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.
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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.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Peak Arnold. That rare sequel that trumps its predecessor, James Cameron, and co-writer William Wisher Jr. crafted a near-perfect action-movie script that flipped the original on its head and let Ahnold be a good guy. Linda Hamilton’s transformation from damsel-in-distress to bad-ass hero is one of the film’s best turns, and it holds up as an action film today.
Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 Western epic Django Unchained, which is set in 1858 and tells the story of a freed slave’s (Jamie Foxx) quest to save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of a ruthless plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) – with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), of course. Django Unchained is tremendously unsettling in terms of providing an unflinching glimpse at the lives of slaves in America (and the cruelty inflicted upon them), but it also has that Tarantino touch that makes it wildly entertaining.
A Knight’s Tale
Looking for a solid feel-good movie for the entire family? You can’t go wrong with A Knight’s Tale, starring Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, Mark Addy, and Laura Fraser. It has Chaucer elements thanks to Bettany, but the story’s crux is an underdog sports tale, but instead of football, it’s jousting. If you’re scrolling through Netflix, give it another watch and remember just how amazing the soundtrack was. Queen. David Bowie. Heart. It doesn’t get much better than that, plus it’s Heath Ledger in his prime before he took on the iconic role of Joker in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Hell of an actor, A Knight’s Tale holds up all these years later.
The Dark Knight
The Nolan Batman trilogy is jammed packed with some of the best superhero movies ever released on the big screen. The best of the three, The Dark Knight, is now on Netflix. If you haven’t seen Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, you need to correct that immediately. It remains the best Joker ever seen on screen, including live action and animated.
Can Bruce Wayne’s Batman (Christian Bale) stop him? And what price will he pay to do so? The movie deliberately has the vibe of a Michael Mann crime action film rather than a superhero flick – and it contains one of the best vehicle chases ever put on the big screen.
Once upon a time, the creator of The Crown teamed up with legendary director Ron Howard and two Marvel stars to make an exciting, racing drama – and nobody saw it. 2013’s Rush is a criminally underrated film, and it features one of Chris Hemsworth’s best dramatic performances as daring Formula One driver James Hunt. The film chronicles Hunt’s rivalry with Austrian driver Nikki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), with each actor getting pretty even screentime as Howard crafts a story of two very different men who were driven to be the best at what they do.
The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola directed this 2013 true story about a group of young people in Los Angeles who decided to start robbing celebrities. It’s an underrated dramedy about privilege and desire, filtered through the vibrant viewpoint of its filmmaker and talented young cast, including Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga.
Probably one of the more controversial movies when it debuted in 1991, Steven Spielberg’s Hook was critically panned when it was released. Despite an all-star cast of Robin Williams as an older Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, most think of it as Spielberg’s weakest movies. However, children have carried the movie to cult-like status thanks to the story of Williams forgetting everything he knew of Neverland and not embracing his inner child until he returned thanks to Captain Hook. The production design also helps bring in the kids, cause while it predates Jurassic Park by about two years, you can see Spielberg’s influence in the incredible set pieces. If you have kids, Hook is definitely one to add to the Netflix queue.
Who doesn’t remember hitting the theaters to see the original Jurrasic Park? It is one of Steven Spielberg’s masterpieces and stars Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum. Sam Neil and Laura Dern are excellent in the film. What still amazes me is how well the scenes with practical effects hold up even today. The dinosaurs look real. To put it in words Ian Malcolm can understand. Life found a way to make Jurrasic Park a classic.
The movie ranks up there as one of Brad Pitt’s best performances in the 2011 sports film following the true story of Billy Beane (Pitt), who gambled on using statistics over scouts to rebuild the Oakland Athletics.
Jonah Hill earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as sabermetrics guru Peter Brand. Phillip Seymour Hoffman steals every scene he was in as the A’s manager who opposed the unusual team building method. It’s fun to look back to the days when statistics in sports were in their infancy. Today? Stats rule all facets of not only baseball but every professional sport.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, and Robin Wright.
Back to the Future Trilogy
It’s not an easy feat to have a rewatchable trilogy. Most fall apart when the sequels land. But Back to the Future? It’s the exception to the rule thanks to the stellar casting of Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Crispin Glover. It weaves in traveling back to the 1950s in the first movie, the future in the second, and then back to the Old West for what has to be one of the best ways to close out a trilogy of films. Even if you’ve seen it, it should definitely be at the top of your Netflix queue.
Sci-fi done right. Actually, it has to be one of the best and most original sci-fi movies in modern history. Honestly, if you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading and fire up Netflix. It’s that good. Neil Blomkamp’s tale of aliens being stranded on Earth in camps known as District 9 is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking. Sharlto Copley turns in perhaps his greatest performance as a South African bureaucrat tasked with relocating a group of the stranded refugees.
