Looking for the best Netflix movies? Every week, we update this list of the best movies on Netflix with new films, to make sure you've always got something great to stream. Netflix's best movies include some of its biggest and most expensive originals, like Marriage Story and The Irishman, as well as a bunch of cinema classics, from Back to the Future to Indiana Jones.
While Netflix faces a lot of competition for movies these days – HBO Max has an enviable library of amazing films, while Disney Plus is the exclusive home of Star Wars and Marvel – the biggest streaming service in the world still has what it takes to compete. In this list of the best Netflix movies, we'll show you why that's the case.
These are the best Netflix movies right now.
Ben Affleck's first three movies as a director – Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo – all make for solid viewing, but The Town is probably the most rewatchable. It's a heist movie set in Boston, about a gang who pull off a number of increasingly fraught robberies while being doggedly pursued by the FBI (led by Jon Hamm's Special Agent Adam Frawley) and working for a nasty local mobster (Pete Postlethwaite). Affleck stars as the increasingly conflicted criminal Doug, who romances a bank employee who the gang once took hostage, without her knowledge. It's knotty, exciting and well-executed.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Based on the play by August Wilson – and despite the gorgeous period set dressing and costume design, it definitely feels very stage-y – Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is one of the best Netflix original movies of the year. Viola Davis stars as legendary 'Mother of Blues' Ma Rainey, and the film focuses on one fraught recording session with Ma and her band, and the tension between the musician and her white producers and management.
Meanwhile, the late Chadwick Boseman stars as Levee, an innovative trumpet player who struggles to find his place in the music scene, amid bandmates who don't always take him seriously. It's a sad but insightful movie that explores how culture is worth protecting and valuing, in a world where it's easily taken and monetized, and the film truly comes to life in its amazing musical sequences. Don't miss it.
Holmes movies are a dime a dozen these days, but we'd take any new additions to the detective canon that can waft away the bad smell of stinker, Holmes and Watson. But this Netflix Original focusing on Sherlock's rebellious sister, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) does much more than that. Her more famous brothers are relegated to the background as the charming, cheeky Enola solves a mystery of her own: finding her missing mother. It's plenty of fun and – Ferrell and Reilly, take note – actually funny.
This star-making turn from Emma Stone is currently one of the most popular movies on Netflix US – and it's no surprise. This is one of the best high school movies, and the kind of film that inevitably finds a growing cult audience once it hits streaming services. Stone stars as Olive, a student who inadvertently sets off a school-wide fake rumor about sleeping with someone from a community college. Instead of accepting shame, though, Olive leans into her new infamy. A genuinely funny, well-observed movie, where every member of the cast inevitably looks too old to be in high school.
This threateningly long Scorsese pic attracted attention for the extensive effects work used to de-age its old stars, and it's a creative decision that's sometimes distracting. But there's no denying the appeal of seeing De Niro, Pesci and Pacino in the same movie together for likely the last time, and this life-spanning, mostly rewarding crime epic is a suitable tribute to their collective talents. It's a languid film – and not a patch on Goodfellas – but absolutely among the best Netflix movies the streaming service has financed to date. The Irishman is about the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), as he recounts his long association with the Bufalino crime family, and infamous union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).
Back to the Future
All three of the Back to the Future movies are available on Netflix US right now. Not only is the first one among the best movies on Netflix from the 1980s, it's also one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) inadvertently takes a DeLorean time machine back to 1955, where he has to ensure his parents meet and fall in love – or otherwise he might be erased from history himself. There is never a bad time to watch this movie. It's perfect.
The best sports movies are worth watching even if you don't care about the sport in question – that sport being baseball, in the case of 2011's Moneyball. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the former General Manager of the Oakland Athletics who used statistics to build a winning team, despite having little money to spend on players. If that doesn't sound exciting to you, rest assured the movie turns this premise into a dazzling underdog story – one that's inspiring without being schmaltzy. Jonah Hill co-stars.
