Netflix has plenty of movies to watch but there’s a real mixed bag on there. Sometimes finding the right film at the right time can seem like an impossible. This is particularly the case now Netflix’s film rating system is a percentage rather than a numerical rating. So, to help you in this most important of tasks, we’ve compiled a list of the good films on Netflix. We’re also updating this list with the latest releases and new films most weeks, so check back for more recommendations.
If you decide you’re in more of a TV mood, head over to our best Netflix TV series or picks of the best documentaries. We have a whole separate list of the best sci-fi movies and the best films on Amazon Prime UK.
Based on the memoir of Saroo Brierley, Lion follows the life of a young boy who is separated from his mother and younger sister in Khandwa, India, when he is just five years old. The film picks up with Saroo (Dev Patel) 20 years later, now living with his adoptive parents in Australia. When he moves to Melbourne to start university, Saroo finds himself determined to discover the story of his childhood and adoption – with a little help from Google Earth. Watch it on Netflix now.
I Am Not a Witch
Rungano Nyoni’s Bafta winning debut feature film from 2017 made pennies at the box office but has found fans at festivals and on Netflix. Based on legit accounts of witch camps full of women in Zambia and Ghana, it’s the sad, confusing, bizarre (and fictional) story of a nine year old girl named Shula who is sent to one of these camps. It’s full of perfectly pitched satire and performance after performance mean you won’t be able to look away even when things get very strange indeed. Watch it here.
This satirical horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele was an unexpected hit in 2017, raking it in at the box office and netting four Oscar nominations. Daniel Kaluuya – who you might recognise from the Black Mirror episode ’15 Million Merits’ – plays Chris, a photographer who reluctantly agrees to visit the family of his white girlfriend, Rose, at their country estate. While Rose’s parents make a disconcertingly over-the-top effort to show they’re cool with their daughter’s black boyfriend, Chris begins to suspect that something deeply sinister is going on in the secluded house. Peele does a phenomenal job of weaving a gripping horror film around a damning critique of under-the-surface racism. Watch it on Netflix now.
Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn star as fortysomething New Yorkers who are stuck in a endless cycle of fertility treatments and despair as they struggle to have a baby by any means possible. But when their young niece drops out of university to come stay with her creative aunt and uncle, their journey takes an unexpected turn. Private Life is hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure as it depicts a couple fixated on one goal, to the exclusion of all else – even their own relationship. Watch it on Netflix.
The Big Lebowski
“The Dude, His Dudeness… Duder…or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing”, is probably Jeff Bridges’s most iconic character and certainly the role for which he has earned the most devoted following. The movie’s appeal is quite hard to summarise, (even the Cohen brothers are slightly bemused by the sheer devotion of the film’s following). It’s a kind of slacker black comedy noir mystery: after a group of nihilists mistake the dude for another man with the same name and “micturate” on his rug, the dude and his two hapless mates, Donny (Steve Buscemi) and Walter (John Goodman) set out on a haphazard search for a man’s wife, Bunny, who possibly kidnapped herself. A wild ride that gets funnier with repeated viewings. Watch it here.
You’ll probably want to watch Birdman twice. On a first viewing, the film’s cinematography – ingenious though it is – becomes a distraction. Under the guidance of Emmanuel Lubezki, the entirety of this cult fable appears to be formed from a single, elaborate tracking shot. Watch it a second time and the dazzling cinematography becomes a character of its own in the dreamlike narrative. This is a darkly comic tale of a man haunted by his past facing an unfolding existential crisis. And, four years after its cinematic release, it’s still unlike almost anything else out there. Watch it here.
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Beasts of No Nation
Only great things can come from the director of True Detectives, and with Beasts of No Nation Cary Fukunaga doesn’t disappoint. A compelling war drama film starring Idris Elba and shot in Ghana, it follows a young boy called Agu who lives in a small village, and who is forced to become a child soldier as his country is ripped apart by a brutal civil war. This is a poignant depiction of the devastation that war can bring to a family. Watch it here.
Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning sci-fi headache is now on Netflix. If one level of 2019’s reality isn’t enough for you then what better way to escape than through Nolan’s multi-levelled, action-packed dreamscape? Remarkable visual effects are combined with an equally remarkable intellectual feast for one of the most original action films of the last decade. It’s a bit like playing a board game you don’t understand. And it’s got Leonardo DiCaprio in it. What more could you ask for? Stream it now on Netflix.
