What movie do you want to watch? There’s a question that’ll have you scrambling through Netflix, figuring out what’s on this month and what has been erased from the content catalog at the streamer.
And it’s quite the catalog of movies. Do you start wandering through the endless list of suggestions? Do you really want to watch London Has Fallen? Nah, you really don’t. Trust me; it’s a special kind of boredom to sit through that mess.
What we all need is a list of good movies on Netflix. Something for everyone, whether it’s to impress a girlfriend/boyfriend on your inner cinephile. Or, you’re stuck in the house for the night and need something solid before your constant indecision has you falling asleep on the couch.
Or propped up in bed with your glasses on, earbuds in and iPad in your lap… Yeah, it happens. Thankfully, Alex saves me from myself though I’m sure I’m destroying my neck doing this. That’s a true bro.
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Here’s our list (updated monthly) of movies on Netflix.
Best Movies on Netflix
This isn’t in any order, so don’t shoot off an angry email telling me I have horrible taste. It’s what’s on Netflix right now.
Star Wars from the comfort of your living room? Sign me up. Making its debut in July, the prequel that isn’t horrifyingly terrible shows up on the streaming service. Considering the movie hit theateres last December, the Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel partnership is one with Netflix and Netflix is one with it. Might there be a Star Wars TV show in a galaxy much closer? Here’s hoping.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Remember when the Pirates franchise was good? Yeah, it’s been a bit, but the Curse of the Black Pearl holds up as one of the better movies in the franchise featuring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Director Gore Verbinski was feeling his success of The Ring, and this Pirates entry fused the high seas with supernatural overtones. It’s a solid standby for those days when you need a movie that’s pure popcorn.
Documentary lovers need to add 13th to our must-watch list. Equal parts enlightening and infuriating, it’s Ava DuVernay’s follow-up to her acclaimed Selma documentary. It shines the light on how the passage of the 13th Amendment led to the mass incarceration of minorities.
The documentary doesn’t just focus on cultural racism which results in the widespread incarceration of minorities. It’s money too. Locking people up is good business with the proliferation of private prisons.
13th will piss you off and hopefully spur you into action. No, don’t tweet a hashtag. Become involved in politics. Yeah, everyone hates politics except everything is political. Better to become engaged or you might wake up one day with zero rights left.
Something for the kids and those of us who are kids at heart. Proof that Disney can literally do no wrong, it is a great film that’s more than a money printer for Disney Animation. Zootopia is both gorgeous, fun and has a message. How often do you have an animated film marketed at kids become a thought-provoking film about our own inherent bias and prejudices? If you haven’t seen it and love Disney or have kids who demand a rewatch, you have your movie for the evening.
Yeah, best leave the little ones to Zootopia. Superbad is about a kid being afraid of losing his friend to college and scoring alcohol for a high school party. Somehow that plot and the casting of Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Stone, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader works to great effect. It’s not your average comedy and has stood the test of time with rewatchability.
Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as dueling magicians. Sounds like a bomb, but most consider it the key to unlocking Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking philosophy. You’ll see the same themes from this film in all of his work – obsession, priorities and devotion. Jackman character is driven mad as he tries to figure out how Bale’s character seemingly impossible trick works.
Big Trouble in Little China
It’s a Kurt Russell / John Carpenter classic. One of the odder ones but Big Trouble Little China is damn good fun. It’s a fusion of genres – Kung Fu/Western/Fantasy – and has zero qualms about mixing them with reckless abandon. Russell plays Jack Burton, a smartass truck driver who takes all the supernatural crap raining down on him with a shrug. His friend, Wang Chi, has his fiancee kidnapped and it’s pure 80s B-movie greatness from start to finish.
The hits keep coming from Christopher Nolan with the Oscar-nominated Memento. You have to give it a chance as the movie is told in reverse. Guy Pearce plays a man with no short-term memory working to discover who murdered his wife minute-by-minute. One of the more unique movies on this list and must watch for Nolan fans.
The 2015 winner for Best Picture, Spotlight tells the story of the Boston Globe reporters investigation into the rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. What’s striking about the film is that it walks the balance of never relishing in putting down the church, nor does turn away from exposing the horrific crimes by those in positions of power. In today’s media landscape where it’s who screams the loudest, Spotlight shows the incredible work being done by journalists across the country.
Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids
Concert documentary? It’s better than you might imagine and shows just how far Justin Timberlake has come from his ‘NSYNC days. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it captures the final two performances of Timberlake’s 20/20 tour. They should turn Demme loose on all concert documentaries. The way the camera brings you into the concerts is great as his focus on the other singers and dancers who were part of the 20/20 tour.
Think Taxi Driver mixed with Network and you’re on the right path with 2014’s Nightcrawler. And it’s Jake Gyllenhaal like you’ve never seen him, a sociopath who takes a job as a stringer – a cameraman who freelances footage of wrecks, arrests and other events to sell to local news stations. The film is Dan Gilroy’s first turn as a director of a feature film and his work with Cinematographer Robert Elswit showcases Los Angeles like never before. While it was cast as an award season darling in 2014, the lack of wins doesn’t overshadow. It’s a film that ages well.
Yeah, I’m a fan of documentaries. Cartel Land was up for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, so it should make any list. It documents the battles against the Mexican drug cartels by two vigilante groups: a rebel group in the Mexican state of Michoacán and the Arizona Border Recon. Corruption doesn’t just exist inside the Mexican government; the two vigilante groups fall prey to similar power struggles and corruption. The documentary is so intense at times; you almost think you’re watching a fictional drug war. Instead, it’s daily life.
Beasts of No Nation
Netflix’s first foray into original films was unfortunately glossed over. Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation documents a young boy from an unnamed African country who becomes a child soldier. Not exactly a feel-good story, but the film is breathtaking with both Abraham Attah and Idris Elba turning in stellar performances. Now Netflix has original films landing every month, but don’t sleep on its first.
Damn this movie is horrifying. Stanley Kubrick at his best with Jack Nicholson. Hell, the film itself has a documentary about the unending takes. It’s a masterful piece of filmmaking, and while fans can rewatch it, I steer clear of the madness. Still, it makes the list of one of best movies on Netflix.
Let’s erase the horror of The Shining with Grease. Yeah, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John will end just about any argument over what to watch. Especially if you’re fan of some of the catchiest musical numbers put on screen.
Burn After Reading
The Coen Brothers. What’s not to love? Their follow up to the Best Director and Best Picture-winning No Country for Old Men is the absurd comedy Burn After Reading. No one ever said it had to make sense and if you give it a couple of watches, it gets better each time. Talk about range to go from No Country for Old Men to the absurdity starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, and J.K. Simmons.
Wrapping the best movies on Netflix
Did I leave some off? Definitely. Sound off below in the comments, and I’ll add to the ever growing list. And watch these while you can. You never know when the expiration date hits on pieces of Netflix’s content catalog.