This post is updated regularly to reflect the latest movies to leave and enter Netflix. *New additions are indicated by an asterisk.
With thousands of movies to choose from, and a navigation system and algorithm that don’t always make the right choice easy to find, it can be difficult to know what to watch on Netflix. That’s why we’re here, breaking down the 100 best movies on the service at this minute, with regular updates for titles that have been removed and when new ones are added. We’ve done the hard work, so now the only thing you have to do is sit back and, uh, watch all 100 movies. (And if you’re more of a TV person, check out the 50 best TV shows on Netflix.)
Mike Mills wrote and directed this very personal piece about the powerful women that shaped his life. Set in 1970s California, it features one of the best performances of Annette Bening’s career, and she’s ably supported by a wonderful cast that includes Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup. It’s a smart, tender film about family.
Andrea Arnold’s 2016 teen epic about a runaway (Sasha Lane) who finds herself a part of a crew of young people bouncing their way across the country — including Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough — is the best movie on Netflix that you probably haven’t seen. With propulsive energy, an amazing soundtrack, and beautiful cinematography of the heart of America, this is a fascinating movie that deserves a look.
Mati Diop’s directorial debut is a tender, mesmerizing study of life on the coast of Senegal, where men often venture out for more prosperous shores, leaving the women behind. It’s a delicate, beautiful film that plays like a romance, ghost story, and study of inequality all at the same time. See it before someone recommends it to you.
COVID robbed viewers from Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho in 2020, but fans of the brilliant director can bide the time with a revisit to one of his most popular films, the kinetically unforgettable story of a getaway driver who knows all the best tunes. Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, and Lily James may be the stars of this movie, but it’s Wright’s showmanship that really steals the spotlight.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s Western anthology series was a part of Netflix’s brand-redefining 2018. Sure, Netflix still has a bunch of junk, but it also landed the latest from Alfonso Cuaron, the Coens, and even Orson Welles. This brilliant Western works as comedy, drama, and even a commentary on the Coens themselves. Don’t miss it.
Ethan Hawke really can do it all. The incredible actor can also direct, as evidenced by the 2018 Sundance entry about the life of the musician Blaze Foley, a famous folk artist who died too young. Ben Dickey is excellent as the title character, and the supporting cast includes Alia Shawkat, Sam Rockwell, Steve Zahn, and Kris Kristofferson. It’s a film that really gets the makeshift communities and families that form around musicians.
Sofia Coppola directed this 2013 true story about a group of young people in Los Angeles who decided to start robbing celebrities. It’s an underrated dramedy about privilege and desire, filtered through the vibrant viewpoint of its filmmaker and talented young cast, including Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga.
Jeremy Saulnier wrote and directed this 2013 breakthrough, a great little thriller that’s reminiscent of the Coen Brothers’ classic Blood Simple in its blunt, darkly humorous approach. Macon Blair plays Dwight, a vagrant who learns that the man who murdered his parents is about to be released from prison. Dwight takes action – that’s all you need to know. This is a vicious thrill ride of a movie.
Screen violence changed forever with Arthur Penn’s 1967 telling of the story of the famous lovers turned criminals starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Often considered one of the movies that ushered in the creative era of filmmaking that would follow in the late ‘60s and through the ‘70s, what really shocked audiences was the film’s ending, something more violent than mainstream film had ever really delivered. Anyone who thinks this work was designed to glorify murderers wasn’t paying attention.
The best foreign-language film of 2018 is already on Netflix, hopefully indicating a deeper commitment by the company to present the best of international cinema to American audiences. Lee Chang-dong adapts a novella by Haruki Murakami into a riveting dissection of class and gender in modern Korea. Steven Yeun is mesmerizing as the mysterious Ben, someone who our protagonist starts to think might be a killer. Don’t miss this one.
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in Todd Haynes’ poignant and heartbreaking drama about a love affair between two women at a time when that wasn’t allowed. It’s a beautifully made film with phenomenal performances from the entire cast, but it’s Blanchett and Mara that make the film.