This art world farce from Swedish director Ruben Östlund makes for slightly uncomfortable but seriously funny viewing, like a two and a half hour episode of European, hipster Peep Show. You can’t look away but you can’t not look. The set pieces are sublime tributes to stupidity and even if it doesn’t quite match Östlund’s Force Majeure, Claes Bang (soon to play Dracula for Steven Moffat and the BBC) is magnetic as the muppet at the centre of the chaos. Watch it here.
This spot-on sequel to the much-acclaimed 1996 black comedy picks up twenty years after the events of the first film. Each member of the original cast is back, with Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returning to Edinburgh as his life in Amsterdam starts to unravel, despite being clean from heroin for two decades. Inevitably, Renton ends up running into his old friends Spud (Ewen Bremmer) and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and finds himself embroiled in an ill-advised scam while Begbie (Robert Carlyle) seeks to exact his revenge for Renton’s betrayal in the first film. Watch it now on Netflix
If you see it, you die. That’s basically the premise for this Netflix original film, in which a mysterious force appears on Earth that compels anyone that looks at it to kill themselves. Cue two hours of Sandra Bullock stumbling around in a blindfold in a desperate bid to get herself to safety. If you think this sounds a little like A Quiet Place but with sight instead of sound, you’d be absolutely right. A stellar central performance from Bullock keeps the tension ratcheting up and while the film’s foundations are a little creaky, this runaway success for Netflix is well worth a watch. Watch it here.
As the first part of the new Star Wars anthology series, Rogue Onehad expectations high when it was released in December 2016. Depending on the level of your Star Wars fandom the movie will either have been an enjoyable addition to the cannon or a waste of your time. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of the Death Star’s designer (Mads Mikkelsen) and ultimately helps a small band of rebels secure the Death Star’s plans. Rogue One probably isn’t the best of of the anthology (so far) but it’s still an enjoyable watch. See it here.
This is without doubt one of the best children’s films of the 1990s. Don’t agree? Stop reading. Matilda is a dark, witty and touching adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. Danny DeVito is at his ludicrous, comic best, while Mara Wilson is a perfect fit for the understated but mischievous lead role. If you watched this film as a kid, it’s a great trip down memory lane. And even if you’re a bit too old for that, it’s still a great family film today. Watch it now on Netflix.
Roma, Alfonso Cuaron’s newest release since Gravity in 2013, is very different from any film he’s made before. Set against the backdrop of unrest in Mexico City in the early 1970’s, the film follows Cleo (Yalitizio Aparicia), who works as a housekeeper for a young, well-off family. The specificity of the film arises from Cuaron’s direction, as the film is based on the life of the nanny who raised him, Libo, and much of the mis-en-scene in the film is actually from his childhood. While the film is in black and white, and entirely in Chilango Spanish, it’s incredibly moving and absorbing, especially given how gorgeous the cinematography and direction is. Fans of Cuaron who have watched Gravity or Children of Men might be surprised, but this side of Cuaron is worth watching, and Roma is already generating Oscars buzz.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
A lot is expected from each new Coen brothers film. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is something slightly different – but it still delivers. The movie is a set of six Wild West short stories. Each tale is about 15 minutes long, has its own cast and isn’t connected to any of the others. The entire package is entertaining and the stories are well-told. By the time it finishes, you’ll be wanting more. Watch it here.
