We guarantee you’ll find something to add to your Netflix queue.
We know the feeling: You’re tired after work and all you want to do is relax and watch a good movie on Netflix. But you have no idea where to start or even what you’re in the mood for. That’s why we’ve curated guides for the best movies on Netflix for nearly every genre we could think of: horror, comedy, indie flicks, rom-coms, serial killers, anime, kids movies, nature documentaries, movies based on true stories, standup specials, TV shows, thrillers, 4k movies and TV shows, and more.
We’ve combined the blurbs from some of those lists and written quite a few more to create this ultimate guide to what to watch on Netflix. We’ll be updating this list monthly, so you can rest assured that if you see something you like here, you can quickly add it to your queue.
The 105 best movies on Netflix
There’s not a lot to say about Boyhood that hasn’t already been said. It’s a masterpiece, an experience unlike any other, and one of the best movies of the century so far. Champion of the understated, director Richard Linklater casually follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from childhood to college, checking in with his actors as they aged over a 12-year shooting process. In the Linklater way, eschewing grand, life-changing moments in favor of the everyday business of just living, the film becomes extraordinary in its ordinariness. This is one person’s story, and the beauty in it is that the narrative never focuses on anything other than that person becoming himself—which is, of course, both one of the most ordinary and the most beautiful things anyone can ever achieve. To say that Boyhood works only as an experiment would be shortsighted. It works as a complete and profound work of art on its own, too. —Chris Osterndorf
2) Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel about a theme park full of dinosaurs run amok is nearly as spectacular today as it was when it was released in 1993. From the first time John Williams’ sweeping score kicks and we get out first majestic shot of a dinosaur, Jurassic Park is a near-perfect action film and one of Spielberg’s most purely enjoyable blockbusters. Practically everything about the movie—from the groundbreaking effects to shirtless Jeff Goldblum—remain iconic. Countless parodies, several terrible sequels, and billions of dollars later, life, uh, still finds a way. —C.O.
3) Full Metal Jacket
Like all of Stanley Kubrick’s work, Full Metal Jacket is cold, distant, and often disturbing. But Kubrick’s iciness works perfectly for examining the horrors of Vietnam. One of only two films he made in the 1980s (the other was The Shining), Full Metal Jacket redefined the war movie by suggesting that the training process could actually be one of the worst parts of the whole experience. The first half of the story, which finds a group of Marines going through a dehumanizing boot camp, is so good that people often forget the portion that’s actually set in Vietnam. The entire film is expertly crafted and sure to make an impression. Full Metal Jacket is the rare war movie that refuses to make war look even remotely cool, and it’s all the better for it. —C.O.
As with the rest of the franchise, Rogue One’s production design is stunning. The tropical base on Scarif is like nothing we’ve seen before, and its sprawling battle scene feels tense and immediate. David Crossman’s costume design fits into the Star Wars universe while distinguishing Rogue One’s place in the beaten-down Dark Ages of the war, with the lead characters dressed in the tough, unwashed garb of guerrilla fighters. Jyn and Cassian look effortlessly badass in their scrubby jackets and layers of grimy shirts, while Baze Malbus and the aging extremist Saw Gerrera contribute sci-fi style with their dented body armor and bulky weapons. As ever, the franchise’s visual world-building is second to none. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
5) Boogie Nights
Several Paul Thomas Anderson films from this century (There Will Be Blood, The Master) are so routinely referred to as masterpieces that one can almost forget he had a career before the year 2000. But not only was Anderson as a much a product of the ‘90s indie explosion as fellow auteurs Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson, he debatably made the best film out of all of them with 1997’s Boogie Nights. It’s a sprawling, multifaceted depiction of the porn industry in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The rise and fall (and sort of rise?) of Dirk Diggler proved to be a coming-out moment for star Mark Wahlberg too, not to mention a brief redemption for Oscar-nominated supporting actor Burt Reynolds, working alongside many of Anderson’s usual players, who all give career highlight performances. The music, the setting, the acting, the story: Boogie Nights is an American story unlike any other. —C.O.
6) The Godfather Saga
It’s difficult to even talk about The Godfather without considering the monumental impact it had on cinema and pop culture at large. The first film defined the gangster genre and gave us icons in Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone and Marlon Brando’s Don Vito Corleone. The second film subverted and redefined the expectations set by the first one while also making newcomer Robert De Niro a star. The third film… well, the less said about the third film the better. Regardless, Francis Ford Coppola’s trilogy still stands as one of the finest American movie epics of all time. A defining immigrant story, a revelatory take on the nature of violence, and a profound meditation on family and power, The Godfather is all it’s cracked up to be and more. —C.O.
7) Schindler’s List
Schindler’s List is the kind of movie that is so famously wrenching, it’s increasingly harder to find anybody who has actually seen it. Hopefully its presence on Netflix fixes that, because Steven Spielberg’s 1993 epic may still be the defining film about the Holocaust. In addition to winning Best Picture, Schindler’s List cemented Spielberg’s place as not only the populist favorite among his generation of directors but a true master of the artform as well. —C.O.
8) Sin City
Sin City is film noir on speed. Hyper-violent, hyper-sexual, and hyper-stylized, director Robert Rodriguez brought Frank Miller’s series of graphic novels about the cesspool that is Basin City and the unlucky denizens who live there to life with an attention to detail rarely seen in comic book movies. Shot on a green screen in expressive black-and-white, every frame, every image in Sin City looks like it could’ve been pulled directly from Miller’s pages. An anthology movie that weaves together three different tales of lust, corruption, and revenge, Sin City features a ridiculously great cast and a bit of guest-direction from Quentin Tarantino. —C.O.
Moana is so good it belongs in the canon of all time Disney greats. You need to add it to your Watchlist immediately if you somehow missed it when it was in theaters. And then you need to cancel your plans for tonight and watch Moana instead. The film brilliantly reinvents the Disney princess formula while also honoring all the Disney classics you grew up loving. The representation. The Rock. The music from Lin-Manuel Miranda. I could go on, but really, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, just watch it first. —C.O.
10) Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Judd Apatow and Jason Segel brought us this modern comedy classic. A raunchy rom-com in typical Apatow fashion, the film follows Segel’s Peter, who flies to Hawaii after a breakup with his actress girlfriend of the title. The only problem is that she’s there too, and she’s brought along her new boyfriend. Featuring a great ensemble that includes Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand, as well as Bill Hader, Jack McBrayer, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill in smaller roles, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is an ideal blend of bitter and sweet. The script from Segel has a surprising amount of heart for a movie featuring full frontal male nudity. —C.O.
