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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.

Photo: Netflix

2. 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.

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3. 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.

4. 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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5. Zodiac (2007)

Movies Drama

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo

The key movie of the Bush era, David Fincher’s masterpiece hides its true subject, obsession, under a maze of gruesome data. The city is terrorized by a ghost, and good men lose their way. It’s a movie about a serial killer that feels like it was written by one.

6. West Side Story (1961)

Movies Drama

Directors: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

Cast: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris

Street gangs snap, rumble and leap in this intensely ambitious retelling of Romeo and Juliet, set amid a turf war between whites and Puerto Ricans in New York City. If the combination of hoodlums and balletic movement tempts you to laugh, the high artistry of Jerome Robbins’s choreography and Leonard Bernstein’s music (with lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim) stare you down to awed silence. It’s a masterwork of musical tragedy. Can Spielberg’s upcoming remake match it?

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7. A Serious Man (2009)

Movies Comedy

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).

8. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Movies Action and adventure

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman

Are these not the most euphoric 12 opening minutes of any movie? It may be Steven Spielberg’s greatest triumph simply for unearthing the pleasure of the chase, extending the kinetic magic for a perfect two hours and then hiding it in a dusty warehouse as if to say: It’s your turn—go find it.

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

9. 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.

best fall movies 2016
best fall movies 2016
Photograph: A24

10. 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.

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11. Drive (2011)

Movies

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks

Nicolas Winding Refn’s thriller (starring Ryan Gosling as a stoic stick man) is a throwback to the neon-lit loner cinema of the 1980s, especially the brooding action pictures of Walter Hill and Michael Mann. Refn gets the situational details pitch-perfect, from the low-rent body shops and eateries of less-glamorous L.A. to that most recognizable of local activities: late-night cruising.

Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof
Photograph: United Artists

12. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Director: Norman Jewison

Cast: Chaim Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey

An adaptation of the eponymous 1964 Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof has become a classic among both film and theater lovers. The story focuses on Teyve, a father of five daughters who tries to hold on tight to his Jewish traditions and religion while outside forces keep getting involved with the family.

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13. 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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14. 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.

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15. 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.

16. 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.

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Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook
Photograph: The Weinstein Company

17. 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.

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

18. 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.

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19. 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.

20. 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.

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Back to the Future
Back to the Future
Photograph: Universal Pictures

21. Back to the Future (1985)

Director: Robert Zemeckis 

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) gets sent back in time to 1955 from 1985 thanks to a now infamous time-traveling DeLorean car built by the one and only Doctor Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd). The film delights even over three decades since its first release. You can also find the subsequent sequels (Back to the Futrue Part II and Back to the Future Part III) on the streaming platform.

Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepless in Seattle
Photograph: TriStar Pictures

22. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Director: Nora Ephron

Cast: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Ross Malinger

As the world already knows, Nora Ephron was a genius that left us too soon. Anything by the prolific director should be on your must-see list, but this particular 1993 movie is one of the very best Ephron-Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan collaborations out there. Starring Hanks as a single dad in Seattle whose son, a lovely Ross Mallinger, calls into a radio program to find him a new wife, the movie enjoyed both critical and commercial success.

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Y Tu Mama Tambien
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Photograph: IFC Films

23. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Cast: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna

Julio and Tenoch (García Bernal and Luna) are old mates - well, as old as their 17 years allow. Hanging out at a ritzy society wedding they try out some moves on the gorgeous, 28-year-old, unhappily married Luisa (Verdú). To their surprise, within days the two of them are escorting their catch out of Mexico City in search of the legendary perfect beach, Boca del Cielo ('Heaven's Mouth'). One side-effect is the trenchant, rueful portrait of Mexico which emerges on the margins: the vast disparities between rural and urban standards of living, old and new world cultures.

Photo: Netflix

24. 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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25. The Witch (2015)

Movies Horror

Director: Robert Eggers

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

The story of a 17th-century family forced to resettle near some very haunted woods, Robert Eggers’s 2015 debut is manna for horror puritans, but not much fun for actual Puritans. It’s a movie that has stunned audiences—not with shock effects or gore, but with a dank climate of clouded judgment and furious domestic retribution.

26. 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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27. The Lobster (2015)

Movies Comedy

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden

In a surreal edge-of-town hotel, it’s compulsory for singles to find a partner, under the watch of an oppressive staff. If you don’t within 45 days, you’ll be surgically turned into an animal of your choice (star Colin Farrell has already decided to be a lobster). This is a movie in quote marks, tongue-in-cheek storytelling that uses absurdity to hold a mirror to how we live and love.

28. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Movies Animation

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld

A case could be made that, of all the superheroes, Spidey is the one most identified with New York City. These are his canyons to swing through. (When Sam Raimi released his 2002 Spider-Man shortly after 9/11, scenes of civic pride brought NYC viewers to tears.) Loaded with Brooklyn attitude, this more recent animated take is a worthy Oscar winner, boldly styled and fun.

 

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