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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 some good movies 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 of the best movies on Netflix 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
Scarface is a movie that has been so totally devoured by pop culture, it’s hard to approach it simply as a film. Yet beyond all the famous one-liners, there’s still a great movie there, one that both stands on its own and exists as the very embodiment of ‘80s excess. Brian De Palma, working from a script written by Oliver Stone, pushes everything to the limit and then a bit further. The performances from Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer are unforgettable, despite being reduced a thousand times to parody. The movie’s handling of race might not hold up so well, but if you’ve gone your whole life without seeing Scarface, you should finally find out what you’ve been missing. —C.O
3) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Is there a better Stephen Spielberg movie than Raiders of the Lost Ark? Indiana Jones movies have kind of worked on an every-other pattern, so given that logic, we’re due for a good one soon. Yet it’s hard for any of them to compare to Raiders, the original staple of what a modern action/adventure film should be. Netflix may have recently dropped The Godfather, but as far as uneven, classic franchises go, at least they gave us Indiana Jones in return —C.O.
4) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
British comedy nerds will tell you Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the funniest movie ever made, and they’re probably not wrong. From “I fart in your general direction” to “It’s just a flesh wound” to “We are the Knights who say… NI,” the movie’s absurdism is second to none, and set the tone for cinematic comedies for years to come. If you haven’t seen it, I just have one question for you: “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”—C.O.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is easily one of the best superhero films of the past few years, standing alongside Black Panther in terms of visual imagination and joyfully innovative use of the source material. It’s a fresh and funny new take on Spidey’s origin story, focusing on Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) with a supporting cast of Spider-people like Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (aka Spider-Woman). The combination of CG and hand-drawn animation is revolutionary, and the film is self-referential without being smug. Instead of relying on tired tropes to fill in the gaps, Into the Spider-Verse gives us everything we need to love and understand Miles: A satisfyingly personal story, embedded in a uniquely energetic visual experience. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
6) The Dark Knight
I can attest from countless basic cable viewings that The Dark Knight has top-tier replay value. No matter where you jump in, you’re about to see something great. That’s a credit to Nolan’s direction and pacing, as well as the dual great performances by Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart as The Joker and Two-Face, respectively. Many superhero movies have aped The Dark Knight’s dour tone, but few have used it as effectively. I know “dour” and “top-tier replay value” don’t exactly jive, but The Dark Knight makes it work. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch the interrogation scene again. —Eddie Strait
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 art form as well. —C.O.
8) The Third Man
Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles frequently worked together throughout their careers, but none of their collaborations is quite like this post-war noir from 1949. Cotten plays a novelist investigating the death of a friend (played by Welles) in Vienna. But the details surrounding that friend’s death only become more mysterious the deeper he looks. Directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene, The Third Man is especially enjoyable for Welles, who’s probably better here than in any other movie he didn’t helm himself. —C.O.
Inspired by his childhood in 1970s Mexico City, Roma is the latest film from visionary writer/director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity; Children of Men). It’s a moving autobiographical drama about a young woman who works as a housemaid for a wealthy Mexican family, based on Cuarón’s beloved childhood nanny. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest movies of 2018, destined to live on as a highlight of Cuarón’s career. —G.B.W.
10) Inglourious Basterds
Inglourious Basterds may not be Quentin Tarantino’s most iconic film (that would be Pulp Fiction). Nor is it his most fun (that would probably be Jackie Brown). Nor is it his most stylish (the Kill Bill films), his most socially conscious (Django Unchained), his most tightly scripted (Reservoir Dogs), or even his longest (The Hateful Eight). But Inglourious Basterds just might be his best. He says as much himself with the film’s winking last line, delivered into camera by Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine: “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” Inglourious Basterds is a cinematic declaration for the ages. The performances, writing, and directing are all immaculate. More surprising is that the movie feels almost like a play at moments, with certain scenes stretching on for a half an hour at a time. —C.O.
