Netflix offers roughly a gazillion different movies available through its streaming platform. While the landmark service is surprisingly accurate with its suggestions once you’ve been using it for a while, it’s still often tough to find something worth watching amid the trove of choices. As such, we’ve taken the time to wade through the ridiculous amount of content in order to bring you a list of some of the best movies currently available on the platform, whether you’re into found-footage films or a trip through Hollywood’s Golden Age, our list has you covered. Planning your weekend has never been easier.
Editor’s note: This list is updated monthly to showcase films currently streaming on Netflix, whether we’re talking classics or modern gems.
New for May
Kubo and the Two Strings
Yet another hit from animation studio Laika, Kubo and the Two Strings blends Japanese folklore and stop-motion animation for an adventure that is thrilling, frightening, and charming. The hero of the story is Kubo (Art Parkinson), a young, one-eyed boy with a magical talent: When he plucks the strings on his shamisen, he can bring origami sculptures to life. Kubo is the grandson of the moon god Raiden (Ralph Fiennes), who stole his eye when he was a baby and still seeks his other one. When Kubo’s grandfather and wicked aunts finally manage to track him down, he embarks on a journey to find his father’s sword and armor, encountering colorful characters and facing terrifying challenges along the way. Kubo and the Two Strings is a moving adventure story, with exquisite animation and talented vocal performances.
Director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight) has always seemed preoccupied with the magical nature of cinema, and nowhere is that more apparent than in The Prestige. The film follows a pair of magicians — Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) — whose careers become a vindictive rivalry following the death of Angier’s wife during one of Borden’s performances. Over the course of years, the two men engage in professional gamesmanship with fatal consequences. The film succeeds thanks to intense performances from Jackman and Bale, as well as gorgeous scene compositions that capture the craft and wonder of illusions.
Queen of Katwe
Based on the life of Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi, Queen of Katwe follows many of the same patterns as typical underdog sports films, but with a refreshing focus on life outside of the central game. The film opens on a young Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), illiterate and hawking goods on the streets of Katwe, who stumbles on a missionary program led by Robert Katende (David Oyelowo). There, she learns to play chess, and soon displays a prodigious talent. Under Katende’s guidance, Phiona travels to tournaments around the world, but the constraints of her life in the slums continue to weigh on her. One could accuse Queen of Katwe — rightfully — of being a “feel good” film, but its high level of craftsmanship and great performances from Nalwanga, Oyelowo, and Lupita Nyong’o (as Phiona’s mother) set it a step above your average sports biopic.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Adapted from David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, Glengarry Glen Ross is a tense examination of life in the real estate business, with a superb cast and a script that showcases Mamet’s rhythmic, naturalistic dialogue. The action centers on four salesmen: Hotshot Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), milquetoast George Aaronow (Alan Arkin), resentful George Moss (Ed Harris), and the once-successful Shelley “The Machine” Levene (Jack Lemmon). Their team has been on a downward trend, so the bosses send a facilitator named Blake (Alec Baldwin) to put the fear of God into them. He issues a challenge: The two most successful salesmen at the end of the month will get to keep their jobs, the other two will hit the bricks. Under pressure, the four men begin their frantic efforts to keep their jobs.