Moneyball is one of four movies on this list of the best Netflix movies written by The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin – the film manages to explain the complex machinations behind Beane's strategy without making it seem boring. That's a feat, and this is perhaps Pitt's best ever performance.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
If you know Aaron Sorkin's work (The West Wing, The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Molly's Game), you'll largely get the idea of what to expect from his movies – big speeches, a touch too much schmaltz but electric dramatic moments when it counts. The Trial of the Chicago 7, about the unjust case against leftist protestors accused of inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, features plenty of courtroom drama – a good fit for Sorkin's dialogue-first style.
Drawing parallels between the event itself and our modern day situation, it's worth watching for the cast alone, even if you're not big on the director: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance and Jeremy Strong are among the many names here.
If you've already seen the Safdie Brothers' Uncut Gems – further down on this list of the best Netflix movies – then don't miss this similarly stressful but thrilling debut about a couple of siblings who botch a robbery. When his mentally challenged brother gets caught, a man (Robert Pattinson) goes to desperate measures to break him out. A vivid, memorable and unusual film – you get these sense that the Safdies really know what they like.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Forget Thor Ragnarok: Taika Waititi's best film is still Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a quirky (and genuinely hilarious) comedy-drama starring Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison. Set in New Zealand, it's about a misbehaving teenaged orphan who goes to live with foster parents out in the countryside. When his foster mother passes, though, it's just the boy and his grumpy foster father left – and they soon get caught up in a headline-making manhunt. If all of that sounds heavy, it really isn't – Hunt for the Wilderpeople is touching, but it also features the funniest performance from Neill that you'll ever see.
The Devil All the Time
This star-studded adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock's novel is the latest big Netflix original movie – and it certainly brings it when it comes to the cast. Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Bill Skarsgård, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska and Riley Keough star in this gritty small town America period drama. It focuses on the conflicting morality of its citizens, most of which have their own dark secrets and vices, with Holland's character at the center of it – get ready for a hard watch rife with great performances.
At the time of publication, the first two Daniel Craig James Bond movies are available on Netflix. The first entry in the rebooted series Casino Royale is still his best, a (mostly) tight and back-to-basics film without any wild gadgets, and a truly nasty villain in Mads Mikkelsen's sadistic Le Chiffre. With a memorable turn from Eva Green as love interest Vesper Lynd and an absolute gut punch of an ending, this is one of the few Bond movies we can entirely recommend without caveats. Its follow-up, Quantum of Solace – connected in some ways but not a satisfying sequel – is also streaming on Netflix right now.
Nightcrawler is a truly nasty – but compelling – film about a dubious photojournalist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who goes out of his way to capture the grizzliest crimes on camera in their immediate aftermath. This film features an outstanding performance from Gyllenhaal as a skeletal, amoral figure, and a matching great turn from Rene Russo as the desperate news director who'll do anything for ratings. An unmissable film from Dan Gilroy.
Based on a series of articles published by The Boston Globe exposing a child abuse scandal in the Catholic church, Spotlight is a great journalists-doing-stuff movie in the vein of All The President's Men. With an all-star cast featuring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton – but all made to look slightly scruffier, because, y'know, they're journalists – Spotlight was deservedly 2016's Oscar Best Picture winner.
Being John Malkovich
A classic '90s film about toxic masculinity, the novel premise of Being John Malkovich – that there's a doorway where you can control the actor John Malkovich, in real life – belies just how dark it is. John Cusack plays a puppeteer and all-round abusive jerk who find this place, which peels apart the different flawed elements of his personality, and reveals his obsessive nature. Cameron Diaz plays his mistreated wife, and the film also features a breakout performance from Catherine Keener.
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee's entry in the Vietnam War canon is unlike anything else before it. Focusing on the black American experience of the war, it's about a group of soldiers who return to the country decades later in their old age to retrieve the remains of their squad captain (played in flashback by Chadwick Boseman). At the same time, they seek out buried gold they left behind years before – though they're not alone in this pursuit. The movie flips from being a mournful movie about trauma to a bonkers action film with almost no notice, too, but the mix here works.
