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

A promo poster from The Mitchells vs the Machines, one of the best Netflix movies.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Want to watch the best Netflix movies right now? This list of the 30 best movies on Netflix is updated constantly with new suggestions of what to watch – the idea is to keep your watch list topped up with cool stuff.

This best Netflix films list has just been refreshed with Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Layer Cake, two older films that are a perfect fit for an evening watch. 

It's no secret that Netflix is facing a lot more competition in the US for streaming real estate these days – not least from the likes of Disney Plus and HBO Max – but for our money, it's still the best service around for original content and licensed movies.

Below, then, are our picks for the best movies on Netflix US right now.

Layer Cake

Layer Cake

(Image credit: Marv films)

If you still haven't got your Daniel Craig fix from No Time To Die, consider a rewatch of this excellent British crime film, where the actor plays a nameless drug distributor who tries to avoid conflict while he plots his escape – until he's roped in to a nightmarish drug war. This film is less stereotypical than you might think from the daft name and the fact it's a film from the UK with gangsters in it. It's less about cockney accents and more about dense plotting and big twists. Director Matthew Vaughn arrived with a real bang.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day off.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

One of the ultimate '80s comedies, Matthew Broderick plays Ferris Bueller, the ultimate confident slacker who fakes illness for a day off with his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) to have a mini odyssey around Chicago – all while evading Jeffrey Jones' paranoid Dean Rooney. This is still a terrific teen movie from John Hughes, and very easy to rewatch. 

Zodiac

Best Netflix movies UK Zodiac

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

David Fincher's crime thriller Zodiac has returned to Netflix. This movie is a precursor to his series Mindhunter, and deals with the real-life mystery behind the identity of the Zodiac serial killer haunting San Francisco in the late 1960s. Jake Gyllenhaal plays obsessed journalist Robert Graysmith. It portrays the killings themselves in harrowing fashion, and details the fruitless attempts to learn the killer's identity.

In general, the movie does a great job of exploring how the case was so all-consuming that it managed to damage the lives of those covering it in the media. A pre-MCU Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo co-star in this unmissable addition to the Netflix movie library, which is quietly one of Fincher's best movies.

The Guilty

The Guilty on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

A same-name adaptation of the award-winning Danish drama, The Guilty stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a 911 call center operator who faces a race against time to save a kidnapped woman on the other side of the line.

Netflix reportedly paid $30 million to acquire this one, which comes from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective). The Danish original is already a great thriller, combining taut dialogue sequences with unexpected twists, so throwing a talent like Gyllenhaal into the mix makes this version of The Guilty an easy recommendation.

Jaws

Jaws poster

(Image credit: Universal)

"You're gonna need a bigger boat...," says Roy Scheider's Chief Brody to Robert Shaw's Quint, for what is surely up there with the most iconic lines in cinema history. 

Steven Spielberg's Jaws was the first major motion picture to be shot primarily at sea, and its then-exceptionally wide release and huge marketing campaign not only generated bumper box office takings ($472 million), but also a fear of ever setting foot in the ocean again for anyone who watched the movie back in 1975.

Of course, its titular mechanical shark doesn't quite hold up in the same way today – you'll probably laugh more than you cover your eyes – but Jaws remains a thoroughly entertaining story of a sleepy US town terrorized by a man-eating Great White.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

A still from Blade Runner

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Now available again on Netflix as of September 2021, the ultimate sci-fi movie is always worth a rewatch – especially in the form of Ridley Scott's 2007 Final Cut. Deckard is what's known as a blade runner, essentially a cop paid to track down rogue replicants, a type of android. But when he confronts the dangerous killer known as Roy Batty, how will Deckard deal with his own role as a human being? This rainy movie is as much a noir film as it is an '80s vision of the future, and it's a stunning work of world building decades later.

Croupier

Clive Owen in Croupier, which is now on Netflix US.

(Image credit: Film4/Screengrab)

One of the best Netflix movies is a Clive Owen flick you've probably missed, living in the US – Croupier is his breakout film, a moody 1998 crime thriller about a failing writer who takes on a job in a casino. Soon, though, he makes a series of poor decisions and gets dragged into a heist he should probably have left alone. You won't regret watching it, and it might be a nice break from noisier blockbuster fare on the big streaming services.

Wind River

Jeremy Renner in Wind River.

(Image credit: STX International)

When a woman goes missing on an Indigenous reservation in Wyoming, Elizabeth Olsen's FBI agent teams up with a local tracker played by Jeremy Renner to solve the case. For those who've watched director Taylor Sheridan's incredibly popular show Yellowstone, this thoughtful and beautifully-shot Western-style crime drama will be incredibly appealing –  though in some ways the presentation of the story is a little outdated thematically. 

Inception

Inception

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Christopher Nolan's mind-bending sci-fi movie Inception is back on Netflix in the US. Dealing with dreams within dreams, it's essentially a heist movie with a genre twist – the target is a set of secrets buried inside another human being's subconscious. Specialist Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has to lead a team in there to get it, while dealing with his own subconscious trauma. This influential movie has an absolutely stacked ensemble cast, including Elliot Page, Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 11 years later, it hasn't lost its magic, and its spectacular visuals still impress.

Django Unchained

Django

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Probably the most blockbuster action movie-style film that Quentin Tarantino has made, Django Unchained is a high-energy modern western. Django (Jamie Foxx) is a former slave who works with Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to hunt scoundrels across the American South – eventually teaming up to try and free Django's wife from the appalling Calvin Candie (meme king Leonardo DiCaprio). It's very much a rewrite of history in the vein of Inglourious Basterds – violent, entertaining and ambitiously realized. 

Fear Street Trilogy

Fear Street

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix's trilogy of Fear Street movies are best described as throwback slasher films. They're based on the R.L. Stine books of the same name, and while they don't necessarily hit the same heights as the Screams of this world, they're absolutely worth a watch, even if they're a little cheesy. All three movies, Fear Street: 1994, Fear Street: 1978 and Fear Street: 1666 are now streaming on the service.

The Game

Michael Douglas in The Game, inspecting his house after it's been tagged with graffiti.

(Image credit: Screengrab/trailer)

David Fincher's The Game is a fascinating '90s mystery movie. On his 48th birthday, wealthy banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is gifted a voucher to participate in a game, hosted by a mysterious company. It's basically like a fancy version of an escape room – except it starts to warp Nick's whole reality, to the point where he can figure out what's fake and what's real. Do not miss this less-discussed classic from Fincher's filmography. 

Army of the Dead

Best Netflix movies - Army of the Dead

(Image credit: Netflix)

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 Mitchells vs the Machines

Best Netflix movies - The Mitchells vs the Machines

(Image credit: Netflix)

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. 

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. 

The White Tiger

Best Netflix movies - The White Tiger

(Image credit: Tejinder Singh Khamkha/NETFLIX)

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

Rosamund Pike in I Care A Lot, one of the best Netflix movies.

(Image credit: Netflix)

One of Netflix's big 2021 movies 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, and the overall plot is never less than implausible. 

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.

Uncut Gems

Best Netflix movies: Uncut Gems

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

(Image credit: David Lee/NETFLIX)

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

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

(Image credit: Madman Entertainment)

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

(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. 

Da 5 Bloods

Best Netflix movies: Da 5 Bloods

(Image credit: Netflix)

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. 

Okja

best netflix movies: Okja

Image credit: Netflix

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

(Image credit: Netflix)

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

(Image credit: Netflix)

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.