You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

The 30 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now

Vulture.com 17 hrs ago Brian Tallerico

This post is updated regularly as movies leave and enter Netflix. *New additions are indicated with an asterisk.

With hundreds of films from around the world on the streaming giant that changed the game, how does one even know where to start when they’re looking for something to watch? Start here! We have gone through the massive catalog of films available on Netflix and pared down the selection to an essential 30 titles, including action films, comedies, horror flicks, and even stuff for the whole family, with Netflix Originals peppered in throughout, alongside its licensed films. These are films that came from outside the Netflix pipeline to subscribers, and it will be regularly updated as flicks come and go from the Netflix catalog, starting with our pick of the week.

This Week’s Editor’s Pick

*Captain Phillips

Year: 2013

Runtime: 2h 14m

Director: Paul Greengrass

Tom Hanks gives one of the best performances of his career in this retelling of the hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship by Somali pirates. He was snubbed, but the film was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture. It’s a searingly intense, realistic action film that puts you right in the middle of a waking nightmare.

Drama

Any Given Sunday

Year: 1999

Runtime: 2h 30m

Director: Oliver Stone

The Oscar-winning director of Platoon and Natural Born Killers turned his camera on the dangerous world of professional football in this crazy ensemble piece with one of the best casts of the ‘90s. Some of the issues it unpacks are a little dated over two decades later, but there’s joy to be found in just watching this crazy group of people buy into Stone’s larger-than-life style, including Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, and many more.

The Bridges of Madison County

Year: 1995

Runtime: 2h 14m

Director: Clint Eastwood

One of Clint Eastwood’s best films is also arguably his tenderest, the telling of an unexpected romance between a married woman (Meryl Streep) and a traveling photographer (played by the director himself in one of his most vulnerable performances). This is a moving romance that centers characters old enough to not usually get this type of drama and the two legendary stars do some of the best acting of their remarkable careers.

Call Me by Your Name

Year: 2017

Runtime: 2h 12m

Director: Luca Guadagnino

One of the best films of the 2010s, this drama stars Timothee Chalamet as a boy who discovers his own sexuality when he’s wooed by an older man, played by Armie Hammer. Delicate and moving, this is a remarkable drama because of how true it feels, anchored by great performances throughout, not just from the two leads but the amazing Michael Stuhlbarg too.

A Clockwork Orange

Year: 1971

Runtime: 2h 16m

Director: Stanley Kubrick

One of the most famous directors of all time adapted the Anthony Burgess 1962 novel of the same name into his most controversial film. Malcolm McDowell stars as Alex in this futuristic study of a delinquent who goes on a horrific crime spree before being captured and reconditioned through an experimental new program. A tough watch even a half-century later, this is one of the most iconic films of its era.

Eyes Wide Shut

Year: 1999

Runtime: 2h 38m

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick’s final film was a controversial one when it was released in 1999 but has been recognized in the two decades since as one of the master’s best. Tom Cruise does some of the best work of his career as a man who spirals into a seedy underworld of sex and betrayal in this mesmerizing drama.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Year: 2018

Runtime: 1h 59m

Director: Barry Jenkins

Following up on a Best Picture win can be tough for any filmmaker but Barry Jenkins delivered with this lyrical and moving adaptation of the 1974 novel of the same name by James Baldwin. It stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Brian Tyree Henry, Colman Domingo, and the Oscar-winning Regina King in the story of a young couple struck down when he’s wrongly charged with a crime. It’s a masterful drama from one of the best American filmmakers.

Moneyball

Year: 2011

Runtime: 2h 13m

Director: Bennett Miller

One of the best baseball movies ever made was adapted from the 2003 book by Michael Lewis, which recounts the management of the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics, and how they changed the way the game is run by bringing analytics into the mix. Brad Pitt gives one of his best performances as general manager Billy Beane, a man who knew he would have to find a new way to evaluate talent if the A’s were going to compete. This is a rich, smart, riveting movie.

The Power of the Dog

Year: 2021

Runtime: 2h 6m

Director: Jane Campion

The film that finally won an Oscar for Jane Campion for directing is one of the most acclaimed in the history of the streaming giant. Campion helmed this adaptation of the novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, the story of a vicious landowner (Benedict Cumberbatch) who torments the new wife (Kirsten Dunst) of his brother (Jesse Plemons). A drama that plays like a thriller, this gorgeously rendered period piece unpacks themes of toxic masculinity and manipulation in a way that makes it impossible to turn away. It’s not just one of the best Netflix Original films, it’s one of the best, period, of the 2020s so far.

