While Netflix remains far and away the most popular streaming subscription service out there, it's fair to say that their selection of movies isn't quite what it once was. Netflix is opting more and more to focus on their own original content, and while much of that content is good, it doesn't do much for those looking to take in a great movie that Netflix didn't produce.
Reduction in library size aside, Netflix still plays host to some truly great films, ranging all the way from relatively recent superhero adventures to bonafide Oscar-winning classic dramas. Here are the 25 best films on Netflix that you can watch right now.
NOTE: This list is updated regularly - to ensure availability of the movies listed. Also, the list isn't ranked from worst to best, so a lower number is not meant to denote higher quality. It's just a list of 25 great movies.
Last updated: October 1, 2019
Before the list proper, there are some notes to be made. First, Netflix offers a different selection in every country it services, and this list focuses solely on films available to U.S. subscribers. That said, those outside the U.S. are encouraged to still check their country's line-up, as some of these picks may also be available to them. Secondly, these 25 films are available to stream as of this writing. If and when included titles are removed from Netflix, this list will be updated with new selections.
25 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
A feature-film offshoot of the classic sketch comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail is regularly cited as one of the funniest comedies of all time, and is also one of the most influential movies in history. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the film that launched a thousand memes, and anyone who watches it for the first time on Netflix is likely to come away in awe at how many common pop cultural references they now understand. For those who can't get enough, Monty Pyton's Flying Circus' full run is also available to stream.
24 Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
One of the lesser-known movies on this list, 2010's Tucker & Dale vs. Evil only received a limited theatrical release, but that doesn't make it any less a great option for a night of Netflix viewing. Directed by Eli Craig, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as the titular duo, mild-mannered hillbillies living in West Virginia. Tucker and Dale are nice people, but resemble the type of backwoods villains seen in many a horror movie, and a series of comic misunderstandings lead a group of young friends to believe the two capable of murder. A lesson in not judging a book by its cover, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a great blend of slasher and comedy.
23 Pulp Fiction
Director Quentin Tarantino's resume boasts many terrific films, but 1994's Pulp Fiction is still arguably his signature work, decades after it took pop culture by storm. Boasting a star-studded cast of acting greats - John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, and more - Pulp Fiction is one of the slickest, coolest crime thrillers to emerge from the 1990s. Chances are most reading this have seen it, but those who haven't owe it to themselves to give it a watch on Netflix.
22 American Psycho
While landing the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy may be what cemented Christian Bale as an A-list star, just a few years earlier, the actor drew raves for his portrayal of yuppie serial killer Patrick Bateman in director Mary Harron's American Psycho. An adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis' controversial 80s-set book, the recently added to Netflix film excises some of Ellis' more upsetting sequences, but still manages to craft one of the most fascinating horror films of its decade. For his part, Bale is a revelation, exuding both undeniable menace and his own odd charm.
While it's sad that director Guillermo Del Toro and star Ron Perlman never got to finish their Hellboy trilogy, there's no reason not to go back and watch their original 2004 effort again on Netflix. Hellboy only did decently at the box office, but was critically acclaimed, and earned a big enough cult fanbase to receive 2008 sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The Hellboy franchise will soon be rebooted with David Harbour in the lead role and Neil Marshall behind the camera, but to many, Perlman will be always be Big Red.
Directed by Barry Jenkins, 2016's coming-of-age drama Moonlight will - for better or worse - probably always be known as the movie that won Best Picture only after the award had been mistakenly given to La La Land. That aside, Moonlight deserved the awards love, and is definitely in the top tier of Netflix's movie selection. The film follows three stages in the life of Chiron Harris (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes), a young black man trying to both make his way in the world and come to terms with his sexuality, despite dealing with homophobia and his drug-addicted mother. Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, and Andre Holland also star.
19 Groundhog Day
Bill Murray is generally regarded as one of the most beloved actors of all time, and boasts a resume most performers would be jealous of. Truly one of his best turns came in 1993's Groundhog Day, playing acerbic weatherman Phil Connors. To call Phil a huge jerk would be putting it mildly, but fate has decided to make him relive the same titular day over and over again, until he learns to be a better man. A critical darling, the film was directed by Murray's old Ghostbusters pal Harold Ramis, and is a top-tier Netflix addition.
