Netflix is packed with so many movies, from studio releases to the service’s original productions, that it can be daunting to figure out what to watch. Get started with 10 of the best movies you can stream on Netflix.
Update, 8/16/22: We’ve replaced two movies that left Netflix’s streaming platform with two up-to-date recommendations.
There are multiple versions of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner, but Netflix features the so-called “final cut,” the version that Scott has declared to be definitive. In every version, Blade Runner tells the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a future cop who tracks down rogue “replicants,” synthetic beings who’ve escaped from their designated posts.
Deckard makes his way through a dystopian future Los Angeles, hunting the replicants while experiencing his own existential crisis. It makes for a stylish mood piece that’s one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time.
The “New Hollywood” era of experimentation in studio filmmaking kicked off with Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde. It’s still bracing to see the matter-of-fact violence in this movie about real-life criminals Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty). Penn brings in influences from the French New Wave for a naturalistic approach to the potentially exploitative material.
The Oscar-nominated performers, including Gene Hackman as Clyde’s brother and Michael J. Pollard as the duo’s associate, are fantastic, and the movie remains exhilarating and powerful.
Director Guillermo del Toro creates his own version of vintage Gothic horror in Crimson Peak. Set in 1887, the movie stars Mia Wasikowska as a young, aspiring novelist who’s plunged into her very own ghost story when she marries an English baronet (Tom Hiddleston) and moves to his remote, decrepit estate.
Jessica Chastain gives a delightfully villainous performance as the baronet’s jealous sister. Del Toro and his collaborators perfectly capture the old-fashioned spookiness of classics like Wuthering Heights and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.
The kind of Netflix original that plays like a large-scale theatrical blockbuster, Enola Holmes is a lively and charming story about the heretofore unmentioned younger sister of brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown brings wit and charisma to the role of Enola, who defies her time period’s expectations for young women by embarking on her own investigative endeavors.
The movie is full of action and humor, making for the kind of crowd-pleasing entertainment that fits nearly everyone in Netflix’s target audience.
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Teen comedy kingpin John Hughes ruled the 1980s, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off may be his best work. The title character (played by Matthew Broderick) is one of Hughes’ greatest creations, an ingenious high schooler who puts all of his considerable intelligence and cunning into avoiding school.
The movie is snarky and self-aware, with a more biting tone than other Hughes teen movies. But it still makes room for heartfelt moments for Ferris with his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara). It’s a broad comedy about the life-affirming joy of goofing off.
Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a career-best performance as the title character in Netflix original The Kindergarten Teacher. A remake of an Israeli film, The Kindergarten Teacher stars Gyllenhaal as a teacher frustrated with her own life who latches onto the supposed talents of one of the kids in her kindergarten class.
She’s determined to bring the boy’s brilliant poetry to the world, even if that means destroying her own relationships and possibly breaking the law. It’s a fascinating emotional train wreck that’s impossible to look away from.
Writer-director Noah Baumbach drew on painful personal experiences for the intense, emotional drama of Marriage Story. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver play a seemingly happy couple who’ve drifted apart and decide on an amicable divorce. But the process brings long-simmering tensions and resentments to the forefront, and Baumbach gives equal attention to both parties’ grievances. It’s a wrenching drama that maintains sympathies (and responsibilities) on both sides.
The most famous movie made by the iconic Monty Python comedy troupe, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a delightfully silly romp through medieval mythology, starring and written by the troupe’s members (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin).
They play a variety of characters in this farcical version of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, depicted here as a bunch of cowardly buffoons. Nearly 50 years after its release, this is still one of the most quotable comedies of all time, full of glorious absurdity.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances in Nightcrawler, as an amoral freelance videographer who’ll do whatever it takes to capture footage of gruesome crime scenes to sell to the local Los Angeles news. That includes tampering with and even staging the crime scenes himself, in order to defeat his competitors and get his work on the air.
Writer-director Dan Gilroy immerses viewers in the seedy underbelly of LA, and Gyllenhaal makes videographer Lou Bloom into a mesmerizing character. The more reckless and sleazy Lou’s behavior gets, the tougher it is to look away.
Matt Damon plays an unassuming sociopath as the title character in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Desperate to fit in with the rich and decadent, Tom Ripley bluffs his way into friendship with wealthy layabout Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) and his girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow). But when Tom’s carefully constructed lies fall apart, his supposed friends discover he’s not as harmless as he appears. Director Anthony Minghella builds exquisite suspense in the luxurious 1950s Italian setting, and Damon embodies one of cinema’s most disturbingly devious characters.
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