26 Criterion Collection Films Will Expire From Netflix Watch Instantly On May 26th

Well we all knew this would happen. Back in February, when Criterion announced their epic digital streaming partnership with Hulu, they also quietly revealed that their streaming options on Netflix would be coming to an end over the course of the next year. While I haven’t been paying close attention to the Criterion Collection films that have been expiring since that announcement was made, I thought it would be helpful to all of you loyal Netflix subscribers to know that in about twelve days, 26 titles will be expiring on the 26th of May, 2011.

I’ve gone and linked to all of the titles below, so you can click on the cover art or the text, and be taken to their corresponding Netflix pages. While this isn’t everything that Criterion has to offer on Netflix, it is a nice chunk of really important films. If you don’t currently have a Netflix subscription, you can click here to sign up (and help us out in the process).

A majority of the titles below that will soon be expiring are available on their Hulu Plus page, and if you haven’t signed up yet, I’d highly recommend you do. Criterion has recently been adding lots of supplemental content to their offerings, in addition to their catalog titles, Eclipse Series films, and many that aren’t a part of either. If you would like to follow along with what Criterion has been up to on their Hulu page, make sure you’re reading James’ weekly column. Also, if you’d like to sign up and have two weeks free, click here.

Something to keep in mind, when deciding between the two services (Netflix vs. Hulu) is that even if you subscribe to both, you’ll be paying less that a traditional cable television plan. Netflix has a number of exciting offerings coming in the next several months (including a huge amount of Miramax titles that will hit Watch Instantly on June 1st). Also, keep in mind that the various IFC films that Criterion has released will likely remain on Netflix.

All of this info comes courtesy of FeedFliks, which is a really tremendous resource, if you want to get the most from your Netflix subscription.

What are your thoughts on these films leaving Watch Instantly? Is this enough to push you to Hulu? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Harlan County, USA

Director Barbara Kopple’s film about the 1973 coal miners’ strike in Harlan County, Ky., won a Best Documentary Oscar and was selected for the National Film Registry. Highlighting the struggles of families living in shacks with no indoor plumbing and enduring hazardous working conditions, the film details the conflict between the Eastover Mining Co. and the laborers determined to join the United Mine Workers of America.

Au Revoir Les Enfants

As World War II rages on, two students at a boarding school — the French-Catholic Julien Quintin (Gaspard Manesse) and the Jewish Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto) — form an unlikely friendship in director Louis Malle’s powerfully moving drama based on events from his own life. Although the boys begin as adversaries, they soon find common ground, especially when it becomes clear that Jean is merely trying to survive the tyranny of the Nazis.

Mon Oncle

Jacques Tati plays Monsieur Hulot, a self-absorbed chucklehead wrestling with neoteric gadgetry — and losing — in this satirical masterpiece that makes sport of mechanization, class distinctions and modernity. While visiting his sister’s surreal, ultra-trendy home, Hulot finds himself incessantly at odds with newfangled contraptions that get the better of him. The tongue-in-cheek French comedy garnered a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Knife in the Water 

Director Roman Polanski ratchets up the suspense with a story that takes place almost entirely within the confined setting of a sailboat owned by a wealthy journalist and his much younger wife. On their way to the lake for a weekend of sailing, the couple invites a young hitchhiker to join them on their boat. But hostility looms as each man tries to humiliate the other in front of the woman.


Set during the garbage strike in Glasgow in the mid-1970s, Ratcatcher explores the experiences of a poor adolescent boy as he struggles to reconcile his dreams and his guilt with the abject poverty that surrounds him. Director Lynne Ramsey creates a haunting evocation of a troubled childhood, portraying the damaging effects that poverty and desperation can have on a child’s development.

Sans Soleil 

A unique meditation on time, memory and place from French filmmaker Chris Marker, this nonlinear essay fuses the poetic narration of an unseen woman with kaleidoscopic images from Iceland, Cape Verde, Japan, San Francisco and Guinea-Bissau. Several of the film’s most striking scenes include petrified animals in the desert, dancing teenagers, sleeping commuters and visits to locations from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo.

Children of Paradise 

Often considered the classic epic of French film, Children of Paradise is the tragic tale of vastly different men who all fall for the same woman (played by Arletty). This romantic saga takes place amid a theatrical community in 19th-century Paris, set against a backdrop of intrigue, duels and murder that allegorizes occupied France. Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur and María Casares co-star in this Oscar-nominated film for Best Original Screenplay.

