clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Close up shot of Saoirse Ronan as Hanna drawing a bow in Hanna Image: Focus Features

Filed under:

The best movies on Netflix right now

Skip the algorithm and go straight to the good stuff

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; making 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.

That’s where we’re here to help. For those suffering from choice paralysis in May, 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 UK.

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 Netflix home screen. Our latest update added as our editor’s pick.


This week’s editor’s pick

Hanna

Saoirse Ronan pointing a gun in Hanna Image: Focus Features

Genre: Action thriller
Run time: 1h 51m
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Vicky Krieps

Hanna is an absolute knockout, packed with bracing action sequences, stylish visuals, and a pitch-perfect score courtesy of British EDM maestros The Chemical Brothers. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) stars as Hanna, a 15-year-old girl living in rural northern Finland with her survivalist father (Eric Bana). When Hanna is kidnapped by special forces and detained in an underground CIA complex, she’ll have to rely on all that her father taught her in order to escape her captors and learn the truth about her own past. Clocking in at just shy of two hours, Hanna is an exhilarating action thriller that features two standout performances in the form of Ronan and Cate Blanchett as Marissa Wiegler, a CIA official with intimate knowledge of Hanna’s family and history. —Toussaint Egan


The best movies on Netflix

Atlantics

Two figures hold each other close on a dance floor, as neon green lights bounce off of them, in Atlantics Image: Netflix

Genre: Romance
Run time: 1h 45m
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. —Pete Volk


The Baahubali movies

Baahubali: The Beginning - prabhas as baahubali carrying a giant fountain Image: Dharma Productions

Genre: Epic fantasy
Run time: 2h 39m (Baahubali: The Beginning); 2h 47m (Baahubali 2: The Conclusion)
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty

In Western terms, this Tollywood production from the future director of RRR, the most expensive Indian film at the time of its release, is like a biblical epic by way of Marvel Studios, with a little Hamlet and Step Up thrown in for good measure. The Beginning chronicles the life of Shivudu, an adventurer with superhuman strength who escapes his provincial life by scaling a skyscraper-sized waterfall, aids and romances a rebel warrior named Avanthika, then teams up with her to rescue a kidnapped queen from an evil emperor. Exploding with hyper-choreographed fight sequences and CG spectacle (not to mention a handful of musical numbers with equal bravura), The Beginning is 159 minutes of mythical excess, going big like only Indian film can and resting on the muscular shoulders of its hero, the single-name actor Prabhas. If you fall hard for it, get pumped — this is only part one. The twist leads into Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, another two-and-a-half-hour epic currently streaming on Netflix. —Matt Patches

Blackhat

Chris Hemsworth as Nicholas Hathaway holding a pistol in Blackhat. Photo: Frank Connor/Legendary Pictures-Universal Pictures

Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 2h 13m
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


The Debt Collector movies

Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor as French and Sue in The Debt Collector. Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Genre: Action comedy
Run time: 1h 35m (The Debt Collector); 1h 37m (Debt Collectors aka The Debt Collector 2)
Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Cast: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich

A buddy comedy by way of direct-to-video action specialist Jesse V. Johnson, The Debt Collector is the first of a series of two very good movies starring Scott Adkins (Avengement) and Louis Mandylor (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as a wise-cracking duo collecting debts for the mob. Adkins plays French, a down-on-his-luck martial arts instructor who turns to debt collecting to pay his own debts off. Mandylor plays a boy named Sue, the veteran debt collector French is paired up with for his first day of work.

As the two get deeper into their work, they discover a scheme that puts a young child at risk, and consider risking it all themselves to help. Adkins and Mandylor have terrific chemistry in the lead roles, bringing this out of the echelon of “solid DTV movies” and into the realm of “great hangout flicks.” Also, Tony Todd (Candyman) plays a mobster named Barbosa. And the sequel rules, too. —PV


Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Image: Netflix

Genre: Romantic comedy
Run time: 1h 55m
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


Eega

Eega the fly waits for his moment to strike, watching a car drive away. Image: Vaarahi Chalana Chitram

Genre: Revenge thriller
Run time: 2h 14m
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.