Arrival is without doubt one of the finest sci-fi movies in the last decade. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), it follows a language expert (Amy Adams) drafted by the military to find a way to communicate with aliens which have landed in numerous locations across the world. It’s a gripping and cerebral film with a brilliant twist that more than deserves its 94 per cent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Get your sci-fi fix here.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Prepare yourself for a marathon. All three of the Lord of the Ringsfilms have been added to Netflix’s catalogue. Totalling almost nine and a half hours (for the theatrical versions) the three movies are the definitive screenplay telling of J. R. R. Tolkien’s action-packed trilogy. Despite the first of the series – The Fellowship of the Ring – first being released in 2001, none of the movies have aged in a away that decreases their brilliance. Start from the beginning here.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by Martin Scorcese, The Wolf of Wall Street follows Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio), who starts as a stockbroker on the Wall Street trading floor in the late 80s. As he makes more money and his lifestyle races to catch up, he sets up a firm, Stratton Oakmont in the early 1990s and starts to swindle wealthy financiers out of their fortunes, even as the authorities close in. It’s all the more compelling because the film is based on the memoirs of the real-life Jordan Belfort, who is now a motivational speaker. With an all-star cast featuring DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street is ridiculous and exhilarating. Watch it here
Se7en may have been released over 20 years ago, but it tackles a theme that is everlasting: that of the seven deadly sins. Two detectives, William Somerset and David Mills, go after a serial killer who is basing his crimes on the punishment of gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy and wrath. Think victims forced to eat until their stomach ruptures and other disgustingly creative killings. At times gore and violent, this one is for those who enjoy the thrill of terror, and features a high-profile cast including Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. Watch it here.
Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is a tense drama set in the snowy depths of Wyoming and forms part of his ‘frontier trilogy’, which also features Sicario and Hell of High Water. Jeremy Renner plays a hunter who discovers the body of a young Native American woman, a friend to his own daughter who died in mysterious circumstances several years earlier. He joins forces with an FBI agent, played by Elizabeth Olsen, to investigate. It’s an absorbing drama where the location is as much a character as the actors. Head here to watch it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave H, the eccentric concierge of a hotel in a fictional European country between the first and second World Wars. When Gustave becomes implicated in a bizarre murder plot, he turns to his lobby boy (Tony Revolori) for help. Director Wes Anderson ramps his distinctive directorial style all the way up in this comedy which alternates between being bewitchingly beautiful and absurdly funny. Watch it here.
Tom Cruise plays Charlie Babbitt, a narcissistic car dealer who is incensed to find out his millionaire father has snubbed him in his will. Determined to get his hands on the $3 million his father left to a mental institution, Babbitt ends up discovering that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), who he kidnaps, taking him on a calamitous road-trip across the US. But Raymond, Babbitt soon realises, has some exceptional talents that he has never encountered before. Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his screen-stealing performance and the film picked up further awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Watch it here.
Just a week after the assassination of the president, John F. Kennedy, the former first lady Jackie Kennedy sits down with a reporter to give an interview about her husband’s legacy. This framing narrative is intertwined with scenes from the immediate aftermath of JFK’s death and the lead-up to his state funeral, as Jackie Kennedy grapples to keep in control of events while the fighting over her husband’s legacy begins. Natalie Portman stars as the titular character in a gripping performance that earned her an Oscar nomination for best Actress. Watch it on Netflix now.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Hugh Grant cemented his reign over 90’s British rom-coms in this sweet, classic film from 1994, as Charles, an awkward Englishman whose run of bad luck in love seems destined to last forever. He falls in love with Carrie, played by a charming Andie McDowell, an American who has to return home soon after they meet. Even though their timing is never quite right, they continue to bump into each other over the course of their lives, and Charles eventually is convinced that they’re destined to be together. A classic Richard Curtis film through and through, it’s saved from being too soppy by a genuinely funny script and supporting cast. Watch it here.
The Social Network
Look on helplessly as Mark Zuckerberg unleashes The Facebook on an unsuspecting world. Jesse Eisenberg gives an uncanny portrayal – both physically and behaviourally – of Zuck, the flawed entrepreneur. Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, The Social Network is all quick dialogue and lingering, artful frames. And, as the horror unfolds, you realise that Facebook’s unstoppable rise was pretty much all your fault. Watch it on Netflix.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers one of his finest performances as the American author Truman Capote. Such is his dedication to the character that at times his acting is more possession than portrayal. It’s utterly uncanny. The film itself follows one of the most intense and remarkable periods of Capote’s life as he begins the process of researching his landmark novel In Cold Blood. Watch it on Netflix.
The winner of seven Oscars, including best director for Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity is a visually stunning, incredibly intense sci-fi thriller. Packed into a tight, masterfully director 90 minutes, the film follows astronauts Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as they grapple with the infinite and deadly void of deep space. Watch it here.