Spotlight is a drama of the old-school model, bringing into comparison gems such as All the President’s Men. It follows the Boston Globe‘s Spotlight team as it exposes the numerous cases of child abuse and molestation by clergymen covered up by the Catholic church in Boston. The Boston Globe went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts, and the scandal ran so deep that the Archbishop of Boston was forced to step down. If you care about journalism, it’s a must-watch. —Clara Wang
After learning about the news of Princess Diana’s death, a shy waitress discovers a metal box belonging to a boy who used to live in her apartment. Upon returning it to him she strives to better the lives of people around her in a series of elaborate schemes, and in the process, she ends up procuring some happiness in her own life in true romantic comedy fashion. —Michelle Jaworski
Though not quite as flawless as David Fincher’s true crime masterpiece Zodiac, Se7en is still a major work in the thriller genre from the closest thing this generation has to Hitchcock. The script, from Andrew Kevin Walker, is a perfect execution of a brilliant premise. As Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman attempt to track a killer who’s selecting his victims based on the seven deadly sins, Fincher tightens the screws more and more, before everything explodes in the movie’s unforgettable climax. —C.O.
14) Finding Dory
If Pixar has lost a little bit of speed on its fastball post-Toy Story 3, Finding Dory is a wily veteran learning how to get by with the offspeed stuff. Dory (voiced by an ever-enthusiastic Ellen Degeneres) goes on her own adventure after getting lost. Dory leans on humor more than its predecessor, aided by great vocal performances from Ed O’Neill, Idris Elba, Kaitlin Olson, and a slew of stars that would make Dreamworks envious. But it doesn’t lack for emotion either, as we expect from the best of Pixar. At its heart, Dory is a story about coping mental illness, and it does right by the material. —Eddie Strait
The 2016 remake proved that some people love Ghostbusters a little too much. But seriously, who doesn’t love Ghostbusters?! That cast, that theme song, that Stay Puft Marshmallow Man! If it’s not the funniest comedy of the 1980s, but it might be the most iconic. —C.O.
16) Blue Is the Warmest Color
Steeped in controversy upon its release (and for good reason,) Blue Is the Warmest Color is nevertheless a nearly unparalleled achievement in 21st-century filmmaking. Discussions about male gaze and directorial ethics are sure to follow many people’s viewing, but we also don’t get many epic, three-hour lesbian love stories. There are elements of Blue Is the Warmest Color that still feel essential, if for no other reason than that we need more of what the film gets right, even while needing less of what it gets wrong. And of course, there are the performances from lead actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, who rightfully became the first actors ever to be awarded the Palme d’Or when the film premiered at Cannes. Playing the two halves of young couple Emma and Adèle, Blue Is the Warmest Color’s leading ladies are both so good, it’s not just that they have created an indelible cinematic love story—it’s as if they’ve reinvented the cinematic love story itself. —C.O.
Atonement is the kind of old-school tragedy that spans generations, separates lovers, and plunges whole countries into war. Or, to put it another way, it takes itself pretty seriously. However, as opposed to fellow Oscar darlings No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, both released the same year, Atonement at least has some romance to get swept up in. It also has a prestigious (not to mention beautiful) cast, featuring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, and more. And like most of director Joe Wright’s movies, the cinematography is absolutely stunning, and the score from composer Dario Marianelli won an Oscar. Is Atonement pretentious? Undoubtedly, but that’s part of its charm. —C.O.
18) Beasts of No Nation
Netflix’s first foray into prestige cinema, at least in terms of narrative filmmaking, was this child soldier drama from 2015. Upon its release, Beasts of No Nation immediately declared that in addition to giving you daily doses of ‘90s nostalgia, the streaming giant was committed to socially engaged stories too. Directed by True Detective’s Cary Joji Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba in what should’ve been an Oscar-nominated performance, this is an intense watch but also a rewarding one. If nothing else, it’ll make you aware of how few depictions of Africa we really see onscreen, and how much that needs to be corrected. —C.O.
19) City of God
This 2002 Brazilian film about growing up under corruption, poverty, and violence in Rio de Janeiro moves as fast as a Martin Scorsese gangster movie despite containing enough tragedy for 10 depressing documentaries. Director Fernando Meirelles (with help from co-director Kátia Lund) imbues the film with such a sense of gritty realism, it could only be based on real-life experiences. At the same time, the film is so highly stylized, it’s also a unique cinematic experience, whether you watch it at home or in a theater. Instead of being buried under the weight of these contradictions, City of God thrives on them. —C.O.
20) Moonrise Kingdom
If you’ve ever seen a Wes Anderson movie before, you know what to expect here. It’s quirky, it’s got snappy dialog, the images are rendered with painterly precision. But what separates Moonrise Kingdom from his other work is its depiction of childhood. Leads Sam and Suzy are not precocious or pandering, and their relationship is nuanced and honest, despite Anderson’s usual Anderson quirks. Just as he humanized high schoolers in Rushmore, Anderson again proves he has more respect for young people than most Hollywood filmmakers here. -C.O.
While critics have almost universally praised the first half of Lion for its intense portrayal of Calcutta street life, there’s something kind of exploitative in the film’s focus on poverty. But the second half of the film, which focuses on a young man in Australia trying to find his way back to the home he doesn’t remember in India, Lion becomes something else entirely. The story’s hero, Saroo (Dev Patel), struggles to reconcile the privilege of his current life, mainly the love of his adopted parents (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) and girlfriend (Rooney Mara), with the life he lost as a child. With a little help from Google Maps, he begins to obsessively search for the village he was born in. All that Googling might not sound exciting, and some of it is a little dull, but it’s contemporary story this hones in on globalization and technology. —C.O.
Heat would be significant only for putting movie legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino together onscreen for the first time since The Godfather: Part II (and even that doesn’t really count). But it happens to also be a really great film on its own merits. Director Michael Mann has never been sharper than with this story about a group of bank robbers and the cops chasing them, crafting one intricate sequence after another. Heat is not a short watch, but somehow the movie whizzes by its nearly three-hour runtime. —C.O.
23) Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings faced stiff competition for Best Animated Film of 2016, going up against Disney heavyweights like Zootopia and Moana. But in a different year, Laika’s stop-motion tale about a young boy forced into battle with the ghosts of his family’s past may have swept the awards circuit. Yes, it was a financial failure, but it was a beautiful one nonetheless. Make sure to stick around for the credits, which feature a haunting new rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” as well as a glimpse into the film’s animation process. —C.O.
24) Gerald’s Game
It’s the year of the Stephen King adaptation, and Gerald’s Game might be the best one. Mike Flanagan (Hush, Oculus) takes a novel that has long been considered unfilmable and imbues it with tension and emotion. Carla Gugino gives a standout performance as Jessie, a woman who is left handcuffed to a bed in a remote cabin after her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) dies unexpectedly. The bulk of the film concerns her survival and how deep into the past she can go, and it actually improves upon the novel. —Audra Schroeder
25) Dead Poets Society
Peter Weir’s film about a teacher (Robin Williams) who uses poetry to connect with his students is incredibly earnest, wearing its heart on its sleeve and daring you not to cry. While the movie’s pseudo-intellectualism doesn’t play as well as “serious drama” today, Williams’ performance is lovely, and the young actors, including Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles, all do solid work. You have to be a real scrooge not to feel something during the “O Captain! My Captain!” scene. —C.O.
