Media, the press and journalists have been present since time immemorial, sniffing out stories from the vast, dark depths of society, cleverly forming stories out of the similarly slimy material that resides there.
From talking about slightly softer, glamorous celebrity gossip to uncovering truths about various sociopolitical and economic events, the media and press are not without any criticism when they become the flagbearer of fake news or turn into certified government boot-lickers.
Filmmakers too find the sensational world of press and media pretty riveting. From old classics like Network to recent releases like Nightcrawler, these media films cover a lot of important issues, including the blatant favouritism in media, yellow journalism, the freedom of the press or the lack thereof.
While Netflix has a wide range of films and shows, not many films on Netflix explore the depths of media, press and the like, but the following have been ranked in the order of greatness.
Netflix films that explore the depths of media:
Don’t Look Up (Adam Mckay, 2021)
While Don’t Look Up is essentially a satirical disaster comedy, it also serves as a searing commentary on the current state of media, their predicament in times of crisis and how they often make light of serious situations to feed viewers viral, engaging content. With a huge ensemble cast, namely Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande and others in the centre, the film was nominated for Best Picture Award at the Oscars this year.
The film is a socio-political satire on the world’s current reaction to the ongoing climate change crisis and revolves around a pair of scientists who detect a massive comet making its way towards the Earth, promising inevitable destruction. As they embark on a daunting quest to warn the world, the varied reactions make up the satirical content of the film.
Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
Based on Robert Graysmith’s novel, the film deals with a real-life case in the 1970s where the police forces in San Francisco Bay Area become obsessed with an elusive killer who keeps taunting and plaguing them with cryptic messages. The film elaborates how detectives, police and newspaper journalists get entangled in this web of violence to hunt down the killer.
With actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo in the lead, the film captures Fincher’s brilliant artistic eye for detail. Dark, brooding and ominous, the film abounds in cryptic riddles and psychological horror. Fincher apparently wore down the actors by constantly striving for perfection and meticulous shots, ultimately creating a mind-bending rendezvous.
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014)
L.A. resident Louis Bloom is a scavenger who makes a living from theft. He chances upon a new career as a cameraman and embarks on nocturnal strolls to record gruesome crimes, catching the attention of a news director who persuades him to go to grotesque lengths to get the ‘money shot’ and increase her station ratings.
Starring Jake Gyllenhall as Louis Bloom, the film is a grim and dark take on ambition, desperation and obsessive need for success in an urban setting that is eerily reminiscent of Taxi Driver. As the local station director, Rene Russo is absolutely brilliant and her character is a scathing epitome of the cunning and vile methods often obtained by media magnates to increase viewer engagement, often devoid of empathy and morality.
Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)
Based on the spine-chilling true story of the oldest investigative journalism unit in Boston Globe, also known as the titular Spotlight team, the film revolves around a team of journalists who investigate systemic paedophilia, molestation and child abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area, making the film comparable to some of the finest press films like Citizen Kane and All the President’s Men.
The film was critically acclaimed for its audacious portrayal of the horrors within the Catholic church laced with perversion and misogyny that leads to the psycho-sexual slaughter of young children. With a heavyweight ensemble cast including Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and others, the film won multiple Oscar nominations, with Ruffalo standing out with his gritting and sincere performance.