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.
Last updated: July 1, 2018
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. The Departed
A remake of the 2002 Hong King film Infernal Affairs, The Departed is probably best known for being the film that finally won legendary director Martin Scorsese his first Oscar for Best Director. The complex, arresting crime drama also picked up the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon star as a cop planted within the mob and a criminal planted within the police, respectively. Jack Nicholson also commands the screen as brutal crime boss Frank Costello.
24. The Truman Show
While it's now well-established that comedy icon Jim Carrey can also easily pull off good dramatic acting when called upon to do so, the first film to really open the eyes of the masses to Carrey's then-untapped ability was 1998's The Truman Show. Directed by Peter Weir and rated 94% on RT, The Truman Show in many ways predicted the rise of reality TV culture, featuring a titular lead character whose life had been unknowingly (to him) broadcast to the masses as a form of entertainment.
23. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Modern blockbuster cinema arguably wouldn't even exist without the Star Wars franchise, and the only entry in that saga that Netflix currently streams is director Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Despite a tumultuous production process, this Felicity Jones-fronted prequel impressed many, earning an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and proving that this new line of standalone Star Wars movies would be worth watching.
22. Jurassic Park
2018 may play host to blockbuster sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but Netflix users can feel free to go back and relive the Steven Spielberg classic that kicked off the franchise. Everyone knows the story: businessman John Hammond sets out to open a theme park filled with living, breathing dinosaur attractions. Unfortunately, as Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) put it later on, things began with oohs and ahhs and ended with running and screaming. Just as captivating now as it was in 1993, Jurassic Park remains a triumph.
21. The Descent
Directed by Neil Marshall, 2005's The Descent (85% on RT) is one of the most intense horror experiences in recent memory, and is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seat. The Descent follows a group of female friends - including lead Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) - who seek adventure by heading into an unmapped cave system, only to fall prey to both horrifying subterranean monsters and their own rapidly crumbling personal relationships.
One of the most respected crime thrillers of the 90s, Seven has style to spare, and was one of the films to first establish David Fincher as a director be reckoned with. Seven stars Brad Pitt as brash young detective David Mills, who partners up with soon to retire detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) in order to try and catch a serial killer who bases his murders on the seven deadly sins. Holding an 80% score on Rotten Tomatoes and hauling in over $300 million at the box office on a $33 million budget, Seven was both a critical and commercial smash.
Related: 15 Best Serial Killer Movies
19. Dead Poets Society
Director Peter Weir makes his second appearance on this list with 1989's Dead Poets Society, a film likely to have inspired many people to become teachers. The late, great Robin Williams stars as maverick instructor John Keating, the type of teacher most people only ever wish they had. Some of Keating's students include future notables Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Josh Charles. An Oscar-winner for Best Original Screenplay (written by Tom Schulman), Dead Poets Society holds an 86% score on RT.
18. Boogie Nights
The film that launched acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson to the Hollywood A-list, Boogie Nights is set within the 1970s porn industry, and stars Mark Wahlberg as lead character Dirk Diggler. Sporting a 93% score on RT, Boogie Nights also made former rapper Wahlberg a major player in the acting world, and rejuvenated the flagging career of Burt Reynolds. The absolutely star-studded cast also includes Heather Graham, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Thomas Jane, and Alfred Molina.
Any dedicated horror fan has surely had their soul torn apart multiple times by Hellraiser's Pinhead (Doug Bradley) by this point. Director Clive Barker (adapting his own novella) crafted one of the most enduring tales of terror to come out of the 1980s, spawning one of the longest-running horror franchises out there as well. Hellraiser may only have a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it's a certified classic of the genre, and needs to be watched by anyone who enjoys a good fright flick. Direct sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II is also part of Netflix's roster.
While aspects of Scarface are now undeniably dated, director Brian De Palma's tale of the rise and fall of Cuban drug lord Tony Montana (Al Pacino) remains one of the most iconic films of the 1980s. Scarface has gone on to influence pop culture in a myriad of ways, especially when it comes to the hip hop music scene. Sporting an 82% score on RT, Scarface is one of those movies that begs to be seen at least once by any committed movie buff.