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26) Hot Fuzz
Edgar Wright fans might debate which entry in the Cornetto trilogy was his best. The fan favorite remains the slacker zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead, but I vastly prefer Hot Fuzz, Wright’s second entry in the saga starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. A deft send-up of Michael Bay movies and buddy-cop flicks, Hot Fuzz is at its best when it gets downright weird in its inspired third act. The British comedians—who, this time around, play mismatched police officers—go Rambo on a stuffy British village that may or may not be a front for a cult. —Nico Lang
27) The Road
This is a bleak, devastating film, with no real sweet spot. If that appeals to you, then The Road—adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name—is a solid look at humanity in upheaval. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee play a father and son traversing a terrifying, no-rules dystopia after an unnamed event has devastated the country. Director John Hillcoat set the tone with 2005’s The Proposition. –A.S.
28) Blue Valentine
Blue Valentine is the kind of movie that’s so sad, it occasionally feels like it’s trying to rip your heart out through your chest. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as Dean and Cindy, a couple whose relationship we see disintegrate as it cuts back and forth between when they first got together and their older, more damaged selves. Director Derek Cianfrance, who would go on to make The Place Beyond the Pines and The Light Between Oceans shot the flashback scenes in a kind of grainy, Instagram-worthy style that ultimately serves to make them more romantic, while the present-day scenes look sleeker and colder, reflecting a kind of harsh realness. Both performances are heartbreaking (Williams was nominated for an Oscar for hers), probably because the two leads actually spent time living together like a real couple between filming the scenes set in the past and the ones set in the future. By the time their characters had to break up, it feels all too real. —C.O
29) Lucid Dream
A South Korean riff on Inception, Lucid Dream follows a journalist, Dae-ho, working to find his son, who was kidnapped three years earlier. The investigation has gone cold, but an experimental technique allows Dae-ho to relive the day his son was taken through lucid dreaming. For a premise as inherently grim as a parent searching for a lost child, Lucid Dream is surprisingly fun. The investigations taking place in dreamland and the real world intersect in interesting ways and the story is constantly upping the stakes. —E.S.
Crowned many times as the best film of the year when it was released in 2013 and frequently cited as one of the best films of the decade since, Spike Jonze’s unconventional love story between a man named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and his phone named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson is immaculately made. The gorgeous cinematography, distinctive production and costume design, and haunting music all work together to create a wholly original portrait of the near future. Phoenix and Johansson both give performances that rank among the very best of their careers. —C.O.
31) The Departed
Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Irish mob drama gets a bad wrap sometimes for beating Little Miss Sunshine at the Oscars, but The Departed is one of the best, not to mention most fun, films he’s made in the past few decades. The Boston-set gangster movie features classic Scorsese touches—most notably, expressive camera movement and a great soundtrack—as well as a top-notch cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Jack Nicholson. —C.O.
32) The Killer
This well-executed Brazilian shoot-em-up flick cuts no corners in telling its serpentine story and spares no gory details. Branded as O Matador outside of the United States, the film stars Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Cabeleira, a manchild assassin searching for his adopted father through the lawless badlands of Pernambuco. —Kahron Spearman
33) Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Haters be damned, The Last Jedi is not only good, it’s among the Stars Wars franchise very best. While there are some goofy moments, let’s not forget this is the same universe that gave us ewoks defeating the Empire with rocks. More importantly, director Rian Johnson knows how to pull off a captivating action sequence, not to mention the difficult balancing act of reintroducing classic characters while building on new ones. Best of all, The Last Jedi does something no Star Wars film has been able to do since The Empire Strikes Back, which is to show the audience something unexpected. By challenging the Star Wars fandom and attempting to shake the universe up, Johnson attempts something few other filmmakers would dare. And in this age of overly managed studio blockbusters, that’s a good thing. —C.O.
34) L.A. Confidential
Despite being an homage to classic film noir, L.A. Confidential is also classic ‘90s. From the violent, masculine themes, to the cast of rising and established stars (some of whom are better left unmentioned,) it’s an ideal time capsule of the decade. Even the movie’s loss to the lesser Titanic (sorry everybody!) at the Academy Awards feels like a piece of ‘90s history— though it’s worth mentioning that Kim Basinger did pick up Best Supporting Actress for her first-rate turn as a prostitute who’s a lookalike for Veronica Lake. —C.O.
35) Frances Ha
Noah Baumbach is having an incredibly prolific late career—churning out Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale, Mistress America, Margot at the Wedding, and While We’re Young in an amazing decade-long stretch. During that span, he also made Frances Ha, a riff on Annie Hall as seen through the lens of Godard, Truffaut, and the masters of the French New Wave. Instead of watching a couple slowly drift apart, Baumbach tracks the dissolution of a best friendship between Frances (Greta Gerwig, in her star-making role) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner). It’s not only a lovely Woody Allen homage but one of cinema’s best portraits of millennial disaffection to date. —N.L.
Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel didn’t see much movement in theaters, but then it’s not really a movie for everyone. Ballard’s tale of an apartment building that devolves into class warfare, floor by floor, is still pretty relevant in 2016, and Wheatley (who previously directed the impeccable Kill List) adds his trademark dread and style to the proceedings, which include decadent parties and dead dogs. Tom Hiddleston, as lightly chilled protagonist Robert Laing, attempts to break down what this literal class warfare means but gets lost in the mania, narcissism, and the need to belong. It’s a beautiful set piece, even if it lacks some of the novel’s philosophical corners. —A.S.
37) Cinema Paradiso
Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1988 Oscar-winner remains beloved by fans of foreign films and fans of movies in general. Cinema Paradiso is nostalgic in the best way, telling the story of a filmmaker who recalls how he first fell in love with cinema at the local movie house while also making friends with the theater’s projectionist. It’s a lovely, undeniably likable movie with loads of heart. —C.O.
38) The Babadook
In Jennifer Kent’s 2014 film, the mother is supposed to be the protector, but she might be the monster, too. This tangled duality pushes The Babadook, a film that takes the idea of a bogeyman and draws a thick black line to the depths of our subconscious. Essie Davis is wonderful as Amelia, a single mother who’s slogging through life with her troubled, high-strung son. Their relationship starts to shift after a creature in a children’s pop-up book starts appearing outside the pages and becomes a terrifying metaphor for grief and depression. It joins a handful of recent horror films (The Witch, It Follows, Ex Machina) in which women aren’t just prey or victims. -A.S.
39) The Iron Giant
As much love as there is for The Incredibles out there, a case can and probably should be made that the Iron Giant is Brad Bird’s best film. A parable about a childlike colossus in paranoid ‘50s America, the movie feels almost radical today in its broadly nonviolent, specifically anti-gun viewpoint. But besides being a prescient political statement and a layered portrait of small-town Americana, The Iron Giant is also a glorious and sad animated film, in the same tradition later perfected by Pixar. —C.O.
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40) Magic Mike
When this Steven Soderbergh film debuted in 2012, who knew it would reach midnight-movie levels of (feminist) fandom? Channing Tatum drew from real-life experience to shape the titular stripper, and the film explores sexuality, identity, and commerce from a different angle. Plus: abs! —A.S.
41) Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2
People have critiqued Kill Bill for the same reason they’ve critiqued much of Quentin Tarantino’s cinema, accusing it of being soulless, all style over substance. But the saga of the Bride and her quest to avenge her daughter has maybe the most heart of any story Tarantino has ever told. And even if you do find these films to be all style over substance, wow, talk about style. The legendary Crazy 88 battle in the first movie is one of the most thrilling fight sequences ever captured on film. Meanwhile, the more understated second volume expands the world into spaghetti Western territory while going deeper into the Bride’s backstory and motivation. Uma Thurman was robbed of an Oscar for both the physical and emotional work she did in these movies. —C.O.
Milk is a sad movie because it shows you how hard the gay rights movement had to fight for the most basic respect. It’s a sad movie because the rights that were being fought for are still too often unrecognized in this country today. It’s a sad movie because Harvey Milk gave his life for what he believed in, and anytime a good man dies fighting for something he believes in, those that would carry on their fight must naturally mourn first. But it’s not an entirely sad movie because Harvey Milk also lived a life worth celebrating. —C.O.
43) Dallas Buyers Club
As a movie about LGBTQ subject matter, Dallas Buyers Club leaves something to be desired. Not only does it omit elements of the real Ron Woodroof’s story, it fails to clearly define whether Rayon, the film’s second lead, is transgender, a cross-dresser, or identifies in some other non-binary way. Where Dallas Buyers Club does succeed is in its depiction of the AIDS crisis, stigmatization that came with an HIV-positive diagnosis, and the far-reaching effects it had in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s Oscar-winning performances as Woodroof and Rayon, respectively, are also among the best of their careers (particularly in Leto’s case), and the direction from Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) is stunning. —C.O.
44) Mr. Roosevelt
In her directorial debut, Noel Wells (Master of None, SNL) plays Emily Martin, a struggling YouTube-famous comedian who hastily moves back to her hometown of Austin and has to adjust to the new relationships around her—and the death of a cat. It’s a love letter to a time and place, though not exactly a love story. Emily is directionless, but her self-discovery includes some very relatable moments and a great Holly Hunter impression. —A.S.
45) Fruitvale Station
Given the country we live in, any drama about the shooting of an unarmed black man by a law enforcement officers is sure to stir up emotions. This one, based on the 2008 killing of Bay Area citizen Oscar Grant, is no different from any other—except it is. Like all stories of police violence against the black community, Fruitvale Station’s details are unique while also fitting into a larger pattern. What makes the film work is that director Ryan Coogler (who was just 26 when Fruitvale Station debuted at Sundance) chooses to focus on the last few hours of Oscar Grant’s life, rather than just the moments surrounding his death. In that way, the movie becomes equal parts celebration and indictment. Fruitvale Station was a monumental debut on Coogler’s part, as well as a turning point for star Michael B. Jordan (who had previously appeared on such TV shows as The Wire, Friday Night Lights, and Parenthood). Fruitvale Station is still a devastating breakout. —C.O.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture, Netflix’s feature film adaptation of Josh Karp’s 2006 book of the same name, is an exploration of the creation of humor mag National Lampoon and its odd-couple co-founders, Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson) and Doug Kenney (Will Forte), it’s removed enough from its 1970s origins to offer new insight into its generational influence—and it also recontextualizes satire in an era littered with “fake news.” —A.S.
47) The Commitments
Of all the films on this list, The Commitments is the one you’re least likely to have seen. It was a small hit when it came out that never got much love on cable. That means you’re in for a surprise treat. Jimmy, an aspiring band manager in Dublin, has a stroke of genius one day and sets out to give Dublin its first soul band. At first, the working-class community isn’t sold, but through the power of song and a streetcar conductor who sings like Otis Redding, he brings together the finest soul band Ireland has ever seen. The music in The Commitments is an achievement on its own, mixing soul and pub rock into a sound that’s its own while also paying loving tribute to the songs being covered. —John-Michael Bond
Sixteen years before Moana, Disney laid the groundwork for a culturally conscious “princess” movie with Mulan. And sure, some elements of the movie look dated today, and if it came out in 2017, it would surely be roasted for not being progressive enough. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mulan is one of Disney’s best movies, featuring a thrilling story, great characters, gorgeous animation, and one of its most complex heroines ever. It’s also worth watching for the showstopping classic “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You” alone. Oh, and Mulan has a mom, who’s actually alive—a totally revolutionary concept for Disney at the time! —C.O.
Daniel Day-Lewis is completely believable in the title role, downplaying the grandeur Abraham Lincoln is usually depicted with in favor of vulnerability and uncertainty. Tony Kushner’s screenplay, adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, sings with wit and wisdom, turning behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing into a Schoolhouse Rock “how a bill becomes a law” mix of education and entertainment. And Steven Spielberg’s usual sentimentality is tampered down just enough to allow for a poignancy rarely seen in this kind of prestige pic. Lincoln may take place during the most polarized period in American history, but in comparison to our political climate today, it’ll make you feel positively inspired about the power of government. —C.O.
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Before American Ultra, another quirky rom-com, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg starred together in this throwback to 1987. Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader also star in this film about a gang of kids stuck working at an amusement park, directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola. —A.S.
Hush is an hourlong cuticle-ripper. The 2016 film centers on Maddie (Kate Siegel, who co-wrote the screenplay), a deaf and mute author who lives in a secluded cabin in the woods. And there’s a killer on the loose, wearing a creepy white mask. This premise might sound awfully well-tread, but Hush upends the typical home-invasion thriller by letting us see the threat (The Newsroom’s John Gallagher Jr.) unmasked, forcing the tension to build as Maddie finds different ways to thwart his murderous advances. By immersing us in Maddie’s silent world, the tension is even more palpable, and the fact that she’s a writer of fiction allows the film to expand in some inventive directions, even as her fate remains unsure. —A.S.
52) Little Men
Little Men is the third film in director Ira Sachs’ loose trilogy examining modern urban life. Though his previous two efforts (Keep the Lights On and Love Is Strange) both revolved around gay couples, albeit in very different circumstances, Little Men centers around the friendship of two young teenage boys and how a squabble between their parents threatens to pull them apart. It may not feel quite as of the moment as Sachs’ last few movies, but Little Men still has a lot to say about contemporary New York, specifically how the city’s changing real estate market is pushing people out left and right. Yet Little Men’s more important truths are timeless: friendship is hard but worth it, people come in and out of your life, and you may change for the better even if you don’t get what you really want. —C.O.
Carol is a devastating love story, but it’s also hopeful. The film stars Cate Blanchett in the title role as a ‘50s housewife who’s starting to come into her sexuality, and Rooney Mara as Therese, a young woman who falls for her. As the movie’s lush, gorgeous look washes over the characters, every glance, every gesture, every hint of longing becomes something profound. The story is familiar territory for director Todd Haynes, who also explored forbidden sexuality in “traditional” America with 2002’s Far from Heaven. Either one could rightly be called a melodrama, but while the former heightens emotions, the latter tempers them. Both films are haunting and beautiful, but Carol feels like the masterwork he’s been approaching his whole career. —C.O.
