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Do Revenge
Image: Kim Simms/Netflix"Do Revenge"

The 35 best movies on Netflix right now

From old-school criminals to new-school gunslingers, these are the best bets on Netflix right now.

Matthew Singer
Written by
Andy Kryza
&
Matthew Singer
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Everyone has fallen victim to the Eternal Scroll. You know what we’re talking about: your partner suggests watching a movie, you turn on Netflix and begin looking for something that piques your interest, and the next thing you know, your night is burned, your patience is fried, and you both succumb to watching Friends reruns and falling asleep on the couch. Hey, we get it. The platform has around 6000 titles in a multitude of genres, but infinite choice can be an overwhelming prospect. We’re here to help. We’ve streamlined the best that Netflix currently has to offer, narrowing the field to the 35 flicks most worth your time.

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💻 The 40 best Netflix original series to binge
👪 The best family movies on Netflix for all ages
😬 The 20 best thriller movies on Netflix

Best movies on Netflix

  • Film

Director: Jane Campion

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Currently battling Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast as the odds-on Oscar favorite for Best Picture, Jane Campion’s first film in a decade is set among the dusty valleys of Montana circa 1920, but as an examination of how toxic masculinity eats the soul, it might as well take place in 1960s Ireland, or during the Industrial Revolution, or on today’s Reddit forums. Benedict Cumberbatch stows away his Shakespearean elocution to inhabit Phil Burbank, a bullying, chain-smoking rancher with unexpressable desires he keeps padlocked behind a veneer of brutish machismo. It’s a role that plays utterly against type, but Cumberbatch turns in career-best work, in part because of the symbiosis between actor and character: both are effectively playing an elaborate game of dress-up.

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard

The elder Gyllenhaal sibling’s directorial debut delves into the psychological toll of motherhood with a bruising honesty that few films have ever attempted. After helping a young mum (Dakota Johnson) find her lost daughter – cue ‘pointing Leonardo DiCaprio meme’ – on a beach in Greece, solo vacationer Leda (Olivia Colman) becomes increasingly fixated on the family, dredging up painful memories of her own early days as a parent. It spirals from there. Adapted from an Elena Ferrante novel, it’d rank as a bold effort for any filmmaker, let alone a first-timer. Gyllenhaal nails it.

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  • Film

Director: George C Wolfe

Cast: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman

Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman power this August Wilson adaptation about the clash between the titular ‘Mother of the Blues’ and a young trumpeter at a recording studio in 1920s Chicago. The late Boseman, in particular, brings a tense, tragic and ultimately deeply human soul to what turned out to be his final performance.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: Jeymes Samuel

Cast: Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Idris Elba, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield

Each member of The Harder They Fall’s cast is a headturner on their own, so imagine the rush of seeing them as dueling posses. But the red-hot ensemble is just one of the draws of Jeymes’ hyper-stylised, cordite-choked Black western, which is chock full of kinetic camera work, frenzied action, expertly deployed needle drops and desert landscapes painted crimson amid heavy gunfire. This isn’t your daddy’s oater. It’s the western wrested from its more contemplative roots and reinvented as something it hasn’t been for a while: fun.

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It Follows (2014)
  • Film
  • Horror

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist

Director David Robert Mitchell immediately entered the horror hall of fame with one of the genre’s all-time great debuts, offering up a clinic in creeping dread and dream logic. Whether the relentlessly slow entity stalking the teenage heroes is a metaphor for STDs or the loss of innocence seems almost irrelevant as Mitchell fills every paranoid frame with suffocating dread. In this nightmare, anyone within eyeshot could be the personification of walking death. No film since has inspired audiences to look over their shoulders with such deeply felt concern.

  • Film
  • Musical

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens

 

Musicals are polarising. A meta-musical about the writing of another musical is, for some, a total non-starter. Add in Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a segment of the population will delete Netflix just so they don’t end up watching it by accident. If any meta-musical directed by Miranda is going to convince skeptics, though, it’s this one: an adaptation of late Rent playwright Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical account of his early career struggles. Powered by a spirited lead performance from Andrew Garfield and tunes only the crankiest of cranks would deny, it’s still not for everyone – but it’s close.

