The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now
If you’re looking for the best movies to watch on Netflix, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve put together an expertly curated selection of some of the most exciting, compelling, emotional and funny movies currently streaming right now.
While it can be daunting thumbing through the streamer’s catalogue to find out what to watch, we’ve taken the guesswork and mindless scrolling out of it. This post will be frequently updated with new recommendations, keeping you up to date with all the Netflix movies you should be prioritizing in your queue.
So peruse our list of the best movies on Netflix right now below, and happy watching!
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Widely regarded by “Star Trek” fans as one of the best “Trek” movies ever made – despite the fact that it is not actually a “Star Trek” movie – “Galaxy Quest” is a hilarious riff on the iconic sci-fi franchise. Tim Allen stars as the washed-up star of a popular sci-fi TV show who now makes appearances at conventions (begrudgingly) with his former co-stars. But when the crew gets whisked away by actual aliens who have mistaken their TV series for “historical documents,” these selfish actors get in way over their heads.
A delightful romantic comedy with a teen twist, “Easy A” is also a terrific showcase for the charms and talent of Emma Stone. The eventual Oscar winner stars in this 2010 film as a high school student named Olive who, in a bid to help her friend who’s being bullied for being gay, offers to pretend to have sex with him. Olive soon gets a bit of a reputation, all the while boys from her school start paying her in gifts in return for telling people they hooked up. “The Scarlet Letter” serves as a backdrop for this bitingly funny and sharp teen tale, and the swell ensemble cast includes Penn Badgley, Thomas Hayden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.
The Hunger Games Franchise
All four films in the “Hunger Games” franchise are currently streaming on Netflix, so you can get your fill of this YA dystopian saga. While many imitators followed, “The Hunger Games” actually stands as a potent, handsomely crafted and striking screed against fascism. The first film, as directed by Gary Ross, paints a shockingly realistic portrait of a society in which the U.S. has been divided into districts, and “tributes” from each district fight to the death in a televised event. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a towering performance here, and continues to impress in the sequels directed by Francis Lawrence. Pound for pound “Catching Fire” is the best of the bunch – an entertaining blockbuster, emotional love story and political thriller all in one – but this series as a whole remains stirring.
If you’re looking to watch a classic rom-com, you can’t go wrong with “Notting Hill.” The 1999 film stars Julia Roberts as a famous American actress filming a movie in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, who falls in love with the owner of a small bookstore (played by Hugh Grant). The chemistry between Roberts and Grant is lovely, and the script by Richard Curtis (also of “Love Actually” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” fame) is open-hearted and sweet.
The Dark Knight
After successfully rebooting the Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan refined his approach with the 2008 sequel “The Dark Knight” – quite simply one of the best superhero films ever made. Heath Ledger steals the show in an Oscar-winning performance as the chaotic Joker, bringing an all-new take to the classic Batman villain that is similarly rooted in reality. The film is a direct response to the War on Terror, and in that regard is a thematically meaty affair that furthers Bruce Wayne’s story and internal conflict. That Nolan was able to handle all of this and the story of Two-Face (played by Aaron Eckhart) is still impressive all these years later.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
If you’re in for a really long binge-watch, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy will do the trick. Peter Jackson’s epic trio of J.R.R. Tolkein adaptations remain some of the most accomplished achievements in the history of moviemaking, as this fantastical tale of a young hobbit who sets out to save the world as he knows it is crafted with ingenuity and passion to spare. Whether it’s your first or fifth time to Middle-earth, it’s a journey well worth taking.
You simply must, must, must watch “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” if you enjoy things like “fun” and “comedy.” This “Knives Out” sequel (once again written and directed by Rian Johnson) is a brand new mystery, with Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc as the only returning character from the original film. This time, he’s invited to a secluded island by a tech billionaire (played by Edward Norton), who has gathered a group of his closest friends – played by Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monae – in Greece to play an elaborate murder mystery game. To say more would spoil the surprises, but suffice it to say this is just as thrilling, hilarious and surprising as the first “Knives Out” and you’ll want to watch it again immediately once it’s over.