Marge Gunderson is a small town Minnesotan cop who has a problem. Her town, Fargo, has been hit by some rare murders. What’s worse, one of the bodies is a state police officer. Two other witnesses are also dead. Gunderson who is expecting a baby in two months starts to hunt down the killer and in the process discovers fraud, kidnap, and a plot to extort ransom money. Watch it hereand when you’re done, head across to the series Netflix created based on the film.
Miles Teller plays Andrew Neiman, a talented young drummer, determined to practise his way to the top of his elite music school. Pushing Neiman to greatness is his terrifying teacher, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who seems to view teaching as a military exercise, using unconventional and abusive methods that threaten to undermine everything the pair have worked so hard for. Directed by Damien Chazelle, who later went on to direct La La Land, Whiplash is an exhausting, adrenaline-filled film that will have you tapping your feet for weeks after watching. Watch it on Netflix now.
Good Will Hunting
The drama that launched the careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who both wrote and starred in this drama set between the city of Boston and the prestigious Harvard and MIT universities nearby. Will’s self-taught academic talent inspires a professor to save him from a prison sentence, in exchange for studying maths with him, and seeing a therapist to temper his arrogant and confrontational personality. The story plays out fairly simply, but the strength of the characters and their relationships, particularly Damon as Will and Robin Williams as psychologist Sean, are what propelled the film to its two Oscar wins in 1997. Watch it here.
God’s Own Country
When Johnny’s father has a stroke, he is left to tend to the family’s disintegrating Yorkshire farm – and only source of income – by himself. But destructive nightly binges mean sullen, aggressive Johnny (Josh O’Connor) isn’t much of a farm hand. His lot begins to turn around, though, with the arrival of Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu). This stunning debut from writer and director Francis Lee, who himself grew up in Yorkshire before turning to acting, won the Sundance Film Festival’s world cinema directing award, and recalls the rugged intensity of Andrea Arnold’s 2011 Wuthering Heights. Watch it here.
A taut, clever crime thriller, Nightcrawler explores the world of ‘stringers’, freelance videographers who scour late night LA for violent events to film and then sell to local news TV stations. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou, who lucks into the trade and quickly discovers the profits to be made, especially when he bends the law for juicier material. Desperate to feed demand and ratings, a local morning news director (Rene Russo) doesn’t care how the footage is obtained so long as it’s good. An outstanding central performance from Gyllenhaal, who lost weight to portray the desperate Lou, drives the action forward and it features an early Hollywood appearance for Riz Ahmed as his sidekick, Rick. Watch it while you can can on Netflix.
This biopic tells the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. The film starts on the eve of Milk’s (Sean Penn) 40th birthday, and follows his early unsuccessful election battles and then his fight against Proposition Six – an attempt to ban gay and lesbian people from working in public schools. Although Milk’s tireless campaigning earns him the admiration of San Franciscans, he ends up making a dangerous enemy of his fellow city supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin). Watch it now on Netflix.
The World’s End
The final film of the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ also featuring Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, The World’s End sees a group of middle-aged men reunited to attempt a famous pub crawl in their hometown. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return, albeit with roles reversed as Frost plays the straight man and Pegg the fool. While considered the weakest of the three films, it’s nonetheless an outstanding and deceptively poignant comedy that touches on alcoholism and the dangers of rose-tinted nostalgia. Click here to watch.
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Back in 2013, a great deal of controversy surrounded Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour. This wasn’t only for its intense and uncompromising depiction of the love that develops between two young women, but because of the intrusive, exacting demands the director made of his stars. Léa Seydoux (Emma) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Adèle) both came forward after the film’s release to say that he had been tyrannical as a director, making them work in abusive conditions to get scenes right. In this passionate film, the furious love affair which develops between Emma and Adèle is nevertheless shot with depth and care – with astounding performances from those in the lead, who were unconventionally awarded the Palme d’Or along with the film’s director. Click here to watch.
Everyone in this period drama from director Dee Rees is trying to drag themselves out of the Mississippi mud, in one way or another. Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) moves his young family to a farm on the Mississippi delta, although his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) is less than pleased by the news that he’s also bringing his horribly racist father to live with them too. The Jackson family are tenants on the farm, led by Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) who hopes he can work his way out of sharecropping and own his own slice of land one day. When Hap’s son and Henry’s brother return to Mississippi from World War II, the two men find themselves locked in a struggle against the ugly oppression of Jim Crow America. Click here to watch.
