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 Original Netflix Movies
#Alive is a particularly potent zombie thriller. It follows a streamer who’s trapped in his flat when the zombie apocalypse breaks out outside. He finds someone to communicate with across the road, and together, they try to make it out alive. In our time of social distancing and quarantine, it’s a nice reminder of the importance of forging connections with others even as society crumbles around us.
Great Horror Movies to Watch on Netflix
Cam screenwriter Isa Mazzei actually worked as a cam girl herself. She wanted to show what that world was like and considered making a documentary before deciding a horror film would be a better medium for showcasing this world. Having your image stolen and not feeling comfortable turning to the police are real issues in that world. And that reality is better expressed in a psychological horror than if it were presented as a documentary.
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.
Horror Films to Watch on Netflix
The Guest (2014)
Adam Wingard’s previous effort, You’re Next, subverted expectations, becoming one of the most gruesomely delightful, and underrated, horror films in recent memory. He followed it up with The Guest, which also leaves you guessing as to what’s about to happen from one scene to the next. It’s best to go into the film knowing virtually nothing, so you can be completely struck with how insane the movie gets.
Best Horror Movies on Netflix
There’s been a lot of commotion over the years about whether Tobe Hooper or Steven Spielberg did most of the directorial work on Poltergeist. But in recent years, cast members have come to the side of Hooper, insisting he was the one there every day setting up shots and blocking actors. As a director, it’s tough when so much rests on your shoulders and people try to take it away from you. But Poltergeist avoided the fate of so many other films and managed to be a huge success despite a struggle for creative control from various sources.
Good Netflix Movies for Directors
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Da 5 Bloods is Spike Lee’s newest joint about a group of veterans who return to Vietnam to find the remains of their deceased squadron leader as well as a treasure they buried all those years ago. The film shows how Lee is one of our greatest talents today as a director, particularly in the way he films the flashback sequences, which were done with 16 mm film, the stock that would have been available during the time of the Vietnam War. Undoubtedly, this will be remembered as one of Spike Lee’s best films.
Top Rated Netflix Movies Ever
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Being John Malkovich is essential viewing for anyone interested in postmodernism. The film utilizes magical realism in how it allows everyday humans to take control of a famous actor. But intertextuality also plays a seminal role. Part of the fun of the film involves knowing who John Malkovich is and seeing him defy expectations as Malkovich plays himself. The film wouldn’t have the same impact of longevity if it used a fictitious actor, allowing the movie to stand the test of time.
Netflix Streaming Movies for Filmmakers
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a denser film than what may appear on the surface. The story of a woman wanting to break up with her boyfriend of six weeks is intercut with various scenes that don’t make a lot of sense at first. You have to be willing to roll with the absurdity and Charlie Kaufman’s patented disjointing. But the performances bolster this film to something that warrants Academy consideration.
Must Watch Movies on Netflix at This Moment
Midnight Special (2016)
A lot of films try to emulate Steven Spielberg’s directing style. Few films pull it off as well as Midnight Special. It’s a film about a father and his son who are pursued by religious extremists after they discover the boy has special powers. The visual style and plot centering on the relationship between a boy and his father are both very Spielberg-esque, and the entire movie has a sense of wonder and mystery that has you constantly ruminating about what’s going to happen next.
Dark Netflix Movies
Nightcrawler is a unique story in that its protagonist, Lou Bloom, has no character arc. He’s an unethical person at the beginning and remains that way throughout the film. He doesn’t learn any lessons by seeing the dark sides of capitalism and consumer demand. Instead, he embodies the worst components of those ideas. He shows what kind of person you have to become the make it in the world, and the answer is a sociopath.
Top Rated Movies on Netflix
On its surface, Spotlight shouldn’t be as engaging as it is. It’s largely devoid of conflict and instead follows the journalists as they gradually piece together pieces of the story concerning abuse in the Catholic church. In fact, many of the scenes that didn’t actually happen concern authority figures warning the journalists to stay away from this story (i.e. the scenes that add conflict). However, Spotlight appropriately shines a light on a story that needs to be remembered so that no one forgets the sins of the past.
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.
Latest Netflix Movies to Stream
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
Breaking the fourth wall is typically done for comedic effect. However, Fiddler on the Roof does it for a much different reason. During those moments, Tevye discusses important concepts to the Jewish community. It gives the audience time to reflect on the musical’s themes before we get back into another number.
Classic Movies on Netflix Now
West Side Story (1961)
With Steven Spilberg directing a remake, now’s the perfect time to revisit an all-time classic musical. Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story follows two star-crossed lovers from rival New York street gangs. In particularly, it’s important to pay attention to the editing, which is fast-paced as ever and allows a movie that’s nearly 60 years old to still feel vibrant and energetic.
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.
Fantastic Netflix Originals
The Platform (2019)
Many movies of late are obsessed with class warfare. From Parasite to Joker, many films explore the division between the upper and lower classes. The Platform follows in this tradition, serving as a political allegory. It takes place in a prison where food is lowered one level at a time until nothing is left for the prisoners at the bottom. Resources literally “trickle down,” so anyone who was a fan of Parasite will also find substance in this sci-fi flick.
Best Netflix Original Movies That Won Oscars
Yalitza Aparicio, who plays Cleo in Roma, had no prior acting experience. And yet she still landed an Oscar nomination in the role of a housekeeper for a wealthy family. It was a decision worth making thanks to how much more submersize it makes the film feel. The black-and-white aesthetic combined with the long shots of a Mexico from decades in the past really transports in a way few films accomplish successfully.
Top 10 Netflix Movies Currently Available
Mean Streets (1973)
Mean Streets is one of Martin Scorsese’s earliest films. And it shows everything Scorsese represents as a filmmaker. Not only does it follow the New York mafia, but it also spends a great deal of time focusing on the protagonist’s Catholicism. Scorsese is very interested in religion, which becomes abundantly clear as you peruse his filmography, and it all started with Mean Streets.
Horror Films on Netflix for Halloween
Holidays is a horror anthology consisting of various short films, each one centered around a different holiday. From Valentine’s Day to New Year’s, and of course Halloween, Holidays is a great watch for budding horror filmmakers. The reason being each segment is so unique in tone and style. Some are goofy. Others are downright disturbing. It may be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality, but it’s great viewing to see how you can freak people out in so many ways.
Good Netflix Movies for Kids
The Witches (1990)
The Witches holds a special place in many people’s hearts considering it was the last film Jim Henson worked on before his death. The prosthetics and puppets in the costume have that patented Henson charm. It’s scary but whimsical at the same time. Turns out, it could have been a lot scarier, but the director cut out several scenes out of fear they would terrify a younger audience.
Popular Movies People Love on Netflix
The Girl With All the Gifts (2016)
The book and screenplay for The Girl With All the Gifts were written at the same time. This undoubtedly helped give the book more of a cinematic quality while helping keep the focus on the characters for the movie. In either case, the result is a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure where a virus spreads throughout humanity, turning people into zombies.
A Filmmaker’s Netflix Movies List
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Safety Not Guaranteed shows the evolution of the mumblecore movement. It takes characters typical in classic mumblecore films, namely slack-jawed losers with no direction in life, and puts them in a romantic comedy featuring a smidge of time travel. It’s a movie with modest ambitions but excels thanks to how charming it ends up being.
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.
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.
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.
Popular Movies to Watch on Netflix
The Founder (2016)
The Founder is very much in the same vein as The Social Network. It follows a person responsible for changing society as we know it. And in both cases, the person pulling the strings isn’t some kind-hearted, gentle soul. Ray Kroc takes advantage of the true founders of McDonald’s, never giving them the money they were owed. It’s fascinating watching a global behemoth emerge in front of your eyes on screen.
Latest Netflix Movies Added
Survival stories have a primal quality to them. After all, one of the earliest types of stories ever told is “man vs. nature.” That’s precisely what Adrift presents with a young couple heading out to sail on the open sea. Of course, things don’t go as planned when they encounter harsh storms. It’s becomes a fight for survival with a twist to keep you hooked the entire time.
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.
Top Rated Netflix Movies for Kids
Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made careers taking ideas that shouldn’t work and turning them into bonafide hits. From a reimagining of 21 Jump Street to a movie about LEGOs, a movie about raining food somehow fits perfectly within their filmography. They’re a prime example of how there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Just bad execution.
Netflix Original Documentaries
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 Netflix Original Movies
A great deal of social upheaval has taken place over the last year. And if you’re interested in learning more about the root of that unrest, just watch 13th from director Ava DuVernay. The film explores mass incarceration in the United States and how it disproportionately impacts Black Americans. It all can be traced back to the passage of the 13th Amendment, which most people learn in high school abolished slavery but actually just altered the definition. The 13th Amendment still allows for slavery except for punishment of a crime. It’s eye-opening, shocking, and will make you want to protest for a better tomorrow.
