Stuck for a good film on Netflix? Here’s our pick of the best Netflix movies to feast your eyes on, updated weekly
Netflix has plenty of movies to watch but there’s a real mixed bag on there. Sometimes finding the right film at the right time can seem like an impossible task. This is particularly the case now Netflix’s film rating system is a percentage rather than a numerical rating. So, to help you in this most important of tasks, we’ve compiled a list of the good films on Netflix.
If you decide you’re in more of a TV mood, head over to our best Netflix TV series or picks of the best documentaries. We have a whole separate list of the best sci-fi movies and the best films on Amazon Prime UK.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story
The last scene of Breaking Bad, the hit show about a chemistry teacher who turns into a meth dealer with the help of a former student, we see Jesse Pinkman fleeing from a compound where he was held captive for months by a group of white supremacists. El Camino picks up the action right where it left off, to answer the question that show creator Vince Gilligan was repeatedly asked: what happened to Jesse? Unlike the slower-paced prequel Better Call Saul, the movie has the frenetic feel of a Breaking Bad episode, with creative camerawork and moments of exquisite tension. There’s plenty of fan service too, with cameos from pretty much all of your favourite characters, and an answer to the mystery of Walter White’s ultimate fate.
Hailed as “the best horror film of all time”, and responsible for cinema’s most iconic shower scene, Psycho is a must-watch. Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological horror follows a secretary who checks into a deserted motel after stealing from her employer. There, she encounters the motel’s unsettling owner-manager and things quickly, terrifyingly, progress.
Call Me By Your Name
‘Somewhere in Northern Italy’, summer 1983, is the setting for Luca Guadagnino’s jaw droppingly gorgeous romantic drama from 2017. The story of Elio, a too-sophisticated-by-half teen (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver, a classical statue come to life (Armie Hammer), is sweet and slow and its inclusion in the catalogue almost makes up for the sometimes insulting ‘rom coms’ elsewhere on Netflix. Expect a sequel.
When Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) learns he has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the self-satisfied writer takes his family with him on a trip to Sweden to receive his award. But while Pryce luxuriates in the adulation, his relationship with his wife Joan – played by Glenn Close – starts to unravel. Switching between the present-day and flashbacks to the beginning of the Castlemans’ relationship in the 1950s, it quickly becomes clear that Joan had literary ambitions of her own before slipping into the role of gracious and accommodating spouse of a conceited rising star. But when a persistent biographer (Christian Slater) starts buttering up the couple in an attempt to write the author’s biography, it emerges that Joan may be much more than the receding and supportive partner that she seems to be.
Based on a novel of the same name, The Revenant is a story of revenge. Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is guiding a band of trappers through 1820s America. However things turn nasty when the group are attacked by an Arikara war party. After the attack Glass’s son, Hawk, is brutally murdered. From here on, Glass sets out on a gripping adventure to avenge his child. Its Oscar record speaks for itself. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and came away with three wins, including the Best Actor gong for DiCaprio.
Adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name and directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is a masterful psychological thriller. Ben Affleck stars as an aimless and unfaithful husband who becomes prime suspect when his wife, played brilliantly by Rosamund Pike, goes missing. From the sociopathic lead characters to the hysterical response to the disappearance, Gone Girl is an unreal, unconformable and strangely compelling film with all the forensic style we’ve come to expect from Fincher’s work.
A breakup movie that is really about the joy of female friendship and the pain of growing old, Someone Great is powered by the chemistry between its three lead actors: Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise. Rodriguez stars as Jenny, a journalist who simultaneously lands her dream job in San Francisco and breaks up with her boyfriend of nine years. To lift her out of her gloom, Jenny enlists her two best friends for one last adventure in New York City. Although the film sets itself up as a series of comic capers (like Superbad or Dazed and Confused), it really finds its heart in the relationship between the three leads and their mutual support as they attempt to muddle through life – it’s like picking up with the cast of Booksmart and finding out they’ve really gotten into drugs in the intervening 13 years.
