A solid variety of strong content is coming to Netflix this June, including a recent Best Picture winner and one of the best sports movies ever made, but the whole lot of these new additions is easily overwhelmed by the single biggest title to hit streaming this year: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” A brilliant and daring space epic that redefined the most famous movie franchise of them all (and was loved by literally every single internet user who saw it, with zero exceptions whatsoever), Rian Johnson’s game-changer is more than enough to justify that Netflix fee for another month.
Here are the seven best movies that are new to Netflix this June (click here for the full list of what the streaming giant is adding this month).
7. “Mohawk” (2017)
Horror maestro Ted Geoghegan makes good on the haunted promise of his debut feature, 2015’s “We Are Still Here,” by delivering another gnarly chunk of low-budget, high-value horror — this one even sharper and more violet than his last. IndieWire’s Jamie Righetti gets to the heart of it in her review:
Horrible things have always happened in the woods in horror movies, and “Mohawk” is no exception to the rule. But director Ted Geoghegan twists the familiar revenge tropes in his historical thriller, exposing the brutality of racism and the dire future being faced by members of the Mohawk tribe in New York during the War of 1812. Taking cues from “Deliverance” and “I Spit On Your Grave,” “Mohawk” substitutes rape with racism, and puts Native Americans front and center in a revenge tale that doesn’t pull punches. The film also offers a very clear commentary on the displacement and genocide of Native Americans, which is apparent through the American militia’s ruthlessness and crude racism.
Available to stream June 30.
6. “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (2008)
In some respects, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” hasn’t aged particularly well. A teen rom-com that’s set during (and thoroughly defined by) a New York indie rock scene that lasted for the length of an Interpol song, Peter Sollett’s follow-up to “Raising Victor Vargas” was never going to age particularly well. On the other hand, good movies have a way of surviving their own obsolescence, of proving themselves to be more of a time capsule than a relic, and this charming downtown adventure is growing up along those lines.
A far cry from the MP3-era “Thin Man” reboot its title might suggest, the film stars Michael Cera as a Michael Cera type, and Kat Dennings as the sullen Manhattanite he meets at Arlene’s Grocery, the two of them crushing hard on each other across a wild night that takes them to every Brooklyn Vegan-approved venue in the city. It’s a starry-eyed blast, full of raw emotion and topped off by an all-time Ari Graynor, great in the role of Norah’s very drunk friend, Caroline. She’s a key reason why “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” will likely be playing on cable (and maybe even streaming on Netflix) long after the last Bishop Allen fan has forgotten that band ever existed — it’ll never grow old, because it so vividly captures what it feels like to be young.
Available to stream June 1.
5. “Miracle” (2004)
Arriving on Netflix just in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (go Vegas Golden Knights!), “Miracle” isn’t just the best hockey movie ever made — not that there’s much competition for that particular crown — it’s also one of the best sports movies ever made. The masterstroke of Gavin O’Connor’s film, a grounded and moving account of The Miracle on Ice, is that it sees the players of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team through the proud, paternal eyes of coach Herb Brooks (an all-time Kurt Russell).
Played here as a pre-“Friday Night Lights” Coach Taylor type (albeit it a touch less huggable, and with a serious chip on his shoulder), Brooks is reborn as an anchor for one of the great stories in all of modern athletics, and all of the amateur skaters on his squad grow into fully realized characters by virtue of what they mean to him. The games themselves are shot with rare verve and intensity, but we all know which country wins in the end. What really makes “Miracle” so exciting is that, maybe for the first time, we care about the people who won it for them.
Available to stream on June 1.
4. “Step Up 2 the Streets” (2008)
The defining chapter of the “Step Up” saga, and arguably the best-titled sequel since “2 Fast 2 Furious,” Jon M. Chu’s “Step Up 2 the Streets” is the low-key dance masterpiece that galvanized the Step Up Cinematic Universe (SUCU) and even paved the way for “Magic Mike XXL” (a very high-key dance masterpiece if ever there was one). Channing Tatum only has a cameo this time around, but it’s the kind of cameo that certifies someone’s star power.
And while it goes without saying that Tatum’s scene is an unimpeachable highlight, it’s also true that he isn’t really missed from the rest of the movie, as Briana Evigan and series mainstay Adam Sevani are more than capable of keeping the beat on their own. The opening flashmob scene — set deep inside the Washington D.C. metro — is still one of the most electric prologues of any film in recent memory, and more than enough to make you wish that the series was still going strong.
Available to stream on June 16.
3. “Cutie and the Boxer” (2013)
One of those strong, emotionally resonant documentaries that lacked the social hook required to make any real noise (but will echo on streaming platforms for a long time to come), Zachary Heinzerling’s “Cutie and the Boxer” is an intimate and unflinching look inside the 40-year marriage between “boxing painter” Ushio Shinohara and his younger wife, Noriko, a quietly intense woman who keeps a tight lid on her own talent. The aging couple share a cramped New York apartment, and live together on the periphery of the city’s contemporary art scene. What little income they generate comes from Ushio’s work, large canvases that are bruised with the colors he literally punches onto them.
Heinzerling does a brilliant job of insinuating himself into this crammed union, a fly on the wall in a family where much is still left unsaid, even after more than four decades. There isn’t much room for the director’s camera to maneuver around the Shinoharas’ home, but it gives Noriko all the space she needs to finally open up to her husband, and to the world he keeps out of reach from her.
Available to stream June 14.
2. “The Departed” (2006)
Is it possible that “The Departed” — the blockbuster smash that finally landed Martin Scorsese the Oscar that had eluded him for so long — is somehow… under-rated? In the immortal words of Mark Wahlberg’s Dignam: “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe fuck yourself.”
Just kidding, it’s great.
Available to stream June 1.
1. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017)
“The Last Jedi” is the best Star Wars movie since “The Empire Strikes Back,” but it’s also a lot more than that — it’s as much of a new hope for the eroding blockbuster culture of 2017 as “A New Hope” was for the emerging blockbuster culture of 1977. Needless to say, this is something of a huge surprise. At a time when mainstream cinema is typified by the coddling safety of episodic superhero movies, makeshift “Jumanji” sequels, and whatever the hell you call “The Emoji Movie,” Star Wars is pretty much the last place you’d expect to find someone try to shoot the moon. And yet, that’s exactly what Rian Johnson did with his first foray into a galaxy far, far away.
Taking the reins of the most obsessive fandom in the entertainment universe (a responsibility that would scare most directors into deference), Johnson mounted a bonafide insurrection against an industry that’s fueled by nostalgia, grounding his story in a simple idea that was bound to ruffle some feathers and piss off some fanboys: If you really love something, you have to let it go. It’s a notion that other massive franchises should take to heart if they want to survive.
Available to stream June 26.