Best short movies on Netflix: stream these films in under 2 hours

Best short movies on Netflix - Florence Pugh in The Wonder
(Image credit: Netflix)

This list of the best short movies on Netflix is useful for a bunch of different scenarios, when you just don't have time to sit down for the length of an epic film. Maybe you've just put the kids to bed and your evening is half over, or perhaps you've got somewhere to be. Basically, visit this guide whenever you've got two hours and you want to use them wisely.

As one of the best streaming service options on Earth, Netflix is crammed with movies of all lengths and genres. We all know the Netflix scroll can feel like falling into a deep well that sucks hours from your life before you've even watched a film, so we've picked out the best short movies on Netflix for your convenience – and they're all under two hours long. 

We've carefully chosen a good spread of films, spanning recent classics, new releases and old favourites. As long as the movie doesn't tiptoe over that two hour deadline, all tastes are catered for. Got all the time in the world? Take a look at our pick of the best Netflix movies that don't have a time limit.

Best short movies on Netflix

The Wonder

Florence Pugh in The Wonder

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Wonder is a strange and suspenseful watch, based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1800s, it tells the story of Anna O'Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who claims to have gone without food for four months, surviving on manna sent from heaven. With hoards of people making the pilgrimage to witness the supposed miracle, skeptics bring English nurse, Lib (Florence Pugh), to observe her and decide if she is telling the truth or it's one big depection.

Directed by Sebastián Lelio, this unusual film will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Running time: One hour and 43 minutes


Adam Sandler in Hustle sitting next to a basketball player

(Image credit: Netflix)

This new Adam Sandler film (2022) is an engaging and easy watch, with way more depth than you'd imagine. 

Sandler is centre-stage (court) as an NBA scout, Stanley who (despite higher ambitions) has been wedded to his career travelling the globe to find new basketball talent. Stanley finds a potential star in Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez) but the road to success isn't simple thanks to petty feuds and personal issues. 

A passionate performance from Sandler, marking himself as a dramatic actor, makes this a slam dunk.

Running time: One hour 58 minutes

The Adam Project

the adam project still from the movie

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Adam Project follows Adam (Ryan Reynolds), a time-travelling pilot, in this glossy comedy/sci-fi/action that's gone down a storm on Netflix. Beginning in 2050, Adam travels back to meet his younger self – who is 12 in 2022. He goes on to team up with his past self and his late father to save the future of the world from a dangerous threat, whilst solving some of the problems from the past at the same time. 

It's a fast-paced, super-fun jaunt that the whole family is bound to love. And lucky for us, it comes in well under the two hour mark. Win.

Running time: One hour 46 minutes.


Arrival screenshot of orange-clad person holding sign saying human

(Image credit: Paramount/Sony)

Despite its hefty subject matter and cerebral feel, director Denis Villeneuve's 2016 sci-fi epic Arrival delivers a lot in a relatively short running time. 

Before Villeneuve was entrusted with two of the most iconic sci-fi properties in Blade Runner 2049 (one of the best sci-fi movies, in our opinion) and Dune, he proved his credentials with Arrival. 

An elegant, gentle, and truly innovative take on the genre, the film begins with the discovery of 12 extra-terrestrial spacecraft, which have begun to hover over various locations around the Earth.

The arrivals provoke different reactions in nations around the world, bringing to the surface old tensions. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, the US tries to establish communication with the new arrivals. To do this, they send in linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).  

Time ticks away, giving Banks and her crew a race against time to find a way to communicate with the extra-terrestrial visitors and avoid catastrophe. 

Running Time: One hour and 56 minutes

Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

(Image credit: EMI)

Sometimes, all you want is a classic watch. And it doesn't get more classic than Monty Python. Whether you've seen it a hundred times, or it's your very first, you'll be delighted by the quality of the humour derived by the masters of British comedy. 

