Most Popular Netflix Instant Videos of 2013 You Might Have Missed

House of Cards - Best of Netflix 2013, Best TV 2013

House of Cards

2013 was a banner year for Netflix Instant. As more and more people cut the cord and ditched their cable packages, the streaming media service cemented their stature as one of the premium ways to consume movies and television.

Better yet, Netflix Instant also took its most noteworthy steps into the world of original programming (as the section below will discuss), garnering multiple Emmy nominations for dramatic and comedic series that premiered on their network. It’s no wonder services like Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime are hustling to demonstrate their original programming chops, having seen Netflix succeed so completely throughout 2013.

While we certainly have a lot of affection for other streaming media channels, we think it was Netflix Instant’s year, so we’re going to focus on the best they had to offer in 2013.

Best Netflix Instant Original Programming

Arrested Development on Netflix Instant- Best of Netflix 2013, Best TV 2013

Arrested Development on Netflix Instant

House of Cards – Let’s start here, since most people tend to ignore Lilyhammer’s existence and choose to believe this was Netflix’s first original show. The acting was meaty, the intrigue was over-heated, and some of the twists beggared belief, but there’s no denying that we (and many, many others) shotgunned through the first thirteen episodes of this political thriller like the time to do so might soon run out.

Arrested Development – As huge fans of the series when it originally ran on Fox, we were frothing at the mouth with anticipation when Netflix announced that new episodes would be forthcoming. Arrested Development‘s fourth season didn’t quite live up to our expectations (what could?), but it wasn’t for lack of ambition. The choppy, disjointed Arrested Development is still better (and a whole lot funnier) than the vast majority of network TV comedy.

Orange Is the New Black – Here’s one that floored us, no qualifications. Orange Is the New Black gave us a handful of interesting characters in the first few episodes, and then just kept packing more and more of them in to its confined quarters. Ostensibly the story of a privileged white woman with a wild past that belatedly lands her in prison, Orange Is the New Black slowly and patiently revealed the humanity of the initially scary characters that surrounded her, creating a universe that was a pleasure to dwell in (from a distance, of course).

Marc Maron: Thinky Pain – If you only knew Marc Maron from his invaluable WTF Podcast, you’d certainly know him as a prime, self-obsessed ranter. However, you might not have as clear of an idea about what a skilled and entertaining comedian Marc Maron is and has been for years. Thinky Pain is evidence that few in Maron’s field can tap into the humor and pathos of the constantly agitated the way he can.

Best Movies (and Miniseries) of 2013 Streaming on Netflix Instant

For this section, we’re only going to be focused on movies that were released in 2013, lest you think we weren’t aware of the many other great movies on Netflix Instant. And, of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of our favorite movies of 2013 (we’d recommend Inside Llewyn Davis or The World’s End here, but what good does that do a person watching Netflix Instant?). Anyway, get streaming!

Best Comedies on Netflix

It's A Disaster: Available on Netflix Instant- Best Movies 2013

It’s A Disaster: Available on Netflix Instant

It’s A Disaster -Here’s something you didn’t know you wanted: a wonderfully droll comedy about the apocalypse. David Cross (from Arrested Development) stars as a man meeting his new girlfriend’s friends over their weekly brunch, which takes a surprising turn when they slowly realize that the end times have begun right outside the door. One of the great joys of this movie is watching Cross (excellent as a straight man) navigate the social minefield that is watching close friends casually snipe at each other, but the cast is uniformly excellent, making the most of a clever script.

Prince Avalanche – Director David Gordon Green used to make beautiful, lyrical, little indie movies (George WashingtonAll the Real GirlsSnow Angels) before he bizarrely moved on to big studio comedies of varying quality (The Pineapple ExpressYour HighnessThe Sitter). Prince Avalanche is his return to form, telling the almost non-existent story of two line-painters (Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch) working through a stretch of Texas devastated by fires in the eighties. Odd, philosophical, mysterious, and completely disarming.

Frances Ha – It took the winning Greta Gerwig to finally bring a light touch to Noah Baumbach’s typically mean-spirited films (we like them, truly, but woof, Nicole Kidman’s character in Margot At the Wedding…). Gerwig co-wrote Frances Ha with Baumbach and stars as the titular Frances, an enthusiastic but existentially adrift 27-year-old struggling to make it as a dancer in New York City. A sweet, funny, and insightful movie about that time of life when you feel like you should have it all figured out but you know you’re nowhere close to that goal.

