What’s the best movie I can watch on Netflix? We’ve all asked ourselves this question, only to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through the streaming service’s oddly specific genre menus and getting overwhelmed by the constantly shifting trend menus. Netflix’s huge catalog of movies continues to expand day by day, week by week, month by month. This makes the challenge of keeping up to date with best the service has to offer — let alone finding something the best of what to watch after a long day — a task that feels herculean at best and impossible at worst for someone not plugged into its inscrutable rhythms.
We’re here to help. For those suffering from choice paralysis in February, we’ve narrowed down your options to not only our favorite current movies on the platform, but the best movies Netflix has to offer.
If you’re looking for a specific genre, we’ve got the best action movies on Netflix, the best horror movies on Netflix, the best thrillers on Netflix, and the best comedy movies on Netflix ready for you. And for our readers across the pond, we have a list of the best movies on Netflix U.K.
We’ll be updating this list weekly as Netflix cycles movies in and out of its library, so be sure to check back next time you’re stuck in front of the app’s home screen. Our latest update added Thanksgiving as our editor’s pick.
This week’s editor’s pick: Thanksgiving
First, a word of caution. If you have difficulty with gore in movies, you are better off with just about any other movie on this list. Go ahead, there are plenty of great ones for you to choose from here… just not this one.
Now, for the rest of you freaks (I say that with love), you are in for a treat. Thanksgiving is unofficially the best Scream movie since Scream 4, Wes Craven’s final entry in the franchise. It’s a delightful slasher with a firmly tongue-in-cheek tone and some extremely gnarly holiday-themed kills.
The movie has the kind of twisted kills you’d want from a holiday-themed slasher, and while the dialogue is occasionally uneven, I was particularly impressed by the character work. Thanksgiving has the perfect mix of characters you really want to see get killed and characters you want to survive. That’s a hard balance to strike in the genre, but a vital one. —Pete Volk
The best movies on Netflix
Director: Mati Diop
Cast: Ibrahima Traoré, Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow
It’s hard to talk too much about Atlantics without giving away what makes the experience of watching it so special. It’s a beautiful, haunting love story with a tangibly beating heart, touching on romance as well as grief, class, labor, and the lingering effects of oppression. Shot gorgeously by director Mati Diop and cinematographer Claire Mathon, it was the first movie directed by a Black woman to be featured in competition in Cannes (it won the Grand Prix award, losing out on the Palme d’Or to Parasite), and is one of the most remarkable feature film debuts for a director in recent memory. —PV
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Viola Davis
A sleek and sexy thriller that makes hacking look extremely cool, Michael Mann’s unfairly maligned Blackhat stands tall as a high mark in digital filmmaking. It is peak Mann — if you’re not a fan of the Heat director’s work, your mileage may vary. In the film, Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom), a captain in the PLA’s cyber warfare unit, is tasked with getting to the bottom of a computer attack that melts down a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong. While liaising with the FBI investigation, Chen insists on the aid of his old friend Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, who has never been hotter or cooler), an imprisoned genius hacker. When Hathaway and Chen’s sister (Tang Wei), a networking engineer also helping with the case, fall for each other, it adds an extra wrinkle to an already high stakes situation. Viola Davis and Holt McCallany feature as FBI agents who aren’t super happy to have to rely on a notorious criminal.
With sharp digital cinematography and unforgettable set pieces, Blackhat explores our changing global relationship to technology. Mann makes tangible the microscopic computer systems that run the world: an extreme close-up of internal wires leading to a motherboard like a vast interconnected highway; a computer fan that sounds like a jet engine. Events that in other films would be shown as a boring stroke of keys are instead depicted as hypnotic processes happening under the surface of the visible world. —PV
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Harrison Ford
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation is a paranoia-inducing murder thriller starring Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert — one who does actual spying! — whose professional integrity and personal morality are put in direct opposition when he suspects that he has eavesdropped on a couple who he believe are going to be murdered. Drawn into a plot of veiled conspirators and unsavory violence, Harry must search for the truth behind what he has witnessed while staying alive. Over the journey, Coppola creates an aura of paranoia with each passing scene, and David Shire’s piano score is a mood. —TE
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
Directors: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan
Johnnie To is one of our great modern directors, equally adept in hard-boiled triad crime dramas and light-hearted romantic comedies alike. 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart falls in the latter category, and is one of the many high marks of the Hong Kong director’s legendary career. Fresh off the end of a long-term relationship, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) is an analyst for an investment bank who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. On one side, there’s Sean (Louis Koo), a CEO who works across the street from Chi-yan and yearns for her through the tall corporate glass windows that separate them. On the other, there’s Kevin (the always-dreamy Daniel Wu), an alcoholic former architect who helps Chi-yan move on and is inspired by her to start creating again. What follows is a sincere, funny, and truly charming romantic time. —PV
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Sudeepa, Nani, Samantha
Eega is a delightful slapstick romantic comedy from the director of RRR, about a fly and his human girlfriend conspiring to ruin a man’s life and then murder him for vengeance. If that doesn’t sound up your alley, I’m not sure what will.