54) The Ip Man Trilogy
Donnie Yen (who audiences will recognize as the blind warrior Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One) stars in the trilogy of biographical martial arts films as real-life Wing Chun master Ip Man, who eventually became Bruce Lee’s teacher. The first film focuses on events that occurred during the Sino-Japanese War, the second film follows Ip after he opened a Wing Chun school in Hong Kong, while the third featured a young Bruce Lee (played by Danny Chan) going to Ip’s Wing Chun school to learn martial arts. While the fights are excellently choreographed and executed, it’s the emotional story that brings it home. —M.J.
55) Trading Places
John Landis’s Trading Places is essentially ‘80s, spoofing Wall Street just before it reached the apex of “greed is good” mentality. But the Reagan-era politics which helped inform the movie never really went away. One needs only to look at the campaign of Bernie Sanders to see that people have caught on to this, making now the perfect time to give Trading Places another look. In the movie, Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd play an investor and a con artist who, well, look at the title. But what starts off as a sick bet between two millionaires becomes a lesson in empathy. Although the film is certainly looking at class and race struggles through rose-colored glasses, it still manages to be a fun take on serious issues. —C.O.
The Incredible Jessica James opens on something many of us are all too familiar with: a very bad Tinder date. Jessica Williams plays an aspiring playwright, working through her failures in New York. She’s not above stalking her ex on Instagram or lying to her parents. But Williams gives us a performance that reminds us that we’re all human and that falling down is not something to be ashamed of. In the process, she breathes life into the tired rom-com genre. —Sarah Jasmine Montgomery
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So many movies are given infinite resources and still manage to feel so minuscule that they might as well not even exist. Sean Baker’s Tangerine, however, is a testament to how much filmmakers can achieve with very little. Shot on an iPhone, the movie cost relative pennies to make, but Tangerine is a hypnotic, extraordinary film about the friendship between two sex workers. That bond is tested over the course of a very long day, and the plot’s simplicity masks its power. After finding out her boyfriend isn’t faithful, Sin-Dee (Kiki Rodriguez) goes off on a quest to locate his mistress. Meanwhile, Alexandra (Mya Taylor) prepares for a performance at a local club. Filmed on a stretch of Santa Monica known as a nexus of prostitution in the city, Tangerine captures the feel of Los Angeles better than any film I’ve ever seen. It’s simultaneously stylish, low-key, and groundbreaking in its authentic depiction of life on the streets. —N.L.
Adapted by Rees and co-writer Virgil Williams from Hillary Jordan’s novel, Mudbound traces the stories of two families during WWII, one white, one black. They intersect when the McAllan clan buys the farm the Jackson family has worked on as sharecroppers for years. It’s worth watching Mudbound for its devastating ending alone. It’s impossible to deny that Hollywood is better for taking a chance on filmmakers like Dee Rees and stories like this. —C.O.
There’s yet another Stephen King adaptation landing on Netflix, and this one involves rats and murder. In Zak Hilditch’s take, Thomas Jane plays Wilfred James, a Nebraska farmer who has a crisis of conscience when wife Arlette (Molly Parker) says she wants to move to the city and take their teenage son. What follows is a signature King ghost story but it expands in Jane’s dead-eyed portrayal of Wilfred. Mike Patton provides the anxiety-inducing soundtrack, and it couldn’t have been a better choice. —A.S.
Wheelman stars Frank Grillo as a professional getaway driver who finds himself with $200,000 in his trunk and some very bad people on his tail after a bank job goes pear-shaped. Staged almost entirely within the confines of the car, Wheelman blends an intense neo-noir storyline with a gritty, charismatic lead performance by Grillo. More French Connection than The Fast and the Furious, Wheelman is a ride well worth taking. —David Wharton
61) The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Judd Apatow’s era-defining comedy is still his best work and as good now as the day it was released. Besides helping launch Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogen to stardom, it also set the tone for the decade of raunchy but thoughtful romantic comedies that followed. For all the trends (both good and bad) his movies have spawned, The 40-Year-Old Virgin deserves to be remembered for being a sensitive, nuanced love story as much as it does for being a vehicle for dick jokes. —C.O.
Moon is one of the best sci-fi movies of the 21st century. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut working a solo mission on the moon. With his assignment nearing its end, Sam finds out that his replacement is… himself. The more Sam tries to figure out the true nature of his work, and himself, the more his world upends. This is the best work of Rockwell’s career, and he has a blast playing multiple versions of his character. Director and co-writer Duncan Jones delivered a top-tier debut with Moon, and the resourceful filmmaking marked him as a bright new voice. But this is Rockwell’s show, and he crushes it. —E.S.
63) The Hateful Eight
Long, bloody, and shamelessly self-indulgent, The Hateful Eight is peak Tarantino. The story centers on two bounty hunters and a prisoner who take shelter one night with a group of five other suspicious characters in a Wyoming haberdashery to escape a blizzard. Pasts are explored, secrets are unveiled, and soon bodies start to drop. Tarantino’s mix of provocation and exploitation doesn’t work as well here as it does in some of his other films, and the three-hour runtime makes it a tough sit, even if you saw the roadshow version that contained an intermission. But the movie looks fantastic, shot on 70mm by cinematographer Robert Richardson, and it features a career-high performance from Jennifer Jason Leigh as notorious criminal Daisy Domergue. But the best part of The Hateful Eight hands down is its score, for which composer Ennio Morricone won a much overdue Oscar. —C.O.
64) The Trip to Italy
Most of us, at some point in our lives, have taken a long trip with a close friend. During the course of said trip, you probably had some laughs, saw some sights, ate some food, and occasionally, got on each other’s nerves. That’s what makes Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 comedy, The Trip, and its 2014 sequel, The Trip to Italy such delights. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves, and their dynamic is jokey and light-hearted yet competitive. As Coogan and Brydon make their way first around the English countryside, and then around Italy’s, they spend a lot of time looking at their own lives, and attempting to tackle the big questions. It’s also fascinating how from movie to movie, one man will be up, and the other down, and then it’ll shift. However, these movies are never more at ease than when they are simply letting the two men riff in their own language, as close friends do. —C.O.
65) The Place Beyond the Pines
Though not as utterly soul-crushing as his breakout film, Blue Valentine, director Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is still a tour de force in sadness. Telling three different stories over two generations, Pines is a movie about the bond between fathers and son and how the choices we make resonate well into the future. Though it falls short of its epic ambitions, the film is a great throwback to the gritty American dramas of the 1970s—not to mention the rare “guy cry” movie, i.e. it has action but will also put you in touch with your emotions. Co-lead Bradley Cooper is good in the movie’s second section, but the film never quite gets over Ryan Gosling’s towering performance in the first. As a carnival bad boy skilled in motorcycle stunts, Gosling (reteaming with Cianfrance here following the success of Valentine) is the tattooed heart of gold at the center of this picture. —C.O.
