August is the cultural doldrums every year, when so-so movies are the bulk of what’s playing in theaters and the new television season hasn’t yet begun. It’s the same for Netflix, which has seen its library of licensed content has dwindle over the course of the year as it continues to focus on original programming. The streaming service’s already-meager offerings mean there are only a few movies and TV shows you should try to watch before they, too, leave Netflix at the end of the month. Among them there is one of Will Smith’s best dramatic performances, a highly entertaining Japanese anime series, and the best genre television series J.J. Abrams ever co-created. (And no, it’s not Lost or Alias.) Check out the must-watch list below while you wait for the (hopefully) more bountiful fall.

August 27

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Set in San Francisco during the early 1980s,The Pursuit of Happyness centers on bone density scanner salesman Chris Gardner (Will Smith), who struggles through an unpaid internship to earn a full-time position as a stock broker while caring for his son (Jaden Smith). It’s a heart-wrenching portrayal of a father desperate to raise himself out of destitution and provide for his child. Not exactly sunshine and rainbows, but it’s one of Smith’s best dramatic performances and his son’s feature film debut.

Set in San Francisco during the early 1980s,The Pursuit of Happyness centers on bone density scanner salesman Chris Gardner (Will Smith), who struggles through an unpaid internship to earn a full-time position as a stock broker while caring for his son (Jaden Smith). It’s a heart-wrenching portrayal of a father desperate to raise himself out of destitution and provide for his child. Not exactly sunshine and rainbows, but it’s one of Smith’s best dramatic performances and his son’s feature film debut.

August 31

Death Note (2006-2007)

The 37-episode anime adaptation of the manga series Death Note focuses on high school student Light Yagami, who finds a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in its pages. The Death Note, which belonged to a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk, gives Light the power to rid the world of evil. But of course, that ability also begins to corrupt him, especially as he encounters others with Death Notes. It’s one of the most popular and entertaining anime series of the last decade. And since it only ran for one year, it’s possible to get the whole story in a reasonable amount of time without committing years of your life.

The 37-episode anime adaptation of the manga series Death Note focuses on high school student Light Yagami, who finds a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in its pages. The Death Note, which belonged to a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk, gives Light the power to rid the world of evil. But of course, that ability also begins to corrupt him, especially as he encounters others with Death Notes. It’s one of the most popular and entertaining anime series of the last decade. And since it only ran for one year, it’s possible to get the whole story in a reasonable amount of time without committing years of your life.

September 1

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Following the breakout success of The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel struck out on his own in an attempt to make himself a major blockbuster action hero. It didn’t work, and he eventually returned to the franchise that he now helms as star and producer. But before he did, the series continued without him in this ridiculously titled sequel. Former FBI Agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) gets roped into a sting operation centered on a Miami drug lord in exchange for expunging his criminal record. He picks an old friend, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), as his partner and the two set off for more neon-tinged street racing.

Following the breakout success of The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel struck out on his own in an attempt to make himself a major blockbuster action hero. It didn’t work, and he eventually returned to the franchise that he now helms as star and producer. But before he did, the series continued without him in this ridiculously titled sequel. Former FBI Agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) gets roped into a sting operation centered on a Miami drug lord in exchange for expunging his criminal record. He picks an old friend, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), as his partner and the two set off for more neon-tinged street racing.

September 1

Days of Thunder (1990)

This 1990 sports action movie, which re-teams Tom Cruise with Tony Scott, was supposed to be the Top Gun of NASCAR. It wasn’t the same kind of box-office smash/cultural phenomenon that Gun was, but it remains one of the only decent auto racing films not named Talladega Nights. Cole Trickle (Cruise) is a young open-wheel racer recruited onto the Winston Cup circuit with veteran crew chief Harry Hogge (Rober Duvall) leading from pit row. After that, there’s a lot of racing, a little bit of romance (hello Nicole Kidman!), and quite a bit of fun. Watching Cruise and Scott at their peaks is always great, and it’s over faster than a NASCAR broadcast.

This 1990 sports action movie, which re-teams Tom Cruise with Tony Scott, was supposed to be the Top Gun of NASCAR. It wasn’t the same kind of box-office smash/cultural phenomenon that Gun was, but it remains one of the only decent auto racing films not named Talladega Nights. Cole Trickle (Cruise) is a young open-wheel racer recruited onto the Winston Cup circuit with veteran crew chief Harry Hogge (Rober Duvall) leading from pit row. After that, there’s a lot of racing, a little bit of romance (hello Nicole Kidman!), and quite a bit of fun. Watching Cruise and Scott at their peaks is always great, and it’s over faster than a NASCAR broadcast.

September 1

Double Jeopardy (1999)

Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) is framed for her husband’s (Bruce Greenwood) murder, loses custody of her son, and goes to prison for six years. After getting released, she evades her parole officer (Tommy Lee Jones) in order to find out if her husband faked his death and retrieve her son. It’s a classic late-1990s crime thriller, but having said that, it’s probably not a great illustration of the legal concept of double jeopardy, as Judd’s character is encouraged to kill her husband because she’s already been convicted of the crime. That’s not strictly speaking accurate, but it makes for a whirlwind story.

Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) is framed for her husband’s (Bruce Greenwood) murder, loses custody of her son, and goes to prison for six years. After getting released, she evades her parole officer (Tommy Lee Jones) in order to find out if her husband faked his death and retrieve her son. It’s a classic late-1990s crime thriller, but having said that, it’s probably not a great illustration of the legal concept of double jeopardy, as Judd’s character is encouraged to kill her husband because she’s already been convicted of the crime. That’s not strictly speaking accurate, but it makes for a whirlwind story.

