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Best Netflix movies: the 30 best films you can stream right now

Best Netflix movies
(Image credit: Netflix)

Want to watch the best Netflix movies in the US? We update this list of the best movies on Netflix on a regular basis to keep your Watch List packed with terrific films. We try to balance Netflix's growing range of original movies with cinematic classics grabbed from other studios, giving you a pretty solid cross-section of films to choose from. 

This best Netflix movies list includes a number of obvious originals like Marriage Story and Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, but you'll also find favorites like Training Day, The Social Network and Casino Royale on here. While Netflix faces tough competition these days from the likes of Disney Plus and HBO Max, it's still a pretty strong service when it comes to giving you movies to enjoy.

These are the best movies on Netflix right now in the United States.

Army of the Dead

Best Netflix movies - Army of the Dead

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Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder’s first feature film since his increasingly acrimonious split with Warner Bros, and it’s everything that his DC superhero movies weren’t. It’s bright, colorful, action-packed, funny and topical, even if its 45-minute introduction is a little self-indulgent.

Dave Bautista leads a strong cast as Scott Ward, a former zombie-stomping war hero who’s approached with an intriguing proposal by casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada). The assignment? Enter a zombie infested Las Vegas, break into Tanaka’s casino vault, escape with his $200 million assets and Ward and his group will receive $50 million to split between them as a reward.

Of course, things don’t go to plan and Ward’s group soon find themselves pursued by the undead hordes led by an alpha zombie known as Zeus (Richard Cetrone). With a US government approved nuclear strike set to wipe Las Vegas off the map in less than 32 hours, too, survival, not money, becomes the gang’s main aim.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Netflix movies - Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a phenomenally popular mystery novel. David Fincher's adaptation, starring Daniel Craig and a brilliant Rooney Mara, arguably elevates the source material. Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist on the ropes after losing a high-profile libel case. He takes on a private gig – of uncovering what happened to a missing girl on a wealthy family's estate decades before, with the help of computer expert Lisbeth Salander. This shocking crime movie is rife with gorgeous imagery and big surprises, and it will make you wonder why this didn't make Mara the biggest actress on this planet. 

The Mitchells vs the Machines

Best Netflix movies - The Mitchells vs the Machines

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Originally intended for a theatrical release, Netflix bought this new animated movie from Sony and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller – best known as the minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, and also part of the team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It's exactly as charming and funny as those movies, too. 

Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) is an aspiring filmmaker who's about to head to college – until her dad, conscious that they've been drifting apart, cancels her plane ticket and insists on a family roadtrip. Halfway through this fraught journey, an AI takes revenge on its billionaire creator, and the world is suddenly under duress from smart robots. 

A lot of Spider-Verse's visual touches cross over into this film, too, with 2D annotations and drawings on the already-pretty 3D visuals. Most of all, it's nice to see Netflix backing a family movie that's not just full of talking dogs and other hackneyed nonsense so often seen in CG kids' fare. 

Back to the Future

Best netflix movies - Back to the Future

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

One of the most rewatchable movies ever, Netflix is still the home to the Back to the Future trilogy in the US. The first is by far the best – young Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) accidentally travels back in time to 1955 from 1985, and has to make sure his parents fall in love in order to keep existing. It's funny, charming and an all-time great sci-fi movie – just don't expect the sequels to hit the same heights. 

The whole trilogy is leaving Netflix on June 30, 2021, though, so be fast.

Rush

Best Netflix movies - Rush

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Rush is a biographical sports movie about the heated rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda – played here brilliantly by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl respectively, in one of Ron Howard's best movies in recent memory. The film portrays their rivalry as lucky playboy vs hotheaded strategist, and while it might exaggerate real-life events somewhat, it's a riveting movie. Along with documentary Senna and dad-friendly flick Ford Vs Ferrari, Rush is one of the best movies about racing around – don't miss it on Netflix. 

Training Day

Best Netflix movies Training Day

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While we're tempted to mention some of the lighter fare that's hit Netflix in recent months like Yes Day or Thunder Force in this list, there's a part of us that's hungering for a dirt-under-your-fingernails crime thriller instead. Training Day is about a rookie cop (Ethan Hawke), who joins a narcotics division only to find that his senior officer (Denzel Washington) is as corrupt as they come. The way director Antoine Fuqua explores their individual morality is fascinating – it's always worth a rewatch.

Seaspiracy

Seaspiracy

(Image credit: Lucy Tabrizi/Netflix)

It's more of a documentary movie than a fictitious film, but Seapsiracy has been surfing Netflix's high seas since its March 24 release, and the hype isn't dying down anytime soon. Director Ali Tabrizi's investigative flick shines a light on the fishing industry and how commercial fisheries are the main instigator behind the destruction of marine ecosystems. At times, it's a hard watch, but it's necessary viewing in the same way that SeaWorld documentary Blackfish was back in 2013.

Seaspiracy is generating plenty of discussions online, so there's clearly an appetite for this kind of content. You have to be the right frame of mind to watch it, but you'll walk away and question your own impact on aquatic life after you do.

The White Tiger

Best Netflix movies - The White Tiger

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Another Oscar-nominated movie for you to check out on Netflix in 2021, The White Tiger is an adaptation of the popular 2008 novel. The film is about Balram (Adarsh Gourav), a man who hails from a poor Indian village, but will do everything he can to avoid an impoverished life. When Balram enters the servitude of a rich family and they try to pin a crime on him, he understands his place in the food chain – and plots his own ascent as an entrepreneur. This dark class-based drama, a Netflix original, is well worth a watch.

I Care A Lot

Best Netflix movies - I Care A Lot

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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. 

Pan's Labyrinth 

Best Netflix movies - Pan's Labyrinth

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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

best netflix movies - malcolm and marie

(Image credit: DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021)

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. 

Uncut Gems

Best Netflix movies: Uncut Gems

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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. 

His House

best netflix movies - his house

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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

Best Netflix movies Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

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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 past 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

always

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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.

The Irishman

Best Netflix movies: The Irishman

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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). 

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Netflix Movies: The Trial of the Chicago 7

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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.

Good Time

Best Netflix movies: Good Time

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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

Best Netflix movies - hunt for the wilderpeople

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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. 

Casino Royale

Best Netflix movies: Casino Royale

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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

Best Netflix movies: Nightcrawler

(Image credit: Open Road Films)

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.

Spotlight

Best netflix movies: Spotlight

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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

Best Netflix movies: Da 5 Bloods

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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. 

Steve Jobs

Best Netflix movies: Steve Jobs

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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. 

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Best Netflix movies: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

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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?

13th

best netflix movies

Image credit: Netflix

Netflix landed its first Bafta with 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.

The Social Network

Best Netflix movies: The Social Network

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures/Relativity Media)

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. 

Okja

best netflix movies: Okja

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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. 

Marriage Story

Best Netflix movies: Marriage Story

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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. 

Roma

Best Netflix movies: Roma

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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.