66) 6 Balloons
In Marja-Lewis Ryan’s 6 Balloons, one long night tests the limits of compassion. It tells the story of Katie (Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson) a woman who’s trying to plan a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend. But as the day goes on she collides with her brother Seth (Dave Franco), a heroin addict who’s using again. “The loneliness inside those dark moments is almost more crippling… not being able to talk about the things; not knowing where to talk,” Ryan tells the Daily Dot. “If this isn’t your story, then maybe you can gain a little empathy for people who are experiencing this. And if it is your story, hopefully, you can feel a little less lonely.” 6 Balloons is very much about middle-class addiction, based on a similar night Ryan’s best friend (and the film’s co-producer) Samantha Housman experienced: Her brother, a lawyer, was addicted to heroin. —A.S.
67) The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the British mathematician who cracked Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. Turing’s team (filled out by Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode) offers strong support to Turing’s dogged pursuit, and the film gives us a historical sketch of the time and political climate—and how one’s sexuality could be used against them. —A.S.
68) Y Tu Mamá También
Back in the days when video stores were still a thing, I rented Y Tu Mamá También on a recommendation from a friend, not knowing what it was about. Given that it had “Mama” in the title, I figured that meant it was family-friendly and invited my mother to watch it with me. (Cut me some slack; I was 14 and really, really dumb.)If you’re familiar with the plot of Y Tu Mamá También, you’re aware that decision was a big mistake: The 2001 Mexican-set drama is about a steamy love triangle between Tenoch (Diego Luna); his best friend, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal); and his cousin’s wife, Luisa (Maribel Verdú), who is dying of cancer. She accepts an invitation with them to go on a road trip to see a secret beach known as “Heaven’s Mouth,” and their journey quickly turns into a tangled mess of erotic fantasy. The funny thing is that both my mother and I ended up adoring it—although for very different reasons. She liked how boisterous Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-nominated screenplay was (loaded with playful, scatological banter between carmates), and I enjoyed the film’s sexual politics, with the movie set against a time of governmental and social upheaval. This is a time in Mexican society when Tenoch and Julio’s gay male friends have boyfriends, which makes the pair’s own erotic encounter all the more dangerous.—N.L.
Coco is easily a top-tier Pixar film. The studio broadens its horizons a bit with this story set in the culture of Día de Muertos. Miguel is a 12-year-old with an affinity for music, but his family wants him to go into their shoe-making business. Miguel travels to the land of the dead to learn about his heritage and finds out more than he was ready for. Coco is a touching film about family and the importance of remembrance and, as with most Pixar movies, learning to accept yourself and others for who they are. It goes without saying that Coco is visually stunning and emotionally involving. Good luck getting “Remember Me” out of your head. —E.S.
70) Quiz Show
In the 1950s, TV quiz shows ruled the airwaves. That is until a lawyer discovered proof that they might all have been rigged. Robert Redford directed this riveting account of the original quiz show scandal, crafting a film that’s genuinely riveting without any life-threatening drama. John Turturro doesn’t get enough leading roles in movies, but his Herbert Stempel is a tragic figure despite playing a man willing to compromise his morals for fame. Quiz Show gazes at a time in America where people still trusted what they saw on TV, but this tale of corruption feels oddly timely. —J.M.B.
71) Mustang Island
At the start of Craig Elrod’s black-and-white indie drama, Bill (Macon Blair) has been dumped, and he’s not taking it well. He enlists his brother and friend to join him on a road trip to the South Texas coast to help win her back, but of course, things go astoundingly wrong. Some very dark comedy is drawn from their foibles, but Mustang Island also drives home the importance of having people in your life who get you. —A.S.
72) Under the Shadow
In 1980s Tehran, during the War of the Cities, a mother and daughter stay huddled up in their apartment as their city is bombarded by missiles. The historical horror and PTSD-inducing sights of rockets cracking roofs should be terrifying enough, but then an evil spirit takes interest in the little girl and things go from bad to worse. Directed by Iranian-born Babak Anvari, Under the Shadow deals with the social issues of a woman’s place in a fundamentalist Muslim society as much as it does demonic forces. –J.M.B.
Noah Baumbach has successfully usurped Woody Allen’s title as the greatest living director of New York comedies. His latest love letter to the Big Apple comes in the form of The Merowitz Stories (New and Selected), a thoughtful meditation on the challenge of letting the pain caused by a parent go. Dustin Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz is an aging sculptor, largely overlooked in his time. His children, played respectively by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel, are all semi-dysfunctional, thanks to Harold’s over or under-involved parenting. As a comedy, it certainly isn’t a laugh riot, but it absolutely leaves an impression. —C.O.
74) The Overnight
There should be more movies about sexual fluidity. But in the meantime, we’ve got The Overnight, a sly little Sundance gem from 2015 by up-and-comer Patrick Brice. Aided by a terrific cast (Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche), Brice has made the rare comedy about sex that is smart but not preachy. The story centers on two married couples who meet up one night and let their inhibitions run wild. At just under 80 minutes, it’s a total breeze. Smart, funny, and underseen, skip this one if you don’t like sexual humor, but add it to your My List immediately if you do. —C.O.
Director Pablo Larraín has described Neruda as an “anti-bio” of the poet Pablo Neruda. Indeed, the film, which stars Luis Gnecco as Neruda and Gael García Bernal as a cop on his trail, plays with biography and fiction, celebrity and politics. Neruda lived in interesting times and Larraín plays up the parties and speeches in stunning detail, balanced out by a noirish game of cat-and-mouse. —A.S.
76) 13 Assassins
Takashi Miike’s samurai epic 13 Assassins, a remake of a 1963 film of the same name, is one of the Japanese master’s best films. It’s about a group of assassins (as you could guess from the title) who team up in an attempt to kill the odious Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu. The first half of the film is restrained, as the team comes together and forms its plan, but the film’s climactic battle rewards the audience’s patience tenfold (thirteenfold?). It’s roughly 40 minutes of immaculately staged action mayhem. It’s pure spectacle that will take your breath away. —E.S.
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It’s a little sad that Pariah is best known for a drunken shout out: When accepting the Golden Globe for The Iron Lady in 2012, Meryl Streep slurred the name of Adepero Oduye, the film’s lead. But inebriated or not, Meryl knows what’s up. Directed by Dee Rees, making her debut, Pariah offers a fresh take on the coming-out story. Giving a star-is-born performance, Oduye plays Alike, a black teenager experiencing her queer coming of age on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. As she soon discovers, figuring out who you are isn’t without difficulty: The girl she likes (Aasha Davis) views their relationship as nothing more than “youthful experimentation.” Meanwhile, her parents force her to choose between her sexuality and her family. For Rees, the little-seen film was the beginning of a promising career: She directed HBO’s Emmy-winning Bessie in 2015 and helmed the network’s Stonewall drama, When We Rise. —N.L.
78) Drinking Buddies
The two leads, Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde), are coworkers at a microbrewery; it’s obvious that they’d probably date each other if they weren’t already dating other people. When Kate suddenly becomes single, it brings their relationship halfway closer to a reality, and you can probably guess where things go from there.
