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The Harder They Fall
Photograph: David Lee, courtesy of NetflixThe Harder They Fall

The 35 best movies on Netflix right now

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

Written by
Andy Kryza
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Netflix is an unwieldy beast, an online video store where horror classics, comedies, and action flicks live alongside the best movies ever made, original films and some of the worst crimes against cinema. In the realm of the endless scroll, finding the best movies to stream on Netflix can be a task unto itself. We’re here to help. 

We’ve scoured Netflix to find the best movies available right now. You’ll find everything from certified classics to the best Netflix original movies, overlooked genre gems and laugh-out-loud comedies. Just remember: The algorith giveth, and the algorithm taketh away. So queue these up while you can. 

Want more amazing movie recommendations? We got you covered

Best movies on Netflix

  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast: Anjelica Huston, Raúl Juliá, Christina Ricci, Christopher Lloyd

Whether the sequel to the hit ‘90s revival of Charles Addams’ altogether ooky brood is better than the original is up for debate (both are a funeral procession ahead of the animated reboot). But Addams Family Values is undeniably among the best Thanksgiving movies of all time. Any who would say otherwise need only watch Christina Ricci’s Wednesday transform a pilgrims-and-Natives Thanksgiving pageant into a Kill Bill-calibre massacre. It’s a holiday classic. Eat your heart out, Capra.

  • 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
  • Drama

Directors: Josh and Benny Safdie

Cast: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel

A career-best Adam Sandler outdoes his stellar work in Punch-Drunk Love and even the bit in Happy Gilmore where he beats up Bob Barker as super-skittish gambling addict and New York jeweler Howard Ratner in the Safdie’s jolt of raw nervous energy. The fallout from Ratner’s biggest wheeze – an accumulator bet on an NBA game of near-mesmerising complexity and improbability – will leave your blood pressure in the red zone. Strap in.

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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.

  • 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.

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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.

8. 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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  • 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.

Snowpiercer (2013)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: Bong Joon-ho


Cast: Chris Evans, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Tilda Swinton

Bong Joon-ho’s Terry Gillam-indebted adaptation of an obscure French comic book isn’t quite as nuanced in its social commentary as Parasite – it’s about a perpetual-motion train where the rich reside in the front and the poor eat bug paste in the back. But it’s nonetheless a wild, iconoclastic vision, one where each new train car opens up its own lived-in world, be it a heavily propagandised classroom or a freight car full of axe-wielding maniacs. It’s a nightmarish parable that keeps getting wilder: When Captain America talking about cannibalising babies is the least bugnuts thing happening in a given moment, you know you’re in the hands of a master storyteller.

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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.

  • 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.

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Lady Bird (2017)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf

A sweet, deeply personal portrayal of female adolescence that’s more attuned to the bonds between girlfriends than casual flings with boys, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s beautiful Lady Bird flutters with the attractively loose rhythms of youth.

  • Film
  • Science fiction

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer

Unlike fellow legacy-tinkerer George Lucas, Ridley Scott’s approach to re-editing his magnum opus is one that embraces minimalism. Scott’s definitive cut of his rain-soaked future-noir classic elevates what was already arguably the director’s masterpiece to incredible new heights, stripping away the studio interference including Harrison Ford’s Xanax-y voiceover) for a rawer, more mysterious take on Philip K Dick. The core is all still here, from Ford’s hard-boiled maybe-replicant to Rutger Hauer’s heartbreaking final monologue, but Scott’s final cut is one of sci-fi’s essential masterpieces fine tuned to maximise its enigmatic power.

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  • 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.

  • 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

17. 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: Sean Baker

Cast: William Dafoe, Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite

Celebrating a community on the margins, indie wunderkind Sean Baker’s portrait of a ratty motel on the outskirts of Disney World in Orlando is a compassionate and colorful film that not only asks you to empathise with its subjects but also interrogate the systems that they’re lives are affected by. It’s also worth watching just to see William Dafoe play something other than a villain for once.

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  • 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.

21 Jump Street (2012)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum

The ridiculous 21 Jump Street – the Never Been Kissed of ‘80s police dramas – wasn’t exactly prestige TV. Yet in sending Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum back to high-school to bust a drug ring, Phil Lord and Chris Miller scored a huge hit thanks to their skilled, meta dissection of action movie tropes and teen movie shenanigans alike. Consider this the anti-Starsky & Hutch: A clever, laugh-a-minute comedy that foregoes parody and builds something wholly original from the refurbished skeleton of a concept.

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Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)
Photograph: Netflix

23. 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. 

American Gangster (2007)
  • Film
  • Drama

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor

With House of Gucci promising a return to sprawling, period-piece crime dramas, now is the ideal time to revisit Ridley Scott’s previous crack at mosaic criminality. American Gangster might not be Scott’s most heralded work, but it’s certainly no The Counsellor: In hindsight, the legendary director’s deep dive into the criminal underworld of ‘70s Harlem might be his most under-appreciated work, if only for its uncanny ability to take a narrative so gritty and make it so incredibly sleek.

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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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Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Film
  • Comedy

Director: Spike Lee

Cast: Ossie Davis, Danny Aiello, Ruby Dee, Spike Lee

Spike Lee's breakout remains his most unfiltered masterpiece, and its narrative about racial tension centered around a Brooklyn pizza shop remains as blazing today as the heatwave-plagued city in which it's set. Few films of this era are as iconic and influential, and this cornerstone of the era's indie-film explosion remains as incendiary now as it was upon its release.

Midnight Special (2016)
  • Film
  • Science fiction

Director: Jeff Nichols

Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Jaeden Martell

Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols dips his toes into Amblin waters with this tale of a supernaturally powered boy and his gruff father hitting the road with a backwoods cult and government agents in full pursuit. The cast is stacked, with Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Shepherd offering up solid support, but it’s the fraught father/son dynamic between Michael Shannon and Jaeden Martell that drives the film, resulting in a tender and dark low-budget marvel with heart and thrills in abundance.

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  • Film

Director: Jim Henson

Cast: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie

David Bowie headlines this Jim Henson bomb-turned-cult-classic about a bratty teenage drama kid (Jennifer Connelly) transported to a magical land of goblins, flatulent bogs and friendly beasts. The Thin White Duke delivers a few show-stoppers as the central glam-goth villain, but it’s the creature design by Henson and Brian Froud that elevates Labyrinth to the upper echelon of kids’ fantasy fare, creating a fleshed-out world of scary monsters and super creeps that balances its macabre side with generous portion of whimsy and comedy.

Magnolia (1999)
  • Film

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C Reilly, William H Macy

After a brief stint in the House of Woodcock, Paul Thomas Anderson is set to return to his beloved San Fernando Valley with Licorice Pizza. As such, film fans are well advised to revisit Magnolia, Anderson’s self-indulgent and hypnotic ensemble about tenuously connected and hopelessly adrift Angelenos. Yes, it’s overlong, and no, the plot threads don’t always connect. But Magnolia is nonetheless the work of a modern master, one packed with melodrama, wry humour and powerhouse performances that run the gamut from devastating to hilarious, often within a single scene.  

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American Factory (2019)
Photograph: Aubrey Keith/Netflix

31. 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.

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

34. 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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Howards End (1992)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Director: James Ivory

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave

Merchant Ivory turned again and again to E.M. Forster, and they must have been in sync with his convoluted prose style, because they got the tone right every time. Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter excel in this Oscar-winning adaptation of what many consider Forster’s greatest work.

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