Blade Runner 2049
More than 35 years after the original, Blade Runner 2049 still manages to succeed in the way its predecessor did. Want proof? It took $259 million at box offices around the world. While the sequel see Harrison Ford and Edward James Olmos return in their roles from the original, Ryan Gosling (playing K) is the perfect non-human human. The film wants you to question your interactions with the technology around us and ponder whether the machines will ever take over, and does so masterfully..
Open Road Films
Based on a true story, Spotlight follows a team of investigative reporters at The Boston Globe newspaper as they uncover a horrific history of systemic child abuse and subsequent cover-ups within the Catholic Church. Rather than casting the journalists as heroes, director Tom McCarthy details the painstaking process that it takes to break such a major story: cajoling sources, gathering information and taking first-hand accounts of abuse. The film is made all the more shocking by the fact that despite the child abuse going back decades, it took until 2002 – and only after the relentless determination of The Boston Globe – for the story to finally reach the public.The best films of 2019 (so far)
Sometimes a film is almost impossible to categorise; such is the case with Velvet Buzzsaw. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Morf Vandewalt, an art critic whose influence means he has the art world wrapped around his little finger. What starts as an acerbic send-up of the high-end art scene soon turns into a very different film, however, when Morf’s friend/lover Josephina (Zawe Ashton) discovers a cache of haunted paintings left behind by a mysterious dead artist. Thus begins a kind of supernatural Final Destination plot, with character after character suffering increasingly bizarre deaths by contemporary artwork. Not one for the squeamish.
Tom Hanks stars as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg, the pilot who in 2009 landed a passenger plane in New York’s Hudson River after both engines were disabled by a bird strike just 80 seconds after takeoff, ultimately saving the lives of all 155 passengers on board. Although the flight itself lasted just three minutes, Sully concentrates on the accident’s aftermath as Sully is brought before the National Transportation Safety Board to explain why he chose to ditch the plane in the river rather than attempting to land at either LaGuardia Airport in New York, or New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport.
The Big Short
Witty, outrageous and at times chilling, The Big Short will reaffirm your cynicism of Wall Street. Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling to name a few, this comedy-drama was one of the more unexpected films to come out of 2015. Originally a book by Michael Lewis on the financial crash, this BAFTA and Academy Award winning adaptation brings to the screen the crisis of 2008 and its roots. Be prepared to be enlightened and enraged.
Always Be My Maybe
Written by and starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, Always Be My Maybe tells the story of two inseparable childhood friends whose lives veer dramatically apart after a grief-stricken rendezvous in their teenage years. Wong plays Sasha Tran, a superstar chef whose stratospheric career barely papers over the cracks in her faltering relationship. Park, meanwhile, plays Marcus Kim, whose ambitions have taken him no further than the local dive bar and his father’s air conditioning firm. Fate – and a bizarre cameo from Keanu Reeves – conspire to bring the two leads back together in a film that at long last lifts Asian Americans outside of Hollywood’s clichéd casting and into a thoughtful and hilarious romantic comedy.
Before Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, there was In Bruges – and writer-director Martin McDonagh’s 2008 work is just as violently funny and darkly disturbing. After screwing up at work – which is a problem when you’re a hitman – Ray (Colin Farrell) is dispatched to the Belgian tourist trap to lay low with colleague Ken (Brendon Gleeson), sparking a bewildering odd-couple comedy that descends into a discussion of ethics and redemption punctuated by plenty of gun shots when boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) arrives to clean up the mess.
The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne picked up an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in this moving biopic, which documents the life of the renowned astrophysicist from his student days at Cambridge University through the early years of his career. It focuses on his relationship with Jane Wilde, and the rapid progression of the motor neurone disease that would confine him to a wheelchair for much of his life.
