Titles On Spike Lee’s List Of 86 Essential Films That Are Currently Streaming On Netflix

Titles On Spike Lee's List Of 86 Essential Films That Are Currently Streaming On Netflix

As I thought it would, Spike Lee’s essential films list (posted HERE over the weekend) generated lots of discussion, not only on this blog, but across the film blogosphere. 

In short, you know what they say about opinions…

And in consideration of Spike’s list, I thought I’d take a look at which of the films he mentions is streaming on Netflix currently, so that those of you with Netflix streaming accounts, can check them out, assuming you haven’t already.

Or maybe you have, but you want to see them again.

Unfortunately, as I discovered while looking up all 86 or so films, a ridiculously tiny number are streaming on Netflix right now, which speaks to ongoing complaints voiced by many Netflix users, frustrated with the service’s lack of “in-demand” titles.

Netflix did address this recently, essentially re-emphasizing the fact that it’s more of a channel (you may have heard the company’s CEO compare the service to HBO), and not a bottomless well of every film that’s ever been made. And, really, it comes down to money and rights to content. In short, it’s currently cheaper and easier to buy DVD rights, than it is to buy the rights to stream every movie and television show in existence.

Think of Netflix as more of a curator of content, and I think it’ll make it easier to wrap your mind around how the company operates – assuming you’re one of the frustrated. 

But of the 86 films on Spike’s list of essential films, just 6 of them are currently streaming on Netflix. Six!

That’s it! Like I said, a ridiculously tiny number of the 86 films on Spike’s list. About 7%.

And those 6 films are:

Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2

– John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy

Roman Polański’s Chinatown

Steve James’ Hoop Dreams

Terrence Malick’s Days Of Heaven

Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief

So, if you haven’t seen any of these 6 films, and you’re a Netflix streaming subscriber, you should check them out before they disappear, because there is an expiration date on Netflix’s rights to each title – meaning, they won’t be available indefinitely. So take advantage while you can!

Once again, Spike’s full list of 86 essential films follows below.

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Well, in that case lemme go see Days of Heaven to at least get those 6 knocked out.


And FYI, Chinatown will be expiring Wednesday at midnight.



as basketball movies go, soul in the hole is better, Hoop Dreams was a better documentary.


Pretty standard list…. seen them all.

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