Before the list proper, there are some notes to be made. First, Netflix offers a different selection in every country it services, and this list focuses solely on films available to U.S. subscribers. That said, those outside the U.S. are encouraged to still check their country’s line-up, as some of these picks may also be available to them. Secondly, these 25 best movies on Netflix are available to stream as of this writing. If and when included titles are removed from Netflix, this list will be updated with new selections.
25. Monty Python And The Holy Grail
A feature-film offshoot of the classic sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail is regularly cited as one of the funniest comedies of all time, and is also one of the most influential movies in history. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the film that launched a thousand memes, and anyone who watches it for the first time on Netflix is likely to come away in awe at how many common pop cultural references they now understand. For those who can’t get enough, Monty Pyton’s Flying Circus’ full run is also available to stream.
24. Taxi Driver
Often cited as one of legendary director Martin Scorsese’s best films, 1976’s Taxi Driver also features one of the greatest performances to come out of the long acting career of Robert De Niro. Written by Paul Schrader, Taxi Driver stars De Niro as Travis Bickle, an already tightly wound Vietnam veteran who finds himself slowly becoming more and more disillusioned with society after witnessing the rampant crime and corruption in New York City. Bickle of course eventually snaps, going on one of cinema’s most infamous violent rampages, and it’s just as effective over 40 years later on Netflix.
Considered one of the funniest films in history, 1980 spoof comedy Airplane throws joke after joke at the audience with reckless abandon, and while all of them don’t necessarily hit for everyone, most of them likely will. Granted, Airplane does contain some material likely to be viewed as a bit problematic by current standards, but when seen through the lens of when it was made, it’s clear these jokes weren’t intended to be malicious. Airplane might be best known for taking Leslie Nielsen, then primarily a dramatic actor, and turning him into a comedic force to be reckoned with. Anyone who hasn’t experienced Airplane needs to take this flight while it’s on Netflix.
. Cape Fear
While the original 1962 version of Cape Fear is generally regarded as a classic, director Martin Scorsese’s 1991 new to Netflix remake is often considered just as good, if not better. Robert De Niro stars as Max Cady, a convicted rapist recently released from prison. Instead of celebrating his newfound freedom, Max targets his old lawyer Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who purposefully hid evidence that may have gotten his client a less harsh sentence. Jessica Lange also stars as Sam’s wife Leigh, with Juliette Lewis playing daughter Danielle. Both De Niro and Lewis earned Oscar nominations for their work. Original Cape Fear stars Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck also make cameos.
21. A Clockwork Orange
Legendary director Stanley Kubrick may no longer be among the living, but his many masterpieces continue to fascinate and enchant movie lovers decades later. 1971’s A Clockwork Orange – based on the novel by Anthony Burgess – is set in a dystopian Britain, and centers on Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), the leader of a violent gang of criminals. When Alex is captured and convicted, it turns out the punishment for his crimes may actually be more heinous than the crimes themselves. A Clockwork Orange is truly a top pick for Netflix subscribers.
Directed by Barry Jenkins, 2016’s coming-of-age drama Moonlight will – for better or worse – probably always be known as the movie that won Best Picture only after the award had been mistakenly given to La La Land. That aside, Moonlight deserved the awards love, and is definitely in the top tier of Netflix’s movie selection. The film follows three stages in the life of Chiron Harris (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes), a young black man trying to both make his way in the world and come to terms with his sexuality, despite dealing with homophobia and his drug-addicted mother. Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, and Andre Holland also star.
19. The Addams Family
While 2019’s animated Addams Family movie was a letdown, there’s never been a better time to revisit director Barry Sonnenfeld’s live-action film adaptation from 1991. The titular family was perfectly cast, especially the late Raul Julia as patriarch Gomez and Anjelica Huston as his equally macabre love Morticia. A young Christina Ricci also shines as death-obsessed daughter Wednesday, while Christopher Lloyd completes the family as Uncle Fester. Well, eventually. It’s not a traditional pick for one of the best movies on Netflix, but it’s supremely entertaining.
