A new year can only mean one thing. It’s time to bust out that Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the films you watch in 2020. Get started on the right foot by checking out some recent hits and old classics on Netflix throughout January. Make 2020 the year you finally catch up on movies your friends have been telling you to watch for ages. These are the best movies on Netflix for January 2020.

  1. Marriage Story
  2. Okja
  3. Hot Rod
  4. The Long Kiss Goodnight
  5. Train to Busan
  6. Mudbound
  7. Locke
  8. Don't Think Twice
  9. Only God Forgives
  10. A Serious Man

Best on Netflix

1. Marriage Story (2019)

Directing Marriage Story: Noah Baumbach | Netflix

If you haven’t seen Marriage Story yet, there are a couple reasons you should do so immediately. It’s one of the best films of 2019 featuring some outstanding performances. And it will finally give you a chance to understand all those memes you’ve been seeing on Twitter. 

Writer/director Noah Baumbach uses the film to exorcise his own demons from his own divorce, using it as a showcase for some of the finest actors working today. In particular, Adam Driver proves he’s a force to be reckoned with, and it’s only a matter of time before he has an Oscar. Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and Ray Liotta are also incredible, so do yourself a favor and check it out immediately.



  • Trivia: According to Baumbach, his ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh has seen the film and likes it.
  • Tomatometer: 95%
  • Watch Now →

Best Movies on Netflix

2. Okja (2017)

Okja | A Visual Effects Story | Netflix

Another Netflix original worth revisiting is the eclectic Okja. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Okja carries many of the same themes he would carry into his next impressive work, Parasite. It’s a pitch-black satire condemning the evils of unchecked capitalism, so if you enjoyed Parasite from last year, then this should be the next film on your bucket list. 

While it has a lot to say, the film is also a simple tale of a young girl trying to rescue her friend, a fascinating creature named Okja, from the hands of image-obsessed CEO Lucy Mirando, played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton. It may be a couple of years old, but you’ll soon see why this movie is worth repeated viewings.



  • Trivia: The audience booed the film when it premiered at Sundance. It started when the Netflix title card first appeared on the screen. 
  • Tomatometer: 86%
  • Watch Now →

Netflix Movies

3. Hot Rod (2007)

Deleted Bedroom Scene | Hot Rod

Your enjoyment of Hot Rod will probably depend on how much you’re into the antics of The Lonely Island. But if you’re anything like me, then you know Hot Rod was an underrated comedy gem when it first came out. It’s filled with the best kind of sophomoric humor. Don’t let the low Rotten Tomatoes score fool you, when you need a laugh after a long week, this is the film to play. 

Andy Samberg plays an amateur stuntman who attempts to jump over 15 buses to raise money for his step-dad’s operation. Hot Rod has rightfully earned its place as a cult classic in this mash-up between Napoleon Dynamite and Jackass. It’s weird, goofy, and absurd in the best way.



  • Trivia: Andy Samberg’s stuntman actually broke his leg during the opening shot of Rod attempting to jump over the bus.
  • Tomatometer: 39%
  • Watch Now →

Netflix Movies List

4. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Funny Scenes | The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Long Kiss Goodnight takes its absurd premise all the way up to 11, making for an underrated gem from the 90s that deserves more love. Geena Davis plays a suburban mom who begins to recall aspects of her previous life as a secret agent after a bump on the head. On top of that, everyone’s out to kill her again, so she seeks help from a private detective, played by Samuel L. Jackson. 

With a script from Shane Black, you know you are in for a good time. The dialogue is top-notch with one-liners coming at you rapid fire. It’s very much a 90’s action movie, so it’s perfect when you’re feeling a bit nostalgic.



  • Trivia: Samuel L. Jackson has said that Mitch is his favorite role.
  • Tomatometer: 69%
  • Watch Now →

Great Movies to Watch on Netflix

5. Train to Busan (2016)

Interview With Main Actors | Train to Busan

Train to Busan is hands-down one of the best zombie movies ever made. It’s creepy. It’s filled with social commentary. It’s heartfelt (anyone who doesn’t cry towards the end is a robot). All of that’s within a suspenseful zombie story where no one is safe. 

Train to Busan shows you don’t need to get postmodern or metaphysical with the zombie genre to make something that stands out. You just need excellent creature effects and an emotionally-driven story. It provides the template all future zombie movies should follow.



