Netflix logo on a smart TV in a living room
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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.

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Crimson Peak

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.

Enola Holmes

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.

A Ghost Story

It’s hard to believe that a ghost in a literal white sheet with eye holes could make you cry, but that’s the effect of David Lowery’s beautiful, haunting drama A Ghost Story. Casey Affleck spends most of the movie under that sheet as the ghost, a musician who dies in a car accident and can’t bring himself to let go of the material world or his wife (Rooney Mara).

He remains tethered to his former home for what appears to be decades, or perhaps millennia. Lowery offers an affecting, gorgeously rendered meditation on grief and the passage of time.

The Kindergarten Teacher

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.

Marriage Story

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.

ParaNorman

From renowned stop-motion animation studio Laika, ParaNorman is a spooky yet heartwarming story about a boy who can commune with the dead. Norman is an awkward outcast who discovers that he’s the only person who can break a 300-year-old curse on his town. In the process, he learns to believe in himself and to celebrate what makes everyone unique. It’s a sensitive, family-friendly story with plenty of humor, wrapped in an intricately animated world full of ghosts and witches.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

One of the best comedies on Netflix, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an ingenious tribute to video games and comic books that incorporates stylistic elements from both. Michael Cera plays the title character, a slacker musician who must defeat the “seven evil exes” of his prospective girlfriend Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) before he can date her.

Scott battles the colorful and powerful exes in video game-style fight scenes, and the inventive storytelling mimics the aesthetics of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic-book source material.

The Social Network

David Fincher’s 2010 drama about the founding of Facebook has proved to be more and more relevant as time passes. The Social Network depicts Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as a ruthless narcissist who’s desperate for attention and will do anything to promote his business. The Aaron Sorkin screenplay features plenty of sharp, cutting dialogue, and the story focuses equally on the process of building a corporation and the volatile personalities behind it.

Spotlight

Winner of multiple Oscars (including Best Picture), director Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight tells the powerful true story of the Boston Globe‘s investigation into child abuse by members of the Catholic Church. Spotlight puts the spotlight on the reporters who devoted themselves to detailed, sometimes tedious research in order to discover the truth about the cover-ups and denials that went on for decades.

The stellar cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton, shows the human side of the high-profile battle between monolithic institutions.

Total Recall

Arnold Schwarzenegger is at his best in Paul Verhoeven’s over-the-top sci-fi action movie Total Recall. The twisty narrative (based on a Philip K. Dick story) finds an average guy caught up in espionage between warring factions on Mars. Or is he?

Memory implants mess with the main character’s mind, and the movie keeps viewers guessing about whether Quaid (Schwarzenegger) is a spy whose memory has been wiped, or a hapless dupe who’s been made to think that he’s a secret agent. Either way, Quaid takes out lots of bad guys in entertainingly violent ways.

Josh Bell Josh Bell
Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and the former TV comedies guide for About.com. He has written about movies and pop culture for Syfy Wire, Polygon, CBR, Film Racket, Uproxx and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.
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