This is the one of the best new Netflix movies of 2020. Make sure you check it out.
E.T The Extra-Terrestrial
What's left to say about E.T? Spielberg's classic remains a masterpiece as it tells the story of an alien left behind on Earth and hidden by a little boy called Elliot. But E.T. isn't just any sci-fi film, it's also a story about divorce, dysfunctional families, and the impact that has on children. Iconic.
Told in the moments before three major launches in Steve Jobs' life, this movie is a great companion piece to The Social Network (also written by Aaron Sorkin), even if it's not quite as good. While some critics called him miscast, Michael Fassbender embodies Jobs so well across three timeframes in his life, and the movie doesn't pull any punches about the personality of the late Apple mastermind and how he treated other people. There's a hokey element to Steve Jobs – it's essentially told through the prism of his relationship with his daughter, Lisa – that makes it feel like you're watching something that only vaguely resembles the truth. But it's still incredibly entertaining.
This sweaty-palmed thriller is about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a jeweller and gambler who plans a gem sale that'll solve all his problems. Instead, Howard makes more and more ill-advised bets, and the walls begin to close in. Uncut Gems is a stressful but enthralling film with a really impressive performance from Sandler, not to mention a fantastic ensemble cast. It's a fascinating character study, as you watch Ratner begin to suffocate under the weight of his terrible decisions and inability to put anyone but himself first.
Probably the best of Tarantino's revisionist history-flavored movies (including Inglourious Basterds and the recent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Django Unchained is an 1800s-set Wild West picture about Django (Jamie Foxx), a liberated slave who joins up and works with the benevolent bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Django's goal is to save his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who's owned by appalling plantation owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene-stealing, nasty performance). This has all the ingredients you want from a modern western.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Scott Pilgrim vs The World was Edgar Wright's first Simon Pegg-less feature film, and while it was a box office flop, this adaptation of the beloved graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O'Malley is great fun on a rewatch. Scott Pilgrim, a guitar-playing nerd and jerk, starts to date the slightly closed-off but sweet Ramona Flowers. Soon after their relationship begins, though, Scott is tasked by Ramona's abusive former boyfriend to fight all of her evil exes, a gauntlet of douchebags memorably played by the likes of Chris Evans and Brandon Routh.
This is as close to a comic book in motion as you're ever likely to see in a live-action movie, with fantastic, vibrant set pieces. The comics are slightly better, overall, but isn't that always the way?
Tragically killed at the San Marino grand prix in 1994, Brazilian Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna never got the chance to add to his three world titles, and become an all-time great. His driving ability was never in question, however, and his exciting, aggressive racing style ensured that he was both hero and villain in the F1 paddock. Amy/Diego Maradona director Asif Kapadia’s excellent 2010 documentary assembles home videos, race footage and expert analysis into a compelling narrative, revealing the man beneath the helmet. Deified in his home country, Senna was an intriguing enigma – there haven’t been any like him since.
Killing Them Softly
Based on the novel Cogan's Trade, Killing Them Softly is about a group of underskilled robbers who target an organized crime syndicate, before a hired gun played by Brad Pitt is paid to take them out. It features a short but memorable sequence with the late James Gandolfini as an acquaintance of PItt's character, that's worth watching the film for alone.
The movie uses the 2008 financial crisis as a framing device, with everyone in the film scrambling for the cash they can get hold of, at a heavy price. Killing Them Softly a very different film from Pitt and director Andrew Dominik's first collaboration, The Assassination of Jesse James, and it's a lot funnier than you might think it is based on the premise.
The Social Network
David Fincher's movie about the founding of Facebook is essential viewing, with a sharp script from Aaron Sorkin based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. Jesse Eisenberg portrays Mark Zuckerberg, and we see the social media network's journey from an eyebrow-raising college project into the money-making, opinion-spitting beast it is now, and the bitter battles it caused between those who claimed to have a stake in it.