Bridesmaids pretty much redefined the chick flick when it was released in 2011, plunging buddy comedy-style humour into a thoroughly feminine setting. Think The Hangover, but with a lot more pink taffeta. Kristen Wiig plays Annie Walker, a down-on-her-luck single woman who is appointed maid of honour by her best friend Lilian (Maya Rudolph). It falls to Annie to organise dress fittings, hen dos and bridal showers, all the while attempting to corral Lilian’s motley crew of bridesmaids to great comic effect.
Edgar Wright has quickly established a reputation as one of the most creative mainstream directors in Hollywood, which explains the outstanding cast attached to this low-budget action flick. Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx feature as two of several crooks in this crime caper where all the action is set to music. Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a talented wheel-man who listens to music to drown out his tinnitus. But he’s a reluctant criminal and when he tries to go straight to escape with his girlfriend (Lily James), everything goes badly wrong. Wright’s flair for matching action to contemporary music is unmatched and the result is a film unlike any.
A reboot of a reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming was the first outing for Tom Holland as Peter Parker and he brings much-needed youthful energy to the role. It also features one of the best bad guys in any Marvel movie to date in Adrian Toomes, an industrious blue collar businessman who starts adapting Alien technology and selling weapons on the black market in the aftermath of the Battle of New York. It’s fun, action-packed and easy to watch.
Ron Howard’s pulse-quickening biopic harks back to an era when Formula 1 was packed with larger than life characters. It tells the story of the epic rivalry between Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) during the 1976 F1 season, and the former’s remarkable recovery from a fiery crash at the Nurburgring. A remarkable true story that is all the more poignant in the wake of Lauda’s recent death.
The Silence of the Lambs
In 2003, psychiatrist-turned-cannibal Dr Hannibal Lecter – played expertly by a terrifying Anthony Hopkins – topped a list of the greatest villains in cinematic history compiled by the American Film Institute. This iconic movie sees Lecter engaged in a psychological battle of wits with novice FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, who needs his help to track down another serial killer before he strikes again. It won the Big Five (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay) at the Oscars – only the third film ever to do so (After It Happened One Night, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).
After a run of repeats on ITV2 stretching back to when the dinosaurs were actually alive, all three of the original Jurassic Park movies have landed on Netflix. The original is obviously the best, with star turns from Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Samuel L Jackson’s disembodied arm. It won three Oscars – Best Visual Effects (which stand up surprisingly well), Best Sound Mixing and Best Editing. There are so many iconic moments – but it’s worth a re-watch for that soaring theme tune alone.
The Great Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann’s star-studded 2013 adaptation is visually stunning – it won Oscars for both production and costume design – but perhaps lacks the depth of the novel, which carefully skewered the excesses of The Jazz Age years before it all came crashing down. Leonardo di Caprio plays the titular millionaire, with Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton rounding out the awkward love triangle that forms the core of the plot, and Tobey Maguire in full blank canvas mode as narrator Nick Carraway. Watch it on a big screen, with a mojito.
Based very loosely on a real story, War Dogs tells the story of two twenty-something Americans who, through opportunism and more than a little fraud, become big-time arms dealers by bidding on US Army contracts around the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It’s a black comedy at heart and Jonah Hill is brilliant as the more unhinged, morally bankrupt of the two opposite Miles Teller’s more sensitive straight guy. It doesn’t win awards for depth or complexity – no surprise given it shares a director with The Hangover – but it’s a fun, easy watch for a weekday evening.
A Ghost Story
At the centre of David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is a man (Casey Affleck) wearing a white sheet. Not just a sheet but a sheet with two eye holes cut out. It’s quite a feat but Lowery manages to take that absurd image and make it tragic in this intense genre and time-bending look at loss. Rooney Mara, who plays the wife half left behind by the ghost, carries the whole art house meets haunted house vibe and somehow it all works.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
After being caught in the backseat of a car having sex with her best friend, Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is sent to a gay conversion camp by her devout aunt. Subjected to the repressive regime by camp guides who claim that their regime can help “cure” young people of their homosexuality, Post finds herself drawn to two of the camp’s rebellious outcasts.