Eega tells the story of a man who is murdered by a wealthy businessman. After being reincarnated as a fly, he makes it his mission to exact vengeance on the man who killed him. As a fly.
With groundbreaking visual effects that pushes digital filmmaking forward, Rajamouli injects a delightful energy and lighter tone into the genre of “dark revenge thriller,” with thrilling set pieces (stakes include “our hero gets stuck on a tennis ball being used in a cricket match” and “our hero causes a traffic jam by buzzing in the ears of a crossing guard”) and plenty of visual gags inspired by slapstick and screwball comedies alike. It’s all balanced by a compelling romance that sells you on the movie’s emotional stakes in the first half hour, culminating in an experience unlike any other. Rajamouli is just special. —PV
Emily the Criminal
Director: John Patton Ford
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Gina Gershon
One of the smartest movies about the gig economy and our modern money struggles, Emily the Criminal was criminally (ayyy) underappreciated when it came out in 2022. The movie follows a debt-ridden woman (Aubrey Plaza) who gets involved in a credit card scam to pay off her student loans. This pulls her in the orbit of charismatic ringleader Youcef (the reliably handsome Theo Rossi), and also deeper and deeper into the world of crime, as she looks for a way out of her difficult situation.
It’s a career-best performance from Plaza, who is as funny and dry as ever, but Emily the Criminal’s script allows her to use her dramatic chops in ways we’ve rarely seen outside of White Lotus and Ingrid Goes West (and even those are primarily comedies with dramatic elements). Relentlessly paced, constantly tense, and always centered on the terrific leading performance at its core, Emily the Criminal is one of the best American films of the decade, and its potency will only grow as the problems it shines a light on continue to be exacerbated. —PV
Ghosts of Sugar Land
Director: Bassam Tariq
Director Bassam Tariq recently got replaced on Marvel’s upcoming Blade movie, and it’s as good a reason as any to catch up with his masterful 2019 short. Best known for the hip-hop drama Mogul Mowgli starring Riz Ahmed, Tariq’s previous movie is an enthralling documentary well worth the 21-minute running time.
Ghosts of Sugar Land is about a young group of friends in the suburbs of Texas, and what happens when one of them becomes radicalized by ISIS. A compelling portrait of an America we don’t often get to see depicted on screen, Tariq offers no easy answers, instead leaning on the shock and despair of the friends left behind, and on the dangers of isolation and loneliness in a country that often seems on the brink of collapse. A winner of multiple festival awards, including the 2019 Sundance Short Film Jury Award, Ghosts of Sugar Land is not to be missed. —PV
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Cast: Raghava Lawrence, S.J. Suryah, Nimisha Sajayan
Movies about the Power of Cinema™ can be self-important, saccharine, and worst of all, boring. Jigarthanda DoubleX is none of those things. A sprawling tale of gangsters, movie stars, politicians, and the people caught between them, it’s one of my favorite movies of 2023, and a truly special film.
It’s the 1970s, and a coward who believes it’s his destiny to become a cop gets framed for a quadruple murder. He gets released from prison by a corrupt movie star/politician on the condition that he kills one of the lieutenants of that movie star/politician’s rival. Naturally, our coward poses as a movie director, because his target (a notorious gangster who loves Clint Eastwood) has made it his new mission in life to be the first dark-skinned movie star in India. While making their silly movie (a biopic of the gangster, of course), they fall in love with the magic of cinema and its transformative power on a personal and societal level.
