We've all been there, scrolling through Netflix endlessly trying to find a film to watch, never quite able to make up our minds. It’s like the sheer amount of film and TV on offer breaks our decision-making skills.
Fret not! We’ve compiled a list of the 30 best movies streaming on Netflix right now, including a heap of Netflix Originals like ‘Birdbox’ and ‘Roma’, as well as some other movie magic.
So take your pick from hilarious comedy movies, brilliant cult favourites, heart-warming romances like ‘Call Me By Your Name’, Greta Gerwig’s ‘Lady Bird’, blockbusters like ‘Jaws’ and the edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting ‘Uncut Gems’. It’s all your movie streaming needs in one place. (Updated 16 Mar 2020.)
The best movies on Netflix UK
Director: Jennie Livingston
Cast: Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Venus Xtravaganza
It's safe to say that without 'Paris is Burning' there'd be no 'RuPaul's Drag Race'. This documentary is responsible for bringing the predominantly black and Latinx drag ball scene of the late '80s and its lexicon into public consciousness. As we're introduced to the members of the multitude of 'houses' that compete in the balls, the film also asks questions about queerness, race and social class. The slight hang of melancholy gets dispelled by the fabulous outfits as the 'upcoming legendary children' walk the various categories in the balls.
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac
In a rare example of Hollywood sci-fi-horror thoughtfulness, 'Annihilation' has grand concepts in mind, ideas about self-destruction and rebirth. The film follows cellular biologist Lena (Portman) as she ventures to The Shimmer, an anomalous electromagnetic field, to discover the truth about what happened to her husband Kane (Isaac), who visited The Shimmer and returned in poor health and his memory missing.
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.
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane
Shot over 12 years with a cast of actors that ages before our eyes, Richard Linklater’s modern-day coming-of-age classic is a peerless artistic gamble. Both Arquette and Hawke turn in understated portrayals, Linklater steering them to the kind of parental wisdom that can only develop over time. Just as vividly, the kids experiment with small acts of rebellion, growing into independent thinkers. Unshakable, witty and deeply felt, the film will be paying emotional dividends for a long, long time.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis
Leaving her husband a meal in the microwave, Thelma (Davis) sets off with her friend Louise (Sarandon) for a weekend holiday. But at their first stop, Thelma is nearly raped outside a bar; Louise shoots and kills the man. Gone is the carefree mood, and their destination is now Mexico. Along the way, the pistol-packing fugitives become ever bolder, robbing a convenience store, shooting up a leering driver's truck, and locking a cop in his car boot.
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal
This is a film where everything works: Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s just-this-side-of-smug central couple, the gorgeous photography of New York through the changing seasons, even Harry Connick Jr’s jazz-lite soundtrack. And it’s all rooted in Nora Ephron's flawless script.
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver
Like ‘Kramer vs Kramer’ vs Kramer from ‘Seinfeld’, this marital-breakdown masterpiece has just enough lols to leaven the tears. And there are plenty of those, with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson dazzling in Noah Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical tale.
Director: John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski
Actor-director John Krasinski’s relentless shocker thrives on a nifty premise: in a post-apocalyptic near future, a family must survive in a world where the slightest sound brings out deadly monsters. And now with a bit longer to wait until the sequel, now is the perfect time to watch the first film again.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem
We’re still baffled by Aronofsky’s bold, barmy and, quite frankly, brilliant psycho-horror. Its addition to Netflix, therefore, means it’s prime time for another viewing. Perhaps this time we’ll find the answers we’re looking for...
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce
This entertaining odd-couple bromance about two men in the running for Pope hits the heights when it’s just its leads, Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, whacking great swathes of dialogue back and forth like two old tennis greats. It’s thrilling stuff, with director Fernando Meirelles’s camera close at hand to register every subtle detail.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro.
The definitive New York movie, and one of the few to successfully integrate rock music into the structure of film: watch Keitel waking to the sound of the Ronettes, or De Niro dancing solo in the street to 'Mickey's Monkey'. Mean Streets is also pure Italian-American. Scorsese directs with a breathless, head-on energy which infuses the performances, the sharp fast talk, the noise, neon and violence with a charge of adrenalin. It's one of the best American films of the decade.
Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Based on a true story, this Oscar-winning drama about a group of journalists and their investigation into the prolific and systemic child abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area has all the tension of an Oliver Stone thriller without the inevitable three-hour runtime.
Director: Kay Cannon
Cast: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena
Snappily directed by Kay Cannon, ‘Blockers’ brews a bubbling panic about parents invading their teenagers’s lives when they shouldn’t, and brandishing their concern like fake IDs.