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s followup from the BlackkKlansmen tells the story of four Vietnam veterans who return to the country to find the remains of their squad leader. And the pile of gold they left behind. Chadwick Boseman and Delroy Lindo both turn in amazing performances that weave issues of race, American exceptionalism, and family in ways to force a conversation. It also happens to be one of Boseman’s final films, who tragically passed away from colon cancer at the age of 43. It’s gripping, and Delroy Lindo deserves an Oscar nod at minimum.
While Ben Affleck famously turned his career around with his directorial debut in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone, it was the 2010 crime Thriller The Town that cemented his status as an A-list talent both behind the camera and as an actor. The film follows four lifelong friends in Boston who rob a bank only to see their lives completely nosedive from there. Jeremy Renner earned an Oscar nomination for his work on the film. If you need a great thriller to watch, The Town will not disappoint.
Cast: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Casey Affleck, Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite, and Blake Lively.
Before you immediately jump into Martin Scorsese’s epic about the life of Teamster and hitman Frank Sheeran, know the runtime is 3.5 hours. Yeah, if you’re the type that can’t sit still for more than a couple hours – like me – it may not be for you.
However, the film cuts across genres from a mob story into one that explores the topics of life, age, and regret. The cast is basically who you’d want in a mob movie. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. It deviates from the glamourous mob movies like Goodfellas and Casino. It instead focuses on the reality that father time always wins. While De Niro’s Sheeran considered himself the good soldier, the truth was that all he offered up was violence and selfishness.
Yeah, it would be easy to dismiss this as another mob movie from Scorsese, but while the subject stays the same, we get a glimpse of what’s left after the supposed glitz and glamour.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The 1975 film is perhaps the greatest comedy ever. It’s as funny in 2020 as it was in 1975. It follows the British comedy troupe, Monty Python, as they hilariously chronicle King Arthur’s quest in one continuous narrative. Those of us born into the millennial generation can now see why our parents love the movie. It’s a definite yes on your must-watch Netflix films.
If you haven’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s most successful film to date, Django Unchained, you really need to add it to your Netflix queue. It boasts one of the best casts I’ve ever seen assembled for a movie following the story of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) freed by a bounty hunter (Christopher Waltz). The film’s runtime clocks in at 165 minutes, making it an epic, but every scene will have you entertained as Django works to rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). It’s easily my favorite Tarantino movie to date.
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, James Remar, and Don Johnson.
Need a family option? Incredibles 2 fills that role nicely as the sequel to the wildly popular animated movie. Sure, it never rises to the level of the first film, but how many sequels can ever live up to their predecessor? Pixar has a pretty uneven record when it comes to sequels, but Incredibles 2 shows the animation powerhouse can hit it out of the park with some of its franchises.
One of the better sci-fi movies in recent decades, Ex Machina was Alex Garland’s directorial debut after writing screenplays for 28 Days Later and Dredd. Starring Domhnall Gleeson as the computer programmer Caleb, it follows him to the isolated home of the company’s CEO, played by Oscar Issac.
The initial premise is Caleb is to interact with Ava, a humanoid robot (Alicia Vikander), and perform what would amount to the Turing test. Nothing is quite what it seems, and secrets lurk everywhere in the CEO’s compound. It’s a fascinating film that will provoke discussion long after the credits roll.
Netflix’s Bird Box emerged out of nowhere to light up social media. Granted, the evidence of astroturfing to push the
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.
Indiana Jones Trilogy
Nothing beats the pairing of Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. Technically, Netflix has all four of the Indiana Jones movies ready to stream, but we all want to forget the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. All three movies hold up incredibly well, with Raiders of the Lost Ark being one of the best movies ever made. Temple of Doom goes a little off track but is still a great film. And then there’s the Last Crusade rounding out Steven Spielberg’s brilliant trilogy.
If Star Wars wasn’t already doing it, Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones cemented him as a Hollywood icon. It even started the Harrison Ford tackle. Seriously, watch his action movies. Guy loves a good form tackle.
Chris Evans trades in his shield for a post-apocalyptic film set in an Ice Age kicked off by a failed climate experiment. The remaining survivors are on an always moving train. The film’s plot isn’t subtle in the class warfare with passengers in the rear barely survive, while the indulgent elite enjoy themselves in the front. The downtrodden stage a coup and Curtis (Chris Evans) makes his way forward with each train car a microcosm of a warped caste system. The cinematography is excellent, and the combat scenes are intense. It’s a great addition to your Netflix queue.
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.
Nicolas Cage as a treasure hunter searching for a hidden map on the back of the Declaration of Independence? Sounds nuts, but it works. The film is a fun ride and knows its plot is crazy, but it’s Nicolas Cage. If anyone can sell crazy, it’s him. His supporting cast of Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha turn in fun performances, and the movie is a hell of a ride. It’s a film choice for when you need something watchable.
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 excellent as his focus on the other singers and dancers who were part of the 20/20 tour.
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.
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.