Soni is a movie about a society that devalues women on a systemic and personal level. The film follows two women who work for the Delhi Police: Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan), a young police officer with a penchant for not taking crap from people, and her supervisor Kalpana (Saloni Batra). Both women battle routine sexism and bureaucratic headaches, and the cases they get often involve crimes against women. Despite the Delhi setting, Soni’s observations of inequality transcend borders. It’s like looking in a mirror: You see what’s right in front of you, but also everything around you. —E.S.
12) The End of the Tour
Although many close to the late writer denounced the film upon its release, The End of the Tour’s portrayal of acclaimed author David Foster Wallace doesn’t necessarily need to be accurate to be affecting. Following journalist David Lipsky’s unpublished chronicle of Wallace in the last days of his book tour for Infinite Jest, the film is a powerful work on art, interviewing, genius, depression, and the way creative people view each other. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel do some of the best work of their careers as Lipsky and Wallace, bringing authentic chemistry to this brief but powerful relationship. —C.O.
13) The Graduate
Roger Ebert once said The Graduate does not meet the requirements of a great film, as it is too much of its time to hold up over multiple generations. Yet the movie’s themes of angst, anxiety, and existential ennui are likely to hold up for anyone who has ever gotten out of college without knowing what they want to do with their life. Granted, the relationship between Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson (Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft) doesn’t translate as well today, and the romance between Benjamin and her daughter, Elaine (Katherine Robinson) is straight-up creepy. The Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack though, remains perfect. Most of us have had one of those lost, “Sound of Silence” moments at some point. —C.O.
14) Black Panther
Blending sci-fi and fantasy, director Ryan Coogler brought new life to the Marvel franchise this year. Starring Chadwick Boseman as the superhero king T’Challa, this movie introduced the world to Wakanda, a secretive African nation with super-advanced technology and a rich cultural backstory. Much of the conversation around Black Panther focuses on its impact as a blockbuster with a predominantly Black cast. It set a precedent for Hollywood, telling an unabashedly political story about colonization and the African diaspora. On top of all that, it’s a damn good action movie. Packed with already-iconic moments, it earned praise for its witty dialogue, stellar cast, and visual world building. —G.B.W.
15) Under the Skin
In Under the Skin, Scarlett Johansson is an alien who stalks, seduces, and…does something to men she picks up in Scotland. The movie is full of indelible imagery, and it’s a story that provokes as much as it disturbs. —E.S.
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.
Netflix honors a World War II hero and photographer Francisco Boix in its newly acquired Spanish film, The Photographer of Mauthausen. The film, which follows Boix as he attempts to smuggle photos that incriminate the Nazi party of war treason while in the Mauthausen concentration camp, is predictably dark, somber, and incredibly difficult to watch—but an essential film about the Holocaust and the importance of upholding the truth. —Tess Cagle
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) Once Upon a Time in America
Hey, you look like a person who’s got four hours! Why not watch this classic crime film from Sergio Leone? If you can get past the length, this epic starring Robert De Niro as prohibition-era Jewish gangster David “Noodles” Aaronson is worth it. The final feature he completed before his death, the film is filled with Leone’s classically cinematic imagery, not to mention another legendary score by his longtime collaborator, Ennio Morricone. Eat your heart out, Quentin Tarantino. Leone owns the “Once Upon a Time” thing forever. —C.O.
20) High Flying Bird
High Flying Bird tells the story of a sports agent caught in the crosshairs of an NBA lockout who tries to end it on his own. A strong script from Moonlight screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and a leading performance from André Holland make potentially insider story compelling, and the film takes on the NBA’s long history of exploiting Black athletes in the process. —Michelle Jaworski
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.