Writer and director Alex Garland won numerous plaudits for his directorial debut Ex Machina, including Oscar and BAFTA nominations for best original screenplay. Annihilation is his second feature as a director and it’s another serious, enthralling sci-fi exploration that’s much better than its ‘straight to Netflix’ status would suggest.
Channelling a sci-fi horror vibe reminiscent of Soviet-era mind trip Stalker, Annihilation’s main antagonist is a slowly expanding zone called The Shimmer in which all life is undergoing rapid and inexplicable mutation. Natalie Portman travels with an all-female team of scientists to try and reach the centre of The Shimmer and understand what’s causing it, and what happened to her husband after his own journey into Area X. Cerebral and dream-like, it’s the kind of film that begs discussion, interpretation and repeat viewings. It’s also an absolute visual treat. See it here.
La La Land
Los Angeles is a city where people go to chase their dreams, but wind up working dead-end jobs for a boss they hate. It’s also a place where a traffic jam turns into a musical set-piece, complete with jazz hands on car roofs, at the drop of a hat. Ryan Gosling plays a gloomy pianist stuck playing jazz standards in restaurants while Emma Stone is an aspiring actor who can’t quite seem to get a land her first acting gig. La La Land follows the pair as they make the agonising decision to choose between their relationship and their dreams, but along the way they manage to rattle off a handful of original songs, helped along by the film’s superb score. The film received 14 nominations at the 2017 Oscars, and ended up winning six. You can watch it here.
What happened to Monday
What happened to Monday is so ridiculous that it’s brilliant. Part of the ever-growing list of sci-fi dystopian flicks, this Netflix Original tells the ever-unraveling story of six septuplets who had the misfortune of being born into a world with a strict one-child policy. To avoid government capture, they must pretend to be the same person. When one sister goes missing, this proves easier said than done. With an impressive performance by Noomi Rapace, as all six sisters, and Willem Dafoe as their guardian, watch it here.
Dallas Buyers Club
Set in 1985 in Texas, a bigoted rodeo bull rider, Ron Woodroof, is diagnosed with AIDS. His refusal to accept his fate sends him on a journey to track down the drug AZT, the only known treatment. On his journey he meets a transgender business partner, who agrees to help him distribute the drug amongst the gay community. Based on a true story, Dallas Buyer Club is as harrowing as it is inspiring. Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, subverts the macho man, making him an unexpected hero to a generation of gay men. McConaughey’s celebrated performance won him an Academy award and Golden Globe for Best Male Actor. Watch it here.
The Fundamentals of Caring
This on-the road indie flick is many things at once. Based on a novel by Jonathan Evison, it’s heartwarming, witty, thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud hilarious. The Fundamentals of Caring is lifted with just the right balance of dark comedy and drama making it both a poignant story and an easy watch. Paul Rudd stars as beaten-down Ben who decides to go on a course to become a carer after divorcing his wife, and Trevor (Craig Roberts) is wry, hilarious and complicated as the teenager Rudd begins caring for. It’s refreshing to see disability presented in a way that feels honest without being afraid to address self-depreciation through comedy. Go have a slightly teary laugh over on Netflix.
Zero Dark Thirty
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, known for Hurt Locker and the upcoming Detroit, Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Starring Jessica Chastain as the lead, it’s an outstanding thriller and doesn’t shy away from some challenging topics. It’s infamous for its depiction of “enhanced interrogation” and it was criticised for being both pro- and anti-torture. In any case, Zero Dark Thirty isn’t a jingoistic celebration of US success, but a tough, unrelenting look at the sacrifices, moral and personal, made in pursuit of the war on terror and well worth a watch.
Unlike The Circle, South Korean film Okja was well received and falls under the Netflix Original banner. The film tells the tale of a young girl trying to save her best friend – a giant super pig called Okja from a powerful corporation. Directed by Bong Joon-Ho, who co-wrote the film with author of The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson, this charming tale is a truly original creation. Watch it on Netflix here.
One of director Sidney Lumet’s many masterpieces, Network is a razor-sharp satire of the broadcast news world and the controversial influence of TV ratings. It’s most famous scene features Peter Finch as longtime news anchor Howard Beale and his much-quoted onscreen meltdown when he angrily encourages viewers to shout out of their windows: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”