Let’s face it, most of us don’t go to the movie theater much anymore. Instead, we prefer watching films in the comfort of our own homes, cuddled on the couch in front of Netflix. The only problem is, we never know what to watch and waste hours scrolling through the options.
Netflix’s algorithm makes it hard to find the perfect film for your mood, and the content is updated constantly. Therefore, we’ve collected the 100 best movies available on Netflix right now so that you wouldn’t have to. The only thing left to do is make popcorn and press play.
My Fair Lady
Starring: Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison
Director: George Cukor
Worth Watching For: The English charm, timeless show tunes, and the most impressive costumes Hollywood has to offer.
At the top of Netflix’s few classic Hollywood finding is the musical movie My Fair Lady. Based on the 1956 play of the same name and George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Harrison teaches Hepburn to be a lady in possibly the best performances of their respective careers. Now considered among the greatest American films of all time, in 1964, My Fair Lady won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Denise Nickerson, and Leonard Stone
Director: Mel Stuart
Worth Watching For: Gene Wilder’s wild performance as Willy Wonka.
We prefer the original to the 2005 Johnny Depp remake, although they are both on Netflix. The film is based on a young adult novel by Roald Dahl about a poor paperboy named Charlie Bucket, who wins one of five golden tickets to visit a mysterious chocolate factory run by the great Willy Wonka. A Scrumdiddlyumptious film of epic proportions, the story is sure to make viewers crave a chocolatey dessert.
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, and Murray Hamilton
Director: Steven Spielberg
Worth Watching For: Its superb and haunting musical theme and stunning jump scares.
Spielberg’s Jaws is often credited with changing the motion picture industry and opening the door to a new era of high-grossing blockbusters. This terrifying flic is flawless in every aspect and tells the tale of a town plagued by a man-eating shark that begins killing beachgoers. Thanks to its superior sound editing and matchless screenplay, Jaws rightfully earned a place among the greatest thrillers of all time.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Starring: The Monty Python comedy group: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin
Directors: Terry Gilliam & Terry Gilliam
Worth Watching For: The priceless parody and side-stitching laughs.
Regarded as the best Monty Python movie, The Holy Grail is guaranteed to induce fits of uncontrollable giggling. This highly quoted and well-loved classic parodies the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. In 2001, it was selected as the second-best comedy of all time. Plus, the Tony Award-winning 2005 Broadway musical Spamalot is based on it.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Daryl Hannah
Director: Ridley Scott
Worth Watching For: To see how people in the ’80s thought 2019 would be like.
Although Blade Runner wasn’t appreciated upon its release, this masterpiece went on to change the world. Based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the film basically recreated the visual side of the sci-fi genre. Ford plays Rick Deckard, a “blade runner” living in a futuristic dystopia whose job is to “retire” super-strong, bioengineered human replicants.
The Karate Kid
Starring: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Elizabeth Shue, and Pat Morita
Director: John G. Avildsen
Worth Watching For: Seeing the underdog triumph + Macchio and Zabka’s legendary rivalry.
You would think that with the series Cobra Kai being such a success on Netflix, the streaming service would have offered the original Karate Kid movies earlier. Now that all three Karate Kid films are available, we recommend the first of the trilogy. Watch Macchio study karate under the great sensei Mr. Miyagi so that he can beat his bully, Zabka.
Once Upon a Time in America
Starring: Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Burt Young, Joe Pesci, and Elizabeth McGovern
Director: Sergio Leone
Worth Watching For: The excellent acting, stunning visuals, and bold cinematic style.
Once Upon a Time in America is a Western-esque crime epic directed by the influential Italian director Sergio Leone. Although Leone invented the Spaghetti Western genre, this film is set on the East Coast and depicts the lives of Jewish gangsters in New York City during the twentieth century. It is considered among the greatest gangster movies of all time.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey, and Jeffrey Jones
Director: John Hughes
Worth Watching For: The upbeat ’80s feel and nostalgic tracklist.
When Ferris Bueller hit theaters, it instantly became one of the most popular teen comedies of the 1980s. Hughes certainly knows how to mold a simple plot into a timeless classic. Cuddle up, turn up the volume and watch as Ferris Bueller convinces his friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloan to skip school, despite being pursued by his vindictive principal and resentful sister.
Starring: Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin
Director: Martin Brest
Worth Watching For: The surprising and hilarious chemistry between DeNiro and Grodin.
Midnight Run is among the funniest buddy films of the 1980s. It was released in 1988, received two Golden Globe nominations, and was a commercial and critical success. DeNiro plays bounty hunter Jack Walsh, who is hired to capture Grodin, an accountant named Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas, who stole money from the Chicago mob. What follows is a comedy of errors, culminating in an action-packed climax.
Starring: Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman
Director: Barry Levinson
Worth Watching For: The fantastic performances of Cruise and Hoffman.
This classic road trip drama garnered four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Hoffman, Best Picture, and Best Director. Cruise delivers the best performance of his career, playing Charlie Babbitt, who discovers, after his father’s death, that he has a long-lost autistic brother named Raymond. Hoffman steals the show as Raymond, who has savant syndrome. Together they go to Vegas to try their hand at counting cards.
Do the Right Thing
Starring: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, Samuel L. Jackson, and more
Director: Spike Lee
Worth Watching For: The enduring importance of the film regarding the social climate in America.
Do the Right Thing was released in the ’80s, yet this pièce de resistance feels more relevant in the present climate than ever. In this comedy-drama, the iconic director paints a powerful portrait of the systematic discrimination prevalent in America. The plot follows the Italian and Black communities that populate a Brooklyn neighborhood brimming with tension.