A ‘Glass Onion’ Spoiler Q&A With Rian Johnson
One of Steven Spielberg’s very best films, 2002’s “Minority Report” offered a more gritty, more dystopian version of a sci-fi future than he had tackled before, as well as finally pairing him with Movie Star with a capital “M” Tom Cruise for the first time. A rip-roaring thriller with some of Janusz Kaminsky’s best cinematography to date, the story concerns a future in which three “pre-cogs” have the ability to predict crimes and police arrest the offenders before the crime has been committed. Cruise plays a dogged detective who finds himself in the crosshairs when a premonition arrives that he is due to commit a murder. Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow, Samantha Morton and Lois Smith round out the impeccable ensemble.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Filmmaker Edgar Wright’s 2010 graphic novel adaptation was famously a box office bust upon release, but has become a true cult classic over the last decade – to the point that it was re-released in theaters last year to mark its anniversary. And it’s a really fun movie! Michael Cera wants to date a girl (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but first he must defeat her seven evil exes in a series of eye-popping, delightfully over-the-top action battles. This movie is a nerd’s delight, packed with Wright’s signature quick-witted humor and outfitted with a stunning ahead-of-its-time ensemble (Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, and Anna Kendrick all star just to name a few) and rockin’ soundtrack.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Guillermo del Toro’s first stop-motion feature film is as emotional as you’d expect, and this is “Pinocchio” like you’ve never seen the story before. Co-written and directed by del Toro, this adaptation features the voices of Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Burn Gorman, Cate Blanchett, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Perlman and Tilda Swinton and offers up a fantastical twist on the Carlo Collodi Italian classic. Emotional and awe-inspiring in equal measure, and set against the backdrop of fascist Italy, this is a gorgeous work of art.
If it’s hard-boiled thrillers you’re looking for, “Prisoners” is a pretty taut (and handsomely crafted) entry in the genre. Directed by Denis Villeneuve of “Arrival” and “Dune” fame, the film stars Hugh Jackman as a man whose daughter is abducted and decides to take matters into his own hands when he identifies a suspicious suspect (played by Paul Dano). Jake Gyllenhaal plays the detective trying to crack the case, but this one’s less about plot and more about the toll the case takes on these individuals, with an all-star cast rounded out by Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo. It also features stellar cinematography by Roger Deakins and a haunting score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
The Mask of Zorro
Before “The Mummy” or “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” there was “The Mask of Zorro.” The 1998 film is based on the classic TV series of the same name, but director Martin Campbell injects this 19th century-set tale with enough intrigue, adventure and swashbuckling to keep a grin on your face from beginning to end. Anthony Hopkins stars as the original Zorro, who has been in prison for 20 years. When a hapless bandit played by Antonio Banderas breaks him out, he sets about training him in the ways of Zorro to help rescue his daughter, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, from the clutches of the man who first put him in prison.
Where the Crawdads Sing
The highly anticipated Delia Owens adaptation is newly streaming on Netflix this month, in case you didn’t get a chase to see “Where the Crawdads Sing” in theaters when it was initially released this summer. The murder mystery thriller stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya, a woman who has raised herself to adulthood in the North Carolina marshland. But when a man ends up dead and questions surround Kya’s involvement, she must face her past in traumatic fashion. The film was a box office success, grossing $140 million against a budget of just $24 million, and also stars Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson and Garret Dillahunt. Bonus: There’s an original Taylor Swift song in it too.
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The Nice Guys
“The Nice Guys” is so good, it will make you mad you didn’t see it in a theater when it first came out. This 1970s-set noir comedy from filmmaker Shane Black stars Ryan Gosling as a private investigator and Russell Crowe as a gruff enforcer who are forced to team up to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl (played by Margaret Qualley). Gosling and Crowe’s chemistry is absolutely dynamite, and Black demonstrates his knack for two-handers that he previously perfected on “Lethal Weapon” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” And not for nothing, but Gosling delivers one of the best comedic performances of the century here. Seriously, give it a whirl. You won’t regret it.
One of the best James Bond movies ever made, 2012’s “Skyfall” deepens the emotional core of Daniel Craig’s 007 without sacrificing spectacle. Director Sam Mendes crafts an explosive and thrilling action film that is deeply personal in nature, as Bond is forced to reckon with a changing world all while going up against an enemy from his past. It culminates in an emotional climax, and is photographed beautifully by cinematography great Roger Deakins.