Jigarthanda DoubleX is firing on all cylinders throughout its nearly three-hour run time, with superb direction, complex characters fully embodied by terrific actors, thrilling action sequences, and a surprising amount of emotional depth for a movie with this outlandish of a premise. Don’t miss it. —PV
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Justin Timberlake
In 1984, director Jonathan Demme made one of the finest concert films of all-time with the Talking Heads in the raucously triumphant Stop Making Sense. A little more than three decades later, Demme’s final feature film was another joyous concert movie.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids depicts the final show of a long tour for Timberlake and his excellent backing band at the gigantic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In typical Demme fashion, the staging and framing of the energetic pop numbers is electric, but he also takes time to show just how much work goes into setting up and breaking down such a large production.
Demme and Timberlake’s collaboration spurred from a mutual respect — Timberlake, like anyone else with good taste, is a massive fan of Stop Making Sense, and Demme reached out after watching The Social Network. The movie is dedicated to Prince, who died shortly before the movie’s release. —PV
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley
Ashutosh Gowariker’s timeless sports movie classic stars Aamir Khan as Bhuvan, a confident young man from a village that is dealing with both British oppression and a long-standing drought. When the wicked Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne, who is deliriously good in this) challenges the village to a game of cricket (which they do not know how to play) as a bet, with their owed taxes (which they cannot afford to pay) on the line, Bhuvan takes it upon himself to form a team and learn the game. What follows is a soaring sports drama with humor, heart, and a show-stopping match finale. Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. —PV
The Lost Bullet movies
Director: Guillaume Pierret
Cast: Alban Lenoir, Stéfi Celma, Nicolas Duvauchelle
Both Lost Bullet movies are pure jolts of adrenaline, filled with vehicular mayhem and explosive action. The first movie is leaner, with a simple premise executed to perfection, while the sequel ramps things up with even more jaw-dropping stunts, led by car stunt coordinator David Julienne, who also worked on the incredible Athena and is the grandson of the great Rémy Julienne. —PV
The Nice Guys
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Shane Black’s other neo-noir, Los Angeles-set action comedy is a worthy spiritual successor to 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and an uproariously hilarious movie in its own right. The story centers on Holland March (Gosling), an alcoholic single father and licensed PI, and Jackson Healy (Crowe), a muscle-for-hire freelancer. The two end up as an odd couple of idiot-genius sleuths whose respective investigations involving a missing girl converge to unveil a much larger and more sinister conspiracy involving Detroit automotive companies, government collusion, and organized crime.
Crowe and Gosling’s on-screen chemistry as two incorrigible, stubborn assholes with secret hearts of gold is terrific, as is Angourie Rice’s performance as March’s whip-smart daughter Holly. The Nice Guys may not surpass the pure comic genius of Black’s aforementioned classic starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, but it confidently ranks as one of the director’s better films in recent memory. —TE
The Night Comes for Us
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle
The Night Comes for Us just fucking whips, OK? Why waste time on subtlety and preamble; the film certainly doesn’t! Indonesian action thrillers have been enjoying a renaissance period ever since Gareth Evans’ 2011 film The Raid kicked the door down and mollywhopped everything else in sight. Timo Tjahjanto’s 2018 film certainly follows in the footsteps of Evans’ own, with The Raid star Joe Taslim starring here as Ito, a gangland enforcer who betrays his Triad crime family by sparing the life of a child and attempting to flee the country.
Fellow The Raid star Iko Uwais shows up here as Arian, Ito’s childhood friend and fellow enforcer, who is tasked with hunting down Ito and recovering the girl. The action comes fast and frenzied here, with kinetic choreography and dazzling handheld cinematography that makes every punch, fall, and stab count. If you need to get your adrenaline pumping, throw this one on. —TE
Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung
Park Chan-wook’s revenge thriller remains as astounding and shocking to watch as it die when it first premiered over 20 years ago. Choi Min-sik’s portrayal of Oh Dae-su, a man imprisoned for over 15 years only to be mysteriously set loose, is the role of a lifetime; a character whose story possesses a complexity and depth comparable to that of a Greek tragedy. There’s too many iconic moments from the film to choose from: Oh Dae-su holding a man by his necktie as he dangles off the edge of a building, the single-take hallway fight scene, the mouthful of octopus. And of course, who could forget that most cruel and unforgettable of moments: Oh Dae-su opening the photo album gifted to him by Lee Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae), the mastermind behind his imprisonment.