After a mutated strain of mad cow disease runs rampant across the United States and turns most of the population into flesh-eating zombies, college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) treks from his Austin, Texas dorm to Columbus, Ohio in search of his parents. Along the way he picks up Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a bloodthirsty survivor with an affinity for Twinkies who’s mourning the loss of his puppy. The two unlikely partners encounter sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), adding some romantic tension to the quartet’s survival mission. Combining a killer (literally) cast, heaps of gore, and a brilliant Bill Murray cameo, Zombieland is a gut-busting zom-com with a sweet, undead heart at its core. —Bryan Rolli
23) Thor: Ragnarok
Taika Waititi’s sense of humor was a perfect match for the absurdity of the Thor franchise, rescuing it from the overly serious tone of Thor: The Dark World. The supporting cast members were brilliant (Jeff Goldblum! Tessa Thompson! Cate Blanchett! Mark Ruffalo!), and the production designers reveled in a rainbow-hued, Jack Kirby-inspired vision of the Marvel universe. It’s arguably one of the best comedies of 2017, and on top of that, it features some deceptively thoughtful political subtext. —G.B.W.
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. —A.S.
An absurdly good debut from future Star Wars director Rian Johnson, Brick is a film noir set in high school; how good of a pitch is that? The detective who plays by his own rules in this case is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who stars as Brendan, an outsider on the hunt for the person who killed his girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin). Filled with hard-boiled dialogue and femme fatale archetypes, Brick takes a clever premise and turns it into something that rises above a twist on noir tropes to become an essential addition to the genre’s catalogue. —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
I only remember three things about the plot of Caddyshack: There’s a dancing gopher; Bill Murray and Chevy Chase smoke a joint together; and at some point, people play golf. This comedic tour de force unites some of the era’s biggest stars, including Murray and Chase, along with Rodney Dangerfield as the obnoxiously rich Al Czervik. The slapstick humor and deadpan one-liners fly by at whiplash pace, and there’s apparently a golf-related showdown thrown in for narrative purposes. Writer and producer Doug Kenney (Animal House) hated Caddyshack when it came out, but it became a box office smash and still lands on several all-time greatest comedy lists. To paraphrase that damn gopher: It’s alright. —B.R.
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 Crow
This 1994 film might seem campy next to modern-day superhero movies, but no remake can replicate the oppressive darkness of The Crow. Brandon Lee’s embodiment of Eric Draven—a man who returns from the dead to avenge his murder and the rape and murder of his fiancée—is seamless, and made even more tragic by Lee’s accidental death on set. Director Alex Proyas doesn’t let any light in, sketching out a world where evil waits around every corner and the superhero can’t save everybody. But as Draven assures his young pal Sarah: “It can’t rain all the time.” —A.S.
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.
Ant-Man and the Wasp had the impossible task of following Avengers: Infinity War, and it wisely chose to do its own thing instead of trying to one-up Thanos. Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who’ve been on the run from the FBI since the events of Captain America: Civil War, have built a tunnel that will take them into the Quantum Realm so they can rescue a trapped Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). But they need a missing piece of the puzzle from Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who’s three days away from the end of his house-arrest sentence. With plenty of callbacks to the first Ant-Man, the visual and verbal gags mostly land, and the action scenes are engaging and take full advantage of its landscape. Though it probably won’t convert any viewers who aren’t keen on its titular hero, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun and humorous film that doesn’t overstay its welcome. —M.J.
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) Paris Is Us
Elisabeth Vogler’s Paris Is Us follows Anna, a young Parisian woman in search of reality, authentic experiences, and anything that will tether her to people and the world. Feeling an increasing sense of isolation, Anna questions everything about reality, from everyday experiences down to whether she’s just living in a simulation. Paris Is Us is pretentious and honest, and it won’t be for everyone. Vogler shoots the film with a floating, fluid camera that creates indelible imagery and puts you in Anna’s headspace. It’s an immersive and unique experience.
