How often do you find yourself scrolling through Netflix for an hour trying to find something to watch? The next time that happens, put down the remote for a second and bring up this list.
We’ll be updating this guide to the best movies on Netflix monthly, so all of you aspiring filmmakers out there can keep up with what you need to watch next.
From horror to comedy and everything in between, it’s all gathered right here. We’ll rank each film based on its acting, filmmaking, writing, and overall entertainment value for people bored on Friday night.
Of all the top Netflix movies available to stream, who knows? One of them may well inspire your next project.
New Netflix Movies
Uncut Gems (2019)
The Safdie Brothers have a unique way of casting their films. In their other excellent film, Good Time, Robert Pattinson plays a robber on the run, playing against time from how a lot of audiences viewed him. For Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler is playing someone unlike any character he’s ever played. And in both cases, it absolutely works better than it ever should. If you end up liking the film, check out our Uncut Gems screenplay analysis to dive deeper into how the directors put anxiety on the page.
Classic Movies on Netflix
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future is one of those essential films everyone needs to see at least once. There are just so many iconic lines and set pieces that to understand modern pop culture, you really need to see the film for yourself. It’s all the more interesting when you dive into the film’s backstory and how so much could have been different that would have affected the final product, such as Michael J. Fox not being the first actor chosen to play Marty McFly. Luckily, everything came together to deliver a classic.
Top Netflix Movies Right Now
Taxi Driver (1976)
Netflix isn’t particularly known for having a ton of older, classic movies. That’s why when a masterpiece like Taxi Driver gets on the service, you should watch it immediately. Before Martin Scorsese was directing Netflix originals, he made the film that would go on to define the 1970s. The story of a disaffected taxi driver who descends further into insanity is still sadly prescient in today’s world, and there’s a lot for film students to dissect from this film from a technical standpoint.
Funniest Netflix Films
There’s perhaps no movie genre filled with cliches like the musician biopic. Even by 2007, audiences were familiar with the trope-ridden story structure, making it the perfect time for Walk Hard to come out. Watching it today, it’s amazing how little screenwriters for biopics have learned as you can see many of the tropes made fun of in this film still pop up.
Animated Netflix Original Movies
The Willoughbys (2020)
There’s a manic energy at play with The Willoughbys. While it’s clearly geared toward children, there’s something also for adults to enjoy, particularly if you enjoyed the work of Lemony Snicket growing up. It follows many of the same beats. A group of kids have guardians who want nothing to do with them and treat them poorly. While that may sound dark, the film comes to a heartwarming message about family that anyone could learn from.
Great Films Finally on Netflix
Zodiac is one of David Fincher’s best films. He creates such a tense atmosphere. Every camera movement is precise, and it’s a nearly perfect thriller. The craftsmanship on display makes sense considering Fincher would sometimes need 70 takes of the same scene before getting it right. He may be a perfectionist, but when the final product is one of the best films of the 21st century, he earns some forgiveness.
Great Netflix Streaming Movies
American Factory (2019)
Documentaries are interesting to create. You may set out with one idea in mind but change the film’s focus halfway through production. The filmmakers behind American Factory had that happen as they decided during the editing process to focus on the experiences of average workers at an Ohio plant during a takeover from a Chinese business. The decision was a good one. The film would go on to win Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards.
Best Original Netflix Movies
Horse Girl (2020)
Jeff Baena dug comedy out of tragedy with his excellent Joshy. He returns to similar territory with Horse Girl, a film about a woman battling mental illness who soon finds herself struggling to distinguish dreams from reality. Alison Brie, who co-wrote the script, plays the lead role in a truly remarkable performance, no doubt inspired by something personal in her.
Best Netflix Originals
I Lost My Body (2019)
With such an unusual plot, a severed hand going on a quest to reunite with its body, this kind of story needs a similar inventive animation. The medium works remarkably well for this offbeat story, creating one of the most idiosyncratic works of 2019.
