The 13 Best Movies for Your First Netflix and Chill
Put down 'Scarface' and 'Enter the Void,' and put on a movie that is actually good for getting intimate to.
Screengrabs from left, Sausage Party and Magic Mike
The perfect “Netflix and chill” movie, meaning the flick you screen with the intention of turning a "hang" into a "fling," isn’t usually an Academy Award winner; nor is it a plot-heavy genre film that requires your utmost attention. Instead, think of picking a “Netflix and chill” movie the way you would a soundtrack and select something that sets the mood, that isn’t ruined by the sounds of small talk, laughter, or, ideally, smooching. Something you’re cool watching with your eyes closed, because it’s not polite to stare.
The best movies to “Netflix and chill” to flatten out around the third act, when you’ve got other things to attend to, and return with a strong finish for cuddling/aftercare. So while you might immediately think of Boogie Nights, Blue Is the Warmest Color, or Y Tu Mamá También, because, y’know, sex, there’s a good chance you’ll end up consumed by a story rather than by another consenting adult. You also don’t want any heavy-handed metaphors like It Follows or Raw, either, which are both great films but run the risk of turning you on before turning you off of sex forever. Dial it back, sweet swain, and let us be your guide to the ultimate Netflix (US) movies to “Netflix and chill” to:
The roiling, unabashed hedonism of New York in the late 1970s sets this queer nightclub drama about the legendary Studio 54, starring the perfect trifecta of 1990s hotness: Neve Campbell, Ryan Phillippe, and Salma Hayek. Throw in a critically underrated performance by Mike Myers as the larger-than-life club owner Steve Rubell, and you’ve got all the makings of a Boogie Nights or Saturday Night Fever—studio edits, however, turned what could have been a cult classic into a bit of a trainwreck, which was bad for director Mark Christopher, but will be good for you.
Naomi Watts and Robin Wright star as two moms who have affairs with each other’s sons in this literal Freudian wet dream from Luxembourgian filmmaker Anne Fontaine. Everything about this international romance-drama is so aggressively stupid-hot and irrational that if you don’t find something else to do while you’re watching it, your head won’t be the only thing hurting by the end.
If cheekbones could cut glass, Greg Mottola’s romantic 2009 dramedy would be a glazier. Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Ryan Reynolds share the screen in a heartfelt coming-of-age story so goddamn starry-eyed, you’d think it was on molly. Then again, summertime hormones might be even stronger than MDMA.
Another studio botch job, this is a movie about Tom Cruise as a bartender in love with the attention that wanted to be a movie about fragile male egoism in the alcoholic-American Psycho age. So, to recap: fruity drinks, silky shirts, and making love in other people’s bedrooms—basically sex in 1988, in a nutshell.
This movie right here will have you getting busy in minutes—and making it work afterward—if only to avoid being anything like the members of its belly button-fingering proto-millennial yuppies-in-denial love quadrangle. Basically Joe Swanberg's craft brewery-centered mumblecore is like a worse Closer, but it's also good in that it shows you exactly what not to do.
Other than Gaspar Noé’s Love and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Netflix’s library is disappointingly light on perverse, female-centric European erotica like Belle de Jour, The Piano Teacher, and The Night Porter. The exception is 1973’s Immoral Tales, an anthology film that broaches such taboos as defloration, incest, and sacrilege, that is actually a very random pick for Netflix. Whatever—it’s basically four films in one, so you can take your pick of which ones to pay attention to.
The alternate universe that sets the Magic Mike films is a utopia centered around female pleasure in which roving gangs of hot, emotionally-open guys travel from township to township with the sole intention of making women feel sexy and cared for. And if that doesn’t sound like perfect “Netflix and chill” material to you, then simply consider this Channing Tatum's fictionalized origin story and shut up and enjoy “Pony” by Ginuwine.
The idea to turn the story of an aporophobic, inbred monarch into a riot grrrl romp is so audacious, it could only have been done by a Coppola. Don’t watch this one for the historicity; do bask in its sensory delights, including Academy Award–winning costume design and the irresistible charm of an unconscionably powerful Kirsten Dunst.
While everyone was losing their collective shit last year over Call Me by Your Name, the Chicago-based writer-director Stephen Cone was making humble, assured waves with the understated but highly-rated Princess Cyd (92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes!). It tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who meets another girl on a summer stay in the Windy City and learns about everything from love and loss to God and listening (big for a teen) in a way that invites you, the LGBTQ cinephile, YA fan, or romance movie sucker to laugh and long to.
The best nights in involve food and lots of laughing, and this unhinged and raunchy CGI movies has enough of both to share (literally—you’ll get what I mean when the final scene rolls around). In short, it’s a popcorn movie about a hot dog.
The Lost Boys
While this teen horror romp is undoubtedly entertaining throughout (has Kiefer Sutherland ever been better?), it’s the combination of vampire homoeroticism, '80s haircuts, and beach-town sleaze that make it as perfect a movie to curl up in someone’s arm and watch today as it did in 1987.
Ukranian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi’s 2014 drama—told entirely in sign language sans subtitles—is a brutalist formal exercise in filmmaking, one that invites the viewer down a dark and terribly beautiful snowy road. Raw and tragic without being didactic or self-indulgent, this coming-of-age story is the kind of thing to put on when you and someone else want to get to know each other on fast-forward through the magic of shared experience.
Without a doubt the best teen sex movie of the 2010s (so far) is the profoundly unhygienic tale of Helen, a sexual swashbuckler who ends up falling for the hospital nurse who has to take care of her after she accidentally cuts her butthole open while shaving. Resolutely devoted to eviscerating the nature of shame itself, you’ll learn just as much about your Netflix and chill buddy as you will yourself—that is, if you two are willing to be honest.
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