All of these scenes alone are fantastic on their own merits, but when combined within in the context of the film’s over two-hour runtime, you have yourself a masterpiece whose influence is felt everywhere from the success of movies and shows like Parasite and Squid Game to the choreography of contemporary Western action films. You owe it to yourself to watch this classic, if only once. —TE
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 historical drama Phantom Thread follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), an irascible haute couture dressmaker in 1950s London whose carefully cultivated lifestyle is upset by his ongoing love affair with his muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed woman with ambitions and desires of her own. His final film role to date, Day-Lewis is unsurprisingly masterful in his portrayal of Woodcock as an artist whose capricious infatuations and fastidious inflexibility prove unbearable to all except Alma, who discovers a ... let’s say unconventional way of leveling the power dynamic in their relationship. Top that with exquisite score by Jonny Greenwood and beautiful costume designs by Mark Bridges and you’ve got what is undoubtedly one of Anderson’s finest films to date. —TE
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Yayan Ruhian
There are action movies before The Raid, and then there are action movies after The Raid.
Gareth Evans’ Indonesian action thriller sent a 3000-volt shockwave throughout the world of cinema when it premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, garnering a reputation as one of the most electrifying and distinctive action films of its time. That reputation has not wavered one iota in the decade-plus since.
Iko Uwais stars as Rama, a rookie SWAT officer who joins a 20-man squad led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) to assail a tenement complex run by a ruthless gang and apprehend their leader. When the leader catches wind of this plot, the squad is trapped inside the building and forced to fight their way out while completing their mission. Where The Raid may lack in narrative complexity, it in no way lacks in scintillating cinematography and unrelentingly abrasive action. If you’re looking for a viscerally entertaining action thriller with ample gore and dazzling martial arts choreography, The Raid is just the film you’re looking for. —TE
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn
Polygon’s favorite movie of 2022, RRR is an epic bromance for the ages filled to the brim with jaw-dropping action sequences, unforgettable music numbers, and two guys just being dudes. If you can, you should consider watching it in the original Telugu language version on Zee5. If you can’t, the Hindi dub on Netflix is still well worth your time. —PV
Director: Jo Sung-hee
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu
Space Sweepers: Set in the year 2092, Jo Sung-hee’s Space Sweepers follows the crew of freelance garbagemen in space who discover a strange child-like robot named Dorothy containing a nuclear device. Hoping to ransom Dorothy in exchange for enough money to escape their poverty-stricken lives, their plan quickly escalates into a chase to stay one step ahead of the military force of a corrupt corporation. Though it’s far from the most original of sci-fi premises, Space Sweepers is still a visually impressive film with great action and a likable cast of dysfunctional characters with great chemistry. —TE
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac
2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a genuine before-and-after moment in the history of American animation. The film not only introduced a new generation of audiences to Miles Morales, but sent a shockwave through the entire industry through its pioneering approach to CGI animation that drew heavily from the texture and techniques of comic book storytelling. In short, it was a bona fide cultural phenomenon. How exactly do you top that?
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse feels like an answer to that question on several fronts; visually, tonally, and technically. Miles is faced with a personal and moral dilemma in the form of the Spot, a dimension-hopping supervillain whose vendetta against Spider-Man threatens to endanger the entire multiverse. If that weren’t enough, Miles inadvertently runs afoul of Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), the leader of a group of Spider-People from alternate universes, who believes Miles himself is the source of the problem. From its spectacular fight sequences to its gorgeous multiversal vistas to its absolutely bangin’ soundtrack, Across the Spider-Verse steps up to the challenge of following up one of most acclaimed American animated films in years and nails it out of the park. It’s a genuine sight to behold. With one more movie on the way, the question circles back: How exactly are they gonna top this? —TE
The Summit of the Gods
Directors: Patrick Imbert
Cast: Lazare Herson-Macarel, Eric Herson-Macarel, Damien Boisseau
This 2021 French-language animated drama centers on Makoto Fukamachi, a tenacious reporter who accidentally stumbles upon the biggest mountaineering story of the century: Proof that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, not Sir Edmund Hillary, were the first climbers to reach the peak of Mount Everest in 1924. However, his only lead to break the story — an elusive mountain climber known as Habu Joji — has been missing for several years. Poring over the details of Joji’s life in the years preceding his disappearance, Makoto finds himself inadvertently drawn by the very same sense of accomplishment and meaning that has compelled countless climbers to crest Everest themselves.