Dances with Wolves
Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, and Rodney Grant
Director: Kevin Costner
Worth Watching For: The epic cinematography and positive portrayal of Native Americans.
Times have certainly changed since Dances with Wolves came out. Upon its release, the film brought in over $400 million globally and won seven Oscars, beating out Goodfellas for Best Picture and Best Director. The film follows a Union Army Lieutenant named John J. Dunbar, who requests a post out west after the war. There, Dunbar is abandoned and encounters the Sioux tribe.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, and Ronny Cox
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Worth Watching For: The gore and violence balanced by the satire and humor.
This number one blockbuster is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, and despite being released over 30 years ago, it is still visually interesting and provides solid entertainment. Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who may or may not have been a secret agent on Mars. If you want to find out, you have to watch it.
Starring: Edward James Olmos, William Forsythe, Pepe Serna, and Evelina Fernández
Director: Edward James Olmos
Worth Watching For: The heartbreaking story and the soundtrack packed with Latino oldies.
Olmos revealed his multiple talents when he directed, produced, and starred in American Me. The film is based on a true story and depicts the rise of the Mexican mob in the California prison system. Olmos appears as Montoya Santana, an up-and-coming gangster who later heads a gang in Folsom State Prison. This film enraged the actual Mexican Mafia.
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, and Helena Bonham Carter
Director: James Ivory
Worth Watching For: Broken engagements, adultery, class struggles, lies, secrets, and death bed requests.
Based on the classic novel by E.M. Forster, Howards End is a romantic drama about class relations in Britain at the turn of the twentieth century. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay for Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Best Actress for Emma Thompson. Howards End is critically acclaimed and was dubbed “extraordinarily good on every level.”
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., Delroy Lindo, and Spike Lee
Director: Spike Lee
Worth Watching For: Denzel Washington’s incredible performance as Malcolm X.
Most biopics are a bit boring, or literally by the book, but Spike Lee’s rendition of Malcolm X’s autobiography is none of those things. This epic drama displays the most significant achievement of Washington’s impressive career and is one of Lee’s most ambitious films. The film follows Malcolm X’s life, including his childhood, jail time, civil rights leadership, and tragic assassination.
In the Line of Fire
Starring: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, and Gary Cole
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Worth Watching For: Malkovich’s obsessive portrayal of a tortured villain and Eastwood’s expert, action-packed portrait of a tortured hero.
In the Line of Fire is an action thriller about a troubled former CIA agent, played by John Malkovich, who plans to assassinate the President of the United States. Eastwood plays a Secret Service agent who is on Malkovich’s trail. The film gained three Academy Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actor for Malkovich.
Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin
Director: Jane Campion
Worth Watching For: Anna Paquin’s impressive and heartwarming debut performance.
Holly Hunter plays a mute pianist who expresses herself only through her music. At age eleven, Paquin appears in her debut role as the pianist’s daughter who cares for her mother in a parent-child role reversal. The film snagged three Oscars, including Best Actress for Hunter and Best Supporting Actress for Paquin, who became the second-youngest actor to win an Academy Award.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
Starring: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, and John C. Reilly
Director: Lasse Hallström
Worth Watching For: Young Johnny Depp and young Leonardo DiCaprio.
This coming-of-age drama is about Gilbert Grape (played by Depp), a young man who cares for his mentally impaired little brother, Arnie (played by DiCaprio). The sentimental and moving story made the film very popular at the time of its release. DiCaprio gained acclaim for his performance and was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.
Léon: The Professional
Starring: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, and Danny Aiello
Director: Luc Besson
Worth Watching For: Natalie Portman’s style, Jean Reno’s suave moves, and Gary Oldman’s unhinged performance.
Set in New York, this French American action thriller features Natalie Portman in her breakthrough role as Mathilda at age twelve. Jean Reno plays a reluctant hitman named Léon, who takes in his neighbor Mathilda after her entire family is murdered. Mathilda begs to be Léon’s protégé and quickly develops an unrequited crush on him before departing to avenge her family.
As Good as It Gets
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, and Shirley Knight
Director: James L. Brooks
Worth Watching For: The witty dialogue and strong performances of the entire cast.
The last film to win both Best Actor and Best Actress categories at the Academy Awards, this romantic dramedy is, as described by The Chicago Reader, “funny, painful, beautiful, and basically truthful.” Nicholson plays a neurotic misanthropic novelist who falls in love with a waitressing single mother with a chronically ill son, played by Helen Hunt.
Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, James Rebhorn, and Deborah Kara Unger
Director: David Fincher
Worth Watching For: The ending. You’ll never guess what happens.
Douglas plays a lonely investment banker who receives an unusual gift from his brother: a voucher to join a game that will supposedly change his life. After his application is rejected, his day-to-day life becomes impacted by the game, in weird and disconcerting ways. Soon lines between what is real and what is not become blurred, and the banker becomes paranoid.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bernard Hill, and many more
Director: James Cameron
Worth Watching For: “Draw me like one of your French girls.”
Debatably the most epic melodrama in Hollywood history, Titanic transports viewers back to a different time. Based on history mixed with romantic fiction, Titanic spins the tale of the wealthy Rose (Winslet) and the poor Jack (DiCaprio), two passengers who fall in love aboard the Titanic. Can their love survive their class divide, Rose’s engagement, and the ocean liner’s fate?
What Dreams May Come
Starring: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra, and Max von Sydow
Director: Vincent Ward
Worth Watching For: The set design and visual effects + Robin Williams, obviously.
Williams plays a pediatrician named Chris Nielsen, who marries an artist, played by Sciorra. Chris dies in a car crash but lingers back on earth, unaware that he has died and confused that everyone seems to be ignoring him. In light of Robin Williams’ tragic death, the film gains deeper meaning, and his touching performance stands out as especially heartbreaking.