But your guess would probably be wrong. This is a Joe Swanberg movie, heavily rooted in the mumblecore genre, which means it’s going to see your expectations and gleefully choose to ignore them. Without spoiling too much, this isn’t so much a romance film as it is a film about boundaries—and about how that common adage that you should date your best friend is perhaps oversimplifying things a tad. —J.K.
Julia Ducournau’s debut feature film is an obstacle course for the senses, and it’s one of the most unique horror films of 2017. Teen vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) is cast off to her first year of vet school and endures a hazing ritual that causes her to awaken in several ways. Raw is about a woman coming to terms with her nascent cannibalism but more fundamentally about a woman discovering desire and sisterhood. Marillier gives a stunning performance as she fights and gives in to her urges, and her transformation doesn’t need CGI to be terrifying and ascendant. —A.S.
80) Mountains May Depart
Tracking a woman over three distinct periods in her life, Mountains May Depart tells a story that feels deeply personal yet intrinsically tied to socio-economic conditions in China. The third segment, which is set in a futuristic Australia and features many non-English speaking actors doing their best to master the language, is a little bit clunkier than the two that precede it. But in many ways, it’s also the best part of the movie, as director Zhangke Jia (always wrestling with ideas of national identity) makes a clear attempt at something bold and audacious. Fans of his previous feature, 2013’s A Touch of Sin, may be surprised at how comparatively tame this film is. Rest assured, though, while it’s not as violent, Mountains May Depart still hits you hard. —C.O.
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81) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Netflix released a companion piece to this classic film in 2016—Pee-wee’s Big Holiday—but you’ve got to go back to the source. The 1985 Tim Burton film was the first to showcase the comedic talents of Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) on the big screen, post-Pee-wee’s Playhouse. It gave us Large Marge, the breakfast machine, and a film both kids and adults could hold near and dear. —A.S.
This isn’t a rom-com in the traditional sense, thanks to the line “fuck me gently with a chainsaw,” among other things. But the relationship between Winona Ryder’s and Christian Slater’s characters is one of the more complex to emerge from the ‘80s high school genre. Veronica (Ryder), one of the four popular “Heathers,” finds a mirror in JD (Slater), an outcast who inadvertently hatches a plan that kills one of the Heathers. Their relationship doesn’t have a meet-cute; it’s more about what love (or lust) makes you blind to. —A.S.
83) Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown is probably Quentin Tarantino’s subtlest work, and thus, his most underrated. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, Tarantino tones down his usual barrage of references for a sly, funny, surprisingly touching tale about a flight attendant who moonlights as a money carrier for an arms dealer. Pam Grier is transcendent in the titular role, while the supporting cast, including Chris Tucker, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Robert Forrester, and Samuel L. Jackson, are all magnificent. —C.O.
84) The Sixth Sense
“I see dead people.” The very phrase still conjures up memories of one of the greatest movie twists of all time. If by somehow you missed the cultural phenomenon that was The Sixth Sense, Netflix now is the perfect time to catch up, with director M. Night Shyamalan suddenly getting his groove back with recent titles like The Visit and Split. Will he ever make another movie as big as The Sixth Sense? Probably not. But no matter what he’s done in the years since, he can rest easy knowing he made an unforgettable addition to pop culture with this modern classic. —C.O.
85) Sunday’s Illness
In Sunday’s Illness, the raw emotions between a mother and the daughter she abandoned 35 years ago are on full display as they spend 10 days together, showing what could have been and what will never be with painstaking beauty. Mother Anabel (Susi Sánchez) and daughter Chiara (Bárbara Lennie) constantly push and pull at one another even when they aren’t in each other’s orbit. Sunday’s Illness could have taken its concept into a number of directions with the backdrop—and impeccable cinematography—of an isolated house located on a wooded mountain that helps set the tone. Instead, the film goes down a more emotional and sometimes uncomfortable path, climaxing in a profoundly life-changing experience. Like the snapshots we see, we’re left wondering what it might all say. —Michelle Jaworski
86) Gangs of New York
Obviously, Martin Scorsese has made a lot of gangster movies. But although it received 10 Oscar nominations when it came out in 2002, no one really counts Gangs of New York as one of his finer entries in the genre. Perhaps that’s because this movie, based on the real gangs who ran the “Five Points” area of New York City in the 1860s, feels more like a historical epic. It’s also truly a strange film. Bloated, violent, and full of gigantic sets that feel like something out of the old studio era, the movie is definitely trying to make some grand statement about America. And while Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz are pretty wooden in it, the movie has a great supporting cast and features a fantastic, Oscar-nominated performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting, one of the most unforgettable villains in Scorsese’s canon. —C.O.
87) The African Queen
John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, and Katharine Hepburn teamed up to make this WWI film about a romance between a riverboat captain and a missionary to regain public favor after they publicly spoke up in favor of free speech during the beginning of the Hollywood blacklist. Their efforts worked, and The African Queen became a huge hit, earning Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Actor, which Bogart won, marking his first and only Oscar victory. This despite the fact that virtually everyone got sick with dysentery or worse while on set, and Huston was supposedly more preoccupied with shooting an elephant than shooting a movie, as later dramatized in the Clint Eastwood film, White Hunter Black Heart. —C.O.
88) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
By the time the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was released into theaters in 2011, Sweden had already adapted the entire Millennium trilogy to film (currently streaming as a six-episode season). The original is the superior as Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace portray a suspenseful and thrilling ride that’s every bit as dark as the book itself. —M.J.
If you’ve already seen Goodfellas, you may feel compelled to skip Casino. Martin Scorsese teamed back up with writer Nicholas Pileggi for this film, which is essentially a retread of their previous masterwork. But while Goodfellas is definitely the superior movie, Casino is not without its merits. A chronicle of the mob in Las Vegas as told by Robert De Niro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein, the film has an unforgettable opening, a wonderfully gonzo performance from Sharon Stone, and one of the most memorable death scenes of all time (spoiler alert: here’s looking at you, Joe Pesci). At almost three hours long, it isn’t exactly so much Goodfellas-lite as it is Goodfellas’ spiritual sequel. While the runtime is daunting, each hour into Casino gets better, and the final act is non-stop madness. —C.O.
90) Little Sister
It’s strange that Little Sister’s examination of Bush-era politics should feel so distant; the country has changed a lot in just under 10 years, and what once felt like national crises almost feel quanit in comparison today. Yet Little Sister’s greatest triumphs are interpersonal, not political. It’s a film about relationships, about how people deal with loss and trauma, about how people change while also somehow staying the same. This 2016 indie dramedy from Zach Clark was too little seen at the box office. Perhaps the premise, revolving around a goth nun who returns home after her Iraq war hero brother is disfigured in combat, was simply to kitschy for some people. But Little Sister is more than quirk or weirdness; it’s a lovely little character piece that is well-acted and smartly written, proving that Clark is a talent to watch. Plus, “goth nun”… come on, you’re kind of interested now, right? —C.O.
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Louis Waters (Robert Redford) has lived a quiet life since his wife’s death years before. Then one night his neighbor, Addie (Jane Fonda), herself a widow of many years, knocks on his door with a simple proposal: “Would you like to sleep with me?” Our Souls at Night would be worth watching even if it was just to see Redford and Fonda working together again, but thankfully, it also serves as a gentle reminder that it’s never too late to find love. Sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone and knock on some doors. —D.W.