Netflix Streaming Movies
American Honey (2016)
American Honey proves one thing: Shia LaBeouf is one hell of an actor. LaBeouf starred in a stint of popcorn films that rarely gave him much room to showcase his talent, but his range has been on full display for several years now, and that renaissance arguably began with American Honey.
American Honey is a different kind of coming-of-age film, set against a backdrop of partying and debauchery. It’s a challenging film for sure, but if you can make it through its nearly three-hour runtime, you’ll be rewarded.
Teen Netflix Movies
There was a period in the 90s where studios were obsessed with adapting classic literature into movies about teenagers. 10 Things I Hate About You is Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Cruel Intentions is Dangerous Liaisons. And the ultimate 90s teen movie, Clueless, is based off Emma from Jane Austen. The film is a perfect time capsule of 90s fashion, slang, and sensibilities, so anyone who considers themselves a 90s kid definitely needs to watch it.
Great Movies to Watch on Netflix
Django Unchained (2012)
The genesis for Django Unchained is that Quentin Tarantino wanted to make a spaghetti western set against the backdrop of American slavery. The film is also part of Tarantino’s efforts to make historical revisionist films, the other two being Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Essentially, it’s the kind of film only Tarantino could make, and thank goodness he did because it’s a blast all the way through.
Satirical Netflix Films
Starship Troopers (1997)
Paul Verhoeven is a master of taking what could have been silly films and turning them into satirical works of art. RoboCop is the most obvious example, and while it was often misinterpreted upon its release, Starship Troopers has just as much insight to offer. The film’s comments on war and fascism and still pertinent to this day, which is probably why it’s been held in higher regard in recent years.
Top Netflix Movies Right Now
Molly’s Game (2018)
If there’s one thing you learn reading Aaron Sorkin’s screenplays is that he’s fascinated with larger-than-life individuals who have very real drawbacks. Molly’s Game sees The Social Network writer tackle the real life story of Molly Bloom, who had everything going for her but decided to run underground poker games with powerful individuals. It’s a fascinating story held together by Jessica Chastain’s powerhouse performance that deserved more recognition upon its release.
Best Comedies on Netflix
The Death of Stalin (2018)
Dramatizing the death of Stalin is one thing, but making a comical farce out of the event and the ensuing power struggle must have been a monumental task. The movie was banned in Russia, but anyone who wants to give it a chance will find a hilarious piece of art with timely parallels to our current political state. It’s a superb example of a dark comedy that balances out its varying tones with such expert precision.
Fantastic Netflix Original Movies
The Two Popes (2019)
They say the best VFX in film are those you don’t notice. The Two Popes takes place in many sensitive locations, and the crew couldn’t film absolutely everywhere around Rome. Therefore, there are many shots that were accomplished through green screens and CGI. It’s an impressive feat specifically because you don’t even realize you’re looking at a fake location. You’re just carried by the magnitude of the story and a pair of superb performances.
Top Netflix Movies Right Now
The Florida Project (2017)
Disney may not want anyone filming at their parks and resorts without their permission, but that didn’t stop Sean Baker from doing so. He used an iPhone 6S Plus and a minimal crew to film some scenes at the resort, and it’s truly intriguing to watch how they kept the aesthetic of the film during those portions. It’s not just a gimmick, either. The idea of Disney World ties into the themes of childhood and how children are uniquely qualified to create their own form of happiness.
New Movies on Netflix for 2020
The Disaster Artist (2017)
The Room is an interesting film. It’s not good, which you can tell even from the screenplay, which we analyzed. And yet, it’s managed to earn a cult following, still playing in theaters around the country. The Disaster Artist gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how this famously awful film came to be. The result is an Ed Woods-esque tale about how passion can sometimes compensate for a lack of talent.
Amazingly-Directed Netflix Movies
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Adapting Upton Sinclair’s book Oil! proved to be an arduous task. P.T. Anderson studied the oil industry as it was in the early 20th century and took several trips to Bakersfield, CA to learn more about oilmen of the time period. While the movie is based on the novel, Anderson created something all on its own, but the novel became more of a collaborator than a direct source. The result is one of the few films of the 21st century that can genuinely be called a masterpiece.