38) Julie & Julia
As talented as Amy Adams is, she can’t quite save the half of this movie devoted to Julie Powell and her quest to complete all the recipes in Julia Child’s first cookbook. Yet it hardly matters, when you have Meryl Streep giving one of her best performances in recent years as Child herself. From her intelligence, to her love for the kitchen, to her inability to be anything other than herself, Streep brings way more humanity to Child’s outsize personality than anyone should be able to. This was was the legendary Nora Ephron’s last film before she died, and as sad as it was to lose her, we can at least take comfort in the fact that she gave us one more great rom-com before she left. Come to Julie & Julia for the food, stay because Julia Child and Stanley Tucci are relationship goals. —C.O.
39) She’s Gotta Have It
Dramatically deciding whether someone is right or wrong for you is a common trope in the dating world (and in romantic comedies), but having to choose between three people is another story. Directed by Spike Lee, She’s Gotta Have It follows Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who is in the middle of choosing between three men on totally different ends of the personality spectrum. One man is a total narcissist, another a controlling alpha male, and the third a shy geek who seems the most genuine. Darling’s process of trial and error is pretty laughable, but it also leads her to discover much more about herself than she knew before. —Kristen Hubby
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40) 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.
41) Pulp Fiction
Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. “Miserlou” and “Jungle Boogie.” Royale with cheese. Great vengeance and furious anger. The dance. A syringe of adrenaline to the heart. The watch. Zed’s dead, baby, Zed’s dead. I shot Marvin in the face. “Bad Motherf***er.” The briefcase. Tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd. Few movies have had an impact on pop culture the way Pulp Fiction has. Over 20 years later, we’re still quoting it, referencing it, and stealing from it, much like the way Quentin Tarantino stole from others to create his great cinematic pastiche back in 1994. Now, say you haven’t seen Pulp Fiction again. I dare you, I double dare you, motherf***er. —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) Spring Breakers
Harmony Korine’s infamous crime drama about a group of four college girls who rob a restaurant to fund a debauched spring break trip has finally hit Netflix. Starring former Disney icons like Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, Spring Breakers can’t figure out if it wants to be a serious movie or a trashy exploitation thriller. Thankfully that means it’s packed full of nudity, sex, and even one oddly hot threesome with the grossest James Franco you’ve ever seen. —John-Michael Bond
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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 re-contextualizes satire in an era littered with “fake news.” —A.S.
47) V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta’s politics are not subtle, but subtlety isn’t all that effective when you’re aiming for revolution. An underrated classic from the Wachowski siblings, V for Vendetta’s impact has reached farther than most would’ve expected, even showing up in imagery from the Arab Spring. Over 10 years later, its message regarding the fight against tyranny sadly feels more relevant than ever, which makes the film as necessary as ever, too. —C.O.
48) Dear Ex
Before dying, Seng Cheng-yuan came out as gay and left his wife, Liu San-lian, and son, Seng Cheng-hsi, so he could live with his boyfriend Chieh. With their lives already upended, Cheng-yuan’s death leaves his family wracked with grief. Dear Ex is a darkly comedic look at three grieving people as they struggle to get their lives back on track. The strong writing, acting, and directing help the movie arrive at some moving emotional truths. —E.S.
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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50) Good Will Hunting
“It’s not your fault.” Ouch, right? Even if you’re tired of looking at the smug face of Matt Damon’s Will Hunting, even if the obnoxious mass of Boston accents has started to get to you, even if the movie’s general earnestness drives you crazy, by the time Good Will Hunting arrives at that one scene, even the hardest and most cynical hearts will also start to melt. Among Good Will Hunting’s considerable powers are Gus Van Sant’s deft but subtle direction and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning script. But it’s Robin Williams’ crushing performance, for which he also received the Academy award, that makes the movie worth revisiting. The late Williams showed he could tone his more over-the-top antics way down in this, his most acclaimed role. The result is breathtaking and the one element of the movie most likely to make you shed a tear or two (or many.) —C.O.