18 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Released in 2003, this final chapter in director Peter Jackson's original Lord of the Rings trilogy was both a critical and commercial hit, earning a 93% score on RT, and over $1.1 billion worldwide. The Return of the King also cleaned up at the Oscars, winning all 11 awards for which its was nominated, including Best Picture, and Best Director for Jackson. While the franchise ended up being tarnished a bit by the mediocre Hobbit prequel trilogy, the first three films remain masterpieces, and all are available on Netflix.
17 Taxi Driver
Often cited as one of legendary director Martin Scorsese’s best films, 1976’s Taxi Driver also features one of the greatest performances to come out of the long acting career of Robert De Niro. Written by Paul Schrader, Taxi Driver stars De Niro as Travis Bickle, an already tightly wound Vietnam veteran who finds himself slowly becoming more and more disillusioned with society after witnessing the rampant crime and corruption in New York City. Bickle of course eventually snaps, going on one of cinema’s most infamous violent rampages. Any serious film fan needs to have seen this film, and Netflix is a great way to do it.
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Directed by legendary hit-maker Steven Spielberg, 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced the world to one of the greatest action/adventure franchises in cinematic history, and also one of cinema's greatest heroes. Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones, a university professor professionally, but a crusading archaeologist and adventurer in his off time. In his film debut, Indy outruns giant boulders, punches out giant Nazis, and quests for the fabled biblical artifact known as the Ark of the Covenant. All three Indiana Jones sequels are also now on Netflix.
15 V for Vendetta
Many pieces of dystopian fiction have taken a look at what the residents of a so-called democracy will tolerate in the name of security, and V for Vendetta treads that well-worn path to an extent. Based on a graphic novel written by comics legend Alan Moore though, the Wachowskis' film manages to inject new life into the idea of a dystopian future. Set in an alternative UK ruled by a neo-fascist regime, V for Vendetta stars Hugo Weaving as the titular enigmatic revolutionary, and Natalie Portman as Evey, who (initially unwillingly) gets sucked into his crusade. This movie is more than worth streaming on Netflix, even if it isn't the 5th of November.
14 Black Panther
After making a celebrated debut in Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) got a movie to call his own with colossal 2018 hit Black Panther. To refer to director Ryan Coogler's new to Netflix film as a success would almost be a disservice to just how well it performed, hauling in over $1 billion at the box office, and earning critical raves (97% on RT). While T'Challa was snuffed out by Thanos' snap near the end of Avengers: Infinity War, it's obviously only a matter of time until the King of Wakanda returns.
13 Raging Bull
Needing no serious introduction to any dedicated film buff, director Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull is arguably the greatest sports-based drama of all time, and is also in contention for best biopic ever. Robert De Niro stars as Jake LaMotta, a talented middleweight boxer, but a man in possession of often uncontrollable anger and many self-destructive tendencies. Shot in stark black and white, Jake's story is often tragic, but always compelling, and deserves to be seen by any Netflix subscriber.
12 The Sixth Sense
While director M. Night Shyamalan's career hasn't quite lived up to what most expected, his 1999 breakout hit (85% score on RT) The Sixth Sense made such a great first impression that he's arguably been riding its wave ever since. Bruce Willis stars as Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a psychiatrist trying to help troubled young boy Cole (Haley Joel Osment), who is burdened with the ability to see and interact with ghosts. For those wondering, no, the big twist won't be spoiled here, for the small subset of Netflix subscribers who aren't already aware of what it is.
11 Rain Man
One of the many triumphs to come out of the 1980s from director Barry Levinson, Rain Man tells the unlikely story of slick, fast-talking hustler Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise, in one of the early roles that proved to audiences that he was capable of far more then headlining popcorn fare like Top Gun), who's shocked to find out his father’s sizable estate is being passed on almost entirely to autistic savant Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an older brother he never knew he had. A critical darling, Rain Man picked up four Oscars, including Best Picture, and Best Actor for Hoffman. It's a great addition to the Netflix catalog.
10 The Conjuring
One of the creepiest films to grace Netflix, director James Wan's The Conjuring impressed both fans and critics, earning an 86% RT score and making a truckload of money. The Conjuring has since spawned its own cinematic universe of sequels and spinoffs, including about the possessed doll Annabelle. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as real life "demonologists" Ed and Lorraine Warren, while Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston play the heads of the family beset by demonic forces.