Sport is really about data. That’s the view of baseball manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who can’t compete with the big budgets of rival clubs. To add salt to his wounds, three of his best players have just moved to a rival team. Instead of trying to raise more money, he decides to improve his Oakland Athletics side using statistics rather than tradition wisdom. The movie, which was nominated for six Oscars including Best Actor and Best Picture, is based on the real-life story, and book, about the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics baseball team.
Marvel has done a brilliant job fleshing out the fringe characters in its cinematic universe and Ant-Man, released in 2015, is another hugely entertaining entry. Despite a somewhat troubled production, which saw Edgar Wright quit as director (he and co-writer Joe Cornish retained screenplay and story credits), Paul Rudd nails the lead role in a film that doesn’t get bogged down in the wider Marvel story arc. There’s still signs of Wright’s involvement in some of its inventive set-pieces and Ant-Man was one of the first films to insert a little more humour into the MCU.
Based on the memoir of Saroo Brierley, Lion follows the life of a young boy who is separated from his mother and younger sister in Khandwa, India, when he is just five years old. The film picks up with Saroo (Dev Patel) 20 years later, now living with his adoptive parents in Australia. When he moves to Melbourne to start university, Saroo finds himself determined to discover the story of his childhood and adoption – with a little help from Google Earth.
Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn star as fortysomething New Yorkers who are stuck in a endless cycle of fertility treatments and despair as they struggle to have a baby by any means possible. But when their young niece drops out of university to come stay with her creative aunt and uncle, their journey takes an unexpected turn. Private Life is hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure as it depicts a couple fixated on one goal, to the exclusion of all else – even their own relationship.
You’ll probably want to watch Birdman twice. On a first viewing, the film’s cinematography – ingenious though it is – becomes a distraction. Under the guidance of Emmanuel Lubezki, the entirety of this cult fable appears to be formed from a single, elaborate tracking shot. Watch it a second time and the dazzling cinematography becomes a character of its own in the dreamlike narrative. This is a darkly comic tale of a man haunted by his past facing an unfolding existential crisis. And, four years after its cinematic release, it’s still unlike almost anything else out there.
Beasts of No Nation
Only great things can come from the director of True Detectives, and with Beasts of No Nation Cary Fukunaga doesn’t disappoint. A compelling war drama film starring Idris Elba and shot in Ghana, it follows a young boy called Agu who lives in a small village, and who is forced to become a child soldier as his country is ripped apart by a brutal civil war. This is a poignant depiction of the devastation that war can bring to a family.
Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning sci-fi headache is now on Netflix. If one level of 2019’s reality isn’t enough for you then what better way to escape than through Nolan’s multi-levelled, action-packed dreamscape? Remarkable visual effects are combined with an equally remarkable intellectual feast for one of the most original action films of the last decade. It’s a bit like playing a board game you don’t understand. And it’s got Leonardo DiCaprio in it. What more could you ask for?
This art world farce from Swedish director Ruben Östlund makes for slightly uncomfortable but seriously funny viewing, like a two and a half hour episode of European, hipster Peep Show. You can’t look away but you can’t not look. The set pieces are sublime tributes to stupidity and even if it doesn’t quite match Östlund’s Force Majeure, Claes Bang (soon to play Dracula for Steven Moffat and the BBC) is magnetic as the muppet at the centre of the chaos.
This is without doubt one of the best children’s films of the 1990s. Don’t agree? Stop reading. Matilda is a dark, witty and touching adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. Danny DeVito is at his ludicrous, comic best, while Mara Wilson is a perfect fit for the understated but mischievous lead role. If you watched this film as a kid, it’s a great trip down memory lane. And even if you’re a bit too old for that, it’s still a great family film today.