Starring: Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Melinda Dillon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, and many more
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Worth Watching For: Anderson’s exciting take on the human condition and ability to turn everyday lives into epic tales.
The all-star ensemble cast of Magnolia is reason enough to watch the film. Cruise was even nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. Magnolia takes place during one day in California’s San Fernando Valley and unites the storylines of various people into one perfect whole.
Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris, Tommy Flanagan, and Ralf Möller
Director: Ridley Scott
Worth Watching For: The special effects.
Widely considered to be Ridley Scott’s best picture, this action-packed historical drama is the ultimate story of riches to rags, ending in sweet revenge. Anchored by the wonderful acting of Crowe and Phoenix, Gladiator brings ancient Rome to life. In the 2000 Oscars, Gladiator triumphed, winning five Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, and Best Visual Effects.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, and Jennifer Coolidge
Director: Robert Luketic
Worth Watching For: “The bend and snap.”
In this comedic chick flick, Witherspoon plays a sorority sister named Elle Woods. After being dumped by her boyfriend for not being serious enough, Elle applies to Harvard Law, the same school as him. While getting her J.D., Elle proves that blondes aren’t dumb, but they still have more fun. Legally Blonde has inspired generations of women to become lawyers and is highly motivational.
Catch Me If You Can
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Nathalie Baye, and Amy Adams
Director: Steven Spielberg
Worth Watching For: The simple, ingenious fraud and upbeat tempo.
Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can is generally underrated. DiCaprio portrays Frank Abagnale, an iconic con man who swindles his way into millions before his twenty-first birthday. On Frank’s trail is the determined FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, played by Hanks, and Frank Abagnale Sr. is played by Walken, who was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role.
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renée Zellweger
Director: Anthony Minghella
Worth Watching For: The poignant message and monumental performances.
Cold Mountain follows the story of a wounded Confederate deserter, played by Law, who struggles home to reach his love Ada (Kidman). Meanwhile, back home, Ada fights to save her family’s farm with the help of her neighbor’s daughter Ruby, played by Zellweger, who won an Academy Award for her role. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jack White, Killian Murphy, Donald Sutherland, and more appear in supporting roles.
Starring: Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney
Director: Clint Eastwood
Worth Watching For: The haunting story.
The film tells the story of three men, Penn, Bacon, and Robbins, who was kidnapped and abused as a child. As adults, tragedy strikes again, and Penn’s daughter is murdered. Things get complicated as Robbins was the last to see her alive, and Bacon is heading the investigation. Mystic River won Penn an Oscar for Best Actor, and Robbins won for Best Supporting Actor.
School of Rock
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, and Miranda Cosgrove
Director: Richard Linklater
Worth Watching For: The feel-good value + Jack Black’s performance.
Hands down the best comedic performance of Jack Black’s career, School of Rock stole the hearts of millions upon its release. Black plays a guitarist turned substitute teacher at a private school who ends up teaching a group of privileged kids to rock and compete in Battle of the Bands. A music-filled comedy for the whole family, School of Rock, guarantees a great time.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Colm Meaney, and Sienna Miller
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Worth Watching For: The incredible style.
Layer Cake is the first film directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. Often credited as the movie that made Daniel Craig the next James Bond, in Layer Cake, he plays a London-based crook intent to retire, who is roped into one last drug deal. Craig portrays a convincing criminal whose intelligence proves that being smart isn’t always an advantage in crime.
Starring: Christian Bale, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Jennifer Jason Leigh, John Sharian, and Michael Ironside
Director: Brad Anderson
Worth Watching For: Christian Bale’s astounding transformation.
Christian Bale lost 62 pounds and nearly died of malnourishment to prepare for his role in The Machinist. Bale plays an insomniac named Trevor Reznik, who experiences a downward spiral after not sleeping for a year. Following an accident that causes him to lose his job as a machine operator, Trevor suffers from guilt, paranoia, and delusions. Bale delivers an impressive and committed performance.
Million Dollar Baby
Starring: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, and Morgan Freeman
Director: Clint Eastwood
Worth Watching For: The enormous emotional impact and fickle nature of the American dream.
Another gem directed by Clint Eastwood, this sports drama is so well-loved that it amassed Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor. Hilary Swank shines in her role as underdog boxer Maggie Fitzgerald and is perfectly complemented by Eastwood’s supporting role as her trainer, who helps her go pro before tragedy crushes their hard work and big dreams.
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan
Starring: Bob Dylan
Director: Martin Scorsese
Worth Watching For: Insight into the mystery that is Bob Dylan + the music, of course.
Martin Scorsese proves that even as a documentary director, he dominates, delivering a fabulous music movie. No Direction Home details the peak of Bob Dylan’s career, from his arrival in New York at the beginning of the ’60s to his motorcycle accident in ’66. The film is made up of archival footage, and interviews as Scorsese delves into Dylan’s influential mark on American culture and music.
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Maribel Verdú, Sergi López, and Ariadna Gil
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Worth Watching For: The haunting CGI.
This dark fantasy/horror film, considered Del Toro’s masterpiece, won three Oscars. The terrifying dream world of a girl named Ofelia, mixed with the real-life horror of her stepfather’s post as Captain following the Spanish Civil War, makes for a haunting and memorable watch. Complete with magical creatures, an abandoned labyrinth, and a child-eating demon, Pan’s Labyrinth makes audiences wonder who the real monster is.
Into the Wild
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Brian Dierker, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, and Hal Holbrook
Director: Sean Penn
Worth Watching For: The spellbinding performances and cult value.
Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless, a college graduate who becomes disenchanted with modern society and decides to reject it. Leaving everything behind and not telling anyone where he is going, McCandless wanders the wilderness of America, never to return home again. Into the Wild has become a cult classic and inspired numerous fans to visit Alaska.
There Will Be Blood
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, and Dillon Freasier
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Worth Watching For: Daniel Day-Lewis’s outstanding portrayal.
Hailed as one of the best films of the 2000s, Anderson’s classic is based on the novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair. Day-Lewis was awarded an Oscar for his role as Daniel Plainview, a ruthless oilman searching for wealth at the turn of the 20th century. A dramatic period-epic about the vanishing frontier and the development of modern America, this film is a universally acclaimed masterpiece.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney, Chloë Sevigny, and many more
Director: David Fincher
Worth Watching For: The dialogue + the anxiety and anticipation.
Creating a gripping epic thriller about an unsolved serial murder case is no small feat. But, if anyone can do so, it’s Fincher, who isn’t scared of cliffhangers or twists. More about the impact of the murders and the power of obsession than about the Zodiac killer himself, Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo, and Downey Jr. give brilliant, tortured performances.
Starring: Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman
Director: Bryan Bertino
Worth Watching For: The creepy atmosphere and gut-wrenching suspense.
Based on the Keddie cabin murders, the Manson family murders, and a series of home invasions that occurred in the director’s neighborhood when he was growing up, The Strangers is a terrifying psychological horror flick. It’s about an unsuspecting couple, played by Tyler and Speedman, who go on vacation, only to be attacked at their romantic holiday home. This low-budget hit is now considered a cult classic.
A Single Man
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, and Nicholas Hoult
Director: Tom Ford
Worth Watching For: The costumes, the scenery, the make-up, the props, and Firth’s performance.
Famous for his career as a fashion designer, A Single Man is Tom Ford’s directorial debut and doesn’t fail to impress. Set in the ’60s, Firth plays George Falconer, a professor who is haunted by the death of his longtime partner, Jim, played by Goode. Aside from the incontestably beautiful costumes and set design, Firth’s acting stands out as especially phenomenal.
Starring: George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Irina Björklund, Violante Placido, and Paolo Bonacelli
Director: Anton Corbijn
Worth Watching For: The drama, suspense, and beautiful cinematography.
Directed by the Dutch Corbijn, ironically, The American wasn’t very successful in America. George Clooney plays an international assassin in hiding, whose cover is blown and is forced to escape, hiding out across Europe. More of a European suspense-filled thriller than an action film, The American is shot magnificently and shines, above all, due to its atmosphere and mood.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Elliot Page, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, and Tom Berenger
Director: Christopher Nolan
Worth Watching For: The much-interpreted ending + the jaw-dropping visuals.
Inception follows the tale of professional thieves who infiltrate dreams to steal from their victims, making for a surreal heist movie. With Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead, the film’s impressive all-star ensemble cast is exceptional. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, Inception amassed four wins, including Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Alison Pill, and Jason Schwartzman
Director: Edgar Wright
Worth Watching For: The groundbreaking visuals.
Based on a graphic novel series, this comedy wasn’t a box office hit, but now, over 20 years later, it has a cult following and is considered perhaps the best video game movie ever made. Cera stars as Pilgrim, a lazy musician who is competing in the battle of the bands while simultaneously battling seven evil ex-boyfriends of his crush Ramona Flowers, played by Winstead.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, and Michelle Williams
Director: Martin Scorsese
Worth Watching For: The terrifying twists and turbulent turns.
Another sweeping success of DiCaprio’s from 2010, Shutter Island, is perhaps Scorsese’s most underrated film. Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, played by DiCaprio, travels to an island asylum for the criminally insane to investigate a highly dangerous missing patient. Unable to return to the mainland due to a storm, Daniels begins experiencing worrying migraines, flashbacks, and dreams.
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron-Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, and Jude Law
Director: Martin Scorsese
Worth Watching For: To see Scorsese’s love for cinema manifested.
Also featuring Scorsese and Kingsley, Hugo was highly acclaimed by critics and nominated for eleven Oscars. This is Scorsese’s first 3D movie and a deviation from his usual genres of Mafia and suspense-filled thrillers. This heart-warming adventure for the whole family weaves a web about the mysterious past of a homeless boy living in a Paris train station.
Starring: François Cluzet and Omar Sy
Director: Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano
Worth Watching For: The fun dynamic between Sy and Cluzet.
Long before Omar Sy became the star of Netflix’s French thriller series Lupin, he appeared in this buddy dramedy. The Untouchables is about an unlikely friendship that springs up between a wealthy paralyzed man (Cluzet) and his initially uninterested caregiver (Sy). Their closeness leads to a heartwarming series of events and is based on actual events. It gained an American remake in 2017 called The Upside.
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and many more
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Worth Watching For: The wonderful historical revisionism.
Foxx delivers perhaps his most remarkable performance as Django, a man who escapes enslavement in the Antebellum South. Django joins a German bounty hunter portrayed by Waltz in an adventure to track down fugitive bounties and rescue Django’s wife, Broomhilda, played by Washington, from slavery. This two-time Oscar-winning masterpiece is Tarantino’s highest-grossing movie and nods to the Spaghetti Western and Blaxploitation genres.
Killing Them Softly
Starring: Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, and Sam Shepard
Director: Andrew Dominik
Worth Watching For: James Gandolfini’s tragically compelling performance.
Killing Them Softly was the second film in which Dominik directed Pitt. It’s about two mob hitmen who are sent to kill three thieves who rob a mob-protected gambling den. Despite being underrated upon its release, this film’s popularity grew after Gandolfini died of a heart attack a few months later; his performance gained profound meaning posthumously and garnered abundant praise.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Worth Watching For: The realistic depiction of post-WWII American society.