Based on Jiro Taniguchi’s 2000 manga series, The Summit of the Gods is a gorgeously animated drama about the elusive quest for personal and professional validation and the perils of hubris and selfishness. The backgrounds are spectacular, the character animation is impressive, and the film’s final moments are as exhilarating as they are profoundly edifying. Brace yourself for a film that exemplifies “adult animation,” not as a juvenile display of hyper-violence and superficial titillation, but as a story about what it means to move through the world as an adult and find one’s place and purpose in it. —TE
They Cloned Tyrone
Director: Juel Taylor
Cast: John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, Jamie Foxx
If a pulp mystery-thriller that plays out like a Blaxploitation-style take on Jordan Peele’s Us by way of the anti-authority storytelling of Boots Riley sounds enticing to you, They Cloned Tyrone is an absolute must-watch.
John Boyega stars as Fontaine, a streetwise hustler who is gunned down after an altercation with a rival drug dealer. Miraculously, Fontaine wakes up the next morning completely unharmed with no memory of the confrontation whatsoever. Together with the help of local pimp Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) and a retired sex worker Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), Fontaine stumbles upon a terrifying secret: His neighborhood is the site of a clandestine government operation experimenting with cloning technology and subliminal manipulation. Faced with the existential terror of this revelation, the trio must either expose this conspiracy or surrender to the roles ordained to them.
Sharply well written, brilliantly performed, and studded with satisfying surprising and twists up to its very last minutes, They Cloned Tyrone is not only one of the best movies available to stream on Netflix, but one of the best films of the year so far. —TE
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, Paul Reiser
Is Damien Chazelle’s 2014 psychological drama a movie about an abusive musical instructor molding an impressionable student into his ideal player, or a story about what it takes to be the best in your chosen field? Wherever you land by the end of the movie, what’s clear is that Whiplash is one of the most impeccably crafted films of the 2010s. Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neiman, an aspiring Jazz drummer who is terrorized by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a ruthless and highly respected instructor at a prestigious conservatory in New York City.
The dynamic between the two is the driving force behind the film’s story and emotional arc, as Fletcher’s increasingly conniving and psychologically manipulative tactics push Andrew to his breaking point again and again, forcing him to abandon all other considerations apart from his drive to become a better drummer and finally earn his mentor’s approval. The music by Justin Hurwitz is scintillating, the cinematography is electrifying, and performances that rank as some of the best in Simmons and Teller’s respective careers to date. Whiplash is a cinematic tour de force that’ll grab you by your shirt collar and refuse to let go, right up to the exhilarating crescendo of its climactic finale. —Toussaint Egan
Director: Mélanie Laurent
Cast: Mélanie Laurent, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Manon Bresch
There’s a place for movies like Alien, where a script written for a male lead character was left unchanged when a woman was cast in the role. But there’s also a place for movies like Wingwomen, an action comedy that thrives in its specificity around its characters and their experiences as women in our world.
In Wingwomen, Carole (director-star Mélanie Laurent of Inglourious Basterds) has a very close and protective relationship with younger Alex (Adèle Exarchopoulos) — a found family situation. They are both caught in the web of crime lord Marraine (Isabelle Adjani) and looking for a way out. When they meet a new member of their team — skilled racer Sam (Manon Bresch) — they see an opportunity for one last score to break away from their life of crime and live peacefully together.
Fun, exciting, and endearing, you will not have more fun at the movies than watching Wingwomen. I wish for 20 more years of Laurent directing and starring in fun genre pictures — especially if they also star Exarchopoulos, who between this and Passages delivered two of the most memorable performances of 2023. —PV