Eyes Without a Face 

A plastic surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) becomes obsessed with making things right after his daughter Christiane’s (Edith Scob) face is terribly disfigured in a car accident that he caused. Overcome with guilt, Dr. Genessier and his vicious nurse, Louise (Alida Valli), concoct a plan to give Christiane her face back by kidnapping young girls and removing their faces … and then grafting them onto Christiane’s.

The Thief of Bagdad 

Banished from Bagdad by evil wizard Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), blind Prince Ahmad (John Justin) teams with plucky boy-thief Abu (Sabu, in his signature role) to return to the royal palace, reclaim the throne and win the hand of a lovely princess (June Duprez). Also starring Rex Ingram as the wily genie, this rousing adventure classic — which chalked up three Oscars — remains one of cinema’s finest fantasies.

A Nos Amours 

Winner of two Cesars (France’s version of the Oscar), Maurice Pialat’s sizzling drama centers on Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire), a teenage girl who suffers at the hands of her dysfunctional family. To escape the abuse of her father (Pialat), mother (Evelyne Ker) and brother (Dominique Besnehard), the troubled teen indulges in meaningless sexual encounters, yet declines the advances of a boy (Cyr Boitard) who is perhaps her only true friend.

Beauty and the Beast 

Lost in the woods, a hapless merchant is captured and held prisoner in the castle of a beastlike man (Jean Marais), who vows to kill the merchant unless he’s replaced by one of his daughters. The lovely Belle (Josette Day) gives herself up to save her father. But before long, she finds the beauty hiding inside her grotesque captor in this lyrical masterpiece, the most celebrated film of the French director and poet Jean Cocteau.

Hearts and Minds 

An Academy Award-winning documentary that casts a sharp eye toward the U.S. government’s costly — in terms of lives, budget and honor — all-out effort during the Vietnam War. Director Peter Davis uses his own war footage, newsreels, presidential speeches and interviews with the likes of Robert Kennedy, Gen. William Westmoreland and Daniel Ellsberg to provide a compelling argument against war.

The Spirit of the Beehive 

In this mesmerizing allegorical tale set in post-Civil War Spain, precocious young Ana (Ana Torrent) becomes obsessed with finding the spirit of Frankenstein’s monster after watching director James Whale’s 1931 classic. When she happens upon a wounded military deserter, Ana believes that she’s evoked the cinematic creature. Helmed by Victor Erice, the film also stars Fernando Fernan Gomez and Teresa Gimpera as Ana’s disengaged parents.

Burden of Dreams 

This feature-length documentary from filmmaker Les Blank paints a riveting portrait of megalomaniacal German director Werner Herzog as he worked against almost insurmountable odds in the Amazon jungle to craft his epic movie Fitzcarraldo. Besides capturing the seemingly hexed production’s myriad adversities, Blank’s camera exposes Herzog as a man obsessed with his art and pressed to the brink of insanity to see his cinematic vision fulfilled.

Shoot the Piano Player 

Charlie (Charles Aznavour), a once-famous pianist, is now stroking the keys in a Parisian saloon. When his brothers get in trouble with gangsters, Charlie inadvertently gets swept up in the chaos and is forced to rejoin the family he once fled. This highly stylized melodrama from director François Truffaut employs all of the hallmarks of French new wave cinema: extended voice-overs, out-of-sequence camera shots, sudden jump-cutting and more.

Ballad of a Soldier 

During World War II, 19-year-old Russian soldier Alyosha wins a 10-day leave and tries to make it home. Along the way, he meets several civilians, and his cheery presence is like a wartime tonic for them, uplifting their lives. But, as he uses most of his free time to help others, he’s left with few moments to spend with family. Carefully shot (in black and white) by director Grigori Chukhrai, the film earned as Oscar nomination for its script.

La jetée 

In this groundbreaking sci-fi tale told through still photos, a human guinea pig travels back in time from post-apocalyptic Paris to the peaceful days of his childhood, where he falls for a familiar woman and fights to remain in the past. The inspiration for the film 12 Monkeys, this engrossing masterpiece from French filmmaker Chris Marker stars Jean Négroni’s voice, Davos Hanich, Hélène Chatelain and Jacques Ledoux.


Awarded both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, acclaimed Italian director Frederico Fellini’s Amarcord is a richly visual film about Rimini, a traditional seaside village during the uncertainty of Mussolini’s fascist rule. Fellini drew from personal experience to bring the small town and all its colorful characters to life in this story about the escapades of a boy on the cusp of becoming a man.