As No Time to Die has been delayed multiple times due to COVID, Netflix is here to satisfy your 007 needs with the first outing for Daniel Craig as the most famous movie spy of all time. This is easily one of the best Bond movies, a flick that redefined the character with more intense stakes and realistic action sequences. It’s a legitimately great movie, not just for what it did for its genre and the future of its legendary super spy.
One of Steven Spielberg’s most underrated titles stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, a legendary con man who became a millionaire through his crimes, and Tom Hanks as the FBI agent trying to track him. Charming and delightful, thanks to a great script by Jeff Nathanson, Catch Me If You Can is a movie that’s easy to watch again and again.
A Clockwork Orange
It’s been a half-century since Stanley Kubrick made one of the most controversial films of its era in this adaptation of the 1962 Anthony Burgess novel of the same name. It’s lost none of its power, capturing a vision of a violent dystopian future in a way that, over the decades, thousands have tried to copy but no one has matched.
*Cool Hand Luke
Certain movies just find stars at the right point in their career, throwing up their magnetic charisma in all its glory. Such is the case with Stuart Rosenberg’s 1967 hit, which is exhibit A in why Paul Newman was one of the biggest stars of his generation. Newman plays Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp, and the lead in a film that not only delivered one of his best performances but stands as an early entry in the counter-culture dramas that would define the late ‘60s and ‘70s.
Barack and Michelle Obama executive produced one of 2020’s best documentaries in this Netflix exclusive that originally premiered at Sundance. It’s the story of Camp Jened, a summer camp in New York in the ‘70s that was described as a “loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities.” This isn’t just a time capsule but a look at how support and community can change people’s lives forever.
Spike Lee’s first Original Netflix movie is one of the master filmmaker’s best works to date. The story of five men searching for gold in the jungle is more of a commentary on two wars that never ended – the Vietnam War and the struggle for civil rights.
Netflix has a habit of cycling Martin Scorsese in and out of their streaming service. Right now, his Best Picture winner is on the service. Watch it while you can.
The wonderful Kirsten Johnson followed one of the best documentaries of the 2010s in Cameraperson with a deeply personal and moving Netflix exclusive. When Johnson’s father Richard discovers that he has dementia, he works with his daughter to stage a series of fake accidents to really analyze how we die and, more importantly, how we live to the very end.
Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winner reimagines both the Old West and the Italian film series Django into something that only QT could make. It features one of Jamie Foxx’s best performances as the title character, a slave who escapes and teams up with a bounty hunter played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for his amazing work here.
Emma Stone burst on the scene in this clever 2010 comedy that has built a loyal fan base in the decade since its release. Partially inspired by The Scarlet Letter, it’s the story of a high school girl who pretends to have sex at a party and gains a very unexpected reputation at school. It’s got a smart script, but it’s Stone’s instant star power and some superb supporting performances that really drives it.
In a year when there were too many Netflix original movies every week to watch them all, one of the few true surprises was this wonderful family action film that further proves that Millie Bobby Brown is going to be a massive star. She plays the title character, the teenage sister of the famous Sherlock Holmes, who gets involved in a mystery of her own. Give us a sequel!
Kung Fu movies don’t get better than the amazing Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee’s best movie, but one that sadly came out after his passing in 1973. Lee is magnetic as a participant in a martial arts competition that also includes the great John Saxon and Jim Kelly. This is an epic martial arts masterpiece that works for every generation of action lover.
*The Evil Dead
In the early ‘80s, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and a few friends took around $100k into the woods and returned with a genre classic, a movie that would produce sequels, a TV series, a comic book, and inspire generations of horror filmmakers. It’s easy to see the low budget here, and the team improved on it in the superior sequel, but it’s fun to see where a phenomenon began.
One of the best films of the 2010s is this heartbreaking character study from Sean Baker, a story of people on the edge of the Happiest Place on Earth as seen through the eyes of a child. It’s a beautiful movie with unforgettable performances and poetic realism throughout.
Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, an average guy who really changed the entire world when he bought a fast-food restaurant from Richard and Maurice McDonald, played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, and gave the world the Golden Arches of McDonald’s. John Lee Hancock’s biopic can be a little dry at times but the great cast, especially Keaton, elevate it this interesting look at the formative days of an iconic American brand.
Long before he joined the MCU or played Creed, the great Michael B. Jordan starred in this true story of the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed by a police officer of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in 2009. Ryan Coogler’s debut, this is a powerful drama that examines issues of systemic violence in a way that still resonates.
The Vulture choice for the Best Netflix Original Horror Movie has to be on this list too, right? Especially viewed in the wake of the phenomenon that was The Haunting of Hill House, this movie really works. It’s one of the best Stephen King adaptations on any platform, anchored by a phenomenal Carla Gugino performance.
David Lowery’s experimental film is one of the most unusual movies you could watch on Netflix tonight. It stars Rooney Mara as a grieving widow after her husband, played by Casey Affleck, suddenly dies, but it becomes something much stranger and more ambitious when it becomes a decades-spanning look at a lost soul in a world filled with grief and trauma. It’s a beautiful movie about loss.
Joel Edgerton should make another thriller. The last time he directed one, it became one of the biggest sleeper hits of 2015. Edgerton co-stars with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall in the story of a man who works his way back into the life of an old friend, but he may have ulterior motives.
When Netflix backs a filmmaker like they did with David Fincher’s Mank, they often cycle through that director’s older titles too. And so Fincher flicks have been rotating in and out. Right now, you can watch his underrated adaptation of the Stieg Larsson thriller that became a worldwide phenomenon. Rooney Mara is fearless and fantastic in this movie.
One of the best movies of the 1990s, Martin Scorsese’s telling of the story of Henry Hill changed the language of how we tell stories about mobsters. Seriously, The Sopranos simply isn’t the same without it. GoodFellas has held up perfectly over the last three decades partially because of how much that followed it tried to repeat it.
If you loved Uncut Gems like most people (or even if you hated it, you monster), then you should check out the Safdie brothers’ previous venture, this crime drama starring Robert Pattinson. The actor plays a guy whose brother gets caught after a bank robbery and so he spends the rest of the night trying to get the money together to bust him out. Like Sandler, Pattinson has a nervous energy that fits the Safdie aesthetic perfectly. It’s stressful and exhilarating in equal measure.
Alice Wu wrote and directed a delightful coming-of-age dramedy that spins the norms. A loose retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, it features a star-making performance from Leah Lewis as Ellie Chu, a girl who starts writing love letters for the awkward Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer). The object of his affection, Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), turns out to be more than just a typical unrequited love. It’s a sweet and smart film.
Debate among yourselves if this should be on the movie or TV list, but it’s still basically the same venture that was released in theaters, only slightly reedited by Quentin Tarantino into episodes, so we say it’s a movie. And it’s an underrated one, overshadowed by the way it deals with race and gender when it was released. Just a few years later, it looks almost prescient about how divided the country would become, and it contains some of the best performances in Q.T.’s entire filmography.
Steven Soderbergh very rarely makes bad movies and he’s not about to start with Andre Holland and Zazie Beetz in his court. The two star in the first excellent Netflix movie of 2019, an analysis of the game on top of the game that makes the NBA work. The man who almost directed Moneyball crafts a razor-sharp, incredibly entertaining, and humane basketball/corporate-media/labor drama that will appeal to hoops fanatics and the sports-averse alike. And the entire thing was shot on an iPhone!
One of the best horror movies on Netflix, this Sundance darling is the tale of a pair of Sudanese refugees who flee to London only to discover ghosts have fled with them. It’s a harrowing, terrifying piece of work, elevated even further by its impressive commentary about how much people bring with them when they leave. Houses aren’t haunted; people are.