The famous Milgram Experiments tested one question: How far will you go to obey, even if it means hurting someone else? The results were shocking. In 1961, Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested the willingness of ordinary humans to obey an authority figure while administering electric shocks to strangers. The first half of the film depicts the severity of the experiments as nearly every test subject succumbs to the pressure of the circumstances and administers shocks to a stranger. Between the experiments, Milgram meets the Alexandra, the future mother of his children. —C.W.
93) The Truman Show
At the time of its release, The Truman Show—about a man stuck in a reality show he doesn’t know he’s participating in—was a biting work of science-fiction satire, dreaming of a world where the growing reality TV genre gave us 24-hour access to a person’s life. Watching it again almost 20 years later, The Truman Show still has all its punch, and maybe a little extra when you factor in our hyperconnected society. This was Jim Carrey’s first major leading dramatic role, and it remains one of the actor’s finest works. —J.M.B.
94) It Follows
Sex will kill you. If you went to public school in a red state or have particularly overzealous parents, you’ve probably heard that idea once or twice. In It Follows, the warning is literal. Sex will kill you or, more specifically, will cause an evil spirit to follow you around, hunting you down until you have sex with someone else—like if the tape from The Ring was an STD. It Follows focuses on the characters while saving jumpscares for when they’re absolutely needed. —J.M.B.
95) Battle Royale
Some viewers may have been introduced to the horror of teenagers being forced to kill one another by the government in The Hunger Games, but Battle Royale covered that territory more than a decade prior. Here, a classroom of students are gassed and transported to a remote island and told that only one of them will live at the end of the third day in a fight to the death that makes Panem’s violence look tame. Some of them kill—gladly even—but some of them are putting up a fight of their own to get off the island alive. —M.J.
96) The Salvation
It’s always interesting to see what Westerns made outside of the U.S. look like. It’s such an American genre, to see how other countries play with it, comment on it, and make it their own is a testament to the power of cinema in the world. Then again, that’s not exactly what’s going on in The Salvation. Instead, this is a Western that takes place in America, but from an outsider’s perspective. Starring Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Doctor Strange) as a European settler out to avenge the death of his family, the film was made by Danish director, Kristian Levring. While it’s a classic Western story, the fact that Mikkelsen’s character is a stranger in a strange land does add another layer to it. Look out for the marvelous Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in supporting roles, too. —C.O.
97) Casa de mi Padre
The Western-comedy is a rich subgenre within the Western genre as a whole. Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, for instance, is one of the best American comedies of all time. There haven’t been a lot of offerings in this tradition lately, and the ones we have gotten (The Ridiculous 6, A Million Ways to Die in the West) have been less than stellar. That’s what makes Will Ferrell’s Casa de mi Padre, from 2012, such a memorable outlier. As much a send-up of/tribute to telenovela cliches as Western ones, this story of a rancher (Ferrell) who goes up against a drug lord is told entirely in Spanish, with English subtitles. In a brilliant bit of casting, the film co-stars Y Tu Mamá También’s Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, and was co-written and directed by Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, who’ve made a career of dissecting genre tropes on the IFC shows The Spoils of Babylon, The Spoils Before Dying, and the Lifetime original movie A Deadly Adoption. —C.O.
The debut feature from Laika established a new and exciting voice in animation, one that could rival Pixar creatively, if not commercially. Coraline is based on a Neil Gaiman story and is directed by Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas). It’s about a girl who goes to a secret world, a bizarro version of her real world. It’s a movie filled with imagination and heart, with and enough oddity to make it a memorable experience. The movie doesn’t shy away from darker elements, but it has enough sweetness to take some of the edge off. —E.S.
99) The Invitation
If you missed 2016’s twisty The Invitation, you’re not alone. But you’re also in for a treat. Karyn Kusama’s thriller about a group of friends at a dinner party is simplistic in premise but precise in execution. It’s a movie so intimate, so perfectly claustrophobic, you’ll feel, almost like the characters in the movie, trapped by a kind of relentless dread while watching it. As the plot unfurls and the party stretches on, secrets and ulterior motives are revealed, all the way up to a breathtaking climax. Intense as the experience is, you may immediately want to watch it again, if not because it’s great then at least to make sure you got everything. —C.O.
100) To Kill a Mockingbird
Although there are elements of To Kill a Mockingbird that feel dated today, the book and the film’s core principles continue to ring true. Perhaps it’s hard not to look at Atticus Finch differently in light of the 2015’s controversial Go Set a Watchman. Perhaps the text has lost some of its relevance as more black artists have gotten the chance to shape their own narratives over the years. Nevertheless, the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic tale of Boo Radley, Scout, and Atticus Finch still tugs at heartstrings all these years later. Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus, in particular, remains an archetype for cinematic “good guy.” —C.O.
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101) Don’t Think Twice
Although it was a hit with critics, Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice failed to become the crossover hit it should’ve in 2016. Using improv specifically to tell a story about the highs and lows of being a creative person in general, Birbiglia has made a mini-masterpiece, sure to resonate with anyone who has tried (and failed) to put their talent on display for the world to see. The film also gives us another powerhouse performance from Gillian Jacobs, who continues to be spectacular at playing damaged, complicated characters. —C.O.
102) White Christmas
Although the famous Irving Berlin song was first popularized in the 1942 Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle Holiday Inn, many Americans more closely associate with this 1954 classic, with which it shares a name. Crosby is back, but this time he’s paired up with Danny Kaye. The two play a song-and-dance team who fall for two sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen). The plot is as silly as you might expect, but the songs, again supplied for Berlin, are wonderful, and the movie is a delightful old-timey treat to watch around the holidays. —C.O.
Bong Joon-ho’s Okja is an odd and oddly touching story about a girl, Mija, and her genetically enhanced superpig, Okja. Set in Korea and the U.S., Okja features a diverse cast, thrilling set pieces, and enough emotional moments to keep you engaged even when the film indulges its weirder aspects. Despite the film’s tonal shifts, Joon-ho’s agility and prowess as a filmmaker ties everything together and makes it feel if a piece. Okja is easily the best Netflix original movie to date. —E.S.
104) To the Bone
It may be hard to convince yourself to sit down for a harrowing story about a young woman’s struggle with anorexia. Despite To the Bone’s dour subject matter, Marti Noxon’s script has enough humor to act as a release valve, and it’s one of the best movies on Netflix. The performances from lead actress Lily Collins to supporting players Alex Sharp, Keanu Reeves, Retta, and Lily Tomlin are great. The story is based on Noxon’s past experiences and that comes through in the intimate and empathetic approach she takes. —E.S.
Ennui, violation, ham-fisted vengeance: It all comes together in Macon Blair’s directorial debut, starring Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood as two amateur detectives looking for justice in a world gone mad. It’s one of the best movies on Netflix and exclusive to the service. —A.S.
Editor’s note: This story is regularly updated for relevance.