Another Anderson picture joins our list, this time, the director’s personal favorite. Shot on film, this masterpiece explores religion, leaders and followers, trauma, and much more. The Master is a fictional story about a religious movement called The Cause. It was inspired partially by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. If that isn’t enough, the score is composed by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood.
Middle of Nowhere
Starring: Emayatzy Corinealdi, Omari Hardwick, David Oyelowo, and Lorraine Toussaint
Director: Ava DuVernay
Worth Watching For: An intimate understanding of what life is like for the women of Compton.
Ava DuVernay, director of the seminal masterpiece Selma, made this beautiful film about the effects of lost love. Corinealdi plays a Compton- based nurse who spends her time visiting her husband, played by Hardwick, in jail. She is intent on helping him gain early parole even when her commitment begins to impact her family life negatively.
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, John Goodman, and more
Director: Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Worth Watching For: The stop motion, 3D printed, 3D shot animation.
ParaNorman is an animation film featuring an all-star cast. It’s about a boy named Norman who can see ghosts and is asked to try and end the 300-year-old curse set upon his Massachusetts town by a witch. The movie’s impressive animation, hilarious humor, arresting plot, and frightening fun make it more for parents than their children.
Silver Linings Playbook
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver
Director: David O. Russell
Worth Watching For: The cast’s fantastic chemistry.
Based on Matthew Quick’s novel, Silver Linings Playbook is a film that far exceeded expectations. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including the big five, and gained Jennifer Lawrence her Best Actress win. The film is about Pat (Cooper), a man recently released from a psychiatric hospital who plans to win back his ex-wife and is offered help by an odd widow named Tiffany (Lawrence).
The Bling Ring
Starring: Israel Broussard, Taissa Farmiga, Emma Watson, Katie Chang, and Claire Julien
Director: Sofia Coppola
Worth Watching For: The closets, the clothes, and the music.
Not the usual Coppola feature, The Bling Ring is based on a true story of a group of LA teens who rob celebrities’ houses for kicks. This colorful, fun dramedy delves into the depths of desire, lust, boredom, and privilege. The film was dubbed “shallow” and morally ambiguous, but portrays real-life stories as vibrant and interesting, without passing judgment, really so terrible?
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor
Director: James Wan
Worth Watching For: The jump scares.
Debatably the biggest horror hit of its decade, The Conjuring is the supernatural horror flick that gained Wan major director status. The movie is based on the alleged real-life experience of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a couple of paranormal investigators who go to assist the Perron family, who believe their farmhouse is haunted. The Conjuring has also amassed numerous sequels, from The Conjuring 2 (on Netflix) to The Nun.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly, and Octavia Spencer
Director: Ryan Coogler
Worth Watching For: Michael B. Jordan’s passionate portrayal.
Jordan stars in Fruitvale Station in his first lead role in a motion picture. Michael’s flawless performance torpedoed him to fame and helped him score roles in Fantastic Four, Creed, and Black Panther. This film is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who was tragically killed by a police officer at a Bay Area transit station in 2009.
Starring: Judi Dench and Steve Coogan
Director: Stephen Frears
Worth Watching For: Judy Dench’s emotionally stirring performance.
This film is based on the real-life story of Philomena Lee, who spent decades searching for the son she put up for adoption. Dench plays Philomena and was nominated for Best Actress for the part, with the film allotting another three nominations, including Best Picture. This is a feel-good, emotionally moving, comedy-filled road-trip drama that cannot be described as anything less than a crowd-pleaser.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Pierfrancesco Favino
Director: Ron Howard
Worth Watching For: Daniel Brühl’s acting + the intelligent editing.
Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star as rival Formula 1 motor-racers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Based on the true story of the famous feud between the British and Austrian racers, Howard brings the story to the screen in this persuasive and fun film. The racing scenes are exceptionally well shot and exciting. The movie is well-paced, expertly edited, and directed with skill.
Starring: Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, and John Hurt
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Worth Watching For: All the visual aspects.
This is not the 2020 series Snowpiercer, but rather the film it was based on. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who more recently won an Oscar for Parasite, this action-packed sci-fi picture, was his English-language debut. Both a metaphor for contemporary society and a dystopian image of the perils of climate change, Snowpiercer is about a train divided by class, carrying humanity’s final survivors in circles around the frozen globe.
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, and Bobby Cannavale
Director: Jon Favreau
Worth Watching For The food, music, and carpe diem inspiration.
This independent, low-budget foodie film is about a chef named Carl Casper, played by Favreau, who has a Twitter feud with a food critic that escalates and causes him to lose his high-profile job. So, Casper seizes the day and starts a food truck with his young son, Percy. It’s the quintessential feel-good movie, complete with a danceable soundtrack.
Get on Up
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, and Octavia Spencer
Director: Tate Taylor
Worth Watching For: Chadwick Boseman.
Chadwick Boseman always gave his all, and here his portrayal of James Brown is no less than perfect. It’s hard to believe that neither of them is with us. Tune in for the spectacular performances and great music and stay for the vibrant and exciting life of the musical legend. Plus, Brandon Smith’s short cameo as Little Richard is a treat.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Worth Watching For: The production design and wonderful acting.
Set in Victorian England, Crimson Peak is about an author who moves to a mysterious, dilapidated manor in the mountains and begins experiencing haunting visions. It is a glorious ghost story with a cult following that is more than just a horror film. The set design, chilling atmosphere, and beautifully camp, Victorian, melodramatic visuals make for a marvelous and magical movie.