Action

Casino Royale

Year: 2006

Runtime: 2h 24m

Director: Martin Campbell

It’s hard to believe the most famous movie spy in history ever needed a comeback, but that’s really what happened when Daniel Craig stepped into 007’s shoes and it turned out to be one of the most acclaimed James Bond movies of all time. An origin story for the suave superspy, Casino Royale introduced new layers to the classic character, resulting in an action film that felt like it had real stakes. This is one of the best modern action movies, period, not just in the Bond franchise.

The Dirty Dozen

Year: 1967

Runtime: 2h 30m

Director: Robert Aldrich

Classic action! There aren’t a lot of action movies on Netflix made before 1990, so take this chance to watch one that might have been your father’s (or even grandfather’s) favorite. The real draw here is the cast, which includes icons like Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland in a film set in 1944. Watching American movie icons mow down Nazis will never get old.

Gladiator

Year: 2000

Runtime: 2h 35m

Director: Ridley Scott

One of the most popular films of its era, this action epic stars Russell Crowe as the legendary Maximus, a warrior whose family is murdered by the vicious Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Forced into slavery, Maximus has to rise the gladiator arenas to get his vengeance. The film made a fortune on its way to winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

The Mask of Zorro

Year: 1998

Runtime: 2h 17m

Director: Martin Campbell

Every now and then, an actor and a blockbuster role just make a perfect fit. That was certainly the case when Antonio Bandera’s was cast in Martin Campbell’s reboot of the legendary character of Zorro. Banderas is so charming here that the movie made enough money to produce a sequel in 2005, which is also on Netflix.

Natural Born Killers

Year: 1994

Runtime: 1h 59m

Director: Oliver Stone

What do you get when you combine the writer of Pulp Fiction and the director of JFK? Movie history. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis star as Mickey and Mallory Knox, a pair of drifters who embark on a killing spree that ends up making them tabloid superstars. A fearless castigation of celebrity culture, some of NBK looks a bit dated now, but more of it feels ahead of its time, capturing the true crime cult of personality that would develop over the decades to come.

*The Quick and the Dead

Year: 1995

Runtime: 1h 45m

Director: Sam Raimi

Before he made superhero movies but after he made horror ones, the amazing Sam Raimi was given his biggest budget to date for this 1995 Western with style to spare. Sharon Stone plays a gunfighter who ends up in a town called Redemption, ruled with iron fist by a tyrant played by Gene Hackman. Russell Crowe and a young Leonardo DiCaprio star in a film that’s become increasingly appreciated in the years since its release.

Road House

Year: 1989

Runtime: 1h 54m

Director: Rowdy Herrington

As production on a remake of this cult classic (with Jake Gyllenhaal!) gets underway, why not go back and check out the original again? Patrick Swayze plays the bouncer at a totally average Missouri bar who ends up getting sucked into a violent world when he crosses paths with the wrong bad guy. Sam Elliott and Kelly Lynch star in a movie that feels like a perfect distillation of the many charms of Mr. Swayze.

Training Day

Year: 2001

Runtime: 2h 2m

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Denzel Washington won his second Oscar for a role that would help define his on-screen persona in this Antoine Fuqua flick that is somehow already two decades old. Washington plays Alonzo Harris, a corrupt LAPD cop who is accompanied by a new partner, played by Ethan Hawke. More thriller than traditional action, it’s still an intense, unforgettable experience and a reminder of how much Washington can be a force of nature when he’s allowed to be.

*Troy

Year: 2004

Runtime: 2h 42m

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

In the wake of the massive success of Gladiator, there were a lot of mediocre swords and sandals historical action films, but this one stood out from the crowd. Brad Pitt leads the ensemble in the story of the Trojan War and a loose retelling of Homer’s Iliad. Ignore the history angle and appreciated Wolfgang Petersen’s craftsmanship and a great supporting performance from Eric Bana.

Comedy

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Year: 1997

Runtime: 1h 34m

Director: Jay Roach

After leaving Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers took a gamble on a spoof of ‘60s fashion and spy movie culture and walked away with one of the biggest comedy franchises of its era. Myers is fearless as the title character, a bumbling spy who produced more catch phrases than successful missions. All three films are on Netflix as of this writing, and all kind of worth a look. Marathon, baby!