Roma, Alfonso Cuaron’s newest release since Gravity in 2013, is very different from any film he’s made before. Set against the backdrop of unrest in Mexico City in the early 1970’s, the film follows Cleo (Yalitizio Aparicia), who works as a housekeeper for a young, well-off family. The specificity of the film arises from Cuaron’s direction, as the film is based on the life of the nanny who raised him, Libo, and much of the mis-en-scene in the film is actually from his childhood. While the film is in black and white, and entirely in Chilango Spanish, it’s incredibly moving and absorbing, especially given how gorgeous the cinematography and direction is. Fans of Cuaron who have watched Gravity or Children of Men might be surprised, but this side of Cuaron is worth watching, and Roma is already generating Oscars buzz.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
A lot is expected from each new Coen brothers film. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is something slightly different – but it still delivers. The movie is a set of six Wild West short stories. Each tale is about 15 minutes long, has its own cast and isn’t connected to any of the others. The entire package is entertaining and the stories are well-told. By the time it finishes, you’ll be wanting more.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Prepare yourself for a marathon. All three of the Lord of the Rings films have been added to Netflix’s catalogue. Totalling almost nine and a half hours (for the theatrical versions) the three movies are the definitive screenplay telling of J. R. R. Tolkien’s action-packed trilogy. Despite the first of the series – The Fellowship of the Ring – first being released in 2001, none of the movies have aged in a away that decreases their brilliance.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by Martin Scorcese, The Wolf of Wall Street follows Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio), who starts as a stockbroker on the Wall Street trading floor in the late 80s. As he makes more money and his lifestyle races to catch up, he sets up a firm, Stratton Oakmont in the early 1990s and starts to swindle wealthy financiers out of their fortunes, even as the authorities close in. It’s all the more compelling because the film is based on the memoirs of the real-life Jordan Belfort, who is now a motivational speaker. With an all-star cast featuring DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street is ridiculous and exhilarating.
Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is a tense drama set in the snowy depths of Wyoming and forms part of his ‘frontier trilogy’, which also features Sicario and Hell of High Water. Jeremy Renner plays a hunter who discovers the body of a young Native American woman, a friend to his own daughter who died in mysterious circumstances several years earlier. He joins forces with an FBI agent, played by Elizabeth Olsen, to investigate. It’s an absorbing drama where the location is as much a character as the actors. Head here to watch it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave H, the eccentric concierge of a hotel in a fictional European country between the first and second World Wars. When Gustave becomes implicated in a bizarre murder plot, he turns to his lobby boy (Tony Revolori) for help. Director Wes Anderson ramps his distinctive directorial style all the way up in this comedy which alternates between being bewitchingly beautiful and absurdly funny.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Hugh Grant cemented his reign over 90’s British rom-coms in this sweet, classic film from 1994, as Charles, an awkward Englishman whose run of bad luck in love seems destined to last forever. He falls in love with Carrie, played by a charming Andie McDowell, an American who has to return home soon after they meet. Even though their timing is never quite right, they continue to bump into each other over the course of their lives, and Charles eventually is convinced that they’re destined to be together. A classic Richard Curtis film through and through, it’s saved from being too soppy by a genuinely funny script and supporting cast.
The Social Network
Look on helplessly as Mark Zuckerberg unleashes The Facebook on an unsuspecting world. Jesse Eisenberg gives an uncanny portrayal – both physically and behaviourally – of Zuck, the flawed entrepreneur. Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, The Social Network is all quick dialogue and lingering, artful frames. And, as the horror unfolds, you realise that Facebook’s unstoppable rise was pretty much all your fault.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers one of his finest performances as the American author Truman Capote. Such is his dedication to the character that at times his acting is more possession than portrayal. It’s utterly uncanny. The film itself follows one of the most intense and remarkable periods of Capote’s life as he begins the process of researching his landmark novel In Cold Blood.