Scott Cooper’s 2017 Western has a loyal following, thanks largely to its gritty style and talented cast, which includes Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster, Timothee Chalamet, Stephen Lang, and Wes Studi. It’s the story of a U.S. Cavalry officer who has to escort a Cheyenne War Chief across hostile territory in 1892. Some of it is a bit overdone, but it’s certainly memorable and intense.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Any conversation about the best cinematic trilogies ever simply must include the DreamWorks films about Hiccup and his dragon Toothless. The original is still the undeniable masterpiece, but both sequels are nearly as good, including this 2014 story of how Hiccup reunites with his mother, voiced by Cate Blanchett. It’s a gorgeous, moving story of family and legacy.
Young film lovers may not know why Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are so beloved in the film community. This is a good place to start. Both are at the top of their game (Thompson won an Oscar, as did Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for her screenplay) in this gorgeous Merchant/Ivory adaptation of the E.M. Forster classic.
Netflix keeps cycling Martin Scorsese movies in and out of its collection, and one of the latest additions is this 2011 adaptation of Brian Selznick’s novel that was originally released in 3-D. Nominated for 11 Oscars (and winning five), this is one of Scorsese’s most acclaimed and beloved films, which should further put to rest any of those dumb insinuations that the legendary director only knows how to make mob movies. This is a whimsical, delightful film that you can watch with the entire family. It may not be in 3-D on Netflix, but you can still enjoy its endless visual glory.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Before he made Hemsworth your favorite Chris in Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi wrote and directed this adaptation of Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress. Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) has a new foster family, including a sweet foster mother. Sadly, he’s stuck with the surly husband when his new mom passes away, leading Ricky and Hec (Sam Neill) on an unforgettable adventure. Funny and truly heartwarming, this is a comedy that’s almost impossible to dislike.
The events in Minnesota and elsewhere in 2020 brought viewers back to this stunning 2016 documentary that works from an unfinished manuscript by the brilliant James Baldwin. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, it’s an exploration of racial issues in America that digs back through the civil rights leaders through Baldwin’s personal experiences and beyond. It’s a must-watch.
Charlie Kaufman wrote and directed one of the biggest and best Netflix movies of 2020, the story of a woman (Jessie Buckley) who travels with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents (David Thewlis & Toni Collette). Of course, being by the writer of Being John Malkovich, there’s a lot more to this than a simple description can convey. Trippy and deeply symbolic, it’s a Netflix movie that people are going to be talking about for years.
Bryan Fogel’s 2017 Sundance premiere was a surprising winner for the Oscar for Best Documentary the next year. It’s a look at one of the most shocking drug scandals in history, one that destroyed the Russian Olympic teams, and it plays like a thriller with the filmmakers there as every revelation comes to light.
Sean Penn wrote and directed an adaptation of the non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, which introduced the world to the story of Christopher McCandless. The young man, played in the film by Emile Hirsch, left everything behind, basically wandering into the Alaskan Wilderness, from which he never returned. It’s a lyrical drama with great performances.
Netflix’s most ambitious and expensive project to date is this 3.5-hour epic based on the life of Frank Sheeran, errand boy for the Mafia and friend of Jimmy Hoffa. Martin Scorsese directs living legends like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to some of the best work of their career. It is epic, elegiac, and unforgettable — a commentary on a violent life and, really, the filmmaker’s entire body of work.
*Julie & Julia
Nora Ephron wrote and directed this Oscar-nominated adaptation of the true story of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a New Yorker who set out to make all 524 recipes in one of the most famous cookbooks ever published by Julia Child (Meryl Streep). Ephron balances Powell’s story with Child’s, creating a comedy of dual personalities and revealing how inspiration can come from the most unexpected places.
A man who likes to play God meets a boy who likes to play Satan in this twisted horror film from Yorgos Lanthimos, the daring director of The Lobster and The Favourite. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman head the cast of a film that owes more to ‘70s psychological horror than slasher pics. It’s unforgettable.
Andrew Dominik reunited with Brad Pitt after their collaboration on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford for this adaptation of George V. Higgins’ Cogan’s Trade. At the time, audiences wanted something a little more action-driven than this character study delivers, but it’s developed a loyal cult following since 2012 and contains one of the late great James Gandolfini’s best screen performances.
