Netflix logo on a smart TV in a living room
Bogdan Glisik/Shutterstock.com

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, 1/3/23: Five of our movie picks left Netflix, so we’ve replaced them with five new recommendations.

RELATED: The 10 Best Stephen King Movies to Stream in 2023

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.

Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza shows off her dramatic range in the timely thriller Emily the Criminal. Plaza plays the title character, a gig worker with massive student-loan debt who turns to credit-card fraud to make some quick, easy money. She demonstrates a remarkable criminal aptitude, moving on to bigger, more dangerous schemes and establishing her position in the underworld.

Writer-director John Patton Ford mixes sharp social commentary about modern capitalism with a thrilling story about a woman finding her place in life, no matter how twisted.

RELATED: The 10 Best Action Movies to Stream for Free in 2023

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.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Director Barry Jenkins masterfully adapts James Baldwin’s classic novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Regina King won an Oscar for her performance as the protective mother of a young woman whose boyfriend is falsely accused of rape. The movie is a lovely, often impressionistic love story set in 1970s New York City, as childhood sweethearts Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) grow closer even as Fonny faces a lengthy prison sentence. Jenkins brings Baldwin’s portrait of Harlem’s Black community to life in vivid, affecting detail.

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.

RELATED: The 10 Best Original Movies on Hulu in 2022

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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.

The Nice Guys

There’s a growing—and deserved—cult following for Shane Black’s hilarious action-comedy The Nice Guys, starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as a pair of low-rent private detectives in 1970s Los Angeles.

Black combines the strengths of his blockbuster screenplays like Lethal Weapon with an intelligent, complex story about greed and corruption among powerful corporate and political elites. Gosling and Crowe have perfect comedic chemistry, and Black stages exciting, well-crafted action scenes that never lose sight of the characters or the humor.

RELATED: The 10 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Video in 2023

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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.

Side Effects

Prolific filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has dabbled in nearly every genre, but he excels at efficient, contained thrillers like Side Effects. Rooney Mara stars as a depressed woman who seemingly commits a horrible act under the influence of a new psychiatric drug, with Jude Law as her potentially complicit psychiatrist.

Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns play with audience expectations by starting with one kind of story before revealing they’ve been telling a different kind of story all along.

The Best Streaming Devices of 2023

Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Fire TV Stick Lite
Fire TV Stick Lite
Roku Ultra
Best Roku Streaming Device
Roku Ultra
Fire TV Stick 4K
Fire TV Stick 4K
Chromecast with Google TV (2020)
Best Google TV Device
Chromecast with Google TV (2020)
NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro
Best Android TV Device
NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro
Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen)
Best Apple TV Device
Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen)
Profile Photo for 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.
Read Full Bio »