The long holiday weekend has arrived, and with it Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, that thing with Barbra Streisand, and more. But what if they're all sold out? What if you're stuck watching over your grandmother? What if you're snowed in? Well, it may be the the time for family moviegoing, but it's also the age of Netflix, so we've taken this December's blockbusters and Oscar bait, combed through the (bearable) options on Netflix Instant, and found a counterpart for each — for you and grandma.
Instead of Lincoln: My Left Foot
Okay, so thematically they are pretty different: one is a grand story about a United States president trying to pass a landmark amendment, the other a small story about an Irishman, crippled by cerebral palsy, trying to express himself through art. Both, however, feature one main attraction: Daniel Day-Lewis. My Left Foot is the film that won DDL his first Oscar, and he's got a good shot at another this year. That said, you won't recognize him in either performance.
Instead of The Guilt Trip: Yentl
Let's face it: the only reason you'd got to see The Guilt Trip is to see Barbra in action again. Why not just watch one of her most famous films — one which she both stars in and directs — about a woman who disguises herself as a man to go to yeshiva? Bonuses: Mandy Patinkin, always a welcome sight, and the ability to understand "papa can you hear me?" jokes. (If you were instead planning on going to see Bette Midler in Parental Guidance, you can watch her play Mama Rose in Gypsy.)
Instead of Les Misérables: Into the Woods
Les Miz has made a lot of to do about how its actors sing live. So why not watch an actual live performance of a classic musical? Plus, an Into the Woods adaptation might be coming to Hollywood soon. If that doesn't do it for you, try the street urchins of Oliver!, another musical with a healthy dose of people singing about their impoverished circumstances, just like Les Miz.
Instead of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2: episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
They both have vampires, but Buffy is high on feminism and clever quips, something of which the Twilight franchise could use a little more.
Instead of This is 40: all of Freaks and Geeks
The latest Apatow film is getting mixed reviews, so why not return to the comedy auteur's origins? Freaks and Geeks is the kind of seminal television show that was canceled way too early, and that you probably still haven't sat through, start to finish. By the end of it you'll just want to dance in your room to the Grateful Dead.
Instead of The Hobbit: Heavenly Creatures
Tales of Peter Jackson's overdoing it with The Hobbit got you down? Turn on one of his early films: 1994's Heavenly Creatures, about two school girls whose fantasy life leads to murder. Sure, it's not Middle Earth, but at least it still takes place in New Zealand.
Instead of Silver Linings Playbook: Strictly Ballroom
A romance filled with family drama, and all with a big dance number at the end: if you can't get out to see Silver Linings, Baz Luhrmann's first feature might be for you. It's (a lot) flashier than Silver Linings, but it's also not as flashy as some of Luhrmann's more recent films. Another option that involves both dance and people struggling to overcome hardships? Billy Elliot.
Instead of Skyfall: Casino Royale
No, it's not the Casino Royale you're familiar with, but it a swinging 60s spoof of the Bond franchise, which has appearances from stars like Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles.
Instead of Anna Karenina: Anastasia
Of course you could just watch another adaptation of Tolstoy's novel, but why not go for something a little different but also, well, Russian: the 1956 Anastasia starring Yul Brynner (of The King and I) and Ingrid Bergman (of Casablanca). If you're just in the mood for a period drama with lavish costumes, we recommend Amadeus.
Instead of Django Unchained: Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown Tarantino film that generated a similar brand of controversy as Django. You've already seen Pulp Fiction a million times, and you're not about to watch Four Rooms again, so it's about time you ventured back to this part of the Tarantino oeuvre.
Instead of Jack Reacher: Rain Man
Okay, so if you were planning on seeing Jack Reacher you're probably not looking for a sentimental Oscar-winner about a man and his austistic brother. But it's Tom Cruise, pre-couch jumping, as we all prefer to remember him. Also: no guns.