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush
‘The King’s Speech’ picked up four Oscars for its moving depiction of the unlikely friendship between the future King George VI and his speech therapist Lionel Logue, hired to cure the royal stutter. As his brother abdicates the throne, George tries to overcome his speech impediment before his first live radio broadcast.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet
Adapted from André Aciman’s novel, this timeless and sensual romance not only includes electric performances from its two male leads, but one of the most piercing and affecting explorations of first love and heartbreak in recent memory. It’ll also make you long for a summer spent luxuriating in Italy.
Director: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
Cast: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris
Given that this 1957 film is getting the remake treatment courtesy of Steven Spielberg in 2020, why not head on down to Netflix and remind yourself of the original. It's a beauty.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Martin Scorsese delivers one of the best, if bloated, films of his career. Along with all the gangster gab, it touches on broken trust. self-doubt and regret. Also, unlike the cinema, with Netflix you can break its three-hour runtime into chunks.
Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
A hyper-effective piece of genre fun or a social-media-fuelled slice of sub-'A Quiet Place' hokum? Like Marmite or a badly-conceived referendum, this Sandra Bullock post-apocalypse thriller has divided Netflixers in two. Whatever your views, it's hard to find any fault in Bullock as its blindfolded-but--badass hero, leading two wee'uns through a world of pain.
Director: Steve Spielberg
Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw
Is there such a thing as a perfect film? One that knows what it wants to achieve and does it, flawlessly, artfully and intelligently? If so, then ‘Jaws’ is as good a candidate as any.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov
British filmmaker Lynne Ramsay returns with this concise, poetic and violent drama in which Joaquin Phoenix plays a troubled US war veteran.
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.
Director: Josh and Benny Safdie
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Benny Safdie, Barkhad Abdi
This crime thriller from filmmaking brothers Benny and Josh Safdie is cocky, grubby and electric. It features Robert Pattinson on top form as Connie, a charismatic, quick-thinking chancer who we first meet extracting his mentally challenged brother Nick (Benny Safdie) from a therapy session so they can spend the morning robbing a bank. Once the Brooklyn bank job goes south, the film stays on the move, running, punching, tumbling, stumbling over 24 hours as the fallout drags us through streets, vehicles, homes, jail, a hospital, a theme park and more.
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins
When FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Foster) is sent to conduct an interview with serial killer shrink Dr Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) in his high-security cell, she little knows what she’s in for. As their relationship blossoms, the hunt for the killer dubed Buffalo Bill continues, leading to one of the finest final acts in thriller history.
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Cast: James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson
Richly entertaining and blackly funny but told with sincerity and heart, the half-dozen western tales packed into ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ show the Coen brothers loading up their six-shooter and firing barely a dud. Inevitably, some of the stories satisfy more than others. But at roughly 20 minutes each, they’re mini-masterclasses in economy and style.
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Screenwriter and novelist Alex Garland’s debut film is a contemplative and thrilling exploration into what exactly makes us human. It’ll seriously make you question how you treat Siri or Alexa.
Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Cast: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel
The Safdie Brothers’ electrifying and abrasive drama about the week in the 2012 life of a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Diamond District dealer is an intense high-stakes triumph.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone
Michael Keaton makes a mighty comeback as a washed-up actor attempting to reinvent himself as a proper artist. However, this isn't the super-cynical, snarky piss-take of actors it might sound like. Life is disappointing, the film explains, but it's also beautiful and, at times, unexpected. That's the power of director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s daring, funny, strangely sweet, sad and utterly brilliant New York-set comedy.
Director: John Schlesinger
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight
‘Midnight Cowboy’ is one of the great films about the transition to the gritty ’70s. ‘A sometimes amusing but essentially sordid saga of a male prostitute in Manhattan’ was Variety’s harsh judgment at the time, but its stature has grown and grown since then. The performances of Hoffman and Voight anchor the narrative, while the soundtrack, editing, flashbacks and dream sequences pull in the opposite direction, evoking a sense of the dreams tantalisingly out of reach and promises destined to either break, or leave them broken.
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas, Simon Callow
Boy meets girl. Well, actually, boy meets several girls and, um, well, things, erm, get fairly awkward. Then boy meets the girl and after much flirting, some killer gags and Hugh Grant at his most charmingly bumbling and foppish… well, you know the rest. A strong supporting cast and a tear-jerking funeral scene give it all extra heart.
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy
Director Alejandro G Iñárritu and actor Leonardo DiCaprio both picked up Oscars for their work on this icy survival thriller about frontiersman Hugh Glass. Be warned: it’s not one to watch if you’re feeling squeamish.