Alright, you want the best of the best? Then we’re gonna give it to you.
After scouring Netflix for the best thrillers, best action flicks, best romantic comedies, best horror movies, best family films, and more, it’s finally time for us to narrow down our streaming suggestions to the best movies, period. That’s right — it’s superhero sagas vs. biopics vs. war dramas vs. musicals vs. comedies vs. so much more. This is the ultimate film list for when you have no idea what you want to watch outside of the general concept of an excellent movie that delivers top-tier performances, a killer script, and an engaging world.
Without further ado and in no particular order, here are the 25 best movies now on Netflix.
1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Credit: Pierre Vinet/New Line Cinema/Kobal/Shutterstock
They say go big or go home, and thankfully you’re already home, on your couch, Netflixing. So, why not hand over nine plus of your daily allotment of hours to Peter Jackson’s epic Oscar-swallowing Middle-earth trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King)? Two decades on, the trilogy that started it all still holds up so well that it’s nigh impossible to remember what an enormous risk it seemed in 2001, back before we’d seen a second of Frodo & Co. trying to get that darn precious up into the lava flows of Mount Doom, Gollums be damned.
But today the trilogy stands tall as one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time, spawning a second threesome of Hobbit films and a billion-dollar episodic series on, you know, that other streaming service. These represent the height of fantasy filmmaking, perhaps to never be dethroned. – Jason Adams, Entertainment Reporter
2. Phantom Thread
If Daniel Day-Lewis is really and truly permanently retired from acting (and let’s hope he’s not, for acting’s sake), then he went out on a darn high note with this profoundly romantic anti-romance from director Paul Thomas Anderson. DDL’s persnickety couture bastard Reynolds Woodcock (a name the director and his star came up with as a gag, which stuck) and his right-hand sis Cyril (Lesley Manville, who will go right through you) have the disgustingly wealthy eating out of their satin-lined gloves when the film begins.
So, how does a stumbling bumbling nobody waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps in a blow-the-doors-off performance) flip their entire pristine world upside down with nothing but a well-calculated blush and a basket of mushrooms? That’s the stuff of romance, in all of its violent, push-pull swirl. And Phantom Thread captures the dunderheaded swoon of that first blush, plus all of the fallout that necessarily falls after in order to keep that flame forever burning. – J.A.
How to watch: Phantom Thread is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This 2016 adventure about bad egg Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and his curmudgeonly foster father Hec (Sam Neill) is the kind of eccentric delight that writer/director Taika Waititi specializes in (this time co-writing with Barry Crump, who wrote the original book).
After losing his foster mother, Ricky flees into the forests of New Zealand, pursued by Hec, only to learn that the older man also feels no need to return to civilization. Together they become the wilderpeople, living off the land and evading capture from authorities, including Thor: Ragnarok‘s Rachel House. Wilderpeople is equal parts stirring, hilarious, and absurd — a story of found family and adventure that can be loved by all. —Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter (*)
4. Call Me By Your Name
Credit: Frenesy Film Co/Sony/Kobal/Shutterstock
22-year-olds don’t get nominated for Best Actor every day. Indeed, only two actors in the 95-year history of the Academy Awards were younger than Timothée Chalamet was in 2017 when he waltzed into the Dolby Theater in his white tuxedo after having given irrepressible life to the bookish teenager Elio Perlman in Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 romantic masterpiece Call Me By Your Name. And I’d have given him the statue, too.
‘Call Me By Your Name’ is the rare case where you should watch the movie before reading the book
Dropping amid dark Trumpian days here in the U.S., this too-brief Italian summer, flush with color and fluids, saw Elio feeling out those first deepest intimacies with his father’s summertime professorial assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer)…and also, somewhat memorably, a peach. And it felt like the coming-of-age movie so many of us had been waiting our entire lives to see. – J.A.
5. Monster House
Great for Halloween or for any time of the year you feel like being lightly spooked, this 2006 animated flick from director Gil Kenan is one of the great haunted house movies. The clever twist here is that it’s the house itself that’s haunted, turning everything from its balusters to its banisters to its balustrades and beyond into clawing fingers and snapping teeth – all the better to swallow whole those nosey kids who wander a wee bit too close to its pristine lawn. Riffing on that kite-eating tree from Charlie Brown, this tale feels as old as time, delivering chills and thrills and Steve Buscemi voicing the scary neighborhood grump – I mean, where else are your kids gonna learn all about the uvula in such a spectacular fashion? – J.A.
