Want to watch the best Netflix movies in the US? Then good news: we update our list of the 30 best movies on Neflix every single week with great new films to check out, and cycle out older suggestions as they leave the service. Netflix's best movies are a mix of classics it licenses from other studios (The Social Network, The Dark Knight and so on) and the big original movies it's been throwing money at for a few years now (The Irishman and Okja, for example).
While Netflix has a ton of competition for great movies in 2021 – HBO Max has an enviable library of terrific films, while Disney Plus is the exclusive home of Star Wars and Marvel – the biggest streaming service in the world spends invests so much in originals that it's still ahead of the curve. In this list of the best Netflix movies, we'll pick out numerous favorites of ours for you to add to your watch list.
These are the best Netflix movies right now.
I Care A Lot
Netflix's latest big movie is this thriller starring Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike as Marla Grayson, a con artist who uses an elaborate hospital setup to scam elderly patients out of their homes and possessions. It's a nasty film in a lot of ways, as you might expect from a premise like that, but this movie takes a left turn into being something totally different when it transpires that Marla's latest victim is related to a dangerous gangster (played by Peter Dinklage). It's well worth a watch, even if it could benefit from being around 30 minutes shorter than it is.
The Dark Knight
The best Batman movie has returned to Netflix, as of March 2021. The Dark Knight is the second in director Christopher Nolan's trilogy based on the DC Comics character, and takes a similar approach of realism to Batman Begins – only this time the stakes are taken up a notch by unpredictable new villain The Joker (Heath Ledger), who plunges Gotham into chaos by upending its criminal underworld and assassinating key public figures. Can Bruce Wayne's Batman (Christian Bale) stop him? And what price will he pay to do so? The movie deliberately has the vibe of a Michael Mann crime action film rather than a superhero flick – and it contains one of the best vehicle chases ever put on the big screen.
Still Guillermo del Toro's best movie by some distance, Pan's Labyrinth is set against the backdrop of post-Civil War fascist Spain. It's about a young girl who starts to believe she is Princess Moana, a fairytale figure who's princess of the underworld. The film then expertly balances the danger Ofelia and her family face in the real world with this more out-there fantastical imagery – the result is breathtaking, but extremely sad. An unmissable movie.
Malcolm & Marie
This is perhaps the best of the movies filmed during lockdown – partly because, aside from its choice of a single location, it feels far more like a high-concept romance film than a feature created just because of the pandemic. It's about a hotshot director (John David Washington) and his partner (Zendaya), with their relationship – and the movie industry – coming under the spotlight during one tumultuous night. It definitely veers towards self-indulgence, but it's a gorgeously-shot movie, and those who enjoy Zendaya's series Euphoria on HBO will be particularly fond of Malcolm & Marie.
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.
The true horror of His House lies in the real world. This British horror movie tells the story of a Sudanese couple that endure the consequences of a tragic crossing to England, only to be rehomed in a nondescript estate surrounded by racism, and with something else lurking in the house. It's a supremely confident debut from writer-director Remi Weekes, and Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu both standout as the two leads in emotionally-challenging roles.
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.
Always Be My Maybe
You may know Always Be My Maybe's leading lady Ali Wong from her raucous Netflix stand-up specials but it's as a successful celebrity chef that she really hits her stride. After a failed engagement Wong's character Sasha Tran heads to her hometown of San Francisco to setup a new restaurant only to run into her old bff played by Randall Park. Through the turbulence of the relationship, a sudden fling with actor Keanu Reeves and despite the differences in careers, the two try to make it work, and the journey from old friends to lovers is a joy to watch.
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 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).
One of the most important documentaries of the last decade, Blackfish charts the life of killer whale Tilikum, who sadly died in early 2017. Kept in captivity as a 'performance mammal' at SeaWorld, the doc explores the unsightly side of why keeping whales in captivity is a terrible idea. Blackfish had such an impact that SeaWorld decided to phase out its orca shows and rebrand itself. Powerful stuff.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Netflix bagged its first Bafta thanks to this stunning documentary. 13th looks at race and the US criminal justice system, showcasing numerous injustices in the way African American people have been treated in the system. The documentary was made by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who also made the superb Selma.
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.
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.
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.