In case you don't know the premise, the plot centres on King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, who are searching for The Holy Grail and encountering some very silly situations along the way. Starring John Cleese, Eric Idle, Connie Booth, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman.... need we say more?

And it all comes in at just over an hour and a half. Perfect.

Running time: One hour and 32 minutes

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Jiminy Cricket in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

(Image credit: Netflix)

An astonishing reworking of a classic tale, de Guillermo del Toro's 2022 version of Pinocchio is set in 1930s Italy, at the time of Mussolini's fascist regime. This setting adds a whole new level of darkness to the 1883 tale about the puppet who longs to be a real boy, and brings further depth to the original story's themes of freedom. 

The film is entirely created using stop-motion animation, and is voiced by a plethora of super-famous actors including Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton. With rave reviews across the board, this isn't one to miss out on.

Running time: One hour and 57 minutes

The Nest

The Nest shot of two people standing by a door

(Image credit: Netflix)

Jude Law and Carrie Coon lead this tense drama, which slowly eviscerates a seemingly happy marriage in just under an hour and 50 minutes. 

Law plays Rory O'Hara, an English trader living with his American wife, Alison, and their two children in New York. Convinced that he could be making more money in his native land, Rory persuades the family to uproot and move across the pond. Once there, they take up residence in a crumbling mansion and start to build a new life. 

Sadly, it's not long before everything begins to crumble.

Running Time: One hour and 47 minutes


The BFG still - Sophie sitting on the shoulder of The BFG

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Not all children are known for their attention span, so short movies are perfect for a younger audience. The BFG (2016) is one of the finest kids' movies available on Netflix, full of magic and darkness in equal measure. Of course, it's based on the iconic Roald Dahl Book, which follows Sophie (Ruby Ann Barnhill) as The BFG (voiced by Mark Rylance) lifts from her bed at a London orphanage and transports her to Giant Country. 

Directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, this cinematic feast will appeal to the whole family. 

Running time: One hour 57 minutes

El Camino: A Breaking Bad movie

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie still

(Image credit: Netflix)

Okay, we've crept over the line here with the Breaking Bad spinoff that's two minutes over our deadline of two hours. But we had to include it, as we're not sure we could imagine a more perfect cinematic add-on to a standout series.

Following everyone's favourite drug dealer Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), El Camino tells the story of what happened to the character after Breaking Bad ended. We didn't know we needed this addition until it existed, but the resolution it gives to the world of breaking bad is immensely satisfying and shines new light on previous events. 

Running time: Two hours and two minutes (please forgive us)


Nightcrawler on Netflix shot of man with torch

(Image credit: Netflix)

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a standout performance in this jet black drama. Gyllenhaal portrays Louis "Lou" Bloom, a petty criminal who chances upon a car accident and discovers he can make money by selling the footage to a local news station. 

Inspired by this new scheme, Bloom pursues it relentlessly and taking himself down a very dark path.

Running Time: One hour and 57 minutes

Red Notice

Red Notice on Netflix three people standing in a row

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix's own glossy drama, Red Notice is a high-octane, super-fun watch and does not outstay its welcome. Led by the handsome trio of Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson, and Ryan Reynolds, this is a big-budget, globe-trotting caper with its tongue firmly in its cheek. 

Johnson plays John Hartley, a criminal profiler for the FBI who is forced to strike a devil's bargain with Reynolds' Nolan Booth, an international art thief he has just helped to capture. 

The two are forced together as they attempt to bring down Gadot's Sarah 'The Bishop' Black, a thief who has her eye on one of the world's lost treasures.  

Running Time: One hour and 57 minutes

I Kill Giants

A still from the movie I Kill Giants girl in rain

(Image credit: Netflix)

A unique and tender take on high-fantasy, this loving 2017 adaptation of Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura's graphic novel remains a must-watch, and one of our picks for the best short movies on Netflix right now.

We follow 12-year-old Barbara Thorson who escapes from the bullies at her school by instead delving into a fantasy world inspired by her love of Dungeons & Dragons. She spends her days creating weapons and traps to fend off giants who she believes are coming to attack her from other worlds. 

