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As someone born in the eighties, my first exposure to Midnight Cowboy was as a joke on Seinfeld that I didn't get. Jerry and Kramer were on a bus, Kramer slipped into a weird accent and started acting pathetic and all of a sudden some music kicked in and my dad was laughing much harder than I was. “They're doing Midnight Cowboy!” he said, as if this was something a teenager should just know.
Amazing how jokes you didn't get will stick with you like that. Yet in the 20-odd years since that Seinfeld episode, I still hadn't ever seen the 1969 Best Picture winner the only X-rated film ever to do so and number 43 on the American Film Institute's 2007 list of best American films. What can I say, we didn't have streaming services back then. But now Midnight Cowboy is available free on Amazon Prime and all the movie theaters are closed and so here we are.
One great thing about watching old movies in the age of streaming is that they look fantastic. Watching on any decent modern TV, you get a sense of how it must've felt to see them during their original run in a way VHS or even relatively recent DVDs never allowed. Digital technology has only barely caught up with what film projected in its original format could accomplish in the 1930s. I can't say the same for flat screen sound, but that unmistakable Midnight Cowboy song “Everybody's Talkin,” by Harry Nilsson kicks in right away. Jangling guitars, lyrics that you can kind of understand that trick you into singing along — definitely don't watch if you're not prepared to have it stuck in your head for a week. Midnight Cowboy is almost more song than movie.
We open in small-town Texas, following a jarringly handsome Jon Voight at least compared to the present-day MAGA incarnation as Joe Buck, a cosplay cowboy who has quit his dishwashing job to set out for the Big Apple. He tells everyone who asks or doesn't and mostly they don't that he's going to become a “hustler,” which apparently means pleasuring older ladies for money. Joe Buck is either a lovable idiot or working hard to give the impression of one. His plan is plainly quixotic but he does have two things going for him: irrational optimism and total commitment to a look. He apes wholesome TV cowboys and assumes panties will simply melt away for him, something that makes perfect sense in his mind.
Directed by John Schlesinger who went on to direct Marathon Man and Pacific Heights, among others and written by multiple Academy Award winner Waldo Salt from the novel by James Herlihy, Midnight Cowboy's most obvious contribution to pop culture was this oddball lead, whose echo I recognized for years without knowing it, from Seinfeld to Don Cheadle's cowboy phase as “Buck” in Boogie Nights. Even Woody in Toy Story feels like he has a little Joe Buck in...
If nothing below suits your sensibilities, check out our guide to What You Should Watch On Streaming Right Now.
Schitt's Creek Comedy Central, Pop TV 8:00 p.m. — Fans of this cult-hit series should prepare to be wrecked as the sixth season winds down to an end. The good news is that beloved shows don't die in the streaming era, and Dan Levy is open to a reunion down the road. With self-isolation being the name of the game right now, this and the show's unintentional pandemic banger might truly end up being a collective viewing event.
Parasite Hulu, Wednesday — Alright, so this biting, social-class satire officially does not arrive on Hulu until midnight on Wednesday, but it's worth celebrating Bong Joon Ho's history-making masterpiece landing on a streaming service near you. The film received a hefty box-office bump after winning so many awards that the director apologized to Oscar engravers, so if you still haven't watched, shoot your shot now.
The Resident FOX, 8:00 p.m. — Derek's improvement falls into jeopardy when he suffers a severe complication, and Kit's afraid that this might be more evidence of Cain's cover-up.
The Conners ABC, 8:00 p.m. — Bev is spreading happiness through her finances and decides to fund Mark's coding camp tuition.
Bless This Mess ABC, 8:30 p.m. — Jacob's after-prom event sounds potentially dicey after Kay suggests that Rio and Mike step up as chaperones.
Empire FOX, 9:00 p.m. — Cookie and Lucious have Andre committed to a treatment facility following his breakdown. Meanwhile, Cookie's feeling guilty about Andre's whole situation and wonders how her own troubled history may have contributed.
For Life ABC, 10:00 p.m. — After Cassius put white supremacists in the hospital, Aaron comes to his defense, while Marie's having more feelings for Aaron.
The Last O.G. TBS, 10:30 p.m. — The third season begins for Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish's show about an ex-con attempting to readjust to the world after a 15-year prison stint.
