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The Boys in the Band
Photograph: Scott Everett White

The 28 best movies on Netflix right now

'The Boys in the Band' fits right into our list of best movies on Netflix right now—but 'Marriage Story' still reigns

By Time Out Film
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Scrolling through the endless roster of films currently available on streaming networks is a daunting task, which is why we're here to highlight the very best movies on Netflix right now. Our list is a varied one, focusing on great Netflix originals (Roma, Marriage Story) alongside classic comedies by the Coen brothersaction moviesforeign films, sci-fi masterpieces and all-time favorites, including Back to the Future and Sleepless in Seattle. We must say: Netflix is truly doing wonders these days. Happy viewing!

Want more amazing movie recommendations? We got you covered

Best movies on Netflix

Marriage Story
Marriage Story
Photograph: Netflix

1. Marriage Story (2019)

Movies 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.

2. 13th (2016)

Movies Documentary

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.

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Photo: Netflix

3. Roma (2018)

Movies 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.

Mank
Mank
Photograph: Netflix

4. Mank (2020)

Movies 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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I'm Thinking Of Ending Things
I'm Thinking Of Ending Things
Photograph: Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX

5. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Movies 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.

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods
Photograph: David Lee/Netflix

6. Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Movies 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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Pieces of a Woman
Pieces of a Woman
Photograph: Benjamin Loeb / Netflix

7. Pieces of a Woman (2021)

Director: Kornél Mundruczó

Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Snook, Ellen Burstyn

Starting with a brilliantly-acted and entirely harrowing 24-minute childbirth scene, this drama about healing and recovering nails its colours to the mast early on. What follows is an unsentimental, relatable and ultimately hopeful study of grief that isn’t afraid to dive into the midst of communications breakdowns, misplaced anger and huge sorrow. Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf are both on top form as a pair of would-be parents picking up the pieces.

8. Lady Bird (2017)

Movies 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.

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Uncut Gems
Uncut Gems
Photograph: A24

9. Uncut Gems (2019)

Movies 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.

10. Taxi Driver (1976)

Movies Drama

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel

A time capsule of a vanished New York and a portrait of twisted masculinity that still stings, Taxi Driver
 stands at the peak of the vital, gritty auteur-driven filmmaking that defined 1970s New Hollywood. Martin Scorsese’s vision of vigilantism is filled with an uncomfortable ambience, and Paul Schrader’s screenplay probes philosophical depths that are brought to vicious life by Robert De Niro’s unforgettable performance.

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11. A Serious Man (2009)

Movies

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick

Always dogged by the criticism of excessive caricaturing, the Coens took a leap into the unknown with this Book of Job–like reminiscence, inspired, in part, by their own ’60s Jewish boyhoods. It vibrates with humor, sadness and a scary mystique (“Accept the mystery” is a key line of dialogue).

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

12. Burning (2018)

Movies Thriller

Director: Lee Chang-dong

Cast: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jun Jong-seo

The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun smiles right at you (beyond creepy) in this expertly nuanced South Korean mystery—there’s a good chance he’s a serial killer, and perhaps that’s the easiest way to enter into director Lee Chang-dong’s simmering triumph. But, based on an elliptical short story by Haruki Murakami, the movie scrapes at something larger and more metaphysical, gnawing at your mind days after you see it.

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best fall movies 2016
best fall movies 2016
Photograph: A24

13. Moonlight (2016)

Movies Drama

Director: Barry Jenkins

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes

What happens to kids who don’t quite fit in? They become adults who don’t quite fit in—but the gift of Barry Jenkins’s masterly coming-of-age story is its unspoken conviction that, even in a harsh world, there’s a place for everyone. Quietly, Moonlight teases out a last-act solace that’s exquisite.

14. Snowpiercer (2013)

Movies Action and adventure

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton

Hollywood, take note: When it comes to post-apocalyptic thrillers, audiences are fine with a little bit of crazy—or an avalanche of it. Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean thriller, set on a speeding train containing the last of humanity, found room for class warfare, bizarre humor and a snobby Thatcherite turn by the mighty Tilda Swinton.

 

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Netflix

15. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Movies 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.

16. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Movies 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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17. Private Life (2018)

Movies 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.

Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook
Photograph: The Weinstein Company

18. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver

Nominated for a best picture Academy Award in 2013, Silver Linings Playbook stars a truly stellar cast (Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for her role). The plot: After a nasty incident involving his ex-wife’s lover and a bi-polar diagnosis, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has spent eight months on a psychiatric ward. Back at home living with his folks, he’s convinced that his ex is waiting for him to get better (in spite of that restraining order). In Pat’s house American football is a religion. His dad (Robert DeNiro, gilding the lily) is an illegal bookie who’s borderline obsessive and has anger issues. Pat’s long-suffering mum (played by the incredible Jacki Weaver) holds the family together with her warmth and homebaking. When Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence) and discovers that she’s friends with his ex-wife, he agrees to be her dance partner in a local talent competition – if she passes a note to his ex.

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The Boys in the Band
The Boys in the Band
Photograph: Scott Everett White

19. 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.

20. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2018)

Movies Documentary

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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21. Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Movies 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.

22. Catch Me if You Can (2002)

Movies Comedy

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye

Everyone needs some pure escapism right now, so why not hop aboard with Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he sets off on the kind of cartwheeling adventures even Walter Mitty would dismiss as a bit far-fetched? Incredibly, they were all true: from passing off as an airline pilot to consistently evading Tom Hanks’s canny FBI man. Steven Spielberg includes an ‘it’s not as fun as it it look’ message in the shape of a mildly downbeat ending, 
but unlike his protagonist, he’s fooling no one.

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Dick Johnson is Dead
Dick Johnson is Dead
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. 

24. GoodFellas (1990)

Movies Thriller

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

Much initiated but never bettered, Martin Scorsese’s mob flick came out in the same year as
The Godfather Part III but proved that energy and narrative chutzpah would seize the day over the operatic introspection of the mob movies that came before. As Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) progresses through the Mafia, GoodFellas shows that crime can get you the best tables at the coolest clubs, beautiful women and money – and that it can get you killed too. It’s a film about pay-offs – both kinds – that begins with a dream and ends with a nightmare.

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Romantic movie: Bonnie and Clyde
Romantic movie: Bonnie and Clyde
Photograph: Warner Bros./Seven Arts

25. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Movies Thriller

Director: Arthur Penn

Cast: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J Pollard, Gene Hackman

‘They’re young, they’re in love... and they kill people’. The tagline for this new Hollywood landmark tells you everything you need to know about its punk attitude and no-shits-given outlaw spirit. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are magnetic as Depression-era folk heroes, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, who make like Robin Hood through midwestern bank vaults and generally sock it to The Man. Their spirit of freedom and rebellion is still infectious and that final scene is an all-timer.

Photo: Netflix

26. Shirkers (2018)

Movies Documentary

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
American Factory
Photograph: Aubrey Keith/Netflix

27. 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. 

28. Howards End (1992)

Movies 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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