9 Avengers: Infinity War
Arriving on Netflix just in time for Christmas 2018 is Marvel Studios' MCU blockbuster to end all MCU blockbusters, Avengers: Infinity War. Well, at least until the story continues in 2019's Avengers: Endgame. It's hard to imagine anyone reading this hasn't seen Joe and Anthony Russo's $2 billion-grossing, critically acclaimed hit, but that doesn't mean there''s no reason to stream it again. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Josh Brolin, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, and more fill-out Marvel's most star-studded project to date.
8 Schindler's List
An Oscar-darling - winning seven awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg - Schindler's List (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, and it's now on Netflix. However, it's also one of the hardest to watch, as the subject matter is just so incredibly sad. Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who effectively saved the lives of over a thousand Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes also star.
With Get Out and Us director Jordan Peele soon to produce a Nia DaCosta-directed "spiritual sequel" that hits theaters next year, there's never been a better time to stream the original Candyman on Netflix and see just why the property commands respect. Released in 1992, Candyman stars Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a graduate student writing a thesis on urban legends. Unfortunately, some legends are true, such as the titular Candyman, a hook-handed phantom famously played by Tony Todd. Helen can try to survive, but her odds aren't good.
6 Thor: Ragnarok
One of the most recent entries into Marvel Studios' MCU canon, director Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok represented a major shift in tone and style from the prior Thor films. Thankfully, this new, sillier version of Thor went over well with the masses, and is an excellent choice for Netflix streaming. Critics also loved it, with the sequel sporting a 92% score on RT. Ragnarok sees Chris Hemsworth's Asgardian hero set out to save his home from Hela (Cate Blanchett), aka the Goddess of Death. Assisting him in this quest are Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
While all the sequels don't necessarily live up to the greatness of the original, inspirational sports dramas don't really get more inspirational than 1976's Rocky, the movie that made star Sylvester Stallone an icon. Stallone also wrote the script, which concerns small-time boxer Rocky Balboa getting an unexpected shot at world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Rocky would go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars, and give birth to a franchise that still continues via the Creed films. Rocky II through Rocky V are also available on Netflix.
4 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Since 2016, Peter Parker's live-action film incarnation has been swinging under the auspices of Marvel Studios' MCU franchise, but last year, Sony did something outside those bounds, creating an Oscar-winning animated masterpiece called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Featuring the voice of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Into the Spider-Verse sees an experiment ordered by Kingpin go awry, and rip a hole in reality that allows Spider-people from various alternate universes to journey over to Miles' world. It's then up to the group of heroes to close the rift, and get everyone back to the dimension they belong in.
3 Jackie Brown
The third feature film by director Quentin Tarantino, Jackie Brown is an adaptation of author Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel Rum Punch, and stars blaxploitation legend Pam Grier in the titular role of a stewardess who runs afoul of a crime lord. In many ways a tribute to Grier's classics like Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown's star-studded cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, and Robert De Niro. While not as highly regarded as predecessor Pulp Fiction, critics still loved Jackie Brown, and it’s a prime Netflix pick.
After ruling the 1980s, the slasher subgenre of horror had fallen off big time by the mid-1990s. That was until director Wes Craven came along in 1996 to revitalize it, just as he had in 1984 with A Nightmare on Elm Street. In addition to being a brutal slasher flick, Scream is also one big love letter to horror fans, taking pleasure in both pointing out the cliches of the genre and still indulging in many of them. Scream is also a damn good murder mystery, keeping the viewer guessing as to the identity of the masked Ghostface killer. Those wanting to binge the franchise are out of luck though, as the only sequel Netflix offers is Scream 4.
1 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Easily one of - if not the - most controversial and divisive entries in the entire Star Wars canon among fans, director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi was nevertheless a huge hit with critics, earning a stellar 91% score on RT. The sequel also earned huge bank at the box office, hauling in over $1.3 billion worldwide, and easily topping the list of the highest-grossing movies of 2017. Whatever one thinks of The Last Jedi, it's impossible to deny that the film is worth a Netflix watch at least once, in order to be part of the ongoing cultural conversation surrounding it.