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Netflix
Photograph: Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash

The 50 best movies on Netflix Canada right now: January 2021

Here are all the titles that make up the all-time best movies on Netflix Canada right now from every genre and category.

By Justine Smith
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Action-packed plots, romance, laughs, something to keep the kids entertained—whatever it is you're looking for, the best movies on Netflix Canada right now will provide. If you're staying indoors today, need something more than halfway decent to watch during your daily commute, trying to find date night ideas or you want something classy to put on as you Netflix 'n' Chill? No problem. We've spent enough time in Montreal movie theatres to know the good from the bad and ugly, so consider your one-stop shop for ideas (second only to the best movies of all time).

RECOMMENDED: Cinematic explorations with the best movies set in Montreal

These are the best movies on Netflix Canada in January 2021

Senna (2010)
Senna (2010)
Photograph: Courtesy Netflix

50. Senna

You don't have to care a thing about F1 racing to get caught up in the meditative thrills of Senna, one of the best sports documentaries of all time. Using only archival footage, including visceral, first-person racing footage, the filmmakers bring to life one of racing's greatest legends, Brazilian Ayrton Senna. Shedding light on his unique talents, the way he changed the sport and his tragic death, Senna honours one of the great sportsmen of the twentieth century.

Shirkers
Shirkers
Netflix

49. Shirkers

It's 1992 in Singapore. Sixteen-year-old Sandi Tan wrote a script about a young serial killer on a road trip. The film, Shirkers, was shot but was stolen by the film's director, a much older man of mysterious origin before it could be finished. Decades later, in this documentary, Tan finally reunites with the film and tries to piece together the strange history of her cult project and the man who almost destroyed it. Part mystery and part love-song to the cinema, Shirkers defies all expectations as it takes the viewers on an unexpected journey in search of answers.

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Selma
Selma
Netflix

48. Selma

In bringing to the screen the story of Martin Luther King's march on Selma, director Ava DuVernay never lost sight of King's humanity. While it hits on the civil rights points of the quest to secure equal voting rights in the South, the film also delves into King and his wife, Coretta's relationship. It's in these more intimate and strained moments that the film comes together, suggesting the unique human pressures in leading a civil rights movement and the various ways the American government sought to tear him down.

Rocky 1976
Rocky 1976
Photograph: Chartoff-Winkler Productions

47. Rocky

It's been nearly fifty years since Rocky swept the Oscars and made Stallone a star. It spawned the most successful sports franchises of all time (sorry Mighty Ducks) and has some of the most iconic images in all film history. Even if you think you know all the story beats, the film's popularity endures far beyond its montage sequences; at its heart, it's a fantastic tale of endurance and love, maybe one of the best Hollywood has ever seen.

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A still from the film Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story
A still from the film Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story
Photograph: Netflix

46. Atlantics

In Dakar, Senegal, a ghostly presence settles on the city after a migrant ship capsizes off the coast. This unusual supernatural film centers on a love story between Ada and Souleiman and how not even death can't keep them apart. An impressive feature debut from French-Senegalese actress Mati Diop, Atlantics is one of the most eerily beautiful films from the past decade - as the film utilizes the crystalline light of the sea to cast strange shadows, evoking a world beyond life and death.

Dick Johnson is Dead
Dick Johnson is Dead
Photograph: Netflix

45. Dick Johnson is Dead

One of the most critically acclaimed films of 2020, Dick Johnson is Dead is an imaginative documentary where noted cinematographer, Kirsten Johnson, tries to come to terms with her dad's failing health. Johnson imagines various unexpected deadly scenarios that might befall her father, Dick Johnson, in this loving and playful investigation into mortality. These inventive sequences are counterbalanced with the warmth and melancholy of her father's failing mental capacities and the changing conditions of his life as he enters his final years—a love story about embracing our mortality like no other.

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Bad Genius
Bad Genius
Photograph: Netflix

44. Bad Genius

Bad Genius, a heist-thriller from Thailand, may very well be the most exciting film about cheating on an exam ever put to screen. With compelling characters, breakneck pacing and the suave gusto of an Ocean's movie, Bad Genius defies all expectations you might have about the potential thrills of academic fraud. Filled with twists, turns, and unexpected mishaps, Bad Genius is one of the past decade's most thrilling films.