18. Ocean’s Eleven
While director Steven Soderbergh might be better known for his award-worthy dramas, sometimes he stops being quite so serious, and creates the laid back chill of 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven. A critical and commercial hit, Ocean’s Eleven manages to be both a thrilling heist caper and an amusing bit of ensemble fun, perfect for Netflix subscribers. Said ensemble boasts some huge names, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Bernie Mac.
17. The Irishman
One of the most anticipated additions to Netflix’s original movie catalog to date, The Irishman is the latest crime epic from legendary director Martin Scorsese. Based on a true story, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a trucker turned mob assassin. Frank works for powerful organized crime figure Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), and eventually gets involved with teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Eye-popping CGI de-aging techniques help these iconic actors play their characters over decades of story in this latest Scorsese triumph.
16. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Directed by legendary hit-maker Steven Spielberg, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced the world to one of the greatest action/adventure franchises in cinematic history, and also one of cinema’s greatest heroes. Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones, a university professor professionally, but a crusading archaeologist and adventurer in his off time. In his film debut, Indy outruns giant boulders, punches out giant Nazis, and quests for the fabled biblical artifact known as the Ark of the Covenant. All three Indiana Jones sequels are also now on Netflix.
While director Oliver Stone is most closely associated nowadays with his penchant for conspiracy theories and being outspoken politically, that doesn’t mean his films aren’t still by and large brilliant, and worth checking out on Netflix. One of the best is 1986’s Platoon, which is based on Stone’s own experiences serving in the Vietnam War. The cast is loaded with talent, including Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, and even Johnny Depp in an early role. War truly is hell, and Platoon presents that reality more vividly than the vast majority of movies.
Shall we play a game? One of the most well-known movie lines of the 1980s, that question sets the plot of 1983’s WarGames in motion. Matthew Broderick stars as young hacker David Lightman, who – without realizing it – gains access to a U.S. military supercomputer called WOPR. Once inside the system, David begins playing a “game” called Global Thermonuclear War, only to discover too late that the now confused computer is on track to cause a real life World War III. Ally Sheedy co-stars as David’s friend Jennifer, while Dabney Coleman plays a NORAD systems engineer who ‘s eventually convinced David’s unlikely story is true. WarGames remains worth playing on Netflix.
13. Boyz N The Hood
The directorial debut of the late, great John Singleton, Boyz n the Hood is a drama centered on Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Jr.), and follows his life after going to live with his dad (Laurence Fishburne) in gang-infested South Central Los Angeles. A critical and commercial hit, Boyz n the Hood earned two Oscar nominations, and featured a cast full of present and future big names, including Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, and Regina King. If one hasn’t seen it by now, Netflix makes that easy.
12. Mad Max
While 2015’s Tom Hardy-fronted Mad Max: Fury Road is now pretty clearly regarded as the height of director George Miller’s franchise, Max Rockatansky’s story began back in 1979 in the original Mad Max film, played by Mel Gibson. Set in a dystopian future Australia, this Mad Max isn’t quite the lonely wanderer he would become, still employed as a cop and still surrounded by his family. Unfortunately, Max’s life would only get worse as the film and franchise went on, but his debut is essential viewing for sci-fi/action fans that have Netflix.
11. Pan’s Labyrinth
Director Guillermo del Toro has a resume bursting with terrific films, but 2006’s dark fantasy drama Pan’s Labyrinth is arguably his best work. Set in 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War ended, the story follows young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero). Ofelia’s life isn’t easy, as her mother grows increasingly sicker, her stepfather is a sadistic monster, and she’s discovered the titular place, a magical realm containing creatures beyond imagination. Anyone who hasn’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth owes it to themselves to check out del Toro’s masterpiece on Netflix.
10. Basic Instinct
While 1992’s Basic Instinct is most remembered for a particularly scandalous scene involving Sharon Stone, the movie as a whole is quite the enthralling neo-noir suspense thriller. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Basic Instinct stars Michael Douglas as detective Nick Curran, who makes the mistake of becoming romantically involved with murder suspect Catherine Tramell (Stone). Well, depending on one’s definition of romance. One of the biggest hits of the 1990s, Basic Instinct made over $350 million, and is a Netflix pick definitely aimed at adults.