Road to Perdition
After winning the Oscar for Best Picture with “American Beauty,” filmmaker Sam Mendes tackled a film of a very different sort: the neo-noir crime thriller “Road to Perdition.” Set in 1931, the film stars Tom Hanks as a mob enforcer who is forced to go on the run with his son, seeking vengeance against the mobster who murdered the rest of their family. Paul Newman plays the mobster in question, while Jude Law plays a hired hitman hot on their trail. It’s a gorgeously crafted crime drama, featuring Oscar-winning cinematography from Conrad L. Hall.
Truly a perfect film for all ages, 2014’s “Paddington” is far better than it has any right to be. Based on the Paddington Bear doll, the film tells the story of a mild-mannered bear who moves to London where he’s taken in by a kind yet somewhat cautious family. Shenanigans ensue as Paddington seeks out an explorer who once offered his family an invitation to come to London, all while he’s hunted by an evil taxidermist played by Nicole Kidman. This film is full of unbridled compassion and kindness.
The first film to ever earn a woman an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography, 2017’s “Mudbound” is a moving and compelling historical drama. Directed by Dee Rees and shot by Rachel Morrison, the film follows two World War II veterans as they return home to Mississippi, one white and one Black. Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund and Mary J. Blige anchor the terrific ensemble cast as the film tackles race relations in the past with a direct line to our present, packed with rich and complex characters.
While “The Master” may be filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson at his most serious, “Phantom Thread” is him at his most playful. The acerbic romance stars Daniel Day-Lewis in his final onscreen role before his retirement and is set in 1954 London. Day-Lewis stars as a famous fashion designer who takes his meticulous process seriously. But when he strikes up a relationship with a waitress, his routine starts to get shaken up, and he must consider the impact said relationship will have on his work. This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s version of a twisted romantic drama, and the film is surprisingly funny.
The Power of the Dog
Writer/director Jane Campion’s 2021 drama “The Power of the Dog” is a powerful and surprising film about, among other things, family. Set in 1925 Montana, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons play a pair of brothers whose strained relationship is pushed to the limit when Plemons marries a widowed single mother (played by Kirsten Dunst) on a whim, and brings her son (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) to live with them on their ranch. The performances are top-notch all around, as Campion crafts a complex and tension-filled character-centric drama that’s certainly one of 2021’s best films.
tick, tick… BOOM!
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature directorial debut with the Netflix musical “tick, tick… BOOM!,” based on the autobiographical stage musical by “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson. Andrew Garfield plays Larson, who is on the cusp of turning 30 and has yet to have a masterpiece staged on Broadway. As he puts the finishing touches on his sci-fi rock epic, he grapples with his own anxieties, his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend, and the impending AIDS epidemic that’s taking his friends far too quickly. The songs are incredible and the direction is inspired, but Garfield’s electric and soulful performance makes this a must-watch.
‘tick, tick…Boom!’ Film Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda Pays Homage to the Creative Process in Impressive Directorial Debut
This one might come with a “For Cinephiles Only” warning, but if that describes you there’s much to love in David Fincher’s 2020 film “Mank.” Gary Oldman stars as Hollywood writer Herman J. Mankiewicz as the film chronicles his experience writing the screenplay for “Citizen Kane,” all while flashing back to events from his life that inspired certain characters and themes in what many consider to be the greatest film ever made. Fincher presents the film entirely in black-and-white (it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography), and Amanda Seyfried gives a terrific performance as Marion Davies while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross compose a surprising original score.
Kathryn Hahn has made a career out of scene-stealing supporting performances, but she takes center stage in writer/director Tamara Jenkins’ 2018 dramedy “Private Life.” Inspired by Jenkins’ own experience, Hahn and Paul Giamatti star as a middle-aged New York City couple struggling through infertility who decide to try and have a child through IVF. The film follows the ups and downs of infertility in heartbreaking detail, while also finding moments of humor throughout that ring true to life. Hahn and Giamatti are spectacular together, as they also chronicle how their journey strains their marriage.
The Coen Brothers are known for their dry sense of humor, but the duo try their hand at screwball comedy (in their own way) with their 2016 film “Hail, Caesar!” The story takes place over the course of one day in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s, as told through the eyes of a fixer played by Josh Brolin. The film is rooted in historical fact, but as Brolin’s fixer works through his day, various Hollywood-based shenanigans ensue with a robust ensemble cast that includes George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
This Western anthology from the Coen Brothers is a delightful romp that builds to a shockingly emotional conclusion. “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is made up of six different stories set in the Old West, each featuring different characters. Themes of mortality, morality and justice are prevalent throughout “Buster Scruggs” just as they are through the Coens’ other films, but this time all against a wonderful, slightly exaggerated Western backdrop. The stellar cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, Stephen Root, Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck, Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson.