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RRR (2022)
Photograph: Dreamz Entertainment

RRR (2022)

An absolute blast of a blockbuster, this Telugu-language epic already wowed Indian audiences earlier this year, becoming that country’s second-biggest box office smash of all-time. Now, it’s sideswiping international audiences. It’s a sweeping piece of historical fiction focused on two true-life revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, who fought against British colonialists in the 1920s. It truly has it all: musical numbers, over-the-top action sequences, lavish set design – as one Twitter user put it, it is perhaps the finest example of the Bollywood (or in this case, ‘Tollywood’) maxim: ‘Just do the coolest thing you can think of and the movie will be good.’ Truthfully, you probably want to see it in a theatre, but even at home it will leave you leaping, applauding and screaming on your couch. 

Do Revenge (2022)
Image: Kim Simms/Netflix

Do Revenge (2022)

Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson 

Cast: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke

 

Yeah, it’s an unabashed homage to teen comedies of the past, overflowing with not-so-subtle nods to ’90s classics like Clueless and Cruel Intentions. But if Do Revenge is mostly a cover song, it’s the rare one that nearly equals – if not surpasses – its predecessors. That’s partially because it cuts the formula with an older, slightly more leftfield reference: Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Riverdale’s Camila Mendes is a high-school debutante turned pariah when her boyfriend leaks a private video online. Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke is the outsider who agrees to assist in her revenge plot, in exchange for a comeuppance of her own. It’s a total hoot, no matter what generation you belong to.     

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Jennifer Kent

Cast: Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganambarr, Maya Christie

To call Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook bleak is the understatement of a century: This tale of rape, revenge, genocide and racism in the 1800s outback makes fellow Aussie western The Proposition seem like Muriel’s Wedding in comparison. But this isn’t some misery-porn Ozploitation flick either: While The Nightingale is suffocatingly brutal and often nauseating, it’s impossible to deny the beauty of the craft on display. A hard watch to be sure, but if you’ve got the stomach, it’s worth the wallow if only to witness a new master at the top of her game.

Atlantics (2019)
  • Film

Director: Mati Diop

Cast: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré 

‘Haunting’ is perhaps an overused descriptor in movie discussions, but this genre-blurring Sengalese film truly does hang over you like an apparition well after the credits roll. Mixing atmospheric horror, romantic drama and social commentary, the film focuses on the female inhabitants of a suburb of Dakar who are possessed by the souls of their exploited husbands who died at sea. It’s extraordinary.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira 

In his deeply personal black and white marvel ‘Roma’, director Alfonso Cuarón dives into his Mexican boyhood with this absorbingly rich tribute to the resilient women who raised him – before expanding to gradually reveal the social and political canvas of 1970s Mexico City.

Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Photograph: Netflix

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Cast: Randall Park, Ali Wong, Michael Golamco

Proof that even relatively traditional romcoms can still transcend the genre just by being smart, spiky and sincere, Always Be My Maybe stars comedian Ali Wong and the always-charming Randall Park as reunited childhood friends traversing an adult relationship. That simple synopsis doesn’t nearly indicate the movie’s effortlessly breezy and surprisingly effective tone. And the Keanu Reeves cameo rules, because of course it does.

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13th (2016)
  • Film
  • Documentaries

Director: Ava DuVernay

Named after the slavery-abolishing Thirteenth Amendment, Ava DuVernay’s gripping, angry doc argues that incarceration has become the new slavery in America. And with a wildly disproportionate Black prison population and corporations using it for free labour, the evidence is irrefutable – and DuVernay’s line-up of experts (including activists and historians like Angela Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr) present it with ferocious clarity. 13th is an absolute must-see: one of those eye-opening documentaries that will change the way you see the world in an instant.

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)
Photograph: ©2021 SPAI. All Rights Reserved.

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

Director: Mike Rianda

Voicecast: Olivia Colman, Maya Rudolph, Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride

From the inventive and groundbreaking minds that brought you Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, comes this highly entertaining animated movie about a family road trip and a robot apocalypse. The script is sharp, the comedic timing perfect and there’s even Olivia Colman voicing an evil A.I. hellbent on destroying the world. What’s not to love?

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The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)
Jeong Park/Netflix

The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

Director: Radha Blank

Cast: Radha Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin

A funny, honest and stirring statement from writer-director Radha Blank, The Forty-Year-Old Version stars its creator basically as herself, a playwright staring down middle age. With her creative career on the rocks, she pivots toward hip-hop, a medium perhaps even less hospitable to a woman on the precipice of 40. It’s an inspirational tale of artistic ambition – without being cloying or corny – that announces the arrival of a talent worth keeping both eyes on.