Greta Gerwig’s Oscar nominee is one of the most personal and striking coming-of-age films of the 2010s. Saoirse Ronan stars as a young Californian who longs for someplace cooler than her own hometown. It’s a heartfelt and very smart film, buoyed by great performances throughout, including Ronan, Tracy Letts, Timothee Chalamet, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein, and Laurie Metcalf, who was robbed of that Oscar.
The brilliant Liz Garbus moved from her traditional form of documentary filmmaking to direct this 2020 thriller based on the book of the same name by Robert Kolker. Amy Ryan plays Mari Gilbert, the mother of a young sex worker who disappeared on Long Island, leading to the revelation that a serial killer has been prowling the location. It’s a unique true crime story in that it centers the victims and their relatives instead of the killer, who remains unidentified.
As far as our country still has to go, it’s worth considering how far it’s come at the same time. Take this true story of an interracial couple — played with beauty and grace by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga — who had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for their marriage to be legal. And that was in 1967. Jeff Nichols wrote and directed this nuanced, moving drama.
Chadwick Boseman is electric in his final film role in this adaptation of the beloved play by August Wilson. Viola Davis matches him beat for beat in this story of the recording of an album by the legendary Ma Rainey, but it’s knowing Boseman’s personal struggle, particularly in two emotional monologues, that makes this unforgettable.
There’s something about George Miller’s breakthrough 1979 action flick that feels even more current today than it did four decades ago. Maybe it’s because of how many movies have copied its look and feel in the years since? No one expected this low-budget flick to become an international sensation and spawn three sequels, but people always underestimated Max Rockatansky.
David Fincher returned in 2020 after a six-year hiatus from filmmaking and delivered one of his most ambitious works, an accounting of the controversy over who actually wrote Citizen Kane. Gary Oldman plays Joe Mankiewicz, the disgraced writer who was hired by Orson Welles, and, if one believes the movie, channeled his personal history with William Randolph Hearst into Kane. It’s a lavish production with incredible cinematography, costumes, and art direction.
Noah Baumbach returns to Netflix with his best film to date, the story of the dissolution of a marriage between a theatre director (Adam Driver) and his lead actress (Scarlett Johannson). The two leads also do the best work of their careers in a smart, moving piece of work about how divorce turns you into a person you never thought you’d become, and how you have to move on as that new person. It’s one of the best films of 2019.
One of P.T. Anderson’s best films, and one of the best films of the 2010s by anybody, is this drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. Originally seen as a dissection of the creation of Scientology, The Master is a lot more than that, breaking down leader/follower relationships, trauma, and doubt in ways that only one of our best filmmakers could. It’s a masterpiece.
The 2017 Noah Baumbach’s film didn’t premiere in theaters, instead going the Netflix route in 2017. Adam Sandler does arguably the best work of his career in this drama about how family can both connect and divide us, sometimes in the same moment. Sandler is joined by Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson in this must-see dramedy. Forget the Sandler Netflix Originals — watch this one instead.
There are so few great sports movies that audiences really embrace the ones that do come along like this underrated 2004 film from Gavin O’Connor. Kurt Russell gives a truly fantastic performance as Herb Brooks, the coach of the U.S. Men’s Hockey team that made everyone believe in miracles when they defeated their heavily favored Russian counterparts.
Movies don’t get much funnier than the best offering from the Monty Python troupe, a comedy that spawned a quoting fandom that still roams the hills saying, “Not dead yet,” and, “I fart in your general direction.” It’s possible there’s a young generation yet to appreciate the comedic brilliance of the men of Monty Python. Start here and then move on to the sketches and other movies, some of which are also on Netflix.
Barry Jenkins’ 2016 drama might be the most shocking Best Picture winner of all time, and not just for the way it went down on Oscar night. Envelope-gate somewhat overshadowed how crazy it is that such a small, gentle, personal film won the biggest prize in movies. If you have somehow never seen it, correct that oversight now. And, if you have, watch it again. It’s a movie that grows richer with each viewing.