God's Own Country
God's Own Country
Photograph: Netflix

43. God's Own Country

Set on a muddy, grey farm in Yorkshire, God's Own Country is about the steamy lust between a local farm boy and a Romanian worker. A love story with little pretense of romance, God's Own Country is an unsentimental exploration of an unlikely partnership and the unintended consequences of their relationship. If you thought Call Me By Your Name was too sunny and sweet, this film might be for you.

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Burning (2019)
Burning (2019)
Photograph: Pine House Film/Thunderbird Releasing

42. Burning

Directed by one of Korea's greatest filmmakers, Lee Chang-dong, Burning tells the mysterious and ultimately unreliable story of a peculiar love triangle. Class, violence and cultures clash in this moody thriller about a woman who goes missing without a trace, especially as it becomes apparent no one wants to look for her. A stunning and bleak portrait of contemporary Korean life, Burning is a surreal and unsettling journey that isn't afraid to leave the audience hanging. Don't expect any concrete answers though, or you'll walk away disappointed.

The Invitation
The Invitation
Photograph: Netflix

41. The Invitation

At a 1970s inspired dinner party in the Hollywood hills, as friends who haven't seen each other since a terrible accident tore apart their group reunite for the first time in years. A cultish horror thriller, The Invitation explores how grief can manifest in destructive ways, especially in the void of contemporary spiritual scarcity. The less said about the story, the better. The Invitation is a rarefied psychological thriller that sticks with you long after you've seen it.

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Certain Women
Certain Women
Photograph: Netflix

40. Certain Women

For over a decade, director Kelly Reichardt has been telling stories about the trials and tribulations of rural America. With Certain Women, she ties together the story of three-women in Montana and the small but significant incidents of their lives. Don’t let the all-star cast of Laura Dern, Michelle Williamd and Kirsten Stewart fool you, this is an understated slice-of-life film that showcases the beauty and heartbreak of the everyday.

Inception
Inception
Photograph: Stephen Vaughn/Warner Bros.

39. Inception

For blockbuster cinema, there's life before and after Inception. In a cinematic landscape crowded with comic book movies and pre-existing intellectual property, puzzle-master Christoper Nolan dared to introduce an entirely new mind-bending universe with no intentions to expand into a franchise. In this sense, Inception is a unique cinematic experience, a thrilling universe-bending spy thriller that delves deep into the world of dreams. Over ten years after its initial release, it still finds a way to thrill and surprise, even if you know all the beats.

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Moneyball (2011)
Moneyball (2011)
Photo: IMDb

38. Moneyball

A sports movie that is surprisingly short on sports, Moneyball explores the strategic and game-changing effect of Oakland manager Billy Beane's statistic-forward coaching technique and its impacts on baseball. Sound boring? Well, it's not. Bennett Miller, who also directed Capote and Foxcatcher, has a keen understanding that obsession translates well to the big screen. Moneyball is not just a film about baseball. It's about losing yourself in an idea so profoundly at odds with the world around you that it might break you.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Photo: Blade Runner: The Final Cut © 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

37. Blade Runner: The Final Cut

When Ridley Scott imagined the future (which, set in 2019, is now the past), it was crowded, smoggy and violent. A film noir-inspired cyberpunk thriller, Blade Runner's enduring popularity is well-earned. Its action set-pieces stand-up remarkably well and its deeply psychological investigation into what it means to be human resonates even more deeply in a world controlled by algorithms and artificial intelligence. Blade Runner might feel homework, but it's anything but.

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It's Complicated
It's Complicated
Netflix

36. It's Complicated

Few directors have the consistency of Nancy Meyers or the same passion for beautifully garish catalogue ready kitchens. With It's Complicated, Meyers unites Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, a long-divorced couple who rediscover the sexual spark that seemed otherwise long-lost. Of course, though, things are complicated; both characters have moved onto new relationships, and the conflicts that lead to their divorce in the first place are unresolved. It's Complicated works because of it's excellent cast and the fact that most rom-coms ignore the love and sex lives of anyone over 35, helping this film stand out all the more.