The Virgin Spring 

On the way to deliver candles to a church, the virginal daughter (Birgitta Pettersson) of feudal landowner Töre (Max von Sydow) is savagely raped and murdered. But fate takes a vengeful hand when the killers unknowingly seek food and shelter at the girl’s home. Will the grief-stricken Töre learn the truth about his visitors? Set in medieval Sweden, this disturbing tale directed by Ingmar Bergman earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

La Strada 

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese introduces this restored special edition of Italian auteur Federico Fellini’s powerful rumination on love and hate, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1956. The story follows the plight of gentle Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), who’s sold by her mother to a bullying circus performer (Anthony Quinn), only to have a clown (Richard Basehart) win her heart and ignite a doomed love triangle.

Grey Gardens

Documentary pioneers the Maysles brothers (Gimme Shelter) capture poignant moments in the lives of Jackie O’s quirky relatives — Edith Bouvier Beale, aka Big Edie, and her middle-aged daughter, Little Edie — at their decaying estate, Grey Gardens. The ladies shut out their bleak present by recalling richer times and lost loves, and while Little Edie confides that she’d like to leave, the camera captures an enduring co-dependency.

Branded to Kill 

Director Seijun Suzuki takes a cookie-cutter studio script and delivers this wildly perverse and visually inspired story of the yakuza’s No. 3 Killer, Hanada Goro (Jo Shishido), who becomes the subject of a mob hunt when he misses the target of his hit. The legendary No. 1 Killer (Koji Nambara) mercilessly taunts Goro before moving in with him as part of a truce that ends up with the assassins handcuffed to each other.

Bed and Board 

In director Francois Truffaut’s fourth film about Antoine Doinel, Antoine (Jean-Pierre Leaud) marries Christine (Claude Jade) and labors away at odd jobs. After learning of his impending fatherhood, Doinel sabotages his new happiness by obsessing over a young Japanese woman (Hiroko Berghauer). Truffaut enlivens Doinel’s courtyard apartment with the bustle and business of neighbors and pays homage to comic auteur Jacques Tati.


Scientist Kris Kelvin travels to the mysterious planet Solaris to investigate the failure of an earlier mission. But when his long-dead wife appears on the space station, he realizes the planet has the power to materialize human desires. Director Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi cult classic, based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel, presents an uncompromisingly unique and poetic meditation on space travel and its physical and existential ramifications.

Black Orpheus 

This superb retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice Greek legend is set against Rio de Janeiro’s madness during Carnival. Orpheus (Breno Mello), a trolley car conductor, is engaged to Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira) but in love with Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn). A vengeful Mira and Eurydice’s ex-lover, costumed as Death, pursue Orpheus and his new paramour through the feverish Carnival night. Black Orpheus earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Lord of the Flies 

Based on William Golding’s famous novel, Peter Brooks’s daring 1963 film follows schoolboys stranded on an island after a plane crash. Two factions quickly form between the boys — one being more civilized, concentrating on finding shelter and food, and the other more savage, hunting wild pigs and having fun. Tension builds between the factions’ leaders, Ralph and Jack, leading to a battle for control of their own micro-civilization.

Ryan Gallagher

Ryan is the Editor-In-Chief / Founder of, and the host / co-founder / producer of the various podcasts here on the site. You can find his website at, follow him on Twitter (@RyanGallagher), or send him an email: [email protected].

1 comment

  • I am sorry to loose Criterion on Netflix, they did a great job and their service will be missed.  I have already subscribed to Hulu Plus and it’s… fine.  Good searchengine, playback is good.  But its the supplements I look forward to.  And though that damned watermark is an annoyance, its minor. I have a growing physical disc collection of Criterion (blu-ray and dvd), and will continue to actively pursue purchasing discs over streaming.  Why?   Eventually everyone will have to pay out the nose for content as they hijack more and more of it for streaming only. So I plan to stock-up my library for the dark days ahead.  I’ll maintain my “legacy” blu-ray player, 2D plasma and my dvds, to watch films when I choose.  In the meantime, I’ll supplement my library with the streaming services, and even though they’ll hijack all the content eventually,(like the cable companies did with classic tv and films we used to get for free),  I’ll enjoy it while I can.  At the end of the day its the great films and film makers that help me endure it all.