Remember the McConaissance? Now that it appears to be over, we can appreciate the tentpoles of Matthew McConaughey’s comeback to be taken seriously as an actor, including True Detective, Dallas Buyers Club, and this indie gem, in which McConaughey plays a drifter stumbled upon by a couple of Arkansas kid. Jeff Nichols’ coming-of-age drama is a great example of a filmmaker who uses setting as a character and how good McConaughey can still be in the right material.
Arguably Netflix’s first masterpiece, Dee Rees’s period drama is an epic portrait of racism, trauma, and injustice in the post-WWII South. You won’t find a better ensemble in a Netflix Original, anchored by Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, and the amazing Dee Rees.
Most of Muppet Culture has found its way to Disney+ but the modern takes from the ‘10s, this one and Muppets Most Wanted, have escaped onto Netflix for some reason. The 2011 musical by James Bobin is easily one of the best Muppets movies ever and one of the better family films all around of its era. It’s funny, smart, and really understands why people still love Kermit, Ms. Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and the rest of the gang.
Jake Gyllenhaal gave arguably the best performance of his career in this excellent 2014 thriller about a man who rises to fame by recording violent events in Los Angeles in the middle of the night. Ahead of its time in terms of how journalism has become embedded with opportunism, Dan Gilroy’s film is a riveting look at a subculture of major cities that only comes out at night.
Movies don’t get much darker than this Tom Ford 2016 noir thriller with an incredible cast. The narrative folds in on itself in a way that makes explaining it here but trust that Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen know what they’re doing here.
Martin Scorsese directed this masterful documentary, one of the best music films ever made. It’s the story of the life of Bob Dylan, told over more than 200 minutes of interviews, archival footage, and analysis of Dylan’s impact on pop culture and even politics. Even if you don’t like Dylan, you’ll like this.
God bless Bong Joon-ho. The director of The Host, The Mother, and Snowpiercer — all of which you owe it to yourself to see — brought arguably his weirdest movie yet to Netflix in this sci-fi dramedy about a giant pig. Say what you will about the film’s flights of fancy — or Jake Gyllenhaal’s truly committed performance — there ain’t nothing else like it on Netflix.
Charlie McDowell directed a brilliant little sci-fi gem, a movie that features two of the best performances in the careers of Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss. The two play a couple whose therapist (Ted Danson) suggest they take a retreat to find themselves as partners again. From the beginning, something seems just a bit off about the retreat, but the pair discovers something straight out of The Twilight Zone that we wouldn’t dare spoil here.
Is this Will Ferrell’s last great comedy? Capping off a decade that included Anchorman, Old School, Step Brothers, and Talladega Nights, the SNL alum co-stars with Mark Wahlberg as two cops forced to step into the spotlight after the hysterical death of the two most popular officers on the force. Ferrell and Wahlberg are great in one of Adam McKay’s funnier comedies. He should reunite with his best leading man and make another one.
Arguably more fantasy than horror, Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece has just enough nightmare fuel to qualify, and that’s not even including the incredibly dark “real-world” themes with which GDT is playing here. Del Toro’s first Oscar winner blends the fantasy world of a girl named Ofelia and the abject cruelty of her stepfather, a Captain during the Spanish Civil War. Even in a movie that features a child-eating creature called the Pale Man, the real monster may be human.
We don’t deserve Laika. The geniuses at the best stop-motion animation studio in the world delivered the goods with films like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, but their best work remains this 2012 gem about a kid who can see ghosts. As Norman tries to end a centuries-old curse, this visually striking and ultimately moving work never falters once.
Stephen Chbosky adapted his own book into a tender and moving coming-of-age comedy starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. It’s a remarkably smart movie when it comes to teen issues that are rarely reflected accurately like depression and anxiety. And Chbosky directs his ensemble to beautiful, nuanced performances.
David Gordon Green directed Seth Rogen and James Franco to two of the best performances of their career in this film about an average guy and his dealer who find themselves in criminal crosshairs after they witness a murder. More than just an average stoner comedy, Green imbues the film with a wonderful action movie pace too, recalling buddy flicks of the ‘80s while still feeling fresh at the same
Oliver Stone’s deeply personal and powerful film about the Vietnam War remains his best work, winning the filmmaker an Oscar for Best Director and nabbed Best Picture too. It stars Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, and Willem Dafoe in a story that cast a light on morality in wartime in a way that hadn’t really been seen before.
