Best Films to Rent

Monday, September 6, 2010 at 5:46 pm

If you’re looking for some of the best films to rent, you can stop your search right here. The following list is dedicated entirely to good movie rentals, with selections ranging from the 1950s to just a few years ago. While hardly meant as comprehensive, it should provide you with a few weeks (or few months) of entertainment.

So where can you find the best films to rent? You can always try your local video store, but older films may not be in stock, and recent works may be checked out. That’s why I suggest becoming a Netflix member. They offer free delivery right to your mailbox, absolutely no late fees, and over 100,000 movies to choose from. You can like what you’ve just read, click here to become a Netflix subscriber.

Pulp Fiction (1994) – Quentin Tarantino solidifies his reputation as a modern master of the crime genre by presenting this interconnected series of tales about the criminal underworld in and around Los Angeles. John Travolta revived his career by playing an argumentative hitman, and the rest of the stellar cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis, and Tim Roth. From redneck rapists to impromptu adrenaline shots, Pulp Fiction delivers a non-stop stream of lawlessness, redemption, and pop culture musings.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Considered one of the greatest films ever made, this British epic tells the somewhat factual story of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) and his adventures in Arabia during World War I. From the horrors of war to the bonds of brotherhood, the film paints a magnificent portrait of one man’s struggle against his darker nature. The cinematography of the endless desert will knock your socks off, thanks to the work of Freddie Young. The supporting cast includes Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains, and Jose Ferrer. Don’t call yourself a serious fan of cinema until you’ve seen this one.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Largely ignored upon its original release, this story about an innocent man (Tim Robbins) sent to prison has gained a massive fanbase over the years. It’s the highest-rated movie over at the Internet Movie Database, and for good reason. As the years roll by in captivity, Andy Dufresne grows as a person, befriends a charismatic con named Red Redding (Morgan Freeman), and plots a way to gain his freedom. Freeman’s voice-over work takes the film to a whole new level, and the last 25 minutes are among the most satisfying in motion picture history. The excellent supporting cast includes Bob Gunton as the scheming warden, Clancy Brown as the brutal captain of the guards, and James Whitmore as an elderly prisoner whose difficulty adjusting to life on the outside will have you fighting back tears.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – Sergio Leone created his spaghetti western masterpiece with this tale of three men in search of buried treasure during the American Civil War. Eastwood is all kinds of iconic as the Man with No Name, while Eli Wallach gets all the best lines as a likable scumbag named Tuco. Finally, there’s Lee Van Cleef. As the murderous Angel Eyes, he provides a perfect counterbalance to Eastwood’s gunslinger with principals. Showdowns take place, bridges are blown up, men die in droves, and Leone never misses a chance for extreme close-ups and swirling music from composer Ennio Morricone. Clocking in at just under three hours, it’s worth every damn minute.

Rear Window (1954) – Voyeurism can be a lot of fun, but it can also lead to danger. Just ask Jeff Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart), a professional photographer who spies on his neighbors with binoculars while recuperating from a broken leg. When he becomes convinced that his neighbor (Raymond Burr) is guilty of murder, his accusations set in motion a potentially lethal chain of events. Grace Kelly is radiant as Jeff’s girlfriend, and director Alfred Hitchcock infuses the film with the level of suspense expected from the undisputed master of the genre.

For more of the best films to rent, click here and join Netflix

American Beauty (1999) – Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is having a mid-life crisis: His wife is cheating on him, he hates his job, and he secretly lusts after his teenage daughter’s friend (Mena Suvari). So he goes a little crazy, quits his job, buys a sports car, smokes some dope, and generally enjoys himself. In the middle of all this self-indulgence, Lester begins to develop a strange inner peace that blends perfectly with the film’s commentary on middle-class family life and the pitfalls of self-gratification. Chris Cooper is a standout as the no-nonsense, highly disturbed neighbor. Also starring Annette Bening, Wes Bentley, and Thora Birch.

WALL-E (2008) – Far into the future, Earth has become a giant trash heap. A single robot named WALL-E toils away on the surface, at least until he finds a lone plant growing amidst the massive piles of garbage. This heralds the appearance of EVE, a robot probe assigned to search for signs of life on Earth. When she takes the plant back to her spaceship, the smitten WALL-E follows along, thus kicking off the adventure of a lifetime and the salvation of the human race. A wonderful motion picture that’s sure to capture the heart of anyone who sees it, WALL-E is also one of the best films to rent for family viewing.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg launch a franchise that’s still going strong to this day. Ford plays Henry Jones, Jr., better known by the moniker “Indiana.” When he’s not teaching college classes on archeology, he’s donning a fedora and globetrotting to find some of the world’s rarest antiquities. But then the adventure of a lifetime drops into his lap: locate the fabled Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. The first 10 minutes of the film are better than most full movies, and Ford’s heroic charisma shines through with every setback and plot twist. If the technology and budget had been available, this is the type of film Hollywood would’ve been cranking out in the ‘30s and ‘40s.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – The fellows from Monty Python (Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam) created an absurd spoof of the Arthurian legends and then released it onto an unsuspecting world. Some found it downright ridiculous, while those with a sense of humor are still laughing their asses off. All these years later, the tale of King Arthur’s (Graham Chapman) search for the Holy Grail is regarded as a classic. If Trojan rabbits, giant knights obsessed with shrubbery, and eccentric wizards sound like fun, be sure to give this one a try. If you enjoy it, you might also seek out Python’s also-excellent The Meaning of Life.

12 Angry Men (1957) – As a young man’s life hangs in the balance, a jury of 12 men debate the outcome of a trial. Since a unanimous verdict must be reached, the jurors spends the bulk of the film arguing the details of the case and getting to know the personal prejudices of each other. Henry Fonda is Juror Number 8, the only man who initially believes in the defendant’s innocence. As he tries to persuade others, minds are changed, lines are crossed, and tempers explode. A powerful behind-closed-doors look at the deliberation process, with superb performances from co-stars Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb, and E.G. Marshall. For those of you who normally avoid black-and-white films, let me urge you to break down and see this one. It’s well worth your time.

Now that you’ve read up on some of the best films to rent, become a Netflix subscriber and start having them delivered to your home (as many as eight at a time, depending on the pricing plan you choose). We do get a commission if you sign up, but it doesn’t add to your cost. Plus, it helps pay for the various expenses involved in maintaining the Only Good Movies website.

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