September 1

Zoolander (2001)

Look, this year’s sequel was an utter disaster, even more unwarranted and untimely than Anchorman 2. But the original Zoolander still bursts with never-not-funny jokes and outlandishly fun sequences made to be spliced up into YouTube highlights. Male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) grapples with a declining career in the face of rising star Hansel (Owen Wilson), but ends up infiltrating the evil plan of high-fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia. It’s still a laugh riot that romps through the fashion world deflating all its pomposity with ease.

Look, this year’s sequel was an utter disaster, even more unwarranted and untimely than Anchorman 2. But the original Zoolander still bursts with never-not-funny jokes and outlandishly fun sequences made to be spliced up into YouTube highlights. Male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) grapples with a declining career in the face of rising star Hansel (Owen Wilson), but ends up infiltrating the evil plan of high-fashion designer Jacobim Mugatu (Will Ferrell) to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia. It’s still a laugh riot that romps through the fashion world deflating all its pomposity with ease.

September 1

Jurassic Park (1993) / The Lost World (1997) / Jurassic Park 3 (2001)

Jurassic World ruled the box office last year, so maybe a year later is a good time for a last-minute dinosaur marathon of the first three films. Jurassic Park is still one of Steven Spielberg’s best films, a taut and pitch-perfect summer blockbuster. But follow-up The Lost World gets short shrift, but it’s the most underrated film in the series. The third film, directed by Joe Johnston, returns to the mystery/thriller genre, and although it’s not the best, it completes a lovely trilogy of bombastic summer fun.

Jurassic World ruled the box office last year, so maybe a year later is a good time for a last-minute dinosaur marathon of the first three films. Jurassic Park is still one of Steven Spielberg’s best films, a taut and pitch-perfect summer blockbuster. But follow-up The Lost World gets short shrift, but it’s the most underrated film in the series. The third film, directed by Joe Johnston, returns to the mystery/thriller genre, and although it’s not the best, it completes a lovely trilogy of bombastic summer fun.

September 1

Roman Holiday (1953)

Classics rarely get more timeless than William Wyler’s romantic comedy Roman Holiday. Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is a crown princess, who meets expat reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) while on a tour of European capitals. Desperate to evade the pressure and tight schedule of royal life, Ann escapes her county’s embassy to experience the city as a regular person. She and Joe take a tour of Rome and grow closer together in the process. It’s a career highlight for everyone involved, and also infamous for its Oscar-winning screenplay, written under a pseudonym by then-blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Classics rarely get more timeless than William Wyler’s romantic comedy Roman Holiday. Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is a crown princess, who meets expat reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) while on a tour of European capitals. Desperate to evade the pressure and tight schedule of royal life, Ann escapes her county’s embassy to experience the city as a regular person. She and Joe take a tour of Rome and grow closer together in the process. It’s a career highlight for everyone involved, and also infamous for its Oscar-winning screenplay, written under a pseudonym by then-blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

September 1

Traffic (2000)

An interwoven narrative about the politics of the drug trade in the US, Steven Soderbergh won the Best Director Oscar for this tense drama. In Mexico, officer Javier Rodriguez (Benicio del Toro) navigates a corrupt police force that’s aligned itself with drug cartels. In Ohio, a conservative judge (Michael Douglas) balances his new job fighting the War on Drugs with the fact that his daughter is an addict. And in San Diego, DEA agents (Don Cheadle and Luiz Guzman) investigate a drug lord and get caught up in conflicting alliances between law enforcement and smugglers. It’s an intricate web that shows the many failings of the War on Drugs.

An interwoven narrative about the politics of the drug trade in the US, Steven Soderbergh won the Best Director Oscar for this tense drama. In Mexico, officer Javier Rodriguez (Benicio del Toro) navigates a corrupt police force that’s aligned itself with drug cartels. In Ohio, a conservative judge (Michael Douglas) balances his new job fighting the War on Drugs with the fact that his daughter is an addict. And in San Diego, DEA agents (Don Cheadle and Luiz Guzman) investigate a drug lord and get caught up in conflicting alliances between law enforcement and smugglers. It’s an intricate web that shows the many failings of the War on Drugs.

September 11

Fringe (2008-2013)

You’ve got a little more time until this one leaves Netflix, which is good, because it would a shame to miss any of the 100 episodes in J.J. Abrams’ best TV show. The series follows three agents—Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), and his estranged father Walter Bishop (John Noble)—who work for the Fringe Division of the FBI in Boston, essentially covering paranormal activity. It’s a lovely and mind-bending update on The X-Files, exploring alternate timelines and parallel dimensions. For anyone who loves warped and wacky science fiction that maintains high drama while indulging in camp, Fringe is a must-see.

You’ve got a little more time until this one leaves Netflix, which is good, because it would a shame to miss any of the 100 episodes in J.J. Abrams’ best TV show. The series follows three agents—Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), and his estranged father Walter Bishop (John Noble)—who work for the Fringe Division of the FBI in Boston, essentially covering paranormal activity. It’s a lovely and mind-bending update on The X-Files, exploring alternate timelines and parallel dimensions. For anyone who loves warped and wacky science fiction that maintains high drama while indulging in camp, Fringe is a must-see.

Original source – 

12 Things You Need to Watch Before They Leave Netflix