The only question, then, is when are we getting a sequel that covers everything that's happened since then? The Social Network may be Fincher's best film.
Paul Thomas Anderson is arguably the best filmmaker of his generation, with an enviable run of masterpieces, most recently the mesmerizing and twisted relationship drama Phantom Thread. The Master, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as the head of a cult called 'The Cause', and Joaquin Phoenix as a veteran who becomes a subject of the cult's teachings, is another must-see film from the Magnolia director. The relationship between the two is transfixing, and the supporting cast boasts the always-great Amy Adams. When you're done watching the film, read this essay, which posits the memorable theory that Phoenix is playing a dog throughout the entire film.
Bong Joon Ho's English-language debut is set on a train carrying mankind's last survivors in an ice-covered world ravaged by climate change. Like the director's Oscar-winning Parasite, Snowpiercer is about class divide, with the wealthy at the front of the train, and the poor living at the back under dreadful conditions. Curtis (Chris Evans) leads an uprising against those living at the front. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but it's a performance from Evans that's completely against type and really engaging as a result.
If you've enjoyed Bong Joon Ho's Best Picture winner Parasite (and you've watched Snowpiercer, discussed above), you might want to check out his last movie, Okja, which is one of the best Netflix originals so far. It's the bizarre tale of a young girl and her best pal, an enormous creature called Okja. Their friendship is under threat when a nasty CEO (Tilda Swinton) has evil plans for Okja. It's a refreshing movie with a nice angle of animal activism – a very different proposition to Parasite, for sure, but one that also demonstrates the director's ability to blend genres.
The last great movie to win the Best Picture Oscar before Parasite, Moonlight follows a boy through three stages of an incredibly difficult life: childhood, his teenage years and adulthood. Chiron has to deal with his own struggles of identity and sexuality, while also contending with his emotionally toxic mother. Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as a mentor and much-needed father figure in this picture, but equally great is actor Trevante Rhodes, who plays Chiron in his adult life with a palpable repressed pain.
Ensure you're in the right mindset to watch Marriage Story – i.e. skip this if you're in the middle of a break-up – because this sympathetic movie about a failing marriage and the resulting fallout can be tough viewing. It's the latest picture from director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha), and features actors Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson at the top of their game in what are surely emotionally draining roles. Watch it before it gets memed and gif-ed to death on social media, and you only see Marriage Story as that movie where Kylo Ren cries a lot.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The first Indiana Jones movie remains the best. It's a beautifully-made, funny and exciting adventure, deliberately recalling George Lucas's pulpy favorites from the first half of the 20th century. The entire trilogy is on Netflix US right now (that's right, trilogy). Don't stop and think too hard about Indy's ethos that ancient artifacts belong in a museum, or the fact he dated his former student, or the generally eyebrow-raising stuff in The Temple of Doom. Instead, enjoy the wicked set pieces and the gorgeous locations of these three classics, before they inevitably move to Disney Plus forever someday.
An astonishing ode to motherhood in all forms, Roma is the most personal film to date from visionary director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity). On paper, Roma is not the easiest sell – a subtitled black and white film about a live-in housekeeper spoken almost entirely in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, Cuarón's latest is nonetheless riveting from a cinematic standpoint. More a series of vignettes than a traditional three-act story, Roma examines the life of a Mexico City family in the early 1970s during a time of great social upheaval.
Described by Cuarón as 90% autobiographical, the film provides some insight into the famous director's early life, although the story is witnessed primarily through the eyes of his caretaker, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), who would become a loved member of the family. One of the most gorgeously photographed films in years, Roma deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible. Shot entirely in 65mm, Roma would make for an ideal theatrical experience. However, if that isn't an option, you won't be disappointed by the Roma's breathtaking 4K Ultra HD presentation on Netflix – just make sure you keep tissues on hand, because it's very likely you'll shed a few tears during the film.