How to watch: Monster House is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
6. Da 5 Bloods
Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg reviewed Da 5 Bloods in summer 2020, writing: “In the midst of widespread IRL social upheaval that many hope will finally start to undo the trauma wrought by centuries of deeply embedded prejudice, this new movie delivers a powerful sense of perspective.” Spike Lee’s war film, a keenly impactful meditation on systemic racism, stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, the late Chadwick Boseman, and more. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter
First-time feature director Rohena Gera sticks the landing with 2018’s Sir, which only released in cinemas in November 2020 and hit Netflix early in 2021. It’s essential Indian cinema. Tillotama Shome stars as Ratna, a live-in housemaid to upper-middle class Ashwin. Housemaids are common in India, where the film is set, but Ratna and Ashwin develop a slow-simmering and socially unthinkable love.
With Gera’s writing and direction, this unlikely story never feels forced. The love blooms organically, in furtive looks and hefty silence and the trust they develop as Ashwin recovers from a broken engagement and Ratna tells him about her late husband. The result is a film so soft and stirring that it will stay with you long after it ends. —P.K. (*)
8. The Mitchells vs. The Machines
The Mitchells are one tremendous family.
Credit: 2021 SPAI
Take your typical family road trip comedy, toss in a robot apocalypse, and top it all off with a heavy smattering of meme-worthy filters, doodles, and GIFs, and you might end up with something like The Mitchells vs. The Machines: a truly fun-for-the-whole-family feature that hinges on whether an artsy teen (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) and her luddite dad (voiced by Danny McBride) can set aside their differences long enough to save all of humanity from being launched into space by Siri Pal.
Come for the jokes about our impending AI-led dystopia, stay for the heart-tugging moments of Mitchell family bonding. Seriously, we might never hear T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life” without tearing up ever again. — A.H. (*)
9. Reservoir Dogs
Orange, brown, blonde, and that indelible, edible pink – Quentin Tarantino delivered an entire rainbow of flavor with this his 1992 feature debut, giving his eight gangsters (Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Edward Bunker, and Tarantino himself) all nicknames of the pigment kind. All the better to keep themselves anonymous as they commit their dirty, diamond-thieving deeds.
But the three colors you might think of most of when you think of this movie are probably black, white, and red – black and white for those iconic matching suits the very bad dudes all sport, and red for the fountains of blood that end up getting splashed and sprayed all across them before this madcap, rat-a-tat, heist-gone-seriously-wrong flick is through. Listening to all this snappy dialogue and watching where Madsen’s knife slices — you’ll never take your ears for granted again! – J.A.
How to watch: Reservoir Dogs is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
In his feature-length directorial debut, found-footage genre genius Patrick Brice stars as Aaron, a freelance videographer who accepts a job working for a strange client, played by Mark Duplass. A spectacular combination of comedy and chills, Creep does a lot with a little — delivering a horror gem so good it merited a phenomenal sequel starring Desiree Akhavan that’s also on Netflix(Opens in a new tab). — A.F.
11. The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch dazzles in “The Power of the Dog.”
Credit: Kirsty Griffin/Courtesy of Netflix
The Power of the Dog is a masterful Western from director Jane Campion, who made history as the third woman to win the award for Best Director. Benedict Cumberbatch dazzles with quiet menace as cowboy Phil Burbank, while his co-stars Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also deliver award-worthy performances. A gorgeous film layered with subtle dangers, The Power of the Dog is proof that it’s Campion’s world. We’re all just living in it. — B.E. (*)
12. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Cornetto Trilogy be damned, ’twas Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic tale of the woes fallen upon poor lovestruck Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) that gave director Edgar Wright his greatest cinematic vehicle to date. Forced to fight the seven vengeful exes of punky delivery gal Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in order to fully win her heart, there are admittedly some things about the movie that even in their moment felt dated – Scott dating high school student Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) stands out, for one!
