Best movies on Netflix
Director: Laurent Bouzereau
When America went to war in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hollywood did too: Marquee film directors, struck by patriotism, became officers overnight and shipped out to the front lines with cameras, mounting their own propaganda campaigns. Mark Harris’s 2014 historical book of criticism has become an even better documentary, built out of harrowing battle footage and the testimony of several modern-day directors including Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro.
Watch if you liked: Apocalypse Now
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Aussie Jennifer Kent’s supremely confident feature debut already feels like a horror classic, restoring the genre to its psychological prestige while turning the monstrous-mommy gimmick on its head. Inventive, recognizably real and scary as fuck, the film staked out a shadowy domestic terrain last dominated by Roman Polanski.
Watch if you liked: Rosemary’s Baby
Director: Christian Petzold
Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf
Germany’s mercurial Nina Hoss is the face of her country’s best cinema—an heir to Hanna Schygulla and the power of confrontation. Christian Petzold’s swirling WWII psychothriller gives Hoss her finest role to date, as a survivor ruined by the Nazis, reconstructed by plastic surgeons and drawn back to the husband who destroyed her life with lies.
Watch if you liked: Vertigo
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Isaac Hayes
In the not-too-distant future (of 1997), the isle of Manhattan has become a maximum-security prison, home to mohawked killers, gun-toting femmes fatales and other assorted crazies. John Carpenter’s gorgeously grimy thriller—starring a sneering Kurt Russell—creates a memorably dystopian Big Apple.
Watch if you liked: Fort Apache the Bronx
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Cast: Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Emma Samuelsson
Commune life ain’t no picnic, as a young boy finds out when his mother relocates the family to his uncle’s socialist collective household. Moodysson’s second film couldn’t capture the feel of the ABBA-loving ’70s any better; this is the movie that had no less than Ingmar Bergman declaring Moodysson to be Sweden’s next young master.
Watch if you liked: We Are the Best!
Directors: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard
Even with the volume pumped up, it’s less terrifying than creepy, but on those limited grounds, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s low-budget hit is pure gold. The scariest part is how these kids can’t put their cameras down, regardless of how much supernatural danger they’re in. Don’t say this film wasn’t prophetic.
Watch if you liked: The Witch
Director: Olivier Assayas
Cast: Edgar Ramírez, Alexander Scheer, Fadi Abi Samra
Though it runs an epic five-and-a-half hours (it was made for French TV), Carlos books like no film since Goodfellas. It's about one of the most globally feared terrorists of all time, Venezuelan-born but countryless Ilich Ramrez Sánchez (Ramírez, in a staggeringly complex turn), who, as "Carlos the Jackal," slayed his way into popular consciousness in a post-Munich Olympics Europe.
Watch if you liked: Che
Director: David France
A nightmarish clash comes to life in this montage of inflamed voices, their rage infusing the grain of ’80s videography. Jesse Helms rails in Congress against the “offensive and revolting behavior” of gay people. Playwright Larry Kramer erupts out of his slow burn in an ACT UP meeting with biblical fury (“Plague! We are in the middle of a plague!”). And throughout are the pink-triangled young activists, chaining themselves to buildings, crying, dying and—most impressively—learning.
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Director: John Huston
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley
Katharine Hepburn reportedly based her performance in this first-rate adventure on Eleanor Roosevelt; Humphrey Bogart, meanwhile, finally won the Oscar he’d long deserved with his portrayal of a cantankerous boat captain who hauls Hepburn’s heinie up the river. Simple and sublime.
Watch if you liked: Casablanca
Directors: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
The world’s biggest metal band suffers through member defection, group therapy and rehab stints while its lucrative future hangs in the balance. This rockumentary is the funniest, most daringly exposed profile of a music group ever captured on film, fictional or otherwise.
Watch if you liked: This Is Spinal Tap