Love & Basketball

Year: 2000

Runtime: 2h 4m

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

The director of 2022’s The Woman King helmed one of the best romantic dramedies of the 2000s in this flick about two Los Angeles neighbors who also happen to be trying to become basketball stars. Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan have some of the best chemistry you’ve ever seen in this sexy, smart character study.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Year: 1975

Runtime: 1h 29m

Director: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones

During a hiatus between the third and fourth seasons of Monty Python’s Family Circus, the gang of mega-talented comedians decided to make movie history. Inspired by the King Arthur legend, Holy Grail is a timeless comedy, the rare kind of film that will still be making people laugh hundreds of years from now. And while the Monty Python boys were already famous, this film took them to another level, cementing their place in movie history.

Risky Business

Year: 1983

Runtime: 1h 39m

Director: Paul Brickman

Tom Cruise’s real breakthrough came in this racy comedy about a high school student who goes way off the rails when his parents go away on a trip and leave him alone. It starts innocently enough with some Bob Seger and some liquor, but graduates to real danger when the kid hires a prostitute, played by Rebecca De Mornay. A very ‘80s movie, this is interesting now to watch in terms of how much star power Cruise had from the very beginning.

Sorry to Bother You

Year: 2018

Runtime: 1h 52m

Director: Boots Riley

Lakeith Stanfield stars in the directorial debut of the leader of The Coup, a film that shook audiences at Sundance but still feels a bit underrated. With a style that blends hip-hop culture with the surrealism of satirists like Terry Gilliam and Michel Gondry, this comedy takes no prisoners. Stanfield plays a telemarketer who works his way up a corporate ladder to discover the truly dark secrets that live on the higher rungs. It feels like a movie that more people will find on services like Netflix and could shape future comedies to come.

When Harry Met Sally …

Year: 1989

Runtime: 1h 36m

Director: Rob Reiner

Any list of the best romantic comedies of all time that doesn’t include this 1989 Rob Reiner classic is simply incomplete. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal give their most charming film performances as the title characters, a pair who decide to test the theory that men and women can’t be friends without romance getting in the way. The real star here is Nora Ephron’s sharp and ultimately moving screenplay, one of the best in the history of the rom-com.

Horror

Crimson Peak

Year: 2015

Runtime: 1h 59m

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Everyone seems to love the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, but this 2015 gothic romantic horror flick often falls through the cracks when people talk about Guillermo del Toro. It shouldn’t. It’s a masterfully made period piece with sumptuous details and perfectly calibrated storytelling. Mia Wasikowska plays a woman who moves to a remote mansion with her new husband (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister (Jessica Chastain) and discovers the secrets buried in the earth.

Gerald’s Game

Year: 2017

Runtime: 1h 43m

Director: Mike Flanagan

Before he helmed The Haunting of Hill House, Mike Flanagan co-wrote and directed one of the best Netflix Original horror films in this adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. Carla Gugino is phenomenal as a woman who gets handcuffed to her bed by her toxic husband…and then he has a heart attack. As she tries to figure out how she will survive, she accesses the trauma of her past.

*Shutter Island

Year: 2010

Runtime: 2h 18m

Director: Martin Scorsese

In 2010, Martin Scorsese released his adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s best novel, the story of a U.S. Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) who investigates a missing patient at a legendary mental hospital. Scorsese is in full command of his skill as a craftsman in this riveting thriller that also co-stars Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Michelle Williams. It’s one of the most underrated films of the last decade.

For Kids

Mirai

Year: 2018

Runtime: 1h 38m

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

One of the best Japanese filmmakers alive, Hosoda has earned fans with films like Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, and Belle. One of his best is this 2018 fantasy movie, which actually became the first non-Ghibli anime film to ever get nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It can be a little hard to follow, but it’s one of the most visually striking films on Netflix, or any streaming service.

The Spider-Man Trilogy

Year: 2002-2007

Runtime: Varies

Director: Sam Raimi

Most superhero movies on streaming services are the exclusive property now of Disney+ given their ownership of the MCU, but Sony superhero films are allowed to escape the clutches every now and then and find their way to other streaming services. Right now, all three films from Sam Raimi are on Netflix. The second film is easily still the best, but they’re all worth a rewatch (yes, even the third one).

Wendell & Wild

Year: 2022

Runtime: 1h 46m

Director: Henry Selick

The director of A Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline finally returned this year with this clever and twisted tale co-written by Oscar winner Jordan Peele. The comedian also co-stars as one of the title characters, the literal demons for a girl who blames herself for the death of her parents. Selick is a master of stop-motion animation and this project allows him to stretch his visual prowess in new, gross ways. It’s a new Halloween classic (that can be watched any time, of course!)

AdChoices
AdChoices
AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon