Best movies on Netflix (January 2019): 20 films you need to watch right now

Best Films on Netflix

Best Movies on Netflix: TechRadar's round-up of the best films on Netflix's massive catalog.

Want to find something to watch on Netflix without spending an hour flicking through movies? With thousands of options at your disposal, it's easy to get stuck in cinematic limbo. Finding the honest-to-goodness best films can be a bit of hassle.

We're here to help. 

In an effort to determine the best of the best, we've put together a list of the greatest possible films you can watch – curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. 

Spend less time browsing through movies, and more time watching them. We'll keep this best-of list up to date with the latest movies that are a must-watch, so you waste zero screen time searching.

Are TV shows more your scene? Here are the best TV shows on Netflix!

  • Wanting to watch from abroad? Then you need the best Netflix VPN 

1. Roma

Who's it for? Cinema buffs and anyone looking to get a jump on Awards Season

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 of the year, 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.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

2. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Who's it for? Fans of sci-fi based around people named Skywalker.

Love it or hate it, the 8th film in the Star Wars franchise is immortalized in the canon now. It stumbles in parts, slows to a crawl in others, and fails to do what you'd expect. Some might call these the markings of a failed film. But we'd say it's these traits - this break from tradition - that gave us a Star Wars film that we couldn't have ever imagined. Beyond simply defying expectations for the sake of it, The Last Jedi grapples with complex themes of morality in a new republic - with minority characters leading the charge as tried-and-true characters are laid to rest. This is jolting for a franchise that's been dominated by the same few characters for the last two decades but it's this change that pushes The Last Jedi in a new direction - one in which it can survive without its main heroes. It might not have the nostalgia of the originals or the fast, fun nature of Solo: A Star Wars Story, but sometimes we need to shed the skin tradition to create something new. (Hint: In case that's lost on you, that's the exact point that Yoda makes abundantly clear to Luke at the temple.)

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

3. Blackfish

Best movies on Netflix

Who's it for? Activists and folks ready to be exposed to animal cruelty

Blackfish, the controversial nature documentary that follows a misunderstood and often violent killer whale in captivity at SeaWorld, made a huge splash when it was released in 2013. Its story has moved audiences to take action in a way that few other films have ever done, going so far as forcing lawmakers' hands to introduce legislation that will demand that SeaWorld release killer whales back into the wild. It's an emotional ride through the highs and lows of the aquatic entertainment industry, one that reveals the real consequences of keeping animals where they don't belong.

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

4. It Follows 

Who's it for? Fans of classic horror

Considered a modern horror classic by many, It Follows sees a young girl (Maika Monroe) terrorized by a sexually-transmitted demon. This terrifying apparition looks different every time and will chase you relentlessly until you either pass it on by sleeping with someone else, or until it catches up to you and finishes you off for good. To make matters worse, if the person you pass it on to dies, it will turn its attention back to you again. Did we mention that it can only be seen by the people that have been 'infected', so your friends won't be able to help as much as they'd like to? Yeah, it kinda sucks. Stylish, atmospheric and with a terrific John Carpenter-inspired synth score, It Follows in an effective horror movie which may suffer a little from a few odd decisions by its characters, but is still well worth watching.

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

5. The Theory of Everything

A still from the movie The Theory of Everything

(Image: © Amazon Prime)

Who's it for? Empathetic scientists and romance fans

The Theory of Everything is the romance-heavy version of Stephen Hawking's life. The stars Eddie Redmayne in the role of Hawking who, despite the overwhelming challenge of playing a character with progressive ALS (commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease), puts on an Oscar-worthy performance as the man who solved some of the greatest mysteries around black holes and their lives. While the film glosses over most of the science behind Hawking's greatest revelations, it does an exceptional job depicting the challenge of providing care for someone whose health is progressively declining. It's based on source material from Hawking's first wife, author Jane Hawking and her book Traveling to Infinity. 

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%