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

Best Movies on Netlfix
Image Credit: Pixar
(Image credit: Pixar)

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

If you're anything like us, you can spend hours searching for the best movies on Netflix only to come up empty handed two hours later. It's a whole bunch of wasted time and - if you lead a busy life - it's a huge time suck.

Thankfully, we've done all the searching so you don't have to. 

In an effort to determine the best movies and films on Netflix, 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. 

To that end, you can find four pages of Netflix's best films. The films aren't ranked in any particular order - and will change out over time - but this is a good starting point when you can't find something to watch. 

We'll try to keep this list as updated as possible each month with the latest must-binge movies - but, if you see something that's left the service or you have a film that you think is worthy of inclusion on this list, drop us a line.

1. Roma

Image Credit: Netflix

Image Credit: Netflix

Genre: Period drama/Foreign film

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

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Genre: Sci-Fi

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

Genre: Documentary

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. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Genre: Animated superhero film

Who's it for? Fans of the famous wall-crawler, super heroes in training

There's little doubt that Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is the best animated Spider-Man film ever made but, in all honesty, it might even steal the title as the best Spider-Man movie ever made. A harrowing tale that takes place across universes and timelines, the original Spider-Man Peter Parker must teach a new Spider-Man how to save the world one web at a time. As more Spider-Men (and Spider-Women!) get involved in Miles' training, everyone involved soon realizes that it's not the mask that makes the hero, it's the hero that makes the mask. Inspiring, heart-warming and extremely well-written, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is worth the watch.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

5. The Theory of Everything

A still from the movie The Theory of Everything

(Image credit: Amazon Prime)

Genre: Romance / Drama

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%