But the film knows Scott’s faults are faults, while also fighting to give all the women in his orbit enough agency that I can look askance, especially for a movie this electric, top to bottom. The greatest video game movie that isn’t technically a video game movie, with a soundtrack that still kicks unholy ass. (You can give me Brie Larson singing “Black Sheep”(Opens in a new tab) on a loop until the day I die, please.) – J.A.
13. Crimson Peak
Justice for Crimson Peak! Those of us who love Guillermo del Toro’s camp gothic romance really love it, and we will defend it with our last heaving guttural ghostly gasp. From those balloon-sized, puffy-shouldered nightgowns that Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) sports while running up and down hallways and staircases and staircases and hallways while clutching candelabras, to Tom Hiddleton’s heaving buttocks, to fresh and inventive ways of smashing a dude’s face in, Crimson Peak is peak del Toro. Total goth nirvana. Make like Jessica Chastain, and stab, stab, stab this beauty into your heart today! – J.A.
How to watch: Crimson Peak is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
14. Minority Report
Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report felt prescient about five milliseconds after it came out in 2002, and it’s only grown more so with each passing year, with each bill that our post-9/11 government approves to further encroach upon our privacies. Indeed, the only thing that might feel out of date here is the concept of privacy itself, as the very idea feels almost old-fashioned now; we’ve gladly signed over our bouncing eyeballs to the big machines in the sky. Still, even as we wince in recognition of the future as it’s falling into place, Spielberg and screenwriter Scott Frank and movie star Tom Cruise (at his panicky, sweat-stained best) turned Philip K. Dick’s story into one humdinger of a sleek thriller here, both relentless and visionary. Bonus points for early usage of Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell! – J.A.
How to watch: Minority Report is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
Credit: Bleeker Street Media/Moviestore/Shutterstock
The media made an awful lot out of the Rachels (McAdams and Weisz) swapping spit in their sex scenes in director Sebastián Lelio’s 2017 lesbian romance set among the Orthodox Jewish community of North London, but maybe that’s okay – at least we got sex scenes! They’re becoming such a rarity these days that this fairly recent movie, which pushed the envelope just a wee little bit on that front, feels a million years old at this point. But those are just a small, intimate part of this big romance all the same, which is gifted with three of the best performances of the past decade — including along with the Rachels a divine Alessandro Nivola as McAdams’ rabbi-to-be husband — and a deeply humanistic ending that sets my heart on fire every time I see it. – J.A.
How to watch: Disobedience is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
16. Marriage Story
Yes, interpretations of Noah Baumbach’s Academy Award-winning film have varied substantially among audiences. But, for the most part, critics agree that the character-driven divorce film saga represents a resonant and important viewpoint in modern relationships. Career-best performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver will turn you into a sobbing puddle while Baumbach’s artful narrative-building slowly makes you whole again. — A.F.
17. tick, tick… Boom!
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature directorial debut packs a potent musical theater punch from every angle. He brings to life the selective reality and theatrical phantasmagoria of Rent writer Jonathan Larson’s life and career, based on an autobiographical show from 1992.
Miranda, whose In the Heights was spectacularly adapted for film by Jon M. Chu, proves as adept at moving from stage to screen as he does sucking the marrow of his medium. Andrew Garfield fully inhabits Larson, from voice to body to towering, buzzing hair and a frenetic urgency to create — to write, to sing, to matter, as Larson so clearly did to legions of dreamers who followed. — P.K. (*)
18. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
“One, two, five!”
There are tons of great Monty Python films to pick from (including Life of Brian(Opens in a new tab), which is also streaming on Netflix), but The Holy Grail holds a special place in our hearts. It’s endlessly quotable, stupidly funny, and captures everything that made this comedy team spectacular. Not to mention it forever changed how we see coconuts, swallows, hamsters, and elderberries. — A.F.
Fall under the spell of Parasite director Bong Joon-ho once more with Netflix’s Okja. When a terrible fate befalls a genetically modified kind of “super pig” named Okja thanks to the evil Mirando corporation, Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) will stop at nothing to save her friend and take down Mirando’s CEO Lucy (Tilda Swinton). — A.F.