The Hateful Eight
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demián Bichir, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, and Bruce Dern
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Worth Watching For: The stirring performances.
Almost like a play, this film takes place in one room, where eight strangers gather to seek shelter from a snowstorm. Set in post-Civil War America, The Hateful Eight is a play on the classic Western, displaying Tarantino’s usual revisionist attitude. Considered by many to be one of the esteemed director’s most underrated films, this film contains excellent performances.
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, and Steve Zahn
Director: Matt Ross
Worth Watching For: The fantastic views of America’s beautiful nature.
Carried by Viggo Mortensen’s intricate, complex and heartwarming performance as a grieving husband and an unconventional parent, Captain Fantastic is a fantastic film. It’s about two anarchists who became disillusioned with contemporary America and moved with their numerous children into the woods to live off the land. After the mother is hospitalized, the father attempts to reintegrate his kids into society. It’s a fan favorite.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, and Rachel House
Director: Taika Waititi
Worth Watching For: Everything about this film is perfect.
This New Zealand adventure movie was written and directed by Waititi before he directed Thor: Ragnarok. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is about a boy named Ricky who is taken in by a new foster family. Unfortunately, when his amazing new foster-mom passes away, he’s stuck with his cranky old foster-dad Hec, with whom he sets out on a hilarious, heartening, and eventful adventure.
The Edge of Seventeen
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Jenner, and Haley Lu Richardson
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Worth Watching For: Hailee Steinfeld’s Golden Globe-nominated performance.
The Edge of Seventeen has been called “more than just another coming-of-age dramedy.” About seventeen-year-old Nadine, a high school student who lives outside of Portland, this film chronicles her tumultuous junior year. From her strained relationships with her mother and brother, who starts dating her BFF, to her struggles to mend from her father’s untimely death, Steinfeld plays Nadine to a T.
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Andrea Riseborough, Laura Linney, and Michael Sheen
Director: Tom Ford
Worth Watching For: The dark, thrilling visuals and intricate narrative.
This contemporary film noir is the second Tom Ford feature on our list. Nocturnal Animals is about the owner of an art gallery (Adams) who receives a manuscript copy of her estranged ex-husband’s (Gyllenhaal) new novel, which is dedicated to her. She becomes consumed by the book, which has many parallels with their former marriage.
Starring: George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Worth Watching For: The uncomfortable, hilarious comedy that only the Coen brothers can deliver.
Hail, Caesar! is a work of fiction, although the character of Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin, is based on a real-life Hollywood “fixer” from the 1950s. Eddie attempts to cover up the kidnapping of Baird Whitlock, the star of an epic film set in ancient Rome, played by Clooney.
The Florida Project
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto, Bria Vinaite, Christopher Rivera, and Caleb Landry Jones
Director: Sean Baker
Worth Watching For: A perfect pastel-tinged portrait of childhood and poverty in America.
This is among the best films of the 2010s and definitely the most aesthetically striking. The Florida Project follows the days of a six-year-old who moves with her unemployed, young single mom to a motel in Florida, where they try to earn enough to stay off the streets. The performances of Dafoe, Prince, and Vinaite are phenomenal.
A Ghost Story
Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Sonia Acevedo, Will Oldham, Liz Franke, Rob Zabrecky, and Kesha
Director: David Lowery
Worth Watching For: A different take on loss and the supernatural.
One of the weirder movies on Netflix at present, A Ghost Story, is just that, a supernatural drama about loss, grief, and trauma. Mara plays a grieving widow, and Affleck stars as her former husband, who becomes a ghost. It is artistic and inventive and explores love in an interesting new way, spanning decades of trauma and memory.
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Taliah Lennice Webster, Buddy Duress, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: Josh and Benny Safdie
Worth Watching For: Pattinson’s career-altering performance.
Safdie brothers made Good Time before their Netflix hit, Uncut Gems. This crime thriller stars Pattinson in the most ambitious role of his career thus far and has gone on to become a renowned crime classic. Pattinson plays a robber intent on stealing money to get his disabled brother out of jail while also evading the authorities himself.
Starring: Brian Fogel and Grigory Rodchenkov
Director: Brian Fogel
Worth Watching For: The shocking revelations.
This Bryan Fogel documentary premiered at Sundance in 2017 and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary the following year. Icarus revealed one of the biggest drug scandals in sports history. Fogel begins an investigation into illegal doping in the sports world by reaching out to Grigory Rodchenkov, a Russian scientist. By the end of the film, Rodchenkov has had to flee to the United States and be put into protective custody.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Starring: Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Nicole Kidman, Sunny Suljic, Raffey Cassidy, Alicia Silverstone, and Bill Camp
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Worth Watching For: The quiet, pure, unsettling horror that only Lanthimos can create.
This unforgettable psychological thriller is based on Greek tragedy and spins the tale of a surgeon (Farrell) who befriends an odd teenage boy (Keoghan). After the boy is introduced to his family, they each begin to get sick. Winner of the Cannes Best Screenplay, this film is probably the most off-putting, unsettling movie of its decade.
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, and Tracy Letts
Director: Greta Gerwig
Worth Watching For: The point of view of a teenager who longs to be cool.
Greta Gerwig was nominated for an Oscar for Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut. Ronan stars in this coming-of-age film as a teenage California girl who asks to be called Lady Bird and has a strained relationship with her mother (Metcalf). Watch as Lady Bird wishes that she lived someplace hip and searches for cool people.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson
Director: Noah Baumbach
Worth Watching For: Adam Sandler’s unique and out-of-character performance.