9. Total Recall
Iconoclastic director Paul Verhoeven has been called many things over the course of his career, but he’s certainly never been called boring. One of his biggest mainstream hits is 1990’s Total Recall, an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick sci-fi story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” that features Arnold Schwarzenegger near the height of his powers as a movie star. The twisty plot largely defies a short-form explanation, but on the surface, the story kicks off when blue-collar worker Douglas Quaid (Schwarzengger) seeks the services of Rekall, a company capable of implanting memories of a Mars vacation he’s never actually had. There’s never been a better time for Netflix users to take their own trip to Verhoeven’s Mars.
8. Back To The Future
Back to the Future, one of the most beloved films of all time, is now one of the best movies on Netflix, and sequels Back to the Future Part 2 and Part 3 are also available. There’s not much left to say about Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) adventure through the past, trying to save his very existence after accidentally undoing his conception, all while seeking the help of a younger version of his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). It’s a terrific movie, and a classic for a reason.
7. The Disaster Artist
Every consummate film fan knows that sometimes a movie can be so bad that it’s entertaining. An incredibly inept production can still be a work of art that came from good intentions and a passion for the project, and sometimes that shines through the screen, even if the movie in question objectively stinks. One such film is 2003’s The Room, directed by and starring the notoriously eccentric Tommy Wiseau. Tommy is quite a character, so much so that 2017’s acclaimed The Disaster Artist turned his story into a genuinely good film, and one of the best movies on Netflix. James Franco stars as Wiseau, and appropriately, directed The Disaster Artist as well.
6. Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler is certainly best known as a comedy star, but on the few occasions he opts to showcase his dramatic talent, it’s clear he possesses quite a bit of it. In 2019’s Uncut Gems, Sandler stars as a New York City jeweler with a gambling problem that finds himself needing to get his hands on a particularly expensive gem in order to settle his enormous debts. While the gem is rightfully his, getting it back proves dangerously complicated. Uncut Gems is definitely one of the best movies on Netflix, and a great recent addition to the service.
History is full of brutal serial killers, with human monsters like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer proving popular targets for coverage by the world of film. Those names all share one commonality outside of their predilection for murder though, that being that they were all eventually caught. That can’t be said for the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960s and 1970s. Directed by David Fincher, 2007’s Zodiac takes a look at the manhunt for the infamous murderer, and can be streamed anytime on Netflix. The cast is full of recognizable faces, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Chloe Sevigny, and John Carroll Lynch.
4. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Since 2016, Peter Parker’s live-action film incarnation has been swinging under the auspices of Marvel Studios’ MCU franchise, but last year, Sony did something outside those bounds, creating an Oscar-winning animated masterpiece called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Featuring the voice of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Into the Spider-Verse sees an experiment ordered by Kingpin go awry, and rip a hole in reality that allows Spider-people from various alternate universes to journey over to Miles’ world. It’s then up to the group of heroes to close the rift, and get everyone back to the dimension they belong in.
3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Jack Nicholson is a Hollywood icon, and one of his best roles ever came as protagonist R.P. McMurphy in the 1975 Oscar darling One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. McMurphy fakes mental illness to avoid jail time, only to find that the mental hospital he’s sent to is full of unhappy patients and a sadistic nurse named Ratched. Nicholson won his first Oscar for his work, and deservedly so, in this, one of the best movies on Netflix.
2. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
There’s no doubt that Breaking Bad was one of the most acclaimed TV series ever, and thankfully, its sequel El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie lives up to its progenitor, becoming one of the best movies on Netflix. The story focuses on what happened to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), after he drove off into an uncertain future at the end of Breaking Bad. Hopefully this isn’t the last fans see of Jesse, or Walt, who appeared in a flashback cameo.
1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
One of the biggest stars in the history of comedy, Jim Carrey only rarely shows off his considerable dramatic chops, but perhaps the best example of those abilities is director Michel Gondry’s inventive 2004 sci-fi romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Carrey stars alongside Kate Winslet as Joel and Mary, respectively, two former lovers who – after a nasty breakup – decide to use technology to erase their memories of life as a couple. Eternal Sunshine picked up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and remains a trip worth taking on Netflix.
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