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Dance, Lily Collins, Tom Burke

Part love letter, part sworn affidavit, David Fincher’s Citizen Kane making-of story never lets Hollywood off the hook. It’s fulsome in its love for a medium that Orson Welles (Tom Burke) reinvents with his 1941 opu, but damning of its studio owners’ cynicism and reactionary streak. Shot through with monochromatic elegance, it evokes a long-lost period in dazzling scale and detail. Gary Oldman’s boozy, outspoken screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who whirls through it like a human tornado, is a joy to watch.

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  • Film
  • Thrillers

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas

In this rip-roaring actioner from the Russo brothers – the duo that helmed Avengers: Endgame – an even more stoic than usual Ryan Gosling is a convicted killer recruited by the CIA who abandons the agency after learning about some of their nefarious dealings. (The CIA? Nefarious? Get out of town!) But, of course, detangling from a shady government organisation is easier said than done. It’s a big, bombastic blast.

 

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Directors: Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam

Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle

When the film first came out, being the right age (an advanced 13) helped with one's appreciation of the troupe’s lunatic clomping over the Scottish Highlands. If you can regress far enough, you’ll probably still find several bits just as funny: “It’s just a flesh wound,” etc.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Spike Lee

Cast: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Chadwick Boseman

Spike Lee’s corrective to the history of the Vietnam War foregrounds the Black Americans who fought and died in a conflict that they had little stake in. It’s a political treatise wrapped in a treasure hunt –
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with a point to make about remembrance and duty – that twists and turns in unexpected directions. It also has fired-up performances, especially from Delroy Lindo and Clarke Peters as veterans returning to the country in search of buried gold and Chadwick Boseman as the old comrade whose memory they seek to honour.

  • Film
  • Drama

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits

Miss a new film by the Coens at your own peril. Their latest—an amusingly violent six-part comedy set in a highly stylized Old West—feels a touch like a placeholder after the darker riches of Inside Llewyn Davis and Hail, Caesar! But when Zoe Kazan shows up on the dusty trail as an evolving frontierswoman, the movie deepens into the kind of drama the brothers are capable of. You'll have much fun with this.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri

Like Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma - or this year’s Oscar favorite Belfast - Italy’s 2022 Academy Award entry is an auteurist memoir, based on director Paolo Sorrentino’s youth in Naples, and the sudden tragedy that spurred his coming of age. Before that moment yanks the floor out from under him – or rather his teenage avatar Fabietto, played by Filippo Scotti –Sorrentino renders wistful adolescent memories in fantastically intimate detail, recalling sexual awakenings, family dinners and Diego Maradona’s famously controversial goal against England, which gives the movie its title.

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Noah Baumbach

Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern

Last year's finest film is already on the streaming service—a tribute to Netflix's excellent taste in original projects. Starring a never-better Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, director Noah Baumbach's triumph is the most nuanced movie about divorce, in all its heartache and banality. Grappling with its molten emotions is worth the pain.

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The Boys in the Band (2020)
Photograph: Scott Everett White

The Boys in the Band (2020)

Director: Joe Mantello

Cast: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells

Joe Mantello takes the directing chair on this film adaptation of the 1968 eponymous play. This is actually the second version of the movie—the first one was released in 1970—and it stars the full cast of the play's 2018 Broadway revival, a roster comprised of only openly gay actors. The material is extremely heavy, the cinematography on-point and the acting will absolutely break your heart.

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2018)
  • Film
  • Documentaries

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Documentary (?)

Just as Bob Dylan often wore a magician’s white face (or even a plastic mask) on this 1975 tour, director Scorsese is having fun with the truth, infusing his flow with subtle fictionalizations that may outfox you. Among Scorsese’s co-conspirators are Sharon Stone and Michael Murphy, appearing as “presidential candidate” Jack Tanner.

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Beasts of No Nation (2015)
  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Cary Fukunaga

Cast: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi

An uncompromising portrait of one boy's experience as a child soldier in an unnamed African country, this one is tough to watch, but especially worthy. It's everything you'd imagine: civil war, family break-up, isolation, indoctrination, murder, rape. They're all here, along with a thrilling sense of survival.

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro

Clocking in at 209 minutes, the lengthy runtime of this Scorsese gangster epic might put you off (try tackling it in two parts). If you’re willing to invest, though, the payoff is worth it: often electrifying, this is a truly memorable film about doubt, broken trust and self-reflection in the face of old age. De Niro’s performance as Frank Sheeran gets better and better as the minutes pass, while Pacino clearly has a ball as Jimmy Hoffa. Even Scorsese’s decision to digitally de-age his cast for part of the movie is a gamble that somehow pays off.