S.S. Rajamouli has wowed audiences worldwide with his bombastic, exciting historical epic RRR, Polygon’s #1 movie of 2022 (and recent winner for a Golden Globe for best original song for the incredible “Naatu Naatu”).

In this very post, we’ve encouraged readers to watch his previous two historical epics, the Baahubali series (also available on Netflix). But one of his earlier entries, made a decade ago, was recently added to Netflix, and it is one of the most fun movies you could ever possibly watch.

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


Ghosts of Sugar Land

Four young men lounge on a couch. Three of them have images masking their faces, in Ghosts of Sugar Land. Image: Netflix

Genre: Documentary short
Run time: 21m
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


Heat

The silhouette of a man (Robert De Niro) leaning against a glass window overlooking an ocean at night in Heat. Image: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Genre: Symphonic heist drama
Run time: 2h 50m
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer

Michael Mann’s Heat is one of the greatest movies of all time. Don’t bother debating with me on this; if you know you know, and if you don’t, you’re flat-out wrong.

What other film has Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, two of the greatest performers of their generation, starring in a cat-and-mouse crime thriller that erupts into a full-blown shootout in the middle of downtown Los Angeles and climaxes on a bustling airport tarmac at night?

What other film has Al Pacino screaming “’Cause she’s got a great ass” at the top of his lungs like a lunatic while interrogating one of his nemesis’ terrified accomplices? Or Tom Sizemore signing up for one final heist with De Niro’s crew by coolly replying, “For me, the action is the juice”? For that matter, what other movie ends with a needledrop of Moby’s “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters,” one of the most inspired end-credits music choices of all time?

With blistering action sequences capped by impeccably staged gunfights, a visceral and moving plot of self-destructive obsession and loneliness, a stunning supporting cast studded with pitch-perfect performances from the likes of Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers) and Dennis Haysbert (Far From Heaven), and a powerful score composed by Elliot Goldenthal (Drugstore Cowboy), Heat is more than just great heist thriller. It’s a bona fide masterpiece. —TE


The Ip Man movies

Donnie Yen as Ip Man Image: Well Go USA Entertainment

Genre: Martial arts drama
Run time: 1h 46m (Ip Man); 1h 48m (Ip Man 2); 1h 45m (Ip Man 3); 1h 45m (Ip Man 4: The Finale)
Director: Wilson Yip
Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung

All five movies in the Ip Man series — the four main entries (all on Netflix) and the spinoff Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (not on Netflix, but on Peacock and Tubi, among others) — are terrific martial arts dramas. They’re a great starting place for anyone looking to get into the genre, and also a terrific comfort watch for enthusiasts of martial arts movies.

Donnie Yen completely immerses himself as the stoic Ip Man, the Wing Chun grandmaster who taught Bruce Lee (played by Danny Chan Kwok-kwan in the series), among others. Yen brings a pensiveness to the role to go with his incredible martial arts prowess. All four movies are directed by frequent Yen collaborator Wilson Yip and go from one all-time great action choreographer to another: The first two movies had action by Sammo Hung, and the next two by Yuen Woo-ping. Those are quite possibly the two greatest to ever do it, and if that’s not enough to get you to tune in, I don’t know what is. —PV


Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

Justin Timberlake performs on stage, and a larger version of him appears on the screen behind him, blanketed by light blue lights, in Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids. Image: Netflix

Genre: Concert movie
Run time: 1h 30m
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


Lagaan

Aamir Khan dances with Gracy Singh in Lagaan. Image: SET Pictures

Genre: Sports drama
Run time: 3h 43m
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


Leave No Trace

Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster in Leave No Trace. Image: Bleecker Street Media

Genre: Drama
Run time: 1h 49m
Director: Debra Granik
Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober

One of the best films of the 2010s, Debra Granik’s meditation on the modern world through two people isolated from it is an extraordinary follow-up for the Winter’s Bone director. From our write-up of the best movies new to streaming in July:

An Iraq War veteran (Ben Foster) lives with PTSD and his 13-year-old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) in the lush green woods outside of Portland, Oregon. Isolated from the rest of society, they work together to live a life with nature. But when the young girl is seen by a jogger in the woods, she is detained by social services and her father is arrested. A touching story about finding your own place in the world and the comforts and limitations of family, Debra Granik’s 2018 drama is a modern masterpiece. —PV


The Lost Bullet movies

A red automobile with a metal cowcatcher is sandwiched between two cop cars in Lost Bullet. Image: Netflix

Genre: Action
Run time: 1h 32m; 1h 38m
Director: Guillaume Pierret
Cast: Alban Lenoir, Stéfi Celma, Nicolas Duvauchelle

I’m excited to watch AKA this weekend, the new hardboiled French crime thriller from Netflix. Co-written by Morgan S. Dalibert (who directed the movie) and former stuntman Alban Lenoir (who stars in it), the movie also prominently features former international soccer superstar Eric Cantona.

Dalibert and Lenoir previously collaborated on the excellent pair of Lost Bullet movies, where Dalibert served as the director of photography and Lenoir starred as Lino, a genius mechanic who finds himself pulled into a world of corrupt police officers.

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.

We’ve highlighted these movies before on this list, but it’s worth doing so again this week because of their relevance to AKA. I’m sure it’ll make one hell of a triple feature. —PV


The Metamorphosis of Birds

An extreme close up shot of a woman’s eye perched above the bristles of a peacock feather. Image: Primeira Idade

Genre: Documentary/drama
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Catarina Vasconcelos
Cast: Manuel Rosa, Ana Vasconcelos, Henrique Vasconcelos

Catarina Vasconcelos’ 2020 feature debut is a difficult one to sum up in a trailer, let alone in words, and therein ultimately lies its appeal. Essentially an avant-garde documentary drama, The Metamorphosis of Birds chronicles the director’s own family history: the meeting and love affair between her grandparents, the childhood of their children growing up in the absence of their mariner father, and the fatal tragedy that rends their lives asunder and haunts them to this day like a lingering ghost.

Every shot and sequence of Vasconcelos’ experimental 16mm opus is beatific in its Magritte-like strangeness. It’s a series of images and sounds accompanied by the narration of letters and conversations between the members of the family that coalesce into a cinematic tableau of uncanny beauty and heart-wrenching tenderness. True to the spirit of its title, The Metamorphosis of Birds is a truly transformative work of emotional storytelling, one which beckons the audience to stare deeply into the intimate, unspoken corners of another family’s decades-long process of turning pain into wisdom and thereby gleaning a deeper insight into their own lives. Turn off your phone, find the largest screen possible, and give yourself over to this film. You’ll be thankful you did. —TE


Missing

Storm Reid in Missing, looking at her computer screen in shock while her friend sits behind her on a couch Image: Sony Pictures

Genre: Thriller
Run time: 1h 51m
Director: Will Merrick/Nick Johnson
Cast: Storm Reid, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung

This standalone sequel to the 2018 screenlife mystery thriller Searching and a spiritual sequel to Aneesh Chaganty’s 2020 psychological thriller Run is not only one of the best thrillers of the year, but one of the best movies available on Netflix. The directorial debut of co-directors Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, Missing stars Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time) as June Allen, a teenage girl struggling to cope with the loss of her father who died of a brain tumor. When June’s mother Grace (Nia Long) seemingly disappears after a week-long trip to Columbia with her boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung), she resorts to all her skills as an amateur online sleuth to uncovering the mystery.

Brilliantly edited, well-performed, and riveting throughout, Missing is inventive take on the screenlife subgenre of mystery thrillers for our hyper-online times. The film is the best sort of surprise: An unassuming movie with a simple premise that quickly spirals into a terrifying and engrossing drama anchored by a strong lead performance. If you enjoyed similar screenlife films like Searching, Unfriended: Dark Web, or Dashcam, Missing will be right up your alley. —TE


The Nice Guys

A man sitting in a orange bathroom stall with his pants down holding a door open with a pistol in one hand and a cast on his left arm stares at a man wearing a blue jacket and jeans to his right. Image: Warner Home Video

Genre: Action/comedy
Run time: 1h 56m
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