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) Green Room
If you liked Blue Ruin, you should check out writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s follow-up, Green Room. A punk band, led by the late Anton Yelchin, stumbles across something they shouldn’t see and ends up trapped in a venue in the middle of nowhere. Did I mention that the club is run by neo-Nazis? Well, it is, and the Nazis are led by Patrick Stewart. The band has to fight its way out, and that’s about it for plot summary. The movie is violent and incredibly tense, and the filmmaking and storytelling are as lean, muscular, and vicious as an attack dog. —E.S.
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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57) Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
During Michael Cera’s glorious mid-aughts run of comedies, he starred alongside Kat Dennings in this infinitely charming and funny romcom. Nick and Norah, strangers at the start of the movie, turn their meet-cute into an all-night chase around New York to catch a secret show by the elusive band Where’s Fluffy. The movie is plenty funny, but it’s the relationship between Nick and Norah that elevates the movie above most of its peers. —E.S.
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) Hell or High Water
In the oppressive heat of West Texas a pair of desperate brothers decide to rob banks in order to pay off their mortgage. It’s a simple plan and one that might work if weren’t for the Texas Rangers on their heel or one brother’s reckless tendencies. Hell or High Water is a movie that lives in the little moments: Out-of-towners being schooled by an old waitress, brothers sharing a meal, partners bantering, and cops and robbers having standoffs. There’s a reason this movie became a sleeper hit at the box office and scored a slew of Academy Awards nominations. Times may be tough for the characters, but the audience reaps the benefits. —E.S.
When Lisa, a teacher frustrated with her life, discovers one of her students, Parker, has a talent for poetry, she takes a special interest in him. As it becomes clear to her that no one else values his gift as much as she does, she becomes obsessed. Her determination to nurture Parker’s talent leads her down a dark path. Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a tremendous performance as Lisa, and writer-director Sara Colangelo makes a strong impression with tricky material. —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 Spain
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 and 2017 sequels, The Trip to Italy and The Trip to Spain, 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 and then the Italian and Spanish countrysides, going to four-star restaurants and eating delicious food, they also spend a lot of time looking at their own lives and attempting to tackle the big questions. From moment to moment, one man will be up, and the other down, and then it’ll shift back again. These movies are at ease in 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) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before became a full–blown Internet sensation upon its release last August. And to be honest, it probably should be. Not only is it a funny, smart rom-com with positive representation in the vein of Crazy Rich Asians and Netflix’s other recent additions to the genre, it’s also a savvy update on the classic template put forth by John Hughes. For those of you still not in the know, the film is set in motion when the private letters of high-schooler Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) are unleashed upon the world, and sent to all her secret crushes. To cover her tracks, she makes a pact with hunky lacrosse player and new Internet boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) designed to to help maintain both of their social standings. As you might’ve guessed, things don’t go as planned. Cue audience swooning. —C.O.
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.
Zodiac is the great crime movie of our time. David Fincher’s masterpiece about the hunt for the notorious Zodiac Killer is not only his best film—it’s perhaps the best film ever made on the nature of obsession. Dark, enigmatic, and unforgettable, this is the kind of movie that gets better with each viewing. Zodiac has finally received some of the recognition it deserves as one of the best films of the past decade, so if you’ve only seen it once, the time to revisit it is now. And if you’ve never seen it, the same holds true. —C.O.
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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.
See You Yesterday stars Eden Duncan-Smith as CJ, a science prodigy who invents a pair of time-traveling backpacks with her friend Sebastian (Dante Crichlow). When a police officer kills someone close to them, they must use time travel to save him without screwing up the timeline. The film’s zany humor and colorful aesthetic take cues from Back to the Future and Bill & Ted, and Duncan-Smith gives a charismatic breakout performance, smoothly shifting between youthful banter and the sudden shock of grief. Significantly more thoughtful than your average Netflix original movie, See You Yesterday marks Bristol and Duncan-Smith as ones to watch. —G.B.W.
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77) No Country For Old Men
We meet killer Anton Chigurh within the first two minutes of No Country For Old Men, the Coen brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel. The first murder we witness sets off a domino effect across West Texas, as dirty money, small-town law enforcement, and a dead-eyed killer engage in a deadly dance. -A.S.