Must Watch Movies on Netflix for Cinephiles
Casino Royale (2006)
Rebooting a beloved character is not easy, especially when you plan on changing him so drastically. Casino Royale had the herculean task of making James Bond relevant in the 21st century, and it more than succeeded. It provided a different kind of Bond, one vastly unique from other iterations. And with Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond coming to an end, it’s the perfect chance to see what some would argue is his best foray into the character.
Amazing New Movies on Netflix
Disclosure provides fascinating insight into the transgender experience in modern America. And a big part of that experience involves seeing (often not-so-flattering) portrayals in the media. Featuring interviews with filmmakers like Lilly Wachowski and Susan Stryker, as well as actors, musicians, and producers, Disclosure sheds knowledge everyone needs to know and understand.
Must Watch Movies on Netflix
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Da 5 Bloods may be Spike Lee’s latest effort, but filmmakers who want to see where it all began need to check out She’s Gotta Have It. His first film is one of his most revolutionary, particularly for how it portrays its Black female lead as such a ferociously sexual being. With a budget of $175,000 and a production schedule of 12 shooting days, Lee revolutionized American independent cinema.
Good Netflix Movies for Film Directors
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
How do you adapt one of the most famous English works of all time? For screenwriter Deborah Moggach, it consisted of being fairly faithful to the source material. The structure and dialogue from the novel remains largely intact, but when you have one of the greatest romances ever written at your disposal, you don’t exactly need to reinvent the wheel.
Great Movies on Netflix From the ‘90s
Donnie Brasco (1997)
There are numerous mafia movies out there. But what makes Donnie Brasco one of the best gangster movies of all time is how it divides time equally between the mob and the FBI. You get a more complete picture, and people on both sides appear as real people. Plus, the performances from Johnny Depp and Al Pacino are second-to-none and add real gravity to what could have been another forgettable mobster picture.
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.
Top 50 Netflix Movies
Salma Hayek had to fight vigorously to get Frida made. She even sought out the administrator to the rights of Frida Kahlo’s works to secure paintings for the film. You can see that passion in every scene Hayek is in, making this a biopic that stands apart from many in its class.
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.
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.
Good Sci-Fi Netflix Films
Total Recall (1990)
Total Recall is based on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” However, the film takes many liberties from the source material, becoming more “Hollywood” in the process. Fortunately, with Paul Verhoeven at the helm, the film manages to maintain a unique aesthetic and tone that makes it stand out from being just another generic sci-fi action film.
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.
Superb Crime Movies on Netflix
The Town (2010)
A great deal of research went into studying Boston and its residents to make for more believable characters. In fact, many locals joined the production as extras. It goes to show the importance of remaining authentic down to every last detail. And you can break down everything you need in your script so that you don’t overlook a single detail.
Classic ‘80s Movies to Watch on Netflix
The Karate Kid (1984)
Screenwriter Robert Mark actually got beat up by bullies and started practicing martial arts in order to protect himself. This served as the basis for what would ultimately become The Karate Kid. An old tenet of screenwriting is to “write what you know.” Even something mundane like getting beat up by bullies, which plenty of people can relate to, can serve as the inspiration for one of the greatest sports movies ever made.
A Filmmaker’s Guide to Netflix Movies
There’s a lot of philosophy and science fiction present in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. However, those lofty ideas tend to take a backseat to focus on the primary relationship between Joel and Clementine. This is what makes the film work so well. Philosophy is nice, but it gets dry when you focus so much attention on it within a narrative. There’s much to dissect within this film, but the reason people keep coming back to it is due to the central relationship between two people trying to forget one another.
New Netflix Original Movies
The Half of It (2020)
There are some films you watch and wonder why no one has ever made it before. The Half of It takes a cue from Cyrano de Bergerac when a friendless high school student writes love letters for a jock to the popular girl, whom she also has a crush on. It goes to show the true power in taking familiar premises and finding a way to tell them in a relevant way to modern audiences.
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.
Netflix Films for Aspiring Film Directors
Killing Them Softly (2012)
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many movies dealt with themes related to capitalism and greed. Killing Them Softly is a great example and turns the focus into the realm of small-time organized crime. The movie isn’t subtle with what it’s trying to say, but it’s entertaining and since it’s removed several years past 2008, it can turn a critical eye onto the events that transpired that year.
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.