Over the course of the film, a new friend, a kind counsellor and her sister try to establish whether these are grand delusions or if the giants are all too real. 

Madison Wolfe, who plays Barbara, is outstanding and is supported by a great cast that also includes Imogen Poots,  Jennifer Ehle, and Zoe Saldana.

Running Time: One hour and 46 minutes

Good Time

Good Time shot of man in hallway

(Image credit: Madman Entertainment)

Before they made 2019 nerve-jangler Uncut Gems (one of our best Netflix thriller movies), directing brothers Josh and Benny Safdie cut their teeth on this madcap film. 

Starring Robert Pattinson and Barkhad Abdhi, it followed Pattinson's Connie, who is faced with a dilemma after a botched bank robbery that lands his disabled younger brother in prison. 

To get him out, Connie must embark on a twisted odyssey through New York City's underworld.

Running Time: One hour and 41 minutes

The Farewell

Netflix The Farewell shot of people in a group

(Image credit: Amazon)

Awkwafina headlines this touching 2019 comedy-drama, which began its life on hit podcast, This American Life, where writer-director Lulu Wang opened up about an old family story. 

The film follows a Chinese-American family who, upon learning their grandmother has only a short while left to live, decide not to tell her and schedule a family gathering before she dies. 

It's a decision that has unintended and hilarious consequences.

Running Time: One hour and 40 minutes


Chris Hemsworth walking down a street in Netflix's Extraction.

(Image credit: Jasin Boland)

Chris Hemsworth takes charge of this explosive action thriller, Extraction (2020). 

The Thor star plays Tyler Rake, an Australian black ops mercenary who is charged with leading a mission to save an Indian drug lord's kidnapped son. As you might expect, the job does not go to plan and Rake and his team are forced to pick up the pieces. 

With a script from Avengers: Endgame, overseer Joe Russo, the film is an action-packed spectacle that rockets into life quickly and never lets up. (Got a taste for Marvel? Here's how to watch the Marvel films in order.)

Running Time: One hour and 57 minutes

Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club on Netflix - Matthew McConaughey in cowboy hat

(Image credit: Netflix)

The multi-Oscar winning drama remains an essential and heartbreaking watch. 

The 2013 film follows Matthew McConaughey's Ron Woodroof, an electrician and rodeo cowboy who was diagnosed with HIV in the mid-1980s. After discovering a cocktail of drugs that dramatically approve his health, Woodroof begins to smuggle unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas and distributes them to fellow people with HIV, in so doing establishing the "Dallas Buyers Club". 

The film was nominated for six Oscars with McConaughey winning Best Actor and co-star Jared Leto winning Best Supporting Actor. 

Running Time: One hour and 56 minutes

tick, tick...BOOM!

Andrew Garfield in tick, tick...BOOM!

(Image credit: Netflix)

In 2021, musical kingpin Lin-Manuel Miranda made his feature film directorial debut with this drama, which, fittingly, tells the story of a man trying and struggling to write a musical. 

Andrew Garfield plays Jonathan Larson, a young theatre composer in 1990 who is combining a job in a New York City diner with trying to write what he hopes will be the next great American musical. 

Days before he's due to showcase his work in a performance that could make or break his career, Jonathan begins to crack under the pressure.

Running Time: One hour and 55 minutes


Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Kate (2021)

(Image credit: Netflix)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead finds herself facing certain death in the bloody and brutal action thriller (2021). 

Winstead plays the titular Kate, an assassin who has been tasked with killing a high-ranking yakuza boss. During the mission, she discovers that she has been secretly poisoned and has, at most, a day to live. 

With time now finite, Kate sets about using her last hours to get revenge and find out who set her up...

Running Time: One hour and 46 minutes

If you've got even less time, head over to our list of the best Netflix shows available to stream immediately. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children… 

With contributions from