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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
It’s often been said that Steven Spielberg’s seminal 1975 film about a killer shark effectively killed the more serious era of the “new Hollywood,” ushering in the age of the blockbuster, which continues to reign supreme today. But while Jaws may have been the original summer smash, it shouldn’t be disregarded as silly or frivolous. Jaws is methodical and exacting. Today, it stands as the first real example of Spielberg’s impeccable filmmaking craft, not to mention the source of one of the craziest behind-the-scenes stories in Hollywood history. In fact, not one but two scripts about the movie’s production recently landed on the much-buzzed-about Blacklist, which complies the best un-produced screenplays. —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.
5) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This film will resonate with anyone who’s wished they could just erase an ex from their memory, which sort of erases the “romantic comedy” part of it. Still, director Michel Gondry’s 2004 film is affecting more than a decade later for its portrayal of the grey depths of a breakup, and balances the more depressing moments with surreal dream sequences and visually stunning flashes that show the beginnings of a relationship. —Audra Schroeder
6) Apocalypse Now
1970s Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola is like Jordan in his prime. The excellence of their collaborations is second to none. While Apocalypse Now will always play little brother to The Godfather and The Godfather Part ll, it’s still a masterpiece. Coppola’s adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is brimming with madness, just like Brando’s performance as Colonel Kurtz. The film’s vision of Vietnam is horrifying, thrilling, and essential. —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.
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) 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 uniquely 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.
11) Ghostbusters (1984)
The 2016 remake proved that some people love Ghostbusters a little too much. But seriously, who doesn’t live 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.
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.
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) Black Panther
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.
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) Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
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) Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil is Orson Welles’ great recovered masterpiece. Infamously butchered by the studio upon its initial release for being too dark, Welles’ film noir about about police corruption and murder in a Mexican bordertown was re-released in its original form in 1998. Since then, it’s gone on to earn the rightful reputation of one of the greatest movies ever made. There’s a lot to praise in Touch of Evil, from the tight script to the fantastic cast, which includes a strong supporting turn from Janet Leigh, memorable cameos from Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Cotton, Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor, and an iconic leading performance from Welles himself as Police Captain Hank Quinlan (pretty much everyone is great except Charlton Heston, unconvincingly playing Mexican.) But as always, it’s Welles’ direction that steals the show. The movie is worth watching for the opening crane shot alone. —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) 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
27) Chasing Amy
Chasing Amy is so much better than every other movie Kevin Smith has ever made that it must have been the result of accidentally getting hit by lightning. A never-better Ben Affleck (yes, even better than in Gone Girl) plays Holden, a comic book artist who develops an attraction to fellow illustrator Amy (Joey Lauren Adams). There’s just one little problem. She’s a lesbian. Smith’s film has a lot on its mind—from the blurred boundaries between friendships to the mutability of sexuality—but at its core it acknowledges a simple truth: Love is hell. Salon’s Charles Taylor wrote that it depicts romance as a kind of “emotional anarchy”—one that nearly ends in an ill-advised threesome between Amy, Holden, and Banky (Jason Lee), who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. But it’s not without its hard-earned rewards. The film’s bittersweet finale is one of the most powerful and honest I’ve ever seen. —N.L.
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) I Love You, Man
Is it still a rom-com if the love story is between two friends? I Love You, Man would suggest so. The couple getting married in the film is Paul Rudd’s Peter and Rashida Jones’ Zooey, but it’s Peter’s relationship with Jason Segel’s Sydney that the movie is actually about. When straightlaced Peter realizes he doesn’t have any close male friends in the lead-up to his wedding, he sets out to find a best man. Eventually, he encounters the free-spirited Sydney, and the two men bond quickly. Though I Love You, Man is in many ways a typical Judd Apatow comedy about arrested development, it’s also a cogent look at modern male friendships and intimacy. If Superbad explored what it’s like to maintain a best friendship at 18, I Love You, Man examines the same struggle at 35. —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) 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) Silver Linings Playbook
Although Silver Linings Playbook is just as if not more in your face than any other David O’ Russell movie, it betrays one of the central tenants of his filmography, which is that he’s secretly a big softie. His characters might be broken with protruding, jagged edges, but they all crave connection. This was never so true as in Silver Linings Playbook, which completed both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s ascent to superstardom (Lawrence also won an Oscar for it.) It’s rare to see a rom-com that’s this formally frenetic, but like all of O’Russell’s work, his camera is fluid and swift here. Yet despite the modern touches Silver Linings Playbook is a screwball comedy at heart. There’s as much His Girl Friday in this movie as there is Three Kings. —C.O.
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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) 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) 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.
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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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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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) 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.
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 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
In case you’ve been of the grid for the last month, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has become a full–blown Internet sensation since it was released in 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.
76) 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.
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77) No Country For Old Men
78) Annie Hall
It is increasingly hard to get past the Woody Allen of it all, but if you can, it just may be possible to appreciate Annie Hall for what it is: one of the most influential romantic comedies of the last century. Without Annie Hall, there’s arguably no When Harry Met Sally…, no Four Weddings and a Funeral, no The Big Sick. The film serves as a template to show that the much-maligned genre can feel serious and even real, while still being entertaining. Plus, Diane Keaton remains perfection, as she is in all of Allen’s movies. Thankfully, you don’t need to be an Allen fan to be a Keaton fan. —C.O.
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) 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 duo of great performances by Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart as The Joker and Two-Face. 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. —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.
83) Silence of the Lambs
Calling Silence of the Lambs a horror film may be tough, but how many suspense films feature crucifixion, cannibalism, and skin suits? The misconception that this isn’t a horror film is part of what helps make it so terrifying—viewers come in with basic expectations and end up surrounded by unspeakable evils. While much has been written about Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, the real joy of the film is Ted Levine’s Buffalo Bill. Whether driving home the importance of lotion or dancing to new wave, each of his scenes helps build a sense of dread that will stick with you long after you’ve run out of Chianti. —J.M.B.
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) 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) 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) West Side Story
The music. The dancing. The performances (particularly from Oscar-winners Rita Moreno and George Chakiris.) Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s adaptation of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s riff on Romeo and Juliet is about as powerful as classic Hollywood musicals get. —C.O.
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) Sixteen Candles
Look, there’s a loooooooot about Sixteen Candles that doesn’t word today. The film’s sexual and racial politics are a mess, to say the least. But what does work, chiefly Molly Ringwald’s endlessly charming, star-making performance as Samantha, holds up as an accurate portrait of the insecurities everyone feels in high school. Netflix’s own recent teen rom-com hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, even shouted it out as a staple of the genre (while still acknowledging how crazy racist it is.) —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.
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.