking truth of his mundane life has been the subject of a live, 24-hour television reality show. The TV Show is titled ‘The Truman Show”, and live broadcasts every single aspect of his life without his knowledge. The worse part is yet to come as he realizes his whole life is running as a soap opera for a massive number of spectators. Everyone in his life, like the intimate ones like his wife and kids, are paid to play their parts.

The Truman Show‘ raises some serious issues about privacy and spectatorship in an age of surveillance. When a man’s entire life is orchestrated and recorded to telecast as reality, the movie questions the concepts of reality and fiction. Jim Carrey’s Truman pauses a crucial question about the changing definitions of identity and existence.

8. Dark City (1998)

Dark-City-

‘Dark City’ draws a dystopian hell in which there is no sunlight and alien creatures are vultures on human souls. In the middle to this end-of-the-day chaos, a man desperately struggles with memories of his past life. Despite all his efforts, no memories of her surface and he is completely lost in that vacuum, The movie explores concepts like genetic engineering and the existence of god. It’s a subtle take on the theological questions about God and the relationship between man and god. The creator and creation duality is questioned here when people wander like lost souls with nothing to hold on. All our resorts like memory, thought control, human will and the altering of reality, things we used to be proud of, have failed. The movie takes the helpless humanity through a nightmarish cinematic experience.

7. Boyhood (2014)

boyhoodRichard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ documents the painful process of growing up with surgical precision. The movie has been made over a period of 12 years with the same cast members ageing and evolving along with the movie. ‘Boyhood’ narrates the story of a divorced couple raising their young son. The boy named Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, grows up in front of the viewers for twelve years, from first grade at age 6 through 12th grade at age 18. The movie dissects his relationship with the parents evolves over the 12 years. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play Mason’s parents and Lorelei Linklater grows up as his sister Samantha.

‘Boyhood’ is one of those rare movies which depict the paradox of childhood with all its stark realities and fantasies. Richard Linklater squeezes and stretches the time and creates a time capsule. The movie becomes a mirror turned towards us, our childhood and parenting at so many points once we are inside this time capsule.

6. Moon (2009)

Moon sam rockwell

Duncan Jones’ debut feature ‘Moon’ is a slow-burning piece of cinema. Sam Rockwell’s Sam Bell is an astronaut miner sent to the moon with a mission by a company called Lunar. Sam has three weeks left in his mission before returning to mother earth, his wife and daughter. Sam uses the loneliness and melancholy on the surface of the moon for introspection of his past life and anger related problems.

But, as his return date nearing closer, Sam starts feeling strange. The isolation has become too uneasy to bear and Sam starts developing visions hearing bizarre sounds. Another shocking revelation strikes him when he realizes the company, Lunar, has secrets to hide from him. Left alone on a planet, with his computer and assistant, GERTY, Sam knows something is coming in between him and his journey to home.

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5. Apocalypse Now (1979)

In ‘Apocalypse Now,’ Francis Ford Coppola erases the lines between action, adventure and drama and delves deep into introspection of the reason behind human existence. The movie follows Captain Benjamin Willard, played by Martin Sheen, who is sent on a mysterious mission to the heart of Vietnam war theater.  His mission is to locate and wipe out everything, including the man himself, of the missing Colonel Walter Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando. The Colonel is the central character in the numerous folktales circulates among soldiers ever since his disappearance. The most convincing among of is that he has formed a fully trained personal guerrilla army in the Cambodian deep forest. Moreover, the legend goes like the Colonel has declared himself as a lethal demigod who is worshiped by the guerrillas.

Apocalypse Now‘ not only brought the coveted Palm d’Or for Francis Ford Coppola, but also polarized the viewers with its hallucinatory nature and perplexing ending. The movie is considered a classic, evoking deep insights about the concepts of God, faith, existence, war, and worship.

4. Bottom of the World (2017)

bottom of the world

‘Bottom of the World’ is a hypnotic tale on the complex equation connecting memory and time. When a young couple En route LA for a fresh start after turbulent episode, stopover in a quirky motel for a night’s stay the movie turns into unknown depths of mystery and hallucinations. The mysterious disappearance of the young woman follows and the man in an alternate world with memories of her in his head, but no trace of her existence. ‘Bottom of the World’ tests our grip on reality and perceptions with a unique narrative.

3. Dekalog (1989 – 90)

Dekalog

Originally conceived as an anthology of ten short films for the Polish television, Krzysztof Kieslowski made ‘Dekalog’ loosely based upon the Ten Commandments. Among the ten short movies, ‘Dekalog 5 and 6,’ are shorter versions of Kieslowski’s features ‘A Short Film About Killing’ and A Short Film About Love’ respectively. The movie series meditates on the recurring themes of Kieslowsky movies, the emotional turmoil of the individual against the moral constraints of the society.

2. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a DreamDarren Aronofsky’s hypnotic utopia, ‘Requiem for a Dream’ contemplates and compares the phenomena of drug addiction as an individual and societal predicament. The movie follows four ambitious people in a downward spiral of self-destruction and their dreams shattering in the destructive process. Hallucinations, enigmatic visions, desperation, alienation, and violence grip the characters and the movie leaves a deep impact on us.

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1. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Director Abdellatif Kechiche explores the mysterious equations of mutual attraction, sexual orientation and obsession in his ultra-poetic feature ‘Blue is the Warmest Color.’ When Adèle, a high school student starts to explore her sexual preference, she crosses paths with Emma, a free-spirited woman. When Adèle is discriminated by her friends due to her sexual choices, Emma accepts her unconditionally and together they start to explore dynamics of sexuality, sexual preferences, social acceptance, and obsession, while their relationship evolves through ups and downs.

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