20. Frances Ha
When Frances Ha (a never-better Greta Gerwig), during an ill-planned jaunt to Paris, gives a speech to a group of strangers over dinner about that thing, you know, where you see somebody who perfectly understands you across a room during a party? That’s when the movie gets its hook into me. And when what Frances described plays itself out perfectly at the end of Noah Baumbach’s black-and-white 2012 masterpiece, with her forever bestie Sophie (Mickey Sumner) spotting her across a room and smiling with all the communication in all the world passing between them? That’s when I am dragged into this perfect movie’s loving embrace all over again. And again. And again.
It’s been about a decade since its release, and Frances Ha was already a bit of a time capsule of a precise moment and place in time when it came out. Still, the low-fi indie timelessly transcends those specifics, capturing something ineffable about friendship and self-actualization in the smallest, sweetest, clumsiest of increments. – J.A.
How to watch: Frances Ha is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
‘Roma’ is timelessly beautiful.
The first foreign-language film to win an Oscar for Best Director, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma greets viewers at the intersection of personal reflection and cinematic excellence. The black-and-white film follows live-in housekeeper Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an Indigenous woman who works for an affluent family in Mexico City, finding a sense of humanity that is uniquely memorable. — A.F.
22. Brokeback Mountain
Whether they were the gay cowboys that the media tagged them as or the bisexual shepherds that the movie itself presented, it doesn’t actually matter; what director Ang Lee delivered with Brokeback Mountain was one of the most moving and epic films of our lifetimes, labels be damned. Chockablock with enough characters and lines of dialogue that’ve by now entered our cultural lexicon to guarantee its place in history, it’s shockingly intimate for such sweep. Brokeback Mountain keeps itself focused on its tight-knit pair of couples — Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Alma (Michelle Williams) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Lureen (Anne Hathaway) — and the open wide expanses that are tearing them apart. To this day, you can just play me a whisper of Gustavo Santaolalla’s strummy score and watch me turn into a puddle of tears. – J.A.
23. The Woman King
The Oscars might have missed the boat on Gina Prince-Bythewood’s relentless action thriller about a real-life group of female warriors (led by a remarkably buff Viola Davis) fighting slavers in 1800s Africa, but that doesn’t mean you should do the same. Looking like no other action movie ever made, this collective of kick-ass women (including a stellar Lashana Lynch and Thuso Mbedu among their ranks) will have you leaping off your sofa and cheering as they slice their way through jungle and clay and mankind alike.– J.A.
How to watch: The Woman King(Opens in a new tab) is streaming on Netflix.
24. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Emotional demolitions expert/filmmaker Charlie Kaufman destroys audiences once more in the mind-boggling I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Adapted from Iain Reid’s novel of the same name, this cryptically titled psychological thriller follows a woman, played by Jessie Buckley, and her boyfriend, played by Jesse Plemons, on a disturbing visit to his parents’ remote farmhouse. What follows? Well, that depends on who you ask.
A transfixing meditation on art, existence, value, authorship, isolation, and more, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a truly one-of-a-kind experience as profound as it is disquieting. You may not have a great time in this house of abstract horrors (especially when Toni Collette is onscreen doing those classically terrifying Toni Collette things), but it will be a lasting one. — A.F. (*)
Put on your dancing shoes and prepare to punch a tiger in the face, because S. S. Rajamouli’s three-plus hour action epic is here to pound you into submission, and you’ll be smiling for every second of it. Making Zack Snyder’s grandiosity look like a flea circus, RRR (which stands for “Rise Roar Revolt”) tells the simple and modest tale of two revolutionaries (played by human supermen N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan) in 1920 who become friends, enemies, friends again, and on and so forth, until they storm and spin and punch and slash their way across half of the British army.
RRR features about a dozen action scenes that should rank among the most phenomenal spectacles ever put on screen (I’m particular to the fight that nearly burns down an entire jungle, myself), but we all know it’s the “Naatu Naatu” dance competition(Opens in a new tab) that keeps the boys and girls coming back for more. – J.A.
How to watch: RRR is streaming on Netflix(Opens in a new tab).
Need even more streaming recommendations? Mashable Streaming Guides can help. You can find:
Asterisks (*) indicate the entry comes from a previous Mashable list.