The Social Network is arguably the best movie of the 21st century so far. The “Facebook movie” just becomes more and more timely as the social network continues to make headlines and themes of isolation and friendship grow more prevalent in filmmaking. Even as technology continues to evolve, The Social Network will remain an exceptional piece of art for what it represented in the moment it was released and how it continued to evolve.
Steven Spielberg’s parents’ divorce in 1960 would go on to influence the themes of many of his films. In fact, when he was a child, he developed an imaginary alien friend who could be the father he felt like he didn’t have anymore. Decades later, that friendly alien would become E.T. It just goes to show that you can write what you know while still reaching for the stars with imaginative plots.
Popular Movies Right Now on Netflix
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
You never know what others might think of your film. While Guillermo del Toro described Pan’s Labyrinth as a “profane” film, his peer Alejandro González Iñárritu said it’s a truly “Catholic” film. When you make something as beautiful as Pan’s Labyrinth, it only makes sense people will bring different ideologies into it. It remains del Toro’s best movie and one that will fill you with delight and horror, sometimes simultaneously.
Awesome Netflix Movies
Good Time (2017)
The Safdie Brothers are experts at craftins highly tense, anxiety-ridden films. Uncut Gems brought that aesthetic into the mainstream, but it all started with 2017’s Good Time, which has similar frenetic editing and fast-paced plot to put you in the protagonist’s shoes. Once the film’s over, you’ll finally feel like you can breathe.
Must Watch Movies on Netflix
Frances Ha (2013)
Frances Ha is content to move at its own pace. While the film’s narrative may wander, you never really mind because Greta Gerwig is utterly charming as the titular character. Frances moves along trying to make something out of life, before discovering what she needs to do to actually have a life in the first place.
It’s one indie comedy that has grown better with age. As millennials like Frances get over and grow discontent with drifting through life, they may also need to make some concessions. Frances Ha is at times funny and others heartbreaking.
Netflix Original Movies
Atlantics is one of the most rewarding cinematic experiences of 2019. It almost feels as if the film created its own genre: Just when you think you know where its plot is headed, it changes direction on you.
That misdirection—that sense of gradual discovery with new narrative development—isn’t frustrating. It’s rewarding.
Great Netflix Movies for Filmmakers
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
What makes a good horror film? You may not think The Killing of a Sacred Deer is horror on its surface, but the way it churns the stomach is similar to what you would get watching any gore fest. You know these characters are heading for oblivion, and all you can do is watch as you recognize their lives are taking a dramatic turn for the worse at every corner.
Great Horror Films on Netflix
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Horror films tend to get overlooked around awards season. That’s why it’s so significant The Silence of the Lambs managed to win Best Picture, as well as a slew of other honors, at the Academy Awards. To this day, it’s still psychologically rich and deeply disturbing. It’s become such an influential film in the horror genre, and it’s a perfect showcase for how humans can be the most terrifying monsters of all.
Comic Book Movies on Netflix
V for Vendetta (2006)
Having come out a few years after 9/11, it makes sense why V for Vendetta, a movie about a man who wants to blow up a building for political purposes, didn’t exactly go over well with everyone. With some more distance, the film has some pertinent political themes for today’s climate. You just have to look past the irony of V’s mask becoming a commodified corporate product.
What Movies Are on Netflix?
The Master (2012)
Out of all of PT Anderson’s films, The Master might be the most engrossing. That’s in part due to a trio of incredible performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams.
While the film’s critique of cults of personality may have its sights set on Scientology, The Master is more broadly about humans’ need for belonging and stability. It’s PT Anderson’s masterpiece and about as perfect as a film can get.
