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: December 3, 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 Shining
Jack Nicholson played many memorable roles over the course of his long career, but few proved quite as iconic as The Shining's Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic writer who found himself pushed over the edge of madness by the malevolent spirits residing inside the remote Overlook Hotel. Based on Stephen King's classic novel of the same name, director Stanley Kubrick's film was never a favorite of the author, but audiences couldn't disagree more. There are few horror films even on the level of The Shining, and it's a must watch for Netflix subscribers.
24. The Truman Show
While it's now 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 audiences' eyes to Carrey's then-untapped ability was 1998's The Truman Show, now on Netflix. Directed by Peter Weir and rated 94% on RT, The Truman Show in many ways predicted the rise of reality TV culture, featuring a lead character whose life had been unknowingly (to him) broadcast to the masses as entertainment.
23. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Modern blockbuster cinema arguably wouldn't even exist without the Star Wars franchise, and one of the only entries in that saga that Netflix 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. Cape Fear
While the original 1962 version of Cape Fear is generally regarded as a classic, director Martin Scorsese's 1991 new to Netflix remake is often considered just as good, if not better. Robert De Niro stars as Max Cady, a convicted rapist recently released from prison. Instead of celebrating his newfound freedom, Max targets his old lawyer Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who purposefully hid evidence that may have gotten his client a less harsh sentence. Jessica Lange also stars as Sam's wife Leigh, with Juliette Lewis playing daughter Danielle. Both De Niro and Lewis earned Oscar nominations for their work. Original Cape Fear stars Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck also make cameos.
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.
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, and deserves to be revisited on Netflix.
Related: 15 Best Serial Killer Movies
19. The Breakfast Club
When it comes to movies about teenagers - or movies set in high schools - there are few names with more weight than writer/director John Hughes. Arguably his greatest creation is 1985's The Breakfast Club, which truly kicked off the "brat pack" era, and is now on Netflix. The premise is simple, five students from different backgrounds are forced to coexist over the course of Saturday detention, and end up learning a lot about themselves and each other along the way. Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Michael Hall star.
While Marvel Studios' Black Panther might be the first superhero film starring an African-American lead to become a massive blockbuster hit, one shouldn't discount the impact made by Wesley Snipes' Blade in 1998, which definitely paved the way for a black cinematic superhero like T'Challa. Director Stephen Norrington's film wasn't exactly a box office smash (although it did perform quite respectably), but Snipes fit the Blade role so well that many fans still wish he'd play it in the MCU. Blade II - a sequel some believe tops the original - is on Netflix also.
17. From Dusk Till Dawn
It's not that often that a horror movie exudes coolness, but that's exactly the case with 1996's From Dusk Till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by his friend and frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino, and new to Netflix. George Clooney and Tarantino himself star as bank-robbing brothers Seth & Ritchie Gecko, who take an unassuming family hostage while on the run from the law. What begins as a crime thriller eventually takes a left turn into terror though, when a bar full of vampires enters the picture.
Related: 15 Sexiest Horror Movies of All Time
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, and a must watch for anyone with Netflix access. 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. 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.
Director Kevin Smith's path to his current exalted status among geeks began with 1994 indie hit Clerks, his film debut. Shot in black and white and made on a tiny budget, the newly available on Netflix film introduced Smith's rapid fire, foul-mouthed, joke-filled writing style, while focusing on a day in the working life of best friends Dante (Brian O'Halloran), and Randal (Jeff Anderson). It also served as the debut of Smith's trademark characters Jay and Silent Bob, played by Jason Mewes and Smith himself.
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. Blazing Saddles
Arguably the greatest film to be helmed by legendary comedy director Mel Brooks (although there are multiple contenders to that title), 1974's Blazing Saddles remains a laugh riot to this day, despite some humor that's admittedly quite problematic by today's social standards. Still, those Netflix users able to view the film through the lens of when it was made are likely to end up enjoying themselves, especially since the bulk of Brooks' material is extremely silly and obviously not meant to be malicious. Cleavon Little and frequent Brooks muse Gene Wilder star.
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.
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. Plus, The Rock sings, making Moana more than worthy of a Netflix streaming session.
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.
7. No Country for Old Men
In a career full of acclaimed films, directors Joel and Ethan Coen arguably hit their high point with 2007's No Country for Old Men, now available on Netflix. Both a tense thriller and a gripping drama, the film boasts an excellent ensemble cast, including Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, and a then-rising Javier Bardem as terrifying hitman Anton Chigurh. Sporting a 93% RT score, No Country absolutely cleaned up at the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Bardem.
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).
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, but probably isn't the best option for a "Netflix and chill" night, for obvious reasons.
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, and Netflix has both. 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 in the classic that makes Netflix subscribers an offer they can't refuse.
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 Netflix watch at least once, in order to be part of the ongoing cultural conversation surrounding it.