Good Will Hunting
The drama that launched the careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who both wrote and starred in this drama set between the city of Boston and the prestigious Harvard and MIT universities nearby. Will’s self-taught academic talent inspires a professor to save him from a prison sentence, in exchange for studying maths with him, and seeing a therapist to temper his arrogant and confrontational personality. The story plays out fairly simply, but the strength of the characters and their relationships, particularly Damon as Will and Robin Williams as psychologist Sean, are what propelled the film to its two Oscar wins in 1997.
A taut, clever crime thriller, Nightcrawler explores the world of ‘stringers’, freelance videographers who scour late night LA for violent events to film and then sell to local news TV stations. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou, who lucks into the trade and quickly discovers the profits to be made, especially when he bends the law for juicier material. Desperate to feed demand and ratings, a local morning news director (Rene Russo) doesn’t care how the footage is obtained so long as it’s good. An outstanding central performance from Gyllenhaal, who lost weight to portray the desperate Lou, drives the action forward and it features an early Hollywood appearance for Riz Ahmed as his sidekick, Rick.
Everyone in this period drama from director Dee Rees is trying to drag themselves out of the Mississippi mud, in one way or another. Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) moves his young family to a farm on the Mississippi delta, although his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) is less than pleased by the news that he’s also bringing his horribly racist father to live with them too. The Jackson family are tenants on the farm, led by Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) who hopes he can work his way out of sharecropping and own his own slice of land one day. When Hap’s son and Henry’s brother return to Mississippi from World War II, the two men find themselves locked in a struggle against the ugly oppression of Jim Crow America.
Writer and director Alex Garland won numerous plaudits for his directorial debut Ex Machina, including Oscar and BAFTA nominations for best original screenplay. Annihilation is his second feature as a director and it’s another serious, enthralling sci-fi exploration that’s much better than its ‘straight to Netflix’ status would suggest.
Channelling a sci-fi horror vibe reminiscent of Soviet-era mind trip Stalker, Annihilation’s main antagonist is a slowly expanding zone called The Shimmer in which all life is undergoing rapid and inexplicable mutation. Natalie Portman travels with an all-female team of scientists to try and reach the centre of The Shimmer and understand what’s causing it, and what happened to her husband after his own journey into Area X. Cerebral and dream-like, it’s the kind of film that begs discussion, interpretation and repeat viewings. It’s also an absolute visual treat.
What happened to Monday
What happened to Monday is so ridiculous that it’s brilliant. Part of the ever-growing list of sci-fi dystopian flicks, this Netflix Original tells the ever-unraveling story of six septuplets who had the misfortune of being born into a world with a strict one-child policy. To avoid government capture, they must pretend to be the same person. When one sister goes missing, this proves easier said than done. With an impressive performance by Noomi Rapace, as all six sisters, and Willem Dafoe as their guardian.
Dallas Buyers Club
Set in 1985 in Texas, a bigoted rodeo bull rider, Ron Woodroof, is diagnosed with AIDS. His refusal to accept his fate sends him on a journey to track down the drug AZT, the only known treatment. On his journey he meets a transgender business partner, who agrees to help him distribute the drug amongst the gay community. Based on a true story, Dallas Buyer Club is as harrowing as it is inspiring. Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, subverts the macho man, making him an unexpected hero to a generation of gay men. McConaughey’s celebrated performance won him an Academy award and Golden Globe for Best Male Actor.
The Fundamentals of Caring
This on-the road indie flick is many things at once. Based on a novel by Jonathan Evison, it’s heartwarming, witty, thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud hilarious. The Fundamentals of Caring is lifted with just the right balance of dark comedy and drama making it both a poignant story and an easy watch. Paul Rudd stars as beaten-down Ben who decides to go on a course to become a carer after divorcing his wife, and Trevor (Craig Roberts) is wry, hilarious and complicated as the teenager Rudd begins caring for. It’s refreshing to see disability presented in a way that feels honest without being afraid to address self-depreciation through comedy.
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