From concept to execution, Cloverfield is a blast. Say what you will about J.J. Abrams, but the man knows how to make an event movie. For Cloverfield, he roped in longtime collaborators Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods), both masters of genre. Cloverfield is much scarier than you’d think for a monster romp. And with a Cloverfield Cinematic Universe taking shape (2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane and 2018’s The Cloverfield Paradox), now’s a great time for a refresher on how it all began. —E.S.
Finally, a film the whole family can watch. Tobe Hooper’s classic haunted house tale was co-written by Steven Spielberg and features the scariest clown in cinema history. There are plenty of films about families that move into homes only to discover something evil already lives there. Where Poltergeist shines is its execution. At first the ghosts almost seem playful—stacking chairs and sliding children across floors. It’s all good fun, at least until the tree tries to eat your son and a portal sucks your daughter into another dimension. Utilizing brilliant practical special effects, Poltergeist delivers a funhouse of horrific PG set pieces from the era where PG meant someone’s face could melt off. Horror films rarely feature a family this believable or tightly knit. Their problems are relatable, so when hell breaks loose, you’re invested far beyond the standard group of hot teens. All-ages horror exists, but none of it comes close to Poltergeist. —E.S.
Paddleton follows Andy and Michael, two best friends who must grapple with Michael’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. The two men stick to their routine, which includes watching kung fu movies and playing their made up game called Paddleton. Mark Duplass and Ray Romano give terrific performances in the leading roles, capturing what it means to be a friend, even if their characters have a hard time expressing themselves. Paddleton is a small, intimate movie that’s both funny and sad without ever becoming overly sentimental. —E.S.
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81) The Stranger
Though he will always be best-known for Citizen Kane, serious cinephiles should also make an effort to check out Orson Welles’ less famous works. This film, from 1946, stars Edward G. Robinson as a war crimes investigator hunting down a former Nazi (Welles) living under an assumed identity in Connecticut. It’s fascinating to see Robinson, famous for portraying onscreen gangsters, ostensibly playing the good guy here. The Oscar-nominated script, which includes contributions from an uncredited John Huston, is also full of great dialog. —C.O.
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.
In Always Be My Maybe, childhood best friends Sasha and Marcus reconnect in their hometown of San Francisco after going 15 years without uttering a word to one another. Everyone—including Sasha and Marcus—always thought maybe they might end up together, but 15 years later, the two live conflicting lifestyles. The embrace of the “two best friends fall in love” plot makes it feel like an instant classic—but also formulaic. The most innovative part of Always Be My Maybe is its normalization of two Asian-Americans playing the leads in a romantic comedy, making it a love letter to modern Asian-American culture without turning all of its characters into stereotypes. As predicted, Wong and Park bring plenty of chemistry to the film, making it impossible to root for any ending that doesn’t bring Sasha and Marcus together. —T.C.
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. —M.J.
86) The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment takes the infamous 1971 study on perceived power by Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo and turns it into something like a psychological thriller. Starring a who’s who of young Hollywood actors, led by Billy Crudup playing Zimbardo, the film recounts the disturbing events of the experiment by stretching them out in a slow, painful burn. Based on footage from the actual study, it feels like director Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s fictionalized version took painstaking detail. —C.O.
Not The Room, just Room. Drop the “The” and trade Tommy Wiseau for the infinitely more charming Brie Larson. Room is based on the bestselling Emma Donahue novel of the same name and it’s about a woman who was kidnapped and has spent five years living in a room with her son. It’s unquestionably harrowing, but the film opens up in the second half when mom and son (Jacob Tremblay, doing some strong kid acting) regain their freedom. It’s an emotional gauntlet, but one that is worth going through for Larson’s Oscar-winning work. —EE.S.