Easy A
Easy A
Photograph: Sony Pictures

35. Easy A

What if The Scarlet Letter was set in an American high school circa 2010? That's the basic premise of Easy A, the wicked teen comedy starring Emma Stone about a teen girl who uses rumours to raise her social standing. As far as teen comedies adapting classic lit go, Easy A is easily one of the best, mostly thanks to its witty script and charming cast.

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Mean Girls
Mean Girls
Netflix

34. Mean Girls

No teen film released in the 21st century has had a cultural impact as Mean Girls. Adapted from a self-help book called "Queen Bees and Wannabes," Mean Girls explores the politics and tensions of high school cliques - in particular - the so-called Mean Girls. Looking back on the film, it's incredible how many of its stars have gone on to become among the most desirable and esteemed actors of our generation, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried in particular. Funny, dark and timeless, Mean Girls captures the angst and anxiety of high school like few other films ever have.

Dope
Dope
Netflix

33. Dope

Dope is set in a tough Los Angeles neighbourhood, Malcolm (Shameik Moore, who is also the voice of Miles in Into the Spiderverse) and his group of nerdy friends have big ambitions to get into a good school and leave this life behind. A series of complicated misunderstandings leave them in possession of expensive drugs, and if they don't sell, they might not make it out of high school alive. With lots of fourth wall breaks, fun needle drops and full-on 1990s nostalgia, Dope is a brisk comedy thriller that's high on charm.

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v for vendetta
v for vendetta
Netflix

32. V For Vendetta

Step aside, Marvel, V for Vendetta is far more deserving of any comic-book adaptation accolades. Surprisingly, it's been over fifteen years since the film was released, and it somehow feels more relevant now than it did before. Adapting a graphic novel by Alan Moore, V for Vendetta is set in a dystopian future where the UK has become a fascist state. The mysterious V, dubbed a terrorist by the government, works to inspire a revolution to overthrow a totalitarian leadership.

Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello  in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network."
Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello  in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network."
Photo: Courtesy of Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures

31. The Social Network

David Fincher is probably best known for his serial killer thrillers like Se7en, Zodiac and Gone Girl. Especially in retrospect, this affinity for sociopathy made him an especially apt filmmaker to tackle the life story of Mark Zuckerberg and the birth of Facebook. If you remember anything about The Social Network release, the very idea of a "Facebook movie" seemed ridiculous. A decade later, though, the film is a harsh indictment of social media culture and a potently vicious portrait of it's most charmless overlord.

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The Godfather
The Godfather
Paramount Pictures

30. The Godfather

Do you really need someone to explain why The Godfather is one of the greatest films ever made? Suppose you've been living under a rock on a planet far, far away, somewhere in another galaxy. In that case, The Godfather trilogy directed by Francis Ford Coppola is the story of an Italian crime family that equally chronicles the changing morals and values of American society. The trilogy stars many of the greatest actors of all time, including Al Pacino, Marlon Brando and Robert Deniro, arguably, their greatest roles.

Stand By Me
Stand By Me
Photograph: Netflix

29. Stand By Me

Adapted from a lesser-known Stephen King novella called, “The Body,” Stand by Me is about a group of preteen friends who search for a body in the woods. The film captures the tensions and anxieties that emerge as children turn to adolescence. Without delving too deeply into nostalgia, this is a coming of age film that captures both the anticipation and fear of growing up and facing the harsh cruelties of the adult world.

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A Star is Born
A Star is Born
Supplied

28. A Star is Born

It's a testament to Bradley Cooper's talents as a director that the fifth adaptation of A Star is Born (if you count What Price Hollywood? (1933), which served as the direct inspiration for the original 1937 film) still manages to connect with an audience. Cooper and Lady Gaga have incredible chemistry as the two lovelorn musicians are doomed to swap social positions as one ascends to fame in the shadow of the other's descent. While undeniably modern in its style and rhythms, the film captures old Hollywood melodramas' intensity, making this film an instant classic for fans of romantic tearjerkers.

Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day
Photograph: © Sony Pictures

27. Groundhog Day

Let's get out of the way; yes, 2020 felt like a Groundhog Day-inspired fever dream. The fact that this joke has persisted so consistently through the pandemic speaks to how enduring the 1994 film about a weatherman who wakes up on groundhog day over and over again really is. One of the smartest and funniest movies of all time, Groundhog Day may also be Bill Murray's most enduring role - best utilizing his caustic and dry humour, as well as his innate likeability.

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Catch Me if You Can
Catch Me if You Can
DreamWorks

26. Catch Me If You Can

Leonardo Dicaprio has had many memorable roles, but one of his most underappreciated was as con-artist Frank Abagnale Jr. in Spielberg's Catch Me If you Can. While often considered a minor Spielberg, Catch Me If you Can is viciously entertaining and captures 1960s caper films' infectious quality. With an unreliable narrator and a whole cast of bizarre but compelling scenarios, this film never fails to delight.

Elle Woods Legally Blonde
Elle Woods Legally Blonde
Supplied

25. Legally Blonde

Pink is the new pink in Legally Blonde, the best movie about a sorority princess turned lawyer on this list. Led by an impossibly adorable Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde endures as one of the most beloved comedies of the new century thanks to its unconventional character arcs and it's impossible-to-hate lead character.

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Gone Baby Gone
Gone Baby Gone
Supplied

24. Gone Baby Gone

A throwback to old-school crime thrillers like The French Connection, Gone Baby Gone is the story of a missing child and the detective trying to track them down. Far more than just a puzzle to be solved, Gone Baby Gone is a grim portrait of class differences and hard moral questions regarding poverty, child-rearing and justice. It's Ben Affleck's first directorial effort and still his best film (yes, it's better than Best Picture winner Argo).

Uncut Gems
Uncut Gems
Photograph: Netflix

23. Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems features anything you could ever want from a movie; Adam Sandler, bedazzled furbies, high-stakes bets and Julia Fox. An adrenaline-pumping thriller, the film centers on a series of bets made by New York Jeweler Howie (Adam Sandler), whose luck seems to be running out. A film about chance and opportunity, Uncut Gems manages to be hyper-specific while also touching on universal ideas and questions. Warning, it's so tense it might give you a heart attack.

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BlacKkKlansman - O Infiltrado
BlacKkKlansman - O Infiltrado
©2018 Focus Features LLC

22. BlacKkKlansman

No one makes a movie like Spike Lee, and his boundary-pushing adaptation of BlacKkKlansman, the story of a black man infiltrating and taking down a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, could not be made by anyone else. Bolstered by incredible performances, the real magic in Lee's filmmaking is in his refusal to treat the crimes of America's past as gone and done. Though the majority of the film is set in the 1970s, his filmmaking alludes to the distant past, as well as the present moment to create a much fuller story of race and violence in America.

The Big Short
The Big Short
Supplied

21. The Big Short

Adam McKay was best known for his silly nonsense comedy films like Anchorman and Step Brothers (still his masterpiece) when he set out to expose the 2008 financial crisis's beneficiaries on the big screen. What seemed like an anachronistic pairing of artist and material, though, quickly became a match made in heaven. McKay's ironic sense of humour helped make sense of complicated financial jargon in fourth breaking sequences that might have been dead on arrival with a more serious-minded filmmaker.

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20. Baby Driver

From the mind of Edgar Wright, one of the most consistently funny and adventurous filmmakers working today, Baby Driver often feels like an elaborate clip montage, and that's why it's great. If ever a movie utilized its expensive soundtrack, well, it's here. Each song hits the right groove and is perfectly edited to the film's immaculate action sequences. You might have to pretend that Christopher Plummer has replaced Kevin Spacey, but even his presence does little to discount how fun this movie is.

La La Land
La La Land
© Photo: Courtesy of Lionsgate

19. La La Land

Damien Chazelle's La La Land is a colourful homage to classic Hollywood musicals and the city of Los Angeles. While the film can sometimes feel a bit too much like it was shot through an Instagram filter, Chazelle's earnestness remains a rarity in our irony-laden culture. Gosling and Stone have incredible chemistry, and while it's hard to get worked up about jazz, their sincerity goes a long way in making the film's romantic and melancholic vibes hit just right.