  • Trivia: Train to Busan is the sixth highest-grossing film of all time in South Korea. 
  • Tomatometer: 93%
  • Watch Now →

Good Movies on Netflix

6. Mudbound (2017)

Mudbound | Featurette: An Inside Look | Netflix

Mudbound is a period piece set in the American South during World War II. Two families, one white and one black, try to attain their own versions of the American Dream. Their respective sons return to war, and their friendship remains at odds with the Jim Crow era. 

Having co-written and directed the film, Dee Rees captures a unique portrait of American life not often captured on film in this time period. It’s a moving story with heartbreaking portrayals of racism routine at the time. The performances are incredible, and it proved Dee Rees was a director to keep an eye on.



  • Trivia: Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards for her work on Mudbound
  • Tomatometer: 97%
  • Watch Now →

What to Watch on Netflix

7. Locke (2014)

Tom Hardy on Locke | 70th Venice International Film Festival

If you needed any more proof Tom Hardy was one of the best actors of his generation, then look no further than Locke. Hardy carries the entire film, which focuses on one man’s late-night drive to the hospital where his illegitimate son will be born. Along the way, he has conversations with his family and his work, both of which deteriorate from his revelations. 

Locke is so much more than a gimmicky one-man show. It shows what you can accomplish with very little. For all aspiring filmmakers out there, it shows what you can do with minimal locations and a single great performer. It’s a masterclass in how to write dialogue. This is one film you’ll chew on long after it’s over.



  • Trivia: Future Spider-Man Tom Holland plays Tom Hardy’s son.
  • Tomatometer: 91%
  • Watch Now →

Netflix Films

8. Don’t Think Twice (2016)

Official Trailer & Cast Interview | Don’t Think Twice

If you want something a little lighter, then watch Don’t Think Twice. The film follows an improv troupe torn apart when one members ends up on a hit TV show and the others are forced to reconsider their life goals. It’s partly hilarious and party devastating as it presents its main characters as real people struggling to come to terms with how fame has passed most of them by. 

The film features some amazing comedic actors, including Keegan Michael-Key, Kate Micucci, and Chris Gethard. It’s a celebration of improv and how you can get something out of art even if you are unable to make a career out of it. It’s genuinely touching and a must-see for artists of all kinds.



  • Trivia: Jimmy Carr was originally supposed to play a TV psychic, but it was cut from the film.
  • Tomatometer: 98%
  • Watch Now →

Excellent Netflix Movies

9. Only God Forgives (2013)

Nic Refn on Ryan Gosling and Only God Forgives | VICE

When you’re more in the mood for a bloody, violent revenge flick, then Only God Forgives is for you. Ryan Gosling plays a former criminal hiding out in Bangkok when his brother is murdered. This forces Gosling’s character out of hiding to seek vengeance, resulting in a showdown between two shadowy forces. 

Gosling reteams up with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn for a stylishly good time. The aesthetics in this film are outstanding, perfectly complementing the insane plot that leads to a shocking finale. The movie is divisive, for sure, but if you’re in the right headspace, it’s rewarding viewing.



  • Trivia: Ryan Gosling’s character only has 17 lines in the entire film.
  • Tomatometer: 41%
  • Watch Now →

Top Netflix Films

10. A Serious Man (2009)

The iconic, “This is Halloween” scene

When conversations of the best Coen Brothers movies come up, A Serious Man is often pushed to the side in favor of their more popular works like The Big Lebowski and Fargo. However, A Serious Man is perhaps their densest work. It’s a movie that offers more rewards with rewatches as you’re struggling to find answers much like the protagonist. 

Larry Gopnik goes through trial after trial, suffering throughout the movie with only the faintest moments of reprieve. It’s a modern retelling of Job from the Bible, and the film itself is a sort of Schrödinger's cat, featuring one paradox after another. It’s a movie that begs for analysis and for the viewer to become introspective to answer the questions posed within.



  • Trivia: The Coen Brothers originally conceived a short of a young boy stoned at his bar mitzvah with the rest of the film growing out of that sequence.
  • Tomatometer: 90%
  • Watch Now →

Up Next

The Best Zombie Movies

Anyone who ends up enjoying Train to Busan (and who wouldn’t?) should definitely make a point to read through StudioBinder’s list of the best zombie movies of all time. You’ll definitely see Yeon Sang-ho’s film make the list, but there are a few surprises along the way. For any horror enthusiast, keep reading to see what you should check out next. 

Up Next: The Best Zombie Movies →
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  • Mike Bedard is a graduate of UCLA. He’s a screenwriter based out of Los Angeles who’s written several short films as well as sketch comedy for various theaters around LA. He’s also written articles for sites like Cracked and Ranker.

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