Tamara Jenkins returned to filmmaking for the first time since The Savages with this personal portrait of the struggle faced by people going through fertility procedures. With an amazingly truthful performance by Kathryn Hahn, this is the kind of film that feels both delicately specific and universal to the struggle of so many couples.
Alfonso Cuaron’s deeply personal story of the domestic worker who really helped raise him is Netflix’s first nominee for Best Picture and a movie that has really altered the way the streaming service will be seen on the film landscape. It’s also a masterpiece, a heartbreaking, mesmerizing piece of filmmaking that really operates on Roger Ebert’s belief that great cinema is an “empathy machine,” a way to experience lives that you otherwise never would.
The great Steven Zaillian directed this excellent adaptation of the book of the same name by Fred Waitzkin. Did you like The Queen’s Gambit? Check out one of the most beloved dramas about a chess prodigy named Josh Waitzkin, whose talents are nurtured at a young age, even as those around him worry about this young genius losing sight of what’s important. It’s got a great ensemble that includes Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Laurence Fishburne, and Ben Kingsley.
Sure, we all know how much fun Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels is, but has anyone else noticed how many careers this movie helped launch? It’s amazing to watch it nearly a decade after it was released and consider how much people like Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Mae Whitman, and Jason Schwartzman have done since then.
More Coen brothers! When Netflix added Buster Scruggs, they dropped a few earlier films as well, including this underrated comedy about a man dealing with the inequity of life after his wife leaves him. With a great performance by Michael Stuhlbarg, this one has some of the Coens’ best darkly comic bits in the back half of their career.
There aren’t a lot of great kids movies on Netflix, especially as so many family subscribers are moving over to Disney+, so we should take the chance to watch the best ones as much as possible. And maybe if you watch this very funny, clever Aardman movie over and over again, they’ll make more of them. The great silent comedy of Shaun the Sheep meets science fiction in this riff on E.T. that’s very sweet and very funny.
Sometimes a director finds a cast at just the right time and that’s exactly what happened when David O. Russell tapped Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver in this romantic dramedy. They’re all perfect, making this one of the more likable and easy-to-watch movies you could possibly bring up on Netflix.
Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino adapted this stylish version of Miller’s beloved graphic novel about violent men and femme fatales. The star power here is one draw (including Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Benicio del Toro, and Elijah Wood), but the best reason to watch this is that there’s never been anything else quite like it.
Netflix added both of Tom Ford’s first two films in Nocturnal Animals and this excellent premiere, which features one of Colin Firth’s best performances. The Oscar winner (who was also nominated for this) plays George Falconer, a British professor living in Southern California in 1962. A study of sexual politics in the ‘60s, it’s a wonderful performance piece for Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, and Matthew Goode.
One of the best movies of the 2010s has returned to Netflix to remind people how wildly far ahead of its time this movie was when it was released. With a razor-sharp screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and some of the best direction of David Fincher’s career, this is a flawless movie, one that resonate even more now in the era of constant internet than it did a decade ago.
Bong Joon-ho had a major cultural moment with the release of his Palme d’Or-winning Parasite. Why not go back and check out what is arguably his most popular movie to date, this 2013 adaptation of a groundbreaking French graphic novel? The concept is wonderfully simple — an always-moving train is divided into class with the 1% at the front and the poorest people in the back. Those in the caboose, including Chris Evans and Song Kang-ho, plan to move up a few train cars. It’s smart, action-packed, memorable sci-fi action, and it’s the kind that also has something to say.
One of the most surprising Best Picture winners of all time was Spotlight, a simple but powerful drama from 2015 directed by Tom McCarthy. An amazing ensemble that includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci holds this drama together as it tells the story of how the reporters at the Boston Globe uncovered the systemic child abuse in the Catholic Church.