Top Rated Netflix Movies
The Other Guys (2010)
Hot Fuzz may be one of the best action parodies ever made, but when you want a bit more Americanized slapstick, you opt for The Other Guys. Director Adam McKay’s film has some terrific jokes and seriously impressive action set pieces.
While The Other Guys can feel at times like an overly long comedy sketch, stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are enjoyable to watch together and have plenty of buddy cop chemistry to burn.
Older Movies on Netflix
Malcolm X (1992)
Malcolm X provides an excellent template for screenwriters on how to write a biography. It’s epic enough in scope to properly mythologize the man but also personal enough to where he feels human. Spike Lee and Denzel Washington is a collaboration made in movie heaven, and Malcolm X remains top tier on their respective filmographies.
What Movies Are on Netflix at the Moment?
Making an original zombie movie these days seems like a herculean task. Practically every angle has been taken, but Cargo doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. The zombies themselves we may have seen before, but the film instead takes a more character-driven approach, focusing on a father trying to care for his infant. Cargo proves you don’t need to do anything crazy to make a great film. You just need a solid premise and a terrific leading performance.
Dark Netflix Movies
For something to be Kafkaesque, it has to be nightmarishly illogical or complex. Enemy ticks off all those boxes with gusto. The film follows a quiet man who discovers he has an exact doppelganger in the form of a complete stranger. While there are many ways to interpret the film, no matter how you slice it you’re left feeling the same way afterward: unsettled.
Biopics on Netflix
Dalton Trumbo was one of the most prominent figures during the official blacklisting in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s. While his career was sidelined for a time, he worked tirelessly to ensure him and his compatriots could work in the industry once again. Trumbo is a great tribute to a man who did so much, the least of which was writing the screenplay for Spartacus.
Must Watch Movies on Netflix
Steve Jobs (2015)
Biopics are a dime a dozen. When one steps out of its typical conventions and does something truly unique, it’s worth celebrating. For my money, Steve Jobs is an innovative example of the biopic that’s worthy of the Apple founder it depicts.
Steve Jobs doesn’t pull any punches in its portrayal of the megalomaniacal magnate. Yes, the film ultimately celebrates the man and his complicated legacy, but it portrays him as a human being prone to folly and hubris. Jobs alienated the people he worked with, but here, that drama makes for an engaging watch.
Best New Movies on Netflix
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (2020)
The great thing about Taylor Swift’s documentary is that you don’t have to be a die-hard Swiftie to enjoy it. That’s because it focuses less on the pop star’s rise to fame than on her complicated relationship with fame and her struggle to form some kind of political identity.
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana is a fascinating look at the disposability of women in the pop music industry, where self-reinvention is constantly required for a star to avoid being replaced by the next bright shiny object. The film may not convert you into a Taylor Swift fan, but you’ll at least gain an appreciation of what she and many other women in her business have to endure.
Netflix Movie List
Coraline picked up the torch from The Nightmare Before Christmas and delivered an entertaining, albeit sometimes frightening, stop-motion animation film. It’s visually stunning, complemented by frames of utter beauty and significant terror.
You don’t need to have a kid to cue up Coraline on Netflix one night. The film has enough emotional weight to ring true with any audience. It’ll remind you of the horrors of childhood while also filling you with hope for the future.
Best Netflix Original Movies of All Time
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
There have been plenty of incredible film performances over the years. What makes Jim Carrey’s turn as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon so worthy of a documentary? Well, the doc dives far deeper than you likely imagine into how we all basically perform in our day-to-day lives.
Best Movies on Netflix Right Now
The Bling Ring (2013)
For the best possible viewing experience, pair The Bling Ring with Spring Breakers for a double feature. Both films boldly examine vapid youngsters’ search for meaning in celebrity. And after watching, you may never want to see an episode of Entertainment Tonight ever again.
The romantic comedy is alive and well on Netflix. The platform has made a name for itself as a home where original comedies can thrive, which is great because then we get Love Wedding Repeat. It’s a wedding-gone-wrong picture but with an intriguing fantasy twist. What makes the story work so well is that even when you think everything will go according to plan, it still manages to squeeze out conflict and have you wondering how everything will shake out.