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Coming to America
Coming to America
Photograph: Netflix

18. Coming to America

Eddie Murphy is, without question, one of the most talented people in American pop culture and Coming to America is a contender for his funniest film. In the movie, he plays Prince Akeem, a monarch from the invented African nation of Zamunda. Going against his parents' wishes, he escapes to America to find his queen. This absurd fish out of the water, somehow, never gets old - in part because Murphy evokes a deep sense of dignity in his characterization of the Prince, his role serving to expose American inequality and hypocrisy more than anything else.

17. Phantom Thread

P.T. Anderson may very well be the best American filmmaker of the last three decades, and he's just getting started. Phantom Thread is his bitter-pill of a romance between a demanding dress designer and a waitress he meets at a restaurant. 1950s London is recreated with impeccable period detail; the film transgresses on perceived conventions of romance, suggesting an equally matched battle of the sexes that will forever change your perception of food poisoning.

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Funny Girl
Funny Girl
Photograph: Netflix

16. Funny Girl

Decades after Funny Girl first premiered on the big screen, it's genuinely shocking to see Barbara Streisand walk on camera, say her now-iconic line "Hello Gorgeous," and understand that this is her first screen role. Of course, Streisand had a career on the stage, but the magnetism of her presence and her raw talent is so impressive you feel in your bones that she was born to do this. A movie musical on the long side is held together by Streisand's power and a genuinely good collection of songs.

The Age of Innocence
The Age of Innocence
Photograph: Netflix

15. The Age of Innocence

Scorsese unfairly gets criticized as a bro-director when he's made films like The Age of Innocence, demonstrating his sensitivity and skill to understand the nuances of feminine worlds. The Age of Innocence, an adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel, not only exists to prove his critics wrong but may very well be one of his best films. A film about people with great pretensions and few morals is a romantic drama that doubles as a class critique of our most privileged brethren.

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14. True Romance

The late Tony Scott directs a script by Quentin Tarantino about a Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple dealing crime in Hollywood. A vibrant and violent film brimming with colourful tangents, True Romance is a rapid-fire romance like no other. The film's real magic lies in the insane chemistry between Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, who give career-best performances.

Stranger Than Fiction
Stranger Than Fiction
Supplied

13. Stranger Than Fiction

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is an IRS agent caught in the same old routine, and he might be the most boring man alive, until one day, he wakes up, and an omnipotent narrator begins describing his life. An incredibly charming meta-fiction that plays on fundamental questions surrounding free will and authorship, Stranger than Fiction is a remarkably creative story within a story film. Harold Crick is a rare "serious" role from Will Ferrell, and he nails it.

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Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing
Photograph: Lionsgate Entertainment

12. Dirty Dancing

It's not without reason that Dirty Dancing has endured for decades after it's release. It's a classic story of star-crossed lovers forbidden to meet under the repressive controls of a society that doesn't understand them. It has a banging soundtrack, supremely hot lead actors and an unusually progressive perspective (even by today's standards) when it comes to abortion.

11. The Silence of the Lambs

Talk about range, Jonathan Demme directed the best concert movie of all time (Stop Making Sense, which unfortunately is not on Netflix). He then directed the best Hannibal Lecter film just under ten years later. The Silence of the Lambs endures as such an incredibly thrilling cinematic experience because it pulls us so deeply into the world of Clarice, expertly performed by Jodie Foster. The strange and almost surreal world of violence is filtered through the perspective of a young, at times fragile, FBI agent with something to prove. A perfect movie.

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My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro
Photo: Studio Ghibli

10. My Neighbor Totoro

You basically can't go wrong with any Hayao Miyazaki, but our personal favourite is likely My Neighbor Totoro. Two young sisters move to the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother, and in the magical rural environment, an entire world of playful spirits opens up to them. Adorable and heart-wrenching without being cloying, this film has become a classic among animation fans with good reason. It strikes the perfect balance and appeals to children and adults in equal measure.