88) In Bruges
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s first feature film following his Oscar-winning short, Six Shooter, In Bruges centers on two hitmen named Ray and Ken (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) hiding out in Belgium following a job gone wrong. Like all of McDonagh’s work, it is brutal, bloody, existentially crushing and intermittently hilarious. It also contains what may be Farrell’s finest performance to date. Though McDonagh would follow it up with Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, many still consider In Bruges to be his finest cinematic work. —C.O.
89) American Gangster
Though overstuffed and filled with too much of Russell Crowe’s Detective Richie Richards, American Gangster succeeds because of Denzel Washington’s fierce turn as real-life Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas. Violent, angry, yet methodical, there’s something unknowable about the way Washington plays Frank. We’re never entirely sure what’s driving his unquenchable thirst for power, but there is certainly something American about it. The movie is also worth checking out for one of the final performances from the great Ruby Dee, as Frank’s mother. —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.
92) The Magnificent Ambersons
Not as well-known as Citizen Kane but debatably just as good, The Magnificent Ambersons is Orson Welles’ lost masterpiece. Not lost because you can’t see it, but because his original cut was butchered by the studio. Yet even in the hour and a half version available on Netflix, Welles’ tale of one wealthy family’s fall from grace in early 20th century America remains a powerful and vital piece of classic American cinema. —C.O.
93) Someone Great
When Rolling Stone calls, aspiring music journalist Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) knows she has to answer—even if it means moving across the country to San Francisco and jeopardizing her relationship with Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), her boyfriend of nine years. Someone Great is a coming-of-age story about transitioning out of your twenties and saying goodbye to people and places that no longer belong in your life. The heart-wrenching and relatable film challenges its viewers with the idea that sometimes, the best decision for yourself is the hardest one to make. —T.C.
Screenwriter Will Reiser tells the story of his own battle with cancer in 50/50. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a 27-year-old with nothing but opportunity in front of him when he falls ill. The movie follows a traditional path, with Will battling the disease and the emotional and existential reckoning that comes with it. Gordon-Levitt is tremendous, Seth Rogen does some of his best work as Adam’s best friend Kyle (echoing his real-life friendship with Reiser), and Anjelica Huston is devastating as Will’s mother. The movie finds plenty of humor in Adam’s situation, but don’t forget to have a box of tissues nearby when you watch. —E.S.
95) The Edge of Seventeen
Writer-director Kelly Fremoon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen is one of the strongest filmmaker debuts of the last few years. It’s a coming-of-age story that centers on Hailey Steinfeld’s Nadine, an awkward teen who can’t stop making things more awkward. (Is there any other kind of teen?) Despite Nadine’s fumbling, the movie is really about a family struggling in the aftermath of a tragedy. It doesn’t shy away from showing the uglier sides of the characters, and it never condemns or condones them. The Edge of Seventeen is ultimately about being comfortable enough with yourself to realize that you aren’t the only one with problems. —E.S.
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) I Am Mother
Set in a post-apocalyptic bunker, I Am Mother is a smart thriller about a girl named Daughter (Clara Rugaard) who was raised from birth by a robot named Mother (Rose Byrne) after a mysterious plague wiped out the Earth’s population. Daughter’s peaceful life gets upended when a human survivor (Hilary Swank) arrives from outside the bunker, leading Daughter to question what other lies Mother has been telling. I Am Mother is a twisty, self-contained sci-fi drama that explores wider themes with a small cast, sparing the complicated world-building and simply giving Rugaard and Swank plenty of interesting material. —G.B.W.
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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.
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, gangster movies, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Editor’s note: This story is regularly updated for relevance.
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.
Chris Osterndorf is an entertainment reporter and movie critic based in Los Angeles. He holds a degree in cinema from Chicago’s DePaul University. His work has appeared on the Daily Dot, Mic, the Script Lab, Salon, the Week, xoJane, and more.
Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.
Nico Lang is an essayist, movie critic, and reporter who specializes in the intersection of politics and LGBTQ issues. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, Jezebel, Esquire, and BuzzFeed, among other notable publications.