The same year Gerwig directed Lady Bird, her husband Noah Baumbach directed the Netflix original, The Meyerowitz Stories. It follows a dysfunctional family and the struggles of adult siblings living in the shadow of their father. Baumbach directs Sandler in perhaps the most impressive performance of his career, in which Sandler proves that he is a serious actor and not just a one-trick pony.
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan, and Mary J. Blige
Director: Dee Rees
Worth Watching For: The American dream versus the reality.
This Netflix original keeps audiences on the edge of their seats for two slow-paced hours. Mudbound is an epic period drama about the American South during WWII. The film follows the lives of two neighboring farming families, one white and one Black, and their respective war heroes. Reed eloquently depicts the prejudice and systematic circle of poverty still prevalent in America.
Starring: Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Byun Hee-bong, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, and Giancarlo Esposito
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Worth Watching For: The eclectic beauty.
The second film on our list, directed by Joon-ho, Okja, is a Netflix original. This action-adventure is about a genetically modified pig named Okja and the girl (Seo-hyun) who raised it. After coming to America, she attempts to protect Okja from the mistreatment of the meat industry. Okja is one of the weirdest, funniest, and most interesting films on Netflix.
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, and Graham Greene
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Worth Watching For: The strong characters, captivating plot, and perfect tempo.
After Sheridan made Hell or High Water, he wrote and directed this bitter and chilling mystery, making it the third film in his “modern-day American frontier” trilogy. Starring Renner and Olsen as a USFWS tracker and an FBI agent who are investigating a murder that occurred on a reservation in Wyoming, Wind River is an admirable and skilled movie of social significance.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tyne Daly, Tom Waits, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, and many more
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Worth Watching For: The black humor and Western nostalgia.
The Coen brothers’ first Netflix original, Buster Scruggs, is a Western anthology made up of six short stories. Netflix succeeded in rebranding in 2017 and 2018 by producing and distributing numerous films by renowned directors. The impressive ensemble cast and consistent drama infused with dark humor truly bring this film together.
Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Molly Shannon, Kayli Carter, Desmin Borges, John Carroll Lynch, and Denis O’Hare
Director: Tamara Jenkins
Worth Watching For: The touching acting and absurd hilarity.
Another touching Netflix original, Private Life, depicts the struggles of a middle-aged couple who cannot get pregnant. Giamatti and Hahn play Richard and Rachel, New York bohemians with fertility issues who try everything from artificial insemination and IVF to adoption before looking for an egg donor. The film is based on Jenkin’s own experience with fertility treatments.
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Worth Watching For: The fantastic and intimate directorial genius of Alfonso Cuarón.
Based partly on his own life, Cuaron wrote and directed this multiple Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed masterpiece. Roma was Netflix’s first film to be nominated for Best Picture and won Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Director. This black and white film is about the housekeeper and live-in nanny of a middle-class family in Mexico City. It’s a powerful, emotional, outstanding work of art.
Starring: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou, Aminata Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene
Director: Mati Diop
Worth Watching For: Spellbinding, mysterious, seductive artistry.
This French Senegalese supernatural drama was Mati Diop’s first film and garnered vast critical acclaim and success. Atlantics is about a couple living on Senegal’s coast and the struggle they face with class, migration, loss, employment, family, crime, and supernatural threats. An all-around impressive motion picture, Atlantics won the Grand Prix at Cannes.
High Flying Bird
Starring: André Holland, Zazie Beetz, Sonja Sohn, Melvin Gregg, Kyle MacLachlan, Zachary Quinto, and Bill Duke
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Worth Watching For: The whole movie was shot on an iPhone 8.
Soderbergh’s 2019 Netflix original is about a sports agent (Holland) stuck in a company lockout. The agent hatches a plan and recruits his former assistant (Beetz) to help to save the company, himself, and his client. Being a sports fan isn’t a prerequisite to enjoying High Flying Bird; it’s as much about corporate media as basketball.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, and Harvey Keitel
Director: Martin Scorsese
Worth Watching For: The legends: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci act side-by-side.
Scorsese’s epic Netflix original is 3.5 hours long and based on the true story of Frank Sheeran. Sheeran (played by DeNiro) is a truck driver turned Mafia hitman who goes to work for gangsters Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). The Irishman is a critically acclaimed, unforgettable masterpiece.
Starring: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johannsson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Julie Hagerty, and Merritt Wever
Director: Noah Baumbach
Worth Watching For: To understand the memes it inspired.
Widely considered Baumbach’s best movie, Marriage Story is another masterful Netflix original. Driver and Johannsson star opposite each other as an acclaimed theater director and a leading actress going through a painful divorce, which turns them into people they never wanted to be. The supporting cast perfectly complements the touching and heartbreaking performances of the leads.
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Ally Ioannides, Bill Oberst Jr., and Katie Aselton
Director: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Worth Watching For: To see it before it becomes a cult classic.
Benson & Moorhead collaborated to create this ambitious sci-fi flick. Starring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan as paramedics working in New Orleans. When cases of mysterious deaths and incoherent patients begin to add up, they discover that everything is linked to a new designer drug called Synchronic that helps people travel through time.
The Two Popes
Starring: Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Worth Watching For: Pryce’s priceless performance.
Yet another Netflix original, The Two Popes, was a surprise success, staring Hopkins and Pryce in the outstandingly portrayed leads. The film is a biographical drama in which Hopkins plays the last Pope, Benedict, and Pryce the current one, Pope Francis; it details the aftermath of the Vatican leaks and the exchange of power between the two impressive men. Meirelles takes this as an opportunity to delve into the depths of modern Catholicism.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian, and Wayne Diamond
Director: Josh and Benny Safdie
Worth Watching For: More proof that Adam Sandler is a masterful actor.