Noah Baumbach’s personal 2005 drama dissects the impact of divorce on an average family and offers the suggestion that the flaws of parents will only be amplified in their children. Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, and Jesse Eisenberg all give excellent performances in a film that feels both specifically revealing and universal in its themes.
This movie is a fascinating litmus test as to how people read cinema. Invite some friends over, put it on, and then discuss what Paul Verhoeven is going for with his story of interstellar killer aliens and, more importantly, the space force of beautiful people put together to stop them. Suggest that maybe there’s more going on than just sci-fi/action. Or just sit back and enjoy the ride provided by one of the most purely entertaining genre pics of its era.
Long before he tackled The Trial of the Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin told at least part of the life story of Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple, in this 2015 biopic. Michael Fassbender gives one of his best performances in the title role, but the ensemble really makes this piece, including Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen in two of the best performances of their respective careers.
Greg Mottola’s 2007 comedy became so beloved for a generation that it’s already a reference point. Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Superbad turned Michael Cera and Jonah Hill into stars overnight, and introduced the world to future Oscar winner Emma Stone. Some of its gender issues already seem a little dated, but there’s an innocent charm to the film that holds up.
One of Martin Scorsese’s early masterpieces, this is the wildly influential story of a man pushed off the edge of sanity, featuring a fearless performance from a young Robert De Niro. Few movies from this era are cited more than this one, and it’s not just because it touches on themes that remain timeless but that it does so in such a riveting, harrowing way. It’s unforgettable and the rare masterpiece that holds up every single time you watch it.
One of the best films of the ‘00s, Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! won Daniel Day-Lewis his second Oscar as the unforgettable Daniel Plainview. As detailed and epic as great fiction, Anderson’s movie is one of the most acclaimed of its era, a film in which it’s hard to find a single flaw. Even if you think you’ve seen it enough, watch it again. You’ll find a new reason to admire it.
Paul Verhoeven directed this 1990 blockbuster that unleashed Arnold Schwarzenegger on a short story by Philip K. Dick called “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Ah-nuld plays a construction worker who becomes involved in a crazy power struggle on Mars…or does he? Verhoeven’s blend of social commentary and undeniable craft with action have allowed this to hold up better than most thirty-year-old action movies.
Fernando Meirelles (City of God) directs this fascinating two-hander starring Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins as the last and current Popes. The majority of Anthony McCarten’s script is a conversation between the two in the days when Pope Benedict handed off papal duties to Pope Francis, using that context to examine modern faith and how it has to change in the new century. Hopkins is very good but the real draw here is arguably the best performance of Jonathan Pryce’s remarkable career.
Adam Sandler earned some of the best reviews of his career for this tense drama/thriller about a New York jeweler who has a little bit of a gambling problem. As he spirals the drain of life, he tries to sell a rare gem and make money on a Celtics playoff game. Vibrant and anxiety-inducing, it’s one of the best movies of 2019, and it’s already on Netflix.
It’s hard to believe it’s been over a quarter-century since Johnny Depp starred with a young Leonardo DiCaprio in this truly beloved drama, a film that didn’t make a lot of money in theaters but has developed a following over the years. Whenever anyone asks about Depp or DiCaprio’s best performances on social media, this is a film that comes up in the conversation, in no small part because it earned a very young Leo his first Oscar nod.
Actor Paul Dano directed this masterful drama, co-written with his partner Zoe Kazan from the book by Richard Ford. Carey Mulligan stars as a woman in 1960 Montana whose husband (a subtle Jake Gyllenhaal) leaves for a low-paying job fighting a forest fire. Stuck with her only son (an excellent Ed Oxenbould), she has to figure out how to make ends meet on her own. It’s a lyrical, moving portrait of those days in which one first realizes their parents are flawed creatures too.
Both versions of the Roald Dahl classic are on Netflix but take Gene Wilder over Johnny Depp every time. This movie is a beloved classic for a reason, carried effortlessly by Wilder’s charm and the Dahl’s unforgettable story. Everyone has seen this at some point in their life. It’s a rite of passage in childhood for a reason.