Jaws in Concert
Jaws in Concert
TM & © Universal Studios

9. Jaws

Jaws has become so ubiquitous in pop culture; many people know it's signature lines and moments without seeing the film. That being said, thanks to some brilliant filmmaking, Jaws holds up as a truly gripping thriller that pits man versus nature. In a period that also sees politicians ignore public health recommendations to support industry at the cost of people's lives… let's say Jaws resonates as more than just a shark movie.

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Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
© DR

8. Pulp Fiction

Whatever you may think of Quentin Tarantino or his films, Pulp Fiction changed independent American cinema forever, spawning an unholy deluge of copycat films and aspiring cinephile edgelords. It's a testament to Tarantino's talents that Pulp Fiction still feels fresh and spontaneous under those circumstances. It's a movie brimming with carefully calculated cool. Every frame fits perfectly into the grand scheme of things, and each character is more compelling than the last.

Knocked Up
Knocked Up
Supplied

7. Knocked Up

No single filmmaker has changed the face of American comedy as much as Judd Apatow in the past two decades. Anchoring his films to millennials and Gen-Xers trapped in perpetual adolescence and forcing them to cope with the adult world became a strangely enduring (and most definitely profitable) recipe for success. Knocked Up was one of his first and still one of his best films in this genre, about a stoner (Seth Rogen) who accidentally knocks up a blonde bombshell (Katherine Heigl). Antics, of course, ensue.

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6. The Holiday

While the Love Actually wars rage on year after year, The Holiday has rightfully ascended to become a reliable classic in its own right. Featuring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law and Cameron Diaz, it's a fantastic all-star cast alternative for audiences seeking a sweet holiday film with a romantic touch. Like all Nancy Meyers films, it's absolutely an excellent film for film fans who are passionate about interior decor.

Le Cinquième Elément
Le Cinquième Elément
Supplied

5. The Fifth Element

Few filmmakers are working within the sci-fi genre who are as consistently inventive as Luc Besson. The Fifth Element rejects the sleek greys and blues that proliferate in American dystopias favouring bright colours and bright lights. Fundamentally a high-stakes chase film, Bruce Willis plays a futuristic taxi driver tasked with saving a gorgeous young woman played by Milla Jovovich. It's a high-paced future adventure like no other.

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Marriage Story
Marriage Story
Netflix

4. Marriage Story

Marriage Story pits Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson against each other in a divorce that was supposed to be "easy." As their marriage dissolves, lawyers swiftly become involved, and their whole world falls apart. A tense recreation of a relationship in shambles, director Noah Baumbach (who recently went through a divorce) gets at the awful details and minutiae that makes the separation process so painful. While not easy viewing, the film does see the light at the end of the tunnel… so, it's not all grim.

Mission impossible protocole fantôme
Mission impossible protocole fantôme
Supplied

3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible may very well be one of the few major film franchises that continue to improve with age. Tom Cruise continues to jump off buildings, and a solid cast of supporting characters continue to enable his literally insane antics. Ghost Protocol could very well have been a perfect finisher to the franchise since it has some of the series most iconic stunts and twists, yet (remarkably) it's been followed up with two equally great films with two more on the way.

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o resgate do soldado ryan
o resgate do soldado ryan
©DR

2. Saving Private Ryan

You have to admire the efficiency of a film title that also doubles as a synopsis. Opening with the thirty most iconic minutes in any Hollywood war film ever made, Saving Private Ryan went about rewriting many of American cinema's romantic notions about WW2. Visceral and disturbing without ever being overly sentimental, Saving Private Ryan is a strong contender for Spielberg's best film - which is saying a lot considering his incredible career.

Children of Men
Children of Men
Supplied

1. Children of Men

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, no one can have children and the world is gripped with violence, resources are scarce, and by some miracle, one woman can get pregnant; she must be protected at all costs. A surprisingly intimate and familiar dystopian film, Children of Men creates a vision of the future that is remarkably restrained and in doing so, creates something far more terrifying than any whirlwind space adventure. Cuaron, who would go on to make Gravity, has such an innate sense for action and suspense that the film will have you quite literally at the edge of your seat.

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