Another Safdie brothers’ success, Uncut Gems, earned Sandler plenty of critical acclaim. It is a suspenseful, dramatic thriller set in New York, about a jeweler with a gambling problem. When his life spirals, he attempts to use a rare opal that was smuggled from Africa to win some money and pay off his debts.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Starring: James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham
Director: James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham
Worth Watching For: To see how a supportive community truly changes lives for the better.
A sensational Netflix original, Crip Camp was nominated for the Oscar’s Best Documentary Feature. Crip Camp tells the story of Camp Jened, a “loose, free-spirited” New York State summer camp for teenagers with disabilities that ran back in the 1970s. The film is directed by Newnham and Lebrecht, who went to Camp Jened back in the day.
Da 5 Bloods
Starring: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, Norm Lewis, and many more
Director: Spike Lee
Worth Watching For: Lee’s ability to remind us how the American past affects the global present.
It’s a Netflix original directed by Lee, about four aging Vietnam veterans who head back to the Vietnamese jungle to dig up the remains of their fallen squad member and a treasure they buried during the war. The film eloquently depicts the enduring trauma of the Vietnam War in American culture alongside the ever-ongoing fight for equality.
The Half of It
Starring: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, and Alexxis Lemire
Director: Alice Wu
Worth Watching For: A reminder that not all love is the romantic kind.
This offbeat coming-of-age drama is full of comedic, cute, awkward moments. Written and directed by Wu, it is based on Cyrano de Bergerac and is the story of a high school outcast, Ellie Chu (Lewis), who helps a shy boy (Diemer) write love letters to his crush (Lemire). Not the typical high school dramedy, this story takes viewers by surprise.
I Care a Lot
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Eiza González, Peter Dinklage, and Chris Messina
Director: J Blakeson
Worth Watching For: Rosamund Pike being Rosamund Pike.
Yes, yet another Netflix Original makes our list in the form of I Care a Lot. This thrilling black comedy stars Pike doing what she does best, playing a con artist who works as a court-appointed guardian for the elderly. When her regular con of seizing the assets of one of her charges (Wiest) goes wrong, she gets mixed up with a dangerous mobster (Dinklage).
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, David Thewlis, Toni Collette, and Guy Boyd
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Worth Watching For: A trippy, creepy mind f*** of an experience.
This Netflix original is classic Kaufman in that it’s perplexing, symbolic, and intelligent. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a psychological thriller about a young woman, played by Buckley, who travels with her boyfriend (Plemons) to meet his parents (Thewlis and Collette) for the first time. A meditation on time, space, and identity, this movie feels like being inside someone else’s nightmare.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Priyanshu Painyuli, Golshifteh Farahani, Pankaj Tripathi, and David Harbour
Director: Sam Hargrave
Worth Watching For: The action scenes.
Extraction is the second most-watched Netflix original movie after Bird Box. It stars Hemsworth as an Australian mercenary who is on a mission to rescue an Indian drug lord’s son from his kidnappers. It’s a basic action movie plot, strengthened by the talented performances and incredibly well-made action scenes; this movie is a must-see. Plus, there is a sequel coming up.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Starring: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts
Director: George C. Wolfe
Worth Watching For: To see Boseman in his incredible final role, alongside Viola Davis in one of her best performances.
This film was adapted from August Wilson’s play about the legendary Ma Rainey. Davis plays Rainey in an unprecedented display of raw talent, and Boseman plays Levee Green, an overconfident trumpet player in her band. Both were nominated for Oscars for their roles, and Boseman was Awarded a Golden Globe posthumously.
Starring: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Tom Pelphrey, and Charles Dance
Director: David Fincher
Worth Watching For: The production design.
David Fincher’s black and white movie about who actually wrote Citizen Kane is based on a screenplay written by Jack Fincher, David’s father. Oldman stars as the screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who allegedly single-handedly wrote Orson Welles’ masterpiece, considered the greatest film ever made. Mank can’t compete with Citizen Kane for its title, but it is an ode to old Hollywood and is beautifully shot and styled.
Fear Street Trilogy
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashely Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, and Maya Hawke
Director: Leigh Janiak
Worth Watching For: The horror references.
Directed and co-written by Janiak, the trilogy is based on R.L. Stine’s books about the town of Shadyside, which was cursed by a witch in the 17th century and is still suffering, constantly plagued by murders. These films will capture the hearts of horror lovers as they pay homage and reference the genre non-stop.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and many more
Director: Mike Rianda
Worth Watching For: The visuals, the animation, and the plot.
Sony sold The Mitchells vs. the Machines to Netflix, and we gained an adorable, animated adventure film for the whole family. A mix between a quirky family road trip movie and a black mirror, robot, apocalypse situation, the Mitchells are the anti-Incredibles, a regular family. They have to try and save the world.
Starring: Hadley Robinson, Amy Poehler, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Peña, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nico Hiraga, and many more
Director: Amy Poehler
Worth Watching For: The soundtrack and the girl-power inspiration.
Poehler directs Robinson as her daughter, Vivian, an introverted high school student who doesn’t stand up for herself. When Vivian discovers her mother used to be a riot grrrl, she creates an anonymous feminist zine and leaves copies in the girl’s bathroom. To Vivian’s surprise, the zine becomes popular and starts a movement at her backwards school. What could go wrong?
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal and Christina Vidal
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Worth Watching For: Jake Gyllenhaal just as he should be.
In this American remake of a Danish thriller, The Guilty, stars Gyllenhaal as Joe Baylor. A police officer under investigation, Baylor works the night shift as a 911 operator and gets a call from a woman he understands has been kidnapped. Baylor tries to help the woman while, meanwhile, outside, wildfires burn through California. Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard, and many more star in voice roles.