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Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)
Photograph: Netflix

Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)

DirectorKirsten Johnson

This gloriously humane meta-doc has documentarian Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson) steeling herself for the death of her dad by asking him to act it out. Repeatedly. Gamely Dick Johnson, a newly retired psychiatrist, goes along with it. The result is a wonderful, off-beat watch that explores how we relate to grief and loss with hilarious candour. It’s about dads and their daughters, life and loss, celebration and commemoration. About how to make the most of what you have while you have it. It’s one for the bucket list. 

Hustle (2022)
Scott Yamano/Netflix

Hustle (2022)

Uncut Gems has cycled off Netflix for the moment, but if you need your fix of Adam Sandler acting alongside professional basketball players, this sports dramedy will do’er. Here, Sandler plays an NBA talent scout named Stanley Sugerman who’s grown sick of the grind, until his discovery of a talented Spanish player (real-life baller Juancho Hernangómez) reignites his passion for the game. It sounds like another grating Sandler vanity project on paper, but this one turns out to be quite good and charming, owing to both Sandler’s everyman appeal and some surprising turns from the pro athletes in the cast, most notably Minnesota Timberwolves phenom Anthony Edwards as a trash-talking draft prospect.

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Private Life (2018)
  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Tamara Jenkins

Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Gabrielle Reid

Bursting out of a relatively weak Sundance lineup, writer-director Tamara Jenkins's first movie in more than a decade shows the maker of The Savages in flinty form. Her new one is a comedy about the heartwrenching calculations of in vitro fertilization. If that doesn't sound like a laugh riot, let us re-introduce you to the effortlessly wry Paul Giamatti and a revelatory Kathryn Hahn.

  • Film
  • Documentaries

Director: Sandi Tan

Cast: Documentary

Propelled by a decades-spanning mystery as unsettling as any in a David Lynch film, Sandi Tan’s gloriously personal documentary is a vivid scrapbook about growing up a cinephile and a misfit. It’s both a nostalgic throwback to ’80s and ’90s Singapore, where the filmmaker’s artistic appetite blossomed, and an emotional reconciliation with her past, which was interrupted by a shocking theft.

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American Factory (2019)
Photograph: Aubrey Keith/Netflix

American Factory (2019)

Directors: Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

This Oscar-winning doc, made by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company no less, has a tonne of pertinent things to say about working culture and globalisation. It follows the takeover of an Ohioan auto glass factory by a Chinese company. It should be a good news story of thousands of American jobs saved and a town’s welfare protected, but the truth is far more complicated. The question of whether Chinese and American workers can collaborate successfully takes the film from Moraine, Ohio to Fuqing, China. The answer is… well, -ish. 

  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Charlie Kaufman

Cast: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, David Thewlis

A kinda-romcom with all the jokes and feelgood vibes replaced by existential angst and a generalised sense of foreboding? What could be more Charlie Kaufman than an impeccably-acted mindwarp of a film that starts as a simple road trip and ends as an enigma we’ll be chewing over and debating for years to come. Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons are a couple heading home to meet his folks (Toni Collette and David Thewlis, perfectly attuned to Kaufman’s skittish frequency), but is it all in his head? Or hers? It’ll definitely get stuck in yours.

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  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Carter, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Aaron Sorkin manages to pack in the sense of political and social turmoil of late-1960s America into this ferociously articulate courtroom drama about the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-war protestors blamed for rioting outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The director is on unshowy form here, letting the story speak for itself, while the terrific ensemble cast equally keep things nicely understated. Truly stirring stuff.

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Peter Rodis/Netflix

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Director: Liz Garbus

A figure as talented and complex as Nina Simone can’t be neatly surmised in a 100-minute film, but Liz Garbus’s documentary comes close. Using archival live footage and interviews with those who knew her, as well as with Simone herself, What Happened, Nina Simone? navigates the singer’s multitudes - revolutionary and traditional, fiery and playful, confrontational yet shy – with an elegant sensitivity that never dilutes her towering legacy.     

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Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (2021)
Photograph: Netflix

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (2021)

Director: Leigh Janiak

Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr

Netflix scored a shocking number of screams with its trio of hard-R adaptations of RL Stine’s PG-rated paperback series. The trilogy-starter, 1994, is the best of the bunch, a film that relishes in gnarly kills but also capably riffs on ‘90s slasher fare like Scream to craft a throwback crowd-pleaser destined to be a sleepover staple. Horror purists, meanwhile, should be appeased by the movie's committment to overkill, particularly a nasty run in with a bread slicer.  

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