Conan — Guest TBA
The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon — Kerry Washington, Russell Wilson, Ciara
A Little Late With Lilly Singh — Adam Rodriguez, Kelsey Cook
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah — Noah's reporting live from his couch, and naturally, the subject of the night will be the ongoing pandemic and social distancing.
Last Updated: April 6th
A good gangster movie must do two things: Make us want to live a life of crime and, at the same time, make us grateful we haven't indulged our dark sides like the characters on this list. Most gangster films make the criminal underworld look like a hell of a good time. There's booze, money, women, expensive cars, everything we're taught we should want, but the lavish lifestyle often comes with a price, which means a good gangster movie must also show us the downside of running a criminal empire: The violence, the bloodshed, and the very real threat of prison time. As they say, you can't have your cake and eat it too — but no one told that to the characters in these films.
Here are the 10 most enjoyable films currently streaming on Netflix.
Related: The Best Crime Movies On Netflix Right NowNetflix The Irishman 2019
Run Time: 209 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
Martin Scorsese delivers another cinematic triumph, this time for Netflix and with the help of some familiar faces. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino team up again for this crime drama based on actual events. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran a World War II vet who finds work as a hitman for the mob. Pacino plays notorious Teamster Jimmy Hoffa, a man who frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law and the criminals he worked with. The film charts the pair's partnership over the years while injecting some historical milestones for context. It's heavy and impressively cast and everything you'd expect a Scorsese passion-project to be.A24 A Most Violent Year 2014
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 7/10
Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac play a husband-wife duo caught up in the criminal underground in this darkly-lit drama. Isaac plays Abel Morales, an immigrant and aspiring business owner who finds himself the target of ruthless competitors when he takes steps to secure a facility to transport oil throughout the boroughs. Chastain plays his wife Anna, a shrewd businesswoman in her own right who comes from a mobster family. The two fights against a determined D.A. and corrupt criminals in order to secure the money they need to purchase the land, but in doing so, they become the enemy they've been fighting against. It's a heavy, morose kind of film, filled with violence and shady back-door dealings, but Chastain and Isaac bring a bit of brilliance to it all.Netflix Imperial Dreams 2014
Run Time: 87 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
John Boyega stars in this stirring drama about a recently released convict caught up in the terrible cycle that people often face after prison. Boyega plays Bambi, a 21-year-old who gets a taste of freedom after spending time behind bars for some kind of crime involving a weapon. Bambi's determined to live right and do right by...
The 2006 Oscars will forever be remembered as the infamous ceremony where “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture. Ang Lee’s groundbreaking gay romance was the critical favorite and it won three of the eight Oscars it was nominated for that year: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Headlining actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal both earned Oscar nominations for their performances. The actors were asked to present during the 2007 Oscars telecast, but Gyllenhaal revealed in a recent interview with Another Man magazine via NME that Ledger turned down the opportunity because it would mean making jokes at the expense of the gay “Brokeback” love story.
“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” Gyllenhaal said. “And Heath refused. I was sort of at the time, 'Oh, okay... whatever.' I'm always like, ‘It's all in good fun.’ And Heath said, 'It's not a joke to me — I don't want to make any jokes about it.’”
Gyllenhaal, “That's the thing I loved about Heath. He would never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, 'No. This is about love. Like, that's it, man. Like, no.'”
Ledger was nominated in the Best Actor category but lost to “Capote” star Philip Seymour Hoffman. Gyllenhaal lost to George Clooney in “Syriana” for Best Supporting Actor. “Brokeback Mountain” marked the first Oscar nominations for both actors. Ledger would go on to be nominated and win his Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor race for his role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Ledger received the Academy Award posthumously. “Brokeback” remains Gyllenhaal’s sole Oscar nomination to date.
Gyllenhaal has previously spoken about Ledger’s disdain for “Brokeback Mountain” jokes, but this is the first time the actor has revealed his late co-star turned down the Oscars. Gyllenhaal told “Today” in July 2019 that “Brokeback” marked a pivotal moment in his career. “It opened tons of doors,” he said. “It was crazy. It was amazing. It's defined my career in different ways. [But the film] is bigger than me...It has become not ours anymore. It's the world's.”
Read Gyllenhaal’s latest interview in its entirety on the Another Man website.