Since 2007, Netflix has offered thousands of movies to stream on your PC, smartphone, tablet or big-screen TV for one monthly fee. It shows the films of many of the major Hollywood film studios, along with many more from small independent studios. In the last few years, Netflix has aggressively added original, exclusive films, made by major directors and actors, for its tens of millions of subscribers.
Netflix’s film library is shifting constantly, but there are lots of great films to watch right now. There’s true movie classics, modern hits and, even a few great original Netflix movies to choose from (one of which was just nominated this year for Best Picture at the Academy Awards). Here are the 10 best movies on Netflix, in no particular order.
Best movies on Netflix
Editor’s note – We will update this post as more great Netflix movies are added to the service’s catalog, and others depart.
Mexican writer-director Alfonso Cuaron has worked for the past decade or so on major Hollywood films like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and Gravity. Netflix got the rights to produce his latest movie, but instead of huge budgets, well-known stars, and cool visual effects, Roma is all about a housekeeper who lives with a family in Mexico City during the early 1970s. Based in part on Cuaron’s own childhood, the film is a beautifully told drama about family. Cuaron shot in black and white and picked Yalitza Aparicio, a woman with no prior acting experience, to play the lead role of the housekeeper. Roma has been nominated for this year’s Academy Award for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, and even more remarkably Aparicio was nominated for Best Actress. That should tell you something about the power of Roma.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
After gathering a cult following for their work on the BBC comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus and a movie based on it, this group of sketch comedians blew audiences away with their first original film. 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail remains one of funniest movies ever made. If you have never watched it, prepare to start quoting a ton of its lines. This may be the best movie ever made about the myth of King Arthur as well, and that’s saying something.
You can also catch up on the group’s earlier work on Netflix, which is streaming the entire run of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV series. Also make sure to watch another great film, Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
3. Black Panther
Black Panther was the biggest U.S. box office movie in the U.S. in 2018, and it just won three Academy Awards, and it’s certainly one of the best movies on Netflix. What makes this movie different than other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, or indeed any other superhero movie, is that it not only establishes Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa as a worthy character but it also brings us the advanced African country of Wakanda. Yes, we have seen other worlds in MCU films, but Wakanda is unique in that it has highly advanced technology, but still clings to very traditional leadership roles, and it wants to also remain isolated from the rest of the world. It’s this kind of setup that’s at the heart of the movie, as Michael B. Jordan’s character of Killmonger wants to not only claim the throne of Wakanda but also wants to use its tech to strike back at the rest of the world for its history of oppressing black people.
Black Panther shows us a villain in Killmonger who might have some good reasons for his actions, while the leadership of Wakanda might have some ethical problems. It’s this reversal that really makes the movie different than the normal superhero epic. Oh, and it has some awesome action sequences and fights, too.
Released way back in 1976, this movie was supposed to be a dark satire on TV news and how it could turn more into entertainment on its own rather than actually giving real news to the public. In the year 2019, we have seen TV network news turn into more like entertainment, so Network feels like it was predicting the future. Actor Peter Firth gave a once-in-a-lifetime performance as news anchor Howard Beale, and his phrase, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” has been burned into our pop culture. He did just a few weeks before he won the 1977 Academy Award for Best Actor. This is definitely one of the best movies on Netflix.
5. Schindler’s List
Director Steven Spielberg wanted to make a movie about the terrible events of the Holocaust but also wanted to make a film that was ultimately hopeful rather than completely depressing. The result was 1993’s Schindler’s List, which chronicles the real-life efforts of German businessman Oskar Schindler to save as many Jews from the Nazi’s extermination camps as he could in World War II. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s one of the best movies on Netflix. It’s powerful and emotional and proves the human spirit can overcome even the worst atrocities.
If you want a movie to watch with your kids without wishing you were somewhere else, Disney-Pixar’s Coco is the one to stream. It may be the best animated movie on Netflix at the moment, in addition to being one of the best movies on Netflix, period. The 2017 release centers on a boy in Mexico who manages to travel to the afterlife during Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Bring a bunch of tissues with you when you watch Coco, because you will be crying at some point — trust us.
Another great Disney-Pixar film has also made its way to Netflix, the long-awaited superhero family sequel, The Incredibles 2.
7. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The 1981 film may have been officially renamed as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, but we all know the true title of this film. Harrison Ford seems born to play Indiana Jones, an archeologist who risks life and limb to find the greatest historical relics in the world. In the series’ debut directed (as all of them are) by Steven Spielberg, Jones is recruited to find The Ark of the Covenant in 1936 before Nazis can get it. This was described as a homage to the Saturday afternoon serials of the 1930s but in truth, this film blows all of them away in action, humor, and entertainment. It’s certainly one of the best movies on Netflix you can stream right now.
Netflix also has the three other films in this series for streaming currently; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and (yuck) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Another Netflix movie that’s an Academy Award winner for best picture, this movie had a huge impact on pop culture in general when it was released in 1986. Director and writer Oliver Stone took his own experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War and created a fictional film about the conflict. However, his storytelling and direction made Platoon look and feel a bit like a documentary, and at the time it was called the first movie about the Vietnam War that depicted how it really was for the ordinary combat soldier to fight in that controversial conflict. It also has some amazing performances by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger, as two Army sergeants on opposite moral sides, each trying to win over a new private, played by Charlie Sheen.
9. Pulp Fiction
You could also consider this film an anthology — sort of. It has separate interlocking stories which all come together to give us tales of crime in Los Angeles. This 1994 movie truly put writer-director Quentin Tarantino on the map as a filmmaking talent. He created some truly iconic scenes and characters here, from the dance scene of John Travolta and Uma Thurman, to the discussion of the “Royale with cheese,” to Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules bringing the wrath down on his victims, memorably “quoting” Ezekiel 25:17. “Strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger” indeed.
10. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Avengers: Endgame has been called an epic movie, but the truth is no film, before or since, has come close to Peter Jackson’s final film in his Lord of the Rings fantasy movie adaptation trilogy. Clocking in at 3 hours and 20 minutes, this 2003 release has it all; a massive battle between armies, combined with a personal story of two hobbits trying to destroy the greatest evil in Middle Earth. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture a few months later, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a huge movie with lots of visual effects, but in the end, it was all about Frodo, Sam, Gollum and their battle to posses The One Ring that mades it one of the best movies on Netflix.
Best movies on Netflix – Honorable mentions
There’s a ton of movies to stream on Netflix, and many of them almost made this list. Here’s a quick look at some of the best Netflix movies that didn’t quite make the top 10.
- Boyhood – Filmed over a span of 12 years, this film may be the best fictionalized look at children growing up.
- Bird Box – This Netflix original film, about the world coming under attack by pure fear creatures, not only is an excellent movie, it actually became a weird Internet meme challenge (don’t do it).
- Black Hawk Down – This military film from director Ridley Scott is one of the best war films ever made, depicting U.S. soldiers during the real-life events of Somalia as it falls apart in 1993.
- Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – Want to know why the 2017 Fyre Festival is now blowing up in pop culture? Look no further than this original Netflix documentary chronicling one of the biggest scams ever.
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Those are our picks for the best movies on Netflix you can currently stream on the service. Which ones would you put on your list? Let us know in the comments!
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