Writer/director Noah Baumbach 2019’s drama “Marriage Story” is, ultimately, a divorce story, but it’s so richly drawn and beautifully acted that you’ll find your own heart breaking as you watch the conscious uncoupling of a pair played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. This is far from a mean-spirited or even depressing film. Instead, while it does indeed chronicle the dissolution of a relationship (inspired by Baumbach’s own life) and how the divorce impacts their young son, “Marriage Story” smartly always keeps an eye on one very important fact: while these two individuals may be splitting up, that doesn’t mean the love they once had for each other wasn’t real. Driver and Johansson are terrific, and Laura Dern is a scene-stealer in her Oscar-winning supporting turn.
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One of the more inventive horror films of the last decade, 2014’s “It Follows” is all the more impressive considering the supernatural presence at the heart of the movie isn’t actually seen onscreen. It goes like this – if you have it, it follows you everywhere until you pass it on to another person through a sexual encounter. Then it’s their problem. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell crafts a terrifying and patient horror film, anchored by a swell performance from Maika Monroe as the latest victim of “it” who is trying to figure out how to shake this supernatural follower.
The Sparks Brothers
You don’t need to know anything about the band Sparks to find “The Sparks Brothers” a tremendously entertaining documentary. This marks the first documentary feature from “Shaun of the Dead” and “Baby Driver” filmmaker Edgar Wright, whose passion for Sparks – “your favorite band’s favorite band” as they’re described – bleeds onto the screen. Through interviews with the two Sparks brothers and a number of celebrity fans, as well as archival footage, the film takes a trip through the unique and genuinely stunning five decade (and counting) career. If you like music documentaries, check this one out.
Why Edgar Wright Made His First Documentary About ‘The Sparks Brothers’ (Video)
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
If you’re looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy, the 2021 Netflix original “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is an emotional crowd-pleaser that’s as funny as it is inventive. Directed by Mike Rianda and produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the film follows a family going on a cross-country road trip to send their eldest daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) to college, where she hopes to learn how to become a filmmaker. The family isn’t on the best terms when the road trip begins, which makes things even trickier when a robot uprising occurs, leaving the dysfunctional Mitchells as humanity’s last hope. This is a hilarious, colorful and heartfelt story about the importance of communication.
Netflix has a wide variety of documentaries to choose from, but Ava DuVernay’s 2016 film “13th” is a must-watch. The doc delves into mass incarceration in the United States, and how race and injustice intersect with the issue, through the prism of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolishes slavery except as punishment for a crime. Through a number of interviews, DuVernay examines why a disproportionate number of Black people are incarcerated in the U.S., and how the current justice system perpetuates this injustice.
One of the great things about Netflix is how it has a little bit of something for everyone, and in that vein, the YA-skewing “Enola Holmes” is a delight for the teenaged crowd (and beyond). Based on the young adult series of the same name by author Nancy Springer, the film stars Millie Bobby Brown as the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). When her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing, Enola leaves the safety of her home compound and ventures into London to try and solve this mystery. Along the way, however, Enola learns that her mother kept many secrets of her own. This is a rollicking mystery-adventure that’s also a sweet and substantial coming-of-age story, all wrapped up in a gorgeous 19th century Victorian package.
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Set It Up
If you’re into romantic comedies, you simply must check out “Set It Up.” This Netflix original is a throwback in the best way, as Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell have that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks chemistry in a story about friends turning into lovers. They play overworked assistants to demanding bosses (played by Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) and hatch a plan to set their bosses up in an effort to earn more free time themselves. But their scheming puts them in frequent close contact, during which sparks fly.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Before Taika Waititi took audiences by storm with “Thor: Ragnarok” and won an Oscar with “Jojo Rabbit,” he crafted a wonderfully whimsical comedy called “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” The film stars Julian Dennison as a troubled youth who goes on the run with a cantankerous man (played by Sam Neill) when both are being hunted through a remote part of Australia. The film is packed with Waititi’s signature sense of humor and unique style, and Dennison and Neill make for one heck of a dynamic duo.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
The Netflix original comedy “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is not just an incredibly funny film, it’s a surprisingly emotional one too. Based on an original idea by Will Ferrell, the “Elf” actor stars as one half of an Icelandic duo alongside Rachel McAdams, both of whom are thrust into the spotlight when they’re unexpectedly selected to compete in the international singing competition Eurovision. The film is packed with some genuinely great songs, and a sweet story about staying true to your roots in the face of immense growth.