Directors Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht wanted to create an experience as though the viewer was being transported to Camp Jened while watching Crip Camp. They expected people to feel uncomfortable at first but slowly realize how joyous of a camp it is. An audience will get to witness a teen disability summer camp up close and personal, providing an enlightening look at the struggle the disabled community has had in the fight for civil rights.
Best Movies on Netflix From 2018
Referring to a movie as “slow” may seem like a bad thing (and in some cases it is). But Burning shows precisely how to do a slow burn (no pun intended) well. The characters are engaging, and it subverts your expectations at nearly every turn. It creeps up on you, and you remain at the edge of your seat until your patience is ultimately rewarded.
Themes of family can be found in Alan Yang’s other Netflix work, Master of None. Tigertail is his feature-length debut as a director, and he’s carried those themes with him into this new film about an intergenerational family’s experiences with trying to attain the American Dream. It’s a quiet yet fleshed-out look at what it means to be an immigrant with all of the characters getting a chance to shine.
Director Floria Sigismondi wanted to do something different than your average biopic when it came to adapting the story of the 1970s band The Runaways. She focused more on making it a coming-of-age story where you had these young girls growing up in a rock ‘n’ roll environment and doing things teenagers, especially teenage girls, shouldn’t have been doing at the time. It’s a unique template and one that prevents The Runaways from feeling like just another biopic.
Best Movies on Netflix in 2018
There’s one thing To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before does incredibly well where other rom-coms fall short. The lead, Lara Jean, never changes who she is as a person. Instead, she discovers new aspects of herself while remaining ultimately the same person. There’s growth, but there’s also a message about how you don’t have to change who you are to find love. It’s a great message for teens, and it makes this a refreshingly unique rom-com.
List of Top Rated Netflix Movies
Road to Perdition (2002)
Before Sam Mendes directed a pair of James Bond films and the Oscar-winning 1917, he directed Road to Perdition, an exciting film that looks at how children process family. It’s precisely this idea that attracted Mendes to the project in addition to the fact there were no moral absolutes. Practically everyone in the film is compromised in some way, and the audience is left to deal with it all in the murky grays.
Good Movies on Netflix for Sci-Fi Fans
The Wandering Earth (2019)
The Wandering Earth has a pretty outlandish concept about the world’s nations physically moving the planet to avoid being consumed by the Sun turning into a red giant. However, the filmmakers still consulted scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences to help ground the film. Even if you don’t plan on obeying all the laws of nature, it still helps to have some kind of baseline to work off of.
Popular Movies on Netflix
You have to give credit to Horns for really shooting for the moon. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a man wanted for the murder of his girlfriend. He inexplicably grows horns, which compels him to admit to his greatest sins and submit to his basest impulses.Horns’ bizarre premise gives Radcliffe free reign to ramp up the insanity of his performance. Part mystery, part romance, Horns truly breaks the mold of every subgenre to which it belongs, and is well worth the watch.
Popular Movies on Netflix in 2020
Ip Man (2010)
Many people may not realize that Ip Man is based on a true story. The real Ip Man was a master of Wing Chun, and from that story came an amazing franchise with stunning fight choreography. Donnie Yen kills it in the title role, and when you watch the first one, you’ll immediately want to binge the rest, which also happen to be on Netflix.
The Best New Movies on Netflix
Tropes are generally seen as a bad thing. But while you can always kind of guess where Freaks is going, it finds subtle, interesting ways to surprise you. The performances and direction make what could have been a trite story feel original and new. It’s a tense sci-fi thriller that wasn’t widely seen but will hopefully gain a following on Netflix.
20 Best Movies of the Decade
Just a few more Netflix binges and your inner film encyclopedia should be up to date (until it’s time to update it all over again). Then, after you’ve seen everything on this list, take your streaming adventures a step further by consulting our list of the best films of the 2010s.