Watching on Netflix can sometimes be hard as there are thousands of movies to choose from. And sometimes the navigation system and algorithm can be difficult at the same time. Don’t worry we’re here to help. Here are the top 20 Netflix movies that we highly recommend.
1 End of Watch
Genre: Police thriller
Who’s it for? Fans of buddy comedies (that end up going to extremely dark places).
David Ayer, the writer of Training Day, gained enormous acclaim for this buddy cop drama, which is partially framed as a documentary (though it stretches the format to its limit). Those buddies are played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, and their friendship is traditionally masculine but somehow wholesome at the same time. Well worth watching.
2 The Master
Genre: Character drama
Who’s it for? Want to see a couple of career-best performances? Watch this film.
Paul Thomas Anderson is arguably the best filmmaker of his generation, with an enviable run of masterpieces, most recently the mesmerizing and twisted relationship drama Phantom Thread. The Master, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as the head of a cult called ‘The Cause’, and Joaquin Phoenix as a veteran who becomes a subject of the cult’s teachings, is another must-see film from the Magnolia director. The relationship between the two is transfixing, and the supporting cast boasts the always-great Amy Adams. When you’re done watching the film, read this essay, which posits the memorable theory that Phoenix is playing a dog throughout the entire film.
Genre: Crime thriller
Who’s it for? Fans of mafia movies.
Netflix recently added this Scorsese classic in the US, which is a fine accompaniment to its own original movie The Irishman. This biopic of mob associate Henry Hill is a complete organized crime epic, a rags-to-ill-gotten-riches journey through the mafia. GoodFellas features an iconic, unhinged performance by Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, and along with Robert De Niro, the movie is stolen out from under star Ray Liotta in a lot of ways – but he’s a perfect audience surrogate into this world. No wonder Rockstar Games got him as the voice of the lead character in GTA: Vice City.
4 Solo: A Star Wars Story
Genre: Sci-fi/space opera
Who’s it for? Star Wars fans with a high tolerance for nonsense.
In the wake of The Rise of Skywalker, Solo doesn’t seem too bad. This Star Wars spin-off movie is about the origins of Han Solo, and while the story is wholly unnecessary, it’s terrific fun. This flopped big time at the box office – but that’s not the whole story of this film.
Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian is a fantastic creation, and Alden Ehrenreich’s cover version of Han is pretty convincing. A few clunky moments aside, the Kessel Run in this film is a treat, one of the weirdest and most inventive set-pieces yet seen in the Star Wars universe. Solo is better than people give it credit for. It just came out at the wrong time.
Genre: Post-apocalyptic drama
Who’s it for? Pessimists. Bong Joon Ho’s English-language debut is set on a train carrying mankind’s last survivors in an ice-covered world ravaged by climate change. Like the director’s Oscar-winning Parasite, Snowpiercer is about class divide, with the wealthy at the front of the train, and the poor living at the back under dreadful conditions. Curtis (Chris Evans) leads an uprising against those living at the front. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a performance from Evans that’s completely against type and really engaging as a result.
Genre: Oddball creature movie
Who’s it for? Animal lovers.
If you’ve enjoyed Bong Joon Ho’s Best Picture winner Parasite (and you’ve watched Snowpiercer, discussed above), you might want to check out his last movie, Okja, which is one of the best Netflix originals so far. It’s the bizarre tale of a young girl and her best pal, an enormous creature called Okja. Their friendship is under threat when a nasty CEO (Tilda Swinton) has evil plans for Okja. It’s a refreshing movie with a nice angle of animal activism – a very different proposition to Parasite, for sure, but one that also demonstrates the director’s ability to blend genres.
7 Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Who’s it for? Cyberpunk fans (and everyone else).
-New to Netflix this month, Blade Runner is still one of the best movies ever made. In Ridley Scott’s near-future Los Angeles (technically the past, since it’s set in 2019), a group of outlawed artificial humans called replicants arrive on Earth, hoping to extend their lives beyond their fixed expiration date. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a blade runner, a special type of cop charged with ‘retiring’ the replicants. But Deckard’s perception of what counts as human life will be profoundly challenged before he can take out all of his targets.
Genre: Generational drama
Who’s it for? Awards buffs and independent cinema fans.
The last great movie to win the Best Picture Oscar before Parasite, Moonlight follows a boy through three stages of an incredibly difficult life: childhood, his teenage years and adulthood. Chiron has to deal with his own struggles of identity and sexuality, while also contending with his emotionally toxic mother. Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as a mentor and much-needed father figure in this picture, but equally great is actor Trevante Rhodes, who plays Chiron in his adult life with a palpable repressed pain.
9 The Irishman
Genre: Crime drama
Who’s it for? Cinema buffs and Scorsese fans (which are the same group of people).
This threateningly long Scorsese pic attracted attention for the extensive effects work used to de-age its old stars, and it’s a creative decision that’s occasionally distracting. But there’s no denying the appeal of seeing De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino in the same movie together for likely the last time, and this life-spanning, extremely rewarding crime epic is a suitable tribute to their collective talents. The Irishman is about the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), as he recounts his long association with the Bufalino crime family. It’s arguably the biggest awards play Netflix has ever made, and soon we’ll see if it pays off.
Genre: Science fiction/heist movie
Who’s it for? Fans of Heat who also enjoy high-concept sci-fi.
This is arguably still the perfect Christopher Nolan movie. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, the most acclaimed actor of his generation, it features an intense Hans Zimmer score and boasts a winning high-concept idea, where it’s possible to enter people’s dreams in order to manipulate them and steal their secrets. As the movie escalates that premise into dreams within dreams, it pulls in more and more bizarre, memorable imagery. And the ensemble cast here is outstanding, with Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, and Mario Cotillard rounding it out. Nolan’s next picture, Tenet, looks like it’s in a similar vein.