The Fear Street Trilogy
Everyone loves a good scare, but the “Fear Street” trilogy gives you three times the thrills for the price of one overarching story. These three interconnected films trace the origins of a witch’s curse on a small town, covering events in 1994 in the “Scream”-inspired first film, then heading back to 1978 for the summer camp slasher sequel, before concluding in the year 1666 for the third and final feature that reveals the origin story of the Shadyside witch. Colorful, fun and genuinely scary, the “Fear Street” trilogy tells a truly epic horror story.
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The Taylor Swift documentary “Miss Americana” is full of surprises. While the film begins by chronicling Swift’s career, complete with the ups and downs it encompassed, it soon morphs into the origin story of a feminist as Swift begins to speak out on socio-political issues important to her. It’s a fascinating window into the management of fame, as some around her caution against making any kinds of political statements for fear of alienating her fanbase. Swift is honest throughout – or as honest as a documentary like this can be – and the film doesn’t shy away from tough moments like Kanye West infamously interrupting her at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Martin Scorsese’s 3-hour-and-40-minute gangster epic “The Irishman” is best viewed in one sitting – trust me. The brilliance of the film is in its construction, as Scorsese charts the career of a hitman for the mob from the 1950s up to the present day. But unlike the bombast of “Goodfellas,” this is a film where regret and grief hang over nearly every frame, subtly building until the mournful third act hits you like a ton of bricks. Robert De Niro’s Frank Sheeran spends his entire life killing people, and what does it all add up to? Scorsese gets downright philosophical with questions of morality and mortality, crafting a self-reflexive film about what it means to come to the end of your life and look back on what you’ve done, why you did it and whether it was all worth it in the end.
Chris Hemsworth has proven himself to be a great comedic talent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his best dramatic acting chops thus far are exemplified in the 2013 film “Rush.” Directed by Ron Howard, this biographical sports drama stars Hemsworth as British Formula 1 driver James Hunt and chronicles his 1970s rivalry with Austrian driver Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl). The racing scenes are absolutely thrilling, and the story lays bare these drivers’ determination while also delving into what drives each of them to compete.
“Crimson Peak” is not a horror movie, but it’s a great watch for Spooky Season (or any time of year) regardless. Guillermo del Toro’s original story is a Gothic romance through and through, as Mia Wasikowska stars as a budding author living in 1900s New York who marries a kind yet mysterious man (Tom Hiddleston) and then moves into the decrepit mansion he shares with his sister (Jessica Chastain). When she arrives at the mansion, however, Wasikowska’s character discovers it’s full of secrets and ghosts. While the film is creepy, it’s not a full-on scare-fest – nor is it trying to be one. This is a sorrowful, ghastly story of love and what happens when our past won’t let go.
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee is not known for making bland films, and indeed his 2020 Vietnam veterans drama “Da 5 Bloods” is confrontational in the best way. The story revolves around four aging Vietnam War veterans who return to the Southeast Asian country to search for the remains of their fallen leader — and also a trove of buried treasure. Along the way they confront their own fears and differences, as Lee’s film delves into how America left an entire generation of soldiers behind.
Netflix is host to a ton of great documentaries, including “Crip Camp.” This Oscar-nominated 2020 film begins by showcasing archival footage from a camp in the 1970s that was created for teens with disabilities, before then following various individuals as they fought for disability rights. It’s a moving portrait of activism that shows just how far we’ve come as a country, and how far we have left to go.
21 Jump Street
21 Jump Street
A “21 Jump Street” movie has no business being this good, but that’s kind of what filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller do best – turn bad ideas into great movies. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play two young police officers who are sent undercover at a high school to try and trace the origins of a new drug on the market, but whereas their own high school experience saw Hill being bullied and Tatum as top dog, the duo find the social dynamics have changed since they were teenagers. The story puts a smart spin on your typical high school movie while delivering some truly inspired (and insane) comedy in the process.