15. Full Metal Jacket
From legendary director Stanley Kubrick, Full Metal Jacket is widely considered one of the greatest war films of all time, and holds a 93% rating on RT. Perhaps best remembered in pop culture for introducing drill sergeant turned actor R. Lee Ermey to the world, Full Metal Jacket also features great performances by Matthew Modine and Vincent D'Onofrio, long before their respective days as Netflix stars on Stranger Things and Daredevil.
Before the Ghostbusters name became associated with endlessly divisive reboots, there was director Ivan Reitman's original 1984 hit. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as the titular team of paranormal investigators, Ghostbusters is to many the defining comedy of the 80s. Including countless hilarious gags - as well as some surprisingly creepy moments - Ghostbusters became a phenomenon. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis also star in the supernatural comedy, which holds a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 1995, director Martin Scorsese and two of his stars from Goodfellas would reunite for another terrific mob drama. While not quite as beloved as its predecessor, Casino is still held in high regard, holding an 80% score on RT. Once again based on true events, Casino stars Robert De Niro as Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a gangster overseeing the titular mob-run gaming establishment. Joe Pesci plays volatile enforcer Nicky Santoro, while Sharon Stone earned a Golden Globe for playing Ginger McKenna, Ace's ex-prostitute love interest.
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 people who aren't already aware of what it is.
11. Sin City
Rendered mostly in black and white - with splashes of color - Sin City (77% on RT) is a neo-noir crime thriller with style to burn. Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller - based on Miller's graphic novel of the same name - Sin City is an anthology of hard-edged tales, and features a star-studded cast. Just some of the big names on hand include Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, and Mickey Rourke.
10. The Conjuring
One of the creepiest films in recent memory, director James Wan's The Conjuring impressed both fans and critics, earning an 86% RT score and making lots and lots of money. The Conjuring has since spawned its own mini-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 supernatural horrors.
Featuring the voice talents of Auli'i Cravalho and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Moana is one of Disney's most acclaimed non-Pixar animated efforts of the current decade. Focusing on the titular teenager's quest to restore the heart of the goddess Te Fiti to the ocean, Moana was a massive hit, and holds a 95% rating on RT. Moana received two Oscar nominations, one for Best Animated Feature, and another for Best Original Song.
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. 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.
7. Inglourious Basterds
Moving from one World War II era film to another, Inglourious Basterds is an alternate history story revolving around two interconnected plots to kill Nazi leaders. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine, leader of the titular squad. The film also helped make stars of Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, and Michael Fassbender. While a night and day different effort than Schindler's List, Tarantino's Basterds (88% on RT) are still very much one of the best films on Netflix and worthy subscribers' time.
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. 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).
5. It Follows
This stylish throwback to the horror films of the 80s stars Maika Monroe as Jay, a young woman who makes the mistake of hooking up with the wrong guy and becoming infected by an STD of supernatural origin. Now, Jay finds herself relentlessly stalked by a demonic being, one that can appear as anyone it wants, even those closest to her. Directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows sits at a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Kill Bill
While Vol.1 and Vol. 2 (85 and 84% on RT) of director Quentin Tarantino's revenge saga were technically released as separate films, it's hard to imagine wanting to watch one Kill Bill without the other. Uma Thurman stars as The Bride, who sets out on a bloody quest for vengeance after being betrayed by the other members of her assassination squad and their leader, Bill (David Carradine). Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, and Daryl Hannah also star.
3. The Godfather
What's left to say about The Godfather (98% on RT), director Francis Ford Coppola's opus about the fall of mafia don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and rise of his son Michael (Al Pacino) to the blood-stained throne. Almost universally considered one of the greatest movies ever, The Godfather is a truly incredible film and one that it's almost impossible to call oneself a movie buff without having seen. James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and John Cazale also star.
2. The Godfather Part II
So, why not combine this with its predecessor, like Kill Bill? The answer is that while this is indeed a direct continuation of The Godfather's story, it is also in many ways its own beast. With Brando's Vito now gone, the journey of Michael as Corleone crime family don is juxtaposed with the rise of a young Vito, expertly played by Robert De Niro. Rated at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, it's hard to choose between Godather and Godfather II for the title of best mafia movie, and not just one of the best films on Netflix, but one of the best films of all time. Ideally, one should just watch them both, and experience the whole saga.
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 watch at least once, in order to be part of the ongoing cultural conversation surrounding it.
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