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

Best Netflix movies
(Image credit: Netflix)

Looking for the best Netflix movies in the US? We update this list of the 30 best Netflix movies every week with new suggestions of things to watch – from cinematic classics to new originals, we're here to help you get the most from the world's most popular premium streaming service.

Our best Netflix movies list includes numerous originals worth watching, like Okja or Marriage Story, but also more up-to-date additions to the service from other movie studios like The Dark Knight or Training Day. Essentially, we try and keep it varied, to ensure you're never low on suggestions.

These are the best movies on Netflix right now.

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 UK - 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

Louise from I Care a Lot against a wall of her wards

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

Best Netflix movies - the Dark Knight

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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.

Pan's Labyrinth 

Best Netflix movies - Pan's Labyrinth

(Image credit: Warner Bros Pictures)

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 uk - 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 uk 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 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). 

Blackfish

best netflix movies

Image credit: Magnolia Pictures

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

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

(Image credit: Piki Films)

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

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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

(Image credit: Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures)

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. 

Django Unchained

Best Netflix movies: Django Unchained

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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

Best Netflix movies: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

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

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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

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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. 

Snowpiercer

Best Netflix movies: Snowpiercer

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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. 

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. 

Moonlight

Best Netflix movies: Moonlight

(Image credit: A24)

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. 

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.