Best New Documentaries Netflix Instant 2013

Computer Chess – It was a little over a week ago that we first mentioned this sleeper gem. Here’s what we had to say:

A great little curio of a movie that came out earlier this year, Computer Chess is a dryly funny, faux-documentary about a man-vs-machine chess tournament set in 1980, populated by wonderfully esoteric characters and other oddities.

And wouldn’t you know it, all of that is still true. Seek it out.

Room 237  – For huge fans of The Shining (like us), Room 237 was a great opportunity to pore over a classic and consider some of the subtextual tricks director Stanley Kubrick may have been employing. For others, it provided the chance to listen to some crackpot theories, and a few intriguing ones, about a thirty-year-old movie. Room 237‘s purpose – to explore some remarkably intricate and often remarkably strained theories about The Shining – might have seemed like a chance to laugh at a few loonies with loony theories, but it was a fascinating study about just how much people will deliberately twist their brains to make something that they really, really want to believe conceivable.

 Best New Dramas Streaming on Netflix

Upstream Color: Best of Netflix 2013- Best Movies 2013

Upstream Color: Best of Netflix 2013

Side Effects – This movie may make for a weird final note in Steven Soderbergh’s directorial career, but it’s a sleek and intelligent example of film noir nonetheless. We’ll warn you that the less you know about the plot going in, the better, but the story revolves around a depressive woman (Rooney Mara), her psychiatrist (Jude Law), and the tricky nature of treating mental health with pharmaceuticals . The twists certainly come quick and often, and Soderbergh’s usual deconstructionist eye is well-applied to this slippery tale of deceit and murder.

Upstream Color – As with writer/director/star Shane Carruth’s other movie (Primer), not knowing what’s going on in Upstream Color is part of the point. Seemingly, Upstream Color is about a woman (Amy Seimetz) whose life is turned upside down after she’s abducted and hypnotized, and the man she meets (Carruth) who may have had the same thing happen to him, but it’s such an unusually and originally assembled movie that it’s hard to commit even to that description. Nonetheless, Upstream Color is a beautiful, mesmerizing, startlingly unique science fiction drama, one that uses the confusion it causes as a necessary part of its otherworldly spell.

Top of the Lake – Jane Campion’s much-heralded (rightfully so) return was a seven-episode miniseries that cast Elisabeth Moss as a detective searching small-town New Zealand for a missing, pregnant 12-year-old girl. Moss soon finds her case intertwining with a local crime boss (Peter Mullan) and a battered women’s shelter run by a mystic (Holly Hunter). It’s a fascinatingly and patiently told tale that has a great many interesting things to say about gender issues.

Enjoy Better Netflix Streaming With FlashRouters

We would be remiss if we just shared our favorite Netflix Instant streaming options of 2013, and didn’t remind you about the ways in which a FlashRouter can improve your streaming media experience.

Our routers are designed to foster fast, powerful, and versatile wireless networks. With a FlashRouter,  you can extend your wireless range, and even control how your bandwidth is allocated, which is particularly helpful for those who want to prioritize high-volume jobs like streaming movies and television. These are just a few of the benefits of flashing routers with DD-WRT or Tomato firmware, replacement firmwares that supercharge a router’s functionality.

What’s more, with a FlashRouter, you can even improve your VPN experience, which will help you stay in touch with your Netflix Instant queue from anywhere in the world (as we’ve demonstrated many times this year). We can configure our routers so that your VPN is set to work with it right out of the box, as long as you pick one from our official supported provider list. We don’t want you messing around with tricky installation processes and accidentally bricking your router.

Take a look at some of the entries on our recent best-sellers of November list for some router recommendations (it’s also a good place to check out some popular VPNs), but if we had to spotlight a few, we’d tell you about the Cisco Linksys E4200 DD-WRT router; that fantastic device can’t seem to cede the top spot on our best-sellers lists. Of course, the E4200 may just have some serious competition, now that we’ve added several Wireless-AC routers to our line, including the Asus RT-AC66U Dark Knight DD-WRT router, it’s Tomato counterpart, and the Netgear R6300 DD-WRT router, all of which run at dizzying speeds.

And while you’re improving your Netflix Instant experience, why not head on down to our media device store and pick up a Roku or Apple TV? It’s the best way to view 2013’s best of Netflix Instant.

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