Best Movies on Netflix to Watch Right Now [January 2019]

We’ve all been there. Mindlessly surfing the Netflix app for a movie to catch on a quiet night in. Netflix and chill or brave the madness of traffic and crowds? That’s an easy one. Netflix and chill. But now comes wading through the catalog hunting for the best movies on Netflix.

And it’s quite the catalog of movies. Do you start wandering through the endless list of suggestions? Do you really want to watch a mindless B-movie? Nah, you really don’t. Trust me; it takes a particular kind of boredom to sit through a cheesy action flick.

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 an 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.

Also Check Out

Netflix New Releases
Best Sci-Fi on Netflix
Best Shows on Netflix

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.

Avengers: Infinity War

How the Russo brothers managed to pull off this movie should be the subject of a documentary. The cast is absolutely massive, yet the film clips along as our favorite heroes battle Thanos as he traces across the galaxy collecting the Infinity Stones. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know how the film ends, but damn is it still a shock to see half of all living life eradicated in what is now called the decimation.

It also sets up Avengers: Endgame hitting theaters in April 2019. You’ve probably seen it multiple times, but if you need a great popcorn flick to get you through the evening, Infinity War checks every box.

Bird Box

Netflix’s Bird Box emerged out of nowhere to light up social media. Granted, the evidence of astroturfing to push the viralness of the film helped tremendously, but no one can deny it caught fire in December 2018.

Bird Box’s premise is excellent. An unknown attack setting off mass suicides if you look at the never revealed monsters. But I said premise for a reason. It trails off midway and the ending is damn near Hallmark-ish. Still, it’s worth a watch just so you understand the nonstop memes dominating your social media feeds.

Good Will Hunting

The film that put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the maps also happens to be one of the best performances ever turned in from Robin Williams. Good Will Hunting explores the divide between Ivy League academia and the working class of Boston. It also gives comedian Bill Burr one of his funniest bits when asked about what part of Boston he’s from.

Good Will Hunting would win Best Original Screenplay for Damon and Affleck and give the Oscars one of its more memorable acceptance speeches.

Thor: Ragnarok

thor ragnarok netflix

Throughout the countless MCU movies, the standalone Thor movies have been on the weaker side. Taika Waititi has turned that notion on its head with the absolutely brilliant Thor: Ragnarok. The director also plays one of the better characters, Korg, in the movie. His dry humor and delivery are an absolute treat as he starts a new revolution. Chris Hemsworth turn as Thor feels like he has settled into the role. Having it as a buddy comedy with the Hulk is great, and I don’t think Tom Hiddleston has turned in a bad performance as Loki.

The question going forward is will we see Korg and Valkyrie in the untitled Avengers 4 in 2019.

Black Panther

Yeah, Netflix is maximizing every last bit of its partnership with Marvel Studios. Soon, Disney will launch its streaming service and everything Marvel will reside over on its service.

Still, need a triple dose of MCU? You can’t go wrong with a rewatch of Black Panther. In a slate of nearly two dozen films in the universe, Black Panther is a standout. First introduced in Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther quickly became a fan favorite, though you know he’s grown weary of the Wakanda Forever salute.

black panther on netflix

Marvel Studios pulled off quite a coup tapping Ryan Coogler to helm the film. You’ll recognize the name from Creed and Fruitvale Station. He manages to inject themes of isolationism and visually stunning set pieces into a fantastic comic book movie. The film also gave us perhaps the best MCU villain in Michael B. Jordan’s turn as Killmonger. Here’s hoping when the Avengers undo the snap, the time travel also resurrects Marvel’s best villain to date.

13th

13th on netflix

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.

Face/Off

It probably ranks as the pinnacle of wild 90s actions movies. Can you get any better than crazy Nicholas Cage with crazy John Travolta? Yeah, I thought not. It’s a completely nutty premise with Travolta’s character swapping faces with Cage. Mix in John Woo’s insane action set pieces and it’s pure popcorn. It won’t win any awards, but if you need something to watch, there’s always the absurd.

No Country For Old Men

Need a good movie after watching Face/Off? Of course you do and that’s where No Country For Old Men fits in thanks to the absolute fantastic performance of Javier Bardem as the enigmatic villain. It can be a bit of a tough movie to get through, but give it another shot as a repeat viewing will uncover what the Coen brothers accomplished in the Academy Award winning film.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

star wars the last jedi netflix

Yes, it’s a controversial pick. While a lot of the criticism comes from a subset of nutcases with YouTube channels, I’m not a fan of the movie. Parts were out of place. And then my biggest gripe is the movie is second in a trilogy. Remember everything about Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Snoke? Who is Rey? The resistance? Yeah, forget all of that because it doesn’t matter. But here’s a shot of Luke milking and animal and drinking it. That was necessary for character development?

Here’s where I’m optimistic on Rian Johnson and Star Wars. The Last Jedi would be fine as an individual film. Not as movie #2 in a trilogy. While a polarizing opinion, I’m genuinely excited to see Rian get away from the Skywalker arc and tell his own Star Wars story in a new trilogy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

guardians of the galaxy vol 2 netflix

A sequel is always at the mercy of the original. We do know Disney/Marvel made a fortune off Baby Groot. It’s a solid film that progresses the story. Having a living planet, Ego was always going to be tough, but Kurt Russell turns in a good performance. Our favorite cast of characters is back, and Rocket is always plotting.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Before John Wick came along and redefined the action genre, it was the Bourne trilogy and then everything else. Matt Damon’s turn as Jason Bourne holds up to this day as one of the best action trilogies on the big screen. As long as you discount films four and five, the series was better with each new entry culminating with the Bourne Ultimatum.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Thought it gave us action ‘shaky cam,’ you can’t deny the awesome scene of Matt Damon beating the hell out of someone with a book.

That scene never gets old.

Spotlight

spotlight on netflix

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

Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee kids on netflix

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 excellent as his focus on the other singers and dancers who were part of the 20/20 tour.

Se7en

While only his second film, Se7en firmly established David Fincher as one of the best in cinema. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt both shine as detectives hunting for a serial killer who based killing on the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s dark and doesn’t shy away from the bleakest elements of humanity, making it one of the better movies on screen.

Cartel Land

cartel land on netflix

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

beasts of no nation on netflix

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.

LA Confidential

A Best Film Oscar Nominee, LA Confidential embraces the noir style in 1950s LA. Guy Pearce teams with Russell Crowe investigating a mob murder. Everything you’d expect in a period piece is there, the glitz of Hollywood, the scandals, and rampant police corruption.

Lincoln

Daniel-Day Lewis. Honestly, that’s all that needs to be said. When he picks a role, you are guaranteed an actor at the top of his profession. His turn as Lincoln is complex as the man himself. It tells the story of Lincoln’s efforts to pass the 13th amendment. Lincoln is a man who wants to do right by himself and the country but understands he doesn’t have all the right answers. It’s not the typical political piece rushing through the process. Steven Spielberg’s passion project turns into a masterful film on one of our finest Presidents.

Burn After Reading

burn after reading on netflix

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 on your favorite good movies gracing the Netflix catalog, 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.

The Gist
An email newsletter that gets to the point. Crazy idea, right? Sign up today.
The Gist is a few days a week newsletter. No incessant emails. We hate them and that's way too much work.