11 Marriage Story
Genre: Character drama
Who’s it for? Awards buffs and the emotionally resilient.
Ensure you’re in the right mindset to watch Marriage Story – i.e. skip this if you’re in the middle of a break-up – because this sympathetic movie about a failing marriage and the resulting fallout can be tough viewing. It’s the latest picture from director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha), and features actors Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson at the top of their game in what are surely emotionally draining roles. Watch it before it gets named and gif-ed to death on social media, and you only see Marriage Story as that movie where Kylo Ren cries a lot.
12 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Who’s it for? If you don’t like this movie, we cannot be friends.
The first Indiana Jones movie remains the best. It’s a beautifully made, funny and exciting adventure, deliberately recalling George Lucas’s pulpy favorites from the first half of the 20th century. The entire trilogy is on Netflix US right now (that’s right, trilogy). Don’t stop and think too hard about Indy’s ethos that ancient artifacts belong in a museum, or the fact he dated his former student or the generally eyebrow-raising stuff in The Temple of Doom. Instead, enjoy the wicked set pieces and the gorgeous locations of these three classics, before they inevitably move to Disney Plus forever someday.
Genre: Period drama/Foreign film
Who’s it for? Cinema buffs
An astonishing ode to motherhood in all forms, Roma is the most personal film to date from visionary director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity). On paper, Roma is not the easiest sell – a subtitled black and white film about a live-in housekeeper spoken almost entirely in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, Cuarón’s latest is nonetheless riveting from a cinematic standpoint. More a series of vignettes than a traditional three-act story, Roma examines the life of a Mexico City family in the early 1970s during a time of great social upheaval.
14 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Genre: Animated superhero film
Who’s it for? Fans of the famous wall-crawler, superheroes in training
There’s little doubt that Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is the best animated Spider-Man film ever made but, in all honesty, it might even steal the title as the best Spider-Man movie ever made. A harrowing tale that takes place across universes and timelines, the original Spider-Man Peter Parker must teach a new Spider-Man how to save the world one web at a time. As more Spider-Men (and Spider-Women!) get involved in Miles’ training, everyone involved soon realizes that it’s not the mask that makes the hero, it’s the hero that makes the mask. Inspiring, heart-warming, and extremely well-written, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is worth the watch.
15 Always Be My Maybe
Who’s it for? Fans of romance fans and the one who got away
You may know Always Be My Maybe’s leading lady Ali Wong from her raucous Netflix stand-up specials but it’s as a successful celebrity chef that she really hits her stride. After a failed engagement Wong’s character Sasha Tran heads to her hometown of San Francisco to set up a new restaurant only to run into her old bff played by Randall Park. Through the turbulence of the relationship, a sudden fling with actor Keanu Reeves and despite the differences in careers, the two try to make it work, and the journey from old friends to lovers is a joy to watch.
16 The Incredibles 2
Genre: Animated Action
Who’s it for? The kids and kids-at-heart in your house.
While there’s no shortage of endearing animated films on Netflix (see: Coco, Moana, Spider-Man, etc…) The Incredibles does something none of the others do by building a successful sequel on a fondly remembered original film. The second Incredibles film might not hit the same star status that the original hits, but following the family through their new life as re-instated heroes is as adorable this time around as it was before thanks to Mr. Incredible’s role as a stay-at-home dad. If you need something for the kids and don’t want to sit through the same movie again, The Incredibles 2 shakes things up while building upon the 10-year-old franchise.
Genre: Drama / Romance
Who’s it for? Anyone looking for love in all the wrong places.
While it’s a film that’s almost certainly mocking tech lovers like us, Her is a beautiful look at a lonely man who’s rescued by a futuristic fictional smart assistant. At times a bit heavy-handed with its messaging, Her provides a solid foundation for why human connection is more intimate than machines, even if the latter can remove the awkward initial dating phase using a personalized algorithm.
18 Avengers: Infinity War
Genre: Super Hero / Sci-Fi
Who’s it for? Marvel super fans and… nihilists, I guess?
Infinity War is a feat of film-making. The Russo Brothers (the film’s directors) were tasked with creating a unified Marvel crossover event with every character from the last 10 years. It’s a big, bold vision for a universe that so innocently began with Iron Man one short decade ago, but it’s woven seamlessly together via a cast of heroes and one singularly misguided villain with the power to wipe out half of all life in the universe. It’s a bit heavy on action sequences but in between all the fighting lies a wonderfully wrought world that’s straight from the panels of Marvel’s comics. This is the only streaming service where you can watch Infinity War in the US. Disney Plus doesn’t get it until later in 2020.
19 Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Who’s it for? Anyone aspiring to be better and seafood specialists.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the uplifting documentary of one man who never gave up on his … uh, dreams. Jiro became the first three-star Michelin sushi chef in Japan and has been called a national treasure, all the while honing his mantra of being his best self. Jiro’s commitment to his craft carries the film – but it’s his two sons, both famous sushi chefs like their father that make the film one of the best documentaries ever made. If you’re hungry for a bit of inspiration in an evermore depressing world, pull up a seat.
20 Fyre: The Festival That Never Happened
Who’s it for? Anyone who needs a heaping dose of schadenfreude.
Billed as a luxury music experience on a private island, Fyre Festival was tirelessly promoted by social media influencers – but ended up being a complete and utter disaster, with multiple lawsuits being brought against the promoters. This illuminating documentary explores what went wrong, with some extremely personal accounts from the people who helped create it, and it’s a must-watch.